Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Home Design Can you do it?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Someplace between yesterday and tomorrow.
    Posts
    12,570

    Home Design Can you do it?

    My wife has been pushing the idea of building a home out in the suburbs someday (before the last kid gets into Kindergarten is her idea of someday.)

    So for giggles, I started looking around at houses comparable to what we live in now in terms of square footage and features. I have to say I am a bit shocked at the layout as it is opposite from what most historical homes were.

    For example, THIS HOUSE is a newer suburban home and for all purposes, the design is not uncommon. The garage is upfront, and the garage goes into a mudroom and a kitchen. But the most telling part is that it appears that most the activity will happen in the back of the house with the kitchen and great room located back there. The other thing that I noticed (not so much on the example plan but others) is a lack of windows on the sides of the house. What is with that? The house that I live in now has two active rooms up front (parlor and living room), the foyer and my home office are in the middle, and in the back is the dinning room and kitchen.

    If you could design a home to live in from scratch, how would the layout be and why? Personally, I kind of like the layout of the example house.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Remote command post at local bar
    Posts
    4,446
    Home design is always easier said than done. I can do most of it, but I would need help if I start running into large openings where I need an engineer to design a glue lam beam.

    I prefer a great room design where the kitchen, living room, and dining room are all one big area. Something more informal and designed around the way I use a house. Think about how many rooms in your house just don't get used often. I know people who have a formal dining room that is always set, but only used on holidays. That's a waste to me, but not to everyone. I like the idea that the master suite should be separated from the kids rooms. I also tend to prefer one floor houses, but you have to work with the lot you get. Windows depend on where the light is coming from and what my view would be. My house has some pointless windows that don't give you a view and don't let in much light, but move them to a different wall and it would be great. What I always find challenging is where to put the closet space and bathrooms when you do your own design. You want to add more, but then you start getting weird bump outs and just an odd shaped house. Maybe the architectural and design people here know better.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lowering the PCI in the Hills
    Posts
    5,741
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    My wife has been pushing the idea of building a home out in the suburbs someday (before the last kid gets into Kindergarten is her idea of someday.)

    So for giggles, I started looking around at houses comparable to what we live in now in terms of square footage and features. I have to say I am a bit shocked at the layout as it is opposite from what most historical homes were.

    For example, THIS HOUSE is a newer suburban home and for all purposes, the design is not uncommon...
    When my brother built his house about a dozen years ago, he ordered plans from a site similar to what you linked to. Once you go in and place the order, you are actually able to customize quite a bit. For instance, his house is typical of what you would find in a newer suburban subdivision except that it sits on about 30 acres out in the country with plenty of space for a big driveway so he turned the driveway and garage to the back of the house and added plenty of windows on each side.

    My wife and I are slowly beginning to entertain the idea of building a new house, moving to a different house, or massively remodeling ours. While I am no architect and have no skill for a sense of scale or anything like that, I think I have a good sense of what makes good layout for our lifestyles and what we would like and thankfully I have plenty of friends who are architects so if we went that route I would be able to provide plenty of input.

    Personally, if we were designing from scratch, we'd like something similar to a large, traditional four-square or center-entry colonial design with clear delineation between the dining room, kitchen (though an eat-in kitchen would be nice), living room, and family room, and then with added space on the first floor for a master suite, mud/utility room, and a large den/library. The upstairs would be large bedrooms and their bathrooms and closets and maybe a small office.

    It's always nice to dream, right?

    When I am out for my morning run, I am often running through neighborhoods of older million dollar homes and I find myself daydreaming as I am running about how the interior of the house is laid out (when I pass a house that happens to be for sale, I'll often pull up the pictures online afterwards and dream a bit more).
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jun 2011
    Location
    The Woods
    Posts
    1,057
    In 10th grade I took an autocad class. Part of the final was designing your own house. One day, I plan to build it.

    It's a Spanish style single story home with a pool in the middle. My 10th grade mind figured this would be the only 100% sure way to eliminate anyone from entering the pool with out your permission. It had some interesting wall designs in the front living room which opened into a hallway that followed down the sides of the house with access to the kitchen and bedrooms.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Posts
    6,247
    The little to no windows concept is fashionable in areas where homes are jammed in cheek to jowl. You will see this in some of the more cookie cutter levittown type developments of the late 40s as well where the lots were small and windows were placed in adjoining parcels so you would not look out one window and be able to get a clear shot of your neighbor walking around in his underwear.

    Tenth grade autocad!!! Computers were not yet to the point of doing that, we were happy to draw a box on an Apple II. I can remember all we had were t-squares and triangles for drafting... AND WE LIKED IT!!!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Western Pennsylvania
    Posts
    3,277
    I'd design a Craftsman or Prairie-style home with lots of windows and wood work. It would also have a sleeping porch. The master bedroom would have a walk-in closet with built-ins. The kitchen would be big with practical counter space and room to entertain.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    In a 480 square foot ex baseball nacho stand
    Posts
    7,252
    check out this site.

    http://www.notsobighouse.com/box.asp

    Almost had Mrs. P convinced on one of these, but then she decided 'we' didn't want o build.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  8. #8
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Remote command post at local bar
    Posts
    4,446
    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    The little to no windows concept is fashionable in areas where homes are jammed in cheek to jowl. You will see this in some of the more cookie cutter levittown type developments of the late 40s as well where the lots were small and windows were placed in adjoining parcels so you would not look out one window and be able to get a clear shot of your neighbor walking around in his underwear.

