Plans: what do you think? [bated breath]

questionerMarch 25, 2008

Well, where do i start? Where we live, land and home prices shot up so fast and furious in the past 5 years that a home was almost out of reach for us, at least one with a foundation. Buying what was on the market seemed a bad investment strategy, so we decided to build a small, good quality home (not many of those here).

We have a small, slightly sloped, private, forested piece of land, and wanted to minimize the footprint, maximize (give or take) efficiency, and keep to a cabin-like look. So, here they are in the great wide open: the plans (not the official ones, these are messy, but close.) The outer dimensions of our planned house are 32'x 32'. It is a kind of 5-level thing, with a 5' crawl space under the 2nd level for mechanics, a "walk-out"ish 1st level, kitchen 2nd level, living room 3rd level, and a loft.

From all the small home-experienced, i would very, very much appreciate comments about layout and windows: functionality, general feel, possible improvements, cost-saving changes, etc. I'm at the point where i'm in too deep to be objective! Thanks!

By the way, the purple vertical thing is our ridge beam.

Lower level:




North view (entrance from garage, not onto street):

West view, lower roof line is where eaves end (this window arrangement seems awkward, but with the room arrangement, i can't seem to do better):

South view:

East view, lower roof line is where eaves end (the wall space between the egress window/coat closet and the dining area has been retained for potential room addition in the future:

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Hi, what a great idea, and to be able to pull it off is wonderful! But seeing as you asked... please realize anything I do comment on is coming from my personal stuff, so may have no bearing on anything! What I'm curious about is the empty space in the laundry area behind the bedroom closet wall... it seems very empty - or were you planning on using it for gym equipment? Another thing, not knowing how old you are or whether you've looked ahead a few years, but will you continue to be happy with the entry stairs as you get older (and bags get heavier :-) - it seems there are a fair number of stairs in the whole place (but then my ability to read b-prints is pathetic). A follow-up to that thought (not my ability) would be consigning yourselves to loft sleeping for the indefinite future, again a matter of climbing, whether or not you felt like $(* one night or longer, etc. I think the concept is great, especially in a small e.g. NY apt. with a young tenant, but I'm not sure I'd want to be 'stuck' with it long term now. Curious to hear your comments now!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 5:59PM
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Good points. The space between the lower bathroom and bedroom, in what are shaping up to be the official plans, turns out to be a lot smaller. there's actually just enough room to enter the crawl space. i don't have those plans (which is why they aren't up), but i think the second level is actually a bit wider...

We are still pretty young (30s), and i'm hoping 6 stairs won't be a problem for a while. We tried to concentrate space that we use a lot (bed, bath, laundry, kitchen) as much as possible. The rest, for now, is free space. I definitely don't think that it's a house for someone with mobility problems, though... Hopefully if that becomes an issue, someone else will decide they like this house.

The entrance porch is pretty high, and i'm not a big fan of that... i'm hoping we can ramp up a path that will eliminate a few stairs. We had to choose whether to set the house in deeper (more window wells or less window for downstairs) or go with a higher entrance, or lower ceilings downstairs (they're 8' now). hmmm...

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 8:22PM
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My personal take too. Plans are a bit difficult to see within your ideas and the land you have to work with.

Does the kitchen have a window over the sink? It doesn't show in the floor plans, but think it does on the exterior. One of the things that I hate about my kitchen is the small corner between the sink and stove. Everyone that visits has to congregate in this corner and there is really only enough room for me to do anything there. Neither I nor anyone else "gets it" that there are counters on the other side of sink and stove.

So, for the kitchen I'd make it a U shape, move the floating island to connect up to the sink counter. It would open up your eating area too. I did this in my last house, primarily due to my never using a floating island for cooking/preparation. Have no clue why I could never do that. I created an angle (inside of kitchen area portion of counter) where it met and installed the sink in the angle. It gave me a view outside through the large windows of dining area. Under the window in the kitchen I installed a large cutting board. This gave me a long, long working counter. With a small kitchen, everything was still close at hand.

The downstairs bath/laundry. I'd flip the shower/tub/sink/toilet to the workroom area. Closer to the bedroom. Put the laundry into the shower area. The work room would still have a lot of room.

Is the window by the front door really that close on the left side? It doesn't seem to fit with the exterior. Possibly move it over a bit?

