rockb9

Please Critique Our Plans

rockb9
October 25, 2016
last modified: October 25, 2016

After a few months of lurking and
reading all of the kind advice across the forum, I would love to hear
some constructive commentary regarding my plans.

Small family of three with a newborn
(whops; did not intend to design house during this event...), located
in midwest/south USDA Hardiness Zone 7A. We love the outdoors and
would prefer to spend all of our time on the patio playing with the
little one.

Quarter acre lot located near small
rural city; no views on property. A few mature trees: large magnolia tree
on NE corner of lot, 3 large skinny/tall pines on SE corner, and
maple in center of lot (may be removed; reviewing with arborist
tomorrow).

Mission Statement Bullets for the House:

- function function function

- open concept with modern farmhouse
styling

- focus on indoor/outdoor flow to
encourage communal areas

- planned outdoor areas for: dining,
lounge, grill, and perhaps additional space for outdoor movie and
sport court

- smaller bedrooms in favor of communal
area

- 1st floor accessible guest bedroom

- office space for work from home adult
with outdoor connection

- garage apartment

Site:


1st Floor:

2nd Floor:

Comments (52)

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    It is a thoughtful plan for your property, and for creating indoor-outdoor relationships. You have a southern exposure, to the extent possible with the existing large tree.

    Your interior zoning and circulation seems strong, although I wonder about the space allocated to the large, U-shaped stair in a rather isolated location. At the second level, it seems like an extravagant, wasted area, and there's not that much gained for it at the first level, IMO. If you want a spatial experience when changing floors, it would seem to make more sense to connect it to the entry and gain back the corner space at the second floor.

    I can't find the "office space for work from home adult with outdoor connection". Is it there?

    Will the two bedrooms on the second floor work with a "small family of three with a newborn"? Seems like a lot of people to share two bedrooms?

    Your detached garage location and size should be ideal for an apartment, if zoning allows it.

    Good luck on your design journey--someone knows what they are doing! Exciting times ahead.

    rockb9 thanked Virgil Carter Fine Art
  • doc5md

    I rather like this. A couple things...

    the main entrance is flanked by rows of French doors... I'm not really sure the main entry door is well defined in a row of doors. Tough to tell without elevation view. I think the posts help define it. Maybe it's not a concern- very personal decision.

    I like the office to outdoor connection. I might think more about the landscape surrounding that patio off the office. With the road there you might want more privacy?

    enjoy!!

    rockb9 thanked doc5md
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  • bpath reads banned books too

    I think the home office is behind the stairs and off the dining room. Convenient. Whether it's appropriate placement depends on how the person works. Me, I work best with activity humming around me, but DH needs isolation.

    Reflecting my own needs here, but I don't see much wall space in the living room for books and display, or to stash kid toys and books. Is that something you need, or no?

    The entry from the garage doesn't seem to have a spot to drop purses, backpacks, jackets, umbrellas? Unless that's the corner that is also the entry to the accessible guest bedroom, which would make it a bit less accessible and a bit less pleasant for the guest.

    I like the sitting room plan, and how it could become a bedroom. My kids' favorite place to play was the large landing upstairs, next to the office/bedroom while I worked; I think it was larger than your plan, which is just fine. (My pet peeve is coming upstairs to a narrow hallway.)

    The jack-n-Jill could have just one sink, and then it gets more drawer storage and surface space for makeup, shaving gear, and hair styling paraphernalia.

    I think you could do without the door between master closet and laundry. Their other doors are so close together, I don't think it really buys you anything, but rather takes away storage space.

    It's a long walk from the garage to the house, especially with a sleepy toddler (the newborn will be a toddler by the time you move in, and they are heavy!) and to the kitchen with groceries, in the rain. Or will you typically park on the street and come in the front door?

    rockb9 thanked bpath reads banned books too
  • bpath reads banned books too

    The foot of the stairs seems to be a pinch point. I wonder if you can "flip" them, so that the powder room is against the front wall (and maybe gets a little window), and the stairs drop you across from the closet? At the top, they will arrive at the front of the house.

    I would bring the master closet door around the corner to open off the bedroom instead of the little hallway. More convenient when you are dressing, less of a bottleneck when you are both dressing, more private if the bedroom door is ajar, and not that much more inconvenient if you are just running upstairs for a scarf.

    I'd also move the master bath door to the left, towards the toilet. I know it's nice and symmetrical right now, but it should be past the foot of the bed, not right next to the bed. You could probably rearrange the fixtures in the bathroom to accommodate moving the door better.

    Trade the jack-n-Jill with the closets, so the bathroom can have a window.

    For the garage apartment, you might want to add a parking pad to the driveway,

    rockb9 thanked bpath reads banned books too
  • cpartist

    Your kitchen is the largest room downstairs but it's not very efficient. I think you could get away with a smaller, more efficient kitchen space and add a bit more space to the dining/living room. How large are the dining and living rooms? It's hard to read the numbers.

    The living room seems to lack wall space.

