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Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

Posted by ILoveCookie (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 21, 13 at 22:33

Husband and I are going to build a small 1.5-story cape, which hopefully will be our forever home. We don't have a large budget, so we are trying to use a stock plan, and modify it somewhat to suit our needs, without changing the foundation size/shape or anything major.

The cape we want to build has a 28' x 32' interior footprint. It has no dormers (this saves us $25K), and the livable area is about 1600 sqft. We will have a basement for entertainment and storage.

When trying to narrow down the stock plans, I got quite a bit of help from this forum and the Smaller Homes forum. I felt really grateful, and tried to incorporate everyone's suggestions into the layout I came up with (attached below).

Here is what the original stock plan looks like, before my modifications:
The Original Cape Plan


After my modifications:

The two smaller bedrooms upstairs are for two future kids. The "away room" on the 1st floor can be used as a bedroom if needed (e.g. when we are too old to go upstairs). We don't entertain much and usually don't have overnight guests, so there is no plan for a dedicated guest bedroom.

The garage will be detached (not in the layout). We will probably add a covered path between the garage and the front entry of the house.

Are there any serious problems with my layout? Am I missing anything important? What would you change if it were your home? I'd like to hear your opinions, and will keep tweaking it till it's almost perfect..

Some small concerns I do have:
-- The smallest bedroom (for one kid) is quite small;
-- There is not much storage in the front entry area;
-- There is no utility closet on the 1st floor;
-- While the powder room has a shower, there's not enough clearance for a wheelchair.

No one in our family is in a wheelchair...I am thinking of this because I read in several books that universal access is an important design consideration in a new build.

Thank you for reading!

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Sun, Jul 21, 13 at 23:33


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

In a multiple use bathroom I'd want a door on the water closet and possibly the shower bath so more than one could use it at a time. Don 't forget your under stair space, on the landing area. It could be incorporated into bath/laundry area. I'm not sure bedroom 2 would be considered a bedroom due to size and no closet. Something to consider for resale. I'd reconfigure the layout of the powder/laundry. It will be tough with kids later to use the only first floor bath as laundry too. If you can add a dormer to the bedrooms it will help emensley. As nice as a stairway landing is with the size space you have I'd do a straight shot in favor of more bedroom space then reconfigure the upstairs to have a laundry shoot in the bathroom ( I would move the bath to the bedroom 2 location.). If you go high enough you might have room for a built in cabinet above the stairway wall for linens. I like your great room open plan area very much. I would do larger dining area windows and smaller sitting room windows since you'll have a sliding door in that area. I live in a story and a half and can't stress enough how much more beneficial it would've been if we had dormers. We hear a noise and have to go downstairs if it originates on the roof side of the home.

This post was edited by houseofsticks on Mon, Jul 22, 13 at 0:17


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I share many if HouseOfSticks' concerns.

According to the original floorplan, this house is more than 2000 sf . . . But I can't see where it's gone. Only the kitchen, dining and master bedroom are a comfortable size. A 9' wide family room? I suggest you measure this space off in your own house / mark it with tape. The away room is a great concept, but if it were "open" it'd feel spacious, but since an away room has -- by definition -- walls, it's going to be small. I'd rather have one nice-sized family room rather than two insufficient areas; if you build as drawn, I suspect that you'll be tearing down walls in a couple years. Are you still talking about having a basement? Let that be your away space.

The laundry is going to prove insufficient too. With a stacked machine, you have no place at all to fold -- not even the top of the machines. Note, too, that you have literally no space to store laundry detergent, no space to stack waiting loads. Laundry for a future family of four will be a real chore with only a corner of a powder room as your workspace. Again, I'd turn to the basement. It's not an ideal situation, but you need the space.

The upstairs bath is a nice size, but when you have kids you'll need a tub. they don't like to take showers 'til they're maybe eight. If you go with double sinks in a vanity that size, you'll have no drawers for make-up, hair brushes, and aspirin.

I wouldn't worry about wheelchairs and aging in place. The proportions of this house mark it as a starter house, and you will definitely outgrow it in a decade or so.

Finally, I'd add the dormers. You're looking at a rather high cost house, and while the 25 K is significant, it will add necessary space and light to the upstairs. Style too.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

Walking into the kitchen from the front seems odd. The tiny family room might be regrettable.

