Got House Plans ... Stair Placement?

lezli_2010September 23, 2010

My husband and I are building our first home and just got the plans finished. Some major critique of these plans would be appreciated! This is to be our retirement home, and we don't want a large home, nor do we want to spend more money than necessary. We like the large garage with direct access to the back yard, and love the open great room/kitchen under the vaulted ceiling. We're happy with all the bedroom and kitchen/dining/great room sizes. We love the front porch and the screened porch tucked into the house for privacy.

However, we're concerned about a few things: (1)The stairs to the bonus room being in the laundry room seems odd; we wanted "out of sight" space for the bonus room ... but wanted to be able to shut a door to the stairs so that it was "closed off." Placing the stairs along the back of the garage somehow made the roof pitch on the rest of the house too high (?). (2)We're also concerned about the size/layout of the laundry room, and (3)The fact that we're pretty sure the interior of the house is going to be too dark; the front door will face South/slightly Southwest, but with the porches, and few windows ... maybe add skylights? The size of the lot limits the length of the house - it's the most it can be and still have a side-entry garage. (4)The porch outside the garage was added simply because of something to do with the way the roof needed to overhang right there...we are okay with it, but would rather spend the money elsewhere if it's possible.

We just discovered this forum this morning, and were almost late to work reading and reading and reading ..... what an exciting find! Thank you in advance to any of you who can share some thoughts on this house plan!!!!

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

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macv

First, more people will read your entire post if you add some paragraph breaks. I didn't get past the first sentence.

I have never understood why anyone would want to sit at a counter and look at a sink or at someone working at a sink. The flying wing counter configuration is a powerful design element and draws too much attention to it like a "modern" house from the 60's. I would prefer to feature other more people friendly elements.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 9:26AM
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chisue

Sorry, I have problems with many things here.

Kitchen: The angled island creates a constricted working space. I'd tire of skirting it to get to the eating area. The refrigerator is the most-visited appliance in a kitchen; I'd put it near the eating area. If you will have your dishwasher in the island, think about where you will put the clean dishes; where are your upper cabinets? The sink IS a 'messy area' (echoing Macy's comment).

Eating Area: It seems dark. No windows or doors to the porch? More light will also help the interior kitchen.

Screened Porch: It will make the house dark, especially since it is on the north side. Use skylights. Will it feel 'airless'? It doesn't extend beyond the house. Its' only breeze would have to come from the north.

Garage Porch: What is the use for this? Does it need to be so big? (We'd have to see the elevations to understand what you are saying.)

Stairs: Just plain weird.

Laundry: Too small. I'd want the laundry tub next to the washer and all of it on an outside wall.

Foyer: 6 X 8? And made tight by a closet on the kitchen side and the bath on the BR side. Interior bathroom? Plumbed against the great room?

Storage: You don't have two things I consider essential: A back hall with space for all the stuff that comes into the house with its owners and holds the stuff ready to go out again. I need a closet for bulk and cleaning storage.

Family Half-Bath: There is no powder room (in the non-existant back hall. Nearest facility is through the house and around a corner.

Windows: Too small in places and not enough of them. Every room benefits from having natural light from two directions if possible. There are exterior walls with no windows.

Master Bath: I don't want to walk through a bathroom to get to my closet. I access my closet more often than my bathroom. Can it go between BR and bath?

Can you pull the BR wing farther forward, making more room for that hall bathroom?

Can you pull the garage forward, making space for the stairs to start in a hallway, not in the laundry area?

I'd readily trade the aesthetics of a side-entry garage for more logical space inside the house. (Are you precluded from having a front entry garage? HOA?) Could you have a detached garage with roofed walkway? You could add windows to the kitchen.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 10:48AM
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macv

Having to walk through the Great Room from both entry points to get to any other room in the house is one of the things I dislike most about modern house plans; they're like huge vacation houses.

My kids would say, "welcome to the 21st century dad" but I don't buy it; people still need some privacy and I don't want to listen to or see everything that goes on in a kitchen or see and hear a TV from the other spaces, not to mention the sad loss of the charm of a kitchen as it's own space ... with windows!!!.

