Which 3000 sq ft 2 level plan would you rather live in?

alliecat2010August 22, 2012

Hi all,

I really hope you can help me decide on a plan. We are a very early 40's couple with an 11 year old son and 2 year old daughter. We are moving from the big city to the country (not farm country though, just 40 min outside the city) and will be building on 3/4 of an acre of land. We are building a 2 story with a master upstairs to be close to the kids. We live in a snow zone and the back yard facing south to maximize light and heat for winter.

Must have's:

1. A winter sunroom � to see sun when we can and have a private more adult area on the main level. Sunroom must not block any of the south facing windows in either great room or kitchen, so must be off to the side.

2. A screened in porch � plenty of bugs in the country, so this is a must for the summer. Also I do not want a screened in porch to block any of my southern windows as I love bright spaces, so must be off to the side.

3. Plenty of windows and be a bright sunny house

4. Wood burning fireplace in the great room

5. No formal dining room - a waste of space for us, we are very informal people and don't want 2 tables

6. Laundry on 2nd level off master WIC ideally, and good sized mud room on main level.

7. Garage on side of house, not in front of house. My land unfortunately gently slopes UP toward's the backyard so positioning the garage as front facing would likely mean having it at a lower elevation and thus climbing a lot of stairs to get into the house, which we don�t want (this "may" be our forever home).

8. Bonus area on 2nd level.

9. Minimized number of structural posts - I would eliminate them as much as I could!

Flexible things:

Whether the kitchen island faces the great room or the dining area. Not sure which I prefer.

Note: I really want the house to have special places and not just look like a regular suburban home if I can. But I am also on a budget. We can't afford really high end architectural features (barrel ceilings, 10 ft coffered etc). We can't do vaults due to the 2nd level and I like the cozy feeling of 9 ft ceilings anyway (and have heard the difficulties with 2 story great rooms). Even just having angled walls or bay windows would help to make it a little special.

I have pulled 2 plans (out of 100's I looked at) because they have side facing "study's" that can be turned into the sunroom and the "dining room's" turned into the office, and side facing screened in porch rooms. Garages I can modify. I am willing to do a fair bit of modifications. I need to adjust room sizes on both plans as I would like a great room to be in the 18 x 20 ft or there abouts. I would not do a 2 sided wood fireplace in either plan I don�t think as that will roast the little sunroom. Or maybe I'm wrong??

Which plan do you think has more potential? Thank you in advance to all who answer!!

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Second level of 1st plan

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 5:56PM
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Second plan, first floor

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 6:00PM
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Second plan, 2nd level

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 6:01PM
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Note: I would "like" a 4th bedroom guest room on the 2nd level, but it's not a deal breaker if it has to go.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 6:05PM
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The garage is better in the first plan, but the entrance needs a miner's helmet and flashlight to find. The stairs occupy one of the corners of the home, which should be reserved for a space to have windows from different directions, like a living room or study. The many many corners also say this isn't a home for anyone one a budget.

In the second one, the garage is awful. The screen porch makes the kitchen dark and gloomy, The mudroom and laundry occupy exterior space that a room that needs windows would work better located at. Again, the stairs occupy a key corner where cross windows could exist. And again, there are too many corners and complex rooflines to be a budget build.

I suggest you employ an architect and have them review your building site and wish list and then create a plan for you. You are going to find a great deal of difficulty trying to adapt a stock plan with your constraints.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 6:58PM
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Live Wire, thank you for your honesty, these are the things I need to hear. I agree about the garage on the 2nd, but I am willing to make serious modifications. And the 2nd plan has a really weird master bath, way to much wasted space I feel.

I really just need some kind of plan to start with, and move forward from there. I agree about the stairs taking valuable exterior wall space on both plans - I see your point. It's just that 95% of plans have 4 corners - kitchen, great room, dining room and study (across the foyer from eachother). I really need a plan that has only a dining room by the foyer and a "study" off to the side of the house that I can turn into a sunroom. Or something like that.

I also really don't want straight stairs with no landing in the middle as I have a 2 year old and I don't like her facing down 16 stairs straight down, that would scare the heck out of me everyday. I also really like a landing with a window. I have a house like that now and I really enjoy having something to look at when I walk up and down stairs.

Our budget is around 450K with land already bought give or take 50K. We live in an area that has middle of the road costs I think.

