Which would you do, back door or 2nd full bath?

movinginvaApril 28, 2014

We are looking to do some work on our tiny (1080 square feet) rancher, and are looking at two different options since we cannot afford to have everything done all at once. In trying to decide what to do, taking a few things into consideration. One of them is the fact that we probably won't be in the house for more than a few more years so we are of course looking at resale value and the ability to recoup most of what we spent if we were to sell. Here is what we are looking at. I am not willing to give up my attached garage by converting it.

1. Back door through the dining room. - we have a decent sized lot with lots of back yard space and do not have easy access to the back yard. We live in southeast VA, so outdoor space (a deck) makes good sense, since we can sometimes get nice days into November.

2. Convert the smallest bedroom into a master bathroom and walk in closet. We will then put a door on the dining room entrance and turn that into the third bedroom. We will lose the dining room, but now have 2.5 bath. Of course, this is the more expensive option, and we would still need to find a way to have easy access to the backyard.

I truly need some help with this decision. Any thoughts on these potential plans? If you had to choose, which option would you go with? Thoughts, suggestions and questions are welcome. If you think that both options at completely crazy, let me know also.

Thank you all for your help!

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No answers for you. We DO have a door to outside in our master bath and it is wonderful. It goes to the back yard which the dogs run in so we can get up in the night to let the dogs out and back in easily. BUT of course you might not want every one traipsing through your master bed and bath to go to the back yard. Our house has an outside door on all four sides. Over kill I would say but we do use all of them.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 2:50PM
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I would do the back door from the dining room. Without seeing your actual floor plan I can only assume that a bedroom where a dining room was, will be an awkward layout.
And, since you plan to move, I would invest the least amount in renovating.
If you want to go through the expense of having plans drawn with the second option, you can show this to future buyers as a possible selling point. Something they could do in the future.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 6:27PM
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post a layout on graph paper(free DL online)

show rooms w/doors and windows as are w/ measurements of each.

use a 'block' for a measurement = as in 6" ea or 1' ea (just be consistent)

show how rooms relate/attach to each other

show where the backyard is on it

you don't say how the kitchen relates to DR or backyard

can you put a door to BY off of it?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 6:45PM
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I would go with the back door off the dining room. I am a recent homebuyer and backyard access was a definite plus for me.

A layout of the home would be helpful. I am assuming that this new layout would change the flow of traffic, and not in a positive way.

Honestly, I think 2.5 baths in a 1080 s.f. home is a bit over the top. I am skeptical that you could recoup the costs in a sale. However, I am not in your area. Especially since you have resale in mind, I would do a market analysis on your own or ask a real estate person you trust before going that route.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:08PM
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The dining room is off the kitchen, and we have a half bath between the two, and both the kitchen and dining room face the backyard. I took measurements yesterday, and did a rough drawing. I will clean it up and post it as well as a pic or two when I get home tonight.

Thanks for all the help and insight so far.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 2:05PM
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Who is more likely to buy your house--a single or young couple in a first time home (who might have a small child); or a retired couple?

Do you need to remodel or update the bathroom in order to sell?

If it were me, and it were likely to be purchased as a starter home, the backyard access would be most important.

Outdoor living has the potential to greatly impact the size/feel of a home--esp a small home. If you put in that door, have a nice patio or deck, and furnish it appropriately when you go to sell, it will, even without a master bath--esp in a 1000sqft house.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 10:54PM
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The layout is below. I hope that my drawing is helpful. I could not take pictures because it has been raining for the past week.

The room directly in front of the garage is the dining room. The tiny one closest to the back of the house is a pantry and the other is a half bath.

Please let me know if you have any questions or need clarification.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 11:14PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

If I'm seeing correctly, that's a 1/2 bath by the room in front of the garage? Can you turn that room into the MBR and turn the small bedroom into the DR...move the door way closer to the kitchen...and add access to the back. Turn the closet there into the pantry for the kitchen and add the pantry space to the bedroom. The idea being that the split plan with a more open concept between kitchen, DR and LR is more modern and desirable...and the access to the back yard would be visible from the LR. Any time you can see daylight from both sides of the house, it automatically makes the space feel larger...

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 10:45PM
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If it were my home I'd consider moving the kitchen sink to either side of the kitchen window and putting a door to the backyard where that window is now. This would be convenient to serving food on a future deck or sunroom and creates a sight line from the front door to the backyard. Also a needed exit in case of a kitchen fire.

