monwalker

House-plan help

Em House
4 years ago
last modified: 4 years ago

Hi there,
Would love some feedback on the ground floor of our house. North facing is along bottom of plan.
In particular:
- where back sliding doors meet there's structural support - will it look too skinny
- is there enough space for dining table in alfresco given BBQ there. We want a large table.
- thoughts on sunken lounge
- positioning of fire place
- are there too many stairs visible on entrance - we are considering moving stairs up to 1st floor to sit against courtyard where there are currently doors.
Many thanks.

Comments (18)

  • oklouise
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    how many supporting columns will there be across the back? could be more substantial to match the columns in the alfresco.. space for a generous alfresco table could be at least 3.5m deep to allow for the barbq and room for a crowd, the internal dining area feels too long and narrow and is restricted by the fireplace and sunken floor. There appears to be a wide area between the kitchen and living/dining areas that is too big for a walking area but too small for any furniture ...leaving out the sunken floor would allow for more width for the dining area and fireplace and much better use of the wasted space ...There's already an opportunity for different floor levels by having the games rooms at the lower entry level..Consider rotating the stairs to access from near the laundry door instead of near the front and is there a special reason for the unusual position for the ensuite at the front of the house?

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  • Em House
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    Thanks so much for your comments, greatly appreciated!!

    We will make lower alfresco area (near BBQ) bigger. Yes, this is where outdoor dining will go.

    There is one support for doors across back, close to kitchen area. I think we will increase support area to 60cm (same as alfresco support posts). That way we could put some artwork there too.

    Will keep the sunken lounge as something different. It will make the ceiling height for that area 3m40cm which should be lovely.

    We don't mind having space between kitchen and lounge - lots of room for scooters, cartwheels etc...

    We are taking a risk on the ensuite where it is. We requested it there for a few reasons:
    - if bedroom and ensuite swap, would generally require a hallway to connect master suite rooms, therefore significantly decreasing size of ensuite. By reducing size we would miss out on dressing table space on countertops.
    - we have been 'wowed' by ensuites before but never a master bedroom. Hoping this will be a bit of a wow factor. The room has a nice outlook also.
    - more natural light in bathroom
    - less noise from council bin collectors being further back from front of house

    W01 is front entrance. You can't see more stairs coming up from garage (along feature wall), and half stairs are missing from entrance to ground.


    -
  • haephestus
    4 years ago

    Non-professional thoughts:

    - I'm not sure why the alfresco juts out at a right angle to the back of the house instead of running along the length of the house. It seems odd to exit the living area and walk across the lawn to get to the alfresco area.

    - I'm not a fan of the sunken lounge. I think it significant limits your furniture arrangement (especially as there is quite a gap between the lounge and the kitchen) and could become tiresome. But, I also think that such features are a very personal decision.

    - I'm not sure about the position of the fridge given the size of the island bench. Depending upon which way the door opens, you could block the narrow walkway between the fridge and the island bench. I'd be tempted to move the fridge to the back wall (perhaps the corner between the kitchen and the alfresco).

    - It's a personal decision, but the wine room seems to be quite a bit larger than the pantry and you may prefer it to be vice versa.

    - The entrance to the "ante" looks a little narrow, but it might just be the plans.

    - I'd put more hanging racks / shelving in the WIR. It looks like there is an entire wall without any form of storage which seems to be a waste given that the WIR is to large.

    - Once again, it's a personal decision, but I'm not a fan of the ensuite design. I think it takes far too much space from the master bedroom, each of the benches appears to be excessively long and having a bath plonked in the middle of the room would annoy me greatly. I think you could have all the same elements in a smaller space if the design was a little better. If it does remain the same, I would consider whether you want a larger and more luxurious shower to "match" the scale of the rest of the ensuite.

    - I agree with the previous comments about the ensuite taking a prime position at the front of the house, obtaining the better views, light and outlook at the expense of the master bedroom. But, I appreciate that you have reasons for that. I think it would be possible to avoid a "hallway", perhaps by putting the ensuite where the WIR is and making the WIR the entry / transition space between the ensuite and the bedroom? If the Games / Lounge is to be used by small children at all hours of the day, then moving the bedroom further away from that area could help to reduce noise disturbance, etc.

    - I think you'll be fine, but I'd consider furniture placement in the Games / Lounge. With two glass walls, the built in TV stand and the need to allow ease of movement behind and in-front of any sofa, it might be worth playing with the possibilities.

