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Floorplan Rules: Where To Put All Your “Rooms” For The Best Layout And Flow (+ A BIG River House New Build Update)

The difference between a renovation and a new build is similar to altering an antique wedding dress versus having one custom-made. They both have extreme pros and cons. For instance, the vintage dress might unravel once you start unstitching the threads, possibly even disintegrating in your hands, but even that dust has so much history and soul (oh dear, not really selling it here). The custom dress on the other hand will likely fit you like a glove if done right, but the beginning concepts for it might be daunting and getting it perfect isn’t always easy in the planning stages – and if you hire the wrong seamstress it could be a disaster. Taking the time to do something ‘new’ means just that – you need to do something NEW (or else just buy one off the shelf) which is why architects are so hell-bent on moving design forward, not recreating an older style home. And I get that and agree. The vintage dress has a lot more risks and guess what? It can cost just as much as the renovation (true story! hahahaha!!!), but you hopefully have a historical and sentimental connection to it (plus it is hopefully better for the earth). The new build/dress requires finding the best players to make sure that if you are starting from scratch it will be worth it. Designing both a new build and a historic remodel at the same time is a true new level of education. I LOVE MY JOB right now because I’m learning SO MUCH. And right now if I had to choose between living in Ken’s new construction river house or our vintage remodeled farmhouse it would be a real tossup. Ultimately we want chickens and alpacas, so farm it is. But you’ll see through this process the benefits of building something new.

First Off, Where Are We At With The River House?

We finished the initial floor plan months ago in order to even submit for engineering and thus permits to start, but I wasn’t sure how to blog about the floor plan in a way that is useful to others. Every new build is different based on the location (ours is a skinny long lot ending in a river), the needs/size of the family, and of course the homeowners budget (normally calculated per square foot). So just showing you the final floor plan didn’t seem very helpful nor universal. But then I realized that while Annie Usher (Architect), Max Humphrey (co-designer), myself (Lady Emily Von Henderson) JP Macy (contractor), and Ken/Katie (Bro + SIL) were pouring over the final floor plan details there were some really good takeaways for any new build or extensive remodel in regards to floorplan planning. Quite plainly the question is: WHERE DO YOU PUT ALL YOUR ROOMS FOR THE BEST LAYOUT AND FLOW AND LIFE? It’s both so basic and so broad but that didn’t stop us from coming up with some solid tips. And yes these are tips based more on personal lifestyle than they are architectural rules. I had Annie weigh in on them and she absolutely agreed. Your architect will of course know to put a bathroom off the main bedroom, but do they understand the needs of your family enough to know exactly where the all-important mudroom should go????

First off – I really like doing this new build – FAR MORE than I thought I would. To be fair, Annie Usher, the architect, is doing the bulk of the work thus far (planning, permitting), and Max Humphrey is heavily involved in materials and elevations, but it showed me that if I were ever to do one (which I will now) I would just hire a dope architect. They are the ones that do all the intimidating stuff – engineering, permitting, schedules, surveys, etc. And as a designer/homeowner you have SO much more control over how your house ‘works’. There are days where Ken/Katie and Brian/Myself want to trade places – I see how they will get EXACT home what they want, while they see that living on a flat farm will be full of charm that is hard to put into a new build. But the #1 thing I’ve learned is that the new build process is much more difficult at the beginning than a remodel, but once you have the permits you can GO FOR IT with FAR less unknowns.

So here are our floorplan rules, no matter what style or age of home you have:

The Mudroom Should Be Between The Car/Garage or The Back Entrance And Ideally Also Near Kitchen

I loved where it was in the Portland Project (above) – it was right off the kitchen, with its own entrance, close to the main entrance (but further down) and inside it was near the garage so if they came in via the car they could quickly pop into the mudroom and drop their garbage/shoes before entering the living areas.

And oh how I wish we could have done this at the farm, but we would have had to sacrifice the best natural light in the house and given it to the mudroom – something we simply weren’t willing to do (we wanted it for the kitchen and our bedroom). For Ken and Katie’s house, since it’s elevated due to flood planes, their first floor starts on top of the garage, so the mudroom is at the top of the stairs after you park in the garage. There is also an exterior entrance so if kids are playing outside and muddy/sandy they can go around the house from the river and straight in the side (and clean off in the outdoor shower).