The original is nice. Much more spacious feeling. You don't like it?


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I too prefer the original!

What don't you like about that plan, OP?


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I am the OP. Thank you all for replying. I will do a quick reply for now, and will respond in more details later when I get home tonight.

red_lover, LuAnn, the original plan actually looks nice to me too, but the initial feedback got me thinking about utilizing the front entry area more efficiently, having the washer/dryer and a shower on the 1st floor, having a multi-purpose away room (triple use as office, bedroom), etc. That's how I started making changes to the original plan.

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Tue, Jul 23, 13 at 0:15


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

Hi, I am back...just finished modifying the floor plan based on everyone's suggestion.

houseofsticks, I changed to use larger dining area windows, switched bath with bathroom 2, and reconfigured the power/laundry area. I am still trying to figure out how to utilize the space underneath the stair landing...The stair leading to the basement probably needs to go in parallel to the stair leading to the 2nd floor... I don't think there will be enough head clearance if I put something in between?

MrsPete, the cape has a slant roof, so some space on the 2nd floor doesn't have enough head clearance to be usable. I guess that's why they call it 1.5-story. We are considering adding the dormers...We will have a basement, so the laundry could go down there, but I prefer to have it stay on the 1st/2nd floor if possible...I also combined the dining table with the kitchen island, in order to make the family room bigger...Regarding the away room, what if we use glass for the top half of the entire wall? Will that feel more open?

red_lover, I reconfigured the kitchen/dining/family room to make the family room larger (see below)...what do you think?

I really appreciate everyone's input. Please keep it coming. Thank you!


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I understand where you're coming from: People said, "These things are problems", and you changed them . . . but the issue is that you do have limited space, and all these things aren't necessarily fixable within the confines of that limited space, especially since you're trying to maintain this shape as well as this square footage.

Yes, I understand 1.5 stories. I like that style very much, and my new house will be similar.

At 6.5' wide, the smallest bedroom is completely unworkable. Again, I suggest that you tape off a portion of your current house in that size and SEE just how small that'll be.

The upstairs laundry is an improvement, but you still have a major problem: No place to store "waiting loads" and supplies. The result is that you'll always be stepping over piles of laundry in the already-small hallway. You could stack the machines, which would give you some hidden storage. Being this close to the beds, I wouldn't be concerned about folding space. You can bring loads out of the machine and fold on any of the beds.

No, you cannot have the basement stairs AND utilize the space under the stairs for storage. If you weren't going to have the basement, this would be an excellent spot to harvest some storage -- but the basement steps must win out in this situation.

I still prefer the original first floor plan. It gives you a nice-sized kitchen -dining -living area . . . and a tiny office, which is your away space.

Let me ask this: What activities do you anticipate will occur in each of these areas? Here's what I'm getting at: If I were planning this house, I'd want to keep the living room large for groups of people to gather, but the away space -- if it were for my family -- would only need to be big enough for one person. I'd make it much smaller. Perhaps a wall of bookshelves and a comfortable recliner. Think through what activities your family will want these rooms to support -- that'll help you decide how big these rooms should be.

Finally, you're moving walls around willy-nilly. Have you talked to the builder about this? All walls aren't moveable -- but that ties into whether this house is built with trusses, etc.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

Sorry, but bedroom #2 has less space than a prison cell. And how will you make the bed and change the linens?


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

The next iteration was better than the first, but neither are better than the original...

You don't have room for a closet in the tiny bedroom. You just don't. You'll have to rely on the built-ins.

You really need to think about having a dormer or shed dormer, imo, for this house to be good for you with 2 future kids...

We had a cape--23x34 with 2 dormers up on top. 1 kid fit. 2 did not. (we had to add on). House of sticks is in a similar boat--needing to add on.

A Cape with lower dimensions of what you are describing needs to be a house where the kids share a single bedroom, or needs to be a starter house where you add on or move to larger later, imo. OR, if you live in a fabulous environment with lots of outdoor living time and space, then it would be okay too. (I don't live in a very temperate zone).

Basement? What is UNDER your stair landing?


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

You can't have it all an a limited space plan.

And you're trying to have it all. You either needs to accept the limitations of this plan, or move on to a much larger plan. This is a starter home plan, not a long term home for a family.

