Permission granted to crosspost (thanks Moccasinlanding!)

pay_it_forwardFebruary 8, 2012

My husband and I, along with our two year old daughter, live in rural North Carolina. Our desire is to build a home that is healthy for both people and planet, using as many sustainable materials and methods as possible.

We own five acres and will be orienting the home to the south to benefit from passive solar heating. Our plans include solar water heating as well as preparation for future installation of photovoltaic panels. As we are not keen on forced air, we are considering ductless mini-splits to supplement the passive heating and cooling strategies we have in place.

While keeping in mind that the future is unpredictable, we are planning as if this will be the home we never move from (trying to incorporate as many universal design principles as feasible). In 3-4 years, we are planning to foster children (and potentially adopt). It is also important that we plan for the possibility of parents living with us in the future.

Here are our preferences:

- a nature inspired (organic architecture), mid-century modern/Scandinavian feeling, bright (lots of natural light) home that has character and is beautifully simple, functional, budget friendly...

- single level around 2000 sq. ft.

- three clustered bedrooms (including master) and, on the opposite side, one flex space near the guest bathroom to be used as a combo fitness/guest/potential parent quarters

- one master bathroom and two three-quarter bathrooms

- laundry near bedrooms

- kitchen open to living area, with dining area to the side

- office with room for storage

- something fun (like a hideaway/reading loft over a closet?)

- safe room that can be utilized as something else (closet, laundry, etc.)

- seamless indoor/outdoor living

- a detached garage or carport (most likely to be added later)

Using Chief Architect, this is a floor plan I have been playing with. I would greatly appreciate any thoughts or suggestions you may have (or ideas for something completely different, incorporating the above preferences).

Plan specifics:

- the top of the plan is south

- the driveway/parking area will be on the bottom (north) or right side (west), depending on final site determination

- mountain views to the south and southwest

- slab foundation

- still trying to determine the type of roof - thinking about a shed, a hip with a raised center (we also like FLW's prairie style), a modernized gable with clerestory windows, or a combination of sorts

- small walk-in closet in master bedroom is also the safe room

- "family room" is combo fitness/guest room (maybe with a Murphy bed?)

- that is a folding table across from the washer and dryer

Architect David Pearson states our wishes well:

"Let the design:

- be inspired by nature and be sustainable, healthy, conserving, and diverse.

- unfold, like an organism, from the seed within.

- exist in the "continuous present" and "begin again and again".

- follow the flows and be flexible and adaptable.

- satisfy social, physical, and spiritual needs.

- "grow out of the site" and be unique.

- celebrate the spirit of youth, play and surprise.

- express the rhythm of music and the power of dance."

Thank you in advance for your time and ideas!!

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OH I like it better here to not have to flip back and forth.

The biggest things that struck me were the sinks in the bedrooms and the tiny dinning room. We have had a house with sink in bedroom and I really hated it. I understand your thought to do this but maybe it is better to let the kids work it out and learn to share the bath. A friend did the same with sink in bedroom and ended up removing it later as she did not like it either. Course on the other hand I would love a sink in my studio which really is a bedroom some day for the next owner.

I know there are a lot of things you can do we can not actually see from a flat plan. There are lots of folks here that have so many great ideas.

You have many good ideas I see and I am sure the rest will come together. I think we might be a little more relaxed over at this board when it comes to design. Maybe because some times we have to make things work double duty or think out side of the box to be able to live in smaller houses.

Welcome we always enjoy more posters. And pictures of your property would be great so we get an idea of your lovely views.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 12:06AM
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Moccasin did good, lady. hehehehehe

Now we have something to start with, and we'll see where it takes you.....

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 12:07AM
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Pay it forward- Hi! Welcome to the's a great place to visit :)

I still think you should check out the Sarah Susanka's "Not So Big House" books. She uses lots of built ins, banquettes, open spaces, diagonal views...and lots of wonderful details that make the house special, if not big.

