Please review my new colonial home plan

10 months ago
last modified: 10 months ago

Hello everyone,

Excited to post my first post here!! Also, excited to start my new home construction journey (I know...everyone is telling it's quite a journey....) I'm quite green here and please bear with my naiveté. Below are the key points:

  1. Planning for a 2-story colonial, 2500 sqft, 3 bed room 2 full bath, one 3/4 bath in a small town in Maine for a family of 4. It's a medium-living cost area and the building cost matches average national building cost.
  2. Our budget is $340,000, not including appliances as I have a separate fund ($10,000) saved to buy all appliances. In addition, my spouse works at a utility company and can get 0% loan for heat pump installation for the house. We are planning to instal heat pumps as the back-up (another $10,000). So, I have a bit more flexibility with the $340,000 budget as it doesnt include appliance allowance and heat-pumps)
  3. I found this plan online, cut and pasted it here and there to fit into our requirements and posting it below. This "customized" plan is coming at 2550, right were we need to be. However, I don't know how to critique a plan and counting on the experts here to point out any red-flags or sloppiness you see in the plan.
  4. We need a bedroom and a bath on first floor for a rare-arthritics suffering family member. We will use it mostly as an office with a pull-out bed whenever needed.
  5. The red-highlighted space is a pantry in the original plan. Since the original plan didn't carry a shower, I'm thinking to use the pantry space to expand the powder room next to make it a 3/4 bath. Any thoughts? Is it doable and wise to do so? Is there any other spots I can fit that shower? I'll have a full basement. So, I'm okay with losing that pantry space.

I'm planning to talk to a draftsman (as I heard that they are cheaper than architects) next week with this plan and get a full-fledged plan before approaching builders for quotes and estimates.

Does the budget and the plan below matches? I dont want to start too off and would like to set realistic goals with the budget. We will be using medium quality materials and crown molding and standard window and door trims. Wants to use LP wood and granite counter tops if budget allows.

Am I taking the right steps?

Comments (51)

  • Architectrunnerguy

    And exactly what makes this house "colonial"?

  • S W

    Architectrunnerguy, I saw the original plan's tagline had the house style listed as "colonial". As I said, I'm so green here and thats the exact reason I came to this site, to get help. I trust your input here.

    By the way, I saw from other posts that you do design remotely. If so, I would like to get some services and we can take it offline.

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    I think I still like the second floor plan the best. The third would be second best, only because of the banquet seating (seems redundant) and as you walk in from the foyer your view into the kitchen seems that it would be nicer in the second (out the kitchen window as opposed to the side of cabinet run. I love the idea of a utility closet, well thought out. I keep mine in a mudroom, but since yours in on a different floor, it makes sense to have a designated space. I also like that the second (and third) plans give more definition to the rooms, particularly the family and kitchen, but still maintain good flow and feel open. I found another island that has seating on three sides (look how happy they look):)
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  • Architectrunnerguy

    You can send me a on my name and you'll see "message" in the upper right corner.

    S W thanked Architectrunnerguy
  • D E
    good job on choosing a simple , two story plan with few corners. those are the most inexpensive to build and you choose one that's straight forward. in my area you could definitely build it for your budget. does that price include land?

    ergonomically I don't see any big flaws in the plan and it seems to flow intuitively.
    I don't like that the upper left bedroom is flanked by both a shower and a washer/dryer but it is what it is. I'm not a big fan of two story entries so that space might be able to be converted for another use.

    I think your downstairs bedroom is fine for the occasional visitor.

    good luck
    S W thanked D E
  • kriii

    I'm not an expert but can share what we did. We identified a piece of land we liked first. We made a list of things we wanted in our home. We made a list of every annoying thing about past homes that we wanted to avoid. Gave the info to a professional and specified a budget. Received a plan that needed a bit of tweaking but is perfect for us. The tweaking process was collaborative. IMHO no one on the internet can tell if your plan is within your budget but local builders can. Best of luck.

    Edited to add: Leave some extra cash in your budget for upgrades or surprises.

  • auntthelma

    I like it. I’d plan the living room as either a pool room or media room depending on your needs.

