trish_walter

trying to decide between 2 open floorplan options..

Trish Walter
July 11, 2019

we are meeting with architect but I'm struggling with 2 different open floorplans...one where kitchen flows to dining flows to great room like this





and one where either the kitchen or dining is on front other on back and great room to the side like this...



these are just to show the 2 different styles. Thoughts?


Thanks. Trish

Comments (41)

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    You didn't get the hint. Do Not Take Floor Plans To An Architect.

    "You are crippling yourself and your architect by starting with a floor plan and trying to change it to meet your needs. Take a list of your needs and wants and your site survey to a reputable architect and ask them to help you design a home that fits your site and meets your needs."

  • Trish Walter

    i'm no taking plans to architect but i am taking the idea of flow that i want. i am struggling visualizing between the two...i want open but not too open....if you don't like my style, that's cool, you don't have to reply. thanks.


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  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Which plan did the architect come up with?

  • Trish Walter

    I'm meeting him tomorrow. I have to bring my vision.

  • One Devoted Dame

    I actually like adjacencies that look more like this:

    Dining --> Kitchen --> Family

    As long as every room has southern windows, where the rooms are in relation to each other will depend on your land, which cardinal direction you want each room to face, etc.

    For example, I like dining rooms and kitchens to face south and/or southeast, but not west under any circumstances. I'm okay with drawing blinds/shades/curtains on west-facing windows for family rooms, because Kid-Dance Parties and Family Movie Night require covering windows anyway, lol.

    With these ideas in mind, my architect can design all of the rooms in a straight line, or bend one or more of them 90* from the other(s), etc. Whatever he wants. :-D

  • jmm1837

    If you're not sure or can't visualize what appeals to you, why not go to a few open houses of newer homes and compare various layouts? I know I learned a lot about what works for me by looking at houses that didn't.

  • Trish Walter

    I think I'm on overload...too many searches, too many tours...too much info...I like some aspects of all...

    We tried a draftsman that one of the builders we were considering really liked and waited 2 weeks. it was not good. So I'm so afraid to go through that again and spend more $$.

    i know i don't want dining on one side and great room on other..i want there to be some unity of kitchen dining great room as we have large gatherings and it's nice to see everything...but i also don't want it to look like a bowling alley or be too loud...

    i've not seen a lot of the kitchen in front of house...i'm just not sure about it...but it looks nice...

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    You should wait for his (reality) floor plan rather than contemplate (fictitious) floor plans. Most likely the site will dictate or at least influence the spatial relationship.

  • Trish Walter

    it's fun to dream and plan. thanks for all opinions.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    I hope the architect you have chosen will help make your dreams come true.

  • Cheryl Smith

    Open concept is nice to a point. Everything seems larger and more connected. But everything also needs to coordinate in color a style more. My previous home was very small and I loved the open concept. Our current home is open but not completely open to everything which I also love in its larger space. I can't see the kitchen from the living room. The living room is open to the sunroom but we can close French doors. I like that I don't need to see that there is a mess before I get around to cleaning The kitchen which is open to the dining and breakfast area all overlooking the backyard.

  • Trish Walter

    cheryl that sounds nice. that's kind of why i'm leaning more towards tucked back kitchens...they are a little separated but open to rest of home... i'm also debating between nook and no nook...

  • Cheryl Smith

    I think a person has to have some ideas of what they want or like before seeing an architect. It's my house and needs to work for my family. I need to know The size of rooms and general layouts I like or don't like. I would measure rooms in my current home or ones I like to know the size I want in a new home. Some rooms are too small to be functional but some I've seen are too large to be comfortable. I used to like going to open houses even when I wasn't wanting to buy a home just to get ideas. To see current trends and get ideas. But there are homes that I really wondered if the person that designed them had actually lived in a house before. And not just cookie cutter homes but expensive homes too. As in any occupation there are good and bad. I think of these advice posts as getting general ideas. For a person to firm up their thoughts on what they really want. A home is more than just rooms.

