Dimensions/layout of family room

Laura517October 23, 2012

We are about to build our dream home, have our house plans and the foundation will be poured within the next month. I am having second thoughts about the floor plan, in particular, our family room. My husband and I do not like a totally open concept floor plan as our children are getting older and we do not feel the need nor want to hear what is being said or on the tv from the kitchen and dining area. So our kitchen opens to a breakfast nook on the backside of the house. The kitchen opens to the family room via a 5' 6" entryway on the other side of the room (without the kitchen table in between if that makes sense) The family room is 15 x 19' with a fireplace on the 19' wall and double french doors adjacent to the fireplace which lead to a side porch. We do not have a formal living room so this room will serve as a place for the family to watch tv as well as for entertaining. If we place the flat screen tv over the fireplace the sofa will sit about 12' from the television. I'm thinking the room is going to feel too small- I will have to place the sofa against the wall. I will try to attach the floor plan (if I can figure out how). Need advice on arranging furniture or....should we consider expanding the width of the room from 15' to 16 or 17'?

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Need to see the floor plan to offer any thoughts.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 10:32AM
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Laura - upload the plans and that way you will get far more support. Good luck

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 11:36AM
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Laura- A floorplan of the entire first floor would be helpful. For now, it sounds like your family room size is good, but the layout is a bit of a challenge.

Have you considered putting the TV on a different wall, rather than above the fireplace? That way you have two focal points...maybe have the seating area in an L-shape with a chair between the TV and fireplace?

Another possibility...maybe double doors, between the family room and kitchen, to give a little separation when you need it. Just a few ideas :)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 2:29PM
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Our previous home of 22 yrs had a family room that was about the same size of your proposed room. We had a fireplace on the 18' wall and our double french doors were on the adjacent 15' wall. We couldn't put the tv over the fireplace (brick fireplace & too close to the wall parallel to it) and we tried EVERY option under the sun to arrange the furniture in that room to get the best set up for viewing the tv. It wound up going in a corner and that really was the only way for the room to look good and for every piece of furniture to be far enough away from the tv for good viewing and for conversation. It was tight, but cozy. My husband never like it though!

In our recent build we went with a larger (19 x 21) family room and we put our tv over the fireplace.

I would suggest drawing your room size out on graph paper and trying to arrange furniture pieces (to scale) on your graph with windows/door openings and see how all will fit. I think you'd be happier if you increased your room size a bit, especially if you'll have walkways around the 15x19 space you have to work with.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 8:12AM
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I don't need to see a floor plan to tell you this room is going to feel too small. I guess door and window placement could make your situation different, but our current FR is 14 x 20 and it is maybe my most hated room in the house. Furniture arrangement is a nightmare. Our FP is on the short wall with tv over it, and there's not really enough room to navigate around the sofa or to have loveseat & sofa without having one of them against the wall. We also tried what Lav suggested, putting the tv on the long wall. That was better but it put us very close to the tv - cozy but almost too cozy, especially if this is the primary entertaining space in the house as well.

My Minnesota house had a FR that was even smaller 12 x 20, and it was cozy in a better way, but again maybe too close to the tv and difficult to arrange furniture. It might work if tv is more at eye level but definitely too close for tv to be high above FP.

If you have the option, I would increase the size to 16 or 17 or more. I think you'll be happier overall.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 9:45AM
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Thank you everyone for your comments and advice. I am attaching the first floor plan. We spoke to our builder yesterday and we are considering doing away with the porch on the family room (left) side of the house. This would allow us to add 2-3 ft to the width of the family room making it 17 or 18' x 19'.
I love the porch and feel we would be sacrificing the cottage "feel" but we would still have a small porch at the front entryway to the house. The builder said we would actually be saving money because the deck materials are so pricey and essentially we are not adding anything to the foundation. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 9:56AM
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Floor plan

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 10:02AM
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My living room is 13X21. The fireplace is on one of the short end walls, and I put the tv over it. We angled the tv downward and set it fairly low over the fireplace, and it is very comfortable for viewing.

I know lots of folks (at least on here) seem to hate the concept of putting the tv over the fireplace - but I can tell you it works very well in my setting and I really like it. When we first put it up, we set it too high and didn't have it angled downward - and it was indeed very uncomfortable viewing it like that. It is amazing how much lowering it just about a foot and angling it made all the difference in the world.

As far as the size of the living room....I would go for a larger size, particularly if you're going to be floating any furniture. At only 13 wide I don't have much room to float anything so most of my stuff is more or less tight to the walls. I wish I had 15 feet to work with! :) But even that might be tight if you are planning on floating things....I'd say you need to either post a floor plan, or at least work it out on graph paper to scale to see how it feels to you.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 10:04AM
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I hope you can all see the floor plan now. Had a bit of trouble getting it to load. I appreciate all the input regarding where to place the tv. I know it makes the most sense to put it over the fireplace but I do have concerns about looking up and comfort of viewing. Anyone have any photos they want to share of television over the fireplace...also we are going with a masonry fireplace, my husband is not budging on this one. He wants a "real" fireplace!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 10:12AM
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Laura - A family room of 15by19 or 285sqft is a good size. Our old home it was 326sqft and our new one will be 305sqft.

I would agree with patriceny that a TV over the fireplace looks fine - some hear dont like it but I've done it in two other homes and plan again on doing it in our new build. With a wall of windows you have I wouldnt put the TV there so its either over the fireplace (albeit yours is not in the middle of the room) or the other wall that backs onto the study. However if it were there the fire could be on but everyone would be facing away from it. again just IMHO. Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 10:52AM
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Why the 2 staircases? They seem to be too close to each other and start/end in the same areas. Not much functionality added for the additional cost to build them. You also block what could be some nice backyard views with the right/back staircase.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 11:04AM
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Your family room feels small because of the double french doors.
Expanding out onto the porch area doesn't really improve your family room feel, imo--it just makes it squarer, but you lose something you love.