Here are a few pictures of her home and a link to the site...which includes more pictures and plans of the home. Hope this gives you some good ideas :) From Kitchen plans From Kitchen plans

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to Not So Big House site

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 1:13AM
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Looks like you're getting some responses, over on the building forum, but I thought I'd post this plan, over here. I went through and this is the only one I saw that seemed like it might work (during a fairly quick search).

What do you think? You could flip it, depending on the views and light...and access the porch from the kitchen (easy enough to add a door) which wouldn't block your views from the living/dining room.

Another porch option, might be to put a door, where you have the window (by the dining room slider) and have the porch behind the kitchen. You could always have a pass through where the kitchen window is...and it would give you more space for a future carport or garage, on the side. From Kitchen plans From Kitchen plans

Here's a link to the house, on e-plans. Hope it gives you some helpful ideas :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to plan

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 12:38PM
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Meant to add, the front of the house is not very interesting (typical with some lake homes) but I would think about adding a window over the bathtub (in the master) even if it's frosted...and possibly bump out windows, at least in the kids' rooms. Great for a window seat with storage under and you can put shelves on both sides, for even more storage. Smaller rooms feel much larger, when there's plenty of storage, views and light :)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 12:45PM
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The office...if you don't want to include it, in your flex space...what about off the master bedroom? If you put the porch behind the kitchen, the office would balance that out. You could have lots of windows, with low shelf/storage and/or a solid wall, on the living room side, to give you privacy from the deck. Just another idea...

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 12:50PM
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Pay-it-forward, I don't see too many potential problems with the plan you are currently playing with, but I notice a couple of things I'd tinker with. First, the kitchen does not appear to have very much cabinet/storage space. That's something I'd try to improve. Maybe the "sinks in the bedrooms" can be disguised using pocket doors that could roll out to cover them when not in use. That way they'd just look like another closet. Also, the bathrooms don't appear to have much in the way of storage/cabinetry. What about linen storage? It looks like it has plenty of closets and, if those are storage units in the entry way, I like that! Best of luck.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 1:34PM
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I like the plan, and I think it responds well to what you're wanting in a house. Others have already mentioned the in-BR sinks as something to possibly change, and I agree.

Also already mentioned is that the DR seems a bit small. I have a conference room in my office that has almost the exact same dimensions (within 6" either way). I have a 3' x 5' table in there with four chairs (two chairs on either long side). If I place a chair on either end, it blocks in the people on the back side. It is very tight as is, and I only put a 5th chair in there in emergencies. If I were you I might consider bumping the west wall out a few feet. That would interfere with what you have in the foyer (built-ins?), but you could keep those by shifting the entry to the right and losing the thing with the stripes (another built-in? water feature?). Also, consider losing the little sections of wall on the north side of the DR -- just let it be all open. And consider using a bench/banquette all the way across the north wall of the DR.

Also consider how most people are going to enter the house. We spend so much time making beautiful front entries, but most family and a lot of visitors will enter the house based on where their car is parked. I think you need to go ahead and decide how you're going to handle parking. If parking is in the front, you're set. But if it is along the side, the natural "back door" is going to be on the side porch and through the living room sliding doors. If you're in the mountains with snow, mud and dirt, you might want to consider something along the lines of a mud room at the main vehicle entry.

If you're not dealing with a setback problem, consider bumping that NW wing of the house forward about 6-8 feet. That would keep the family/flex room and guest bath toward the front, but allow for a mudroom/entry behind the family room, exiting onto the hall. You lose the sliding door for the flex room to the patio, but you keep traffic out of the living room and make room for a bit of linen storage in or just outside of that guest bath (which can also serve as a coat closet for the front entry).

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 5:33PM
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Jakabedy, what you say about the parking making the decision about what door we use to enter the house is so true.

And Lavender notes that some waterfront homes have uninteresting entries. But actually NO, because a waterfront home is considered FACING the water, and THAT is the real front of the house. The BACK of the house faces the road, and all seagoing folks are aware of that, but not landlubbers. :)
So if you take a lakefront home design, you'll be trying to reorient it for a road approach.

