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jess_shumake

Floor Plan Suggestions

27 days ago
last modified: 26 days ago

We'd love to hear thoughts on our house plan, which we are currently reviewing for revisions.

The house is currently 3585 sq ft, with 2125 sq ft on the first floor. To help stay in budget, we're trying not to add square footage as we revise. The front of the house faces south, and we are building about 30 miles south of Nashville, TN. The house can only be 64 ft wide, max, due to lot size and 20 ft setbacks from the sides.

We have 4 kids and homeschool, so we will be using the 2nd bedroom downstairs as a school room, with the plan for it to be an additional guest room once the kids have left home.

All ceilings are 9' tall, except we'd like the living room to be taller ideally, and there is a 10' tray in the master.

Here are some changes that I'm considering so far, and I've made a note on some of these on the house plan:

Change front doors from 2' 6" wide to 3'. Perhaps change height to 8' tall?

Change all 1st floor bathroom and walk-in closet doors from 28" to 32".

Change transom window in master shower from 1' tall to 1' 6" tall.

Change windows above master tub and toilet to transoms that are 1' 6" tall for privacy.

Change master windows from 36" wide to 42' wide.

Considering whether to change island distance from the wall behind double oven from 5’7” to 6’2” away?

On the main staircase, between the living room and dining room, how far up either side would you take the open staircase with railing, and where would you switch to solid wall?

(The staircase on the exterior wall, next to the kitchen, leads down to a large basement tornado shelter, and we plan to put a hidden murphy/bookcase door there, hiding the stairwell.)

My biggest dilemma right now is what to do with the ceiling height in the living room. We wanted to make the ceiling height there taller. There is living space upstairs above the kitchen and eat-in dining area, so those must remain 9'. Will it look odd to have the ceiling change height in the middle of the all of windows and french doors? Should we just leave the living room 9' because of that? If you'd still make the living room taller, would you do 11' or 12'? I'd love to hear what you'd recommend.

Our draftsman is working on the elevations but didn't want to get to far with that, until he saw what changes we want to make to the interior. The exterior will have some mixture of hardie, brick and/or stone. I will post a couple pictures of exterior homes we've liked that are similarly laid out, that we may use for inspiration.





Comments (29)

  • 26 days ago
    last modified: 26 days ago

    @PPF., the front of the house faces south, and we are building about 30 miles south of Nashville, TN. Our draftsman is working on the elevations but didn't want to get to far with that, until he saw what changes we want to make to the interior. The exterior will have some mixture of hardie, brick and/or stone.

    We designed the layout and turned it over to our draftsman who is bringing it to life for us.

    Good point, I will add the other floors and this information to the original post.

    Thanks so much!

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    I've looked at your plan several times, but have found it difficult to come up with ideas since I'm not clear on what can be changed, and it's hard to see the measurements. Looking at your second plan, it's guesswork to see what the old plan was. It would be very helpful to see the original, existing plan. But I'll take a stab at it. What is it that you don't like about the MBR, besides the location of the WIC door? You said you're redoing the bathrooms. Can their fixtures be relocated? Can the kitchen cabinets along the dining room wall be changed? Seems like there must be a better way to do the butler's pantry, which is inconvenient in its present location. Can the locations of the appliances be changed in the kitchen? The great room seems huge--what are the measurements? Do you really need it that large? The reason I ask is that it seems like you have space in it for the dining table at the end towards the kitchen. If so, I'd go back to the 3 car garage, and just attach it to the house. Then I'd rework the present dining room, mudroom, and butler's pantry. How many people/ what ages are living in this house? Is there a reason the mudroom is so large in Baton Rouge, especially with the laundry elsewhere? I assume you need 4 active bedrooms, and wouldn't want to convert one to a study/guest bedroom? Living in the north, I don't know much about life styles in Louisiana. How much of the year are the doors and windows open, or do you mostly close up and use air conditioning down there? Which way is south on this house plan? How wide is the lot, and how close to the lot line are the doors of the present 3 car garage? More info and the original plan will help! Anne
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  • 26 days ago
    last modified: 26 days ago

    So, draftsman, not an architect.

