Small house , what do you think?

NashvilleBuild42January 18, 2014

Hello again. Hoping to get some feedback from those of you with small homes.

Looking at this floor plan how live able and functional do you think the spaces will be?

We will be turning the storage area behind the garage into a playroom/family room for our space. The apartment below is for my MIL.

My thoughts: there will be a pool in backyard. MIL will have her outdoor covered patio and dog run on the side of the house with a walkway and gate that comes around to back yard and our patio and pool area. We will create a door off the play room to back yard or maybe at bottom of stairs?

MIL loves her space is thinking of turning pantry into more of a dog/mudroom with door directly to dogs yard.

At first I balked at our space thought it was too small or lacked storage but we gain a lot of room in the play room for toys and the inevitable teenage hang out.. And well have a 3/4 bath down there as well I think.

So my questions: how do you feel about the space allotment upstairs. Think the kitchen is big enough to function? Will the dining area be able to handle seating for 6 or 8? Think I could create a small reading nook at the top of the stairs where the layout shows a desk?

Things we adore: the covered deck. It's huge it is a second living room for 8 months of the year. The fireplace and built ins in the lr. The lr seems sized nicely for one large sectional and a smaller chair. I love the shower 42*62 and large bathtub in the bathroom. Bedrooms seem adaquate. We do not have out of town guests at our main house. We spend weekends or holidays at our lake home. We have 2spare rooms + attic bunk room there for family and friends.

I'm a little worried about storage of decor etc, but I'm thinking worst case we could store in the sports garage? Any suggestions for adding storage ? Any concerns over size or general layout?

Thanks for the help!

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Main level

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 5:03AM
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Top level

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 5:04AM
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Interesting, and looks like it would work great as two apartments but it looks like the main floor has a bigger living room. If it were me, I'd want the bigger living upstairs where more people are living. Does your mil need a full apartment? If so, this looks ideal.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 4:08PM
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Marti thanks for taking the time to look. Mil is still mobile and wants her independence. We also want the privacy. I think the main level apartment provides that. For aging in place were debating on changing her bathroom to just one large curb less shower. Or perhaps a large tiled area that includes a tub for now that could be removed if she should become wc dependent.

I think the LRs are nearly same sq footage just layed out differently. Plus we will have the large playroom behind the garage?

Do you have any opinion about the kitchen and DR size?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 5:49PM
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I just posted this on the other forum, but maybe this would work?

If you need a bigger shower, maybe a stackable W/D? From Kitchen plans

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 0:14

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 11:42PM
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Thanks lavender. I responded over there.

Does anyone else have opinions on kitchen size or dr size? Any ideas what I could do with the space at top of stairs? A built in bench/seat by windows to read? I was hoping to hear feedback on sizes from fellow small housers.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 1:32PM
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Frankly, a reading area in the same room as the kitchen and tv would never work for me. Also the hustle and bustle of people coming and going on the stairs would be a distraction.

Your MIL will have a ton of privacy. The rest of your family is basically living in one room, with only bedrooms and a play room on another floor to retreat to. Sharing one bathroom, unless people are willing to go all the way across the house and downstairs to take their morning shower, if you make the downstairs bath a 3/4 bath.

In terms of future resale, the upstairs really doesn't have a master bedroom. Depending on what is expected in your area, that could be a drawback for buyers.

Do you need two eating areas right next to each other? If you do, do you need to seat 4 people at the island? If you could cut that down to 2 barstools, you could make the island a bit smaller and get a bit more room in the living area.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 3:06PM
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I agree with all of Camlan's comments. Everything seems squeezed in your area, and I really don't like having only one bath upstairs. If this were my home, I would have the kids sleep and play downstairs with a remodel to add a shower to their bath. Then I would move the W/D upstairs. This could be accomplished by hooking onto the tub plumbing on the opposite side of wall, within the closet area of the bedroom located in the front of the house. I would deepen that entire closet area so that the W/D could be stacked with a small utility area of only about 18" w. to the left for a vacuum, broom & clearning supplies. After that W/D & utility are enclosed by themselves, I would enclose another small area in the remaining closet space to the left by adding a small half bath in that same bedroom. One could hook onto the plumbing of toilet already present by running the plumbing thru to the wall on the opposite side (closet area of the front bedroom). Then add a tiny sink. One could enter this half bath either through what is currently showing as a storage closet in the hall or through the inside of the front bedroom. That same bedroom could be changed to an office/guest bedroom. I would then close off the entrance to the current bathroom and access it from the bedroom in the rear of the house. If the front bedroom could be entered by the area in the front by the stairs (near the designated desk area), that would free up the hall area by the back bedroom to reconfigure it as part of the master bedroom and master bath. None of this is probably being explained very clearly. Bottom line, I would consult with an architect to see what your options are for making the most of your space. The current bedrooms sizes do not bother me. For example, I've converted the master bedroom of my small patio home into a sitting area and the tiny second bedroom is used as my bedroom and home office. It's only about 9 ft. wide and has a regular size bed on that wall. If one were to change the bed to a queen, there would still be plenty of room on both sides. There are large storage drawers beneath my bed. I suggest you look on youtube for prior episodes of the TV series Small Spaces, Big Style for storage ideas and making the most of small spaces.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 3:47AM
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Morning. Wow a lot to think about. I think it's nice to have such contradicting opinion. I appreciate your input, thanks!