    - There is a lot of "dead" space with the gallery, the space between the dining and the wine room and the space between the sunken lounge and kitchen. I'm a fan of "dead" space as it can make the rooms feel very generous, but I'd consider whether all of that space is a little excessive. For example, instead of the "gallery", you could have a built-in study desk / area along the length of that wall looking out to the courtyard.

    Good luck!

  • Em House
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    Here is the rest of the house as they may help better understand other areas is the home. We have a gently sloping block with lowest point where garage is, hence the basement garage and need for lots of stairs. You will see there is also a study already.
  • Em House
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    With all the dead space between the kitchen and lounge, and between the stairs and courtyard, wine and dining - should we make e.g. The depth of the living area bigger from 6.97m to 8m? Or i guess we could potentially reduce the depth of the living/dining area to around 5m, increase the width to encompass the dining area (which would make a huge rectangle living space of about 5m x 9m), and therefore have the dining area between the living and kitchen. Although would it be too much in your face open plan to have dining table there.
    We could keep the sunken lounge and remove a set of steps needed in the courtyard.

    The alfresco was originally across the back of the house but was moved to:
    - allow more natural light into the living/kitchen areas.
    - grab the northern sun
    - provide us with a square bit of grass for a feeling of space, rather than long narrow patch
    - avoid having a living space directly out from a living space.
    - shortly after the end of the alfresco there is a big (about 12 metres tall) cliff face that starts and diagonally disappears after about another 12 metres to the left. That is, we will have a pool after the grassed area at the bottom left - you can't see as is to the left of the plans.

    We could definitely make the size of the shower and the WC bigger in the ensuite, reducing the size of the countertops slightly. I'm a little worried now about space around the bath. I thought it would be at least 1 metre either side and therefore nothing to be concerned about. What would you suggest should be minimum distance. Or where else could it go?

    The wall where there is nothing in the WIR will have a mirror.

    I did think about walking into the WIR in the master suite, but i also like symmetry and given where the entrance is into the suite, thought it might look a little disjointed.

    Thanks again all, much appreciated!
  • Jan Dobson
    4 years ago
    Aesthetics aside, if considering a sunken lounge, do consider whether it may cause issues for anyone with mobility issues, vision impairment, disabilities, bad backs or joints, running children, when moving about in darkness or while carrying something etc

    Funnily enough, the handrail on stairs can mean they are less concerning for some than offset flooring.

    Good luck with your design. Having lived in literally dozens of houses, including new build, you're doing the smart thing by investigating options before you build.
  • PRO
    Bespoke Home Building
    4 years ago

    Hi Em,

    I've had another quick look at your plans re your ensuite. Have you considered putting the ensuite where the WIR is? It will be much easier (and therefore a little more cost effective) to have it where your other plumbing services are. Yes, then you would need to walk through your WIR to get to the master bed, though the benefit of the balcony and natural light will be lovely for your bedroom. Of course, this will certainly come down to your preference, so I'm just trying to give you some other options to consider.

    If you were to keep your ensuite at the front of the house, from a design point of view, I feel that your bath in the middle of the room is wasting a lot of space. Your ensuite is a large room, but it will be feeling tight because of the bath position. Do you really value two separate dressing table/countertops? I realise you like symmetry, so having a room balanced can be still achieved, without exact symmetry. I suggest that a better use of the front room would be by having the bath on the southern wall and having two basins and countertop in the middle on the northern wall. Freeing up the space in front of the doors will really open up your room and make it feel 'grand'. To make the shower larger, consider swapping the toilet and shower, and losing the cupboard spaces either side of the ensuite door in the bedroom. The shower can then encroach to the dotted line of the cupboard and the WC wall can remain where it is (due to the services/support post). You can either block in the northern cupboard area in the bedroom (a good spot for art) or have open shelves as a focal point when entering the master suite.

    I haven't really looked at your open plan area following your comments above, though my initial feelings are to keep the dining area where it is. For our own home we have a big open space in front of the kitchen and before the living area. Our architect had planned for the dining table to go there, but we moved it. Our three kids (6, 4 & 2yrs) love being able to play there and it's great for when we have visitors - everyone congregates around the kitchen! The segregation of the dining space and use of the fireplace really gives a lot of interest to the area on your plans, so I suggest keeping it.

    Good luck with your tweaking Em. I hope my comments haven't confused you further. Ultimately, just go with what will work for you and your family!!

    Cheers!

    Cathy

    (Bespoke Home Building, Sydney)

  • Bernadette Staal
    4 years ago

    I just have one comment - I would not go for a sunken lounge as it can make that space seem small, you can not move your furniture around later on if you wish to re-arrange rooms and I think of myself falling down the stairs to the sunken section. A huge one level floor plan will always make your space appear bigger and allow for flexibility.