    Someone needing to go to the bathroom in the master in the middle of the night needs to walk all around the bed, open the door and possibly waking the person closer to the bathroom when they turn on the light.

    Personally I'd prefer to see the bedroom on the outer corner with the bathroom next to the master closet so you're not running across the bedroom every time you need to get an item of clothing or you need to come out of the bathroom to get dressed.

    Also you never want a door opening into the toilet closet for safety reasons.

    I also wouldn't want my toilet up against my bedroom wall.

    In the upstairs bedroom/play area, it would be nicer if you could flip the bathroom and the closets so the bathroom could have a window in it.

    Downstairs the guest bedroom has the same problem regarding the bathroom and closet where they're divided by the bedroom.

    You have a main staircase on the corner of the house. I would have preferred it switched with the office so the office could get more light. Upstairs that would mean flipping the staircase with the laundry room, which would move the laundry room a bit further from the master closet. The staircase would still get light, but the most light would go to the laundry area upstairs and the office downstairs.

    BTW: Your guest bedroom/bathroom/closet is longer than the width from your dining room to your office area. What that means is a guest room is being given more room than your public areas.

    To me, I'd want more space in the public areas, less in the bedrooms and even the kitchen. While I like the overall idea of the house and how it's laid out, I think the interior spaces could be better laid out.

    rockb9 thanked cpartist
  • just_janni

    I love this plan. And here's why:

    • Having an outdoor seating area in the front (pretty) part of the yard and house. How welcoming is this?
    • Having both the downstairs guest and the master in a single protrusion for total cross ventilation. (do agree about some MBR reswizzle to move the bathroom action further from your sleeping spouse's head)
    • Love the office and the little private outdoor space.
    • Love the flexibility of the dual master layout.
    • Love the flexibility of the space that COULD be BR#4 but the simple addition of a wall / door/ closet (CONSIDER a dual sliding door for that space just so you can CALL it BR#4 at appraisal time)
    • Love the hidden stairs. (Mine are hidden too - kinda the antithesis of a grand entry - they are tucked into the butler's pantry...) Having them in the kitchen seems to put them where there need to be and they become functional rather than "showy". But they are not an afterthought - they are a feature.
    • Post Kitchen to the kitchen forums - you likely need a prep sink. Some of the most valuable real estate in a kitchen is between the sink and cooktop - and you are a little squeezed. And - pulling off an angled / corner anything is a feat not for the faint of heart.

    Please post your elevations - I'd like to see if they are as I picture them in my mind's eye - I totally see hip Austin farmhouse with a funky and welcoming outdoor space.

    Nice work!!!!

    rockb9 thanked just_janni
  • One Devoted Dame

    I really like this house, too!

    The only thing that really jumped out at me, besides the kitchen layout, was the upstairs closet/bath configuration... If at all possible, pleeeeease get a window into that bathroom! lol

    And once it was pointed out -- to flip the stairs so that the powder could gain a window -- I was like, "Oh, yeah, that, too." ;-)

    Everyone else gave excellent suggestions, and I really have nothing to add. Just encouragement.

    Would you mind sharing with us which kind of design talent you used? Architect? Draftsman? Home Designer? Self-made Awesomeness?

    rockb9 thanked One Devoted Dame
  • rockb9

    Front
    Entry and Stairs:

    Your
    interior zoning and circulation seems strong, although I wonder about
    the space allocated to the large, U-shaped stair in a rather isolated
    location. At the second level, it seems like an extravagant, wasted
    area, and there's not that much gained for it at the first level,
    IMO. If you want a spatial experience when changing floors, it would
    seem to make more sense to connect it to the entry and gain back the
    corner space at the second floor.

    I
    did not post the pictures of the elevation as we're working through
    some changes, however the stairs are designed as a modern "tower"
    adjacent to a more traditional farmhouse. It has large windows up
    both the east and north side.

    Could
    you expand on what you might mean by "connect it to the entry"?
    My mind is slow to process that visualization =).

    You
    have a main staircase on the corner of the house. I would have
    preferred it switched with the office so the office could get more
    light. Upstairs that would mean flipping the staircase with the
    laundry room, which would move the laundry room a bit further from
    the master closet. The staircase would still get light, but the most
    light would go to the laundry area upstairs and the office
    downstairs.

    We
    had this in the original plan, then switched it as the modern “stair
    tower” with its windows adds emphasis in the front elevation. We
    are still a bit split on the decision though...

    flip
    the stairs so that the powder could gain a window

    I
    think this would improve the natural flow, however I believe the
    height of the north facing windows may prevent this. We'll certainly
    try to figure it out =).

    the
    main entrance is flanked by rows of French doors... I'm not really
    sure the main entry door is well defined in a row of doors. Tough to
    tell without elevation view. I think the posts help define it. Maybe
    it's not a concern- very personal decision.

    The
    front door has some glass surround to it. We're looking to change it
    to a “dutch” style door.

    Living
    Room:

    Reflecting
    my own needs here, but I don't see much wall space in the living room
    for books and display, or to stash kid toys and books. Is that
    something you need, or no?