I have worked with architects before but I find this board actually more insightful and helpful than many architects! I would like to be able to go to an architect with some really well thought out ideas. Or even am almost completed plan and have him/her just draw up the roof lines/elevation.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 7:37PM
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I would appreciate opinions from others as well. If the 2nd plan is not good, that's OK, I was leaning towards the first one anyway.

In the first plan, would it just be a matter of swapping the stairs and the dining room (actually my office)? The house would then be right to left - mud room, stairs, foyer, office? Then for the 2nd level the bedroom would be moved to the left corner and the stairs would be more central in the middle of the house? Is that workable?

I was also thinking of adding a powder or 3/4 bath in between the office and the sunroom (labeled study on plan) so that either could be used as a guest room or infirmary temp room if someone can't climb stairs.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 11:13AM
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The second plan is not good. I find it less appealing, plus it will be more expensive to build out of the sheer fact it has very strange rooflines (from what I can tell). The weirder/less simple the roof, the more expensive.

I like the first plan better. I am not sure what you are suggesting, exactly. Also, look on here for minneapolis's floorplan. For a time, she thought they'd do a custom build, and we were working for a while with her on a floorplan that might fit your bill... In the end, she ended up with a great deal on the builder house and is modifying it a little... But, have a look for her plan.

Also, look for CamG's house. His is smaller than you are looking for, but we can expand it to suite you better.

Both of those might be better starting points than these. And, using plan 1 here as a modifier to those might help.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 11:28AM
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Plan 1 hands down. It is a much more efficient use of space and it seems to flow much better.

I don't understand the comments on moving the stairs. It seems like it gives you practically everything you want including a window in the stairs.

To make a full bath on the first floor, I would eliminate the WIC off the mudroom and expand the powder room into that space adding a shower or tub/shower combination and make it accessible from both the currently labelled dining room and the mudroom.

I agree with kirkhall above on taking a look at CamG's plan & minneapolis's floorplan for ideas.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 10:48PM
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I like the first plan the best. Also, I think the stairway is very nice but I'm partial to that style. I think it opens up an area.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 11:06PM
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OK, thanks so much. I got really defeated after live oak wire's comments (not his fault, he was just being honest. But him and Kirkhall got me really digging into GW archives and came upon a plan by Summerfield design that I put into photoshop and adapted (or maybe mutilated by her standards - sorry!!). She does beautiful work, and I just had to tweak it for my needs (till 3 am last night while baby was sleeping...) I would be tweaking plan 1 too (dining is really office, study is really sunroom, garage down to 2 bay, etc).

Big thing with this plan I just adapted is that I have no idea what the actual exact sq footage is and I have NO upstairs for it!! I would need 4 bedrooms, a bathroom, a laundry room and a bonus room to still work out!

So please tell me, should I now stick still with plan 1 or this plan??? (And I would be moving the bathroom in plan 1 to a full bath near the "study/sunroom". BTDT with thinking about baths off mudrooms - I really need a BIG pantry and cubbies instead!!

Feel free to love or hate or anywhere inbetween! Thanks so much for your help.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 10:51AM
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Here is Summerfield Design's original work and the link to the thread is below. I don't know how she gets her plans to appear so big!

Here is a link that might be useful: Summerfield Design

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 10:54AM
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Her original plan

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 10:55AM
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If I can comment on my own thread here, I guess the difference between plan 1 and this new plan I have created/modified is that it creates a back hallway that essentially flows traffic away from the kitchen/living room area if you have 'business' things to do (go to the bathroom, office, up/down the stairs). It's a less open plan I guess that way. I am not sure whether that is good or bad and how much sq ft it adds.

What I think I do like is that the island facing the dining and the windows to the backyard. I think I prefer that to island facing great room and only a side angle view to windows. And I think I like a non-full frontal view of the kitchen from the great room too with the fridge tucked neatly in a corner. I could move the fridge with plan 1 too though. That stuff is not too serious, I'm more looking for feedback on general layout really!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 12:26PM
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To see a bigger version of this new Summerfield Design plan with sq ft dimensions and labels, use the link below (and click to expand if needed to get it bigger).

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 2:36PM
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Summerfield has her email enabled...but is very busy. However, I'd point her to this post, in an email, and see if she has something that would work with very little modification... This is her profession...