Now back to parking. My best friend has a home on the water which is built on tall pillars, giving a paved area beneath the house which is the full dimension of the house. It has TWO sets of stairs going UP, and the back door is really up the set of steps sheltered totally by the house above. But you have to go up a narrow stair and arrive at the top but there is NO LANDING to stand on. This is the entry she prefers people to use, because the other set of stairs is off the deck which faces the river. If you arrive at her door THAT way, the house is ALL GLASS, and if she is walking around in her undies, she goes running for cover. I know how she feels, because a few times, total strangers appear that way, and it is NOT welcome.

I go into this detail to illustrate that strangers as well as friends arrive at our doors, and they assume the MOST CONVENIENT or EASIEST ACCESSED door is the one intended for them to use. Make it obvious. Entries should be polite, and not cause a caller to commit a faux pas right off the bat.

That's all I've got to say about that. :)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 6:02PM
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I don't know a lot about floorplans but I think having a sink with the bathroom toilet is essential to control bathroom germs.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 3:15AM
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I applaud your desire to build a solar passive home. One of my dreams too. I like your plan, but I agree with the above posters about the sinks in the bedrooms and size of the dining room. Dh's aunt & uncle put sinks in the bedrooms when they built their house. Two boys and one girl. The sink in the girl's room wasn't bad, but boys being boys, their sink was often used for filling up balloons or other forms of water wars. Both rooms had the inevitable dribbles in front of the sink, on carpet. When they had to replace the carpet earlier than planned, they took out the sinks. Your kids may be totally different.

If you are going to foster children, are three bedrooms enough? The room at the end is probably fine as an exercise room, but a bit small for an in-law bedroom, especially if it's a couple and either or both have a walker and wheelchair or motorized scooter chair.

Is your safe room for tornadoes? If so, it would really be better if you had a space that wasn't used for something else like a closet, and especially not a laundry room. If pipes broke, you could have hot water spraying on everyone. A 4x6 closet isn't very big to crowd in 3 or 4 people, since most of the space will be for clothes, and anything on the shelves could fall on you.

I agree with jakabedy that you could make the entry a bit smaller by taking out that bench. You could put a bench on the other side, with cubbies below, and more cubbies above.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 4:04PM
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Thanks for the responses ~ I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. I am currently caring for an ailing parent and that, along with the care of my toddler, is keeping me hopping these days :) !

I just finished responding to the folks on the building forum, however, I'm thinking this forum may be an even greater fit for what we are trying to accomplish. Based on what I have read, you all seem to really appreciate how to maximize "smaller" spaces. After finding out this week that we need to be closer to 1800 sq. ft. to afford some of the "healthier for people and planet" upgrades, I seek your wisdom and ideas!

I have to run (taking little one to the playground to take advantage of the sunshine!) and will respond to your thoughtful posts as well as share some new possibilities with you later tonight. Thanks again, what a spirit lifter to know that there is such community willing to help!!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 3:03PM
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Shades of Idaho ~ After more thought, my DH and I agree about removing the sinks in the bedrooms. That idea came from visiting the home of my best friend growing up. She and her sister (two years her junior) shared a hall bathroom. Though this bathroom had double vanities, the two of them fought something fierce! The dining room in this plan is indeed small, though we do not plan to have any other furniture besides the table and chairs. Thanks for the welcome!!

Lavender Lass ~ Thanks for the link! I love the "book nook!" Books are the one area I find difficult to be minimalistic with. I am trying to incorporate more diagonal views in the new ideas I'm about to post. Thanks so much for taking the time to look up a plan possibility for me and for your suggestions in modifying it! I am playing around with it!