    The pantry is quite narrow. Assuming 12” shelves on two sides, you’ll have about 24” to stand in, to manage the packages of whatever is stored there. Not to mention, the side door takes up counter and cabinet space. What if instead, you swap the door and oven? That way the oven gets a landing zone next to it, or at least a spot for the potholders and thermometer. And consider widening the pantry. and if you must do double doors to it, make them swing doors, and even with the wall, not even with the front of the oven.

    The laundry room, the chutes are probably positioned for whatever is upstairs, but if they can push back to straighten out that wall, and move the door down a bit, you could make the laundry a galley-style. That gives you more counterspace for folding, fixing and cleaning things, science and art projects that need the sink, and more cabinet storage, upper and lower, and no awkward corner cabinet. And the door doesn’t interfere with the mudroom. In fact, consider making it a pocket door, as it will typically be open.

    Would you like an ”away” space, or perhaps a home office?

    Will there be steps from the garage in to the house? In some places they are required.

    In stead of double doors to the patio, do one door with fixed side windows. More secure.

    Why do you want to make the ceiling higher in the living room?

    Jessica thanked bpath
  • PRO
    26 days ago

    It's good that you are considering how changing ceiling heights will look in the living/dining/kitchen space. Any change needs to be well thought out.


    In this image, I'm trying to show in a very general way, what seems off with your plan. Notice how I've aligned some walls where in your plan things seem rather random.





    I might consider placing the master in this position. You get windows on two sides of the living. And in any case, would try to make the house as wide as possible.


  • 26 days ago

    @bpath, yes, draftsman, correction made. :)

    Yes, we are planning 12" shelves on the front and back of the pantry. I feel like too much interior space in a pantry is wasting space, when trying to limit square footage to keep costs down. But I should mock it up, to make sure it won't feel tighter than I imagine. And I like the idea of switching the pantry doors and double oven! We planned for the pantry to be one of those "hidden pantries", where the doors are cabinet doors, as shown below. That's the reason for there being two doors and for them being even with the front of the oven. Thanks so much for the suggestions!



  • 26 days ago
    last modified: 26 days ago

    PPF’s realignment looks much better.

    I just saw the upstairs. Personally, I’m not a fan of long narrow upstairs halls, but at least the kids won’t be passing each other in the hall…because their doors are right at the top of the stairs. I’m not a fan of that, either. a little separation from the stairs is good, especially when the stairs are open to and land in the living room. You could move the door to the one bedroom down closer to the bonus room, and closer to the laundry chute.

    How many kids are sharing the suites? It seems awkward to have them sharing not only bedroom but the private personal bathroom and closet, with the bathroom as the pathway to and from the closet.

    I hear you on wasted floor space in a pantry. That’s why I dislike not only walk-in pantries, but walk-in closets as well. Reach-ins can be more efficient and let the rooms reclaim the floor space.

  • 26 days ago

    @bpath, yes, unfortunately the laundry chute is there due to the layout upstairs, the plan for which I've now added to the post. I with we could make that work though, it's a lovely suggestion! And I have been considering changing the laundry door to a pocket door, as well, good thought.

    The 3rd bedroom upstirs, off the bonus room, is going to be a home office with a murphy bed, for when we have overnight guests.

    We will likely have a few steps into the house from the garage - we won't know how many for sure until they break ground and such. We will likely need to move the door into the mudroom coming in from the left side. I will look into changing the patio doors to a single with windows.

    We've always had continuous ceilings and thought it might feel nice to have higher ceilings in the living room. And I thought it might allow a transom window over the 6' windows, to bring in more light. The living room windows will face north, so I feel like we cannot not get too much natural light!

  • 26 days ago
    last modified: 26 days ago

    Why won’t you know how many steps are needed until you break ground? That seems odd.

    Hey, I have an idea for the chutes: make them a hatch on the wall, that will push them back by a foot! One of the hatches is open to the hall, right?

  • 26 days ago
    last modified: 26 days ago

    @bpath, there are two boys in one room and two girls in the other room. I like how having the closet off their bathrooms leaves more wall space in the bedrooms and more flexibility for furniture layout and such. The reason I feel like it works, privacy-wise, is because the shower and toilet are in a separate water closet, with a door. That still seems strange to you? It's good to get others' perspectives!