    The powder room is off the hall, not the kitchen. Perfect spot.

  • Annette Holbrook(z7a)

    If your arthritic occasional guest needs to avoid stairs, then they absolutely need a real bed, not a pull out sofa bed. Just from experience of being married to someone with a disc injury, we don’t travel until we can assess the sleeping arrangements as a bad bed can get my husband’s neck out of joint for days. When we used to visit his parents, we would get a hotel nearby as it wasn’t worth ruining the trip by having him locked up in pain. But we would never have expected his parents to have gotten a place with an extra bedroom for our twice a year visits. I know it’s an odd thing to focus on, but just thought I’d throw that out there as I’m sure you’ll get excellent input from ARG.

    For discussion sake, if you were keeping the plan above; make the office an actual bedroom with the entry by the garage side. Make the living room a library/ office.

  • RedRyder
    I’m not a designer or architect so I’d get a customized plan with someone who understands your lifestyle. Lots of good advice here already.
  • Holly Stockley

    I agree with Jan. You don't need that living room, especially in order to accomplish all you want to accomplish with the space you're working with.

    ARG, I think your plan sketches need a tiny architect with a cape in amongst the clouds. Rescuing yet another lost soul from bad internet plans.

  • S W

    D E, thank you. I already purchased the lot in a small housing community sometimes back. It was owned by a builder who had it for build-to-suit deal. He already had soil test done and a septic design for 1000 gallon tank and marked the future septic on the property too. He was a well reputed builder in the area, but moved to South due to some family reasons. He was gracious enough to give the septic design and soil test for free as part of the land deal and thus I have a piece of mind regarding the land. He also made the city water connection outlet on the land.

    So, the budget $340,000 is only for building the house (can stretch another 10-15K).

    As I mentioned, already made arrangements for appliances and heat pump options (20-25K) in addition to the $340,000.

  • rrah

    The main rooms in the first floor are exactly in the same places as our first house except that this plan is about 800 ft larger so has a few extra rooms: mudroom and office. I always loved the circular flow of that house. The kitchen in that house was considerably smaller.

    One thing I did notice in this plan though is that the breakfast area is a similar size. It was always tight. As kids and high chairs came it was even tighter. Because of table placement, it also made it more difficult to use the doors out to the deck. I would also recommend that you use a half wall between the breakfast area and family room. It will really open up the space.

  • einportlandor

    I disagree that the living room is wasted space. When you have kids, especially older kids, having a second living area can save your sanity.

  • decoenthusiaste

    Its a cookie cutter plan that may not even work with your lot size & shape. I see many flaws in it and would have lots of questions about how you live to proceed with a plan customized for your lifestyle. What is different about this house and the one you currently live in, or ones you have lived in before? Do you have a living and family room now? Which one is used daily; which one could probably be eliminated? Do you cook? Have you heard of the "work triangle" concept in kitchen layout? Are you planning to retire in this home? Have you lived in a 2-story home before? What did you love/hate about it? Start a list of pros/cons about how you've lived in previous houses and see how this one measures up.

    S W thanked decoenthusiaste
  • S W

    decoenthusiaste, plenty of valid questions and let me try to do my best answering them.

    1. Its a cookie .......... lot size & shape.

    Size is not an issue. Its 95 cents (40,000 sqft) of good leveled property in rectangle shape. Plenty of space around.

    2.What is different about this house and the one you currently live in, or ones you have lived in before?

    Never owned a house and tired of apartments and condos with no space to move around.

    3. Do you have a living and family room now? Which one is used daily; which one could probably be eliminated?

    No. Just have a medium sized family room and desperately need a living room when guests come in. I don't want the guests bump into each other (happens a lot now). With an official living room, I would like to :

    a) Have a good place for guests to sit and talk, we have weekly friend's and family meetings and trust me, that room will be used quite a lot. I feel the lack of it almost every weekend.

    b) Need a quite place to sit and read and relax

    c) Me and spouse work from home often and need a good place to have video conferencing and calls. I know...with all the discussions going on, I think I should keep that office room as a bedroom, not an office room any more.

