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Which plan should I choose? Please help!

Posted by jenswrens (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 28, 12 at 21:35

Below are 2 plans: the initial plan by my architect, and the modified plan created by DH (and tweaked by me). I also photoshopped a pseudo-elevation of how I imagine the DH plan could look.

There are pros and cons to each. We are limited to between 2200 and 2300 sf on the ground, providing we can trade-off some existing driveway for house square footage. Even though we have 3 acres, we need to be conservative with gravel/driveway space so that we don't have to tear down our barn.

I like the DH plan because I think it flows better on the inside, plus I like the kitchen better. The architect's plan requires us to remove some trees and may be too close to one of the septic tanks. EE said for us to just pick the plan we like and submit it. Problem is, I don't know! I like them both for different reasons.

Please - can you tell me which plan you think works better? Point out the pros, cons, flaws, etc. of both?

Architect's Plan:

floor 1 byrne

front elevation byrne a

DH's Plan:

BAN first floor 2200

house project pencila copy2


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Which plan should I choose? Please help!

How house sits relative to N/S might be helpful, as your DH's plan is rather deep.


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RE: Which plan should I choose? Please help!

North (and road) is on the right side of both plan pics. Front door area faces east. No neighbors to east, south, west.


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RE: Which plan should I choose? Please help!

I like DH's plan better, however, I'm not wild about the garage/family room side of the elevation. I'm guessing you'll have to walk up at least 8-9' of stairs to get in the house with the groceries, holiday packages, etc. in DH's plan as well. Is there some way to merge the 2 plans and get the angled garage back in play on the main level? That would help the family room area elevation too.


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RE: Which plan should I choose? Please help!

Garage is not on main level on either plan. No sq footage available for garage so it has to be a drive-under no matter what. The further south you go the higher in the air the FR will be, as no grading will be allowed. We're also considering a dumbwaiter or elevator.

So I'm not sure - is it simply the drive-under you don't like or something else about that side of the DH plan?


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RE: Which plan should I choose? Please help!

In your DH's plan, I'd turn one of your pantry's/closets into your elevator. I think you need it (dumbwaiter at a minimum).

One thing the architect did was keep your house from getting too hot. I am concerned with more windows in kitchen, etc, that it will be hot in your DH's plan (with kitchen being south and west facing, rather than just west)...

I do like the DH plan better overall because it improves on the dining room connection and also gets rid of the extra space of 2 stair cases... but, at this point I don't think it has a good connection to the garage.

And, I am not sure what the wall/island is to the right of the eating nook.


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RE: Which plan should I choose? Please help!

It's really just the upper part of the elevation--it doesn't seem to go with the house. The architect's garage area has more architectural interest where the one in DH's elevation looks a little "off". I think it's the windows not being in proportion to the size of the wall and to the size of the garage doors below as well as their placement.

Is it possible to do a side entry garage without tearing the barn down? That would open up some additional options.


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RE: Which plan should I choose? Please help!

I assume you've thought a lot about this, and forgive me for harping on it, but are you sure you want a garage not on the main floor? As others have mentioned, that is really a lot of climbing stairs you will have to do. To me, this is a pretty large main floor with big rooms, and if it were me, I would prefer to loose the study or parlor, decrease the other rooms' dimensions a bit, and squeeze a garage on the main floor. Or could you at least put a circle drive or something in, so when you've got big loads, you can drive up to the front door or a side entrance? And then park the cars in the garage overnight, in bad weather, etc?

From a cost/efficiency perspective, your husband's plan is less sprawling, and I would have to think would be less expensive to build, heat, and cool.

If you keep the garage the same, I wonder if DH's plan needs a closer stairway between garage and kitchen. You mention a dumbwaiter or the like, but YOU still have to walk 2x the distance of the house and climb a full set of stairs to come in. And if you are like me, you'll find yourself carrying small loads instead of using the dumbwaiter.


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RE: Which plan should I choose? Please help!

I like DH's kitchen layout a lot better, but the eating area looks very cramped. Maybe a banquette?

While I can understand not wanting to take up valuable real estate with the garage...I do think you will miss a main floor mudroom. Can you flip the plan, so that the kitchen has access to the outside (without stairs) and the living room, study and dining area are above the garage?

I know you have lots of interests, including gardening and animals, so I would want to have easy access to the outside. Maybe a powder room by the mudroom, too. Just my two cents :)


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RE: Which plan should I choose? Please help!

So, what I'm hearing is that everyone has a problem with the garage. Unfortunately, it is what it is. I don't like it either, but with this lot there's really no other option that I can see. Right now, we climb almost 8' of stairs to get into the house, and I hate it. We have no garage. I wanted to just move somewhere else, but that's not an option at this time either. So I have to make this work.

With both of the new plans, the front door will be on or close to level, so we will be able to drive up and park there for easier access. The driveway would split ~ 50 ft in front of the house - left side will go downhill toward the garage, and the right side will go up or level towards the front door, with a large retaining wall separating the areas. (I tried to convey that in my photoshopped elevation - guess it didn't work so well.) Something like this (imagine that drive splitting and also going down behind that retaining wall on the left toward that lower level):

or this:

or this:

I have lived with a drive-under garage, so I know all about hauling groceries, luggage, etc. It is certainly not ideal. This was our house in Maryland (below). It didn't have any level access at all. What looks like the "1st" floor is really just basement. The "2nd" floor is actually the main floor with kitchen, living, etc. I never ever ever, except maybe once or twice, used the front door! I'm sure you can see why, lol. Behind the garage, there was a back door on level that led into a large laundry room/mudroom that was in the basement. Then we walked through the basement to the stairs up to kitchen. Having the mudroom down there was great (laundry not so much), because it kept all the crap out of the main house and living area.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug


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RE: Which plan should I choose? Please help!