Am really intrigued by what you are doing. I'd love to be able to design my own home and just with your plans can see some wonderful possibilities. As for stairs, I couldn't, but at your age nothing to consider. 30 years from now perhaps.

Keep us posted and will be interesting what other's think.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 8:27AM
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Okay. I'm not sure I'm getting this plan...

Some of the things I don't get are:

1) Why wouldn't the 14.10 x 10 foot loft be made into an actual bedroom?

2) For the ground floor, is there a way to reconfigure the pass throughs between all the plumbing areas such as sinks, toilet, laundry areas and make the large 12 x 7 "work room" an actual bedroom? Couldn't you move the main doorway to where the laundry sink is, then have a hallway to the bedroom by going through the current toilet room. Move the toilet room next to the bath/shower room. Stack the washer/dryer. If you want that room to be a work room - great, but if you separate it better it could be a private bedroom.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 2:27PM
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Holy shmoly, lets see... Good points all. Nothing is particularly set in stone right now, so this is all good and workable. Let me give you a tour of the funhouse that is my head:

i like the idea of making the kitchen "U". It is short on counter space, and that would give a little more horizontal surface. I had put the sink on the south wall with a window above it (messy floor plans don't show that), but to make the top of the window even with the sliding door and still use a stock size window option, there would be no room for a backsplash, so i was thinking of moving the sink anyway. What you suggest may work out well.

so, the shower area... i HATE cleaning showers, which was the impetus behind this design. I want the shower/bath area to be devoted to water and easy to clean, like with a hose and a long-handled scrub brush. I also wanted windows to let out steam and let in light. Glass blocks with mortar and an aluminum-framed vent window seemed a safe way to do this (the walls are actually insulated concrete forms, not wood, so i hope we're super safe), and the blocks will be sandblasted white glass, so it will just let in soft light. We'll have radiant floor heat, so it should stay toasty in there. The bathtub will actually be (my dream) a free-standing ofuro (deep wooden soaking tub) and i was figuring on using that spigot for a hose attachment (i am laughing at myself right now. i sound a little strange, don't i?) I put the shower room in the corner for the plumbing and the surrounding outer walls. The door into it will be like a glass shower door. The room next to it is for changing/towels/primping. If i moved it, it would be closer to the bedroom, but, well, i have this vision stuck in my head...
And the separate toilet means both can be used at the same time. The toilet is pretty close to the bedroom door right now, so i think it's convenient enough. I have thought of reversing the toilet with the laundry so it could have a window, but we need to vent the dryer...

I can put any window anywhere i want right now, so that's the most flexible part of all.

whew! okay... rachelrachel:
Well, if we made the loft a bedroom, we'd have to put in a dormer egress window, and that would add a bit to costs. Also, the vision we had was of a very open area upstairs, and bedroom walls would block things up. My husband likes (check that, LOVES) to hunt, and we've got some mounts and antlers he'd like to have up, so we're hoping the openness will allow them to be displayed, but not "in your face". Perhaps if we need to, it can be converted into a bedroom in the future, but for now, we see it as a place to read and nap.

we've talked about prepping the work room floor for potential bedroom walls... perhaps some playing around with the toilet location and door and laundry and all would lend the floor plan to this a little better. We're already planning for a stackable washer/dryer. i don't really want the toilet to be right at the foot of the stairs, though, and as i was writing about earlier, i have a vision of the shower and changing room that would be hard to get rid of... do you know what i mean?

Thank you for your comments! This is just the thing to stir up the pot. Keep them coming!!!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 4:40PM
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I am a bath person....yours sounds wonderful. And I have always liked the open showers. They use them in designs a great deal in NM. Along with the glass blocks which tend to add a solar affect in baths warming the area naturally.

I see now that if the toilet area was flipped there wouldn't be enough walkway from the stairs. And your plumbing locations for all which can't be changed. But in honesty the design of the area doesn't feel right.

Is your workroom a "workout" room, or art room? What is it used for?

My bedroom is the size of yours and wall space is gold. I would consider moving the bedroom door to the angle. The bump out in the bedroom where current door is planned could then be used for furniture.

And am still intrigued with what you are doing. So keep us posted.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 7:58AM
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Okay, there is only one thing I can focus on to start with:

You'll probably want to disregard my comment completely because it would mean a great deal of configuration.


It seems like you could maximize your space (and perhaps the efficiency of the build?) if you had a U-shaped flight of stairs from top to bottom.