This will just make the flow and your house better and more importantly, cleaner:)

Ideal Bedroom Locations – Near Kids Or Your Own ‘Wing’?

I think universally people want to be close to their kids when they are sweet and little but farther away when they are gross teenagers. This makes the new build process a bit more difficult as you have to predict the future, but I love what Annie came up with for them – same floor (the second) – but at opposite ends for some privacy. This is obviously a lifestyle question only you can answer – how close do you want to be from your kids? I’d recommend AT LEAST a bathroom in between or on the other side of the whole house – you don’t want to actually share a wall with your eventually grown kids (nor do they, you). So this was a high priority that they are the perfect distance away from their kids – enough for privacy, but not so far that they feel nervous.

Us on the other hand at the farm, oof, we are NOT close to our kid’s rooms and we are very curious how this is going to go down. We think they’ll get the dogs to sleep with them (our kids get “scared” 3 nights a week). Do I wish our bedroom was closer? YES. But there was literally no way to do it UNLESS we forewent having the bedroom and bath of our dreams, and frankly we weren’t willing to do that with this extensive of a remodel. We are playing the long game in this house and it’s going to be fine. But if I were building new I sure would have done it differently (but I think we’ll be psyched in 7 years).

Family Room Near Kitchen (But Not Too Close To The TV)

The pandemic changed the ubiquitous love of the open concept – people are wanting more separation. I still love the kitchen being open to a hang-out room so you can feel connected to the family pre and post-dinner, but not TOO close to the TV. The reason is doing dishes y’all. It’s REALLY ANNOYING to hear someone bang around doing the dishes 7 feet away from your head while you are trying to carefully rewatch Felicity for the 12th time. Our mountain house has a great setup – the family room/kitchen are close, but around a corner and the sound doesn’t carry. Another option is to be able to close off the doors or of course have a separate TV room altogether, away from the family room. There are just so many times when you want to send the kids off to watch something so you can do the dishes in peace (how sad?) and there is nothing more enraging than your kids complaining about your loud dish cleaning while they watch The Thundermans. NOTHING. It makes me want to chuck a plate at that dumb magical rabbit’s face. So just think about creating some sort of separation to the TV, while still not caging yourself in by yourself if you like cooking/cleaning (which I do).

For this home, the kitchen shares the space with a family room (no real formal living room in this house) but there is the rompus room/media room at the other end. Basically, they have options when it comes to wanting to hang or needing some TV/kitchen cleaning separation.

Washer/Dryer Near Bedrooms

photos by sara ligorria-tramp | from: how i transformed an awkward space into my dream work loft

This seems obvious but back in the day people put washer/dryer in the basement mostly for water/plumbing purposes, which makes sense. But these days there is more trust in the technology and the pipes to go ahead and throw them near the bedrooms even if on the second floor.

Our laundry closet at the mountain house was put in secondary to our larger laundry closet on the first floor (where it originally was). IT IS AWESOME. ALL of the clothes – clean and dirty – belong on that floor, as well as all the sheets/towels so there is minimal schlepping. If you are building new or totally remodeling DEFINITELY think about putting your washer dryer near the bedrooms.

Here are Annie’s thoughts: “For washer and dryer, yes usually up by the bedrooms, but know yourself and your environment. Muddy or sandy zones, you might want to think about having W/D in the mudroom location to make sure you are not tracking sand/mud through the house. Or in these locations, try not to have carpet between the backdoor and the laundry room so the floor is easier to clean. This comes from someone who lives in a very very very muddy family:)”

We are doing it at the farm…

And at the river house. Can you tell we’re fans?

Powder Right Off Entrance, Yet Tucked Away And Especially Not Too Close To The Dining Room (Ahem)

photos by sara ligorria-tramp | from: 6 key elements to create the exciting & fun portland powder bath

Y’all were up in arms about the location of our powder room at the farm and while it’s not “ideal” it’s gonna be totally fine. Listen, I think it’s rather old-fashioned to have the need for a more ‘public’ washroom for ‘guests’. This need was for back in the day when people would invite and entertain strangers (WHAT? gross) who didn’t know their way around your house. So indeed a more centrally located and obvious powder was the WC of choice. Ideally, it’s in a hallway off the living room and kitchen – central but tucked away for privacy. What you don’t necessarily want is right off the dining room or kitchen. We’ve all been on either end of that situation and even if they are your brother or a stranger, I’d go for tucked away over ‘central’ any day.