    4. Do you cook? Have you heard of the "work triangle" concept in kitchen layout?

    Yes, I cook a lot than average homes and I just realized that I forgot to place the refrigerator in the right place to keep the work triangle feasible. The fridge will be on the sink wall next to DW.

    5. Are you planning to retire in this home? Have you lived in a 2-story home before?

    No, I dont want to retire in this home. But I want to live here until I retire and thats almost 30 years!!!! So, Im going to spend significant years in this house. Planning to get a condominium after a few years in Florida to retire. Yes, I lived in 2-story and like the privacy it offers. I hate single stories.

  • decoenthusiaste

    Thirty years is a long time to live in a generic home that wasn't designed with your specific needs in mind. Continue asking/answering questions and keeping a notebook you can take with you when you visit an architect (or 2 or 3.) When you see a home you like, ring the bell and ask for a referral to their architect. It is a time consuming process, but one you must go through; you won't regret it.

    S W thanked decoenthusiaste
  • D E
    if you already on the land then I think you can do it for your budget. the kitchen and bathrooms will consume the most money so a lot depends on how fancy you want to go.

    just to give you my example. I shopped a 2500 SQ ft one story (quite a bit more expensive than a two story) to general contractors. it had a very expensive truss roof with 4 ft overhangs. just the trusses for the roof were 10k. it also had expensive insulation. but, I specified concrete floors, vinyl siding , basic bathrooms, and an Ikea kitchen. yes, an Ikea kitchen. I cook alot and I learned that the brand of cabinet does not change the taste of my food.

    my quotes came in around 260k. with a two story, normal overhangs, normal insulation and already purchased land if I built the house you posted I would expect it to come in significantly less than 260k.
  • cpartist

    And DE how would you possibly know if it could be done for that price in an area you have no knowledge of?

    I think you will be very happy working with ARG to create a plan that truly works for you and your family

  • D E

    lol. the architect(exterior designer) salesforce is out in force today.

    Op, please keep in mind that 98% of americans live in homes not designed by an exterior designer. so if someone tells you you cant have an good house without an architect, then they are telling you lies.

  • cpartist

    As for the plan, if i were not working right now on an ipad i would give you a long list of why this house is not very good

  • Missi Smith

    I can't stress enough how wonderful working with ARG will be for you! You will end up with the home of your dreams!

  • marjen

    Linda Walker. Drop this plan and DM Atchitectrunningguy. Will be the best decision you can make.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    What is a "phony craftsman"?

    Edit: Someone deleted their comment, making this comment pointless.

  • PRO


    Please get a job at an "exterior designer" firm. I want to count the minutes you have a desk, before they boot you out the front door , allowing your arrogant and insulting attitude towards an ARDUOUS course of study ......out as well

  • Suru

    Oh boy, I guess we have forgotten our mother's advice of "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

    Linda Walker - I lived in a production home with a floor plan very similar to yours for 20 years and raised my children there. I actually liked the home a lot and found it very livable even though it was not at all custom and what my realtor mom used to call "Plan B." However, if I were building from scratch, I would suggest using someone like ARG to come up with a plan to meet your specific needs and to get a little more flair and customization. Also, I loved having a separate living room to go someplace quiet away from the kids and the TV :-)

  • functionthenlook

    Our last house plan was simular to yours. We got the plans out of a house plan book back in 89. We acted as our own GC. Doing what we knew and subbing out what we didn't know how to do. The plan worked very well for my family. We changed the entry hall powder room into a 3 / 4 bathroom very easily by using the pantry area. Our plan had the kitchen open to the family room, but we put in a wall to seperate them. We didn't want all the kitchen noise while someone was trying to watch TV. We lived in the home for 24 years and still would be living in it, but the area was just starting to turn sour and we decided to sell while we could still get top dollar for the house.

