Feedback on house layout

laxgalOctober 31, 2012

Hi all,

I believe we're getting close to finalizing house plans - this forum has been invaluable in this process! I was hoping to get your feedback on the following house layout. The house will be a 1.5 story cape (with gable in the front for the garage, and a gable in the back for the screened porch). There will also be an unfinished (for now) basement (accessed by door opposite powder room). Upstairs will be kids' bedrooms and bath. For now, I would love your input on the main floor layout. Some of the room dimensions are hard to decipher, so I have the approx. dimensions posted below. Ignore the staircase in the garage - we were playing around with having access to the attic space from the garage, and forgot to remove the staircase. The garage will have a side-entry (doors are not drawn). Other notes: the living room will have a gas fireplace on the wall adjacent to the back porch, with a window seat wrapping around to an entertainment center. Thank you in advance for your expert advise!

Piano room (labeled as "office"): 12" x 10'

Dining: 11' x 12'

Living: 17' x 20'

Kitchen: 12' x 18'

Breakfast nook: 12' x 9'

Master bed: 17'4" x 12'6"

Master bath: 14' x 8'

Laundry: 9' x 10'6"

Garage: 22'4" x 24'

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I'd reverse the stairs, although that would mean coming down the stairs you would see into the power room, so that might need some rearranging. But, with the way they are currently, when everyone comes in from the car, the kids will go through the main working area of the kitchen in order to get to their bedrooms.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 5:00PM
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That's a good point, dekeoboe - I was focusing more on having easy access to the stairs from the master bedroom in case the kids needed us at night; I will need to think through that, though, because it would create some major changes to the plan - as it is, I don't believe there would be enough head room at the top of the staircase to reverse them (the second floor is a 1/2 story).
But you also caused me to think through traffic flow to the basement from the garage, and I may have to re-think the direction of the basement door swing; for example, it would be difficult to carry something from the garage to the basement. If I reverse the swing, at least it could be opened a full 180 degrees for easy access from the kitchen side...
Thanks for the input!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 6:47PM
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Venting will be VERY difficult for the kitchen unless there is a closet directly above the range that you can run the ducting through. The island needs a prep sink on it. And it will be dark, in the center of the house. I think that the family room would be better in that location. Especially for TV viewing where glare from windows is a distraction. That would allow the kitchen to have windows and make venting much easier with the range probably being able to be vented directly out an outside wall. I wouldn't waste the possibility of a room with windows by putting a pantry on an exterior wall. It would be best to be able to tuck a part of it under the stairs so as to recover some of that wasted space.

If you add a closet to the study, it can count as a bedroom for appraisal purposes which will help to increase the value for your loan. And it can also serve as a guest room, but you'd need to add a shower to that powder room to have it serve as a guest bath. That would also add value to the home for appraisal purposes. The front porch is really shallow and unusable as a porch. It needs to be at least 10' to have a seating area and have traffic pass by that seating area. If you only envision it as being ornamental, then that's one thing, but it wouldn't be that much more money to make it much more usable. The garage seems rather small given that you have stairs in it. If those stairs are to a bonus room, they should originate from the hallway in the house, not the garage due to code issues. Or else make the room accessible from the second floor.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 10:25PM
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The OP said: " Ignore the staircase in the garage - we were playing around with having access to the attic space from the garage, and forgot to remove the staircase. "

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 11:08PM
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Thanks for the additional thoughts, live_wire.
Venting hopefully won't be a problem for the kitchen because we have unfinished attic space above that portion of the house. The bedrooms will be located above the master. I do understand what you're saying about the kitchen possibly being dark, though. We were thinking about vaulting the ceiling above the living room and putting lots of windows in the far right wall (facing south); do you think that would help? I've messed around with switching the locations of the kitchen and living room, but I never like the flow that results. Plus, I really like the kitchen being close to the garage.
I've also considered putting a closet in the piano room for appraisal purposes, but I don't think we will ever use that room as a bedroom. We'll have at least 2 bedrooms upstairs (with a large play room over the garage that could be converted into another bedroom). We will also have plumbing for another bath in the basement (partial walk-out) with an office down there which could also be a bedroom.
I will have to look into the cost of expanding the front porch. We've always had front porches, but have never utilized them in previous houses (we prefer porches on the back). However, I do like the "look" of a front porch. So, I guess we'll have to see how much extra it would cost to expand that space to see if it's worth it.
I quickly drew up another version of the plan this morning; adding a hallway so that there is easier access to the upstairs from the garage entry. This takes away a seating area from the master bedroom, and makes the bedroom much smaller (we might consider bumping out the left exterior wall to gain some space back, plus a bigger garage never hurts). On the other hand, we find that we never use the seating area in our master. But, I realize that it could hurt us in re-sale not to have that.
Thank you all for your thoughts - I really appreciate it!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 11:04AM
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You can see the half bath toilet from the kitchen island...