Camlan- I doubt anyone would consider this plan if they are worried about resale or appraisal. Neither are an issue for us. We plan on living here for at least 14 years. At that time we will likely rent out both units or just sell everything (the land would be what we're selling the house is not going to affect the sales price)

I am adding the 3/4 shower down more for the shower near the pool and convenience of a bath downstairs in the family room. We will also have a teeny tiny 1/2 bath in the converted stable by the pool. The stable will house my DH workshop, our family's sports gear garage, and our gym and yoga studio. So we do have away space on property as well as hiking and biking trails. Plus the covered deck adds a lot of sq footage 9 months of the year...

As for bathrooms, I think three people can work out a shower schedule, although when our daughter reaches her teenage years i could see her taking over the downstairs bath, but I doubt she would care about the trip down the stairs. I want two bathrooms in our unit mainly so if someone is in the restroom and someone else has an emergency they can still take care of business. 1 1/2 baths seems like a necessity to me. 1 3/4 seems more functional.

I'm not sure how much hustle and bustle we have with with the stairs, but I do see your point. What do you think of bumping out the back of the house a few feet... Maybe 7 by 9 behind some pocket doors to create a small library behind the living room. Then I could use that same space to create a bathroom downstairs?

Your notes on the kitchen. I agree the area needs some work. The island seating seems quite useful to me for entertaining. The table can stretch to seat 8-10 plus you could have some kids around the island. But I understand that the island may be squeezing things too much...

Texas- thank you for weighing in too. I'm not sure I understand what you are proposing at all. If you create the 1/2 bath upstairs how would you enter the smaller room? I also don't understand the necessity of a 1/2 bath up if you're moving our only daughter downstairs. Which I'm not sure I feel good about as she becomes a teenager.

As for storage I think we would take a cue from boats and build a wall of storage behind custom built ins. We eliminate the closet. Our bed would be inset into an alcove created by that storage with an upholstered headboard. No big bulky furniture in the room. Perhaps a chair or two. But that would be all. Not sure I've explained that well.... But we'd have plenty of customized built ins. Same thing in our daughter room. Eliminate the closet and instead set a built in daybed in that closet area with a trundle. Then build in closets on each side of her doorway. This will leave her with plenty of floor to use as play area or room for chair or small love seat or desk as she grows...

I will check out the series on YouTube thanks for the suggestion.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 9:34AM
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Lavender I'm not sure you are still following this thread but if you are, would it be too much trouble for you to draw the top of my floor plan extending over the mil apt (not porch just apt) and then how doing that I could maybe squeeze in a small bath and office? If it's too much trouble I understand. Just thought I'd ask as I've seen you draw amazing kitchen ideas or rework others entries and mudroom.

I'd appreciate your help so I can picture fully what teballs suggested on building forum. Thank you.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 3:35PM
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With the added info about the space you have outside of the house, then the floorplan, which gives your MIL nearly as much square footage as your family of 3 (?) makes a lot more sense.

I think, after looking at the plans again, what would bother me about living in that house is the, to me, awkward layout of the living room, dining room and kitchen. There seems to be wasted space at the head of the stairs and around the dining table, but the living room and kitchen seemed cramped and squished. There's not a lot of options for furniture layout. You mention entertaining 8-10 people, but can you get seating for that many in the living room?

The solution for me would be to push out that diagonal wall by the dining table several feet onto the deck, and make that enclosed living space.

You could also look into dividing the space downstairs into a study/reading room and a tv/game/activity room for kids.

I love the idea of built-in storage. My feeling on small spaces is that the smaller you go, the more carefully the storage needs to be planned. And built-ins really help with that.

But I'm going to question the built-in daybed for your daughter. Daybeds are difficult to make, as a rule, even for adults. For kids, they are even harder. Depending on how neatly you want to keep her room, it might not be the best idea. Have the space, maybe, but put in a regular bed on casters, so that it can be pulled out easily to change the sheets. And also because many young girls like to rearrange their rooms periodically, and having everything built in takes away that option.