  • Cheryl Smith

    Our current house was built in 2006 but we bought it last year. It's a lot bigger than our old 1959 home. This home has a dining room on one side and a breakfast nook with the kitchen between. I have never had a dining room and for us it is wasted space I would much rather have a single larger dining area than 2 separate spaces.

  • Lisa G

    My current house is very similar to your first plan and I love it. It's very versatile to make adjustments for large gatherings whether we need the space in the dining area or family room. It makes the space feel larger. I do like your second plan if you won't need a more flexible space (you can't overflow a family room gathering into the dining space very seamlessly) but would not want my kitchen windows to face the front of the house.

  • Kristin S

    How do you live? Will you have a t.v. in the great room? Do you like to be able to watch it while working in the kitchen? Do you entertain? Do you like to be able to converse with guests in the great room while cooking, or do you prefer to have a bit of separation? Think about how you'll use the spaces and go from there.

  • Trish Walter

    yes tv great room. don't need tv in kitchen. entertain often. small to large. i can't converse with guests in family room now nor see what's going on which would be nice, but I also hate messes so i want a little division for when there's chaos in the kitchen...lol....that's why i'm thinking kitchen will be tucked back either front or back...but a little separation. like this.



    we've lived in our current home almost 20 years. I definitely don't want a dining room that's tucked away because we need to be able to expand table etc. to get more people around when needed.


    And I don't want a separate formal and casual dining room. But when it's just 2 of us is it odd not having a nook? i'm thinking we could just eat around island maybe? what do those of you with only 1 dining space do when it's just 2?


    thanks for the help.


  • jmm1837

    We are a couple with a kitchen open to the living and dining area (smallish house, around 2000 sq ft). We have a dining table that seats six ( 8 to 10 with the leaves). We eat every meal at the table. The counter gets used by guests having a chat with the cook, but that's about it.

  • Kristin S

    We have a single dining area, as well, with a large table. It's normally set for 8-10 and can go larger if needed. We love it even when it's just two or three of us eating, as it allows us to leave projects (puzzles, homework or crafts for my daughter, work for my husband or me) set up at one end and use the other for dining.

  • vinmarks

    I have a set up like your second picture. It works well for us. The kitchen is at the front of the house but our house front doesn't face the road. We have views out the back and they can be seen while preping at our island.

    We have a table that seats 8 to 10. No nook. It’s only my DH and I most of the time and we always eat at the table. We had both a kitchen table and separate dining room in our previous house and we hardly ever used the dining room. I like having one dining area that can be used when its just DH and I but still be able to accommodate more people at the holidays.

  • Jennifer Koe

    My house is set up like the first image with the dining area between the living and kitchen. I wanted that openness, but also didn't want my island butted up against the living room.

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    Home design should be a collaborative process with a logical sequence — basically from big issues to small issues. You are starting near the end of that sequence and working toward the beginning by looking at one small piece of the design much too soon. Its a very common mistake encouraged by looking at internet plans as if you were shopping.

    Take the two plan ideas with you to the meeting but If your architect doesn't suggest starting with the site opportunities and restrictions and then your family's needs (hopefully already in writing) and then alternative massing options for the house before discussing your two plans, find a better architect because you'll just be backing into the design dilemma we see on the forum every day — dark kitchens in fat plans under a big hipped roof with front facing gables..

    Write your family needs list, find some photos of houses you like and go to the meeting but don't produce the plans before the architect explains how he wants to proceed. Don't forget to discuss fees and scope of work.

    I hope the architect turns out to be a good one. Nothing you do can make up for an unskilled architect.

    Try not to waste too much of the architect's billable time getting the design process on course.

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting

    I agree you need some idea ofwhat you like when going to the architect or you will spand a lot of money for no reason. I would be more inclined to take pictures of the exteriors you like this drives the interior if it is important that the exterior has a certain style. The two have to be worked together .I like open plan to a degree but some sepearation of spaces makes decorating easier and the feel of the space sometimes is just too open.

