I’m Stumped – with the Floor Plan (?)


September 6, 2012 by megmstephens

It’s weird that the one thing I feel confident about – floor plans and design – is the one area where I am struggling the most with this project. I can’t even describe how often I have drawn and redrawn options for the Heartland House. I just can’t decide! There are so many factors. And above all, I want to make sure that the house doesn’t just fit for us, but is attractive to whoever may come along in the future to live here next. And keep costs down during renovation. And not redesign it so much that it’s  unrecognizable. And be comfortable. And, and, and….

I’ve come up with a partial list of requirements loosely based on the things I mentioned above. Heartland House should have:

  1. 3 bedrooms.
  2. at least 1.5 bathrooms, although 2 full baths would be better.
  3. a fabulous kitchen, to encourage gathering and conversation (ideally I would love to have a taller breakfast counter, too, but it’s not required).
  4. a laundry space.
  5. as much storage/closets/etc as possible in an old house.
  6. the original feel of the house, especially in the older portion.
  7. The original door and window locations- I’m not crazy about the idea of moving exterior doors and windows, and I think the house works well on the property the way it is now.

Seems crazy, but this short list is creating a lot of heartache for me in figuring out the floor plan. First, here is a look at the floor plan showing the elements I consider “unchangeable”

My thoughts: this stripped down version of the floor plan – without the kitchen and bathroom – makes me really excited! There are so many possibilities for how to arrange the space. The living room and the 2 front bedrooms are the parts of the house that are in the best condition, so they require only cosmetic fixes. Therefore I’d like to leave those as they are. Beyond that, the door and window locations should stay as they are on this drawing. The center wall between the right half and left half is structural, so it has to be there – BUT doorways and other openings could be placed anywhere, for whatever suits the final layout. And a final small consideration is that the basement is under the back portion of the right side, and I’ve shown a dashed line where the basement stops. This is only a consideration because I have only a little bit of  plumbing experience, and installing plumbing in a full basement is more appealing than trying to figure it out with a flashlight in the cobwebby crawlspace. Not that I’m scared of spiders. Just…willing to leave them in peace.

So, that leads me to the first option for the floor plan:

My thoughts on Option 1: This isn’t a fully developed plan, because I ran into issues with having enough space for everything. By locating the kitchen at the back of the house on the right side, the kitchen could have a view of the backyard. The kitchen could also be open to the area in front of the french doors and include a nice breakfast bar between. The french doors lead to an outdoor patio area in the side yard, so it makes sense that the area right inside of the doors would be used as a dining room. With the patio doors open, the space would flow from inside to outside very nicely, especially for entertaining in the summer. I love backyard barbecues!

But the space remaining on the left side of the house has to fit a bedroom, bathroom, laundry, storage/closet space, and ideally another half-bath. There’s just not enough room left over to make that work, so it’s on to option 2:

My thoughts on Option 2: This is a very inelegant option as it’s shown here, but maybe worth further development. This floor plan uses the same basic kitchen and dining room arrangement as Option 1, but both are smaller. Sliding the kitchen to the front of the house leaves space at the back for Bedroom 3, one of the requirements from the list. It’s a small bedroom. To make the bedroom work, I would have to find space for a closet somewhere and I don’t like that the door to bedroom 3 ended up right next to the back door.

Even though this arrangement isn’t fully developed, I can see that there is room for several other items from the list: laundry space, and a bath and a half. The half bath can be connected to Bedroom 2 to make it a pseudo master suite. Finding room for a closet for coats and shoes in the back area would be icing on the cake. The negative side of this arrangement is that the hallways have gotten excessive and take up a lot of space. One thing that drew me to the Heartland House after walking through it the first time was the simplicity of the layout, with bedrooms along one side and living spaces on the other. This option is much more complicated to navigate walking from the front door to the back door.

Another quick option, #3:

My thoughts on Option 3: This one is getting closer to hitting a lot of the items on the list. Bedroom 3 is back to the left hand side and a small half-bath fits nicely by the back door, making Bedroom 3 the largest bedroom and the pseudo Master suite. Figuring out a closet for Bedroom 3 will be on the list of tweaks if this plan is the direction it goes. The kitchen is open to the dining area, which is my preference. And we can have a breakfast bar counter! The main bath and laundry are tucked behind the kitchen, directly by the short hallway to the back door. The majority of the plumbing is located over the basement! I like this aspect of Option 3. I would still want to figure out if there is a better arrangement for the bath and laundry area, but at a glance I can also get a closet in back there for coats and shoes!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the plans – including new ideas for how to arrange everything! Just leave a comment below or send me an email. If you are an Autocad junkie and want to play around with the floor plan, I can email you the DWG file.


21 thoughts on “I’m Stumped – with the Floor Plan (?)

  1. 3rd Generation says:

    After browsing through that post, my head is about to explode !

    I know you are educated people, but usually a BIG problem becomes a small detail when broken down into manageable bites. Yuu seem to be trying to swallow 6 bites at once here.

    #1. What will this joint eventually be. Your residence or a rental unit or a resale situation or combination thereof ? (If you mentioned that above, I missed it with all the hysteria).

    #2. When planning the layout, refer to #1.

    Rental unit: (me, I love these $$$ ) ex: maximize bedrooms and bath space. Serviceable but not high-end anything. Make sure it is insurable, all-the-way around (fire, liability, etc). Talk to a good insurance agent., then Talk with a local management company that specializes in renting/leasing this type of property. Remember the terms ‘highest and best use’.

    If you’re staying awhile, plan accordingly, but remember, Life Happens (jobs-relocation-family stuff, etc.).