Kimkitchy ~ Determining storage space in all areas has been a real interesting process. We tend to be very minimalistic, reducing the need for lots of storage. However, though we're hoping to not have to move from this home, we would be foolish not to consider resale potential (and therefore allow for greater storage space). A balance between the two is what I am shooting for :) ! As for the vanities in the bedrooms, I think we are going to take them out. If we had kept them, you read my mind about the sliding doors (I was picturing cool barn doors!). For the entry way I am picturing something like this locker set up from GW Member Jeff2718 (we plan to add doors):

Jakebedy ~ Thanks for the ideas about the dining room. This room is my least favorite in this particular plan (too closed in!). As for the entrance, we really want one main entrance (both for function and space efficiency). The parking area will most likely be in the front (north side). If we have enough space, we will plan for a carport that would be on the NW corner with a walk way to the front entry.

Moccasinlanding ~ Excellent points about the entry needing to be obvious! This is one reason that we really like the idea of ONE :) ! When visiting others, I do not like to feel uncertain of where to go!

Postitnotes ~ Hee hee! As I tend to be more germaphobic than I should be, I absolutely concur with you! That circle above the toilet is a pedestal sink (though your comment made me do a double take and I realize now that it could be interpreted as a urinal??).

Marti8a ~ So glad to know we share an affinity for passive solar! It surprises me that this isn't a more sought after way to design and build - it just makes sense to me on so many levels! Great points about the bedroom sinks... I think we are omitting them (though we do plan to only have stained concrete floors throughout). As for fostering, we only plan to foster one to two children at a time. The flex room is indeed small. I am struggling to find ways to make it larger and still maintain the overall square footage goal. The safe room is mainly for storm safety, a compromise in not having a basement. Due to trying to maximize efficiency, it really does need to serve a dual purpose. Between the closet and the laundry room, I'm thinking I'd rather take my chances with falling clothing versus spraying hot water :) !

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 10:55PM
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Good Evening Everyone!

Thanks again for your thoughtful feedback. As I mentioned earlier today, we need our design to come in as close to 1800 square feet as possible with the maximum limit being 1900. Here are a few more ideas I have been playing with:

This was an idea I was working with when I thought 2000 sq. ft. was the goal...

This is a variation of the first plan I shared. Though still small, I do like that the DR connects to the outside on two walls (one of which has doors to a potential courtyard garden!). I also like that the office has more window space!

This one is a little more rough (no windows in yet).

I would love to receive any thoughts or ideas you have!! Thank you!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 11:09PM
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If you're looking for places to shave off a few square feet, I'd try the kids' rooms. if they're able to use the office for homework and the family/living rooms as gathering space, the. Their rooms don't need to be so large.

in the last plan, your shared bath is not at all dissimilar to what we have in our house. Ours is an MCM post and beam plan from the 1960s and has a "compartment bath" per the plans. There are two half baths entered from two short halls that each serve two bedrooms. Each of those half baths has a big linen closet, then each opens into a center room that has the house's one tub/shower combo and the W/D connections. It is actually a fabulous setup for just DH and me. But I don't think I'd want to be sharing the tub/shower with the kids. Not that it isn't something that would be right at home in the pages of DWELL, it's just that I don't think DWELL is practical for the average American family (particularly if resale is ever an issue).
I just looked at the different office configurations. The first one, long and narrow, seemed to allow for two people to work at the same time. The square designs I don't think do that. So just think about how you plan to use that space.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 1:07AM
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Pay- I think Jakabedy is right...about the bathrooms and the office.

I like the second plan, much better, for the bedroom and bathroom wing, but I think you need to add 3' to the entire front living area, of the house. The dining room and family room are much too small (IMHO) and you need to be able to get around the chairs, when someone is sitting in them. Maybe think banquette if you want such a small space...but the family room still seems very small. If you want to open up your diagonal views, I'd recommend taking down those little side walls, in the dining room, so that you can see the living room, from the table.

As Jakabedy suggested, you could easily add a few feet to the office, since there's no windows above it. The kids' rooms are so much better in this plan. I don't think you could get furniture into their rooms, in the first plan, at least not very easily.

In the master bedroom, I would not want a pocket door as my main door. If you replace that with a regular door, you could access the closet, from the bathroom. Take out the door to the laundry (you don't really need that, since the hall access is so close) and move the vanity down towards the toilet. Then move the pocket door to the other side of the vanity, to access the closet.