Annie’s powder room thoughts: “Powder bathrooms need privacy. I try to make it so that the door of the powder bath can not be seen from any of the major rooms like the living room, dining room, or kitchen. Nothing like walking out to the bathroom and the entire dinner party is staring at you. Or when you have guests over and your kid goes to the bathroom without shutting the door.”

Dining Room (Or Family Room) Not In Western/Afternoon Light

Have you ever had a room you couldn’t use during certain times of the day – the times when you actually really wanted to use them? THIS IS WHY YOU HIRE AN ARCHITECT. Architects (and now me) think about where the light is going to blast into at all times of the day, throughout the seasons and place rooms accordingly (along with maximizing the view and general good flow). You can’t avoid it all of the time (especially in a renovation, like ours) but what you don’t want is hot western afternoon light blasting the areas that you want to sit during that time – like the family/hang out room or especially the dining room. Having to shut the shades on a sunny day because your architect didn’t shield you from the elements is a real bummer. Our living room faces west and there was nothing we can do about it, but we made sure to tuck our dining nook into the corner that will be shaded by the roofline. If you are doing a new build – make your living areas face north or south, not east or west.

Avoid The ‘Pass Through’ Living Room

For a lot of us that are renovating older homes there is no way to totally reconfigure your layout based on existing staircases, foundation and well, the OG footprint is likely too expensive to move all walls, electrical, plumbing, entrances, etc. There were so many times at the farm I wished we could pick up our house walk it 100 yards west turn it 180 degrees and face it south or north (better/softer light), but that can only be realized through the hiring of the strong Encanto sister which has gained so much popularity through the success of her movie that she is booked years in advance. We are happy for her! But if you can control it, give yourself space to walk properly behind a sitting area to get from one room to another, either through a hallway or bisecting an open space. In this new house the hallways dead end in between the kitchen and the living room – thus disrupting neither area, and providing excellent flow. I’m very jealous. Trying to layout a living room that people will have to walk through to get literally anywhere else is HARD.

Annie’s thoughts on the matter: “For me, one of the big items in a house is the different kinds of circulation. And the circulation to the kitchen always seems to need to be as efficient as possible, as you are taking that route more than any other, and it is usually more purposeful. I like to avoid going through other rooms to get to the kitchen, and I love the hallway to the kitchen. This frees up the furniture layout in the living room and dining room, and gives you a quick route to the kitchen, which we all want.”

There you go. New or vintage, thinking through these kinds of things will only make your life in your home better. Are there any layout plan decisions you made that were awesome (or not so much)? Let’s talk about it. xx


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125 thoughts on “Floorplan Rules: Where To Put All Your “Rooms” For The Best Layout And Flow (+ A BIG River House New Build Update)

  1. Super helpful considerations, thanks. I’d be interested in learning why you prioritize daylight in your bedroom, which presumably gets heaviest use after dark anyway. Is it for the fancy bathroom getaway? Im always curious how different families use different spaces in their homes, and yours in particular because you have designed it specifically for yourselves (subject to limitations that you mentioned like foundation, walls, etc.). Thanks.

  2. Floor plans are basically my passion. We are currently living in our second home and my husband and I have made the decision we will probably build because houses are money pits and we are tired of investing in spaces we don’t love. Floor plan and yard are our most important criteria. So I’ve been working on our dream home floor plans, so fun! One of my biggest criteria is to have the mudroom connect to the garage and backyard. We are in MI with lots of different weather, we are outside a lot and we have three dogs. Currently everyone traipses through the kitchen and dining room to unload all their gear into the mudroom. It has become a daily annoyance for me. We also want a butlers pantry with a sink and storage and my husband thinks that should be connected to the garage for unloading purposes. In my latest draft I ended up making one large pantry/mudroom. It’s different but really so convenient to have a sink in the mudroom and all that stuff comes in the house from the garage together anyways. Finally I created a bathroom with a shower that’s accessible from the yard. We host a lot in the summer and I would love as a guest to be able to easily take my little ones potty as well as rinse them off before heading home. Outdoor showers aren’t feasible here in MI. A final thing is we have to have a walk out yard from the main floor. I also created our outdoor kitchen to have a covered roof attached to the house so I can go out and grill without getting wet in the rain. So many things, it is endless trying to create. But there are things like the mudroom/garage/backyard that I can’t believe aren’t mainstream and could revolutionize house plans. But I know lifestyle is a huge component to floor plans. I love this discussion!

