linda_wal

How to change this staircase design?

S W
September 9, 2019
last modified: September 9, 2019

Building a new home and I just realized that the plan got a terrible staircase design. Problem is that, the first step of the stair is just 3' away from the front door wall. This will cause the front door almost opening to the first step. I read that the distance should be at least 5-6' for a comfortable spacing between front door wall and the step. My ceiling is 9' high and please let me know what are the best solutions here. A quarter turn or pushing foyer back 2 foot?



Floor plan



Option 1: Pushing foyer 2' back. This will change the elevation and options for porch but wont affect the living area at all.



Is quarter turn an option? I'm afraid that my foyer width (8'. 7") is small to accommodate the turn.



Comments (99)

  • suzyq53

    Here are a few.


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  • S W

    This look is what Im especially worried about. It looks out pf alignment




  • suzyq53

    This one looks good to me.


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  • S W

    From outside, yes it looks okay. But the view from inside needs to be throughly thought through. It's doable...like the below. I need to really visualize and plan for it. Below, they used brilliant decor to cover the misalignment.







  • cpartist

    Actually, I went back and looked at your plan. It appears to me the builder is saving money by building a full height wall which separate the stair from your entry foyer. Is this so? If so, your entry won't look like the photo since the stair and upper landing will not be visible.

    Um looking at it too, it appears it might be a bearing wall and if so, Virgil is correct. You'd better triple check with whomever drew the plans. If it is a bearing wall, you can't just go and add a railing instead.

    . If you move the door to the left, the view from the door to the back will be good. However, if someone looks from the interior of the house to the front, its now not symmetrical. In addition, it's not aligned with the window above. that would give an awkward look. Shouldn't the side walls of front door the same? Think about the following view. If the door is all the way to one side it wont look good.

    And this is what happens when you try and design one item at a time instead of creating a wholistic whole design. It's why the architects on the site state over and over you can't do one floor at a time. Unfortunately I do agree with you that it will be awkward looking. I forgot it's a 2 story foyer.

    I personally do not like that arched window. It is out of place with the look of the rest of the facade. Why would you put an arched window in which would draw your eye up to it instead of what should be the focal point, the front door?

    I'm thinking you will have to add to the front but hopefully it will make the exterior look even better in the long run.

    Please listen to RES. He knows his stuff. He is the one who fixed my exterior when I was having trouble trying to get my draftsman to understand what I was trying to achieve.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Looking at the last photo above, it would be a major improvement if the marrow sidelight on the right of the door was removed and a larger sidelight place to the left of the door, such that the left jamb of the sidelight aligned with the left samb of the window at the upper level.


    Not perfect, but a significant improvement over what's shown,

  • cpartist

    Looking at that last photo SW, it might work IF there was a window that ran the full width of the wall next to the door.

    Something like this?


  • cpartist

    Looking at the last photo above, it would be a major improvement if the marrow sidelight on the right of the door was removed and a larger sidelight place to the left of the door, such that the left jamb of the sidelight aligned with the left samb of the window at the upper level.


    Not perfect, but a significant improvement over what's shown,

    Great minds? LOL

  • S W

    Actually, I went back and looked at your plan. It appears to me the builder is saving money by building a full height wall which separate the stair from your entry foyer. Is this so? If so, your entry won't look like the photo since the stair and upper landing will not be visible.


    Confirmed it....it's not a wall. No way..... the other day we discussed the details of the stair, railings and the pattern etc. with the builder. It's just crappy drawing. I think it's accurately drawn on the level 2 plan of the plan.


    RES made very valuable points. I'm taking them to the builder to see how much I can accomplish.

  • suzyq53

    My stairs come right down to the front door. Its symetrical on the outside but lopsided on the inside. I wish my door swung the other way. I've been looking to modernize the front door and stairway.





  • S W

    CP and Virgil.... I was actually going to ask you whether I could expand the sidelight and you just responded... :)

  • chicagoans

    Would you double check the width of your hall to the kitchen with your builder? You said you believe it's about 8.7'. However, the drawing shows a cased opening of 4' with what looks to be about 8" of casing on either side, putting the total width at about 5'4". It's possible I'm misreading something, but I want to make sure you are clear on how it will look.

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    I think S W said the whole space is 8’, including the staircase. So yes, the hall between the stairs and kitchen is more about 5’4”, as S W showed in a picture.

  • S W

    The whole space is 8'.7' including the stairs. So the hall will be about 5''.4'.

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    The difficulty with a so-calledf "monumental window" in a stair well over the front door is that it is usually so commanding that it is centered on the facade with a roof gable or other feature immediately above it.

    Here its off center in a jog in the facade above a farmer's porch with an odd nested "shadow gable" above it and not centered.