Plan it so that you can do an addition in 7-8 years. Or plan to move at that time. Or, build bigger from the beginning. If your budget can't support any of those choices, then you can't afford to build and should be looking at existing homes.

Building a home isn't about getting a cheap home. It's about getting a personal home. It's much cheaper in most areas to buy existing and do some renovations.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

Thank you guys, you made me realize that I am trying to squeeze too much into this small space...there's no space upstairs for a 3rd bedroom unless we add dormers.

Add 1-2 shed dormers now...vs...adding a master bedroom suite later on the 1st floor....The latter might be a better option, if we are going to stay in this house forever. We will think more about this.

kirkhall, we haven't laid out rooms in the basement yet, so I don't know for sure what will be under the basement stair landing. So far I think the basement will have a small mechanical room, a storage room, and the rest will be for entertainment (video games, watch TV, other loud activities). The laundry room could be down there too, if necessary.

We live near parks and beach in NJ...don't know if that can be considered "fabulous environment". It doesn't look as awesome when compared to Vermont, Minnesota, etc. We do go to the nearest reservoir park regularly on weekends, for a walk or a run.

MrsPete, great idea to stack the washer and dryer in that closet. I will make that change. For the away room, I was trying to fit two people (me and husband) in there, as sometimes we both need to work from home (husband does so more often than me, as his job requires him to be 24x7 on call). Perhaps I could carve out some office space in the basement instead.

I don't think the interior walls are structural because this cape has a timber frame, but I need to double check this with the builder. We haven't talked to them about the interior details, as we feel it might be a bit pre-mature to engage the builder's architect and interior designer while we are still trying to sell our current house (it's listed but no buyers yet). Or is it not?

At the moment, we are not considering buying another existing house...we want to start from scratch this time, and plan to rent while getting construction plan and funds ready.

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Tue, Jul 23, 13 at 12:13


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I like the main level, especially the more recent one.

I agree that in the tiny bedroom you can't have both built-ins and a closet. A room that size doesn't have space for both-- it's claustrophobic. If you want a closet, put it in place of the deeper built-in.

For our kids we were careful to keep the rooms roughly equal-- here you have one nice kids' room, and one that is dramatically small.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I think you're on the right track now: keep two good-sized bedrooms upstairs for now. One for you, one for the children (who, don't forget, don't yet exist) and later plan to add on a master, leaving the upstairs for the children. For now plan where you'll connect the master so you can leave an "open space" for it.

This also excuses you from the need for a full bath downstairs for now.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

zone4newby, good point about treating the kids equally! I was thinking that the younger kid could have the smaller bedroom, but now you mention it, I don't think that's fair.

MrsPete, do you think I should keep the 2 bathrooms upstairs, or is it better to convert one of them to a hide-away spot for the kids? I think it's convenient for each kid for have their own bathroom, but that seems like a luxury rather than necessity. If we keep both bathrooms, then once we add the master suite, there will be 3.5 baths. We think it might be a bit too much for a 3-bedroom house..

One possible connecting point for the master suite is the the stair landing/office/away room area..the master bath can be north of the stair landing, and the bedroom could be north of the office/away room, whose windows will then be sacrificed.

The 1st floor will probably get less natural daylight once we add the master, but I am not sure to what degree. Hope it won't be significantly worse, as I love having daylight throughout the main floor. Dormers won't have this problem, hmm...lots to think about.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

The switch back stair landing helps with the layout but it takes up a major portion of your floor area on both floors.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I know I shouldn't be thinking about squeezing a 3rd bedroom onto the 2nd floor, but an idea struck me...

I moved the master bedroom to the west side, and split the space on the east side into two similar sized bedrooms. These two bedrooms will share one bathroom. What do you think?

I put the stackable washer/dryer in the powder room (no shower there)...the dotted line indicates where I'd hang a curtain to hide the stackable unit.

Thank you for reading!


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I don't really know anything about functions of floorplans, but I think what you've come up with is a great solutuion!


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

It is really similar to one of the other cape plans that are linked with your original link...the one with the shed dormer. I think you need to go back to your original sets and have a look...


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

The two bedrooms are not the same size, because the closet takes up more space in the 'front' bedroom. I think you've tried some nice variations, but the 'away room' seems to be causing the problem...

