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By Angela in Luray, VA on 2/21/2007


Hi -

I am posting our rough, first-draft design in hopes that others may offer their valuable opinions! There are so many knowledgeable, experienced people on this site and I hope some of you won't mind taking some time out of your hectic schedules to take a look and offer advice. My husband created this in Punch! Platinum Pro software.

Thanks in advance!

Angela


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By Angela in Luray, VA on 2/21/2007


Sorry, distracted by children and hit the wrong button!

Here is the design:


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 2/22/2007


Hi Angela!

  Congratulations on starting your way down the O-B trail. Enjoy these months - they are all the fun and excitement of expressing your dreams with none of the stress of actually bringing them to fruition!

  I've been working on our floorplans for five years now. Even with the foundation in and the timber frame being cut, I frequently re-visit and tweak the floorplan. My first versions were awful - tons of wasted floor space and nonsensical flow patterns. They got better after a few hundred hours of work! 

  I know how hard it is to create a floorplan from scratch. I'm going to throw out some comments here. I'm going to assume that you know all the good things about your design (and there are many) and only offer the critiques.

-         You’ve got two tables approximately 10 feet apart. I’m sure one is a formal table, while the other is more of a breakfast/informal table. Even so, it seems odd to have them in such proximity. Typically, a formal dining table goes in a separate dining room. I’d either work a formal dining room into your design, or just go with a single table.

 

-         Where’s your front door? Is the only entry into the house through the garage and back door? Or, does the kitchen face the front and there’s no back door? I think you’ll need both a front and back door. Sorry if it’s there and I’m simply too blind to see it.

 

-         Are you sure a one-car garage is enough? I’d definitely go for two, even if you have only one car. 

 

-         The office is monstrous. I think it could easily be cut in half and still function fine. Also, I’d put doors on the office, in case you want quiet or privacy when you’re working there.

 

-         I’d consider making your fireplace a corner unit. That would face your seating, and offer you a better view of the fire.

 

-         I doubt that you have enough kitchen cabinets, even with the separate pantry.

 

-         Do you really need – or would you ever use – a door from the mudroom to the foyer? 

 

-         Lots of wasted space upstairs. You’ve got more square footage in the hallway than you do in the guest rooms, don’t you?

 

-         The L-shaped bathrooms probably don’t make the best use of space either.

 

-         Two laundries? I’d pick one location and scrap the other. If you go with the upstairs location, be really attentive to details that will control water spills.


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By Jeff in Provo, UT on 2/22/2007


Our last house had the laundry room next to the master bedroom and I promise that my next house won't, no matter what!

If you need to have the laundry room there, make sure to soundproof it. A good solution is to actually build two walls separated by an inch or two with soundproofing in between.

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By Justin in Chandler, AZ on 2/22/2007


Congrats! I know how exciting designing a house can be. My wife and I (mostly my wife) have been working on our floorplan on Punch Platinum as well. We are about 8 months into the design. She has spent a lot of time looking at everything and trying to imagine living in the space. One thing she has really cut out is wasted hallway space.

My quick comment on your plan: I agree with the excessive wasted space upstairs (hallways, L bathroom, stair configuration and balcony). Why the need for all of the hallways? Specifically why is there a hall between the master bedroom and the master bath. That should flow together and the square footage could be utilized elsewhere.

You could enter the master from the balcony area and walk past the closets to get the master bath and do away with the hallway.


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By Angela in Luray, VA on 2/22/2007


Hi Jeff!

Thanks so much for taking the time to look at our picture and give your feedback. I know everyone on this forum is so busy! The soundproofing is an excellent idea and we will definitely incorporate that into the plan. We currently live in a single-wide trailer with our headboard against the wall to the laundry and it is quite loud.

Thanks again for your time and thoughts -

Angela


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By Angela in Luray, VA on 2/22/2007


Hi Jon!

Thanks so much for taking so much time for such a thoughtful response. It is so valuable to us and we really appreciate it.  

The dining room is going to be set off by an eyebrow arch with columns on either side to separate the space from the kitchen a bit. The flooring will also be hardwood with an oriental rug while the kitchen will be tile or possibly vinyl depending on the budget. We wanted a dining room with a table for two reasons 1) for playing board games or puzzles with the kids (not to mention the occasional school project) so that they can stay there for a few days without having to move them out of the way for meals and 2) we usually have both mine and my husband's family here for Thanksgiving and that will allow us to extend the formal table into the kitchen. The small table will be for everyday meals.

