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m_chelz

Thoughts on new build floor plan? Worried its too large

M Chelz
4 years ago
last modified: 4 years ago

We have a piece of property in the Houston area and are planning to build our forever home. We have drafted up our dream home however now worried it is too much space or we might be overthinking/missing something.

Our "must-haves" were to have a separate prep-kitchen as we frequently entertain and while we love our kitchen being open to the living area, sometimes there is too much happening and we wish there was a separate space to prepare food.

We also really wanted an exercise room which we plan to use as the bonus room.

We went from a 2 car garage and super laundry/mudroom/office combo to expanding the garage and creating separate spaces for each. But I still wanted a dedicated craft room so then we expanded into the third floor because there was space in the attic but now looking at everything together, it simply feels too big and Im worried we will have all this house that wont get used.

What do you think? Is the flow okay as well? Any other thoughts or things I might be missing?






Comments (195)

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Apologies this is so long! I got started and there was a lot to say! Also sorry I have not read all of the prior posts but here is my 2 cents.

    IMHO if you have three kids and a live in, you can’t really make a space that is ideal for that and an age-in-place space. So I would ignore those comments.
    Build for what you need and want now, and maybe you will want something
    different later or not. Also, as long as you are within 10% of the range of sq.
    footage in your area, which you are, you are not overbuilding.

    Our first house was 8800 square feet , and our current house is 8500ish (misleading because that includes indoor pool/conservatory). We have 3 kids. In our first house we had 2 live in nannies splitting the week, plus cleaning help, etc. In our new house the kids were all well out of toddlerhood and DH and I retired so we did not need
    nannies, but we did have someone to cook and buy groceries weeknights. In both house we have had someone clean and do laundry 3 days a week. We are on acreage with much of it landscaped so that is nearly full time many months of the year. The comments about the difficulties of cleaning or managing larger homes don’t make sense to me as even people with modest homes very often have cleaning help. So I would imagine it is moot, especially in a state with lower cost labor . If not, I personally would always choose more help and less house
    …. Help is a luxury good with the best payoff IME.

    What I like about larger homes is that they are easier to keep organized because there is a place for everything. Yes, some spaces get underutilized, but OTOH
    when you do use them they are so nice to have and make things pleasant. It allows you to entertain, host events, have guests, throw big parties etc. The only worry is that if you put things you want to use often too far away it will be annoying, so that is the balance.

    In that vein, in our first house the MBR was on the same floor with 4 of the other bedrooms. One of those 4 was my dressing room, one an office, one for DS and the last shared by my two DDs. The flow and access were great, they were all off of a very generous hallway (big enoughto have chairs and bookcases).

    In this,our current home (which was gutted and expanded) the MBR was on the first in its own wing, and we kept it that way. All the other bedrooms are on the 2nd fl. The kids were in 2nd,3rd and 5th grades when we moved here. IME that was a little too young to be far away, though I must say I like/d the privacy for DH and I. But it is kind of a pain to go up to "visit" them. Now that they are older, I might go a week without even seeing their room. They are all upstairs and I don’t even think about it. We haven’t had any real issues, but I will say it occurs to me they could come and go and we might not even know. How do I know if they have really gone to bed
    on a school night? It’s a pain to go check, if I’m being honest. We make them
    hand in their phones and laptops at bedtime, elsewise they could watch Netflix
    all night.

    As for going thru a MBA to get to a closet. I predict that will get old. You go into your closet alot more than you go into the bathroom.

    I agree with the poster who suggests separate baths. The PO here had "his and her" MBAs, and wetotally redid everything but were inspired by that, so we made one for each ofus on either side of the MBR. TBH is it so wonderfully nice and civilized. We
    have laundry in the hall right outside my MBR closet, and I like the
    convenience but not the noise (even though its Miele)… make sure they insulate that
    cavity very well; I invariably decide to throw something in before bed.

    While we are discussing laundry, there is a crossover point at which talking about how convenient and or pleasant a laundry room is makes
    no sense to me. At some level of housing budget, you are building laundry room facilities for someone else. I was initially (like, 15 years ago!) hesitant to have someone else do my laundry, but if you have good help they take as good care with it as you do (if not better). Plus they fold it like it was for sale at the GAP, and put it all away! So I would have your personal laundry in your space, and one other laundry area wherever works in your plan but it needn’t be close to anything because, not to be rude, it is someone’s else’s issue.

    Given the scope of the project, here are some other things I would think about and that would seem appropriate to the caliber of the house:

    The tub in the MBA deserves more special treatment and more room; maybe even a windowed bumpout. Most tubs today are a showpiece, and a focal point as you enter. You should also have a good view from the tub.

    Not sure why you have a sink as you enter the MBR but it is too utilitarian. Our last house had a sort of MBR “vestibule” and it was just a place with a nice table, lamp, and art … a transition space. If it is for coffee, think long and hard if you will use it because it sure detracts aesthetically.

    I would make your closet more of a dressing room. Do not have a permanent fixture in the center, and do have a small sofa or chaise. Also a place to put on makeup.

    One mistake we made was cheaping out on the kid’s rooms. I did not want to spoil them with palatial spaces, and I did want them to come out of their rooms once in a while ! I did not want to make it attractive for them to return after college (as our architect suggested made sense nowadays …!) But, my mistake was that I did not give them enough closet space. Big mistake esp. w teen girls.

    A lot of your bathrooms are pretty standard, minimal layouts. I think in full baths, the toilet should always be in a W/C or at least behind a half wall. Get rid of
    some of the extra space elsewhere and give everyone larger bathrooms. IMHO in a luxury home, you don't see the toilet when you walk in the BA (except PR of course) If you have 2 girls, I would also make a Jack and Jill. My girls share one with two
    sinks and lots of storage, connected to a WC and bathtub/shower. It is convivial for them, and makes it easier for them to steal each other’s stuff, too.