    We've
    yet to engage an interior designer, however our style is more
    minimalist. The kids room will have an overflowing bookcase (already
    does...), but we're going to keep the main area clear/clean. This is
    likely an ignorant early parenting move...

    The
    entry from the garage doesn't seem to have a spot to drop purses,
    backpacks, jackets, umbrellas? Unless that's the corner that is also
    the entry to the accessible guest bedroom, which would make it a bit
    less accessible and a bit less pleasant for the guest

    There
    is a small area with closed shelving (shaker cabinetry) next to the
    entry for the guest room. It's not ideal, however it's the best we
    have envisioned with the primary emphasis on indoor/outdoor flow.

    Kitchen:

    x3
    post to Kitchen forum

    Got
    it.

    Guest
    BR:

    Downstairs
    the guest bedroom has the same problem regarding the bathroom and
    closet where they're divided by the bedroom.

    Ideally
    we would prefer the bathroom and closet connected, however without
    making an oddly long hallway or walking through the closet to arrive
    at the BR we couldn't figure it out. We'd love any creative ideas.

    2nd
    Floor J&J:

    The
    jack-n-Jill could have just one sink, and then it gets more drawer
    storage and surface space for makeup, shaving gear, and hair styling
    paraphernalia.

    I
    never thought of this; great idea.

    x2
    Trade the jack-n-Jill with the closets, so the bathroom can have a
    window.

    We
    attempted this for a short time and could not find a configuration
    where the entry to the BR's was not in the way of the entry to the
    J&J. I went as far as extending the west wall on the 2nd
    floor a foot or two to make it work, but did not find any success.
    Would I be overlooking something simple here?

    2nd
    Floor MBR

    I'd
    also move the master bath door to the left, towards the toilet. I
    know it's nice and symmetrical right now, but it should be past the
    foot of the bed, not right next to the bed. You could probably
    rearrange the fixtures in the bathroom to accommodate moving the door
    better.

    Makes sense. I'm not quite happy
    with either of the MBR bathroom configurations yet. They both seem
    to waste the large space.


    I
    also wouldn't want my toilet up against my bedroom wall.

    This
    never occurred to me. Wow, would that have been a mistake...


    Other:


    It's
    a long walk from the garage to the house, especially with a sleepy
    toddler (the newborn will be a toddler by the time you move in, and
    they are heavy!) and to the kitchen with groceries, in the rain. Or
    will you typically park on the street and come in the front door?

    I'm glad you noted this. The
    detached garage with the apartment aids with the cash flow, so it's
    location is fixed. We've discussed the walk from the garage more than
    a few times and considered either a skinny circular drive off the
    north side or a small spot on the east side (with a stone path to the
    front door). We're not sure what the right solution is.


    For
    the garage apartment, you might want to add a parking pad to the
    driveway,

    The south side of the property is
    adjacent to an Alley, so we're planning a gravel pad just to the
    south of the garage. It's missing from the plans; sorry about that.


    Overall:

    BTW:
    Your guest bedroom/bathroom/closet is longer than the width from your
    dining room to your office area. What that means is a guest room is
    being given more room than your public areas.

    To
    me, I'd want more space in the public areas, less in the bedrooms and
    even the kitchen. While I like the overall idea of the house and how
    it's laid out, I think the interior spaces could be better laid out.

    I
    had not been able to put into words previously what part of the plan
    I had been uncomfortable with. I think you nailed it. Simply - the
    layout we are happy with, however the proportions are a bit off.
    Would you mind sharing any recommendations to lay out the interior
    spaces? I appreciate your input!

    Would
    you mind sharing with us which kind of design talent you used?
    Architect? Draftsman? Home Designer? Self-made Awesomeness?

    Not at all. We're working with a
    local Architect to steer us through the process, however we brought a
    pretty clear list of what we were looking for functionally on each
    floor and a full “design book” of pictures of each room from a
    variety of sources.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Rockb9, I totally blew it in my responses! Never happened before--ever! Now I see the main entry between the stairs and kitchen. What I thought was the main entry is the office! Ta-duh! So, navah-mind my entry-stairs comment!

    This looks like a wonderful design-in-progress. Anxious to see the exterior elevations or perspective when available!

  • doc5md

    I missed the front entry as well! Dang!! I thought it was where the back is!

  • bpath reads banned books too

    The front door may not be the main entrance. They may typically use the entrance from the patio, it depends on the community: is it highly walkable? Do people usually park in front of their houses in the daytime? Regardless, I think the stairs should be repositioned so they deposit you closer to the main living area, not tucked in a corner; and the powder room can be to the front, and have some natural light.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    First thought: How are they going to frame that?

    Second thought: Guest gets a good view of kitchen and all points between from their bed.

    Third thought: How does the "MUD" room function?

    Fourth thought: Watercloset noises above kitchen/dining.

    Fifth thought: "Oh. that's an office and not the main entry."

    Sixth thought: Where does the fireplace smoke go?