Sorry the front door is so hard to see! It enters into the foyer. There is also a door that goes outside from the office area that isn't visible either. I will try to fix that and re-post the picture! 

With regards to the garage, we own an import car repair shop with four bays so the heavy duty tools are at the work garage. That being said, I would prefer a two-car garage but my husband is concerned about the slope on which we are building. Apparently there would be a lot of backfill necessary to level the ground we would be building on if we tried for a two-car garage so he opted for enough space for one car and some storage. I agree, a two-bay garage would be preferable.

You are right, the office area is large, due mainly to the footprint of the master bedroom/bath above it. I'm sure we will be using this room for many things such as sewing, etc.  There are actually double French doors going into both the family room and foyer from the office. I agree that these will be needed for noise, etc.

Can you have a corner fireplace with a chimney? It would be really nice to have it angled like that.

I have been concerned about the amount of cabinet space myself, thanks for pointing that out. I think I need to go to Lowe's/Home Depot and talk to a designer.

Wow, I hadn't thought about not having a door there. That would give us more space to work with the stairs. That is definitely worth thinking about.

Yes, we do! (have a lot of hall space upstairs) My husband is a self-confessed "privacy freak" and the hallway to the master bedroom is his baby. Even though I could do without it, it makes him happy so I'm okay with it. I don't know what else to do with the rest of the hall around the kid's bathroom. I would love to know how to make that more efficient.

We put in the two laundries to cut down on carrying dirty and clean clothes up and down the stairs. Also didn't want to be carrying wet, muddy snow suits and bathing suits to an upstairs laundry. We have two sets of washers and dryers, so it seems worth it.

Your comments have been so helpful and I really appreciate your taking the time to give us your feedback. Best of luck to you in your project. Let me know if you have a journal that we can follow! Ours is Luray_VA_1stTimeBuilder


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By Angela in Luray, VA on 2/22/2007


Hi Justin -

Thanks so much for your comments. I agree with the wasted hall space. My husband wants that hall to the master bedroom for privacy reasons, and I don't think I can convince him otherwise ;)

I would love to figure out a better, more efficient use of the rest of the hallways in the upstairs. When trying to provide access to the bedrooms and give the bedrooms access to the bathroom, that is what we came up with. Any ideas are greatly appreciated!

Thanks again for your time and consideration. It is very helpful and I am so thankful for this forum and website -

Angela


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By John in Raeford, NC on 2/26/2007


I would look at the laundry being right next to the master bedroom. I do not believe you have enough room for the stairway. You will need at least 10'0" of run. You will need a front door... well, maybe you will. I have always wanted to have a fake front door so people could go to it and never get anyone to come to the door.
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By P in North, FL on 2/27/2007


We don't have children and I don't know much about them. What I do know is, they can be loud. If I were you, I would try to have a den/game room for the kids to hang out in when the adults need privacy or quiet.

I would probably go crazy if kids were in the family room with me all the time.


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 2/27/2007


My first reaction to your plan was "It's a square box". Which is the cheapest way to build, but the most difficult to make things fit. And don't take this as an insult, but your years of living in a mobile have affected your design creativity. I run into this quite often where the current residence has a strong impact on the design process.

As for the laundry near the master bedroom everyone is questioning, many newer up-scale homes have a laundry stack in the master walk-in.

Your stairs are a problem. What is the floor to floor height? Code requires that riser height be a maximum of 7 3/4" and tread has to be a minimum of 10". There are a bunch of rules regarding landings, winders, and handrails.

Here is the rest of my list:
    -Too much hallway in master suite
    -Open over kitchen? All the smells, moisture and smoke from cooking will permeate the upstairs.
    -There is usable space beneath the stairs.
    -Hallways are transportation corridors. There are way too many linear feet here.
    -Fireplaces are in awkward location to be enjoyed.
    -Upstairs bath need major rework (combine process with hallway fix).
    -Garage is too small.
    -Where is mechanical equipment and where will the ductwork be located?

And last but not least:

Front Entry - the entry is a public statement and creates the first impression for those coming to your home. It is also a transition space between the world outside and your private dwelling. This is the point of contact where you enforce your privacy (no salesmen get by or see the inside). Also an entry is the portal where friends are welcomed into your home and sad leave-takings occur.