What about this plan (the blue house) but with the garage location of your present plan? Then, you could use the main floor bedroom or upstairs master...and the other could be your 'away room'. Would that work?

From Farmhouse plans

From Farmhouse plans

From Farmhouse plans

From Farmhouse plans


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

A 1.5 story house is not practical for the footprint you want and the floor space you need and provides no possibility for future expansion.

Making it a 2 story house would create all the space you need at a reasonable additional cost and provide an attic for storage and/or future expansion. It would also allow a more efficient stairway and cross ventilation in the bedrooms.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I agree.

I can't wrap my head around the front door entry going through the kitchen. I'm sorry, but it feels like an apartment entry.

Is there any way you could do the two story? Would it really make that much difference in your monthly mortgage payment? What you are trying to do is just too tight.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

Renovator makes some good points! Could you add the timber frame details to a two story plan? I really like this one...and you could add a garage onto the end of the mud room space. Wonderful when it snows! :)

From Farmhouse plans

From Farmhouse plans

From Farmhouse plans


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

mrsfireman, thank you, the master bedroom is small but overall I was happy with it.

kirkhall, I see what you are saying...the layout is essentially the same, but with the shed dormers in the other plans, all the upstairs bathrooms and bedrooms are far more spacious.

Renovator8, red_lover, by 2 story, do you mean adding 2 shed dormers to raise the roof, or going with a true 2-story, like a colonial?

RE: front door entry going through the kitchen...what about switching the family room with the kitchen? I think having the kitchen face southeast would actually be great.

lavender_lass, yeah, you are right, the two bedrooms on the east side are not exactly the same size. The plan you suggested earlier would work, although I was hoping not to have to go the 4-bedroom route... our current house has 5 bedrooms, and we think 3 would be ideal.

The latest plan you suggested won't work...I asked the sales guy (the builder's) this specific question a while ago. He said we cannot just add a timber frame to it, but if we really want that, we can go the more expensive custom route. (Perhaps I should double check with their architect to see if he has a different answer...)

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Wed, Jul 24, 13 at 12:13


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

That's too bad. I know you love the timber frame, so just keep trying different ideas.

What about this? Main floor from blue house...with smaller upstairs.

From Farmhouse plans

From Farmhouse plans

You could keep the bathroom on the right, but flip it so it has hall access. Then make the smaller bathroom a walk in closet, for the bedroom on the left...and combine the middle closets for a walk in closet, for bedroom on the right.

Since the laundry is on the main floor, I'd change the upstairs laundry to linen storage. What do you think?


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

lavender_lass, I love your idea!

We were leaning towards 2 bed, 1 bath upstairs, laundry downstairs, and a master suite add-on. I was unable to figure out the shared bath configuration, but you nailed it!

Going to update my drawing.. :)


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

Choosing a building shape/configuration and then trying to fit a space program into it is essentially the reverse of a logical design process. This often seems logical to first time designers because they feel more comfortable working from forms that they know and assume their space program is more malleable and can be added to it. But it isn't; the space program dominates for financial reasons if nothing else.

To design this house I would start with the space program and find what forms would best enclose it, then think about style.

If the area of the second floor space is the same as that of the first floor space, a 2 story house would be appropriate. Using shed dormers to adapt a shorter house is an efficient use of materials but it creates a more complicated structure and a lower sloped roof - two things I like to avoid if possible. But I've seen it done well even in cold climates.

If the area of the second floor space is smaller than that of the first floor space, a 1.5 story (or 1.75 as discussed here) would be appropriate. If the footprint can be larger, a "Saltbox" configuration would be appropriate.

What styles would work best with these configurations is a very large subject and where experience becomes critical so it is best to wait until the most desirable configuration has been identified. The number of possibilities is also what makes that part of the process so much fun.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I hope that works out! I think the timber frame will be so cozy...but still spacious. Wonderful combination :)


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

Thank you, lavender_lass. I am very excited. Hopefully we will sell our house soon. :)

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Wed, Jul 24, 13 at 23:11


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

Here is my updated plan...

Husband wants the kitchen to be next to the deck for convenience (we love to grill outside except in the winter), so I moved the kitchen to the east side where the deck is, moved the family room to where the office was, and put the office near the front entry. So the wall that MrsPete suggests that I get rid of is totally gone now, and the entire east side is available for family activities.