    Pour yourself a drink (or two) and Relax ! You do great drawings and have terrific ideas.

    Straighten out what the place is going to be and go from there. Your going to be successful, its’ just a question of How Much.

    Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s ALL small stuff.

    • megmstephens says:

      Thanks for the reminder on keeping it simple! I do over-think this stuff.

      • 3rd Generation says:

        So, WHATS IT GOING TO BE ?

        -a HOME
        -a RENTAL
        -a RESALE


      • megmstephens says:

        Well, first we are going to live in it. I’m eagerly looking forward to not having to watch a rent check disappear every month, and not having a mortgage to pay either. The timeline for how long we live there is undetermined. Probably a few years. After that, it will be either a rental or a resale. Resale would be my preference, but I’m not against holding on to it if it makes the most sense. So, the non-answer to your question is all three, at some point?

  2. Charlotte S says:

    One quick thought: Looking at all your plans, it feels like an awfully far walk from the front of the house to either of the bathrooms. Think of the poor folks in bedrooms 1 & 2 in the middle of the night.
    My suggestion: Fit a half-bath in the area between the living room and the french doors on the right side of the house. It’d be cozy, but it looks like it would fit all right, and its central location services most of the house.

    • megmstephens says:

      Hmm. That could work. My only concern is not getting a bathroom attached to a bedroom (for pseudo master). And at least for us, the front bedroom will probably be an office or den or something like that.

      • jqlgirl says:

        Sure, but even in plan #3, that space could become another 1/2 bath. It looks wasted to me, since I can’t imagine having a table or the like in front of the French doors.
        As for a closet in the Master suite, could you squeeze down the back hall a touch and use some of that space to add a closet without shrinking the bedroom itself too much?

  3. LOVE number three. The first two, I thought, “Eh, something’s off…” but the third one is great.

  4. Dani says:

    I lby far would prefer option 3 – as a landlord and homeowner, that is the one I would buy. I don’t want anything else without at least a pseudo master suite.

    Have you already outright decided that laundry cannot go in the basement? It would give you more storage, and maybe more ways to find a closet?

    • megmstephens says:

      Argh. My earlier reply did not link to what I wanted! I was trying to link to the post about poo-buckets. The basement is really more of a cellar, and to use it for laundry would mean putting in stairs of some kind, I think. That would take up a lot more room than just a laundry closet. And its not a very pleasant cellar space.

  5. chemistay says:

    Followed you over from the MMM forums and have enjoyed watching the progress! I agree with the others that you should add a 1/2 bath in between the living room and french doors. How would you feel about making the full bath a sort of Jack and Jill bathroom in between bedrooms 2 and 3 where each bedroom opened into the bathroom? Then I’d use the kitchen layout from option 1 and extend bedroom three all the way to the outside wall. There’s no reason it can’t have a door to the outside. since you have two other entrances to the house, right?

    • megmstephens says:

      Hi! Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you are enjoying the blog. I’m having a blast working on the house and writing about it.
      I’m not a big fan of having exterior doors in bedrooms, personally. And that door is where the sidewalk from the detached garage leads, so it’s currently set up to be the primary back door.

  6. Frances says:

    I’m not sure what all the 1/2 bath or 3/4 bath things mean, so sorry if I’m missing something. But why do you have your toilet in the same room as your bath (in “full bath”). Is that an American thing, or something associated with older houses? I’ve only ever seen that in ensuites.

    In Option #2: Is it possible to move the door to Bedroom 3 so that instead of it being in the middle of the room, can it open flush against the wall (kitchen wall)?

    Overall, I prefer Option #3 as it seems more simple.

    • megmstephens says:

      Hi Frances. Yes, that is an American thing. A 1/2 bathroom is just a toilet and lavatory, a 3/4 bathroom is a toilet, lavatory, and shower. Where are you from?
      Thanks for the input!

  7. ToughMother says:

    In #3, I’m a bit unclear where the fridge would go in the kitchen layout…. main-bath wise, what’s happening in the far right corner? Good place for a stacking w/d and then more storage space avail back there. Dining area space seems disproportionate for the house and a bit tricky to use… it’s partially the hallway and then with the french doors on the other side… well, the traffic patterns seem incongruent with a nice table placement… all of that said, I think #2 and #3 are on the right track with a room at the back of the house rather than stretching the LR/DR/kitchen along that whole side…

    …another follower since finding you on the MMM forums.

    good luck!!! nice progress!

    • megmstephens says:

      Hi Toughmother. Love your username. These are just quick sketches, really, that I did in AutoCad. So they are not fully complete or thought out, even though they look kinda fancy and finished. I was just trying to get some sense for where the rooms would fit together. Thanks for your comments, I’m working up another post with revised floor plans soon.

  8. Andy Rebennack says:

    Just remember that in Indiana to consider a room as a bedroom, you must have a window AND a closet. Without either one, all you have is a bonus room/den.

    Good Job! Everything looks like it is coming along nicely.

    • megmstephens says:

      Thanks Andy! That’s a good reminder. I will make sure to have closets in any room I want to list as a “bedroom” when we put it up for sale. These were really just very fast sketches, so i do have a lot of revising to finish up. Stay tuned!

  9. Corey says:

    In option three, if possible I would move the rear exterior door about four feet to the right, and then add a shower to the ensuite bathroom. Huge difference!

    Also living in a small house myself, definitely go with a stackable laundry unit. They save sooo much space and at the very least you can put a cabinet in the leftover space.

    Love the blog!

  10. […] lots of thinking about this, I’ve finally come up with a plan that I like. I had to sacrifice some of my goals, but I think you will agree – the plan I came up with is pretty logical and flows […]

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