    1. We are in the midst of a renovation and our mudroom is between the garage and kitchen. The mudroom had an outside door that we removed to create a banquette in the kitchen. Our builder pointed out that the garage is basically all doors to the outside so we can easily go from mudroom to outdoors through the garage without needing a separate door. I thought this was a great point and it really frees up the floor plan.

        1. Hi Shannon, I think that means they don’t dig your plan or hit it by mistake. Don’t lose a wink on it though, you do you. I usually save the down votes for the nasty comments who missed coffee happy hour.

          1. Thanks Erin, I know it’s meant as a “disagree,” I was just curious what someone found objectionable. If there’s another perspective on the benefit of outside mudroom doors, I honestly want to hear it! I too am a floor plan junkie! So if whoever “minused” me is reading this, please elaborate!

          2. Hi Shannon…Not everyone is “on the bell curve” bump in the middle when it comes to interpersonal skills.
            It’s not about you. It’s about them.
            I gave up thinking about ‘them’ a long time ago.
            You and your comment are fine.

      1. We had a million floor plan iterations and I was convinced we needed a back door in to the mudroom (plus one to the garage and one to the kitchen/house). Doors take up so much space though! Once I accepted that the garage was basically a exterior door like you said, it got a lot better.

        But we did include a “wet room” as our powder. It’s in the mudroom, but immediately off of our front door, sort of, and is all waterproofed with a floor drain and has a showerhead for either full showers, foot rinsing, kid hosing, dog washing, whatever!

        1. I don’t understand what you mean by having a wet room as your powder inside your mud room. Maybe I don’t get the jargon. Can you please explain?

      2. We have had it both ways, door in the mudroom and without. Our power went out every time it stormed and I always appreciated the door in the mudroom that we could use when the power was out and the garage door wouldn’t open.

    2. I remember reading (20+) years ago in Real Simple (I think) about a house that had a walk-in shower with a sliding door out to the backyard, so muddy kids/dogs/whoever could come straight into the shower and rinse off, and I thought that was so clever!

  3. I agree with most of this. I have a historic (for the US) home that we renovated and there were just certain things I couldn’t avoid doing that are somewhat undesirable. Our Powder Room is right off the Kitchen (there is a “buffer” hallway/entryway, but still… I don’t love it) and in striking distance of the Dining Room (no direct sight lines though). Ugh, we just laugh and call it our ‘Bitchen’. Also, the lot is super long and skinny so when planning the Family Room addition, it was impossible to avoid walk through rooms. BUT our house is very charming, older architecture in in the one of the best neighborhoods in our city (IMHO), so it’s absolutely worth the tradeoffs. These are great things to think about though – I really enjoyed this blog post. Thank you!

    1. We have an older house, and chose not to add a powder room to the first floor! One contractor tried to talk us into doing it right off the kitchen (losing our pantry and french doors to the backyard in the process). The only other option would be to cut off part of our dining area, and have the entrance to the bathroom super near the table.
      My MIL thinks we made the wrong decision but otherwise I don’t see any problem with people going to our lovely second floor bathroom when nature calls.

      1. It sounds like you made a thoughtful decision for your family but having watched my parents age, I wouldn’t want my home to be off limits to anyone who can’t easily climb stairs. I’ll go a step 🙃 further and say that I wouldn’t purchase a house where I couldn’t set up a full bath and sleeping space on the first floor. Whether it’s an elderly parent or any member of the family who’s temporarily incapacitated, it’s a must for me.

        1. Shelia – I wish I had stuck to my guns about this point more firmly when we were househunting. We compromised when we found a house built into a hill – all of the common spaces are on the first floor with only a half bath; all bedrooms upstairs but the back bedrooms are easily accessed by driving up the driveway and entering via the back deck with no steps. We thought that was a decent compromise for our parents in their 70’s but just in the past 4 years since we’ve been here, both our mothers’ ability to climb stairs – even once or twice a day has declined significantly. I hate that in a year or two they’ll probably have to stay in a hotel when they visit. It’s definitely something to think about – even for us – if we’re here till we’re old and gray will we get up the stairs? Or if we break a bone or need surgery…we’d be limited to the downstairs (or hobbling outside, loading up into the car, driving up the driveway, unloading on the deck, then reversing all steps once we’ve showered or slept). But, we’re not millionaires and this was the best house we found that worked for us at our price point. I guess I don’t regret my decision so much as I regret not being a millionaire.