  • Doug Keogh
    4 years ago

    Hi Em, it looks like you are suffering the same problem i had. Plans Vs Visualisation, while i sure you have an architect as this is a very good house layout. Have they offered you 3d walk thru or 360 room views. It is a great way to get a better feel for what your building.

  • Doug Keogh
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Just so you know what i was talking about

    Walk thru

    quick mock up for you


    sunken lounge

  • PRO
    Undercover Architect
    4 years ago

    Hi Em,

    A couple of comments - and I haven't read through everyone else's feedback - so I'm commenting on the things that jumped out to me on your floorplan. Please do not be offended by my honesty.

    • if north is down the page, the games area is on the north-west, so consider what you'll do to protect it from hot, afternoon summer sun
    • there is a lot of 'fat' in this floor plan - like huge areas for circulation through the middle that will of course, sit in your building budget, but not offer a huge amount of functional value to the home
    • at the same time, some areas are being cramped
    • dining areas - both indoor and outdoor, need a minimum of 3.5m clear space to work well for a large table, chairs either side, and circulation space around it - it appears you have that, or almost that - but you also have very generous circulation spaces adjacent to them, which proportionally will feel imbalanced. Create a hierarchy in dedicating space for rooms / zones, not the movement through and past them.
    • For example - if you didn't have the sunken lounge, you'd probably find you have sufficient building width to run a kitchen / dining / living along the eastern edge of the home, and then widen the northern courtyard so it is a useful space (it will be gorgeous in winter) and offers more value to the home overall.
    • there doesn't appear to be any ability to acoustically shut off the living spaces from each other - which may be challenging if being used simultaenously
    • I would have a max of 1200mm between back kitchen bench and island - and also make sure you have the same space in the pantry between shelving
    • the diagonal neck of the space where it steps into the 'ante' to your WC and laundry is very tight.
    • Ensure you've done an accurate budget run on this before moving forward. There is a lot of stepping in the floor plan, which will come at a cost impost.

    Hope that helps. Best wishes with resolving your design.

    Regards

    Amelia, UA

    www.undercoverarchitect.com

  • PRO
    co-design
    4 years ago

    Just a quick observation while everyone else is hovering and squawking about your plan, I think that you need to take a step back and get the overall approach sorted as it doesn't feel right to me.

    If I get it right, and I'm happy to have misinterpreted the aspect, you have North to the bottom of the page with a side boundary setback. If that is correct then why are you planning on having solid blank walls to the North. This home, if built like this, will be cold in winter and hot in summer as it has glazing facing the extremes of the sun being east and west and none to catch the winter sun. Good passive solar design is a must these days and if your designer cant do this then I would start again because other aspects of the home are most likely poorly designed as well.

    I know that its easy to be critical but having had another very quick look at the layout, functionality, you could do a whole lot better.

  • Doug Keogh
    4 years ago

    Thats great point, but we don't know whats beside them. Still even diffused light better than solid wall


  • PRO
    co-design
    4 years ago

    Thanks Doug, but all homes have something next to them and privacy can be obtained in so many different ways through fencing, landscaping and garden structures such as pergolas and trellises etc. It's important to incorporate passive solar design aspects into the design because that doesn't cost anything and will save on the running costs of the home. Once that is done then aspects such as the function of the home and privacy can be sorted out. If their current designer can't do this then it would pay for them to start again with someone who can. If they are driving the design then that's up to them but they are asking for comment which suggests that they are either out of their depth or simply not happy with what they are being presented. Unfortunately by asking for and entertaining all the above comments they are now bombarded with advice which is why I think they should take a step back and seriously consider starting again with a competent designer who will provide them with a stylish home that functions well and incorporates sustainability and passive solar design, all of which will add value to the home, add to the homes comfort and reduce running costs.

  • PRO
    Undercover Architect
    4 years ago

    I'm not sure this is the 'start again' disaster it's being painted to be by @co-design.

    1. At no point have I seen Em disclosed the exact location of her home. So yes, whilst northern orientation and solar access is a core fundamental of good design, in some parts of Australia, northern sun through the height of summer is far from ideal. So, design should always be informed by how the sun moves throughout the day, at different times of the year, so the design can respond to all the movement of the sun (hence my comments above about west-facing glazing).

    2. The courtyard is certainly contributing to the access of northern light into the floor plan, and can't be ignored as an asset (and could benefit from being widened along that northern edge if the dining area is relocated).