    S W thanked functionthenlook
  • jmm1837
    I do hate it when comments disappear, regardless of whether they're flagged by 3rd parties or simply deleted by the commenter: suddenly, threads make no sense because of the missing pieces. I wish people who delete their own comments and/or threads would either think it through before posting in the first place, or have the courage of their convictions and let whatever they posted, stand. And I wish third parties would limit their flagging to spam and outright obscenity and leave differences of opinion alone.
  • PRO
    RES, architect

    The front porch prevents the house from being an 18th century Colonial style but with some careful integration of the porch and nested garage it could be a 19th century Tidewater South/ Raised Cottage style or a 20th century Colonial Revival style but you won't get there with a draftsman.

    The most important information at this stage is a dimensioned plot plan and the project location, or all least the climate.

  • S W

    A few forum members mentioned that they see a long list of flaws. Could you guys please point out top 3-5 so that I get a much better grip? This is the first draft I ever prepared. The plan can take those changes to make it a better one.

  • arch13

    *sits back and grabs popcorn*

  • D E

    Linda Walker

    "A few forum members mentioned that they see a long list of flaws. Could you guys please point out top 3-5 so that I get a much better grip? This is the first draft I ever prepared. The plan can take those changes to make it a better one."

    there are no flaws that make this house unlivable. Avoid the "disease to please" as you'll be building someone else's house and not yours?. this plan has probably been built in some variation by the thousands and as some have said they raised their family in a house like this.

    ARG has good designs but the ones using scare tactics to force you to hire an architect should be avoided like a plague

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Rather than discussing the sustantive issues in a thread, DE consistently excels at ad hominem comments: ad ho·mi·nem /ˌad ˈhämənəm/ adjective adjective: ad hominem 1. (of an argument or reaction) directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining.

    Her comments are irrelevant to the OP's posting. Her comments are simply a personal attack and have nothing to do with the OP's issue.

    DE's personal attack postings (and her repeated removal of them) are well known to all frequent readers of this forum.

    Ironically, I have not been involved with this discussion until she brought up my name.

  • cpartist

    Linda if you can wait. week, i can spell it out and even show you with diagrams.

    S W thanked cpartist
  • lizziesma

    People, people, please take your arguing elsewhere! Can the poster's question be answered nicely? While I wouldn't enjoy living in a two story home, it looks pretty liveable to me. Our little city has many of these homes. Thinking about how you live in spaces, could the entire rear half of the first floor be configured for living/dining/kitchen space? Then the current living room area could be used for guest bath and bedroom leaving office space. I'd surely hate to lose my pantry. I used to schlep stuff up and down stairs and was thrilled when kids were old enough to do it. I think you have a good beginning and will build your plan to suit your family, architect or no. Perhaps a draftsman will be sufficient for your needs. Not all of us build high end homes nor do we care for large spaces. There are days when I wish I were back in my 1300 sq. ft. beginner ranch. Ok, you all can scream at me if you wish, I am not a designer, draftsperson, nor designer. Some of us are quite okay with being ordinary and average.

  • bry911

    there are no flaws that make this house unlivable. Avoid the "disease to please" as you'll be building someone else's house and not yours? this plan has probably been built in some variation by the thousands and as some have said they raised their family in a house like this.

    There is also nothing that makes this house especially livable or good. While some version of this plan has probably built by the thousands, some version of this plan has also been passed up as not acceptable more times than that.

    I am a huge fan of colonials, I grew up in one and I have built several. As an investment they have been amazing. I find a neighborhood with complicated roof lines and high $/sq ft. and plop down a nice elegant colonial to get some instant equity and sell the thing as soon as I hit the cap gain exclusion.

    There is nothing particularly inspiring about this plan, it takes advantage of some of the savings from simple roofs and minimizing exterior walls, but then misses a lot of other savings opportunities (some of which will improve livability). If I was looking for an economical plan to spend 30 years in this would not be it.

    Forget the practical and affordable stuff for just a second, what do you love about this plan?

  • Holly Stockley

    You can have a modest home which is still well designed and doesn't force you to work around it's quirks.

    Pantries are, I think, a highly individual thing. I like to bake, cook, and preserve, so I like a big pantry. If you're more "heat and eat" people, maybe it makes more sense to use that space for other purposes.