          1. Maybe you could add a shower or tub to the first floor powder room? My mom is handicapped so I totally feel your frustration. Good luck!

          2. A possible solution is a stair lift. It might be too extreme just for guest but if you grow old in this house, it is an option. We recently installed one, when my partner developed Parkinson, which affects his balance. He is just heading upstairs on the lift, while I am typing this 🙂

        2. Same, same, same!!! Stuff happens in life that you don’t think about until you’re in it! My husband has had two hip replacements at a young age and not having a bedroom on the main floor of our house was an issue. Now that we are getting older, my knees are in terrible shape and the stairs almost kill me. We don’t want to move but we may be forced to and it makes me sad.

      2. As a 60 year old MIL, with a 62 year old husband, who has had two knee replacements, I see the issue with stairs. We chose to move into a single level home several years ago. Universal design, with wide entries, and a walk in shower were important to us.
        if you host gatherings that include anyone with mobility difficulties, not having a main floor bathroom does become an issue.

    2. We don’t have a powder room on our main floor, but it has been a huge downside for me since I had children. Having a powder room allows setting up a potty area for little ones, and it’s easier to use a bathroom without interrupting small kids or do carrying them up stairs. Similarly, having a laundry area in the basement is supper inconvenient. With small kids, babies and toddlers, you can’t always leave them in their room to do laundry. I depends on a particular child. My daughter wouldn’t stay alone and she can’t be trusted to stay in a room with a younger sibling while I do laundry. Adding to that a mudroom would be great to leave the stroller in and it would provide a space for brooms and a vacuum cleaner . So it really depends on a life stage. To add any of these rooms, I’d have to change the layout or actually carve out space from the living room and I was not willing to do that. Perhaps it’s a mistake, but our home isn’t that big and the living area would lose some of its appeal. If we move those will be our considerations along with a guest bedroom on a main floor for aging parents if they ever have to live with us

  4. We bought an 80’s post modern house that I love BUT they put the garage door right in the kitchen!!! I dislike it so much and even though our house is vintage (I can’t believe the 80’s are vintage!) and only 1600 sq ft it’s the only thing I really really don’t like! I think architectural ideas on everyday living has changed for the better!

  5. Love seeing floor plans! I’d be interested in a post on the current design/architecture thoughts of primary bedrooms on the second floor vs first floor. It’s the first thing I noticed about the River House and made me curious about the factors in that decision. I love all the “strategy type” updates!

  6. Love this post! And can’t wait to see more on the river house. I would love it if y’all could do a post on the economics of a new build vs. an extensive renovation. With pros and cons. We have been weighing those two options and it has been SO hard to get real numbers or even an educated guess on price per square foot. We’re real design lovers but also have a finite budget, so are seriously trying to assess which way to go – especially with the current housing shortage and frankly, INSANE prices on old, mediocre houses.

    I get that quotes will vary in different areas of the country and any hard numbers depend on the house or lot, but how do we even go about thinking about this? Are architecture fees more for the new build? Or will it pretty much be even for a gut remodel? Generally, how do the prices for a new build vs remodel compare per square foot, assuming the same level of finishing? Does the current high price of lumber affect one more than the other? Are there rules of thumb for budgeting land prep/grading/septic? What about trying to upgrade the energy efficiency of an older home to come even somewhat close to a new build? Since you’re doing both at once and seeing real numbers, it would be amazing if you could share your insight!! THANK YOU!

    1. I agree this would be a neat comparison, and it would be even better if it included “modular” houses. I’ve been reading a few articles recently that modular houses are becoming more affordable and higher quality and worth considering. (And I’m reminded that afterall some of the best old houses I remember liking back in the days when there were summertime “house walks” by historical societies were mail-order Sears houses!)