  • 26 days ago

    I’m also thinking of when one kid is shaving, or tending to a blemish,, and really wants privacy at the sink, and sibling needs to pass through to get their shirt.

  • 26 days ago

    @bpath, we just bought the land and have brought our builder to it only once so far. We're still working on the plan and don't know exactly how far back from the road we'll place the house yet. (The lot is over 400 ft deep.) The lot isn't perfectly flat, so until we know where that part of the house will be, it's hard to know exactly how high the crawlspace will be, etc. Our builder thought it wouldn't be more than a few steps though, just estimating.

  • 26 days ago

    @PPF., That alignment does look nicer! But we'd have to move the whole right side of the house to the right a few feet, correct? I'm afraid that would add too many square feet, and likely take us over our max width, as we're pretty much already there. :( Unless I'm misunderstanding?

    And the master bedroom placement change is interesting, I'll think about that. Thanks so much!

    So do you think there's a way to raise the ceiling in the living room and it still look nice, or would you just leave it at 9' all the way across? It's hard for me to visualize it.

  • 26 days ago

    In your bathroom, where is your towel when you step out of the shower?

  • PRO
    26 days ago

    It's hard for me to visualize it.


    Your drafter should be providing color 3D images as the plan is developed for the interior and exterior. The program I'm using will let you virtually move around in the model including going up and down stairs.

    Few people can clearly translate a 2D plan to 3D.






  • PRO
    26 days ago
    last modified: 26 days ago

    Is this plan from an architect or a stock plan you are revising? never enter a closet from inside a bathroom.. IMO 9' ceilings are perfect and save a ton on heating and cooling for sure .I only see one kids room and again into bathroom to access a closet never a good idea. Changing anything on a stock plan costs mpney and I mean anything. I have not see new constarction where I like without 3' wide doors in almost all .That could be a regional thing. Making windows wider a PITA unless planned before one thing is done. Same for transoms .I hate tolilet rooms they are just plain silly since no one should be using the toilet when someone else is in the bathroom. Shared bathrooms for kids are never great but no way to have those done with the toilet in the shower space not ever .I dislike walk in pantries and IMO right now id when you hire an independant kitchen designer . I do not think entry to the DR is ideal and I aslo do not like kitchens with no windows . Many things IMO wrong with this plan .

    Jessica thanked Patricia Colwell Consulting
  • 26 days ago

    One might think that the big windows in the dining and living areas will lighten the kitchen, but there is just something about a window in a kitchen! We will be selling a condo, in a building with lots of floor-to-ceiling windows even in the breakfast nook of some of the kitchens. But the one we will be selling is the only plan in the building with a window over the sink, and I cannot tell you what a difference it makes. Is it psychological? tradition? is there a mathematical formula in there somewhere? I don’t know. But a window IN a kitchen is magical.

    Jessica thanked bpath
  • PRO
    26 days ago

    I mentioned above about making the house as wide as possible. Not making the house larger, just wider. Especially across the front. Move the garage left and the dining, entry and school room right. The shaded box is 64" side to side.


    Consider how the stairs cut the central part of the house in two, blocking light and views from the front windows. You also have circulation (think hallway) on both sides of the stair.


    I'm not knowledgeable about tornado shelters, but it's common to stack stairs.




  • 26 days ago

    Just a few comments:

    - I'll abstain about having a hilly site facing south but designing a fully custom home based on a standard spec urban home without regard to the site.

    - The Entry is very messy and loud visually. You walk into a closed-feeling space with 3 doors, one of which is a full bath, and all these walls and corners jutting into your view. PPF has talked about it and doing some aligning.

    - The Dining Room appears to be 7'x6' effectively when you account for door swings and circulation. And although you could do it without, a column is prudent under the corner of the Suite#2 upstairs.

    - A higher Living Room ceiling change would occur right over the french (now single + window) doors. On a broader concept discussion, the way this spec-inspired plan is based with the stair and Living Room is for an "open-to-below" 2-story situation. Yet you have the upstairs very closed off and an almost labyrinth of room layout. What that means, without an open 2-story Living, is you are not as handcuffed with stair and room placement.