That's just my cranky opinion and I will soon retire from this thankless underpaid profession and leave the young folks alone if AAPL keeps going up.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 12:37PM
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arkansasfarmchick

I'm going to disagree with others on a couple of points. I love love love having my kitchen open to my living room and eating area. I hated being isolated in the kitchen, to the point that I just avoided cooking or cleaning. It's a lot more enjoyable for me with it being open. My sink is on the island with a raised bar and I don't see why that is a drawback. I'm a farm girl though, I'm about keeping it real, not about appearances. ;-)

I also have MY closet accessed through the bathroom. My hubby's is accessed from the bedroom. I think my closet it awesome--I don't even have a door on it, it's just an extension of my bathroom with an open doorway. Works great for me, I keep my clothes put up better instead of hanging already been worn but not dirty enough to wash clothes all over my bathtub. haha I like not having to leave the warm bathroom to get dressed too.

Different strokes for different folks. Don't let somebody talk you out of something you like.

V

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 6:57PM
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arkansasfarmchick

I'm going to disagree with others on a couple of points. I love love love having my kitchen open to my living room and eating area. I hated being isolated in the kitchen, to the point that I just avoided cooking or cleaning. It's a lot more enjoyable for me with it being open. My sink is on the island with a raised bar and I don't see why that is a drawback. I'm a farm girl though, I'm about keeping it real, not about appearances. ;-)

I also have MY closet accessed through the bathroom. My hubby's is accessed from the bedroom. I think my closet it awesome--I don't even have a door on it, it's just an extension of my bathroom with an open doorway. Works great for me, I keep my clothes put up better instead of hanging already been worn but not dirty enough to wash clothes all over my bathtub. haha I like not having to leave the warm bathroom to get dressed too.

Different strokes for different folks. Don't let somebody talk you out of something you like.

V

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 7:01PM
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lezli_2010

Wow! Thanks to everyone .. so much! ... for the great comments. Lots of food for thought! Sorry about the lack of paragraph breaks - you're right.

We'll make revisions then share again! (Although I still love the open plan and closet in the bathroom, arkansasfarmchick!!) One change could be to the attached -it gets rid of the porch off the garage, and might allow entry from the garage into a mud/laundry room? Because of lot issues, we'd have to make the garage a max 20' deep up to the stairs in order to have 20'left for the driveway, though. Maybe?

Thank-you, Thank-you, Thank-you!!!
Signed, An Oklahoma! Farm Chick.........

Here is a link that might be useful: House Plans with stairs in back

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 9:43PM
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chisue

I've just noticed the LONG hallway back to your MBR door. There has to be a better solution.

I'd prefer the stairs off the dining area and a true 'back hall'. (The Google link you posted requires a password.)

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 12:33PM
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lezli_2010

Thanks, chisue. That long hallway is something I've wondered about, too. Deep sigh ........ back to the drawing board ... I think I was in denial!

Sorry about the link .... here's another try at it.

'Sure appreciate all your comments ... so very helpful!

Here is a link that might be useful: Plans with Stairs in Back2

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 2:07PM
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archson

Maybe put another door in the garage to provide access to the stair case? Then you can take stuff up there w/ out coming in to the house first, and still access it directly from the house.

The extra door will also allow you to use it as a in-law suite / guest apt (if there is going to be a bathroom up there) -- your guests can come and go w/ out disturbing you.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 6:59PM
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fish7577

What about swapping the master bath/closet areas with the master bedroom? It could eliminate the long hallway and allow more space for the master BR and bath. If it's windows holding you back, the amount of time the windows are actually uncovered and you're in the room awake is likely small, right? Get plenty of natural light in your bath/dressing area and eliminate the awkward hall. Perhaps leave the closet where it is, then place the MBedroom, then the bath at the back of house?