  • PRO
    Glo European Windows & Doors

    Love the idea of a tucked away kitchen. However, I would focus more on creating a bubble diagram for layout and spacial relationship. Something similar to this:



    You could also include images, like the kitchen you posted above, to give your architect a better idea of what you're dreaming of. I would allow the architect to create a functional floor plan specifically designed for you. I know for me as a designer it's harder to work when someone comes with something they want me to loosely copy. It takes longer for the creative mind to become unlocked. Inspiration, ideas, and needs will go a lot farther than trying to decide between two floor plans already created....and takes a lot of pressure off you.

    Hope this helps and good luck!

  • Trish Walter

    I have read about bubble diagrams, but wasn't sure how to do. Thanks. I have pics of exterior looks and interior spaces...And a brain dump of my 'wants' that obviously might not all work together....Thanks all for the help.


    I am hoping that I can give him as much information this time around so I won't about cry when I see the design...it was so very bad you all...shudder....and put us 2 weeks behind waiting for it...



  • PRO
    Glo European Windows & Doors

    That's great! Yeah, take a deep breath and trust your architect to do their job. Most are very talented and well skilled at sifting through loose ideas to create a custom plan for their client. It will be a process but that's what you are both there for.

  • hummingbird678

    Trish, I feel your pain. I started with a builder/draftsman combination, and it took us about a month (and too much money) to get a floor plan that I was not happy with (never mind the horrible roof that was stuck on top of it)!

    Then I chose an architect, and am now in another month waiting period just to start on the design as they finish up other projects. And then it'll take even more time to complete the design.

    The delay sucks, and losing that initial cost sucks. But I know my final house is going to be so much better for it! It's worth the wait.

    Like you, I also love playing with floor plans. To me it's like a big puzzle, and my mind enjoys it. What I've done for myself, while waiting, is create tons of different floor plans trying out different concepts. The reason is threefold - 1) it's fun. 2) It's helped me come up with some of my "wants" for my list. And 3) By creating a lot of potential floor plans, each with pros and cons, I'm not too attached to any of them. So when my architect comes back with something entirely different, I won't feel a disappointment that it doesn't match "my" design. (And I can tell you, what I've learned from playing around just makes it even more obvious how poor my original design with the builder/draftsman was - I can now write half a page describing all the problems that design had.)

    I'm not planning on showing my architect any of my designs. I trust them to figure out what's right for me.

    Hope it goes well for you with the architect! I'm not very experienced in this whole world of building yet, but from what I've learned so far I think you'll end up happier with the final result - despite the delays and costs.

  • lexma90

    You should be conveying all of your wants to the architect, in order of importance would be helpful. It's her job to help you work through which will fit in with your house, your budget and your lot, and with your other wants.

    You can show the architect your two ideas, and explain what you like about each of them. Also, print out these posts, and highlight what you said here, about what you are looking for in your house and how the spaces will be used.

  • D E

    Trish before you do anything else, find a copy of

    "A Pattern Language" and read it.


    it will clarify a lot for you and you will understand what goes into design, and why.

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    A bubble diagram is a tool for designers. On this project you are the owner, not the designer. If he thinks its appropriate, your architect will draw a bubble diagram based on what you tell him. If you need to do it for him, you have hired the wring architect. Is there something you haven't told us about this guy?

    I always google my symptoms before seeing my doctor and I'm usually surprised when he explains what is really going on. I learned long ago not to tell him my diagnosis.

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    A Pattern Language was written over 40 years ago. You're not studying to be an architect; you already have one on your team. Your job is to carefully and accurately describe what you want and need from a new house. Don't conflate that information with physical solutions.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Here are some of the realities of good architect-designed custom homes. And these are some of the reasons looking at pictures, doing your own plans, visiting open house, especially tract and builder open houses often leads consumers down the wrong path:

    1. Really good custom home designs always, always are based around specific site conditions. Designing in a vacuum, without a specific site is usually wasted time.

