Initial impressions of Floorplan - Need inspiration with layout

jenswrensAugust 15, 2012

I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on this first floor plan from my new architect. (Sorry for the poor quality photo. I just snapped it with my phone from the sketches - I didn't try to clean it up yet, but I will if it helps.)

As many of you know, we've started over (after 2 years of dithering around).

We have definite site restrictions due to wetlands issues and septic placement, and have to stay within a certain sq footage (although that hasn't been specifically determined yet). We have nice views on all sides and no near neighbors (except across the road). The road is to the right (northwest) of the photo, but the driveway is a long approach around a hill, so the front door/courtyard is at the bottom (east) of the sketch.

There are things about this layout that I'm really not liking, and some things that I do like. I want to see if others have similar thoughts, without me stating what mine are yet. This layout blends well with the gently sloping site (slopes to the south/southeast), and looks nice and expansive from the approach.

There will be a 2-car basement garage underneath the 24x24 family room. (The basement garage works for us and for the lot restrictions. I am NOT willing to waste my precious limited footprint or views on a ground-level attached garage - so that's not an option, and not part of my question here.)

For now, I'd like to get some initial impressions from folks about the general layout. Like it? Hate it? Why? What would you change?

We've been bothered by this for over a week and really need to move forward, so I'm desperate from some outside opinions. Thanks!

Here is a link that might be useful: My Someday House

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Well, there seems to be a SIGNIFICANT proportion of this floor dedicated to nothing but passage... The foyer is huge, you have 2 hallways between kitchen and foyer, and 2 staircases that take up a lot of room.

No main floor tub/shower, though the study could function as a guest room in the future if the need arose. It would be nice to either put in an elevator at one of your stair locations (near the garage) or get a shower/tub on the main floor for injury/access issues.

And, I am not sure how I'd personally feel about a view directly to the dining room from the front door. A room not oft-used in my family experience and that would be a focal point.

How do you feel about that?

Now, about family life. Where will kids play outside? Do you have any of "play" age? Is there good access to that outside area? And, can you see it from the location in the house you expect you'll be spending most of your time?

Will there be a bathroom near the garage on the lower floor? If not, I would be concerned about the only bathroom being WAY across the house from the family room and main family entrance--the places you'll spend most of your time (as a family)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 7:49PM
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I like it overall. I have a few comments, but need to know more. Can we see the whole plan? I need to see the whole thing to get a feel for how it will flow overall. Do you have kids? Do you need a mudroom?

Also it's hard to know whats wrong without knowing what direction you gave the architect as far as your needs. Maybe there is a big foyer because you requested it. I requested a large one because I wanted to put a round table in it and a settee. Also I have no vaults or 2 story spaces so I wanted the large foyer to have a wow factor.

I hope this makes sense.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 8:36PM
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Hi jenswren! Some of my opinions/observations:

Is this breakfast room intended to be used as an eating space with a table? Or will it just be window seating? I really don't see any way that a table can actually be used there while keeping the "hallway" space needed to go to the family room.

Seems like the area in the kitchen in front of the back door is just kind of blank space? Can you extend the island that way?

I think the front elevation could use a window between the front door and the breakfast room. Maybe you can put false closed shutters there.

Expanding on kirkhall's observation- if you keep the dining room as your focal point, it will be off center. That would probably bug me, but I like symmetry.

Do you need mudroom space, or will that be in the basement?

I LOVE the rambling farmhouse look!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 9:35PM
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This is the whole plan for now. He hasn't really started sketching on the upstairs yet, because we have to get this freaking footprint done for the DEP first.

But here's a little more information, if it's helpful: Full partial-walkout basement with: mudroom off garage, full bath, extra laundry, wine room, sewing/crafts, bird room, storage No vaults or 2-story high rooms, but will have 9.5' ceilings on 1st and 2nd floors. 4 bedroom septic: master and guest on 2nd, two kids rooms on 3rd (walk-up attic). All of these rooms are proposed to be above the main (formal) area of house (not the wing part). Laundry on 2nd floor. Access to outdoors is key - the land, views, and privacy are why we bought the place. There's a barn and outbuilding south and east of the family room/garage. Access right now sucks, so that's one of my main concerns for the new house. Now, can't get to front door at all from outside, long walk from parking area around a 40' long deck and up tons of stairs for groceries, main entrance now is our back door which is cluttered with all junk under the sun b/c we have no mudroom, no garage, no closet at all on first floor. (But I digress...) I really wanted a screened porch/sunroom but that didn't show up in the plan - probably because we are so limited by our sq footage or "disturbance" on the ground. I want long views through the house, and a nice approach. I don't have a dining room now, and desperately want one for formal and holiday dinners. I had one in Minnesota and used it daily for meals. I hate eating dinner, even regular everyday family dinner, in the kitchen. What I don't want in my "long view" from the formal front entry is to see the kitchen, the couch, the mudroom, the TV, the messy stuff. So the dining room works for me. I'm inheriting my great-grandmother's grand piano - thus the parlor room. We need an office/library to contain all our papers, books, files, computers, etc. That powder room is 8' long - can't put a shower in now (septic/bedroom issues with town), but in the future, after the permitting and inspections are done, there's room for it. I already made sure of that.

More please... :-)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 9:44PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

While it looks pretty from the outside, I struggle with the inside. The biggest thing I see is that, while the kitchen is in the middle of the design, it is isolated from everything...yet it becomes a pass through to get to anywhere. I would want the kitchen to be the heart of the home, but here it seems like a way station.