And DON'T do a corner tub unless you've actually climbed inside one at a display/store. You can't stretch out. Much better off with a 6' lenth tub, even if it's only 36" wide. Like many others have said, we don't use our whirlpool tub much.

After being in our house 4 months, I learned that you should put your money and your space toward the things you use EVERY DAY. We put in a large closet, and we're both very glad. I made sure the shower was the way we wanted with an overhead and regular sprayer, and of course it gets way more use than the tub ever will. We have a vanity/desk area in the master bath that DW uses every day, and it's more important than the 2nd sink that we have. Find room for a vanity/seat in the MBath or MBed. Your Master bath may be the most regularly used space in the house- you have the space, so make sure you use it wisely.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 11:44PM
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pamelah

Macv pointed out some things that I hope you consider.

The problem with people posting their plans for critique is that few posters state whether their footprint is maximized for the lot, or if their finances dictate the limitation of square footage to that of the posted plan. You say that the size of the lot has limited the width of the house with a side entry garage. I say (and I lost this battle with my husband) that a recessed front facing garage is easier for an oldster to navigate.

My first comment assumes that you consider enlarging the width of the living space.

The "living" section of your great room is 16' x 16'. As Macv points out, you have to cross that area entering and exiting the home. When you allow for the required traffic patterns you are not leaving yourself much room for seating.

I reccommend you try something that has helped me visualize spaces in my new home. Take some of the blue 2" painter's masking tape and tape the available seating area on the floor. Next, tape off the traffic pattern, giving yourself enough space to navigate between the entry and outdoor spaces, and behind any seating you may be planning for the island. Finally, place furniture within the "available area". If you are happy with the result, fine. If not, it's time to give some attention to increasing the size of the great room/kitchen.

Re the master bath- listen to the poster about corner tubs.
You can switch your shower to the area currently set aside for the tub, and you can run a tub straight against the wall where the shower is drawn.

Re the dressing table issue, I have had one in every home for the past 30 years. In past years it was more about dealing with long hair, now it's more about getting easy access to a 6x make up mirror so I don't look like a clown when I leave the house. If this is your retirement home think about being older. Think about every aspect of your life that will be affected by less mobility, agility, strength, and eyesight.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 6:54AM
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lezli_2010

How incredibly helpful!! I love the idea of switching the master bedroom and bath and shortening that hallway, and had already pretty much decided I would rather have a "straight" soaker tub instead of the corner tub. I really like the dressing table idea - it makes so much sense! As far as the side entry garage, I may lose that one with my DH but agree it would be easier.

We have maximized the space on the lot for both length and width, and are over our original sq ft max, as well. But perhaps with some adjustments to the plan we can get that 16x16 living space more manageable. Maybe move the doors to the screened porch from the living room to the dining room? Or .... ??

I love this forum! Your critiques and suggestions are so darn realistic ... Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 8:28AM
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chisue

Will you USE this bonus room? Stairs are an expensive item, and these are proving to be a problem. One of the important things for us as Seniors was to have all our living on ONE FLOOR. We actually *built* a formal staircase, and it leads to a full-height attic, but that's for some future owner who wants to add dormers and have 6000 sq ft! (Our neighborhood and lot are zoned for the larger home.)

If you want a smaller-footprint tub, would you like a deep Asian 'soaking tub'? I'm happy with my Ultra Bain jet tub. Mine is only 2 X 4 interior but 3 X 5.5 overall. It fills in a couple minutes. See if you can 'try one on' to get the right size. (You need to be able to brace your feet to stay upright, but still be able to 'submerge'.)

I don't know if our MBR suite layout would work for you. Ours is in a rectangle: BR on one end and bath on the other. A short hallway connects the two, with closets flanking it. (Pocket doors on closets.)

We enter our screened porch via the breakfast room off the kitchen. The 'great room in the middle of the house' tends to have this problem of no wall space for furniture and lots of 'walk-through' space necessary. It can also feel 'un-cozy' because you're sitting sort of 'out there'.