    2. The absolute best orientation for the public spaces of a custom home--living, dining, kitchen--is always, always to the south. Avoid western orientation at all costs. Look for property which makes this possibl . Avoid property which doesn't.

    3. For best results with an architect, prepare a written list of "needs"; another written list of "wants"; a typographical survey of your property; and a budget, plus contingency. That's all. An experienced and talented architect will know how to talk and work with you to get everything else needed.

    4. Design is an exploration and a patient search. Remember that the first idea is seldom the best one.

    5. Site plans, floor plans, elevations and roof plan are all inter-related. A decision in one of these aspects of residential design directly impacts all of the other design aspects. Experienced architects know this and it's why they sketch and explore all of these aspects together, particulary in early design stages. Beware anyone who only designs a floor at a time and wants approval before going to the next floor, etc. They are wasting your time and mone.

    6. Open Plans look nice on HGTV, and in open houses. What you don't see is that in the "open" spaces there is no audio, visual or smell privacy. Anywhere. Be sure you can live in this fashion before pursuing this concept.

    Just a few of the things to consider for a really great custom home.

    Good luck!

  • jmm1837

    "The absolute best orientation for the public spaces of a custom
    home--living, dining, kitchen--is always, always to the south".

    Unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere (sorry, Virgil, I couldn't resist!)

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Right on, jmm!

  • Holly Stockley

    IIRC, the process for us was sort of:

    Mark came out and walked the property (spotting a hummingbird, and I STILL haven't seen any! Though the firefly population is heavy).

    He met us, (briefly) met my children, and we talked a bit about what we were looking for.

    We (with Mark leading) developed a list of what KIND of spaces we needed, and how large they should be. We also talked about how we use those spaces (my husband's office will mostly be for him to retreat into, not for meeting people, so it's OK for that to be well away from the main entryway, for example)

    We gave him a few vagueish requests: I wanted the private spaces in the house to BE fairly private - no master suites opening into the living room, etc. My youngest is special needs and doesn't have a lot of regard for things like gravity, so no open stairwells.

    We talked about how we wanted it to feel, and what other things would eventually be added to our "small holding."

    Never did I give him a floor plan, or talk about adjacencies.

    I got a plan I would never have thought of, that I dearly love.

    Architecture is not algebra, where you simply solve the equation for the solution to the problem.

    It's nearer to calculus. Maybe nearer to multivariable calculus. Where you have to learn to "see" where the pathways to a solution might be. And sometimes there are multiple ways to get to a solution.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Great comment!

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Calculus!?!?! Slowly I turned . . . step by step . . . inch by inch . . .

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    I like to think of design in terms of geometry. More lines and planes, fewer numbers.

  • Holly Stockley

    Well, geometric proofs and calculus have quite a bit in common, after all. Both are more a creative exercise of "how can I get to where I want to be from where I am, given what I know?" As opposed to a simple operation, repeated, like long division.

    My point being that it's not "insert tab A into slot B," but rather a more complex envisioning of spaces and relationships. Therefore, trying to "plug" any specific arrangement of spaces in bloody hindering awkward for the architect. Which is why renovation can be more complex than building from scratch.

  • Holly Stockley

    (I actually rather liked calculus, once I worked out that it wasn't as straightforward as algebra, but infinitely more useful. Volumes by discs or shells, anyone?)

  • One Devoted Dame

    (I actually rather liked calculus, once I worked out that it wasn't as straightforward as algebra, but infinitely more useful. Volumes by discs or shells, anyone?)

    Were you allowed to use a graphing calculator? My Calc professor forbid any machine that did anything more advanced than square root. That was fun.

    (Calc was definitely more fun in high school for me, than in college.... lol.)

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