First Post - Looking for Feedback on Floor Plan

VAfamilyAugust 6, 2012

I am excited to finally join the forum after quietly lurking around for the past six months. I have read every thread and I have already learned so much that I can only say "thank you" to everyone for your contributions in the past. IMO this is the best home building forum on the web.

Little background on why I decided to join. We are in process of building our first custom home and are hoping to break ground in late September. We purchased our land and are working with a builder to finalize our floor plans. Our new home will be in the tradional Georgian style with a brick exterior on a walkout (unfinished) basement.

Our main concern is probably the same as everyone who is building for the first time - will our paper design translate into the home that makes sense? We took a stock plan and made major modifications and we are worried with all that change could have created a problem that we wont realize until its too late. We would love your thoughts - all suggestions/thoughts/ideas are welcomed and appreciated!

Here is the first floor:

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This is our second floor. We have an alternative master bath layout that we are considering. Thanks in advance!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 6:38PM
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Is it possible to post a larger picture? My eyes are old and I cannot see the dimensions. The closets in bedrooms 3 and 4 look too narrow to function as walk in closets, but depending on the dimensions, that may not be true.

Are you sure the billiard room is actually big enough for a table?

kirkhall is going to come along and tell you that the toilet rooms need the door swings changed to outward swings for safety, and she is right. Is bedroom 2 intended to be a shared bedroom? If not, I would get rid of the door on the toilet room, but then again I don't really like small, enclosed toilet rooms. YMMV

Is that a linen closet in by the utility room? Seems like a lot of wasted floor space, unless you are going to store a number of upright items like a vacuum cleaner there.

Is there going to be a tv in the family room? If so, where will it be placed and where will the sofa/viewing chairs be placed?

Where is the access to the screened in porch?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 7:36PM
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Sophie Wheeler

You have your pantry/mudroom areas--interior rooms-- occupying one of the choicest of locations in a home: the corner. You have an opportunity there to have a light bright kitchen with windows on two sides. That would be a MUST to change out.

You also don't have a good downstairs room to be able to be used as a bedroom for someone sick or injured or just old. The office could serve, but there is no full bath to serve it. If you flipped the stairs the other way, the coat closet could go under them and then a full bath could be located between the billiard room and office area, making it a lot more functional.

You don't have a formal living room, but you have a formal dining room, in addition to a breakfast area and island eating? Perhaps reoganizing the breakfast area into a more usable and versatile main eating area would work and then put the billiard room into the dining area. Or make it that downstairs living room/away space from the family room noise. I realize that a billiard table seems to demand it's own room, but you have to think about the next person to occupy the house and not build the whole house around owning a pool table! They do tend to turn into albatrosses over time, often with people ending up taking only pennies on the dollar to get rid of them. Think of what that room might be if it weren't dedicated to billiards.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 8:08PM
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Dekeoboe - I agree the picture can be hard to see, I will try to post another picture.
The closet in bedroom 3 is 5x5 and the closet in bedroom 4 is 6x7. These are designed to be the kids rooms.

You are right about the billiards room - its 12 by 14 which is tight for a table. We are calling this the billiards room because its the only spot we have for our pool table until we finish our basement game room. It will fit our table but its not ideal.

Bedroom 2 is intended to be a guest room and we had not considered removing the door - interesting idea for us to discuss with our builder!

Seems like you are catching quite a few of the things we have been wondering. That is a linen closet beside the laundry but we have been discussing doing away with that closet and having built in shelving there instead - maybe with a nook for the family computer/electronics station.

TV in the family room will be above the fireplace. I know that has been a hot topic in other threads but we decided to have a flush hearth to lower the height of the TV. The sofa and chairs will be centered in the room facing the fireplace wall.

Access to the screen porch will be from either sun deck (from the breakfast door or the billiards door). No direct access from the family room.

Thanks for the questions! Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 8:19PM
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Hmmm.. I'm getting a reputation. :/
But, yes, in every bathroom except bed 3 and bed 4's, the doors on the w/c are unsafe (this includes the 1/2 bath on the main floor). I can provide the explanation if you need it.