    Final thought: What does this thing look like?

    rockb9 thanked Mark Bischak, Architect
  • keywest230

    It's rare that a plan posted here receives such unanimous positive feedback - congratulations on that!

    1st floor master/guest suite: I would use a pocket door for the closet, and I would make the bathroom bumpout another foot deeper to accommodate a free-standing garden tub. (even if you don't put one in initially) I'd also use a pocket door to the bathroom (looks like a barn door now): you could use that wall space there for a dresser.

    Afternoon sun will be hitting your outdoor space. You're in the South. Are you okay with that? Maybe you'll add shade and privacy trees between you and the lot to the West?

    2nd floor: I personally don't like jack and Jill bathrooms, and would rather it have a single entry from the hall. This would also give you more wall space in the bathroom for hanging towels.

    Lastly, I'd go ahead and put a door on the 2nd floor living room. To make it easier to convert to a bedroom or another office. Otherwise you'll never do it, or it will be a pain to do later. Even if you do double doors that always stay open.

    Really nice plan, Hope to see elevations soon!

    rockb9 thanked keywest230
  • keywest230

    Another thought: those first level French doors, in the living room and guest bedroom. I'm guessing you've got them there for looks, and don't actually plan on using them. There's not enough space between each pair to have them open at the same time. Plus you wouldn't want to let bugs and critters in. Looks like you'll be using that single in-swing door most often to get in and out. I'd personally use large windows, with screens, that I could open to air out the house. Don't have to worry about door swing that way either.

    I'd also replace the French doors above the fireplace with a single door as well. Space is too tight there. Single door is more practical. And more secure.

  • rockb9

    Re: Mark – Ouch, you've caught
    some key design components which I overlooked entirely.

    First
    thought: How are they going to frame that?

    No
    idea; leaving that one up to the Architect and Builder

    Second
    thought: Guest gets a good view of kitchen and all points between
    from their bed.

    Would
    you have any advice upon how to improve this?

    Third
    thought: How does the "MUD" room function?

    It's
    a small alcove with 3 small columns of shaker cabinetry with space to catch a single
    coat to hang and cubby's for backpack etc.

    Fourth
    thought: Watercloset noises above kitchen/dining.

    I've
    never noticed this before on other plans. Is there a design
    principle we're pushing here?

    Fifth
    thought: "Oh. that's an office and not the main entry."

    The
    Main entrance is on the top of the drawing. It's an extremely
    walkable community; I put more miles on my bike than my car.

    Sixth
    thought: Where does the fireplace smoke go?

    The
    patio/outdoor area is very much a draft at this point. We like the
    design aesthetics of a grey concrete fireplace against the white
    hardy-board of a farmhouse, however have not been able to find the
    right spot in the plans yet.

    On the same note, we may be engaging a landscape architect as well to plan the patio, which would then dictate some changes to the fireplace and rear windows/doors. My design creativity seems to run into a wall here.

    Final
    thought: What does this thing look like?

    I'll
    post shortly. I was looking for feedback on the layout before moving
    into this discussion, however I guess it's all connected.


    re: keywest - appreciate your encouragement! I will circle back and respond shortly.

  • cpartist

    Would you mind sharing any recommendations to lay out the interior spaces? I appreciate your input!

    Along with this and your question regarding the J & J bathroom, I'll try and play a bit later tonight. However I may not be able to get to it until next week. We leave Saturday for our FL home, so am busy running around. If I don't get to it now, once settled in FL early next week, I can definitely play. In the meantime, maybe someone else, will have some ideas.

    As for your minimalist comment, I would strongly suggest you consider lots of built ins to contain kiddie stuff.

    rockb9 thanked cpartist
  • stephja007

    I love that you have such an importance on the connection of inside and out.

    The back entrance - the columns are too close to the house, I think it would be a little on the uncomfortable side to walk there.

    Lose all the french doors and make casements. Save some cash at building, save on your energy bills, save your sanity! That many doors = that many toddler break out points.

    I agree with others - no place to store toys in the living room. I hate to design a house around toys but the fact is they're a part of your life for at least 10 years.

    Kitchen - THANK YOU for not putting in an island sink. I love a 'clean' island, clutter free, with out hand soap or bottle brushes or dirty dishes or drying dishes sitting on it. Seriously, I don't know how they are so popular... off my soap box.

    I would however switch to a range, place it where the oven is, and maybe flank windows on each side. Disclaimer: I'm not a chef, I am basically the kitchen assistant/beverage pourer so I know very little about function.

    I'm not crazy about the stair and powder room area, it seems a little like "I forgot I need a powder and a stair so we just bumped this wall out a little."

    Guest bedroom is huge, so the guest bath "is gonna be huge." Smart thinking on the storm closet/guest closet, but I'd personally try to get it on the interior of the house. There is no real furniture space in the guest bedroom thanks to windows and sliding door. The bathroom is large, even for ADA. It's wasted space.

    Office - I'd nix the porch, it seems awkward and when working from home likely others will be at work/school, correct? So if that person is to work outside, utilize front or back porch and it will still be quiet. I would sneak a closet or at least cabinet in there for 'office crap'. Modem, router, paper, kid's craft box, etc.