    Your live-in space should have a kitchenette. That way it also works for long term guests or you may even want to expand it so it is like a MIL suite. Not everyone likes to live-in and it is hard to find a good person who doesn’t have family and hence would live in, but extra living quarters can be great for aging parents, the dreaded boomerang kids, or even a caretaker if you summer elsewhere. As an aside, do you have live-in now, or have you identified one? At least in the NYC metro they can be hard to find. Most people do not want to live in anymore unless you are talking about a totally separate, private dwelling on property where they can live with a spouse and/or child; YMMV.

    In re craft rooms.Ours always got a lot of use. As the kids get older, it is also a popular place to do homework (but, for "internal marketing" purposes, we would never call it a homework room!). Think about where you want your kids to do homework (esp. if they ever do some work with a tutor, very common nowadays in our circles for test prep, or just extra help). I don’t want my kids to do homework in their rooms; I want to see them doing it and be available to help. IME, that needs to be somewhere near the kitchen. Also, where are you keeping all the school supplies, printer, etc. Your craftroom seems too far away for when they are young and you want to make sure they are not painting on the wall, and too far away for when they are older and you want to make sure they are doing HW not YouTube.

    Do your kids play any musical instruments? Do they plan to? We had a small room, pre-existing, that worked well for this. Especially since they were often not so talented. : ) What about sports eqp? Your mudroom area seems much much too small for 5 people, and when you add eqp…of course being in a cold climate might be the difference.

    The other item we have always designated in our house is what we call “the loading dock”. We are constantly receiving and sending packages and it is nice to have an area for it.

    Another thing we like having is a “cloak room”; an idea borrowed from friends who had one in their old Victorian. It is so nice to have when you host a party.

    Your media room seems very far away from everything; are you
    certain you will use it? I never wanted one and at least among my friends it is so rarely used they advise against it (alas most people watch their own thing on tablets)

    The office looks land locked; would you want to use it? Does it have windows?

    I would advise against a permanent bar in the lounge. I think it can look silly and plus,
    design-wise, you may want to do different styles over time. Reduces flexibility
    too. Is there a linen closet for pool towels? Moreover, do you want the lounge
    area to function as an adjunct to the pool? If so a cabana may be more pleasing and afford more of an outdoor living feel?

    I assume there is no basement, so storage on the attic level is a good idea.

    As for the kitchen, we have a rather oversized kitchen and
    in reality I find, you cook in one part of the kitchen, and the rest is for
    storage or serving buffets or special projects like rolling out dough. Make sure you have all you need in the part of the kitchen that is in the great room, and that is works well for your ergonomically, and that the secondary space … pantry, service kitchen, butler’s pantry, are not needed day to day ; if they are the layout will be frustrating. Consider swinging doors on the ancillary spaces.

    I often joke to my husband,that we spend most of our time in what could be a studio apartment. I.e., our bedroom and baths, and the kitchen. We don’t use our offices as much as we used to because we use our MacBooks sitting in comfy chairs by the fpl in the MBR. So, yes that reality is something to consider in designing space. We all take the path of least resistance. OTOH the luxury of having just the space you need for special events, projects, changes in the family or hobbies over time, really is quite
    pleasant. All the best to you and your family with this exciting project!

  • nosoccermom
    4 years ago

    Very interesting thread. I've never lived in such a large house, which probably explains that despite our house being a lot smaller, we find that we're basically living in something like 700 sqft.

    This is not in direct reply to the OP, but I'm wondering how such a large house with "everything in it" and "everybody having their own living quarters" affects family and social life. For instance, do you still go to the movies if you have your own home theater? Do your kids still go to a common playground, or does everybody play on their own jungle gym? In other words, do these rooms increase getting together for shared activities, or do they actually make you socialize and interact less with one another?

    We have basically only had one TV in the house (plus one in the exercise room), but even then, when our kids were teenagers, I'd turn off the Internet router to make everybody come out of their rooms in the evenings. I'd also only half joke that communicating with each other sometimes seemed easier by sending an email.

    Now, with everybody having a cellphone/tablet, face-to-face interaction has become even less common, to the extent that it affects the development of interactive and social skills of kids and our interactions.

    On the other hand, in my areas, there's an increased trend for smaller, more dense, walkable housing.



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  • cpartist
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    I posted late last night.

    I'm not saying to necessarily cut the size of the house down, but to reallocate how and where the rooms are and to make sure you need all those rooms. As mentioned, would a slightly smaller master work as well and then the space could be added to the great room?

    Could the house work better with better separation of public and private spaces so you're not constantly walking through both to get to one or the other?

    Using my house again, I have a public side of the house and a private side. Yes the private side upstairs includes a guest room, but it's still not public space.

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    we find that we're basically living in something like 700 sqft.

    I agree, I think most people do, most of the time. No question larger homes are underutilized (which gets into environmental and sustainability issues that I think people are increasingly mindful of).

    I think architecture absolutely impacts interaction. When we first moved here, my DD's slept in the same room even though they had their own. I know many people with rather large homes that make the kid's rooms almost apartment like, which I think is a bad idea. When we did our project 7 years ago, the architect spec'd cable drops in all the bedrooms and flat screens. Umm, no. (not to mention DH correctly predicted that tech would change all that). We have one TV in our home, and we need to make an effort to draw people to it. We actually find what works best is a family outing to the movies. OTOH, the size and amenities of our home make it the place kids want to come to and hangout, the site of lots of class parties and team parties, a place to host fundraisers and neighbors and reunions and such. So all of that is a positive, socially.

    One thing I have learned is that small rooms, done right, are very pleasant. I no longer think bigger is always better. I have renewed appreciation for an architect's skill in balancing all of these things. I think many people would now prefer walkability and conviviality to simple sq footage, but in recent decades soooo many places were built with no regard to walkability, it is hard to find. Also, many walkable towns are just touristy, not truly places to live.

