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Thursday, January 22, 2009

site plan update

Here are the site plan and interior els I was working on last week. At this point, I'm pretty much finished with this plan, other than trying to find someone to build it. I'll be using this blog to post other layouts which generally seem to fall into the same sort of criteria I used here. 4 sided design, and a plan which attempts to use all of its site- invites people to explore all the site has to offer. I've been talking with Christopher about Lutyens and posted a rendering of a take on Deanery Garden on the CORA facebook site. I did this for an article that got carried in the Builder/Architect magazine a couple of years ago. I'll post up the graphic used for the article here next time.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's been a week

I've not been idle. I worked out my fireplace-Tv elevation and am quite pleased. I have given up on a wall mounted solution. Everything fights with the majesty of the fireplace. Brookstone makes a console with a lifting mechanism, and for me, that is the way to go. I just don't want to see the stinkin' TV all the time in my single living space. I post up the sketch later.

I've also been working on my site plan. The space just outside the kitchen has become my barbeque area- defined by a bit of low wall. The back yard is planned for a future 24x24 workshop in the back corner behind the drive. A small potting shed defines the other back corner. The Patio off the living space has an organic shape- there's a pond with a little stream
running alongside a path in the side yard. The front is reserved for BMP water recharge areas, and the center part of the back yard contains a 40x50' croquet court (minimum suggested size)
again- I'll post photos of the sketches next time.

Actually, doing this little project has reinforced these themes in my current work. 4 sided design, using nothing but natural materials in a way reflecting the assembly of mass. Allowing the house plan to interact with all parts of the lot. I've gone back to my archives and dragged out a couple of other efforts from the past which can be adapted to these tenets. I'm not going to insist on the rear garage. I understand that a front entry garage has its time and place. I'll post up some of these results next time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

recent thinking

I've enjoyed the feedback from the 2 Chris's and David. Seems like there's a couple of issues for further pondering, not only in this plan, but in general.

1st has to do with the degree of engagement from the kitchen to the living space. We all know that current practice is to thrust the one upon the other. 50 years ago, these were kept separate. Open planning has been adopted whole -heartedly by the builders, not only because the buyers ask for it, but also because it makes the respective spaces feel larger and thus more valuable. The kitchen has become the living room. Cabinets are now crafted from the finest cherry like the living room furniture used to be. Tops are granite. Our homes hemorrhage money in the kitchen like it grows on trees. The hobby of eating has supersized America to an alarming degree. Its apparent that my preference is to turn the kitchen back into a work space and recapture the living room as the primary activity area. Lets stop hanging around the island eating salty snacks and sucking down adult beverages. I know that my wife is never comfortable having the kitchen so exposed. She wants her own domain, away from the peanut gallery, where mistakes can easily be hidden, and messes can exist without disrupting the entire household. She can't be alone in this ( I don't cook, I just show up when I'm called and clean up after)

2) I've been working for a while to be sure my main living spaces can comfortably house both fireplace and TV without resorting to putting one above the other. Usually I do 2 focus walls with an L shaped seating arrangement opposite. I'm not wild about corner fireplaces generally speaking. This plan places the fireplace and TV side by side, which is usually not as successful. I've been working on developing elevations of this long wall to be sure I'm happy with it. I'll post these later on. Love to hear other thoughts on this issue.

3) I'm quite comfortable with long narrow rooms as a main living area, but I suspect others are not. The bowling alley feeling is easily mitigated by multiple entries and cross axis as well as window bumpouts. My own 100 year old house has these and it works quite well. It actually helps a lot of furniture options by creating 2 separate activity areas. Recent design trends, as voiced by Chrisopher have gone to wider, more square rooms, where furniture can "float" Tji floor systems with easy 20' span capability, and a steadily growing s.f. budget has allowed this. I'm wondering if now, in a new age of a more prudent economy, if long narrow rooms will become more in vogue. Time will tell. I wonder what other designers think.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


left out the attic plan- here it is







here's a complete elevation and plan set
Interesting comment from David. Wondering what's driving the bus in my thought/process. I started out here wanting to show how a builder mentality perspective typically drives a design. I started with a budget, then a s.f. goal, then a basic size/shape to accomplish my s.f. goal. Somewhat arbitrarily I settled on a cruciform plan with short legs front and rear. Not that arbitrarily, in that I wanted to maximize length- for curb appeal, but give myself some massing options to get a variety of elevations.