Oh, one other thing...with space limitations, it's always a challenge to fit in everything that you want/need. If something has to get cut...and you want to keep the kids' rooms big enough to double up, down the road...think about combining the office and family room area. The only other possiblity might be to get rid of some hall space...or incorporate the laundry area into a hall space. That's something else I saw in Sarah Susanka's book. Let me see if I can find the picture for you :)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 11:00AM
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I"m not the best with floorplans, but one thing I did notice was that both of your possible parking/driveway ideas are pretty far from the kitchen. That means that you will be carrying bags of groceries/pet food/cat litter from the car, around part of the outside of the house, through the house and finally to the kitchen.

I like that you have the kitchen in the heart of the home, a central gathering spot. But there's a reason many attached garages open into the house either in or right next to the kitchen. People are constantly moving things into the kitchen. It's not a big deal when you have one or two bags of things. But picture a weekly shopping trip for a family of five (which you are planning on in the future) and bags and bags of food to feed growing teenagers. I'd try to find a way to make that trip as short and painless as possible.

And yes, I've lived in houses where the driveway and unattached garage were on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen door. Not much fun in snow or rain.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 11:06AM
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Your original plan was basically a long rectangle, which is the best shape for passive solar because you can have lots of windows on the south side. It will be harder to do that with these latest plans. Also, if you are going passive solar, don't forget to properly calculate your roof overhangs so you don't overheat during the summer.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 12:00PM
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No picture yet, but I did find another plan. I don't suppose the kids' rooms could be upstairs? While it doesn't have all your features, it might give you some good ideas. I think this is beautiful! :) From French Country Cottage From French Country Cottage From French Country Cottage

Here's the link to eplans. Try an advanced search...under special features, they have 'green homes' too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to plan

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 12:38PM
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Alex House

As I noted in an earlier comment you should try different designs which break some of your "must haves." So far you've been posting single story plans, so I agree with those people who've suggested 1.5 story as something to explore.

Consider that a first floor of 1,200 sf with attached garage gives you 600-1,000 sf on the floor above(depending on your roof lines) and you also get to use the space over the garage during construction or afterwards for an expansion. Your roof and foundation costs are those of a smaller house, which means that you get to stretch your building dollar.

Now to shift gears a bit - I've noticed that your design thought process seems to be showing a pattern of placing square boxes together. Let me illustrate my point by referencing my own design process.

To start I lay out a basic square as a start point.

Notice the entry. When you walk into the house you enter a small space and face a rock accent wall with stairs. To get to the living room you have to take a sharp right turn. The two spaces are very disconnected from each other.

Here is the quick fix and it's enabled by breaking from the "square rooms" model.

Now the entry shares volume with the LR. I gain a bit more space by moving the stairs (not yet done) right up against the accent wall.

Notice a few other points. In the back of the house, between the kitchen and the garage is a covered porch. No foundation needed. However, when up on the 2nd floor, the covered porch can have a room over top of it. That saves money. With your ranch, every room you have has it's own foundation and roof over it. With a 1.5 or 2 story home your foundation and roof service 2 rooms. Another thing - my fireplace core is smack dab in the middle of the home. It's perfectly situated to be a load bearing column, meaning that the skeleton of the house is that much cheaper to build.

My point is that you should break free of your design limitations and try different things, even if you discard them at some point in the design process. The two images above were variants #3 and #4 of a design I started last night. Variants #1, #2, and #3, though saved in my files, are pretty much toast. #4 will plug along until I modify something and begin #5. This design is a complete deviation from what I was working on earlier. The principle jumping off point here was the staircase with platform over the entry. That feature remained constant and everything else was subject to modification. I may score a home run, or not, but I'll find out what works for me and what doesn't and I can take that insight onto the next iteration.