    Here is a useful exercise:. Print out a copy of your proposed plan. Then grab colored markers or pencils and trace your path for various tasks and activities. Then print out a couple other, different plans that you also fond appealing and do the same. It will give you a bit of a feel for both how convenient certain aspects of a plan are, and also sometimes how much space you lose to pathways in large rooms. Only after I started to pay attention did it occur to me that at mother's house you have to walk through the kitchen to get to the laundry. It's now something I look for (to avoid).

    Because this isn't your "forever house" you can certainly disregard a lot of the aging in place advice. But do get feedback from the visitor in question who has functional issues as to what might work best. My husband has both PA and OA, so we planned for a roll- in shower. If you plan for it at the beginning, you can drop the floor joists 2" at the shower location and use a standard pan, forgoing the expense of a linear drain. (I haveore tips like that if you need. PM me).

    Because this is not your "forever house", do pay at least a little attention to resale. Talk to a local realtor about what are "deal killer" items to either include or leave out. I would suggest avoiding uber trendy features that are hard to change. (Barn doors. Ship lap). Stay as true as you can to the style of the house. (A brick fireplace will always seem appropriate in a Colonial, ledge stone will be put of that style home as trends change.)

    Good luck!

  • arch13

    Regarding the argument: It seems like whenever there's an 'open critique' type of question here, this happens. I do wish some of the Pros would opine in a less condescending manner. On the other hand, calling someone a phony isn't the way to go about things. Virgil is FAIA. He didn't get that far in his career by being a phony. Anywhooooo, the plan in question:

    I grew up in the 80's/90s and half of my friends grew up in a home that had this basic floorplan built at some time in the 60s/70s and the outside all looked something like this:

    And 80 percent or more of the living (while awake) was done here:

    What I'm trying to get at, is the plan is generic and outdated. It doesn't reflect how the masses live today (the masses - not you). Perhaps you really love having a separate living room. I love mine and use it often- it's a great place to get away and read a book or enjoy a fire, while the husband is watching tv in the family room. Nobody on this forum knows you - so when both the Pros and the pleebs are advising - they're advising to the masses, not to you. This is why often times (and especially in your case with physically disabled family member) they'll recommend an architect. You'll end up with a plan specialized to your family's living situation and the lot it is placed on. You deserve better than a 1970s spec house :)

  • Ig222

    I was writing a long post and then I read arch13's post and rgus us basically what I thought, particularly this line : Nobody on this forum knows you - so when both the Pros and the pleebs are advising - they're advising to the masses, not to you.

    Find somebody who will advise YOU, and good luck.

  • PRO

    Lots of arguing here, but not much real advice. Mine would be simple: forget the draftsman and hire a real architect. Tailor his/her services to what you really need, i.e. floor plans and elevations, then give them to a local builder you can trust.

    You won't save money by hiring a draftsman, all they do is draft. An architect designs. He/she will visit the site and create a plan which works both for you and the site. No one on this forum can do that for you. ARG may well be able to help you, but I would advise you to also talk to local architects who have a better idea of local conditions, budgets and building requirements.

    Good luck.

  • marjen

    1. This is such a generic plan that I wonder why you would go through the effort to build this from scratch when a million houses with this exact floor plan already exist? Building a home is a huge effort and more costly and it would make more sense to only do so when you want something more suited to your needs that doesn't exist.

    2. Having been in a lot of homes with this layout, one thing I always notice, the living room and dining room are never used. Most families live in the kitchen, breakfast area and family room. If you are going to build really evaluate your needs and what spaces you will use. Every square foot adds up.

    3. The area around the island looks really tight. Not sure people could sort comfortably and still allow people to enter from the foyer or pass from dining to family room. While 42-48" is fine around an island side with no seating, if you want seating I would allow at least 5' behind the island to allow someone to sit and someone to walk around.

    4. You mention a family member with health issues confined to the 1st floor but then provide only a really small dual purpose space with no shower on the first floor? I would again work out your priorities and have something custom built more around your actual needs.