    Upstairs

    Master bathroom has lots of dancing room. Again, I'd say it's wasted and I'd find a better layout. I recognize you wanted the connection from the closet to the laundry room but for me the twice daily connection from closet to bathroom is FAR more important than the twice weekly laundry to closet (unless you're like my DH who 'irons' by throwing clothes in the dryer every morning!) I'm not crazy about any bedroom sharing a wall without a closet buffer with a master but this case isn't terrible.

    The master has alot of room at the foot of the bed and very little room to the sides. Same with bedroom 2. Speaking of bedroom 2, the closet door swing is terrible. Swing in or switch the side it swings on.

    Overall, don't let the amount of my comments throw you - I do like it - very much. Many parts seem well thought out so the occasional awkward area or small detail just screams at me. I look forward to seeing elevations and how the design progresses :)

    rockb9 thanked stephja007
  • nancyjwb

    "This is likely an ignorant early parenting move..."

    Literal LOL and Bingo. Toddlers love to play/look at books right where you are, not in some far off theoretical playroom or their bedroom. If your style is minimalist, then you will indeed want some toy storage in the living room, for which you will need some wall space. My 2 cents. Looking good!

    rockb9 thanked nancyjwb
  • cpartist

    rockb9 can you message me and I'll give you my email so i can get a larger version from you?

    rockb9 thanked cpartist
  • rockb9

    These comments are difficult to keep up with! All of the thoughts
    and advice are appreciated. We've brainstormed on the details for
    over a year now, so I'm hopeful that this conversation will be
    helpful to others as this forum has been for us.

    1st
    floor master/guest suite:

    I
    would use a pocket door for the closet, and I would make the bathroom
    bumpout another foot deeper to accommodate a free-standing garden
    tub. (even if you don't put one in initially) I'd also use a pocket
    door to the bathroom (looks like a barn door now): you could use that
    wall space there for a dresser.

    The
    1st
    floor MBR/Guest closet is reinforced as a storm shelter. We're not
    into the final details yet, but we're envisioning something where the
    “storm door” will be swung open and into the closet and partially hidden,
    with a 2nd
    door such as a pocket door for normal day to day use.

    The
    1st
    floor MBR/Guest bathroom was intended as handicap accessible for a
    “roll-in” shower. I agree with the comments that the current
    configuration is a waste of space. I am curious if we're making a
    mistake and not including at least the space
    for free-standing tub (or should a future owner prefer one.

    Kitchen:

    THANK
    YOU for not putting in an island sink. I love a 'clean' island,
    clutter free, with out hand soap or bottle brushes or dirty dishes or
    drying dishes sitting on it. Seriously, I don't know how they are so
    popular... off my soap box.

    To
    each their own. We are drawn to the big open island as well.

    I
    would however switch to a range, place it where the oven is, and
    maybe flank windows on each side. Disclaimer: I'm not a chef, I am
    basically the kitchen assistant/beverage pourer so I know very little
    about function.

    This
    is probably a more efficient solution, but we love the separation
    with the oven and range. I've yet to catch up to the recommendation
    and post the kitchen on the other forum, so I'm optimistic the combo
    can remain.

    I'm
    not crazy about the stair and powder room area, it seems a little
    like "I forgot I need a powder and a stair so we just bumped
    this wall out a little."

    The
    Stair tower was an early design idea. The powder room was an
    afterthought. We couldn't find a better place for it...

    Office:

    I'd
    nix the porch, it seems awkward and when working from home likely
    others will be at work/school, correct? So if that person is to work
    outside, utilize front or back porch and it will still be quiet. I
    would sneak a closet or at least cabinet in there for 'office crap'.
    Modem, router, paper, kid's craft box, etc

    We are brainstorming ways to include storage for both tech items and filing
    in the office. The side patio is intended for fresh air/sunlight
    while avoiding stepping into the rest of the house. It also brings
    some sort of purpose to the eastern side of the lot (what else to put
    there?).

    2nd
    floor:

    I
    personally don't like jack and Jill bathrooms, and would rather it
    have a single entry from the hall. This would also give you more wall
    space in the bathroom for hanging towels.

    We
    immediately went toward the J&J in the design process and had not
    considered other options. Maybe we've overlooked something here.

    Lastly,
    I'd go ahead and put a door on the 2nd floor living room. To make it
    easier to convert to a bedroom or another office. Otherwise you'll
    never do it, or it will be a pain to do later. Even if you do double
    doors that always stay open.

    That
    may be worth considering and would be helpful if there were
    additional guests.

    Master
    bathroom has lots of dancing room. Again, I'd say it's wasted and I'd
    find a better layout. I recognize you wanted the connection from the
    closet to the laundry room but for me the twice daily connection from
    closet to bathroom is FAR more important than the twice weekly
    laundry to closet (unless you're like my DH who 'irons' by throwing
    clothes in the dryer every morning!) I'm not crazy about any bedroom
    sharing a wall without a closet buffer with a master but this case
    isn't terrible.