    3. The eastern orientation will enable the access of morning sun for a good part of the day. It's a wide frontage that will bring good north-easterly light into the floor plan.

    4. The void has high level north-facing glazing which will bring light into the rear of the games area.

    5. The alfresco area is doing a great job of accessing northern sunlight - being set back from the boundary and with its long edge to the north. If this northern sunlight access concerns you, you could actually switch the internal dining and living with the alfresco ... get a long outdoor area running along your northern boundary, and a kitchen / dining / living sliding past it as well - all with long sides to the north.

    The challenge with posting things in Houzz is that you do get a myriad of opinions and suggestions. Sometimes this is good, and sometimes it's not. It depends on the homeowner ... and some homeowners enjoy it - they can sift and filter and make decisions themselves without having to entertain everything. They can also weigh up the advice they get from pros and non-pros as well.

    I would suggest Em, that you get furniture drawn into your floor plan at scale, and I think it will show up for you where there may be tricky spots to deal with in the home. You also might find you have the opportunity to introduce some more glazing along the northern edge (and I note, you also have an upper floor that sits back from the lower floor on the northern edge - so skylights with appropriate glass in them may be an option too).

    Download the Sunseeker 3D app and see how the sun moves across your site, and how high in the sky it is. If you listen to podcasts, my season 1 covers how to design for each orientation - you can check it out here >>> http://undercoverarchitect.com/podcast/

    Look forward to seeing your progress Em,

    Regards

    Amelia, UA

    www.undercoverarchitect.com

  • Em House
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    Thank you all very much, I appreciate all of your comments, they are all helping sort out the questions in my head.
    A few things that some have said would help:
    - we are in Sydney
    - we love natural light
    - block size is large at 960sqm, but has a small portion that is unusable at back of property
    - width of block is 15m
    - we have lovely views from back of property, if slightly elevated
    - we have double story houses either side of us

    I have started wandering if we need to rethink design, at least consider another option then go with the best of the 2. To this extent I have very roughly marked up another possible option and would really appreciate any thoughts on both. Both options will keep basement garage with study and mud room (not shown). The plan I've sketched might annoy our neighbours on south side due to overshadowing across back of their property from 1st floor bedrooms. The nice view we have will be mostly seen from pool, outdoor covered room, and adjoining games room.
    I've never lived in a long skinny house so no idea whether it's crazy or not.
    Thanks again
  • PRO
    co-design
    4 years ago

    Hi Em,

    I'm not suggesting that you have to start again, only that it may provide you with a better outcome than trying to work with what you already have. By starting with a blank canvas, new possibilities arise. I agree with most of Amelias comments and I'm not interested in getting further involved beyond my general comments. Good passive solar design is now a fundamental of good design practice these days and that was not evident in the single level plan you published. It's not just about northern sun, which can be excluded in summer by a simple roof overhang, it's also about excluding the extremes of the sun from the east and primarily from the west. So you can see that your games room will suffer the hot afternoon sun in summer as it had a lot of glazing facing the western sun. Protect that elevation with a blank wall to exclude the sun or at least restrict the glazing to the west by incorporating either slot windows or high level windows that gain protection with screens or roof overhangs. Open up the games room with glazing to its north and east. Create a small courtyard perhaps with some luscious landscaping or water feature that works for both the games room and the living room.

    Returning the glazing will allow for large glass doors to slide back into pocket walls bringing the garden into the home and blurring the line between home and garden, thus making it feel bigger. By incorporating more glazing to the north you will visually "widen" your home, making it feel less restricted because the room boundary will visually move to the fence line while at the same time providing better solar access during the winter months, which helps warm the home and maintain a year round comfort level.

    Sydney has a mild winter compared to southern Australia. Take a look at some of the homes designed for narrow east facing sites in the northern beaches of Sydney or on the far north coast in places such as Salt. They all have similar siting as you have. They all offer mass glazing to the North and open their living up to the north and the east with pools, terraces and outdoor living areas etc. Don't be scared of experimenting with simple shapes at first. Just pencil in where you want the various functions to be placed and make sure that they work together. Move them around until you think you have the relationship right and go from there. A well planned house is a dream to live in. A poorly designed house will remind you every day that there is something wrong. So invest well in the design because it will pay dividends. Sure, seek help but be cautious because the help can be confusing which is why I have tried to take a general approach to it all rather than squawk over this or that. It's your home and you have to live in it, not me, not AU or OK or anyone else. Keep it simple and have it function like a well oiled machine and you will love it.