Since you plan to resell in a few years, you may be better off leaving the other rooms flexible for potential buyers. For example: the current dining room has a 1/2 bath and a closet; one buyer might want to keep it as that, another might want to turn it into a master or teenagers bedroom, or a den/guestroom. The bedroom adjacent to the kitchen might be more appealing as dining space to some buyers. The smaller bedroom you are thinking of converting into a walk-in closet/ bathroom may be better served as a child's room or home office for someone else.

Giving up a room in order to have a walk-in closet, 2nd. full bath may not appeal to the broadest spectrum of buyers looking for a home in your area. Just something to keep in mind.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 6:56AM
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I would not do your original proposal. Person in the new bedroom/old dining room would have to walk across the house to bathe (nice to have a toilet handy, but still not the best setup--you don't gain as much. It would feel like an office, not really a bedroom).

I think you should consider just leaving it all as is. I suspect someone will want to come in and remodel, but there are several options and if you remodel, you limit what they can do for their remodel. (ie, wanting to move the sink, put a kitchen back door in, etc.... Using the back dining room as a mudroom instead (where is your laundry?), etc.

I see a lot of potential, and if you aren't going to be using/enjoying the remodel for several years, it is less to be cost-productive for you to do it than to let the buyers make it their own.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 11:40AM
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When I saw the floor plan I wondered why the architect/builder didn't put in a back door. Not only as a fire exit, but who wants to have to circle their house to put on/take things off the grill? lol. Not to mention rescuing the child who's had a backyard mishap. So for me (griller and grandma), a kitchen backdoor seems the most pragmatic.

This is a good floor plan in the sense there are actually 4 rooms that can be flexible for anyone in any stage of life. So I agree also with kirkhall above that it might be better to save your money and let a future buyer renovate they way they want.

If you decide while you're living in the home you want to add on to the back for yourselves...then you can put in a back door where it works best with your plan.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 1:52PM
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I'm also curious about where your laundry is?

I agree with the person who suggested making the dining room the master bedroom. If you are going to covert the dining room to a bedroom, it makes more sense to me to make it the master because then you have the added benefit of having a split bedroom floorplan, so the two bedrooms on the other end of the house feel more like the kids/guest 'suite.'

I would not get rid of dining altogether though, because from what I can see your only current eating area would be the bar. What if you move your dining to the left of the kitchen (is that your office?) Depending on how long you stay and how much money you want to put into it, it gives you or a future buyer a ton of options to reconfigure or open the dining and kitchen to each other, add a pass through, add a door to the backyard through the dining/current office, etc. If you move the master, you can use the former master as your office.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 12:35PM
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I'm with some of the others who have questioned what would be ore marketable in your area. If your area is comprised mainly of small starter homes that never sell for more than X, then I'm not sure it makes economic sense to do much work. However, if it's, say, an historic neighborhood where folks sink a lot of money into small homes, sacrificing bedrooms for expanded baths/closets/personal spaces, then my analysis would change.

If it were my house, and I had two kids and was wanting to live in it, here's what I would consider:

1) The back corner room (DR now) becomes the MBR. Take in part of the pantry for a shower, and leave the rest for a closet.

2) Open up the wall between the small BR and the LR, with the small BR becoming the new dining room. Put at least a single French door in place of the window, to give access to the backyard. Use double doors if budget allows.

3) The small square room in the center of the house, at the end of the range run of cabinets -- is that a closet for the small BR? If so, lose it and it becomes the pathway from the kitchen to the new DR.

4) Remove the breakfast bar (is that a breakfast bar, or steps?) You have a proper dining room now. Consider taking the wall that has the coat closet door and extending it all the way to the archway opening at the kitchen for a big rectangle of storage. For this new added storage, put a door at the "top" that faces the kitchen -- this is your new kitchen pantry. You decide how much room you want to devote to pantry vs. coat closet/main storage, and slide the dividing wall up or down to suit.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 3:16PM
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I don't know for sure that we will be selling, but we have been weighing our options for the next few years, and would love to make changes that are comfortable for us now, but are marketable if we decide to sell. I do know that I need a door to the back. We have a small brick patio at the front and grill there, but I am not a fan of it, because though we are not right on the street, I feel like I am grilling on for the world to see. I would much rather put a bench or lounged chairs out there.

The area that jakabedy asked about is a bar.