Design a 1.5 or 2 story as an exercise. All it costs you is some time. You may find that the lower expense allows you to buy more square footage and the added space delights you more than the having to walk up stairs depresses you. Who knows.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 5:38PM
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I have not had time to read your whole thread, but I have glanced over the different floorplans. I do like your last plan. I like how you can go from the kitchen to the MBr through the office. I like the way the MBr bath and the kid's bath share the choice of shower or bath, but would like a pocket door that locks the kids out of the bathing area. That gives the MBr privacy for intimacy. If you are concerned about resale, that a future homeowner would not like the set-up, leave enough space that they can build a narrow wall between the shower and tub (6" should do it). That gives the MBr a shower and the kids a tub.

I think you left out a laundry in this plan, and the only safe rooms are the closets.

Looking at the plans, I gather that the Family Room is the exercise room, and maybe I see a run of desktop for kids and their homework. I am now back to your last posted plan. Instead of having a family room, how about making a little exercise room where the MBr porch is? I can see the equipment being used more if it is near the place where you change clothes and jump into the shower. After all, out of sight is out of mind! You can make this room mostly windows, giving you something to look at while exercising, and getting that passive solar gain for the bedroom (if the room is oriented correctly). Walls of water tubes between the MBr and exercise area would hold daytime heat and dissipate it during the colder nights.

Then you can scoot the guest bath down to the far wall, where the family room used to be, add a laundry closet, open up the wall to the living room, and have a place where the kids can study in plain sight, so you can see if they are on any of the website you would prefer they not visit. Your hideaway reading loft could go above the study area. You can still make a deck off the MBr, just not one covered by the main roof.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 3:12PM
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didn't realise that you had reduced your maximum square footage ...

attaching what i had come up with ... perhaps you can use ...

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 12:29AM
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Summerfield- That's a really nice plan...and I love the porches! The dining room is so much brighter and flows better with the living room and kitchen, IMHO. I like the bathroom layouts a lot better too...and the entry...and did I mention the porches??? :)

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 7:14PM
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Wow! After a tough couple of days, I cannot tell you how uplifting it is to check back and see all of these thoughtful responses!!

Summerfield, your talent continues to amaze me. I am humbled that you took the time to create a design for me!!

I hope to respond to all of you in greater detail later this evening (after my little one goes to sleep), but until then... THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 3:24PM
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If you are going to take in foster children, I think your office and family room both need to be big enough to use as bedrooms if necessary. That means closets in both too.
Trust me, if you are good foster parents, they WILL bring you extra kids at a moments notice.
Besides, that will be a great selling point some day.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 6:27PM
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Jakabedy ~ Trying to determine "just right" size for every room has certainly been a process!! Spatial reasoning is not one of my strengths and so I am left measuring, marking with masking tape, and asking for measurements of the spaces in the homes of loved ones to better understand what _ by _ really means!

As for the bathroom, I have received many strong reactions against this set up (sharing the bathing area). Though I found it to be rather efficient, my DH feels more strongly about separating the baths. Having grown up in a household of seven sharing one bathroom, I have grappled with whether three separate bathrooms is excessive in the size home we are wanting to build.

Do you like your MCM home? I am so attracted to the clean lines and simplicity! DWELL is one of my favorites, though I agree not always practical!

I have a new idea for the office that I'll post soon!

Thanks for your comments!!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 10:10PM
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Lavender Lass ~ You have been so sweet about sharing your thoughts and ideas ~ thanks so much! I agree with you about the sizes of the DR and FR and the wasteful hallways. I'm continuing to move things around to improve!!

Thanks as well for sharing the plan ~ it is a beautiful home! We really feel strongly though about staying with a single level.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 10:20PM
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Camlan ~ Thanks for weighing in! We are really wanting to have one main entrance, wherein all shoes and outerwear will be removed and stored. We plan to have a short walkway (possibly covered) from the carport/garage. For unloading groceries, we will have a rolling cart to transport to the kitchen.