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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 2/28/2007


Without providing any specific comments, I am going to provide you a homework assignment of mandatory reading ;-).  Go to the library, check out Better Houses, Better Living, What to Look for in Your New Home by Myron Ferguson. There are only a handful of books in my O-B library, and this one is one of them. I originally checked it out from the library, but I had so many Post-It notes stuck to it after reading it I couldn't compile the note and thoughts, so I was forced to actually buy the book. Given that the only other book I bought in planning was The Owner-Builder Book, this is high regard.

Please note that these aren't the only two books I read (we literally read hundreds, and this isn't even counting the ones we left at the library), these were the only two books I found valuable enough to need.


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 2/28/2007


I'd add two books to Ken's reading list. Neither of these is a how-to of home design. But each offers insight into making the best use of your space. Have you ever walked into someone's home and felt like "Wow! This place is wonderful!" or "Yeah, this place is nice. And they've obviously spent a lot of cash. But it doesn't really feel like 'home'"? Well, it's the subtle details that make that difference. These two books offer some guide to those details.

1. Patterns of Homes: Ten Essentials of Enduring Design. This book is actually a follow-on to a famous design text, A Pattern Language. That book is fabulous, but it's huge and deals with topics that wander far away from home design. I found Patterns of Homes to be a great help - providing more concise and consistently relevant guidelines for home design.

2. The Not So Big House. Susan Susanka (author) has become a bit of a cult figure. I'm a little turned off by that, and the extremes that her disciples go to. But, I still find a great deal of information in her books. (She's written several follow-ons to her original book.) I'd highly recommend this book, with the caveat that you should not feel guilty if you build a home bigger than an 800 sq ft bungalow!

One final recommendation. I found the bathrooms to be the hardest rooms to design. I don't know why. They seem so simple! I went back through my stacks of floorplan books and looked ONLY at the bathroom designs. Previously, I'd scanned them all looking for an overall design that we liked. But, if you look only at individual room layouts, you can often find a bathroom or kitchen that you like inside an otherwise dreadful floorplan.

BTW, I was going to take a quick shot at tweaking your design, but I couldn't read the dimensions on your plan.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 2/28/2007


I read Sarah Susanka's The Not So Big House (also a really fine website at notsobighouse.com). Please note that her idea of "not so big" as defined by her original NSB house is by no stretch of the imagination a small house. A good book, definitely on my short list of mandatory reading materials, just not on my top couple.

Since no one asked, but we are talking about books, the other books in my home-building library are mostly Taunton's For Pros by Pros Series. These are mostly aimed at people who actually do the work and not project management or design books. However for any work you intend to do yourself, or are thinking of doing, these are invaluable resources.


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By Toi in Alachua County, FL on 2/28/2007


Hello Angela,

Our plans are complete for the most part. We are having a few changes made, but nothing major. The kitchen and the bathroom layouts are mainly what we are changing and they gave me fits.

I don't care how many books or magazines you read; no one will understand your lifestyle and needs better than you. You need to be able to apply what you have learned from other sources to fit your situation.

I have seen people fall in love with a plan and then have it built (even though it does not fit their lifestyle) and then wonder why it they aren't happy with their home, once they move in.

Everyone here has given you some excellent suggestions. Once you sort everything out, I am sure you will be able to come out with a plan that is perfect for you.

My suggestions are:

Sit down and write exactly what you need with regards to space for everyone. Then add in the "wish list" of things you would like to have if possible. Play around with both lists until you get the home that fits the needs of your family and lifestyle.

Take your time and don't get set on any shape or layout at first (if your land allows for design flexibility). Be flexible and willing to change some of your ''wishes''.

Opinions from friends and relatives are fine, but remember: they won't be living in the home. Don't be afraid to reject ideas that don't suit you, because your best friend insists you need it.

Unless you plan to be in the home forever, don't go too much over the neighborhood standards. At the same time, don't build way under the neighborhood norm. I am not telling you not to do what you want. Just be aware of what has been built around you, if you plan to sell.

For example: You have only a one-car garage in your plans. That suits your lifestyle and your family. However, if you plan to sell the house that one-car garage could severely limit your buyers, since most families have two+ cars. If your budget would allow it, I think a two-car garage would be good idea.

Good luck.