I like the idea a few of you suggested of having sort of a guest suite/MBR on the other end of the house, but I wonder if there is enough space. Do you think that I do? I could see it with a full bed and small dresser.

I also like the idea of using the 3rd bedroom/office as the dining room, and using the closet that protrudes into the kitchen as an entryway into it. It would also allow us to complete the work in bits without any real interruption. If I were to do that, do you think it would be possible to steal a bit of space to put a closet for the master bedroom? If I did that, then I can make the closet in the second bedroom the full length of the wall.

I love the ideas you guys have come up with so far. Thanks you so much. Please let me know if you would like a drawing of just the dining, bedroom, kitchen area.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 10:57PM
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Yes, a stick drawing on graph paper with pen would be helpful.

Also, where is your laundry? The more I look at it, I'd want to change that back dining room into a nice laundry, mudroom, family entrance (from garage, as well as to the backyard) and call it good. Let the bedrooms be bedrooms for now...

I think its dimensions won't work out to be large enough for a master. If you were going to add on, that might be a contender for that area, but not in the space that is currently there.

Have you spoken with a real estate agent?

Before we did our remodel/addition, we had one come in to do a walk through and draw up comps for us. We also discussed some options for remodeling/additions/tidying. He was able to give us good advice for what would be desireable, and how it might affect the comps and pricing...

that might be helpful for you as well. You might find having a 2 bedroom house with a well-appointed mudroom/family entrance/backyard access/office space would be an okay decision for the type of people likely to buy your house, compared with a 3 bedroom home.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 12:37AM
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I came across a thread you did last year on this same floorplan. The suggestions were same/similiar to this one. Someone drew you a diagram of what the current dining space would like if you added a small shower behind the PR and added a closet to the existing footprint. You determined that would leave a bedroom that was 8' x 8'.

I question how many potential future buyers would want an 'en suite' with a bedroom that small, kwim? Would you want to take on the expense of enlarging that room? If not, it might be better to leave that decision to a future owner.

If you really want a second full bath have you thought of the possibility of adding one off the back of the bedroom in the rear corner?

I still think the placement of a back door should be dependent on where you would run a patio/deck. If you make a long run along the back of the house, making one out of the dining room window, and/or the window in the room you use as an office would work.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 6:52AM
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@Llucy, I did post a similar question about two years ago when I just began giving it some thought. I thought I'd get some fresh ideas, and post dimensions that made more sense and were more accurate. I have looked back on it, which is what got me thinking about my options now that I am actually ready to get some of the work done. My thought with the small en-suite is that I can use it as a guest room, and have the other two bedrooms share the second bath. I have given thought to an addition since it would make life much easier and save me a whole lot of thinking, but it is so much more expensive than a remodel in this area and I don't know that we could recoup the cost if we were to sell.

@kirkhall, the laundry is in the garage, but there is ample room in there for that, and it still allows me to park my car. I have considered stealing a small bit of space from the garage to be used as a closet if I were to change the dining room into a bedroom. That would allow me to use the full space in that closet and half bath to put a bath with a bit more breathing room.

I have not spoken to a realtor, but I do know that most potential buyers in this area would have kids, because of the school district. I may give one a call

I have attached a drawing of the dining/kitchen/bedroom area. Each square is a foot.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:30PM
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The drawing doesn't show the dimensions of the rooms. Are the 3rd bedroom & dining room the same size? If so, perhaps switching their functions wouldn't make a difference, especially if you bumped out into the garage to create a closet.

I grew up in a circa 1960 3/1 ranch home. My dad built an addition off the kitchen to create a bathroom with small shower and a small den. The size comparable to the half bath/pantry/dining room in your house. The bath became 'his' bathroom. He didn't mind it wasn't near his bedroom, he was just glad to have his own place to get ready in the morning without having to share the main bath with 3 females. :)

The den was only big enough for a sleeper sofa, end table with lamp, and low bookshelves against the wall. No closet. It had the door to the backyard, and a door to shut it off from the hallway. We used it as a sunny, quiet place to read, but it could be used as a room for weekend guests if need be.

That kind of configuration might work for you, especially with a bumped out closet. The closet could serve as pantry/storage if a future buyer wanted to keep that space for a dining room also.

Converting the existing PR/pantry to a bathroom with small shower would give you a 3/2 even if you didn't structurally change the other rooms. My thinking is that having 2 bathrooms is worth the walk from the bedrooms. It's a small house after all, the walk isn't going to be that long.