    Ideally,
    we'd love to flow to be Bedroom>Bath>Closet>Laundry. With
    the envelope of the house we were not able to imagine another
    configuration where there wasn't a long hallway to the BR. I had let
    this go, but that could have been a mistake and this could be
    possible with a slightly different envelope.

    The
    master has a lot of room at the foot of the bed and very little room
    to the sides.

    Again,
    stuck with the overarching shape.

    Other
    thoughts:

    those
    first level French doors, in the living room and guest bedroom. I'm
    guessing you've got them there for looks, and don't actually plan on
    using them. There's not enough space between each pair to have them
    open at the same time. Plus you wouldn't want to let bugs and
    critters in. Looks like you'll be using that single in-swing door
    most often to get in and out. I'd personally use large windows, with
    screens, that I could open to air out the house. Don't have to worry
    about door swing that way either.

    I'd
    also replace the French doors above the fireplace with a single door
    as well. Space is too tight there. Single door is more practical. And
    more secure.

    Agreed
    with everything here. Until we have established the outdoor spaces
    it's difficult to setup the transition with the windows and doors to
    connect the two spaces. French doors had been the starting point,
    but it's not working with the current design.

    Afternoon
    sun will be hitting your outdoor space. You're in the South. Are you
    okay with that? Maybe you'll add shade and privacy trees between you
    and the lot to the West?

    The
    current tree cover the backyard is well shaded, though we've imagined
    the use some variation of sun cover on the back patio. I
    noted in an earlier comment that we've been stuck with the patio
    design and may have to engage a landscape architect to help.

    We
    haven't reached the point in the process yet to design the
    landscaping for the privacy trees. We do own the lot to the west, so
    it's not an immediate concern.

  • cpartist

    Oh I like the elevation overall. Charming.

    The porch columns don't feel right for some reason?

    rockb9 thanked cpartist
  • rockb9

    We felt a bit like it needed more height with the gable over the porch. I think the columns need to be a bit wider or simply have some further detail in them. The bushes need to go.

  • cpartist

    I'm not loving the brick higher than the porch in this case.

    Also it looks like the frieze and architrave are missing atop the columns. What is holding up the porch roof?

    rockb9 thanked cpartist
  • One Devoted Dame

    The columns look, to my untrained eye, like toothpicks. :-/ Too skinny. But I could very well just be uneducated....

    And going from left to right, Column #3 looks like it should be shifted over, maybe? Aligned with the center of the windows on the second story? Would that be right? As it is currently, it looks to me like it really isn't "doing its job" holding the roof up. Totally thinking out loud here... Ignore me if I'm being ignorant, lol.

    I wish the front door was more prominent. My eye keeps going to the gable.

    rockb9 thanked One Devoted Dame
  • cpartist

    Even in 3d view the porch and the columns feel "off". Can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe one of the architects will chime in as to what it is. (Or maybe they'll refute me. LOL)

    I do like the tower staircase from the outside.

    rockb9 thanked cpartist
  • just_janni

    I think making funkier front door might draw your eye there - different window / sidelight configuration to make it more of a feature.

    I see the lights on each side of the windows - so that is driving the post placement - but that's gonna drive your eye over there instead of the door. And the posts are kinda crowding the door.

    No help here on the porch post placement - but agree SOMETHING is off.

    I too love the stair tower. :-)

    rockb9 thanked just_janni
  • imstillchloecat

    I'm glad someone finally pointed out where the entry was. Couldn't find it to save my life. lol

    rockb9 thanked imstillchloecat
  • Illhhi

    Could the entry way be made wider? I feel that would help equalize column placement? Btw I would love to have a space like this for entertaining.

    rockb9 thanked Illhhi
  • rockb9

    We have some current notes for the Front Door and Porch changes which might be consistent with the commentary here:
    - Remove glass surround
    - Enlarge front door to a wider dutch style (perhaps a splash of color to draw the eye?)
    - Add black modern "up/down" sconce on either side of door
    - Change porch lighting to two can lights
    - Remove middle column and shorten brick to floor level

    We've also toyed with extending the porch to 8' (currently 6') and recessing the entry. A wider entry could be done, however it would encroach into the Kitchen Pantry, though this might be possible with a more efficient kitchen design.

    The feedback is encouraging!

  • rockb9

    Would anyone be aware why I can no longer edit the original post to update the pictures?

  • cpartist

    rockb9, I'm glad to see you're so open to all suggestions. I found the feedback helped me get from a good design to one that will work great for DH and myself. I did as you did. I considered and reconsidered every suggestion and then posted my reasons for/against each one. It helped me double check what worked and didn't work and while it took a long time to finalize my plans, in the end, making changes on paper is a heck of a lot cheaper than in the field.

    What happened to the elevations?


  • cpartist

    Would anyone be aware why I can no longer edit the original post to update the pictures?

    On your original post, you're only allowed something like a day if even that long. Other posts can be edited for a month I believe?

  • Buehl

    You only get a few hours to change the original post and about a week to edit follow-up posts.