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By Toi in Alachua County, FL on 2/28/2007


Kenneth,

I love the Taunton series too. They are a wonderful resource.


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By Angela in Luray, VA on 3/26/2007


Thank you all so much for your input! Sorry it's taken so long for a response - tax time here at the business is crazy, plus it's "birthday season" at our house! Please find below the latest rendition of the design. There will be a full basement, but it will be unfinished so there isn't anything to show on the layout.

From John in FL:

"I do not believe your have enough room fro the stairway. You will need at least 10'0" of run. You will need a front door... well, maybe you will. I have always wanted to have a fake front door so people could go to it and never get anyone to come to the door."

We do have a front door going into the foyer, I just didn't have it drawn on the original picture - oops! Our architect has designed the new, curved staircase (see below) and I believe he has calculated the depth and height of each stair for the amount of space that needs to be traveled (the ceilings are 9') so we should be okay with the stairs. I will double-check on this, though. Thanks for the input.

From Phil in AZ:

"We don't have children and I don't know much about them. What I do know is, they can be loud. If I were you, I would try to have a den/game room for the kids to hang out in when the adults need privacy or quiet.

I would probably go crazy if kids were in the family room with me all the time."

Ha ha! They're actually great to be around when they're 8 and 11 (my kids' ages) - can't speak for later :) But, we did add the bonus room over the garage to give them play space (in addition to a rec room in the basement when we finish it).  Thanks for the thought.

From Dale in MO:

"My first reaction to your plan was "It's a square box". Which is the cheapest way to build, but the most difficult to make things fit."

Any suggestions on making a change to the shape and improving how things are situated? We definitely want things to fit well!

"Your stairs are a problem, what is the floor to floor height?"

We have 9' ceilings, but I'm not sure how high the floor joists will be. I believe our architect has alleviated this problem with the new, curved staircase.

"Too much hallway in master suite."

I agreed and the architect found a way to redesign so that we have a smaller "transition area" into the bedroom, which still gives a buffer without wasting so much space.

"Open over kitchen? All the smells, moisture and smoke from cooking will permeate the upstairs."

I am so glad that you brought this to my attention! The reason it is open there is due to the fact that we want the kitchen facing the view and, since the view is of mountains, we wanted more that one floor of view/windows. In hopes of minimizing the wafting grease and moisture from cooking, we are locating the cooktop on the back wall of the kitchen, as far under the overhanging balcony/hallway as possible (we had considered putting it in the island.) Also, I am researching vents in hopes of finding the most efficient, effective one that we can find!

"There is usable space beneath the stairs"

I'm pretty sure that the stairs down to the basement will take up most of the space.

"Hallways are transportation corridors. There are way too many linear feet here."

Any suggestions on what to get rid of? I can't figure out a way to get rid of any of the hallways without losing access to the rooms?

"Fireplaces are in awkward location to be enjoyed"

We have changed the location of the fireplaces in the new design (see below). We originally avoided putting the chimney up the back of the house to maximize the view, but I think the impact will be minimal.

"Upstairs bath needs major rework (combine process with hallway fix)."

Done! :)

"Garage is too small."

I agree. Unfortunately the grade of the slope on which we are building prevents us from going farther with the garage.

Gotta go pick up the kids, will return to post the rest of the reply later!


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/26/2007


Angela...

I am impressed with your taking our many comments to heart, regardless of whether they were incorporated or not.

Couple of questions that may help us to help you.
1) What style is the exterior? What is the roof slope?
2) How big is your buildable area?
3) What is the slope?
4) Does the master suite "have to" stay on that end?

Can you post a .pdf or something that is easy to download for marking up?

Considering you are doing a two story, I would make the floor/ceiling between first and second floors thick enough to run all the utilities and ductwork. If you use a "floor truss" it would need to be at least 2' tall, giving you a floor-to-floor of 11' for your stair design. Or about 18 risers.

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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 3/27/2007


Angela,

  What are the outside dimensions of your house?

Jon


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By Angela in Luray, VA on 3/27/2007


Hi Jon -

Thanks so much for your interest and time. The first floor, unfortunately isn't to scale, but I've put it into Adobe Illustrator (my husband is the one with the Punch! experience) and included the dimensions for as many areas as I could. The upstairs is the architect's to-scale drawing and I added dimensions. I outputted both to .pdf, so hopefully you can print it out.

