What makes a good floor plan?
This is a tough question. I don’t believe there is a singular answer. In many respects it boils down to personal preferences. Everybody has to consider their own situation, life style, and personal preferences.
I don’t know whether all houses have a theme. I specifically chose my lot because of its excellent mountain views. Much of the livable floor space is centered around exposing the wonderful view within and around the house.
Going around to a few open houses will make it apparent that floor plans are subject to fads and styles that come and go over time. Many of the modern floor plans are much more open than their predecessors. Kitchens and dinning rooms are not walled off the same as they once were. It’s fairly common to find them separated by only a kitchen bar. Great rooms have become more common in lieu of separate living and dining rooms. Hallways have become shorter and almost nonexistent. These combine with a vaulted ceiling and deck to capture the mountain view theme.
Size and Floors
One of the first decisions to made is how large and how many floors the house will have. This decision ultimately drives everything else. I drew heavily on my experiences with my prior two houses.
My first house was a three bedroom, 1500 sq. ft. house on a slab. I found that I dedicated one of the bedrooms almost exclusively to storage. This always felt like a waste to me and left the remainder of the house feeling a bit small. My second house was also a 3 bedroom, but added a loft and a full basement. It was about 1900 sq. ft., excluding the basement. With the additional storage provided by the basement, I found the house a bit too large. There were entire rooms that I rarely entered. Somehow, not entering them doesn’t keep the dog hair out or eliminate maintenance.
My second house also had a partial second floor. This led to outside features that were quite high. Height adds a burden to exterior maintenance because you’re always working on a high ladder. To make matters worse, my extension ladder wasn’t tall enough to reach under the highest points on the eves adding a headache to each task.
Finally, I needed to consider the lot where my house will be built. The lot is sufficiently steep that the house had to be built on a basement rather than either a crawl space or slab.
Putting all of these together, I wanted a main floor that contained everything that I would normally use that was about 1700 sq. ft. Those things that I rarely used, like guest bedrooms, would be pushed into the basement. To minimize expenses the basement would be unfinished. The only finished rooms in the basement will be a bedroom and bathroom.
Master Bedroom Suite
Most important to me in the master bedroom was to create part of the house that was exclusively for me. When entertaining, it can be closed off from the public parts of the house, the living room, dining room, and kitchen. This ensures a private area that guests can be kept out of.
The master bedroom suite is also well equipped with a bathroom and closets to prevent my personal mess from flowing out into the public parts of the house.
The main floor also has a bedroom that will be used as an office. The resale value of houses that only contain two bedrooms suffers significantly when compared to three bedroom houses. Converting a bedroom to office permanently can undermine the value of the house. The office was designed as a bedroom with one compromise. The closet won’t be equipped with closet doors. The idea is that I can add shelving and turn it into a bookcase. When the time comes to move to a different house, it will be a small matter to pull the bookshelves and install a closet door restoring the house to a three bedroom configuration.
Garage and Entry
The garage is a two car garage, but was designed with an extension to provide additional space so that I could put in a small workshop or storage space and still have room to park a second car. Being single, this is not normally a problem for me, but I really wanted a small workshop where I could work without getting saw dust or other debris in the house.
To further help keep the house clean, the entryway from the garage is via a mud room that also serves as a laundry room. This provides a place to take off muddy boots and store coats and gloves.
The kitchen has a small and workable layout. Counter tops and cabinets have not been chosen, yet. Hence, there isn’t a whole lot to be said about the kitchen.
As mentioned earlier, the basement will have a finished bedroom and bathroom only. The rest of the basement will be unfinished. It is being completed as a walkout basement with a small patio. This will allow creation of family room, or similar, should I ever decide to finish it. Perhaps the most unique characteristic is that the temperature will be controlled by a separate thermostat than the main floor. This allows flexibility to save on utility bills while still being able to heat while company is staying with me.