The master suite is going to be added on later, and it will have a shower. I guess the shared bath upstairs probably should have a tub, just because small kids like tubs, and there won't be a tub anywhere else in the house...


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

Since you asked me this question specifically, I would stick with one bath upstairs. Right now, while you don't yet have children, it'll be fine. Your children, even once they're born, won't be "pottying" for a while, and when sharing becomes a chore, it'll be about the time you're ready to build your downstairs addition. Two children can share a bathroom without any trouble.

I like your new floorplan better than the old -- big kudos especially on the increased storage -- but I will share a couple ideas:

- I'd flip-flop the master bath /closet. Why waste a prime corner spot on a closet? Rooms with windows on two walls are always nicer, and this'll give you better natural light in your bathroom.
- This small vanity cannot really support two sinks -- not unless you're willing to give up all drawer storage.

- Still on the subject of bathrooms, I do not like the laundry in the powder room. You will have no work space. It's unconventional, but if this were my choice, I'd put a long narrow closet in the office (backing up against the kitchen wall) and put the laundry in that closet. It'll give you ample space, and although laundry doesn't belong in the office, it'll keep it out of the line of sight for visitors.
OR put it back upstairs, which will be okay for now but a problem once you build the downstairs addition.

- Your living room is small. My current living room is 16 x 19, and it's "just right to be cozy" with a large sofa and love seat. Admittedly, we have a fireplace, which does take up some space. Yours is smaller, PLUS it is the walkway to the master bedroom.

- We've several times rented a beach-side cabin that has a kitchen layout just like yours . . . and I hate it. It looks pretty, but it's so long that cooking even a simple meal requires a great many steps -- nothing is located conveniently next to anything else. Also, I hate to do my prep work (and I cut up loads and loads of fresh veggies, bake lots of bread, so I do lots of prep) facing the wall -- at home, the hardest working spot in my kitchen is the tiny peninsula that overlooks the family room. In the aforementioned cabin, I've tried to use the kitchen table as the prep space, but the table is surrounded by high-backed chairs, and they prevent me from walking up and using the table space -- plus, if you're prepping on the table, you can't set the table for the meal. I would steal from the office space (which is a quiet, sit-down spot anyway) to enlarge this area; I'd consider going with a nice-sized table on the window-wall (perhaps with a banquette to save space) and a small u -shaped kitchen in the middle of the house.
- I understand that you were trying to avoid the dishwasher-in-a-corner nightmare, but you're not going to like separating the dishwasher and sink.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

MrsPete, thank you for your insightful thoughts.

RE: flip master bath/ closet

Now that you mention it, I realized I would much prefer to have daylight in the bathroom than in the closet. I think the original designer tried to have the plumbing of the master bath in an interior wall, which would still be achievable if we flip it with the closet.

To us, double sink is a luxury rather than necessity. We used to share a single sink when renting an apartment and it was okay... Having a single sink also means less cleaning work for me. :)

RE: the laundry

I will try putting the laundry in the office, and see how that changes the layout. :)

RE: the kitchen

I think it's a challenge to work around the timber post that goes from the kitchen floor all the way to the roof. In my last layout, the post goes through the countertop, which is next to the fridge. Moving the kitchen towards the office means the post will sit in the kitchen isle...

I am going to try a few different things...one of them will be adding a peninsula to form the suggested U-shape.

RE: the living room

Our current family room is about 19' x 19', with one end almost completely open to the kitchen. It feels just about right with 3 big chairs, one big sofa, a huge wall entertainment center, and a fireplace.

Our formal living room is about 15' x 15', similar in size to the living room in the plan. Our room feels roomy with a medium-sized sofa, two swivel chairs, and a large partners' desk in it. It also serves as a walkway between the foyer and the conservatory.

In the new house, we don't plan to put a fireplace, an entertainment center, or a desk in the living room.. The desk will be in the office, and we will create another family room kind of thing in the basement for TV/games.

So I think having a small-ish living room on the 1st floor might be okay...I am going to try drawing the furniture to scale and see how it looks.

I am really glad that we are making progress on the layout. Thank you for the help!