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 8:04PM
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Hi laxgal- Just curious how many square feet the house plan is? We are almost to completion on our 1.5 story home. Your main level is laid out quite differently than ours but does seem more cost effective. We also have our master suite on the first floor with 2 bedrooms, a full bath and bonus room on 2nd floor, however, the stairs are at the front in the foyer with a balcony overlooking the great room. Our main level is 2300 sq ft and second floor is 800 sq ft. We also have a full walk out basement.
I think you'll be able to work with your plan to achieve what will work best for your family. Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 12:35AM
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kirkhall - A good point about the toilet; at our house right now you can see the powder room toilet from the front door and it drives me crazy; so that should have been something I would have caught! Thank you - I may "flip" the bathroom so that won't be an issue.
SMPOP - Right now the main floor is right around 1700 square feet. The upstairs is 600 (not including the bonus room over the garage - that adds another 200). We've been through what seems likes hundreds of iterations of plans - our goal has been to keep it as efficient as possible. I love the idea of the stairway in the foyer with a balcony - all my original plans were drawn that way - but we're in a cost-cutting venture, and we decided that it would be much cheaper to not make the staircase a focal point. I'm sure your foyer is gorgeous, though! I'm curious as to why you chose to build a 1.5 story? We're *hoping* that it will be cheaper than a full 2 story, and we like a smaller-looking house. Have you found that the 1.5 story is more cost effective to build? Also, are you using attic trusses in your build, or is the roof a rafter system? We've gone back and forth on that as well, and are currently leaning toward rafters - but we're not sure how that will affect our cost.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 9:01AM
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I don't like that the dining room is so far from the kitchen. Moving food and dishes back and forth will be a lot of walking. I'd investigate switching the office and the dining room spaces.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 9:34AM
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Thanks MrsPete, I've thought about that as well! The issue we had with reversing the dining room and office locations is that I want the piano on an inside wall since it's an upright. Also, I was hoping to use the dining room space as "overflow" seating space from the living room when we have large groups of people over (I'm a pastor's wife, so I tend to host a lot of showers and other events where we need lots of seating space). Since I'm trying to keep the rooms as compact as possible for our needs, I thought that would be the best way to accomplish the need for extra seating on certain occasions.
We only use the dining room once or twice a week when we have company over; otherwise I see us using the breakfast nook for most meals. So, I'm hoping that won't be a big're right, though, it may not be the ideal distance from the kitchen..

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 9:44AM
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Another question - does anyone think it would be annoying to have to walk around the bed in the master bedroom to get from the bathroom to the closet? My husband says it will be fine - I'm worried about it. Adding that hallway and shrinking the master causes me to place the bed in that "walkway". Any thoughts? I thought about reversing the master bed and bath locations, but I like the corner tub with windows (we have a pretty view out the back, and I think we would enjoy it more from the bath than from the bedroom). Your feedback thus far has been so helpful!!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 9:58AM
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laxgal- The initial reason we went with a 1.5 story is that my husband has always liked that style with the balcony overlooking the living area. We found a plan that fit our needs almost perfectly and made a few changes to it. Then, looking at costs, we estimated that a 1.5 story was more cost effective than building the same amount of sq feet with a ranch style home anyway. I believe that we have all trusses in the roof but I apologize that I'm 100% sure. We were able to utilize a lot of the "dead" space in the second story by creating three good sized storage areas. We still have access to the attic above the ceiling as well. I hope that makes sense, lol.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 12:38PM
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I meant to say I'm "not" 100% sure :)

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 12:39PM
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Thanks for the additional info, SMPop - I think our next step is to decide on a builder so we can work through the roof truss/rafter issue. Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 9:19PM
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On your master closet entry question...
I am concerned you don't have an egress window in your bedroom (the way I am seeing this, unless those beside the bed windows are casements). You may have to rearrange.

If I were you, I'd want my bedroom on the corner so I could get light on 2 sides, rather than sandwiched between the closet and bathroom.

This also would solve your double door problem. As is, you really have NO spare room, and barely enough room for *maybe* a dresser or tv stand along the hall wall.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 12:55PM
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Thanks again, kirkhall - you're right; I should probably forego the corner tub and reverse the two rooms; we don't need a lot of room in the bedroom (we don't watch tv in bed, and plan on doing built-in dressers in the closet). But that would probably be a better setup in case of resale.
You all have been great; thank you for the help!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 9:13AM
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If you're going to have your dressers in the closet, do you want a source of natural light in there? My husband dresses in the dark every day, but I don't like to do that.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 9:33AM
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Zone4newby - we could easily add a window to the closet, but I guess I was concerned about the practicality of that, with the possibility of clothes fading; and I feel like we would just have the window covered all the time since we only use the closet to dress. Thank you though; another thing to add to the decision list!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 1:13PM
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