You know the limitations of your lot better than we can. But if you have a drive up to the front door, that's good and will be very handy. And I suppose you can look a the bright side of a little forced exercise each day :)

I still think you have an issue with a closer stairway to the kitchen from the garage, in DH's plan. If you can fit in a second stairway there, that plan gets my vote!


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RE: Which plan should I choose? Please help!

Or, if you are able to do as LavL suggests and "flip" the functional areas so the kitchen is nearer the stairs...

Or, get your elevator :)

I do prefer your DH's plan though.


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RE: Which plan should I choose? kirkhall

kirkhall: "with more windows in kitchen, etc, that it will be hot...facing south and west..."

Yes, that's a concern. We want to do some solar on the roof too. Our current kitchen is at the SE corner, with lots of windows, and it is much hotter than the other rooms. Our builder is a LEED builder, and he's told us that there is a way to do the roof overhangs so that it "tilts" the sunlight just right so it's not too hot in summer yet lets in lots of light in winter. Hoping that will help. Also, the entire west lot line is a literal deep forest of very tall trees so historically the west side of our house has always been dark and dreary to begin with. That should help too.

Looking west:
Looking west


"also gets rid of the extra space of 2 stair cases... but, at this point I don't think it has a good connection to the garage. And, I am not sure what the wall/island is to the right of the eating nook."

I agree. That's why I had the architect put that second set of stairs in, which ended up not working well. And that funny little wall is my ill-contrived attempt to not have an "open plan." I want some degree of separation between kitchen and FR. We had a open plan in the Maryland house, and I didn't like it much. It looked beautiful but didn't function well for our family (clutter and noise). I thought about putting a staircase there between, but it interferes with the basement garage (garage part is 24' long, kitchen and FR are both 20' so stair would end up in the middle of the island or something.

We don't want to flip the mainfloor plan because all the views and privacy and southern exposure are to the back, and we want the kitchen/FR to have that rather than the formal rooms or stairs. The north side of the house essentially faces a wall of dirt (huge hill) and is fairly close to the road.

So how can we get a better connection to the garage in the DH plan? Like Lavender said, I do need/want good access the back areas of the house to the outside from the kitchen/FR. With this plan, I keep envisioning myself jumping 15 ft out the kitchen windows to chase away a fox or something. :-O

Oh and BTW, don't put an oiled pot of popcorn on the stove to pop and then sit down to write a quick lengthy reply to a GW post. Don't ask me how I know this. (cough, cough) Well, I guess I could always just burn the place down... my subconscious at work perhaps?

Anyhoo - Suggestions?


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RE: Which plan should I choose? Please help!

Jen- Would you be up for a few changes? I remember you had a slightly different layout, in your earlier house plan...with a smaller sitting area in the kitchen and a separate living room and dining room.

Instead, could you combine the living room and dining room into one large space...maybe with room for the piano, off to the side? Also, could the family room be combined with the kitchen/eating area?

Seems to me you like Craftsman details...is that right? If so, I think you could have a lovely living/dining room with a fireplace and bookcases on one end and big windows overlooking the view, on the other. Maybe a bump out space off the living room, for the piano? With casements, trims, bookcases, built-ins, etc. you could have a wonderful, airy space...but still have lots of traditional character.

In the kitchen, I think a banquette would be cozy and comfortable. Maybe with a hearth room at one end of the kitchen, for seating and the TV? I'd put a TV in the living room, too (over the fireplace) so the space would be used everyday.

Also, have you thought about a screened porch? Maybe that could link the kitchen to the outdoors, rather than the mudroom...but still give you a place to drop off boots, etc. in spring/fall. In the winter, you'd have the large mudroom, downstairs.

I don't have an actual plan for you, just some ideas :)


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RE: Which plan should I choose? Please help!

LL - I can't really picture what you're describing. And yes, my previous plan was totally different. That's when we thought we could still build a separate detached garage. And after working on it for a year, we ultimately scrapped the whole plan because I just didn't love it (remember this thread?). (Shortly after that post is when we pulled out.) I thought it was way too ordinary, and somehow reminded me of the suburban tract home I grew up in, and I didn't want that again. Plus the builder, architect, and engineer we were using then were pretty clueless about the whole project.

Here's the old plan:

20101027_Buck_Final Floor 1

I'd love to be able to get a screened porch back into the new plan. That was one of my "wish list" rooms. And with this new plan by the new architect (and DH), I really do love the formal room areas (dining, stairs, parlor, study). I can picture myself living there!

It's just the garage access and the front facade, etc, that worry me.


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RE: Which plan should I choose? Please help!

When I see your DH's plan elevation, I feel like it is "new old farmhouse"... Some people are really digging that look. But, some won't ever. I think you have to decide if that works for you? And, if not, figure out how to get some details that don't look so boxy... If it works for you, it works. It certainly works for your surroundings, with all those beautiful deciduous trees.


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