I would definitely get advice from a realtor experienced in selling houses in your area before making major changes though. S/he should be able to tell you if the bedroom/dining room swap would appeal to the greater number of potential buyers in your market or not.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:20AM
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I meant to put on there that one square is one square foot. Sorry about that.

@llucy, good thought. I never really considered just having a second full bath that is not near the bedrooms. I have a friend whose house has two levels, with all bedrooms upstairs, but one of the baths is downstairs. She uses one, and her husband uses the other. It seems to work well and I never thought that the setup was odd.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 8:38PM
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The squares didn't come across on the drawing posted here. Simply listing the dimensions (ie: 8' w X 10' d) would be helpful.

Are many of the homes in your area around the same size? Similar layout? If so, you could keep your eye out for open houses. Attending open houses would give you the chance to see what changes other people may have made to a floor plan like yours and give you ideas of what to do (or not do) to your own home. Also an opportunity to talk to realtors about what appeals to buyers in your market.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 6:06AM
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It appears it is 10x12.

I just don't think that is going to be a real master suite... Maybe if you took some from the garage, but ... the expense is likely to be greater than you'll get back in selling.

Again, I think I'd have a knowledgable realtor in your area give you feedback.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 10:42PM
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It looks as if your dining room is actually larger than your third BR/Office, is that correct? I like the idea that was proposed, with the rooms being flipped, and a door to the outside coming off the new dining room. The closet would then become the opening to the kitchen. It would appear then, according to your sketch, that the dining room would actually be a teensy bit closer to your kitchen.

I would not have the [former] dining room become the master, but a guest room/office. I would also consider stretching the 1/2 bath into a full bath by borrowing from the pantry. That way, when you have guests, they also have access to a shower. And of course, anytime you have two or more people getting ready, it is very nice to have another bath with a shower.

Kirkhall has the best advice, though, and that is to talk to a realtor and find out what is desirable in your location. He or she may tell you to just leave it as is. As someone with children, though, a door to the backyard would be a must for me. It is something we had on our deal-breaker list when we were looking for a home-- that and a window in the kitchen, which you already have. :)

I'll be curious what the realtor has to say.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 10:19PM
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I would enlarge the master bedroom by removing the closet in that room and expand instead into the third bedroom by adding a master bath and walk in closet there. Then I would remove the powder room and remove the walls/closet to merge the kitchen and dining room areas to be an open concept with an eating area and family room area with french doors to the backyard. You would then have a 2 bedroom/ two bath with larger family area. Get a pull out couch for guests. In a small home, how often do you use the guest room, a formal dining room? Make all areas useable everyday instead.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 2:32PM
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You got it, tomalyse! Exactly what I was thinking. It is, after all, only a bit over 1000 sq ft - 3 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths is a lot to ask for. I have a 2 bd, 2 bath, 1300 sq ft house and very rarely use the guest rooml If I were to do it again, I'd make it a much more useful space with a murphy bed instead of the regular bed that's there. And tho I love having the dining room, it is used so seldom that it too is a lot of wasted space. Not sure what I'd do different there - maybe nothing - but you really should give lots of consideration to making the most of your very limited space. And, btw, talking with a realtor who is familiar with the area, would be the FIRST thing I'd do!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 5:17PM
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Losing a bedroom could lower the value of your home, even if a remodel makes it look prettier. I just don't see the advantage of buying a 2 bedroom house.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 7:27PM
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I vote for the back door through the dining room. Seems to be the most valuable yet least costly. French door or doors, if there's enough space, looking out onto patio or deck.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 10:47AM
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So I am terribly trigger shy and definitely sorry for being such a bother. I spoke with realtors and as I imagined and you all suggested, we will lose value and buyers with a 2 bedroom house. I have been thinking of some alternatives.

1. Use 1/3 of the office space to the edge of the window as a large closet for the master bedroom. Turn the window in that office to a door to the backyard and make the kitchen space and the remaining 2/3 of the office an open kitchen and dining area. Steal 2 feet of kitchen space or add to the current half bath, to make it a full bath and make the dining room bedroom #3 with full bath. We will probably end up using that space as the office.

2. Move the kitchen into the dining room and use the window in the current dining area as a door to the backyard. Remove the half bath and include that space in the kitchen to make a kitchen/dining area. Wall off what was the kitchen,to create a bathroom and walk in closet for the office, which will now function as a small master bedroom (11x9).