  • AnnKH

    We don't have enough information to know if this plan suits your day to day needs (now and in the future). Here are some thoughts I have on the plan:

    Will you use the office on a daily/regular basis? Do you work from home? How much space do you need? If a dedicated office space is a need, that's fine - but if you are looking at an unspecified room on a plan and thinking "Oh, I can use it for an office" if you haven't had need for one before - you aren't making good use of space.

    If you will be working from home or using the office regularly, what happens to the office furniture when Disabled Relative comes to visit? I completely agree with those who said that person should have a real bed.

    I do like a laundry room on the same floor as bedrooms, since it means less hauling up and down stairs, BUT: will you be doing laundry during the day (running up and down the stairs to change loads), or at night, when people in the adjoining bedrooms are trying to sleep?

    I've never lived in a huge house; I've always lived in places where every inch counts. So I have an aversion to 2-story rooms. Even if the space can't be incorporated into a room, I would rather see a reading nook or small library or storage space than "open to below". Especially when one is trying to stick to a budget.

    In the same vein, straight stairs take up less space (and therefore less cost) than a stair with a landing. How will you get furniture into the bedrooms?

    Bedrooms should not have double doors. Where would you put the light switch?

    There are not dimensions shown, but the garage looks small. My garage is 22' x 22', and it is barely big enough for 2 vehicles and some storage. We have to be pretty creative to store bicycles, lawn mower, trash can, kayak, generator.

    Speaking of garage - I don't remember you saying you have a corner lot. This house - with garage doors on one side and front door on another - is designed for a corner lot, or a lot of driveway.

    You don't say anything about your lot - which direction is North, are there views, neighbors, etc. A home should always be designed around the site, not just plopped down at random.

    Do you need 2 dining spaces? Will you use the formal dining room often? If this room will sit empty except for holiday meals 3 times a year, you could probably do fine with a plan that has one eating area, which saves you square footage.

    The kitchen layout could use work.

    Do you have plans for finishing the basement? Where I live, finished basements are a common place for a family room - perfect for when kids' activities get bigger and louder! Incorporating some living space into the basement (assuming you can get some natural light in there) gives you more options on the main floor. It can also be a good space for hobbies.

    As you can see, all of my comments are dependent on how you and your family actually live (which might be vastly different than how I live). You may actually need fewer rooms than the plan you posted - or you might need more. The value of a good architect is that they are skilled at giving you what you want and need - a stock plan forces you to adapt to the house, rather than the other way around.

    Good luck with your project.

  • Mrs Pete

    Overall impression: It's a decent house. Specifics I'd consider:

    - It doesn't seem to be a Colonial -- more like a Southern Porch house. A Colonial is more likely to have a small stoop over the front door rather than a house-wide porch. The good news is that a stoop is going to to considerably less expensive than a wide front porch, and you're unlikely to ever USE the front porch anyway. Examples of Colonials with a stoop:

    - Your foyer is large ... I'd lose the bump-out. You have plenty of space for people to enter /stand by the stairs as they take off their coats.

    - Your downstairs circulation looks good.

    - Your rooms are large. I live in a 1970s ranch, and my rooms are roughly the same. The positive is that they're comfortable for a growing family. The negative is that you need lots of furniture, and making a change (painting a room or changing the carpet) is expensive. I'm looking forward to downsizing, but my kids are out of the house.

    - You have three eating spaces here: dining room, kitchen island, breakfast room. Probably a space outside too. Is this in keeping with your lifestyle? Do you really need all these eating areas, or have you just put them in because "it's what nice houses have"?

    - Same question about the gathering-spaces on the first floor ... you have a large living room AND a large family room AND an office. How do you anticipate using each of these spaces? For most families, a "happy medium" is a large space where a group can gather coupled with a smaller space that can be closed off for visual /acoustical privacy. This combination allows the family to be together AND it allows for one person to separate to work, read a book, watch a ballgame alone, listen to music, etc. You seem to have two large spaces and one very small "away room".

    - This is a small thing, but you don't want those short wing-walls dividing the breakfast room from the family room. They'll just be in the way. You can differentiate the spaces at the ceiling.