Thanks again!

Angela


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By Angela in Luray, VA on 3/27/2007


Here's the first floor:

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By Angela in Luray, VA on 3/27/2007


Here's the second floor:

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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 3/27/2007


Nice work on the .pdf's!!! Thanks!

I'm not saying that my design would be any better than anyone else's, but I'll probably tinker around with your floorplan a little and see what I can come up with. If nothing else, you'll be able to say "After looking at his design, I like ours even better!".


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By Charles in Layton, UT on 3/27/2007


I like the design. It sure has come a long way from the first design you posted.

A few comments for you:

1) My sister's house has the cooktop very close to her fridge. When she cooks, it melts items in the freezer. Make sure it's not too close.

2) I see you are planing for a possible elevator. Assuming it is for the possibility of disabled access, make sure that all the main access to the rooms and bathrooms also have 36-inch doors. My parents had to remodel their house since my mother is in a wheelchair.

3) What about moving that upstairs bathroom to the bonus room area? That way one wouldn't have to go through the bathroom to get to the bedroom. Access to the bonus room is limited anyway. I'm not sure about the roof height, so it may not work. You would also be able to remove the extra walkway and open up the foyer/stair area more. Also, a curved bathroom cabinet and counter may be pricey.

Charles


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By Angela in Luray, VA on 3/27/2007


Hi Charles -

Thank you so much for your input. Point well taken re: the cooktop distance from the fridge - I would like a little "landing" countertop area between the two also, so I need to make sure that distance stays in the plans up to implementation.

Yes, it would be silly to have an elevator and then not be able to get around the rooms, wouldn't it? I need to go back and check all those openings!

The price of the curved counter concerned me too, when the architect showed us the idea. It was a creative way to fit the door from the second bedroom into the bathroom in the plan. I've researched it a bit, and the countertop is really easy to do (i.e. my husband can do it) and inexpensive with laminate - other options would be poured concrete, granite/quartz or solid surface (if we can afford it.) The cabinets themselves would need to be custom built, but my father-in-law is a carpenter so I think we could swing that part. It still makes me a little nervous.

Also, note that you don't have to go through the bathroom to get to either bedroom - maybe you missed a door when looking over the plan?

I like the idea of using the bonus space for the bathroom to open up that area. My concern is that you would have to go through the bedrooms to get there - isn't it customary to have a door into a bathroom upstairs from a "common area"?

Thanks again so much for your time and input - it helps so much to hear other people's ideas and thoughts -

Angela


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By Charles in Layton, UT on 3/27/2007


I was including the vanity area as part of the bathroom. I would find it aggravating to go through two doors to get to a room.

I have looked at many house plans in which a bathroom is shared between two rooms and is only accessible through the rooms. If this were the only bathroom available to guests, then I would not put it in the rooms. However, you have one on the main floor.

I also notice a lack of a linen closets on the upper floor.

Just for fun I am attaching my work-in-progress house plan. There is still a lot I have to do with the plan, but it'll give you a good idea of my vision.


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By Angela in Luray, VA on 3/28/2007


Hi Charles -

"I was including the vanity area as part of the bathroom. I would find it aggravating to go through two doors to get to a room."

I agree, that would be aggravating. There is a door directly into the back, right bedroom directly from the hallway/balcony overlooking the kitchen without having to go through the bathroom. There is a door into the front, right bedroom at the top of the stairs in the front of the house. So there's no need to go through the bathroom to get to a bedroom.

I talked to Randy (my husband) about the bonus room bath idea, but he said there won't be room for a shower, vanity and toilet with the attic trusses that will be used over the garage, since it's just a bonus room and not a full-sized room. I liked the idea, though. It would have addressed a lot of issues.

Thank you for pointing out the linen closet deficiency! We had them in there, but with the redrawing of the plans, they poofed away! I will definitely get to work on that this week! The elevator shaft/closet will be used for much of our storage currently, but I will still want small linen closets for after the elevator is installed.

Wow, how many square feet will your house be? I wish that I could make out more on the plans. When I click on them, I can't read the writing - bummer!

Thanks again for your thoughts!

Angela


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/28/2007


Attic trusses can be designed to allow a full-height space. It depends on your roof slope.

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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 3/28/2007


Okay, here's what I came up with. Hopefully, there will be something here that is of interest. 