You'll also need to figure out where you want her to do her homework and internet surfing as she grows older. Downstairs in the big room? In her room? In the main living area so her surfing can be supervised and she can easily ask for help? And then make sure she has a desk and the necessary equipment to do her work.

Another, completely different thought--there's currently a thread here about remodeling a bathroom to be handicapped accessible. Without knowing anything about your MIL, how long do you plan to have her live with you? When would assisted living/nursing homes become an option? For her to age in place in this house, it might be wise to configure the bathroom in her unit to be walker/wheelchair accessible, have a walk/roll-in shower, make the sure the doorways are wide enough for a wheelchair, and configure the kitchen to be ADA friendly. Also the entrances to her level should have no steps, or allow for a ramp to be added without too much hassle. Google "universal access" for the kind of modifications I'm thinking about.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 6:28AM
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Robo already did a very nice job with that, over on the other forum. Here are a few small tweaks....I like the kitchen as is and just moved the laundry out of the bathroom. Hope this helps :) From Kitchen plans

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 11:56AM
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Cam, thank you for the thoughtful reply. I don't understand what makes you think the MIL has any steps in her unit. Everything is grade. We are tweaking her bathroom -- nixing the tub and putting a large curb less shower along the back wall.

I don't anticipate mil ever needing a wheelchair. So I'm not going to worry about an ADA kitchen. Although we are using dw drawers so she doesn't have to bend down as far. And the large curbless shower. If needed well hire 24/7 help I anticipate she'll live with is until she dies or it becomes unsafe (she develops advanced Alzheimer's or something )

The library will have built in bookcases and a desk as well as reading chairs. I imagine she may do hw there or at dr table or even in her room at her desk. We will monitor her internet useage when she is young at the dr table or at the desktop in the library. As she matures then I imagine she'll have her own tablet and laptop and will pick her own study nook somewhere in the house be it the library, dr, her room, or downstairs or even on the deck. As long as her HW is completed to the best of her ability I don't care where she does it.

There are other ways to rearrange a bedroom than moving a bed. I think we will keep the built in daybed and trundle with storage. This could later be used as a reading nook or hang out sofa if she decides she wants a different bed in the room. It also leaves plenty of floor space for a desk or dresser or easel or keyboard or ballet barre or a chair or love seat or even a full sized bed if she wished... I think there will be plenty of opportunities to rearrange/repaint/ move rug/ etc as the room stays the same size she just has a built in bed and closets that come out into the room no further than the door does.

As for daybeds... I never considered it that difficult as a kid. I started making it on my own around age 10 or 11 until that time it was a shared chore to change sheets on the weekends. She has a traditional daybed now and loves it. I don't expect the bed to have hospital corners every morning. Perhaps I'm a bad lax parent :)

I think the livingroom feels cramped because of the furniture drawn on the layout. It's not scaled properly. The kitchen needs tweaked some as well. But it is a fairly open large living spec that could easily handle a party of 20 circulating. Seated for dinner then breaking into small groups maybe some stay at table others migrate to living room a few may go out on the deck. The men may even go down to the den turn on the football game and play some poker around the table. We are a couple that hosted large dinner parties in a 589 sq ft apartment. And everyone always had a great time and came back for the next party without complaining of cramped quarters. I'm confident that this house could host a party too. It was 1286 sq ft upstairs before the addition stretching house. So I'm guessing it would be 1486 sq ft up now plus the 300 sq ft den and the spacious entry foyer... It seems like a right sized space. Not to mention our auxiliary spaces, pool and trails.

I do agree the landing seems a little off. I think it may just be the weird punishment desk in the corner. How would you fix the landing?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 8:58PM
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Ok... We've been discussing everything. And think we're getting closer... What do you all think about extending the length of kitchen about 5-6 feet and widening the house by 1 or 2 ft... I haven't sketched this out yet, but I think these changes would allow the following:

Mil apt: banquette at one end of kitchen with 2 chairs, a larger pantry/mudroom area.

Our living area: larger lower level family room. More room for the bath? Larger, longer build out over the mil's kitchen and probably squeeze in the extra bath and a small cozy den/reading nook? Less crowded landing at top of stairs.

So what do you all think?

Also it seems some of you are starting to think about aging in place or universal design. May I ask your opinions on a few things?

Which do you prefer dw drawers or a raised dishwasher? Is a cooktop and wall oven preferable over a range? How do you deal? If the flooring should all be one level with no thresholds, what is the best flooring material? Cork? But can that go in bathrooms? Linoleum or marmoleum? Would that be too industrial for the MIL apt?

Thanks again for sharing your opinions and experiences.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 8:36AM
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