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I'd make (and it might be necessary to have) the upstairs closet doors be outswing. You have to remember (and figure out where) there is reduced head height on those edges... That means the door might run into the ceiling if it is an inswing.
Also, if that wall is short, then you might not have room for the bath vanity to have any mirrrors upstairs... Make sure you understand your roof and ceiling height limitations in a cape.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

kirkhall, that's an excellent point. I keep forgetting the ceiling slopes down!

I will make the closet doors swing out. I might change to use pocket doors instead, so we wouldn't have to worry about the door clearance issue.

We could move the vanity to the tall side, put a mirror above it, and add some built-in drawers to the low side. It sounds like a good plan!

I probably will keep the toilet on the low side. I feel like it might be nice to sit at the low side while looking at the tall side...same thing with the bed's placement, lol.

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Thu, Jul 25, 13 at 15:53


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I would make the away room smaller to use as office. I'd add space to your kitchen dining room so you could corner and island the kitchen also giving the table a hutch space for storage. It's getting there. I still would not be happy with the laundry. Are you willing to make the office smaller? You could make the right entry wall closet and rework the bath laundry to have a better arrangement.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I chose bifolds for our closet doors. I know that isn't popular for everyone, but it solved the "door swing-floor space" issue. If you put pocket doors in, remember you won't be able to easily attach shelves or rods on the pocket wall.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

kirkhall, we also have bifold closet doors. They don't always work smoothly though, so I am a little hesitant to have them again...but the benefit of having extra shelves is making me think twice...

I think I finally got the laundry space right (please see below). I was thinking of putting a countertop above the washer and dryer for laying out things...but husband wants a top-load washer. He doesn't like to bend down, and doesn't want to add a pedestal either.

So I am now thinking of installing some clothing line above the washer and dryer for air drying certain clothes. I guess the folding could perhaps happen in the bedroom or family room, or is that weird?

houseofsticks, yeah, I am willing to make the office 1'-2' smaller. The only issue is, the post in the kitchen will then stand somewhere in the isle, as you can see in my latest layout below...the post is the small black square thing near the fridge.

The front closet doesn't look quite right to me. It kind of seems to get in the way...

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Fri, Jul 26, 13 at 15:28


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I like your closet area, but the laundry seems to be crowding the powder room. What about putting the laundry back upstairs...and adding a stackable unit in the master closet, when you put on the addition?

That would give you easy access to laundry while you're upstairs...and that's where you'll be at first. My SIL has a stackable laundry in her closet...and she loves it! :)


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I don't think the downstairs powder room works. If you use a pocket door, then you can't have plumbing in the wall behind the toilet, and I don't think you've allowed enough space in front of the toilet. Our fairly small powder room has the toilet and sink in a similar arrangement and it's 7'x6'8". I'm not sure there would be room to comfortably stand in front of the toilet in the room you've drawn. Maybe if you turned it 90 degrees so it backed to the stair wall?


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I really like your earlier layout, with the bigger office and no island in the kitchen.

The post in the kitchen was much better (didn't block walkway) and with double pocket doors (glass?) the study would also make a great dining room, if you decide to change functions later on. The eat in kitchen is wonderful and if you do decide on a dining room (study in basement?) then you could have a big island with stools. Lots of possibilities :)

Still like the laundry upstairs and maybe later have a stackable unit in the downstairs master closet. Just a few pictures of kitchens...to give you ideas!

From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

From Farmhouse plans


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

This is essentially the salt box colonial configuration, one of the most successful efficient designs ever developed in America in any century. In Colonial days the one story portion would have been the kitchen but with central heating/cooling and the desire to have the family in the kitchen and part of the living room, it is now used for a bedroom.

I have worked on several post and beam houses but the owners wanted the existing timbers hidden in order to create a warmer more residential feeling. Go visit some of these houses before committing to this unusually rigid construction technique. Pay close attention to lighting.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

Cookie- Just saw these pictures, when looking for something, on the kitchen forum. Don't know if they would work in your space, but for some reason, I thought you might want to see them :)

From Farmhouse plans

From Farmhouse plans

Maybe it was the beams on the ceiling?

From Farmhouse plans

Here's a link, if you want to see the rest of the house.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to 1890 farmhouse blog


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

The toilet is oriented incorrectly in the powder room, in this last one. You need at Minimum by International Residential Code 21" in front of a toilet (which is tight) and you don't have it, but you could by turning the toilet 90-degrees.