Why not reduce your double french door to porch to a single french door, and then maybe skip the doors to the study (you have a hallway entrance afterall.

Then, furniture can be arranged in two "lines", think 2 sofas (with coffee table between, if you want), sitting perpendicular to the fireplace wall. Put the TV on the study wall side. No, no one will be looking directly at the TV, but everyone will be able to see it fine, and it won't feel small...

do some cut outs of furniture pieces, and try it out.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 12:56PM
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chispa- We wanted a second staircase to basement because we do not have a bulkhead and my husband felt it was important to be able to get large items in and out of basement without having to go through the foyer. Not my idea..but you know a marriage is full of compromises. The architect designed the foyer/mud room area with transom windows in order to let some of the natural light from the windows at the back of the house through to this area.
kirkhall- I like your idea of putting 2 sofas perpendicular to the fireplace with the tv opposite the fireplace, but I'm still not sure if there will be enough space to walk with ease around sofas.

I do need to measure it out on graph paper with some sofa dimensions to see how close we will be to the tv.

I am leaning toward enlarging this space 2 or 3' and forgoing the porch- we will use this space year round. We live in RI and will not use porch at least 5-6 months out of the year.

The house is about 3400 sq ft on two levels so I think a small FR will feel out of place next to the large kitchen and dining room.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 2:32PM
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Laura, I would have your husband reads these threads. What are these large items and how many times a day/month/year will these large items be moved in/out?

As the plan is drawn, any large items will be difficult to navigate in that space. There are only a few feet between the stairs and the wall in front of it. Not much room to turn or maneuver. If you moved it to the right and had it opening into the garage, then it might make sense if he was into something like woodworking or another hobby in the basement. Otherwise, I think it will be a waste of money and a major space hog.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 5:56PM
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Our family room in our last house was 14.5 x 22. It was a wonderful size. It was set up much like yours, but the fireplace was centered on the wall. We had slightly more room than you but here is what we had. . .

I would center the fireplace on the wall - absolutely. The off center fireplace would bug me incessantly and would be very difficult to decorate around. If you can't fit a double french door, put a single. Put a large window on the other side. Have corresponding transoms on both (this is like ours and I am a symmetry nut but it never bothered me).

I am attaching a link to our old house, which sold, but I think the pictures are still online. There are some ariel views of the family room. We were able to fit two very large leather club chairs, an ottoman, a sofa, a club chair and a bench, plus two extra benches beside the TV armoire. We could comfortably seat 8 in there and 10 in a pinch!

You will have to flip through the real estate pics to see but maybe that will help you with furniture arrangement.

FYI the passageway between the right bench by the armoire to the table is 24". Minimum recommended distance is 22". That was our main passageway into the master bedroom and it didn't feel tight at all.

Here is a link that might be useful: Family Room

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 7:49PM
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Oh now I see the fireplace is centered - it is just set up like our old one with french doors on one side and a double window on the other. I think if you change the study doors to a single door instead of a double, and you put a club chair or something slightly in front of the french door next to the firepace (like we did in the picture above), you will be able to center the sofa on the fireplace on the blank wall and float the rest of the furniture. I think the double door into the study is what is causing the problem, as it leaves no room for a sofa centered on the fireplace, particularly if you want some sort of table on the side of the sofa.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 11:58AM
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Thank you for your ideas. I do understand why it didn't feel like the fireplace was centered but it is centered on that wall. What do you think if we switch the doulbe doors to the porch to the far side of the FR, place a large double window where the current doors are (similar to your old house) and then also change the french doors to the study to a single door?

I graphed out the room and I think I can have a large (7'6") sofa against the study wall, 2 chairs floating in front of the triple windows and a loveseat perpendicular to the sofa and the fireplace. This leaves about 2'6" - 3' in between the sofa and loveseat for passing through. DO you think that is enough?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 3:54PM
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If it were my house, I'd get rid of the porch and get the square footage inside. Of course, in Ohio we only spend so much time outside.

It's difficult for me to read the dimensions on your floorplan, but your porch seems kind of small/narrow. What do you plan on doing out there? What kind of furniture do you want to have? Will you have a railing? It just seems like the space outside of the double doors will feel like a walkway and then the space behind your fireplace is so skinny that it will be like a walkway to the small patch where you could put a small table and chairs.

I'm not one of the experts around here so take my opinion for what it's worth. Good luck figuring it all out! :-)

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 11:33PM
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It's odd to have a private family space on the front of the house exposed to the street, and a more formal space like a dining room on the rear. I'd swap them and then even out the foundation jog with the end of the breakfast area to get a little more room for the family area.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 1:19PM
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I think you could definitely flip your french doors and your window, and I would certainly do a single door to the study. That would give you plenty of room on the wall opposite the fireplace for a sofa and end tables.

My only comment about the loveseat is the barrier between the family room and kitchen. I might prefer two club chairs there instead, lined up like a love seat, but with a small table in between to break up the mass and to allow a better sight line from the kitchen.

This is a terrible picture but you can see the club chairs with a small table in between on either side of the sofa. The one closest to the table has a floor lamp in front of it, the other does not. I think you have room for this on the kitchen side. You could do the same fabric as the sofa on the club chairs.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 2:16PM
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We decided to expand the FR by 3' and keep the porch! So here is the new front elevation. Can't decide what size windows to use? Builder suggested 2 sets of double windows, but I am not loving it. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 12:57PM
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