  • Naf_Naf
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    M Chelz,

    To answer you question: Because is not expected in a high end home.

    We need perspective:

    In a small home of 1,200 s.f., you can access from garage to home thru the laundry room and is ok because it is possible that you do not have enough area to add a dedicated mudroom. Many of the local builder's designed homes that
    are about 2,500 s.f. average, have the closet inside the bathroom set up. That's why many people here are saying that is what the have and "it is ok". Their personal preferences or current situation do not make it ideal.

    Just because you are ok with the office being a hallway does not mean that it is ideal, it just means that the designer could not figure a better circulation pattern and you are settling.

    It is best to consider every space, not as a single isolated element but an interacting entity: The master suite. The ideal master suite is one where the bedroom is not disturbed by any other activity. It is a place to sleep, rest and relax. Your refuge, You should not need to disturb a person that is resting if what you need is to go to the bathroom and in the same way, you should not need to enter the bathroom while it is being used if what you need is to go to the closet (or laundry). It is ok to access a private deck/terrace/balcony directly from master.

    The humidity factor has been explained but that is controllable. It is nice to have easy direct access from bath to closet when possible, but it should not have to be the only way.

    The best high profile residential architects do not do the set up you have.

    An easy fix for your plan: You could consider a small vestibule that separates/connect your master bathroom to His closet and laundry. Then you can connect your closet to the laundry, that way you have the option to go to closets and laundry without going thru the bathroom. The connecting area also helps as a buffer and the bathroom lights will not directly bother the person sleeping.

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
    4 years ago

    One thing I would want to take advantage of with a larger house and separate rooms is the ability to enjoy such architectural concepts as enfilades, a series of connecting rooms with doors/doorways, even arches, aligned on a single axis. Interior designer Laurel Bern wrote a recent blog post about them,

    https://laurelberninteriors.com/2018/01/02/enfilade-say-what

    And Texas designer Joni Webb at Cote de Texas has written about them as well,

    https://cotedetexas.blogspot.ca/2010/02/enfilades-and-lanternes.html

    You have a version of this on the main floor but unfortunately it's with the most utilitarian spaces -- bedroom, office, prep kitchen, pantry.

    One of the concerns with a smaller house is getting everything you need and want into a smaller space with reasonable proportions. One of the concerns with a larger house is also with the proportions, keeping everything on a manageable, human scale. Yes, there are people to do the everyday work of homekeeping, but as mtnrd says, you don't want something as basic as checking on the kids at night to become a chore.

    nosoccermom, your post reminded me of the stories of Paul and Linda McCartney building a small house on the coast south of London when they certainly had the means and all sorts of reasons to build a much larger one, and in a more urban area as well. Both Paul and Linda spoke in interviews over the years about how the small house kept the family close, literally and figuratively : ) .




  • deegw
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    I mentioned the family issue way up thread and I am glad others are bringing it up. Separate kid spaces equals separate kids. You think you have 18 years with them but once they or their friends hit driving age, they are basically gone.

    becky, I love the enfilade idea (never knew the term) or even an enclosed breezeway. If I built a grand dream house I would consider it necessary "wasted" space.

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
    4 years ago

    d_gw, that's a lovely photo, love the idea of an enclosed breezeway, whether in cold Canada or hot Houston : ) .

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    4 years ago

    Yes, that is lovely Sight lines are a big part of the enjoyment of a house, another thing laypeople don't always think of that architects get.

  • M Chelz
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    mtnrdredux_gw Thank you so much!

    Full disclosure: The bathroom and kitchen areas are completely my fault! I drew on paper what I wanted and our architect helped to bring it to life. This is the video for our bathroom and I do love how it looks but I can see the functional concern with the door and the sink

    We have 2 boys and a baby girl but right now they all share a bath and I must admit, mornings are stressful and the boys share a room and they love/hate it haha. I had not considered doing jack and jill (probably jack/jack for us) baths but that would allow for more closet space. Our daughter will likely get the room with two closets which she cant fill now but probably will in the future if she's anything like me.

    I dont think our kids baths/closets are too far off from the homes we've seen in our price range around here but definitely on the small side in comparison.

    Yes! Our upstairs live in space will have a kitchenette and sitting area in addition to the bedroom space. I havent gotten the plan back for that yet but it's possible I know.

    Our live-in has been with us for years and really feels apart of the family but if anything should happen to her, I really dont know what we would do and having this space is very attractive if we ever need to have another one.

    Unfortunately in our area, separate living spaces are not allowed otherwise that would be the optimal solution.

    Right now kids all do their homework in the dining room but the plan is to have them do it in the "reading loft" upstairs. There will be bookcases and drawers where they can keep all their school supplies and stuff and then also have a table in the center with stools to do homework as well.

    We are planning to have their instruments be in the lounge/media room areas. We thought about having a space for a grand piano but decided against it. This way they can practice without disturbing anyone. Right now all of our equipment is in the garage (part of why hubby wanted so much garage space, he hates having to park outside now). We initially had a VERY large mudroom space but that felt obnoxious to me, we dont have THAT much stuff but we probably do, its just in the garage lol.

    Im not entirely sure what a cloak room is but I am intrigued. That is partially why our coats closet is so large, to accommodate our guests. In general, when entertaining, neither of us are in our rooms but currently our MBR is upstairs and out the way so its hard for me to see it being as inconvenient.

    Our media room will be a billiards room which will likely mostly get used in summer during pool parties.

    There is not a linen closet for towels next to the pool area but I think that is a great idea!!! Not sure where that can fit in but I will talk to her and see what she can do.

    Right now, we do spend a lot of time as a family and I hope that does not change too much in a larger home. No one spends much time in their bedroom. I could reduce the size of our master but I dont think it impacts the plan that much. The front door is centered with the great room so if the master was reduced in size, it would not expand the great room.