If the black squares are indeed posts, there is no way you can have a post in the kitchen aisle adjacent to the fridge and across from the DW.

I am noticing that the kitchen seems to be getting bigger as your plans evolve and they are ending up with counterspace in areas that are outside the work zone that you won't really use.

For reference, the house I just bought is approximately the same square footage as the plans you are looking at and the (non-eat-in) kitchen is 7'3" x 10'6". I am going to enlarge it in length but can't in width. However, this is the Largest kitchen I've had in a house that I've owned and I can tell you by personal experience that in house of this sq. footage, efficiency trumps size,(because you want the square footage for other uses), and a well laid out kitchen can be both small And laid out for multiple users. This core kitchen can be complete open to dining or living space but separate as a "zone".

Also for reference, 7' is the smallest allowable dimension in a room (floor space wise) with the smallest allowable square footage of 70 square feet.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

palimpsest, thank you so much for reminding me that big is not necessarily better. I moved the fridge to the other side of the kitchen post, and the layout suddenly seems more flexible (please see below). However, husband thinks having a bulky fridge standing right next to the hallway may not be a good idea...

zone4newby, the powder room does look awkward. The one in the original plan looks better, so I changed back to it. In fact, the whole left side of the front entry is now the same as the original plan. :)

lavender_lass, I really appreciate your thoughts and the inspiration photos. I am going to check out the photos carefully and see what I can incorporate into our plan. I too love having a farm table in the middle of an L-shaped kitchen. I had a similar setup in my last rental, although that table was mainly used for spice plants, flower pots and things like that.

I moved the washer/dryer back upstairs. :) Husband voiced his opinion last night...he prefers to have the laundry closer to the bedrooms than the kitchen. We will just put in a second set of washer/dryer later in the master suite, like what you suggested earlier.

I also reconfigured the closet upstairs, so the master bedroom (upstairs) is a bit more spacious now (please see below).

Renovator, thank you for warning us about the exposed timbers. It's definitely not everyone's cup of tea. Husband had the same concern, so we took a trip to the builder's state to have a tour of 3 full timber-frame houses, and 1 hybrid house (pre-fab panels with some timber elements). One of the full timber-frame houses was indeed quite dark inside, but I think it was done that way on purpose as the owner wanted it to feel like a barn. The other houses all looked great. We especially liked the hybrid one, which is a 2400 sqft American Bungalow (including the walkout basement).

During that trip, we also found out that a custom full timber-frame house is not financially feasible for us. So a hybrid house kind of hits our sweet spot. The cape we are considering is a hybrid.

Here is what we have so far. The office stays large due to the location of the timber post in the kitchen. The door for the walk-in closet upstairs should be okay, in terms of the ceiling height clearance, as the original plan has it configured that way too.

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Sun, Jul 28, 13 at 0:02


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I can't imagine why the post could not be moved to allow the plan you want unless it costs too much in which case I would ditch the "barn look" and let it be more like real colonial Cape Cod house. I can give you the titles of some good Cape and Saltbox books when I get home. There are also designs on the Internet from people who specialize in these houses.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I think your plan looks wonderful...such a great home! The timbers make so much sense in this version and I think, really set off your home. I can see why you like them, so much :)

My only question...can you move any windows? Looks amazing as is, but wondered if you could have a bigger window over the kitchen sink and maybe a built in hutch look with the cabinetry on the far end. Congrats on improving the plan to fit your needs!


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I would not use an exposed barn frame for a Cape Cod or Saltbox house. These houses are two of the oldest architectural traditions of American architecture. The originals were built of timbers but they were only exposed in the ceilings. A fully exposed frame would have been used for a barn that had no finishes or living spaces. I can think of no reason to have rough posts randomly located in a home.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

lavender_lass, I think the windows can be changed out to anything that's offered by Marvin, Loewen, and Elitfonster. I will double check with the builder's architect though, as changing the window size might have some undesirable effect on their passive solar design.

RE: a built in hutch look with the cabinetry on the far end.

Do you mean something like this around the window that's on the east side and looks out to the deck?

Or something more like this around the larger window above the sink?