    This is the result of combining informal folk vernacular and formal Colonial/Colonial Revival features in the same facade with a Victorian shadow gable and a Tudor segmented arch-top off-center monumental window. There are reasons these elements were not used together historically and if you struggle with them long enough you might discover why. I prefer to trust the wisdom of the past and use it as a guide but not a rule. Some elements from different styles do fit together when selected and scaled very carefully.




  • suezbell

    You could move your front exterior wall out to where you had intended to front edge of your porch to be and then add a new porch - - a real one with room to sit and enjoy the fall of the year in the air.


    Rethink your roof line and put a single forward facing gable on the right side of the building to do this.

  • chicagoans

    " The whole space is 8'.7' including the stairs. So the hall will be about 5''.4'."

    got it. thanks! wasn't reading carefully

  • S W

    suezbell, that's 204 sqft added to the house.... I dont think thats something I'll be able to afford.

  • S W

    RES 3d Sketches, that arch-top window will not be there. We haven't really decided, but leaning towards a rectangular simple one.

  • cpartist

    Actually I think I'd ditch the window above the door, move the door over and change the closets. And I'd probably add a third window in the living room.

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    I think this is what the house is struggling to be. The simplified framing and detailing might pay for the added floor and roof area.



  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Getting rid of the contractor's nested gables is always an improvement and worth doing. It's worth discussing with the builder.


    Anither improvement would be to make first floor windows taller and second floor windows shorter--another change which might have minimal cost difference.

  • S W

    CP, missing that stair window is visually not pleasing. It could be good, but I have hard time visualizing the house without it. I'm not a professional in the design and construction domain. So I trust you guys better than my feelings.


    RES


    It's a great suggestion. I really wants to push that foyer 2' into the porch. We are going to live in this house for at least 20-25 years if not more. So, I would never regret that nice space between front wall and stair. I'm willing to trade the cosmetic gable to get the space in foyer. I'm taking this to the builder.

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    The current jog in the building appears to be 3-0. If you are gong to pull the entrance door wall out 2-0 you might as well pull it out 3-0 and do the same for the floor above. That would create a small entrance alcove. I have one like that and it has a small table on one side and a free-standing coat rack on the other. The width of your alcove would be 17 wider than mine and I have a 3-6 wide door.

    S W thanked RES 3d Sketches
  • S W

    Amazing details RES, thank you. I think that would be every penny worth doing it.

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    If you move the upstairs out 3’ as well, as RES suggests, would you make that new space double-height as well? I would think no, do a lower-height ceiling. Here‘s why: you walk in the front door to a protected alcove, then emerge into the larger, airy space. A nice transition.

    This allows you to add a space upstairs. Not a ledge (dust!) but a closet. Either additional closet for the master, or the closet for the other front bedroom. That allows the laundry space in the hall to be a bit bigger. Or you can split the closet between the two rooms.

    S W thanked bpath Oh Sophie
  • S W

    What types of external trims I can use to get a bit more character? In the picture below, I think they have used a 2-0 jog and covered with a large gable. I think someone earlier suggested that.


    If I do a 3-0, I guess I'll have one large gable unlike the two in the picture. How would I add some trim to the 3-0 case?



  • S W

    bpath Oh Sophie, the post was before I read your latest post. I like that transition idea.

  • cpartist

    The house you posted last does not have character. It's a mish-mosh of anything and everything. You don't add character by having 4 different claddings on the front, or shutters that wouldn't even close half of one window, or 3 colors plus stone on the front and then only lap siding on the other three sides.

    What you're showing is a hot mess.

    What gives a house character is a well designed house that is beautiful in its simplicity. Less really is more.

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    I posted an elevation earlier with recommended trim upgrades. Columns instead of posts; frieze boards under raves and rakes. Put a space between paired windows. Good cornice returns; better garage doors. Only one kind of siding possibly shingles without corner boards.

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    Just standard good colonial detailing not the bad stuff.

  • cpartist

    Believe me when I say trust RES on the exterior design.

    Here for example is an early version my draftsman did when I was at my wit's end trying to explain what I wanted.

    RES drew these for me. (Note this was before we changed the orientation of the garage and the house)
    And here is the house as built:
    I kept RES's sketches constantly in the back of my mind including smaller things he suggested such as he said to wrap the hardie around the corners. Couldn't do that with our inept builder, but did keep his reasoning in mind and instead of painting the corner boards a contrasting color, I kept them the same color as the house.

    Windows were designed as he suggested with them not being factory ganged and with just a sub sill on the bottom. And lowering the height of the roof over the garage.

    S W thanked cpartist
  • ci_lantro

    A few things that jump out at me about the plan:


    Not much room to wrangle furniture at the top of the stairs.


    Refrigerator in a corner. Make sure there is enough filler there so the door will open fully.