    - The office/bedroom is a great size for an office ... not so great to ALSO accommodate your arthritic guest. Note, too, that your guest will have to walk out of the room /around a closet to reach the bathroom ... at the very least, move the closet towards the front of the house to position the guest closet to the bathroom. How deep is that pantry closet? It's probably 18-24", whereas a shower needs to be at least 30" deep.

    - What I would do with these three public gathering spaces: Make the living room into a living room /office /bedroom /divide it off with doors on both sides /use it as the "away space". Keep the family room "as is". Lose the current office /bedroom ... and, instead, use that space for a larger bathroom /mudroom /definitely keep the pantry.

    - Consider built-ins on each side of the fireplace ... you need storage in the family room.

    - No, no, no to the winder steps ... these pie shaped steps are dangerous. Instead, go with a solid, square landing.

    - Consider your backyard access. You have one door, which will be hard to reach because the breakfast table will sit smack-dab in front of it.

    - The mudroom is small but adequate ... though, being in the the middle of the house, it will be a dark /uninviting welcome home.

    - What size is the garage? Most people here will say that 24x24 is a good size. Straighten out the family room and the garage so the roofline and the side wall will be simple /economical. Upstairs ...

    - I like that you have the laundry positioned near the bedrooms. So many saved steps.

    - The kids' bedrooms are fairly large, but their closets are minimal.

    - All of the bedrooms should have windows on the sides ... natural light from two directions improves every room.

    - The poor kid in Bedroom 3 will hear the washer /dryer going thump-thump-thump and the shower running. Ideally you'd place closets between the kids' bedrooms as a sound barrier. Note that the kid in Bedroom 3 will knock the bedroom door against the closet door /will ruin both doors.

    - Divided bathrooms don't really work out so well. With two bedrooms, I'm assuming you have two kids ... two can certainly share one bathroom. I'd lose the duplicate sinks ... drawer storage near the sink is vastly superior to multiple sinks.

    - Why such a large master bedroom?

    - Double doors leading into bedrooms don't work out so well. Consider that you need two hands to open the doors ... and consider where your light switches will be (hint, behind the door).

  • AnnKH

    I always feel like I'm on the right track when Mrs. Pete agrees with me!

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    The first thing I thought of when I saw the image of the stairs Mrs Pete posted is, "Stair landings will stop you when you fall, winder steps will turn you over so your bruise more evenly".

  • artemis_ma

    I do like the dining next to the kitchen, although depending on how many people will typically eat there when used, it may be small. With the breakfast nook immediately available to the kitchen, too, you shouldn't need chairs at that counter. I do like the family and living room setups as privacy and noise can be separated.

    I'm with others about the winding stairs, and about the guest bedroom/office/bath issue. Maybe the mudroom could be downsized, perhaps coat racks instead of a closet? Yes, couldn't hurt to try an architect.

    No double doors into your master. It's a pain fumbling for the light switch.

  • S W

    artemis_ma, Thank you!

    Many people commented on the need for 3 dining spaces. I deliberately added them due to following reasons. 1) I don't want any seating at the kitchen island. I spend lot of time every day in the kitchen. I cook quite a lot and need a big kitchen. In addition, I need the countertop of kitchen island as the "cooking play-field" as I do lot of baking and prep work and need an uninterrupted 7 x 3 counter top for that. Not for dining.

    2) The breakfast area is where we will be eating everyday. I like to have the family sitting there and eating and relaxing.

    Now, the above two spaces will be used heavily everyday.

    3) Dining room however, is not going to be in use every day. It will be mostly used on weekends when family and friends get together (I do have 2-3/month). In the current apartment I felt the need for a dining room as I don't like to see my guests standing while eating all the time due to the lack of enough dining space. So, I'm fine with a smaller room than the current size, but I do need one.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    "I'm planning to talk to a draftsman (as I heard that they are cheaper than architects) next week"

    Plan on talking to a few architects too. I would hate to see you base such an important thing as your home on hearsay. Hopefully you have already talked to ARG, you are guaranteed to get good advice

  • Holly Stockley

    "Stair landings will stop you when you fall, winder steps will turn you over so your bruise more evenly"
    I can attest to that. I call them "murder stairs." Your only hope is to be a poor housekeeper with a pile of nice soft laundry at the bottom of the stairs.