Renovator8, I see what you mean about the timber frame. In the photos you posted, the posts are all strategically hidden, either in a corner or inside a wall, to achieve a more refined look.

I do think the refined look can still be achieved with exposed, and non-randomly placed posts. For example:

While these structures may look somewhat rustic, they certainly don't remind me of a barn. That being said, I want something a bit more primitive, as I find in the hard way that the refined stuff doesn't bring me much comfort (except that the finished rooms are very presentable). I personally like this kind of look:

They look very earthy, and I feel like they can take quite some abuse over time.

I think we don't need the architectural details to be historically accurate. As long as they look good together, I am good. For example, we will probably skip the functional exterior shutters, as I really want to have out-swinging casement windows. We might do interior shutters or blinds instead. We will have the builder walk us through the 3D model before committing to anything.

I'd like to read more about the cape cod houses, especially the distinctive features in it, and how it has evolved over time. If you could point me to a few good books and/or websites, that would be great.

This post was edited by ILoveCookie on Sun, Jul 28, 13 at 20:46


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

Shutters and dormers are not normally found on Colonial Cape Cod and Saltbox houses but they are found on copies built after the Philadelphia Centennial of 1876 awakened an interest in Colonial America.

Current adaptations make the term "Cape Cod" useful only for Real Estate listings. What you seem to be interested in might be termed "Rustic Eclecticism" which is more of a decorator's term for a style that can be inserted into any kind of house. Try googling it.

This post was edited by Renovator8 on Mon, Jul 29, 13 at 11:40


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

I think too much space is being allotted to the upstairs bath in the latest iteration. A good portion of that space could be allotted to storage or a sitting/desk area in the right bedroom.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

Cookie- I LOVE the second picture with the white kitchen! Where did you find that? Do you have any more? The window and uppers are wonderful, but I really like the different counter surfaces, too!

The upstairs bathroom...should the sink and toilet be on the other wall? I'm not sure how much (if any) the ceiling slopes in that area. Also, you might be able to fit in some linen storage across from the door.

All the beam pictures are great, but I really like that one third from the bottom. Very 'fairy tale' with the stone and trees/stained glass windows. I love that style! :)


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

You can put toilets, counter and bathtubs under the slanted part of the roofline because allowable ceiling heights are lower in bathrooms. You just have to make sure the head room in front of the knee wall is adequate/comfortable.

This house appears to be more of a 1-3/4 story because the walls extend beyond the floorline of the second floor unless the ceilings are very tall on the first floor.

A typical 1-1/2 may have an eave line that corresponds with the second floor line which drops the ceiling height upstairs quite a bit. Look at the elevation renderings of this house and you can see that the eave line is quite a bit above the door and window height--there appears to be 14 steps between floors which indicates a relatively normal 8 -8+ ceiling height.


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RE: Feedback on 1.5-Story Cape Layout

Renovator8, I never heard of the term "rustic eclecticism" before, but you are spot on! I googled it and found a bunch of useful photos. Thank you.

lavender_lass, I found the picture by googling "built-in hutch around window". The source of the image is here: (click on the image and then click on the button to go to the 3rd image)

Built-in Hutch around Window

In the original plan, the sink and toilet upstairs are on the other side (i.e. the short wall). kirkhall pointed out earlier that I might not have room for a mirror above the sink, so I moved them to the tall wall.

I've been thinking about separating the sink and the mirror. I kind of prefer not to have a mirror right above the sink, as I don't like cleaning water stains off the mirror constantly...I guess I am going to move the sink and toilet back to the short wall, and perhaps put a mirror somewhere along the tall wall.

palimpsest, I am amazed by your analysis of the ceiling & knee wall heights. After seeing your thorough analysis, I decided to email the builder a long list of questions we've been accumulating, including the height question, just so we don't have to keep guessing. Hopefully we will have some answers soon. :)

I cannot decide between adding a linen storage in the shared bath vs. shrinking the bath to allow a desk/bookshelf area in the rightside bedroom...

Husband is leaning towards a linen storage, as he thinks the rightside bedroom has plenty of room left for a dresser and a desk, and the shared bathroom doesn't have much storage. I kind of agree with him, but we will think about it a bit more.

Linen storage in shared bath:

Vs. Desk area in rightside bedroom:


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