More importantly, how long do you think you will live in this house? How many people and what age? Anyone ever had a broken lower limb? Said person (with injured limb) will not like having to climb the steps every night they need a bath. Having only a powder on the main level isn't really the best idea (even though it is rather popular in modern plans). I think you have the room though, to get a shower in there, if you put it where the vanity is, and put the vanity where the closet is, and then turn your closet so it opens out into the hall... At least, that would be my first recommendation to try (I also can't see all your dimensions very well).

And, just because I am interested, what type of window is placed above your (master) bed?

Moving on... why the separate door for the toilet in Bath 2? (It doesn't seem like it needs one, and the one that is there is dangerous).

If it were me, I'd choose the master bath you have pictured (larger shower), except I'd reverse the door swing. :)

For Bd3's WIC, remember that you will have some limitations with the attachment of closet rods and shelves with the pocket door wall... You will need to attach most of your shelves and rods via the BACK wall of the closet and not the bedroom wall, since there will be a door in the wall... (unless you change that door).

In your kitchen, I'm not crazy about your fridge location, but have difficulty recommending a different spot. So, with that in mind, I'd recommend a prep sink in the island. As it is, anyone who wants a quick veggie or drink needs to go from fridge AROUND island, to sink (to wash, fill glass, whatever). With a prep sink in the island at the fridge end, you can eliminate the traffic from fridge to main sink by all but the cook (who will still have to skirt around the island to go from one to the other). And, it makes taking something out of the fridge to prep for dinner (peppers, lettuce, whatever) easier to rinse with a prep sink in the island.

I'm also not thrilled about having to walk through the mudroom to get to the pantry, but you know your family better than I do. In my climate with my family, I'd always be stepping on pine needles or sand on my bare feet on my way to the pantry while cooking, and that'd get old fast. Not to mention always tracking that into the kitchen. Only you can answer how tidy your family is, and what sort of climate you have.

As placed, it appears you may have a door conflict at the mud room to outside and mudroom to garage door location. You might check that.

And, again, with the pantry door being a pocket door, you will have a limitation how you attach shelving to that wall. (It can be done, you just don't want to forget about it.)

That is...

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 8:20PM
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Hollysprings - great thoughts.

We could not find a solution for moving the kitchen to the corner because we did not want the outside door or garage door to open directly into the kitchen.

As for a downstairs bedroom, its would be nice to have. When you say flip the stairs, do you mean move them into the foyer facing the front door?

For the living room, we originally did not want that space but we are leaning towards moving the computer upstairs and turning the former office into a formal living room. That would keep our "formal" spaces in the front and the family space in the back.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 8:28PM
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Kirkhall - you dont disappoint. :)

I am curious about the bathroom door feedback. Thinking back to past several houses that I have owned, it seems like I have had water closets both ways and never really noticed. Not sure what they says about me, but hey, would love to understand the viewpoint.

We have two kids (aged 7 and 10) and plan on living in this home for a minimum of 10 years (until the kids graduate high school).

The window in the master suite is a transom window that would be above the king bed.

Great points on the pocket doors - the builder did discuss that with us and he said he could make those walls wider (I think he said 6 inches) to ensure we had the right support in the pantry and closet 3.

A prep sink is a great idea - something we can certainly add.

I have used the pantry in the mudroom layout in a previous home and it worked for us. Not sure if we are tidy or not, maybe we just dont eat at home as often as we should?

Thanks for the discussion!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 8:45PM
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Hi VAfamily! It's tiny type, but it looks like your garage is 21 feet deep. Possibly even 21x21? What kinds of cars do you drive? If you're hoping to park an SUV inside or a truck, it's going to be VERY tight. And forget about parking 2 cars.....well, you could, you just wouldn't be able to open the doors to get out! :) Unless, of course, you're a compact car family. Then you could just disregard.

And I'm with Hollysprings- I'd love to see you take advantage of windows in both kitchen walls.

Are you hoping to use the mudroom for the ever popular benches/hooks? Doesn't look like you'd have much room to place these objects.