I too really like the kitchen being the heart!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 10:30PM
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Dekeoboe ~ Wanting to maximize passive solar is indeed the reason I started with the rectangular design. Thank you for reminding me of that. On the building forum, I received some comments that made me second guess things for a bit. Calculating the roof overhangs will be extremely important!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 10:36PM
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AlexHouse ~ You have certainly provided more food for thought! Interestingly, when we started this process over three years ago, our first plan was three stacked (almost) squares. Hours and hours of thought about how we really prefer to live have led us to the single level. Our prospective builder has also communicated that we could have a larger home if we went back to the stack approach, but we are comfortable with the reduced square footage.

I agree with you that I am too "square" in my designs. How helpful these forums have been to look at things differently and to learn new ways of doing things! Your example is helpful!

Designing a home is certainly a process. I had hoped to leave it to professionals, but circumstances have precluded that. After draining our design budget on two different designers, I am left to figure things out the best I can. My biggest fear is designing something that does not reach its full potential due to my lack of training/expertise.

How is your design coming along?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 10:55PM
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Nancy in Mich ~ Thanks for taking the time to comment ~ I enjoyed imagining your ideas! As mentioned above, I think we are nixing the shared bathing area bathroom set up. My DH feels more comfortable with greater separation.

The "family room" is meant to be a combination fitness and guest room (with a Murphy bed). Placing it next to the guest bathroom also allows it to be a potential "private wing" if parents should need to live with us in the future.

BTW, I lived in Michigan for over 30 years!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 11:05PM
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Summerfield ~ What an absolute treasure you are to share your talent! How excited I was to see your beautiful software illustrating my family's potential home! Thank you so very much!!

I really love your design (especially the balanced front/north half) and I am so grateful that you found a way to reduce the amount of hallway space!

We do need to reduce the overall square footage ~ 1800 is the new target, with 1900 being the upper limit.

What would you think about reversing the kitchen/DR with the LR? Our best opportunity to create an outdoor room (playground space for our kiddo) is on the west end of the south side (top right). Our land then slopes downward beyond this area. I also like the idea of the kitchen being the heart of the home!!

To reduce square footage, I'm wondering about creating another dual purpose room in addition to the fitness/guest room. What do you think about combining the DR and office spaces utilizing built ins that can hide the office away? I am going to start a new thread to get some feedback on this idea! Another reduction idea ~ changing the walk-in master closet to a reach-in or step-in??

Like Lavender Lass, we really love screened porches!! To increase passive solar potential, we put our main "public" screened porch on the west side and had a smaller "private" one attached to the master. I love tree houses and the relationship with nature they afford. With large sliding doors, we were hoping to create that outdoor connection, enjoying warm summer breezes without the bugs :)!

Finally, it may be a quirk but my DH and I sleep more comfortably in bedrooms where the bed is placed along an outside wall with the entrance door opposite, or across from, the foot of the bed. Perhaps this is strange? In any case, would it be possible to shift the master bedroom to the east (left), attach a small screened porch to the south (top), move the bathroom north (down) [or maybe west of the bedroom?] and connect it to the laundry, and have the closet accessed from the bedroom? This is assuming that moving the office to the DR makes sense. I'm not sure if this is possible without creating more hallway to reach the master bedroom?

I printed out the plan you created and have enjoyed many smiles as I continuously look it over ~ thank you for reigniting my inspiration!!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 12:10AM
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Kathy77 ~ Thanks for the advice! Though nervous, my DH and I are hoping to provide lots of love and be a positive influence for many children!!

You sound like you have experience in this area. Have you fostered?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 12:16AM
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Pay- I like your idea, of combining the office and dining room. Not only with this give you a more flexible space, but it will cut down on square footage.

If you flip your kitchen/dining and living room spaces, that will give you a wall, on the left side of the dining room (against the master area) and that would be a great spot for a large hutch. The top could be dishes/display, but the bottom could be office space. Printer, paper, other supplies, computer storage would all go down there. A lap top would allow you to work at the buffet or move to the table (or even the kitchen island) depending on what you're working on, at the time.

I think flipping the spaces will also be nice, because you can access your screened porch, on either side of the fireplace...just one possibility. I also prefer the bed to be on a wall that is not the same as the door. It's supposed to be better 'feng shui' too.