  • rockb9

    Took this off with the intention of placing it in the original post, realized that I couldn't, then was distracted by the newborn. Sorry about that.

    Vertical Elevation:

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    I think the basic design is a strong one, with lots of interesting features. The idea of a stair tower is, IMO, a bit of an old architectural cliché, but still interesting. The vocabulary of the roof forms, however, is unresolved and needs further study to better unify that portion of the exterior. At the moment just too many disparate shapes: simple gable, pyramidal hip, typical roof hip, and the porch which is a combination of hip and gable. Too complicated.

    The porch columns do not have any sort of rhythm or pattern, making the front appear a work-in-progress by a orthodontist.

    Keep going; you're headed in a good direction, but still rounding second base! I love to mix metaphors!

    rockb9 thanked Virgil Carter Fine Art
  • rockb9

    Virgil - I appreciate the encouraging feedback. My limited knowledge of architecture leaves me with just a "feeling" that a few items are off. I have no idea why and have begun reading "Patterns of Home" and "Home by Design" to pick up the basics.

    At this point, we're not making much progress with our Architect. Is it normal for the client in this scenario to identify improvements and push for further iterations? Previously I was not confident the "feeling" was accurate, but the commentary in this thread seems to be supporting some pain points.

    One alternative we're considering is engaging a 2nd architect to review the plans further.

  • cpartist

    This is another book I like:

    What Not to Build

  • Naf_Naf

    Virgil,

    Add to the roof issues, the material combination: They are showing metal and asphalt roof, and looks like the tower metal roof is too close to the main roof. I hope they do not touch otherwise its not technically "a tower".

    RE columns: There is nothing to gain by recessing some porch columns. You are not adding interest, only oddness. All you are doing is making the porch almost unusable by narrowing it (Is it 5'2" deep?). As for the wall, I'd go with the same height, just thicker at the columns. Keep the same height as the grill enclosure.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Sometimes simpler is better and more timeless. All the diversity in materials and forms may look "playful" initially, but may also look like a cliche as time goes by. The design is very close to complete, so just a bit more patience and a little more refinement will make everything right!

  • rockb9

    re cpartist - I have that one too =)

  • Architectrunnerguy

    I saw this a few days ago and got preoccupied but agree with the others about the elevation.

    I think the design is basically a strong one but agree, it's not quite "there" yet. It IS refreshing to see a plan posted that's actually occupying a site instead of floating in some spaceless void like so many we see here.

    One thing that struck me when I first saw this is the fireplace placement almost looks like an afterthought. There may be personal preferences here that's driving the bus but with an open plan such as this I like to set it up where the TV is visible from the kitchen too, much like the plans in my "ideabook" (posted there for a different reason).

    Regarding the question of getting a second architect to formally look at this....First...you've received great input here from folks with formal design training (Naf Naf is one too) as well as from those with a "good eye" and second.... you wrote "we're not making much progress with our Architect".

    With that in mind, I wouldn't get a second person involved without a formal break with the first architect. You might find you have two conductors trying to lead the orchestra resulting in music no one likes.

    So either take our suggestions back to your architect and go forward with him/her or make a clean break and take everything to another person. Which way you go won't be an easy decision but I think the "we're not making much progress" statement is significant.

    The books are a great idea. Others, including the one's already mentioned are here: http://ths.gardenweb.com/discussions/3281434/book-suggestions?n=10

    And some great threads on home design where we all chimed in:

    http://ths.gardenweb.com/discussions/3285825/what-makes-a-house-have-good-design?n=39

    http://ths.gardenweb.com/discussions/4106638/designing-a-custom-home

    And the best of luck in your adventure. Exciting times ahead for sure!

    rockb9 thanked Architectrunnerguy
  • mrspete

    Overall, very nice! I agree with much of what's already been said:

    - Plenty of room for a nice kitchen, but this one could stand some polishing.

    - I'd lose some of the many exterior doors -- replace them with banks of windows. Windows are cheaper to buy, more energy efficient, and easier/cheaper in terms of window treatments. They're also safer; that is, more difficult for a burglar to break through. And losing adjacent doors in favor of windows doesn't affect your function at all -- do you really need multiple doors so close together that you can touch them at the same time?

    - I don't love the staircase tower. That staircase will be a showstopper -- no question -- but why tuck it away in a corner? I'd flip it with the office so it could be visible /appreciated from the main living area. Imagine it decorated with Christmas lights and greenery -- it'd be a shame to have that over in a corner.

    - Will your front door be your main point of entrance? If so, where are you leaving your wallet, keys, sunglasses?

    - With two opposite doors in the office "eaten up" by large doors, do you have space for appropriate furniture? Offices are used in so many ways, so only you know this answer.

    - I don't love the fireplace's location. Will you have a TV? Where?


  • rockb9

    ArchitectRunnerGuy - We appreciate your thoughtful response. We are utilizing the forum feedback to summarize notes and provide feedback with existing drawings. We have a high opinion of our architect and assume it may simply be an "over capacity" issue at the moment. If it doesn't work out we'll be comfortable knowing we ensured there was an adequate opportunity to get it right before moving another direction.