    Our kids hang out with their friends in the playroom and so Im hoping that will continue. When we entertain, there's usually a group who ends up in the great room and another group in the kitchen and hoping that now either everyone can be together or the guys will hang out in the lounge/billiards area. When not entertaining, the lounge is will be like family room/tv den.

    Also love the idea of kids turning in cell phones when they go to sleep!!

  • M Chelz
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Wow those enfilades are beautiful! Reminds me a lot of the house I grew up in. Might be an nice design feature to incorporate into the hall between the kitchen and lounge with windows/doors leading to the outside :)

  • athomeeileen
    4 years ago

    Just a thought... the kids need an adult close by during homework. To offer assistance and keep them from distractions. I know homework/study spaces are popular but it's rarely used until they are older.

  • cpartist
    4 years ago

    It appears you're happy with what you have and are not really listening to what most of us are saying. Yes if you make the living room larger, and the bedroom smaller, and put all the public rooms together and the private rooms together it will mean you'll have to actually redesign a good part of the house.

    It's obvious you're not willing to look at other options that might be a better fit for you and your family. I wish you only the best in your build and hope it's all you expect.

  • deegw
    4 years ago

    The bath 3d shows one of my pet peeves - no space for window treatments and hardware around the smaller windows.

  • M Chelz
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    cpartist, I am happy with what we have for the most part. Im sorry if you feel like I am not listening to you. I might not take all of your suggestions but we have taken several others into account. Earlier I listed the different things we are changing such as the addition of the elevator and changing the location of the laundry room and converting the third floor space into an au-pair/nanny suite.

    It is interesting to hear what other people think and what we have and have not thought of. I do wonder if some design choices are regional. For example, where we are, its very common to have the game room be completely separate (often on the second floor of the house) from the living area. In fact, I cant think of a single home of our friends or that we toured that had it anywhere near the living area.

    If we wanted to keep the living room centered with the foyer for example, any enlargement we do to the right side must also happen on the left side and there is not room to do that without making other rooms large as well. Personally, I see no need to completely rework our home for changes that matter little to us. I do think that one discrepancy has been the fact that we truly never set out to build a large home but now that we have one, there is a feeling of what a large home must have to qualify it as such.

  • Alison
    4 years ago
    I like how you are making some changes and keeping other things as is. It shows you are taking what works for your house and leaving the rest. Homes are so personal. Fresh eyes gives you perspective and helps firm up what you really want and what you don’t. It’s so exciting!
    M Chelz thanked Alison
  • cpartist
    4 years ago

    cpartist, I am happy with what we have for the most part.

    Then that's all that is important.

    Im sorry if you feel like I am not listening to you. I might not take all of your suggestions but we have taken several others into account.

    It appears you're taking only the smaller suggestions into account and not the major issues with the layout. We see this over and over on the Building a House forum how people come onto the forum asking for advice and then the only advice they listen to is to switch door swings or open a small room to another small room, while ignoring some of the major issues.

    Earlier I listed the different things we are changing such as the addition of the elevator and changing the location of the laundry room and converting the third floor space into an au-pair/nanny suite.

    Again not changes that will affect the overall flow of the house, nor how you have to walk through private areas to get to public areas and visa versa. Or the duplicate spaces creating lots of smaller spaces versus combining spaces into larger spaces.

    Or the fact your major public space, your living room is almost the same size as your master bedroom.

    It is interesting to hear what other people think and what we have and have not thought of. I do wonder if some design choices are regional. For example, where we are, its very common to have the game room be completely separate (often on the second floor of the house) from the living area. In fact, I cant think of a single home of our friends or that we toured that had it anywhere near the living area.

    Just because everyone else is doing it doesn't make it good design. What's the old adage our Mom's used to tell us about if everyone else was jumping off the cliff?

    If we wanted to keep the living room centered with the foyer for example, any enlargement we do to the right side must also happen on the left side and there is not room to do that without making other rooms large as well.

    Which is why I suggested you might have to rethink your layout. I don't understand a 10,000 square foot house and the living room is only 528 square feet. That's only 5% of the total space of the house for a house you say you want for entertaining?

    Again using my house which is a house for entertaining. My house is 2870 square feet and my total living room space is approximately 376 square feet or just over 13% of my total square footage.

    Personally, I see no need to completely rework our home for changes that matter little to us.

    In your first paragraph you said, "Our "must-haves" were to have a separate prep-kitchen as we frequently entertain"

    If entertaining is important to you, where will you have people sit and socialize? Are they to walk through the kitchen and past the breakfast room and office to go to the lounge if there's not enough space in the living room? Where do you intend to do your entertaining?

    I do think that one discrepancy has been the fact that we truly never set out to build a large home but now that we have one, there is a feeling of what a large home must have to qualify it as such.

    A large house must have the same things a smaller house must have and that is a layout that makes sense and good flow between spaces.

    Room adjacencies must make sense to help with the flow of the rooms.

    Both large and small houses should have right sized rooms for what they are needed for and hopefully windows in all main rooms to let in light.

    Both large and small houses take into account the needs of the members. (For example in the middle of the night do you really want to walk what would be 35' to get to the loo?) Or should bathrooms be on outside walls upstairs when the bedrooms could instead have windows on two walls if the spaces were redesigned? Or do you really want your bedroom backing up on the great room?

    As others have mentioned, both large and small homes make it simple to do activities in the house where the most used spaces are easily accessible.

    In both large and small houses, unnecessary spaces and redundant spaces should be eliminated or reconfigured to make them work better.

    It was suggested upthread you read through some of the Sarah Susanka books as she really explains use of space. And while your house is 5-7x the size of the houses she is talking about, the info can still be useful even when building a large home.