Your idea of a family screened porch, as well as a private porch of the master bedroom, really appeals to me. Of course, I am a bit porch happy, myself! :)

Oh, and since you like flexible spaces, have you thought about making the laundry a little bit bigger and including a bit more storage...and if there's room, a small craft area? Here's a picture I really like, from one of the other forums. It shows an office/craft space, which might be another option, if you decide you need a little more space than you have in the dining room. From Kitchen plans

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 6:48AM
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Lavender Lass ~ I appreciate your perspective! It's good to know that someone thinks this is a feasible way to go. I am a rather practical person, so the idea of getting maximum uses out of square footage we are paying handsomely for really appeals to me.

I also like the idea of accessing the screened porch from either side of the fireplace. By having sliding doors, I anticipate summer breezes streaming into the living area (without the bugs!). Locating the porch here will also connect it to the "outdoor room" we are hoping to create on the western south side.

Glad to know that our sleeping preference may not be too quirky after all!

I would love to enlarge the laundry/utility room to make it more multipurpose and to allow for greater storage. With needing to reduce overall size, however, this may not be reality :( . The picture you shared is beautiful!!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 5:25PM
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Pay- One other thing I would think about for the kids' bedrooms...make sure you have the wall space (no windows) for a bunk bed. You may not need them, but kids love them and they're so useful if you end up having foster kids, or just want to have your kids' friends stay over. You might get by with less square footage per room that way, too.

Since you're probably going to put the office in the living room, a bigger laundry area might not be necessary...but have you ever considered swapping out the laundry area (with possible mud room) and the family/guest area?

How often do you need the guest room? Could you share the bath with the kids' bath (maybe keep the two sinks, but access it from the hall) and have a powder room, by the entry/laundry area. I know some people like the laundry close to the bedrooms, but it's also nice to have an area to enter, from the carport/garage that isn't your main entry. Especially, if you're combining kids, mud and probably a dog or two!

I live on a farm (we're currently hovering between snow and mud seasons) and I can't wait to have a larger utility room and a separate mud room. You also might want to include a big pantry in there, too...depending on how far away you are from shopping.

And, I know you plan to have a garden, so think about a sink to wash off muddy veggies, before they get to the kitchen. Just some ideas...and remember guests can sleep on the living room sofa...and small manufactured homes make great retirement spots (on the property) to keep parents close...but maybe not too close. You might not need the guest room and can use that square footage somewhere else...and everyone enjoys having their own space :)

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 6:47PM
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Lavender Lass ~ Thanks for sharing more of your ideas!!

Bunk beds or loft beds are certainly wonderful for kids' rooms. I have been saving up several pics on Houzz of really cool ideas ~ I especially like the loft beds with steps to enter and slides to depart! The whole structure could be a castle or a tree house or a theatrical stage. It will be fun to see what my daughter's personality determines!

We are planning to use the family/guest room as a fitness area. We also really like the idea of having the laundry area near the bedrooms and preferably attached to the master bath.

Though unorthodox, we are planning to utilize our main entry as a mud room (both to simplify and to save on square footage). We would like to have lockers with doors and bench seating in front. I will be posting a new plan soon that shows a closet with a utility sink located behind the front door (to wash off those garden veggies and muddy boots :) !!).

If we had the extra funds, we love the idea of building a separate guest house (our C&Rs do not allow manufactured/mobile homes). As we must be budget conscious, having the guest space in its own wing seems like the best compromise.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 5:22PM
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pay it forward -

I don't know if you'll see this, but I was looking at new modern house designs and came across one that made me think of your plans. The footprint is 50% again larger than what you want, but it could be trimmed down. It just looked like something that might give you some ideas.

Here is a link that might be useful: modern house plan

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 10:41PM
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Thanks so much, Jakabedy! The modern plan you shared definitely reflects the feel we are striving toward. Here is the latest version we are contemplating...

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 5:56PM
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