I then started my Parti with the idea of maximizing my views through the house to focus the experience back into the lot, which I conceive of as being totally planned, especially the side yard spaces. (I mentioned in passing my conviction that it is the lack of side yard planning which makes the typical subdivision experience so distasteful). That prejudice indicated a garage placed to the rear of the plan, a driveway running down the side, which is to be developed as a sort of private street/play area. This is what drove the kitchen to the side of the house.

For practicality sake- I grouped the vertical circulation at the cross axis, knowing that that will maximize my room options on the second floor. At this point, I also knew I wanted to make use of every square foot of space I could, including attic and basement, just to see how a small plan in s.f. could be made to compete with the typical builder's model. By this time, with my 400,000. budget, I knew the competition would be 500 s.f. larger than my plan.

Since then, the plan has been evolving as issues need to be resolved. I have held on to the concept- 3 bay house with 14' sides and a 12' center which projects front and rear. I started at 2250, but have grown up to more like 2500. Because my plan is by nature somewhat flexible within the constraints of its concept, my latest rendition is laid out the way I would live in it, and modified to suit my furniture. You could do the same for your needs.

This puppy is easy to build. I put some of the 1st floor as slab on grade (could be a crawl space) My framing spans are held to 14' less the wall space. I kept my windows simple. There's really nothing more difficult here than what any production builder can do with his regular subs.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

worked the plans. The only disatisfaction I have at this point is the size of the dining area in the kitchen. I really wanted this to be big enough for a decent sized table and walk around space, but it's just not there. The logic of the plan allows me to easily add length to the front in any of my 3 bays, and there is always a solution by adding s.f.
Chris had a couple interesting comments, like moving the kitchen to the flex area and the flex area to the front in the nook space. Nook would go to kitchen. This would involve the kitchen more with the living space, but that's not the theme I have set up here. Good grist for a future plan however.
The site development plan is really a major part of this conception. I'm seeing the driveway as a sort of personal "street" and I like the idea of the kitchen window overlooking this area.
I'm not yet showing the developed attic and basement layouts, but these as well have gained important status in my little plan.
The basic house is just over 2300 s.f. plus another 100 for the upstairs laundry, and maybe 500 in the attic less the stair volume. my basement office, playroom and bath will add another 500-600 s.f.- I'm at 3500-3600 s.f. living space total. I've made yet another mcmansion. But my attic and basement space is relatively cheap, and I think the result will compare favorably to the builder product in the marketplace.

new floor plans




Thursday, January 1, 2009

some quick els and further thoughts


I pulled 3 elevations out of the archives and adapted them to this plan. There are lots of opportunities here in a variety of styles.
Some good things about this plan cost wise are 1) the 14' framing module allows easy floor framing with 2x10@16"o.c.- still the least expensive alternative. 2) the attic can be framed with 2x8@16" o.c. (13-2 max span) so the bonus space in the attic won't require 2x10's. 3) 2x8 rafters easily work for these short spans. 4) the stacked bearing walls will give me plenty of opportunity to brace my hips to the fdn. without extra flush beams.
Other thoughts to be developed later are :a walk -up basement entry under the nook window taking you to an at-home office in the basement.- direct access from the driveway.- a kids playroom in the basement under the flex room.- Living room to be done with radiant floor (slab on grade)- hw baseboard heat.

Like David, I couldn't get this out of my head, so I played with the 2nd floor last night while waiting for the ball to drop. for a developer, it's all about the master suite. To pick up the extra space over the garage, the master has to go on that side. His/her closets, compartmentalized w.c. big shower and tub are all requirements. Better think about where the optional f.p. is going, and be sure that there are no roof structure issues with providing volume in both the bedroom area (tray ceiling) and bath area (slope with skylite).
I usually try to place closets as sound buffers between bedrooms. Need linen storage both in the hall and master bath. I wanted to provide a desk area on this level to make up for the deleted 1st floor study. The way things worked out, I can easily get another set of stairs up to an optional attic area. with some dormers in my elevation, I can keep the stairwell open and spill light down through the second floor into the foyer. That should give the buyers something to think about. Gets my s.f. out of whack, but what the heck, mortgages are at an all time low. You may as well take the optional space behind the master bath. It it were me, I'd put the laundry in there and just let the mud room be a nice back hall entry, with beadboard, cubbies, benches, etc.- figure 10x12 for the closet, 40x12 in the attic- less the stairwell-maybe 400s.f.- I'd be up to 2770 s.f. total- The attic would kill my tray ceiling in the master- but I'd still vault the bath. We'll do 9' second floors- so I could still do a perimeter drop in the master for a little extra sex.