    No house needs 3 bathtubs.

  • keith Dcil

    I like RES's last sketch the most.

  • PRO
    Anglophilia

    ci_lantro, I live in a 2800 sq ft 1 1/2 story house and my house has 3 bathrooms. One is in the MBath - separate shower, one is a footed tub with hand shower faucet in my DD's old room (en suite), and the 3rd is in the 1st floor bathroom that serves the guest room. I cannot imagine having fewer. If I had a 3rd BR on the 2nd floor, I'd want one there (en suite) as well.

  • S W

    ci_lantro


    I'm glad that you also mentioned those. It was commented by someone else and I already addressed these points. Tubs on Master and the second bath on level 2, but the guest bath on level one will have a shower.


    Fridge is not at the corner. It will be moved 2' up and will be counter depth. I already posted a separate kitchen design here and in that it's clearly explained.


    Room for furniture: Unlike the drawing, the stair will have rails, not a wall. The furniture can be easily lifted above the rails to address it.

  • S W

    RES,

    Columns instead of posts: Yes.. they look much better

    Frieze boards under eaves and rakes: I remember discussing it with builder. I'll confirm

    Put a space between paired windows: Would that cost a lot of extra money usually?

    Good cornice returns: Yes

    Better garage doors: Will try the best

    Bottom line: I'm ordering more check books :)


    Sidings: We are planning for LP smart engineered wood sidings as shingles will throw us over the budget. We may be able to just do the front of the house shingles, but not the whole exterior. We've finalized on Tan or White siding with desert tan roof shingles. Tan may be better for the trim as white on white (as below) may not project the frieze board in an all white space.



  • S W

    Made the following interior changes based on the suggestions here.


    1. Sliding door to bathroom

    2. Flipped the foyer closet to room closet

    3. Flipped room closet to foyer closet

    4. Extended the foyer 3' to the porch







  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Filp the swing of the entry door so that it is against the entry closet. The two door will never be open at the same time.


    It's better to make the initial view to the beautiful stairs and foyer view into the living area than of the foyer closet door and office door.

  • cpartist

    Now you don't have enough room at the front porch in front of the door.

    And what happens with the second floor? Are you extending it out to the second floor now?

    The closets were better before. Look at the door swing of the closet in the bedroom. Too tight to be standing there comfortably and taking stuff out.

    Same with the front hall closet.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    For a frong porch to actually function as shelter from the weather it needs to be at least 6' deep, and 8' is much better.

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    A colonial house should have white trim not tan.
    Putting 2 or 3 studs between paired windows saves the cost of factory mulling and difficulty delivering and installing but does add a piece of trim but makes a big visual difference.
    The porch needs to be deeper.
    The bottom stair tread should return both sides like a traditional stair.

  • S W

    Putting 2 or 3 studs between paired windows saves the cost of factory mulling and difficulty delivering and installing but does add a piece of trim but makes a big visual difference.


    RES, forgive my lack of knowledge in construction- that means you will install them as single windows with a space in between and add trim to cover that space, right?


    I saw an old discussion where CP is discussing the topic with pictures. CP mentioned a 6" trim between the windows gave a nice appearance. I think thats what I should also do.


    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/5140018/factory-mulled-windows

    something like this?




  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    Yes, there would be two window rough openings separated by some studs. 3 studs will allow about 5" of trim.

    Nail-fin window have frames about an inch thick so the total width would appear to be 7".

    3 1/2" casing trim would have the appearance of 4 1/2 at the jambs and head.

    A colonial house would often have a band molding around the outer perimeter of the window trim.

    Don't use trim under the window; install a continuous Azek Historic Sill or equal so the trim will rest on the top of it and the siding will fit into the groove under it - like a colonial window.


    This works for thick exterior cladding.


  • cpartist

    If i can find a pic of my windows before finishing, I’ll post so you can see

    S W thanked cpartist
  • S W

    Thanks, CP. Your pics are in that old post :)

  • chocolatebunny123

    SW - I'm not a pro but my house has what can be considered a larger than average foyer for my area. I hate it! There is so much wasted space that IMO could have been better utilized in other rooms, like a larger kitchen for example. I am not the original owner; my house was a builder's spec and we bought it when it was 4 years old. We've lived here 17 years and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish that unless space wasn't there, No one gathers in the foyer for more than a few minutes when they're coming and going.

    S W thanked chocolatebunny123
  • RNmomof2 zone 5

    Switch the door swings on both coat and office closet. They will be awkward to use how drawn now.

  • cpartist

    Thanks, CP. Your pics are in that old post :)

    Oh good I didn't have to go searching. LOL. I took RES's advice and I love how my windows came out. One other thing? I did use simulated divided lights on my windows. It was the closest to true divided lights I could do especially considering I needed to do hurricane windows.

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