    - The side stair I'm not sure if it's a tornado shelter or a basement, or a basement with a tornado shelter. Either way, the stair is very inefficiently placed, ruins opportunity for Kitchen windows, and does not take into effect a hilly site that might have a walkout/lookout basement. An actual basement is considered living space for the last few decades, so circulation should be designed for that use.

    - Drawing elevations and roof concurrently with the floor plans are a critical part of design and the design process for a designer to create or refine the design (yes, a passive aggressive cut at using a drafter not capable for this stage of design). For instance, the roof over the garage is assumed a gable, with a dormer/full height 2-story on the left for the bedroom and storage. It shows a left kneewall in the Bonus Room, which is correct, but the entire right wall is flush with the garage wall below. So if it's another full dormer, or whatever, that makes an imposing high flat wall when you approach the house, and a disproportionate front of house gable end which you would see on the elevations. Or, the roof of the Screened Porch and how that connects to the Dining roof is a bit messy.

    - You have lots of inspiration "vignettes" and have put a lot of time into finishes and Pinterest things. That is typical and is what keeps the interest and excitement going. But your concerns so far are very detailed and intricate, which do not necessarily match the phase the design is in. Meaning, there is a lot of big stuff to improve on prior to worrying about the little stuff. So, I suspect this will be a $450K-$750K build that others will tell you can suck the lifeblood from you. So it might be helpful to get the big stuff (more) right and develop that at a steady pace.

    Jessica thanked 3onthetree
  • PRO
    26 days ago

    I'd consider a T shape with the garage and primary bedroom, laundry and mudroom etc across the top and the public spaces as shown. This, or similar, allows windows all around and gets the living room on the south side with windows on 3 walls.


    Upstairs, I'd try to put the kids rooms across the front (south) side.


    I would try to keep the garage separated from the house as much as possible.


    And yes, I left out some things, but this is just intended as something to make you think.




    Jessica thanked PPF.
  • 22 days ago

    A laundry chute might seem like a fun idea for kids, but how will their clothes get carried back upstairs? Much better to give each kid a small laundry basket they can carry to the laundry room, ready to carry back up with clean clothes. In any case, there is a convoluted path from every bedroom to the laundry room - especially with the kids' closets through the bathroom (which I dislike). I would make an upstairs laundry for the kids, and a downstairs laundry for the parents. As long as you have kids living at home, most of the laundry will be generated upstairs.


    The kids' bathroom/closet configurations are not user friendly. I've used hotel bathrooms with a tiny toilet/shower room - I sure wouldn't want to live like that every day, and you've done it twice! Do you have guests often, or for extended periods? If not, you could probably eliminate one bathroom upstairs, and just have 2 bathrooms opening into the hall. If it were me, I'd at least give the kids separate closets.


    How do you envision the bonus room being used?


    The formal dining room is a long way from the kitchen. If you want to reduce square footage, design a single dining area that is used every day.


  • 22 days ago

    Do your kids do their own laundry? my kids started when they were about 12. Or maybe laundry will be a family affair? It all depends on how you live. I grew up with a laundry chute, and our clean clothes went into each of our dishpans in a cabinet in the laundry room. (also any mail or things that we needed to take to our rooms) The funny thing was the laundry chute was at the back stairs that landed in the laundry room. So if we were headed that way, we were probably on the way downstairs anyway, and just brought our laundry down with us.

    The other thing is this: do you have a laundry routine? like, sheets one day, towels another, jeans, colors, whites, or kids’ and parents’? If the kid laundry goes down the chute, will they let the laundry person know if they are on the last pair of clean underwear?

  • 21 days ago

    do yourself a favor, put full laundry on second floor where kids rooms are. keep it all up there versus lugging clean clothes up the stairs. you have enough room for pne on each floor and forgoe the laundry shoots. more storage room on frist floor

  • PRO
    21 days ago

    Know that when you build a home you have opportunity to do something great that will enhance lives for generations. Engage someone that can do more that provide spaces with a roof over it. The plans you show are ordinary and do not evoke anything special or anything beyond the ordinary. Enhance your life with better architecture.