-         Are you sure you want your tub in a bay window in the front of your house? Kind of “on display” for all your neighbors, isn’t it? 

 

-         A bidet? Is this something you’d really use?

 

-         If you stretch the garage forward, so its bumpout matches the dining doom bumpout, you might have room for the two-car garage, and it would balance out the front elevation of the house.

 

-         I filled the space between bumpouts with a covered front porch. I LOVE a nice front porch. Flowers in hanging pots, rockers, swings… my idea of "home".

 

-         What is the elevator for? If it’s potentially for a wheelchair-bound person, you’ll need a lot more room in the bathroom (a 5' clear circle of space) and, as others have pointed out, 36” doors.

 

-         The fireplace is a classic design problem. Your living room has a view, a fireplace, and possibly a TV that all want to be the “center of attention.” But, if you cram them all on one wall in front of a sofa, none of it works very well. Usually, you have to prioritize. I think that’s what you were doing by pushing the fireplace off into a corner. I think it might be a better idea to bring the fireplace to an interior position. That way, you could have a clear view of the fire without blocking the exterior view. Also, interior chimneys draw much better than exterior ones.

 

-         I kept a fireplace in your master bedroom, even though I eliminated the one on my own house plan. I decided (for my own house) that we’d never actually use it.

 

-         I never got the upstairs washer and dryer worked out. I know you want that, and I didn’t intentionally leave it out. I just ran out of time.

 

-         I put French doors in the MB instead of a single walkout door. That might be an idea to consider for the lower level too.

 

-         I know your husband lost his extra master suite hallway in my design. But, you do have to walk all the way around the upstairs bathroom to get to your MB door. I was hoping that would give you the privacy you want without wasting so much floorspace.

 

-         Just my opinion, but I think the only access to the master bathroom should be from within the master bedroom. If I have guests, I don’t want to be scampering across a hallway to get from one to the other.

 

-    I also think you should be able to walk directly from the master bathroom into your walk-in closet.

 

-         How then do I justify the hallway-only access to the guest bath? I don’t know. It just seems weird to me to have multiple doors into a bathroom. Too much potential for either a) someone walking in on someone else, or b) someone locking the other door and forgetting to unlock it when they leave. A separate bathroom for each bedroom is great, if you have the room.

 

-         I swapped the dining room and office. I thought there was more chance that the office would be somewhat quiet if it were in the back. Plus, a 12’x12’ room seemed more office-like than a 20’x 10’ room. The space in the front left of the house is a little awkward. If you wall it off, it’s wide and shallow, with windows that make it seem like an aquarium. With an arch instead of a wall, I thought it would make a good dining room. The extra width make leave plenty of room for a large table plus a buffet. 

 

I'll try to attach my first floor plan here, and the second floor plan on the next post. 

 

Hope you find something useful here!

 

Jon


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 3/28/2007


level two...


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 3/28/2007


One more thing, and I'm sure this is obvious... I didn't get a chance to put this into a floorplan program. I just edited it in Microsoft Paint. So, there are no guarantees on scale or consistency between floors.

Jon


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By Charles in Layton, UT on 3/28/2007


Here's my floorplans as .tif files. 
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By Charles in Layton, UT on 3/28/2007


Here's the lower floor. 

The house should be around 4,200 sf not including the bonus room, but I haven't calculated the area as it currently looks.


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By Angela in Luray, VA on 3/29/2007


Hi Jon -

I read your post with great interest, it definitely got the creative juices flowing! I really, really like many of the ideas that you propose and I keep looking at your floor plan over and over twisting ideas this way and that between what we had before and what you have shown me. I can tell you that I will be poring over this tonight checking measurements and comparing plans. I think I might even try my hand at putting your plan into the Punch! program so that I can "play" around easier!

" Are you sure you want your tub in a bay window in the front of your house? Kind of “on display” for all your neighbors, isn’t it?"

Well, we actually had a separate tub in the back of the house in the bedroom in the first draft. However, we figured that would be problematic for many reasons, so the architect put it in the bathroom which is in the front of the house (we want the bedroom in the back for the view.) We have a 10-acre lot and our neighbors each have between 3 and 20 acres. None of us can really even see the other's house, so I don't think it will be an issue. Plus, since it's really only an issue when you get in and out, I'm putting in windows with the blinds between the glass that expand from the bottom up so we can still see outside without being exposed!