  • rockb9

    Re: MrsPete

    - Plenty of room for a nice kitchen, but this one could stand some polishing.

    We have another thread going in the Kitchen forum with recommendations to improve it. Link

    - I'd lose some of the many exterior doors -- replace them with banks of windows. Windows are cheaper to buy, more energy efficient, and easier/cheaper in terms of window treatments. They're also safer; that is, more difficult for a burglar to break through. And losing adjacent doors in favor of windows doesn't affect your function at all -- do you really need multiple doors so close together that you can touch them at the same time?

    We were aiming for indoor/outdoor flow. I agree that the current configuration is not working. We seem to be stuck at this point without first planning the outdoor areas, which would then aide in identifying the type of doors/windows to connect everything together. All of your reasons for windows are completely selling me toward that solution.

    Lately, I have been ooo'ing over the sliding doors (and pergola) used in a Farmhouse on show at http://truexcullins.com/

    I don't love the staircase tower. That staircase will be a showstopper -- no question -- but why tuck it away in a corner? I'd flip it with the office so it could be visible /appreciated from the main living area. Imagine it decorated with Christmas lights and greenery -- it'd be a shame to have that over in a corner.

    I like your vision here. After spending a few hours at the site over the weekend, I believe the large magnolia in front of the main elevation may hide a bit of the tower as well. Switching it with the office would give the eastern (right on the drawing) elevation some interest. Our Kitchen table is full of plans and cutouts with all of the creative ideas from this forum at the moment...

    - Will your front door be your main point of entrance? If so, where are you leaving your wallet, keys, sunglasses?

    We will likely enter through the rear of the house 80% of the time.

    - With two opposite doors in the office "eaten up" by large doors, do you have space for appropriate furniture? Offices are used in so many ways, so only you know this answer.

    We're intending some hidden closet space for files and tech items (printer, router, etc.) in the room. The remainder should be a traditional desk with some color on the walls for a creative environment.

    - I don't love the fireplace's location. Will you have a TV? Where?

    Agreed. The fireplace is not working at the moment. We like the exterior contrast of a grey concrete fireplace against the white farmhouse hardy-board. It's not a must have. On the interior of the fireplace (it's a 2-way), we planned to have the TV directly over the mantle. TV is not too important to us, we're prioritizing the indoor/outdoor flow over it.

  • Architectrunnerguy

    Sitting here waiting for it to get light to go out for a run and agree with this: "I don't love the staircase tower. That staircase will be a showstopper -- no question -- but why tuck it away in a corner?" except I took it a step further and got rid of the "tower" feel altogether like my 30 second sketch shows.

    Relative to the size of the house, you're giving up too much space to get the "drama" which can be achieved just the same with a straight run stair with a, let's say, 18" wide, open "shaft" next to it. And of course, if the size of the house stays the same that square footage can be given over to other spaces. And now, with no "tower" element to deal with, the front can be simplified.

    This sketch is very rough so here's another house that has a similiar 1st floor arrangement to your house to show what I'm talking about, a straight run simple stair with a light well going up through the entire house.

    When I do these exercises I like to keep as much of the house the same as possible even though I may not agree with other stuff so the owner can focus on what I want them to focus on, in your case, the stair. Your existing second floor plan will work as is with some minor changes but I did draw it up with an outboard MBR and an inboard MBA for reasons of back yard views and closet/bath proximity and of course with the stair "core" getting smaller, those spaces can all get bigger.

    Take this to your guy/girl and suggest this direction.

    Oops! I see the Sun's up, time to head out the door!

    rockb9 thanked Architectrunnerguy
  • Fred M

    I'd just like to comment on the quality of this thread and how enjoyable it is to read and follow. The original poster is clear and concise with information and answers follow-up questions that allows the collective minds here to evaluate and give their honest opinions (many time professional) and thoughts. I myself just went through my history here with the three rounds I went through with "wolves"!!! It is so rewarding to see that progression of what we thought we wanted to build compared to actually what is currently being built.

  • rockb9

    Wow ArchitectRunnerGuy. After staring at this drawing for a while, I can only offer compliments to your creativity and not much else. We have been drawn to the exterior styling of the stair tower, however your drawings clearly identify how that is at odds with function of the MBR, Office, and the main communal area. I have to process this for a bit before posting a better response... =)

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    WOW! You did a house for Hobbs!?!?!? Which room is Calvin's??

  • Architectrunnerguy

    ^^ LOL!!! Oh Mark!! Would have loved to be a classmate of yours!!

  • Architectrunnerguy

    "We have been drawn to the exterior styling of the stair tower"

    That's likely true but in this wacky thing we call "home design" sometimes things we've been drawn to don't make it into a final design. If you perused my links above go back to this one http://ths.gardenweb.com/discussions/3285825/what-makes-a-house-have-good-design?n=39 and read my #'s 29 and 64.

    rockb9 thanked Architectrunnerguy

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