It's nice to have someone post who is able to accept our critisism without becoming defensive. You are a gracious person, which makes us all the more interested in trying to help.!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 10:35AM
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Apolonia3

If the fireplace could go on the long hall wall, you could access your bedroom from the fireplace location and eliminate the long hall. This would leave your bedroom looking out to the back yard and give you more space in the bathroom and closet. Good luck with your plan!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 11:38AM
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pamelah

I disagree with autumn. If you change the fireplace location you will have the "where does the TV go?" problem, AND (more importantly) the master door will be opening into a public area (ugly, plus yet another traffic path problem for the room). If the back yard view is the thing you want in the bedroom, deal with the long hall by moving the door forward in the hall a bit. You can always hang art on the hall into your master.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 12:52PM
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lezli_2010

I've attached some very rough drawings ... close to scale .. that I drew this morning to address a multitude of issues mentioned. Because I basically moved sq ft from the current laundry location to behind the garage, I don't think it's adding many sq ft. It's the best quality I could manage - still not good, tho. And it's in 2 pictures one under the other ... since my scanner wouldn't go wide enough to get all of it. Nevertheless, I hope you all can make it out and give me thoughts as to whether this is a good direction. I did this drawing before reading the last few posts.

Thank you for the kind comments, gisue. The tub you describe sounds perfect ... I'll find one somewhere and check it out ... and I'll think about that MBR layout if we still need to do something there. I think this actually addresses the points autumn09 and pamelah made, as well?

Many thanks to all of you ... you make this feel better ...... :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Revised .. stiars, laundry, entry, porch, hallway,...

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 1:32PM
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lezli_2010

I've revised the MBR and Bath so that the bedroom is in the middle between the bath and closet. This gets rid of the hall and puts more space in the MBR, too! See what you all think of this one, plus the revised one I posted just prior to this. Maybe I can have a concept pretty much in mind before I go back to have the plans redrawn! Again ..... thank-you!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Revised MBR and Bath

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 3:48PM
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lezli_2010

I've revised the MBR and Bath so that the bedroom is in the middle between the bath and closet. This gets rid of the hall and puts more space in the MBR, too! See what you all think of this one, plus the revised one I posted just prior to this. Maybe I can have a concept pretty much in mind before I go back to have the plans redrawn! Again ..... thank-you!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Revised MBR and Bath

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 3:49PM
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Apolonia3

Lezli, your second plan is nice. I still prefer the first one as I'm all about good views from every room, but that's just me. Unless of course you have a great view from the side?

I must make a correction from my post the other day. I actually meant have a small alcove/vestibule from the living room to the master bedroom. (Leaving your rooms exactly where they are.) So that you are not looking straight into the bedroom from the living room, Pamelah is right, you wouldn't want that for sure! We have a small vestibule in our new house and also our previous house and wouldn't have it any other way.
If you moved the bedroom door further in this may be possible. Anyway, just my thoughts. Hope I haven't confused you. Again Good Luck with your plan!

Autumn

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 1:36PM
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chisue

I'd tire of crossing the MBR between bath and closet. You have enough width to put a pair of closets in the middle flanking a short hall connecting MBR and its bath. I am often in and out (bath/closet/bath/etc.) when I'm getting dressed.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 1:53PM
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ncamy

How do I view your plans? Every link I go to asks for a password.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 2:20PM
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lezli_2010

Autumn09 and chisue - I also have thought that walking across the bedroom to go between bathroom and closet would be less than ideal ... and actually, the view in the back is much better than the view of the neighbor's garage on the side! So perhaps by trying to shorten the hallway, I've actually created a different problem! Putting the closets between the bedroom and bath - while convenient - really wouldn't help with the long hallway would it? Or am I missing something?

The idea of a "vestibule" sounds interesting, but I can't picture what you're talking about, autumn09 .. sorry!! Is there somewhere I can look at such an arrangement? One thing I do like about the revised plan is that I was able to get in a dressing table and a bigger linen closet, plus add a foot to the master bedroom and a foot to the closet simply from not having the "wasted" space of the hallway. Now if I could just figure out now how to have it all .... :) Thank you both so very much ...I'd much rather hash it about here than have the poor man drawing our plans have to keep doing them over and over and over!