Can you afford to add a few more feet to the plan? If so, I would bring the garage forward and slide the mudroom and pantry in that new space. Enlarge and move the kitchen to the corner and give your breakfast room (and island seating) a little more space. Move the doors around in the mudroom to give yourself more usable space. VERY crude paint mock up:

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 10:23PM
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Wow, Kelhuck! This is why I love this forum so much. We have struggled on this mudroom/pantry layout from the very beginning and I think you just gave us the best idea on how to fix the things that worried us about that the most. Taking your layout change to the builder right away to have it changed. Thank you!

We have also decided to change the billiards room to a bedroom by adding a 4 foot extension (equal to the family room) and will add a closet and a bathroom. We will need to tinker with some options for layout. The bedroom will end up being smaller than we normally like but fine for a guest room for the occasional visitor that struggles with stairs.

Anyone have a good suggestion on how to change the billiards room to a bedroom, closet and bath(shower only)? The dimensions available after the change will be 12 feet wide and 18 feet long.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 10:49PM
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Kelhuck's version is what I was thinking to solved the corner issue. It also can get your pantry out of the mudroom path. I'd swap the location of the mw/oven and Fridge though, because in this version, you have even further skirting of the island to get to it...

Now on the bathroom toilet door issue...
In small bathrooms or toilet only rooms, if a person collapses or passes out and needs attention (it happens more than you care to think about), with an in-swing door, the hinges are on the inside of the door and an EMT cannot push the body out of the way of the door to get access... Make sense? Not a pretty picture, and not something I'd want to be faced with if I had a collapsed loved one on the other side of the door "stuck" in there.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 11:16PM
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Now that is a perspective I had not even considered. I can understand that viewpoint completely and will make the changes with the buider. You are right, not a pretty picture but very real. Thanks for the explanation, I appreciate the extra time.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 11:24PM
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kelhuck - I was trying to explain the exact same change to another poster who has a somewhat similar plan. I hope you don't mind, but I copied your edits onto that thread as well!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 10:29AM
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Make sure you add windows on either side of the stove to take advantage of the new light. The new plan looks real good.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 10:42AM
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What do you plan on using the billard room for once you finish the basement?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 12:05PM
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gaonmymind - sounds like a great idea. We will need to rework the kitchen layout with the new design. Adding windows on both sides of the stove is an excellent idea and moving the fridge closer in are both on the list.

Laura12 - based on the feedback, we are going to change the billiards room into a bedroom and add a 4 foot extension on the back to make room for a bath and closet. The billiards table will just need to hang out in the basement and wait patiently until we finish the downstairs game room.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 2:16PM
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Your floorplan is very similar to ours. It looks like yours is designed for a more formal lifestyle, but other than that, it's the same basic concept. :) We have a much more casual lifestyle (no paid staff, unfortunately) so my responses are based on MY lifestyle. If your lifestyle is different, you take take my comments with a grain of salt.


(1) Will you actually dine in the dining room? Who is the cook in your house? Does he/she enjoy carrying hot dishes 28 feet across the house? Even if you have household staff who cook and serve your meals, it's quite the distance.

(2) Your pantry is not easily accessible from the kitchen. Will the cook in your house be okay carrying food/appliances 21 feet from the pantry to the island on a regular basis? Will your kids put their cereal boxes back in the pantry, or will they be left out on the counter due to the 42 foot march back/forth to the pantry?

(3) Ensure your garage is wide/deep enough for your needs. Our current garage is about the same dimensions as yours and it is a nightmare for two cars, plus garbage/recycling bins and some tools. Once we added the baby stroller into the mix, we pretty much want to throw things every time we navigate our garage.

(4) I envy your screened porch. What a delightful space that will be!!!

(5) Do you play billiards often enough to justify having a dedicated space for it on your first floor? We don't play billiards, but I would keep this room because it would make a great play room for children!


(6) Of the two bathroom options, I prefer the "optional" one. I hate corner bath tubs because they are a pain in the butt to clean. (Again, we don't have paid staff. If we had a maid I would probably have a different opinion.)

(7) The master closet door placement makes it difficult to place furniture in the master bedroom. I see only two walls (one for a bed, one for a dresser). If you plan on keeping most of your clothes in the closets, I think this isn't a big deal, just something to think about. (We are minimalists and keep all of our clothes in the closet, so a dresser isn't a priority.)

(8) I'm confused about the Bedroom 3 bed and layout. Is that a nook for a dormer window? Is the bed one of those L-shaped bunk beds?