    Tenth grade autocad!!! Computers were not yet to the point of doing that, we were happy to draw a box on an Apple II. I can remember all we had were t-squares and triangles for drafting... AND WE LIKED IT!!!
    Ditto! I learned my drafting the old fashioned way with a set of pencils, squares, and triangles. Going to ink and mylar was always a pain and the diazo machine smell still haunts me. I did take some architecture classes where I had to design a house. I ended up with some weird design that got an A. They set a bunch of rules that force you to make odd design choices so I did. I got an A.

    Quote Originally posted by Planit View post
    check out this site.

    http://www.notsobighouse.com/box.asp

    Almost had Mrs. P convinced on one of these, but then she decided 'we' didn't want o build.
    I can't get my wife into anything smaller, but the little one always loved our house in Phoenix that had a nook under the stairs. We put a little TV/DVD thing in there with her favorite blankets and screened it with a curtain and it was her special place to get away from her older, crazier sister.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  9. #9
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Posts
    9,957
    We looked at building a house for the last five years. We could not find land that met our requirements (no people near us ). In the end we have decided to build an addition. I tried using sketchup to create what I thought was a great design. My better half forced me to hire an architect, and since then the plan has been turned upside down... for the better. It really is amazing what you don't think about, even when you deal with approving residential homes all the time. I feel like I am underpaid when I look at her per hour cost, but her ideas have completely changed the way we look at our house. It was worth every penny in my mind. She has made it more efficient and has helped us understand how we use our existing house.

    So with that said, my wife, and her sisters have both confirmed that I cannot design homes....
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
    Registered
    May 2004
    Location
    Grand Rapids, Michigan (Detroit ex-pat since 2004)
    Posts
    4,780

    Home re-design

    On my second fixer-upper house. Both have suffered from poor planning and the "summer cottage" renovation style, where immediate needs are met by tacking on a roughshod "improvement."

    First house: built 1890, a large ground floor room was converted into a bathroom. I'm guessing that it made sense to place the (clawfoot) tub under the exterior window. A subsequent reno swapped in a one-piece full height fiberglass tub/shower unit, which covered up the window. The frame-in work left a strange 12" wide space, and when I got the place this had a couple of unfinished shelves. The bath's interior wall abutted a staircase to the bedrooms, which was 24" wide. In my first year here I gutted the stair wall, hired someone to move the bathroom wall 12", and replace the painted board treads and risers with real stair materials. A few years into it the tub/shower was repositioned to the new stairwall, with a linen closet built into the adjoining space.

    The kitchen was an add-on, with a similarly strange floor plan (the fridge was positioned on the wall between two tall windows, stove in opposite corner, tuna cans supporting the counter cupboards). That got fixed just a few months in.

    Upstairs, the master had a framed closet in the middle of one wall, which created a strange awkward space under the sloped roof. Made that go away, then hung closet shelving along the sloped wall. It's a full-length step-in closet with two banks of hanging space; the clothes don't care about the sloping roof or the chimney.

    Another BR had an uneven row of roofing nails pounded into the wall. Again, a sloping roof, and behind the door to boot. I hired someone to frame in a closet in that space.

    The third BR donated 12" to the revised stairwell, which got bulkhead storage built in above. That obviated the large, poorly-designed (surprise!) closet by the doorway. I tore that out, and hired someone to frame in a small bath in the space. It's really cute, with an octagon window facing the driveway, a tiny wall-mount sink, and a bi-fold door.

    And in a few weeks I'll put it on the market as I move across town to a HUD house that's been mine since Feb. Having resided in drywall dust once, I figured I'd get everything done over there before moving in. That place's biggest issue: the downstairs full bath and BR shared a doorway, which had been enclosed to create bath storage. (Let's use 1" x for the framing members, and reinforced shelving to hold the shampoo and Q-tips.) That left an odd bump-out by the chimney, which was enclosed as a narrow closet (using 1" x and paneling, finished inside and out). Very long, impossible to walk into, what's the point? I de-installed it and walled in the closet, had the tub swapped out for a shower which created a sensible closet space in the BR.

    Wish home renovators would use common sense rather than just cheap-cheap-cheap.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Someplace between yesterday and tomorrow.
    Posts
    12,570
    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    We looked at building a house for the last five years. We could not find land that met our requirements (no people near us ). In the end we have decided to build an addition. I tried using sketchup to create what I thought was a great design. My better half forced me to hire an architect, and since then the plan has been turned upside down... for the better. It really is amazing what you don't think about, even when you deal with approving residential homes all the time. I feel like I am underpaid when I look at her per hour cost, but her ideas have completely changed the way we look at our house. It was worth every penny in my mind. She has made it more efficient and has helped us understand how we use our existing house.

    So with that said, my wife, and her sisters have both confirmed that I cannot design homes....
    Don't feel bad... I even had several pre-architect classes in College, but it only scratched the surface of what would be needed today. If we did build, we would hire an architect to translate my basic designs into something real and practical.

    For me, I would want the best of both worlds, traditional exterior design with an bit more of an open floor plan. I do think that houses are being designed differently these days based on the way people live. For example, when my house was built, the activity was out front, thus the most active rooms were in the front of the house. Today, people focus more of the activity into the back yard, thus most of the inside activity happens in the back of the house. Kitchens are one difference in that their location has stayed the same, but they have become more active than just mom (or servants in the 1700s and 1800s) cooking dinner.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 13
    Last post: 17 Jan 2008, 12:53 PM
  2. Replies: 12
    Last post: 24 Oct 2006, 3:09 PM
  3. Replies: 8
    Last post: 30 Jan 2004, 5:29 PM
  4. Home sweet home....
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 34
    Last post: 16 Sep 2003, 3:37 AM