"A bidet? Is this something you’d really use?"

Ha ha, once you use one, you will think it quite icky to live without. I fell in love with them on a trip to Italy. But don't take my word for it, check out this webpage:

poopreport.com/Consumer/Content/Bidet

" If you stretch the garage forward, so its bumpout matches the dining room bumpout, you might have room for the two-car garage, and it would balance out the front elevation of the house."

I think that's a great idea and will pitch it to hubby tonight.

"I filled the space between bumpouts with a covered front porch. I LOVE a nice front porch. Flowers in hanging pots, rockers, swings…. my idea of "home"

Yes, me too! We actually have a wraparound porch in mind that will circle around the corner to a screened-in room on the den side. There is also going to be a deck across the back of the house that extends to the middle of the garage. I should draw that in so that I can start playing around with the dimensions.

"What is the elevator for? If it’s potentially for a wheelchair-bound person, you’ll need a lot more room in the bathroom (a 5' clear circle of space) and, as others have pointed out, 36” doors."

I have asthma and anticipate not being able to climb stairs easily someday. Even now when I get a bad chest cold it is difficult to walk long distances or climb hills or stairs. Although my main concern was more about being able to get from one floor to the other but not necessarily wheelchair bound, it probably would be a good idea to make the master suite, kitchen, family room and exterior doors wheelchair-friendly since we will have the elevator.

"I put French doors in the MB instead of a single walkout door. That might be an idea to consider for the lower level too.

I love French doors too! I have them going from the office to the den as well as from the foyer to the office (my husband thinks I'm French-door crazy!) The only problem is that they take up a lot of space where they swing. Although you can find out-swinging doors as you have pictured, they make it hard to have a screened door, which in our part of the world and especially being near the water, is essential due to the gnats, flies, mosquitoes, etc. although a retractable screen might be a possibility. It is a nice idea.

"The fireplace is a classic design problem. Your living room has a view, a fireplace, and possibly a TV that all want to be the “center of attention.” But, if you cram them all on one wall in front of a sofa, none of it works very well. Usually, you have to prioritize. I think that’s what you were doing by pushing the fireplace off into a corner. I think it might be a better idea to bring the fireplace to an interior position. That way, you could have a clear view of the fire without blocking the exterior view. Also, interior chimneys draw much better than exterior ones"

I didn't realize that interior chimneys would draw better than exterior ones - wonder why that is? We actually placed the chimney in the transition space between the kitchen and the den because we wanted to be able to enjoy it from both spaces. We had a big stone fireplace in our kitchen in our old house (built in the 1700's) and loved it. Also, if we put the chimney into the interior of the house, wouldn't the chimney take up quite a bit of floor/closet/wall space downstairs, upstairs and in the basement since it has to go all to the foundation? It seems that you would also need quite a bit of floor space around the fireplace in which you cannot have any furniture, TV, etc. due to the heat. If it's in the transition space, none of that would be put there anyway, fireplace or not, so you're not really limiting yourself. If square footage were not an issue, I would love to have a double-sided fireplace between the den and the kitchen right where you have it!

"I never got the upstairs washer and dryer worked out. I know you want that, and I didn’t intentionally leave it out. I just ran out of time."

Yeah, it's tough to get everything in the space we have!

" Just my opinion, but I think the only access to the master bathroom should be from within the master bedroom. If I have guests, I don’t want to be scampering across a hallway to get from one to the other. 

Ha ha, so true!  

I also think you should be able to walk directly from the master bathroom into your walk-in closet."

There will be a door on the entryway to the bedroom from the hall, so the idea is that the entryway is basically an extension of the bedroom, basically a transition area. I imagine the door from the bedroom to the entryway will remain open most of the time. This also gives us the flexibility of having privacy in the bedroom and the bathroom while still allowing access to the closet and vice versa. Otherwise, if someone is in the bedroom with the door locked, someone outside can't access the closet or the bathroom. I do really like your ideas on the master suite though, and I am looking forward to getting home from work and playing with them. Just off the top of my head and without thinking about the impact on the rest of the house, I really don't know which one I prefer!

"How then do I justify the hallway-only access to the guest bath? I don’t know. It just seems weird to me to have multiple doors into a bathroom. Too much potential for either a) someone walking in on someone else, or b) someone locking the other door and forgetting to unlock it when they leave. A separate bathroom for each bedroom is great, if you have the room."