  • Mrs Pete

    I always feel like I'm on the right track when Mrs. Pete agrees with me!

    Awwww ... I don't know whether that's true, but thanks.

    The first thing I thought of when I saw the image of the stairs Mrs Pete posted is, "Stair landings will stop you when you fall, winder steps will turn you over so your bruise more evenly".

    That's hilarious, and it's making me think of the day 8 1/2 months pregnant me fell down a set of steps at school, thoroughly bruising one side of my entire body. I didn't go into labor that day, but by the time I did, I was in full purple-and-yellow bruising stage, and everyone in the delivery room was giving my husband stink-eye.

    Many people commented on the need for 3 dining spaces. I deliberately added them due to following reasons. 1) I don't want any seating at the kitchen island. I spend lot of time every day in the kitchen. I cook quite a lot and need a big kitchen. In addition, I need
    the countertop of kitchen island as the "cooking play-field" as I do lot of baking and prep work and need an uninterrupted 7 x 3 counter top for that. Not for dining.

    If you can explain your desire for the three spaces, you've thought them out. Good.

    I'll argue with one thing though: When people say, "I want a big kitchen", they usually mean, "Cooking is a priority to me, and I want that to be reflected in the house." What they really want is a kitchen that's well-planned and efficient; size is largely irrelevant.

    At the moment, I have a very large kitchen, and it doesn't work well: it's a galley, and it's about two steps "too wide", so the two sides don't work well together at all ... the worst single detail is the desk that interrupts the work flow. I only have really good lighting in one spot, so I use that spot constantly ... to the exclusion of the rest of the kitchen. I have a walk-in pantry, which is poorly located at the back of the kitchen, meaning I have to walk the length of the kitchen to put things away. In contrast, the best kitchen I've ever had (in a rental house years ago) was half this size, but all "the major players" were in just the right spots, and it worked so well.

    Let go of the idea of "big" and work towards "efficient".

    Inventory all you currently store in your kitchen and determine what cabinets /pantry space you need for your personal needs. For example, I make wedding cakes, so I have well over 100 baking pans -- that's a whole shelf in the pantry. I also make cheese and can vegetables and salsas. I have three crock pots of varying sizes, seven sets of dishes, two punch bowls. Odd things I need to store ... but I'm considering whether I need a microwave at all. And my husband is a huge griller; he's going to have a large cabinet of his own for all his grilling accessories in our new house. Take your time and be sure you get it right!

  • AnnKH

    No matter what size your kitchen, take a tip from Mrs. Pete. Inventory the things in your kitchen, and consider how often they are used. Think about how you use the kitchen, and assign space for everything near its point of use: pots and pans near the stove, knives and cutting boards near the sink, cooking utensils, spices, and potholders near the range, a place for dish towels, bags and wraps, storage containers. Think about bulky items, and how often you use them. Does a large soup kettle or canning pot need to be in a prime location, or can it go over the fridge? Where should you keep small appliances?

    Think about whether you want things out on your counters. One of the goals of my kitchen remodel was to minimize stuff on the counters - no toaster, knife block, canisters, crock of cooking utensils, no chargers. So it was important to me to create space for a knife drawer, a convenient place for the toaster, so it gets put away after use (it's in a super susan, with other small appliances); I don't have a pantry, so I made sure I had drawers deep enough to hold canisters of dry goods, and another drawer tall enough to store cake and pie pans on their sides.

    My uppers go the the 8' ceiling, and I ordered extra shelves for each of them, which allows me to store more things without stacking.

    It sounds like you spend a lot of time in the kitchen - getting it right should be a high priority!

  • PRO
    RES, architect

    The most serious flaw in your design is that the garage is stuck into a corner of your house and that will deprive you of good circulation and natural light. It will also sabotage any attempt to design a good traditional facade.

    Garages are a modern version of barns and carriage houses that were either separate from the main house or attached by a connector building. Try doing that with a mud room connector.

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