  • KD
    4 years ago

    I agree with cpartist here in that what you have seems to be a fundamentally flawed design (regardless of size) that you're making tweaks to. I mean, I may be misremembering, but my impression is that the design has sort of evolved by having things added on as they sounded like good ideas - so it started out a plan for a much smaller house and that fundamental issue has never really been addressed. You may be happy with what you have (and the exterior is lovely) but to get the BEST possible home for your site and the way you live, the BEST thing to do at this point (which will delay the process and cost some money, yes, but it should result in a much much better home at the end, and you're spending a lot of money to have a home that's just okay) is to look at what you've got, make a list of the rooms/features/points you really like (including which rooms are near which, how you want to get from point A to point B, that sort of thing) and have your architect start all over with a new plan that is indented from the very beginning to have what you want in it.

    Starting with a brand new plan will allow things like the entertaining space to be sized proportional to the number of people you plan to invite regularly and the overall size of the house, rather than being limited by how much it can expand on the existing plan, just as an example.

    Obviously it's your house and you can do as you like, but when we speak of good design here we're not talking about aesthetics, we're talking about the way people actually live and work in spaces - there's been a lot of study of that sort of thing (both physically and investigating the psychology of things) and the things we've learned are what informs good design - and it's what makes a tiny house live like a much larger house, or a much larger house live like a modest one, in terms of how it feels to actually be there day to day. (Obviously the larger house will still be more impressive and can be a real showpiece for impressing guests, and so on, but there's no reason that an impressive showpiece can't also be a nice place to live.)

    I personally wouldn't want to spend the money necessary to build a 10,000 sq ft house without having a really good floorplan to work from, because building a giant McMansion that is full of little everyday annoyances due to where rooms are seems a horrible waste of money, time, and materials. Plus, if the goal is an impressive showpiece - a really nice looking really well designed home will wow people WAY more than one that looks nice but isn't designed well. People may not be able to put their finger on what the problem IS, but they will definitely pick up on it.

    (I'm not saying this floorplan you have now is the worst thing possible - go look online at some of the house plan websites for large houses if you want to see plans that are just plain awful design from start to finish - just that for everything involved, why not make it the best possible?)

  • Cheryl Hannebauer
    4 years ago

    We are in the middle of our "forever home" building on the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia/Canada >> as we are semi retired,there is only the 2 of us & 2 German Wired Haired Pointers, the new house is an ICF build and just over 2000 sft. We have a very open concept for the foyer, kitchen & LR, & only 2 bathrooms; which is down sizing for us, we had 4 in the previous home. We have made the main bath, that also can be accessed via our walk-in closet/ with a pocket door,so hubby is able to go into the main for a shower;when it is just the 2 of us at home; as in the mbath, we have decided to put a free standing tub in there only- even though there is room for a shower as well. IMO- I would rework the room/size, private vs public area; as the best time is to do it is when it is on paper>> as for the kitchen area- I would not be happy without windows.. good luck with the project.

  • anele_gw
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    You asked earlier why people assumed that you weren’t working with an architect or designer... read through the thread and I think the reason will become apparent. People are pointing out basic design flaws that should have been caught earlier or never have existed in the first place. Maybe time for some analysis as to why that is. Is it due to the professionals you are working with, your input, or ?

    My feeling is— we are not rooting for you to have a house of a certain size... the debate isn’t about 8K or 10K— but for you to have a beautiful, functional home in the sense that PirateFoxy pointed out: based on physical and psychological needs.

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
    4 years ago

    This project would seem to lend itself exceedingly well to a good reading of both "Patterns of Home: The Ten Essentials of Enduring Design" by Max Jacobson et al., whose 10 essentials, each of which gets a chapter, are "Inhabiting the Site," "Creating Rooms," "Sheltering Roof," "Capturing Light," "Parts in Proportion," "Flow Through Rooms," "Private Edges, Common Core," "Refuge and Outlook," "Places in Between," and "Composing with Materials"; and also "Home by Design: The Language of The Not So Big House" by Sarah Susanka. From the chapter on Space: "In the context of home design, the word space is usually preceded by the phrases 'too little' or 'lots of'. In other words, we tend to conceive of space only in terms of quantities. But the way that architects use space is quite different. To us, it is our primary tool in the shaping of experience. We sculpt space in much the same way that a potter shapes clay to form a container, such as a vase or a pitcher. But where the focus of the potter's work is primarily the 'exterior' of the object, for architects it is equally on the interior, where people live, work, and play. We quite literally shape the interior spaces to make better, more comfortable, and more engaging 'containers' for the activities that take place within."

    At least on a subconscious level by posting here with questions, M Chelz, you're aware that this plan so far isn't all that it could be. From the title of your post to your final questions -- "What do you think? Is the flow okay as well? Any other thoughts or things I might be missing?" -- you seem to indicate an understanding that you're at the beginning of your journey of creating a home that works for your family, rather than simply a house large enough to meet your family's most basic needs in a more or less utilitarian manner. Many of us here have spent years on the planning process alone. Don't be in a hurry to finalize plans, and don't be too wedded to "your" initial plans especially if they're not the right ones for you. Consider the process more of a marathon than a sprint, with a longer-term payoff as well : ) .


  • Najeebah
    4 years ago

    "Personally, I see no need to completely rework our home for changes that matter little to us."

    Here is your reason: "If we wanted to keep the living room centered with the foyer for example, any enlargement we do to the right side must also happen on the left side and there is not room to do that without making other rooms large as well." These changes can not be made without reworking the plan completely.


    "I do think that one discrepancy has been the fact that we truly never set out to build a large home but now that we have one, there is a feeling of what a large home must have to qualify it as such."

    Firstly, you do not have one (a large home). You have the plan of one. Which is infinitely easier to make changes to or scrap entirely, than anything further down the line will be.

    Secondly, this is not the optimal way to design. Quality over quantity. Form follows function. Form most certainly does not follow the already proposed form. You really need to reassess your needs.


    I do wonder if some design choices are regional.

    Some are, yes. Cloak-closets & mudrooms are almost unheard of where I am. Our climate doesn't necessitate it. Formal living rooms are common. Some aspects of plans I see on this site are too high a high security risk where I live. But other choices are based on actual design principles, which apply everywhere.