    Jessica thanked Mark Bischak, Architect
  • 19 days ago
    last modified: 19 days ago

    @Mark Bischak, Architect - I love how you put that. Beautifully said, and something I'd love to do. In looking through some local architects' plans, I don't necessarily see anything great. So maybe I've found unremarkable architects, or maybe I just don't know how to recognize great architecture when I see it on paper. How do I pick choose an architect that will help us accomplish this goal of enhancing lives for generations? Can any of you share a plan that's around 3500 sq feet that is wonderfully functional and beautifully laid out? I'd love to see an example and learn what to look for. Also, if you know an architect in the middle TN area that you think would do a beautiful job for us, I'd love recommendations. I don't want to hire someone to help us and wind up with nothing better than we've already put together ourselves, you know?

    @bpath, @3onthetree, @PPF. Thanks for any plan examples or architect recommendations you have to offer!

  • 19 days ago
    last modified: 19 days ago

    "do something great that will enhance lives for generations. The plans you show are ordinary and do not evoke anything special or anything beyond the ordinary."

    Been gone awhile and see Mark is still providing impractical advice.

    Disregard your budget, timeline, practical considerations, years of ownership, ect... so that you can build "something great" in order to enhance the lives of strangers when you are dead and gone.

  • 18 days ago
    last modified: 18 days ago

    Equating budget and schedule overruns and impractical ideas with great building design indicates a lack of exposure to and understanding of that level of design coupled with a lack of civility.

    What bothers me most about this design is the stair; rather than being a feature, it's just in the way and longer than necessary.

  • PRO
    18 days ago
    last modified: 17 days ago

    Build a normal boring house that does not work well and make B Z happy.

    (thought I would continue providing my impractical ideas)

  • 18 days ago

    Been too busy to come here as often as I’d like but saw this today and thought I’d reply.

    And I’m always a little hesitant to do so with threads like this as it could very well be interpreted as trolling for work. So, to permit me to say what I want to say, let me assure you that I’m not interesting in working on your project, only interest in guiding you (and maybe educate you a little) down a better path towards finding the right professional help in what’s going to be a very expensive endeavor for you with no “do-overs”.


    Can any of you share a plan that's around 3500 sq feet that is wonderfully functional and beautifully laid out? I'd love to see an example and learn what to look for.


    Finding a good architect is not the same for example, as finding the right car. With the latter, you test drive it and, if you like it, you buy it. Your current approach to finding an architect seems to be along those lines…..”Show me your inventory of plans, and if I like one, I’ll hire you!” With an architect, it’s not about finding one with the “perfect plan” but finding one with the insight and creative thinking that will creatively best address your needs as well as your site. I know that’s an intangible that not easily quantifiable but that’s the best path forward.


    I suggest you read my little “Design Notes to Self” to get a little insight to how your architect should be thinking Design Notes to Self (houzz.com) ........not sure if the C&P link worked. If not just go to my "Ideabooks", it's in there. Please note that none of the items relate to plan specifics (like a 3500 sq. ft. plan) but to a general way of thinking.


    There also has to be a high degree of trust in your architect. If not, there can never be a true collaborative effort between architect and client that the best projects are born out of.

    Our best projects are the result of a trusting client. Most often, during our initial conversation, a client will reveal their ability (or inability) to trust others.


    A good architect, when given the chance, will provide a design that can give a client everything they want, but often in a way that is completely unexpected… but that takes faith on the clients part and LOTS of trust.


    Trust is one of the most important ingredients in a successful architectural project. We are not interested in working with people who will not trust us to do what we do best. Untrusting people will often be parted ways with or referred to others.


    So, in lieu of a 3500 sq. ft. plan, look for a creative person you feel comfortable trusting.


    I hope this helps. And the best of luck in your project. Exciting times ahead!

  • 15 days ago

    Consider all your paths through the house, like groceries to kitchen or bedrooms to laundry. What I noticed in your plan is that if your kids are playing in the backyard, it’s a long way for them to get to a bathroom (either walking through most of the house, or walking around the outside of the house to get to the front door.) That’s just one example of something you could discuss with an architect to make sure your house fits your family.