I agree that there is an awful lot of passage space in the plan that could be put to better use. Are 2 staircases necessary?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 10:14PM
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Wow! Very little to say on my part, I could live there just fine. Definitely post more plans and elevations when you receive them! From your description and plan, the garage/mud/pantry/kitchen route seems to work as well as can be with the different levels, and I would agree that the view through the entry to the dining room would be preferred as it will probably be the nicest and neatest room in the home. Regarding the centered-ness, it seems it's about 13 or 14 feet wide which is a good size, so if you plan to have a hutch/buffet/china cabinet on the right wall, you could shift your window to be centered on the front door with the table. Although, with the opening french doors, it might be worth it to widen the room a couple of feet and have it actually on center with the entry and give you ample room to open the doors and move about the table, especially on those holidays. In doing this, you could extend the left wall about the depth of the butler's pantry, and turn the pantry into the kitchen to give a focal point from the family room entry. I also might make the bay three windows instead of four so that the sizes are more comparable to the upstairs windows - traditionally larger windows/panes were put in the more important and public rooms with smaller panes in lesser seen and used areas. I also think the space between front door and bay would be nice with taller shrubbery or a trellis. Great start!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 10:16PM
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I like it a lot.

Love the size of your pantry.
Love two stairways.
Love the big passages--those spaces often give a home a gracious feeling if you can afford to use the sq ft for that purpose.
Love the big kitchen and the banquette.
Love the huge family room.

Do not love that you have to go through the kitchen to get to the family room--but I think I might be able to understand your rationale for that part of the design.
I would want a powder room closer to family room I think.
I agree with the suggestion of an elevator in this home if it is your forever home (basement garage, all second story bedrooms, etc).

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 11:29PM
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Wow! It's very different from your earlier plan, but I really like it. One change I would make is to take out the front staircase and make the living room larger, with a fireplace between the two windows. The other is to rework the butler's pantry, so the back door isn't opening into your walkway. Also, if you make the bathroom a bit bigger, you could include a shower, linen closet and window. And then the study could also be a downstairs guest room.

Maybe something like this? From Cottage house plans

Sorry my writing is so bad in Paint (LOL) but that says 'books' on the living room wall to the bathroom and study/guest room :)

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 12:01PM
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Oh, and if you need more wall space for the piano, you could also have the linen closet in the short hall, with a smaller bookcase in the living room. Just another idea :) From Cottage house plans

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 12:15PM
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This is a difficut one fo me becaue of all the land issues and entering from the basement. It's hard for me to get a true feel.

One thing I think is that the kitchen island could be extended at least another 3-4 ft. There is a huge dead space to the right of it.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 4:37PM
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I don't really see using this dining room daily for family meals in this layout. It is so far removed and so far removed from the DW and fridge! So, while in some layouts, I can see someone using the DR daily as their place to eat, I think in this house/this layout, that spot is the "banquette" window area. But, as mentioned, it is too shallow to serve that purpose AND walk though (AND have stools at the island... those for sure won't make it). You have almost the same amount of space to the right of the island as you do in the banquet area, except to the right of the island won't be a major passageway.

Tricky, tricky.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 5:20PM
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So, most everyone has pinpointed all the same issues that I have with this plan.

Annie summed it up well: "While it looks pretty from the outside, I struggle with the inside. ...while the kitchen is in the middle of the design, it is isolated from everything...yet it becomes a pass through to get to anywhere."

I love the look of the outside, the long rambling facade, but I really don't like the inside and how it functions. I am fine with the formal spaces (to the right), but that's all. Traffic flow sucks.

I worry about the FR being so isolated from the rest of the house. I don't like open plans, but this might be too closed.

I don't like that the kitchen is a thoroughfare. I don't want to have to walk through the kitchen every time I need to go anywhere. I like to "close" the kitchen at night and be done with it. Guests would have to walk through the kitchen from the dining room or foyer to get to FR (the only really substantial space we have for entertaining).

Yes, the breakfast nook is too small for a table and a passageway. I staked it out on the ground and tried to place island, cabs, table, chairs, etc., with at least 4' walkways. It just doesn't fit. I don't like the pantry on an outside wall, taking up potential views. Don't like that there are windows on only one wall of kitchen workspace. Don't like the main sink in the island. I could go on about the kitchen details, but really the problem lies in the placement of the whole room.

I had him add the stairs to the left because it seemed like such a long walk from FR to downstairs & garage, or to powder room. That's a problem I have already - walking miles in one direction to go up, only to turn around and come back again to kitchen. Those stairs only go down b/c there's nothing above FR. Second story is only above the formal areas. I do love the idea of an elevator.

DH came up with a functional plan that I really like that conserves the formal areas and reworks the FR/kitchen, but it's boring from the outside.

So, what I need now are ideas. How can I keep the pleasing facade, yet make the interior more functional and more user-friendly? (While still conserving sq footage.) Please help!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 12:56PM
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Hi jenswrens! A couple of thoughts from me (and please ignore the flying rooms at the top of the pictures!) :)

This one the kitchen is far from the garage, but keeps the dining room as your focal point from the front door. (You lose the breakfast nook.)

They would definitely need some tweaking, but hopefully one of these will help you form some ideas.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 1:59PM
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How many sq. ft. on that main floor? I designed my own home and have a walk-out basement I have some features that you may like.
I have been bed-ridden a few times too many and had a broken ankle. Are you sure you don't want a bedroom on main floor?
My house is about 2100 per floor, and I have two bedrooms on main floor. I wouldn't want to be without them. I have my dining rm/living rm as one 16.5' x 33', a kitchen similar to you with nook and deck door. Lots of storage!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 4:04AM
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