    You told us, "We have drafted up our dream home however now worried it is too much space or we might be overthinking/missing something... it simply feels too big and I'm worried we will have all this house that won't get used. What do you think? Is the flow okay as well? Any other thoughts or things that I might be missing?"

    Then you told us, "I am happy with what we have for the most part."

    So do you see where we're coming from? Ask yourself, are you truly happy with it or not? Are you a bit dissatisfied but trying to avoid restarting?


    We share this feedback because we enjoy design, but also because we care and we know it's a complex field that most people aren't exposed to until their own projects. It's easy to make costly mistakes, most of us have made them.

    But on the other hand, there's something in what you said, "changes that matter little to us." It's true. Different things matter to different people. Designers value design in a way that others simply don't. We see issues that others just live around. Some of my clothing choices would make fashion designers wring their hands in agony, but I couldn't care less, and I'd not go to extremes to change it. I don't value it like they do. And I'd find their splashback-countertop combination hideous but they'd probably never even notice it. Sometimes people choose to change when alerted to things, sometimes it still doesn't affect them.

  • Alison
    4 years ago
    It’s pretty clear the OP has taken what they need from this thread. Perhaps everyone could stop beating a dead horse and leave it now.
    M Chelz thanked Alison
  • PRO
    Designer Drains
    4 years ago

    Thinking of a "FOREVER HOME" it worries me that when you get to that elderly stage in life, the house will be too big to move around or even maintain. It's a lovely floorplan. Doesn't seem to be missing anything.

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
    4 years ago

    I continue to be fascinated by the small but dedicated “you do you/it’s YOUR house” camp who continue to denigrate the good advice from experienced amateurs and dedicated professionals who post on GardenWeb, generally on the Building a Home forum rather than here on the Home Decorating forum — sometimes not as diplomatically as possible, but there is an almost daily stream of house plans that are so much less than they could be that some deal with the fatigue and frustration with humor or brusqueness — and are quick to take any sort of critique and criticism as personal affronts. The goal of this forum is not to bolster self-esteem (or police the humor or blunt delivery) or to make sure that someone’s house plan is “good enough” but to ensure that posters get the best possible advice for building the best possible house for their particular circumstances, wants, and needs. Often that involves hearing that the current plan is lacking and why. Or receiving suggestions to do some homework (reading other threads on the Building a Home forum, and books), or to hire a professional when professional assistance could clearly be helpful. Because people find themselves at GardenWeb/Houzz for a reason. It's equally fascinating and mystifying to me when some posters are quick to give up, willing to settle for the merely adequate verging on inadequate.


    The way this forum works is that when someone posts a finished project/room/house, those who reply post congratulatory kudos (finished project posts are not a place for critiques or criticisms); and those who post about their monthly new house build progress get encouragement, support, and (when necessary) commiseration. But those who post requests for advice, especially when it comes to new house layouts or individual room plans, get advice -- honest, unvarnished, and often blunt -- which is often disregarded at their peril, as those of us who frequent this particular subform (Home Decorating) know, when posters optimistically and often unrealistically hope to use paint and new furniture to make up for the previous owners' architectural and construction failings.


    For those who post ostensibly for critiques but actually hope for validation, this may not be the place until the project is done. For those who hope to derail valid criticism in a misguided attempt to buck up the self-esteem of a new poster, perhaps because their own plans at some point received some blunt criticism, this is not the place. For those who have honest doubts about your plans and are not quite sure what to do, this is the place if you're willing to put in the time and effort, and to set aside your ego. We can’t all promise to be delicate and diplomatic all the time, but we will be honest and share our own experiences and, where available, professional training. What most of us here want is for people to build the best possible houses they can, in order to create the best possible homes for themselves, their families, and friends, while also saving money, time, mental health, and relationships. A house isn’t necessarily a home. This forum can help with that if it’s used properly. Sometimes it takes a constant drumbeat throughout a thread for the original poster to understand. Sometimes even that constant drumbeat isn’t enough, and it's unfortunate, especially when a particular situation holds great promise. There have been some great collaborative threads, ultimately with great houses/homes, when new and old posters put their heads together and are willing to learn, listen, and make changes.


    Best wishes and good luck to all.


  • Alison
    4 years ago
    Beckysharp I agree with you to a point. Hearing honest feedback is so important but beating a dead horse isn’t. The point has been made that many of you find major flaws in this plan, and perhaps rightly so, but at some point that’s the end. Repeatedly saying the same thing is useless. It’s advice either taken or not
  • deegw
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    I don't think people are beating a dead horse here. People are still adding constructive, insightful comments. I do think that some people are trying engage in verbal one-upmanship, which isn't helpful. But, there is still plenty of good advice being shared.

    What stops a thread is when the OP stops commenting. Clearly she is still "listening" as she posted just last night.

  • KD
    4 years ago
    The thing is also - everything about a well designed house is better, including resale. Even if the house has some unusual characteristics, like a room layout (like a normal kitchen and a prep kitchen) many people wouldn’t do. What you want if you are choosing to do something a different way to normal is for people to go “oh, that’s unusual, what a great idea!” rather than “that’s different, I guess we could work around it?”

    The first sells houses, the second does not. (And while most people here aren’t building to sell, our homes usually represent a fair chunk of investment and most people don’t really want to throw away all that money either.)
  • PRO
    Summit Studio Architects
    4 years ago

    Good design happens when you plan for a space then design it... not design a a space then make a plan for it.

    There is a bit too much of the latter here. If the OP and architect would do some re-organizing into intentional, functional zones they would be on the verge of a great and remarkable house.

  • M Chelz
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    I really appreciate all the comments. I truly, truly do. As we have been in the design stage for months (and obviously super eager to really get started and break ground, etc), it is a bit frustrating to hear so many comments of "you need to start over completely". This is especially true when we did sit down and think about what would work well for us and what would not. Honestly its not only a large financial investment but an emotional one.