(9) I personally wouldn't want a bathroom for every single bedroom in the house, mostly because I hate cleaning toilets. Even if they are not used, I hate cleaning them because my least favorite thing to clean is dusting around the base (which gets dirty whether it is used or not). Again, I don't have a maid...I'm sure having a maid would change my perspective. :)

You don't say much about your family make-up, but based on your floorplan, I would assume that your household consists of one man, one woman, 2 teenaged/adult children living at home, and a part-time maid/cook.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 4:28PM
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minneapolisite - thank you for taking the time to add your feedback to the plan. Lots of great points - we dont have any staff - our family is husband, wife and two kids (aged 7 and 10). Not quite teenagers yet but we are building the house with the idea that they will become ones (whether we are ready or not)!

Enjoyed your comments and insight into the pantry distance. We were very excited when kelhuck helped us change that portion of the layout to reduce that walk. My rough estimate is now we will only be walking about 10 feet to get in/out of the pantry. We rarely eat in the dining room, our family prefers eating in the breakfast area instead. We do have lots of family that likes to visit and when they are in town, we then eat at the larger dining room table.

Thanks for the comment about the screened porch, we have never had one in our previous homes and are excited about the possibilities!

About Bedroom 3, it is a nook to accomodate the dormer window and the furnture pictured is a L-shaped bunk bed for our son. As he gets older, we have a different furniture layout in mind for that space.

We wrestled with the one bathroom per bedroom. Our final determining factor is that we really dislike hall baths that are shared and we are think a private bath per bedroom really fits our lifestyle.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 4:47PM
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If you will be adding a full bedroom and full bath in the billard space, could you have the bathroom have hall access and then remove your 1/2 bath?

That would allow you to open up your floor plan, allow light in from both sides all day, and also make your dining room feel as if it is part of the rest of your space instead of a small room tucked off to the front.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 6:04PM
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Yay! I'm glad you liked it! I'll share a couple of inspiration pictures that I have that I thought of when suggesting the changes. I would definitely enter the pantry from the kitchen now- you'll be able to better utilize the space in the mudroom.

I like how this pantry door looks like it's part of the cabinetry. It's hard to see, but the open door reveals a nice sized walk in pantry, which is what you'll have.
that's a blackboard on the top part of the door
same kitchen, different angle

And this kitchen makes me drool. The lights around the cooktop and over the sink are just heavenly. I think @lavenderlass posted this pic as an inspiration once, and I copied it to my file, as well. You can find tons of pictures like these on Houzz and Pinterest, if you haven't already started browsing those sites.

Of course, these pictures are my inspiration, not necessarily yours. But I think they give an idea of the potential your new space holds.

Good luck with the build!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 8:14PM
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Laura12 - love the idea of doing away with the powder room to let the dining room be more open to the rest of the house. Struggling with how to accomplish that - do you mean just do away with that space and add it to the dining room? Maybe you could expand a little to help my mental roadblock.

Kelhuck - I can tell our taste are very similiar - love all those pictures and the windows on both sides on the stove really set off the space. Thanks again for giving such great inspiration!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 8:42PM
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Congrats on the new build!

Lots of great ideas already suggested here. My only 2 cents is on the screened porch and access to it. Perhaps give some thought to how you will use it. We will be using ours to eat outside without bugs, to stay out of the sun and to enjoy rainstorms under cover. Without direct access to the screened porch, you'll be walking through the rain, or carrying food and dishes out the breakfast room door and then have to open the porch door, or, if you like to go barefoot, the sundeck floor may be rather hot on your feet when you make the trek. Just a thought. I would definitely want a door from the family room to the screened porch. Again though, it depends on how you plan to use it.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 9:09PM
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I am awful at drawing out my ideas, so unfortanatly I can't help you in that respect, however I know I've seen many floor plans that have an open front dining room.

Perhaps someone can help locate a floor plan where the dining room is to the front as per VAfamily's plan, but open between the dining room and the rest of the house?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 12:13PM
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Here are a few plans to use as inspiration regarding the dining room setup. They vary a bit in their similarity to your plan, but I thought they could help!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 1:06PM
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