Thanks so much for bringing this up. The door locking/unlocking issue is a big one, especially with three doors going into one bathroom. I really like the solution that you have come up with. It is much cleaner, and I think it will be more efficient in the long run.

"I swapped the dining room and office. I thought there was more chance that the office would be somewhat quiet if it was in the back. Plus, a 12’x12’ room seemed more office-like than a 20’x 10’ room. The space in the front left of the house is a little awkward. If you wall it off, it’s wide and shallow, with windows that make it seem like an aquarium. With an arch instead of a wall, I thought it would make a good dining room. The extra width make leave plenty of room for a large table plus a buffet. 

I think I would like to keep the dining room closer to the kitchen. The noise isn't really an issue, since this won't be like a home office; it's more just a place to pay bills and file paperwork (my husband and I work together at our own business so I do most of the heavy-duty personal and business stuff there). Also, the idea with the dining room next to the kitchen is that we can extend the table from the dining room into the kitchen if the extended family comes for Thanksgiving (as they did at our old house). That way, the floor is still food resistant, as opposed to extending it into the family room which will be carpeted (more than likely.)

Thank you so much for your thoughts!!! It has given me a tremendous amount of insight and ideas, and opened my eyes up to potential problems that I don't want to be living with for the rest of my life! I wish I could expand on my thoughts on your plan and tell you all the things about it that I really like but a work emergency beckons! Thanks so much again and I look forward to posting our third rendition of floor plans with your thoughts in mind soon -

Angela


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 3/29/2007


Angela,

  Wow. A 10-acre lot! That's really nice. 

  I've had many opportunities to use a bidet, but declined every time. Just a little too odd for me. A friend of ours (born and raised in Italy) was praising the sanitary advantages of their "bombsight" toilets. To him, it was gross to sit on a toilet seat. To each his (her) own!

  The interior chimney draws better because the chimney is inside the conditioned space and, therefore, both the masonry and the air inside is warm. An exterior chimney has to heat up before it draws effectively. Also, the exterior chimney radiates its heat outside, while the interior chimney radiates its heat to your house. The lost floor space is an issue - maybe 20-25 sq feet lost. But, you gain unobstructed window space and a better view of the fire. I considered putting in a double-sided fireplace in your plan. I wasn't sure you'd want to sacrifice the cabinets. To me, an interior fireplace is a beautiful way to define interior spaces.

  Sorry about the dining room/office switch. I kind of knew that's not what you wanted. I just thought the spaces worked better. Plus (my last pitch for this, I promise) you can have your big Thanksgiving dinner without being able to see all the mess in the kitchen. 

  I understand the need for screens. Maybe you could screen in a small porch outside your bedroom. Otherwise, as you said, you have to find a door/screen combination that work together. 

  Glad you found some food for thought in my plan. I look forward to seeing your next revision.

Jon


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/29/2007


The comments regarding fireplaces and their location are true for wood-burning masonry assemblies, but don't hold true for new direct-vent zero-clearance fireplaces, especially if using gas instead of wood.

Your answer to slope of lot, slope of roof and budgets would help guide some of the answers.

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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 4/20/2007


Here is a different direction to consider with your thinking.

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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 4/20/2007


Here is an example of view, TV, and fireplace combined on one wall.

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By Terry in Phoenix / Oracle, AZ on 4/20/2007


Man, I would not want to be the plumber on this one! You have plumbing running everywhere. Just getting the drains and vents to the roof are going to be not only a nightmare but, you will have all these roof stacks for the VTR's; many of them on the front side of your house. Visually, this is not a good thing.

Likewise, ventilation ducting and exhaust fans are going to be a mess. More visual mess on the roof too.

I would also say that you can expect to spend extra on electrical installation just because things are scattered about, making runs a lot more work.


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 4/20/2007


One of the advantages of new technologies is that you don't need more than one VTR because all the rest can either be tied to the main through branch vents, or use air admittance valves.

Same with exhaust fans. There are remote single fans that are connected to a single outlet, or my preference is to use a Energy Recovery Ventilator system and the only exhaust fan is the one at the stove.

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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 4/22/2007


Here is another example of bringing the view into your space, this time from the master bath.

I wouldn't recommend this design feature for a small lot unless there is careful attention given to landscape and fencing details.
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