    I first posted because I was overwhelmed seeing all the space. Taken the feedback that allows us to reuse the space in a better way. (By the way the bathroom was enlarged too to make the walk-way not as small).

    We also toured maybe 50 homes before deciding to build so obviously I am not the expert but I do strongly feel like what we are designing is very much typical for the area so neither myself nor our realtor is worried about the resale value. Still, we are not building a spec house either so Im sure there will be somethings that appeal just to us. As we mentally try to live in the floor plan, I just dont see some of the various pain points the way others see them. For example, I would hate to switch the master closet and bath because I would not want to have my bathroom facing the street.

    I think too, typically we have over 4-12 people at a time and a larger party once a year so maybe thats why I dont think a gigantic great room is necessary. When we do have the bigger parties, its mostly in our backyard. Thats also another reason why Im loving the location of the lounge because its right next to the pool so people can also hang out there and grab a drink from the bar on warm summer days. Alone, the great room's square footage is not a large percentage but when you think about adding all of the other living spaces it does add up.

    To me, no, it does not make sense to rework our entire plan when we love 95% of it. We have been in the design phase long enough that I understand everything is a give and take and with a rather large wishlist, not everything is entirely possible to have all at once. Optimizing for one aspect (such as a large great room) means reducing something else (maybe the prep kitchen, literally half the reason we are building haha). Earlier on, we thought about the elevator but since we had both bedrooms on the main, it didnt feel important. Now that the nanny suite is on the third floor, its added back in. If anything were to change, it might be to optimize the second floor space to have the bigger bathrooms with windows/closets and reduce a bedroom since we are adding another to the third floor.

  • Najeebah
    4 years ago

    I know how much you've invested in this plan. The way you feel is understandable.

    If you want to go ahead, do so, and best of luck.

    If you're not fully satisfied, hear voices wondering what could be, saying you'll never know unless you at least try...
    then here's an idea, if your architect will cooperate.
    Spend just one afternoon, just you, your husband, and the architect. No distractions, and importantly, don't focus on the current plan. List your needs, wants, don't want.
    See what you can all come up with there, in that meeting, scribbling on paper. Don't write your ideas to have a properly drawn up plan. Draw your ideas, to assess them there and then.

    If you still decide to go with this design, fine, you haven't shredded them up. But you explored the option of another design, before deciding.

  • cpartist
    4 years ago

    There have been some great collaborative threads, ultimately with great houses/homes, when new and old posters put their heads together and are willing to learn, listen, and make changes

    I think my home is one that turned into a really good, if not great home because of the collaboration of those who were willing to give me advice. As Becky said, you have to have a thick skin, and be really willing to listen.

  • cpartist
    4 years ago

    I really appreciate all the comments. I truly, truly do. As we have been in the design stage for months (and obviously super eager to really get started and break ground, etc), it is a bit frustrating to hear so many comments of "you need to start over completely". This is especially true when we did sit down and think about what would work well for us and what would not. Honestly its not only a large financial investment but an emotional one.

    Sometimes months is all you need, but sometimes you need more time. For example with my build, we spent almost 9 months in designing our house, sent it finally to permitting and over the next two weeks both DH and I kept feeling that it wasn't right. We weren't getting what we needed and wanted, partly because we were limited by our property size.

    We stopped the permitting process, called the builder and asked him if he'd sell us another 1/2 a lot. He did and then we wound up redesigning our house for another 4 months! But guess what? I'm so glad we did because I now have a really well laid out house that is giving us everything we need and want in a layout that flows beautifully.

    Optimizing for one aspect (such as a large great room) means reducing something else (maybe the prep kitchen, literally half the reason we are building haha).

    No it means reorganizing spaces so you don't have wasted space or redundant spaces. That is the part you seem not to be understanding. It means creating spaces that flow throughout.

    If you want your bathroom first, that's your prerogative. I hate that personally, but I get that many people prefer to have their closets inside the bathroom. Of course then I'd get rid of the window in the closet because windows and textiles don't mix.

  • Cheryl Hannebauer
    4 years ago

    We also did not go with our first house plan for our new build, after having it drawn up & really looking at it; we decided that we had too much wasted space, with hallways etc, so we chose to start over & am happy that we did,

  • rainyseason
    4 years ago
    I too have built a floor plan around a prep kitchen and will do it again if I have the opportunity, so I was excited to see your plan.
    I would consider eliminating the hall between the pantry and prep kitchen so the pantry just opens into the prep kitchen. I agree with the others that the laundry room near the kitchen will not get much use and you may find better uses for the square feet. I’ve lived with my main kitchen/prep kitchen layout for a few years now. If I could do it over, I’d make the main kitchen a little smaller and the prep kitchen bigger. I’ve got a double bowl sink and dishwasher in the main that’s rarely used as we do all the dishes out of sight in the prep kitchen. I would definitely do two dishwashers in the prep kitchen and either no dishwasher in the main kitchen or maybe just a drawer dishwasher for glassware. Good luck, I know all the decisions and questioning the decisions can be exhausting!
  • KD
    4 years ago

    I do like the way drawer dishwashers really open up the box a bit in terms of where dishes can be kept and used - you don’t HAVE to drag stuff all the way to the kitchen and back if you have a high-use area (like a wet bar or snack area) somewhere else in the house for a small number of pieces. And the drawer style looks much more subtle, also, less like you have a dishwasher stashed somewhere. (I’m putting a drawer dishwasher on my ‘in my dreams’ list for the dog area, for washing bowls.)

    Other place I would have some sort of dishwasher, in a larger house? Butler’s pantry, assuming most of my China was dishwasher safe. Why risk breakage and make more work dragging it to the kitchen to clean? (If most of my fancy stuff was not dishwasher safe I would explicitly not add a dishwasher, but I would find the absolute nicest sink I could for washing dishes. Make the right thing as easy as possible to do.)