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 3:23PM
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Also, to answer your question, I like your modified summerfield plan above (the one in the post, haven't looked at the link).

I like that the kids can come in the house, and go upstairs or anywhere, without having to go through the kitchen. I also like that there isn't a TON of hallway--just one functional hallway--for this purpose. Getting an upstairs to work with this plan would not be difficult.

I also am assuming you plan to put laundry up (not in the garage work zone)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 3:33PM
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For example, go take a look at CamG's upstairs. I think it might fit with little modification, on this downstairs...

Here is a link that might be useful: CamG's recent post

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 3:39PM
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Kirkhall, thanks for your input. I actually just did an island facing great room version too and was able to quickly shave a good 3 ft off the left/right of the plan. Let me know what you (and others!) think. My DH actually says he prefers island facing great room as a concept (more communication with guests/family during prep). This is just a quick draft.

For a bigger version, click on the link below and then expand to see detail.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 4:24PM
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Kirkhall, laundry is upstairs too. 4 bdrm, 1 kids bathroom, and laundry and bonus room. Kind of like plan 1, but not exactly (I would swap the kids bathroom and the laundry in that plan to have more central bath with window). No bathroom in kid's room.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Well, actually, I am less crazy about turning it... Turning it, with the fridge where you have it, encourages passage through your work zone (of kids between table/fridge). The other way kept them out of your space.

Also, the other way (first way) made it so you really only had your back to anyone if they were at the dining table and you were cooking. But, this new one has your back to people in the Great room when you are cooking. I think it would be less social to have it set up in vs 2 than vs 1, actually.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 5:41PM
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Kirkhall, I actually agree with you, but I have heard that prep is 80% of the work. Plus DH, who is also in the kitchen, prepping, cleaning, etc likes the idea of facing the TV while washing dishes and prepping. Me, I like that I was able to shave 3 ft off the plan - and was a little worried having a 17 ft wide dining area - seems a little wide for a 6 seating table. Approx 14ish seems more reasonable (kind of like plan 1). I am kind of neutral to which way it faces actually and see advantages both ways. The only arrangement I am actually not that fond of is kitchen, dining and great room all in a row left to right.

As far as fridge placement, I can work that out if it's not ideal. It was just a quick revision.

Thanks for the link to CamG's house. I like the upstairs, and it could work with a few modifications. But both DH and myself do not want a WIC off the bathroom, we need a soaker tub as well as shower for the master, no water closet, and I would like a master 17-18 ft wide and a width of about 15 or so. The rest of the upstairs would be flexible I think.

I would welcome any more opinions about the modified summerfield plan (hallway etc) vs plan 1 (no real utility hallway) . I think these are my 2 working choices at this point.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 8:08PM
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I won't argue your points. I think they are good. I just like to bring them up so you really think through your decisions.

One last thing, the dining room will function a little smaller with the door to the screened porch off of it, esp if you use it frequently (the door). Make sure you have left enough room for easy walking in that area.

(btw--I think that is one of the things I like about Summerfield's program--the little rugs that are put into spaces. I think they are there to function as space savers to give you a better feel for how much space will be used (at least, I think that is why they are there... If her niece is watching, if that isn't what they are for, they function great that way, and really like that part of the program development). So, you can kind of see how a table might pinch that door entrance a smidge; esp if you plan to move the fridge to that end of the cabinet run (since they stick out further than cabinets)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Thanks again Kirkhill. Incidentally, I was feeding my 2 year old dinner tonight and thinking about island placement and realized that facing the island toward the dining room is really not that efficient when you have small kids - imagine you are at the sink or oven cooking and you are also serving dinner or fixing their plate etc etc etc and cooking at the same time (happens with small kids). I would always have to run AROUND that big island to get to the table. I must do that run like 10 times during dinner prep at this point in my life (and probably will until my daughter is 8-10 yrs old - she is 2 now). Anybody need a glass of water? AROUND that island again. At least with an island facing great room, you just have to scoot down the aisle - no island hopping. Now I'm totally SOLD on the great room facing island! Thanks for helping me really think all that through.

Thanks for the thoughts on the screen porch door, I will definitely keep that in mind.

And hopefully wherever I put the fridge, I can recess it flush with the cabinets by pushing back the wall behind it. Just a little trick I learned on these boards.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 12:20AM
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