Chisue ... did you see the revised stairs-laundry-entry-porch,etc. link above? It added the powder room, and created a "back hall" with stairs off the dining room as you had suggested. I then eliminated the front laundry room and created another spot for a window. I'm interested in your thoughts if you have time to share them. And again... wow ... thanks!

ncamy ... let me see if I can figure out what the problem is... It appears that autumn09 and chisue were able to see them ... I'm no technical whiz ... but I'd appreciate your comments, so let me see if I can figure something out!

Thank you to all!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 3:57PM
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Apolonia3

We have to walk through our bathroom to get to the closet and it isn't a problem, it's just a few steps more and it gave us more closet space this way.

I don't have my plans on the computer anymore or I would post them to give you an idea of the small alcove as I prefer to call it, builder called it a vestibule. It's just a small hall really. Frank Betz has a plan called Devon Park, not the perfect example, but it may give you an idea of what I mean.

Perhaps looking at a few house plans online may help with your layout. I know it's very frustrating at times, but in the end you'll get it just right! I couldn't tell you how many "Save As" plans I had in the end!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 5:10PM
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chisue

The stairs might work if they started across from the powder room and went up along the wall between the garage and the house. They'd have to have a bend starting where you have them -- look at where they'd end up at the far end of the garage overhang.

I'd still want a larger 'back hall'; bigger laundry w/laundry tub; more windows; closet for coats and all that 'stuff' I have in MY back hall closet. (Costco papergoods, mops, light bulbs, vases, the central vac hose, ironing board, spare leaves for the DR table, etc.)

The hallway between our MBR and our master bath is 3.5 X 7.5. My closet and DH's have pocket doors from the hallway. There's no door between our MBR and this short hall. There is a door between the hall and our bathroom. Our MBR is at the south end of this rectangle; bath is north.

I do see your problem. Would it help to design the secondary BR's in the rear of the house put the MBR suite at the front of the house -- with baths back to back? OR...move the MBR door (and 'vestibule') farther to the rear of the plan?

I'm starting to think you need to look at more existing plans similar to this for better answers. It seems to me I've seen LOTS of 'great room in the center' plans on this forum.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 5:15PM
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chisue

Search for "OK critics here's another plan..." by Tinker posted Sept. 11 It's a 'certral great room' plan and it has stairs.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 5:21PM
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ncamy

Do I have to have a google account to view these plans? I noticed recently that there was another post on the forum that also was google and wouldn't open for me.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 7:35PM
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lezli_2010

Thanks so much auntumn09 and chisue. Such good points .. wonderful food for thought. I'll take a look at the house and link you mentioned, chisue. Thanks so much for sharing!

ncamy, it may be that you do need to have a google password to see the documents. I haven't been able to figure out why you can't see them. I'm sorry.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2010 at 6:37AM
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lezli_2010

A thought: I think we'll move the fireplace to the screened porch wall (moving the door to the dining area, and adding windows on either side of the fireplace.) If we do that, it will free up the hallway wall and perhaps it can somehow be manipulated ... or removed??? Space added to master suite so that I still have a living room wall for furniture? Okay ... gotta get off here and go to work and quit stewing about this for awhile!!! Thanks to all .. have a great day!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2010 at 6:48AM
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lyfia

I would consider making the bathroom wheel chair accessible and so you could roll one into the shower too if this is your retirement home. My Dh's grandparents just had to retro fit their bath to make things work for his grandmother after her falling and breaking her leg.

Our whole house was done this way even though we were in our late 30's when completing the home, but it makes sense to do as who knows what life will throw at us. We still would have to convert our shower, but we have the space to do so.

You also mentioned having only 20' on the side to back out of the garage and that is pretty tight unless you have a small car with good turning radius. I know it is a minimum requirement, but you might test it out and see how you feel about doing it every day.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 11:35AM
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