  • bargainhunter
    4 years ago

    I have only just come across this thread. I am not an expert. But looking at your ground floor plan, have a question. With such small children, do you actually ‘formally’ entertain? If not so much, I would suggest deleting the formal dining room which seems a hike to bring food from the kitchen anyway and put extra space into the kitchen/living/eating area. For such a large house it doesn’t seem to flow openly or seem large enough in those areas to me. You obviously live in a different part of the world to me but here we love to entertain outdoors as often as possible, have everything light bright and airy. And most of all welcoming and comfy. Our focus is integrating indoor/outdoor spaces to have the best of both worlds. Good luck with what you decide.

  • DH
    4 years ago
    with this much space and large of a house,

    I'm more curious as to what you do for a living
  • M Chelz
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Najeebah we did do that when we initially met with her and of course its been a multimonth process of working things out.

    We also spent a lot of time looking at options from a few luxury architects in our area to see what we liked and did not liked once we decided to build. To get a fresh perspective, I could consult another architect but I wouldnt feel comfortable since family is involved.

    bargainhunter we tend to use our dining room fairly often now and I hope that will continue. Casual meals are usually in the kitchen but at least once a week I will cook a nice dinner and we eat it there. A few times a month we have people over and will eat there as well. Im thinking with the elevator, its a bit more streamlined to get from the dining room to the kitchen that it should be less of a problem. Currently its a big hike from our family room to our kitchen but when feeding larger groups in there we havent had any issues. That doesnt mean its ideal just that Im not too worried about the distance since at least there is a butler's pantry in between.

    Someone mentioned adding additional windows to the breakfast area to bring in more light and I like that.

    cpartist I think we are 100% happy with the ground floor. We are trying to see what can be reworked upstairs if we have one fewer bedrooms/baths.

    DH currently I stay home with the kids but my husband has a business in the oil and gas industry. I used to manage a fund but literally quit when I had to take a work call while in labor with my daughter. Never looked back. Now that the kids are older, Im not sure whats next for me but Im sure this house will take up a lot of time and Im looking forward to that.

  • cpartist
    4 years ago

    To get a fresh perspective, I could consult another architect but I wouldnt feel comfortable since family is involved.

    And I believe this is the real problem. Question. Is this your brother's wife or your husband's sister?

  • auntthelma
    4 years ago

    Love the prep kitchen. We have a butlers pantry with a second dishwasher. Absolutely love it.

  • pandtkendall
    4 years ago

    The greatest lesson from this thread for everyone to remember is NEVER commission a family member to do anything of great importance for you. Not a lawyer, doctor, financial advisor, decorator, architect, contractor...... Only hire someone you can fire.

  • PRO
    Summit Studio Architects
    4 years ago

    As an architect, family can be the hardest to work for.

  • lascatx
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    I came to this forum from kitchens where I spent a large partt of my life for a while. My kitchen planning got stopped cold by an injury and then restarted with some different ideas. I tested them and reworked and retested until I was pretty comfortable I had the best possible for my situation and limitations. I held my breath and posted my plan. I asked for thoughts on one specific part but got a lot of challenges in general. I could get upset or defensive, but I realized I had an answer for why each of those things was in the plan as it was and I didn't want to change it. I got reassurance on my one question, and then I knew I was ready to move forward. You have to test your ideas. That is the least expensive and most important part of the process whether you are building or remodeling. Changes only get more expensive and when you cant change, regrets may be forever. Those hard feelings are likely to be much greater than any you may get over a "this is the biggest investment we will ever make and where we plan to live forever - we get once chance to make it great, so I'm sure you can appreciate that we want a double check from someone who hasn't been too close to this."

    Consider that the family member may feel the same away about giving you feedback, criticism or questioning the things you say you want. Guarding each other's feelings is the best recipe for unhappiness for both of you. Ask any first year law student about the number of family matters in their case books.

    If you can't question a family member or get a second opinion now, it will only get worse once you start. If your family member is worth their salt, they will understand and will want you to get the best possible result. Ask the second architect to do a reality check for how this will live and spot problems, not do a redesign. Just make it a team approach moving toward a common goal, not adversarial. If you can't do that now, I'd scrap the project. Seriously -- this is a huge investment of time, money and self. Can you really afford, financially, emotionally and in terms of family relationships to not be happy when it is all done? Now is the time to test nerves, bang heads and check and recheck plans -- not once the work has started.

  • dsnine
    4 years ago

    @lascatx is right on - this is to save you money and frustration. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but every change you make here is a change order you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on later.


    Or worse, that you end up with a home that ticks every box for every dream you’ve ever had for it, and still doesn’t satisfy or live well.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    4 years ago

    "As an architect, family can be the hardest to work for."

    I find that very true when I do work for myself.

  • Najeebah
    4 years ago
    I'm sure Mrs B finds it no easier, Mark.
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    4 years ago

    Have you two been talking??

  • Najeebah
    4 years ago
    I have no clue what you're talking about.
  • imhofan
    4 years ago

    M Chelz, looking at your revised plans--glad you now have access to DR from main kitchen and have gained improved location/function of wine storage without a window allowing harmful sunlight to your wine. But still so, so, so many real design flaws.

    Proportions and scale is off in many areas. For example: Consider your hall to "lounge". SO narrow! The image posted of the beautiful breezeway is approximately 84" wide; your plan is 52" w/doors swinging in and you land in the hall w/a view of a toilet! Such a lost opportunity for beautiful design. Your largest gatherings are pool focused and the bath off the narrow hall is just 6 feet wide--- a minimum for most average sized homes, but not for such a massive building footprint. I hope you have a separate pool house with changing area for parents/children/guests?

    As many have posted--there are still many real design flaws to this home. I hope you gain the courage to seek a new experienced credible architect and designer. You want to avoid making emotional decisions in the process. Haste makes waste.

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