I love the idea, though! Very cool and certainly unique! Did you mention how many square feet total?

Good luck, and keep us posted on your progress!


    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 12:38AM
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Lara: The house ends up being somewhere around 1500 sq ft living space. It's not tiny, but compact enough for sure. Definitely a different design and i think most people are skeptical at first, but it does hold a lot of possibilities! One of the problems is that if you change location/size of a room or stairs in x or y or z space, it affects the entire layout (as you noticed), so that makes it difficult to adjust plans.

Emagineer: The workroom is a space that is tucked downstairs for messy projects, working on sporting gear, a weight bench, etc. It's multipurpose... We put it by the door so we can get bicycles and other stuff in and out easily, and so the bedroom could be bigger.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 11:19AM
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Well, here's my two cents worth. You might want to do some thinking about how you can live in this house without going up or down stairs too many times each day in case it ever becomes necessary, even temporarily. I'm making this suggestion because I was once in a serious auto accident, and for many weeks after that my knees hurt whenever I went up or (worse) down steps. That experience made me "painfully" aware of how stairs have the capacity to impact our daily routines. That said, your sleeping loft looks like it will be a fun as well as interesting feature of the house. You can always turn it into guest quarters in the future. Keep in ind that the US population is getting older, and people are increasingly seeking single-level living possibilities.

Also, I agree with emagineer, that you might "consider moving the bedroom door to the angle". That would create a more "logical" way in and out of the room, and would free up space for a little nook for reading or other activities. For example, one could turn on a light and read late at night without disturbing the spouse.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 6:39PM
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Questioner, your cabin concept on a forested lot sounds so wonderful!!! For what it's worth, I have a few thoughts on what I would change if it were my house, unless of course I'm missing something! 1. I would not make the stairs come down from the kitchen in a straight run, but would make an "L" with a few steps down to a landing, and turning to enter the room down several more stairs (eliminating the present bathroom). This would allow the shower/vanity/laundry to become one large enclosed room. (the exterior door would open the other way, against the new wall.) I would eliminate the doors in this new bathroom, but enclose a stacked washer/dryer within a closet where the vanity is. I would put the toilet where the laundry basket area is, which I think lines up the stack with the upstairs bathroom toilet. I would put the vanity in the remaining area, the corner where the current laundry is. This would eliminate the extra bathroom and laundry sink$ (the vanity would be only a few steps from the washer). This configuration, eliminating the current enclosed toilet and sink room in the middle of the living space would hugely open up that area; you would come down the stairs into open space.
2. If you really feel the need for a separate door into the shower/bath area, unless it is a "shower-type door, a 2 foot door is very narrow, and might not be to code. A pocket door instead would allow greater access without the inconvenience of a door opening into the tub area, esp. if someone tries to come in while someone is standing there - not a lot of room. A pocket door would need a tad greater thickness to the wall.
3.I also like moving the bedroom door to the angle. It doesn't look big enough and may need to be enlarged. I would then make the "ell" into the closet, creating a much more spacious bedroom. This walk-in closet could have the laundry basket removed from the bathroom.
4. The upstairs bathroom wall seems much bigger than it needs to be; if the 6'2" wall were reduced to say 5', could that crazy angle for the hall into the sleeping loft be reduced, or the width increased?...I'm confused by the joggy area from the hall to the closet?????
Sorry this is so long...can you tell I get carried away? -Penny

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 10:07PM
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Opps, I forgot somethinganother reason for moving the laundry (enclosed in a closet with louvered regular or bifold doors) next to the shower area, is not only to provide a separation between the tub/shower and toilet/sink area, and to reduce plumbing costs by efficiently lining up waste stack & toilets, BUT also to remove the dryer vent further away from the exterior door. If the door has a screen, it would be problematic to have the door open when the dryers running, or to just go in or out the door without the billowing moist air entering the dwelling, with the vent so close by .
I had also wanted to point out that as currently planned, the exposed laundry area is highlighted/featured as one travels from the kitchen to the bedroom. I dont about other people, but when Im doing laundry, clothes might be piled around, etc., and is not something I want showcased!!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 7:41AM
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Okay all, so, here are some changes (major ones, anyways) i've come up with, hopefully for the better? I think they work well, though. For some reason, Penny's thoughts really congealed things for me, so THANKS PENNY!

Lower level

Upper level

Outside view

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 6:21PM
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