3. Use 2/3 of the office to make a closet and bath for the master bedroom. Make the dining room a bedroom, and expand the kitchen to include the other 1/3 of the bedroom, and the current half bath for a kitchen/dining area. Use the kitchen window as backyard access. The only trouble I have with that idea is the fact that you will have to walk to the other end of the house to use the bathroom if you are in that 3rd bedroom.

The layout of this house has been kicking my butt for 4 years now. I will not let it win! Do any of these options make sense? Any thoughts or suggestions. I think the one thing we decided is that we are not moving unless we have to move outside of this area altogether because of work. Let me know if you have questions.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2014 at 1:19PM
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You are Not a bother :-) . What did the realtor suggest besides not converting to a 2 Bdrm?

All your recent ideas seem like a good bit of work and expense to me...moving kitchens...eliminating the half bath... 'Borrowing space' in already small rooms would seem likely to create even smaller rooms ?

Since you have lived there 4 years, and have made peace with staying for awhile - perhaps you should think about what layout YOU would really be happy with and get estimates from remodeling contractors.

I'm simple and low budget. I'd put a shower in the half bath. Back door in the dining room and knock a closet into the garage if possible.

Or just hang in there and keep looking for a good deal on a place that has a layout that fits without the remodeling cost. :-)

    Bookmark   November 8, 2014 at 7:56PM
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I have been giving a lot of thought to option one and I am thinking it may be the way to go. I do have one question though, Is it odd to have the third bedroom on the other side of the house with no bathroom close (in small home terms)? Someone in that third bedroom will have to cut through the living room to get to the bathroom. I have posted on the kitchen website to try and get some layout help. The link is here: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg1112123931933.html?3

Let me know if you recommend posting the thread here, since you all are experts with small spaces.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen Layout Thread

    Bookmark   November 17, 2014 at 3:01PM
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Hi Va,

I'm not an expert. The problem I see with your option 1 is that it involves stealing 3 ft of space from a room that is only 9 ft wide. That only leaves 6' width for a dining area. A standard dining table is 3' wide, so there wouldn't be enough room to walk around the table and get in/out of the chairs. Even with a bench pressed against the wall... that's going to be really tight.

If you take out the wall between the 'new' dining space and kitchen you lose that whole wall of storage and counter space. Where are you going to put the range?

If you steal 2' from the other side of the existing kitchen - you lose all the storage/counter space on that wall. Where are you putting the fridge? How are you going to add back storage and counter space? Your option 1 involes taking 2 small rooms and making them much smaller to my eye.

I'm sure you can do an open eat-in kitchen in this house if you want one, but I think you do need a professional to do some sketches to give you an idea how functional the arrangement would actually be.

Va, all the ideas you've presented about this floor plan involve creating a bedroom with an en suite somewhere, somehow... no matter how small the bedroom. I don't think a "master en suite" that is only 9' wide is going to be very appealing to future buyers when the time comes you want/need to sell. Perhaps, you would do better to add a bath/ closet to the back of the largest bedroom, rather than take a sledgehammer to most of the rooms in your home?

You might look into the feasibility of expanding the builer-designated dining room into a modest, yet reasonably sized bedroom. Zoning, HOA codes may prohibit expansion there, but maybe not.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2014 at 8:40PM
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If I were to take 2 feet of space from the adjacent bedroom, I will use the remaining space as a bathroom and closet. Below is what my usable kitchen/dining space will look like. I was thinking of running cabinets down the new wall, to create a U-shaped kitchen with 4 feet of space from counter to counter. My concern is space for a small dining table.


    Bookmark   November 22, 2014 at 11:26PM
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I am not sure what you are drawing in here. I would just switch the window in the existing dinning room and make it a door. Cost effective and does not devalue your house turning it to a two bedroom.

You can always turn the room off the garage with half bath and pantry to a bedroom by converting pantry to small closet.

I do not think all the wall re-arranging is going to gain you much.If you are only going to be there a few more years take that time to decide what will be best for you in the next house. Save your money on not cutting up this house so you will have more money to buy a better house fitting your needs more.

I know it is not what you want to hear. I just know how many houses we lived with ,as is, with only cosmetic changes until we could buy the house we really wanted. I do think a door to outside with a nice deck would add the most value. I can see meals set out on dinning room table buffet style and people mingling in and out to the deck.

Use the room by the garage as the office for now.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2014 at 2:36PM
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