      One other thing that I’d love to learn about is picking out the piece of land to do a new build on. In my part of California even land in undeveloped (wild fire prone) areas within an hour’s drive can go for $800,000 for less than an acre 🙁

      Little bitty shacks (i.e. 900 to 1200 square feet) with barely enough room outside for a small patio set go for $1.5 million or more. 🙁 These still need remodeling either because they’ve never been done or some flipper slapped things together to make it look better but obviously with low quality materials and workmanship.)

      1. Oooooh, I know someone that is building a modular,,pre-fab, eco rated house!
        Itis sooooo interesting and their power bills will be zilch!

    2. We considered a new build for ourselves but, while looking for land, came across an amazing house and property that just needed to be totally renovated (just – ha), so we ended up going that route instead. We’re also now building an investment property, and here’s what we’ve learned:
      -Soft costs (architectural drawings, surveys, etc.) will definitely be more with a new build. If you’re not reconfiguring more than half of the layout in a renovation or adding square footage, I would say these will be 5-10x more when building new.
      -The $/sf thing is really hard to nail down because not all SF are created equally, and averaging them together like that is a bit misleading. If you don’t come across many issues in a renovation, I think generally that will be slightly less.
      -High price of lumber will affect a new build more because there’s so much more framing that goes into a new build vs. moving walls in an existing house. We just got a quote for framing materials for a new build, and it was eye popping. You also have other lumber like roof trusses, beams, headers, etc. that you’d presumably need less of in a renovation.
      -Grading/site prep – it’s great that you’re thinking about those costs! A lot of people forget about them. Our GC usually budgets ~$10k to clear a decent sized lot. Grading, drainage, backfilling, etc. will vary depending on the site and size of your build.
      -You can achieve pretty amazing energy efficiency in an older house just by well-insulating it and updating your systems. The difference between double and single pane windows isn’t even actually very much.
      Hope some of that is helpful! I agree that it’s frustrating to not be able to find real numbers anywhere about how much any of this stuff costs.

    3. Matt Risinger ( a builder) talks about that on YouTube when he renovated his own old home. I think the main point is related to physical constraints, which are good for the budget. If you buy a 2000sq ft home you tend to renovate with that in mind. You already have the foundation or the slab that sets some limits. When you build a new home you might think you want 2000, but that could potentially add more than you need and easily increase the size of the home to 3000sq ft whereas staying closer to 2000 would perhaps make more sense financially. So people tend to build larger than they need, and they don’t necessarily have the resources left for nice finishes. Renovating can be as expensive as buying a new house. It depends on how much you do and what finishes you buy.

      1. To add on what I wrote, materials alone for my small bathroom were 12k+ (6 years ago, in USD). My coworker later remodeled a similar-sized bathroom for under 12k, including labor. I bought a more expensive bathtub, Kohler hardware and cabinet, nice porcelain tile, new type of lining for under the tile. If I used stone, heated floors, my materials cost would increase even more. Labor cost would add at least 15-20k (my dad remodeled it for us for free). So we’re talking about 27k+ vs. 12k. It is difficult to estimate the cost for either the new build or reno. I’d you want to consider an extensive renovation or a new build, the best thing is to talk to architects or builders in your area, who can better estimate based on the quality you expect.

      2. Love Matt Risinger! We were building our home along the same timeline as his personal home remodel and we loved checking in on his Build Show on Youtube to see how he did everything and to get the latest and best advise for energy efficiency and best practices. Essential Craftsman on Youtube is also very in depth and knowledgeable.

    4. architect in the family….he always claimed new build is cheaper, faster and more predictable. He renovated an older home instead of building new only because then he did not have to adhere to new setback rules. But he said many times it would have been cheaper and better to build new. I think this is very true of the farmhouse project. Should have torn it down and built something better. There was very little ‘charm’ in that house. Not much worth saving, and certainly not worth compromising for on layout.

  7. I never get bored of the discussion of open v closed floorplans. We used to live in a small condo, and we loved the open kitchen/living room when we bought it – but the major downside was the noise level! At night I would often want to watch Bravo or relax in the living room, and the noise of my husband washing the dishes would drive me nuts (I cooked, so it was a fair trade). In our current house, the kitchen has a swinging door, which I am obsessed with. I can keep the kids out when I’m cooking! The noise is contained! The smells are contained! Doors forever.

    1. I love the discussion of open vs. closed floorplans too, but had to gasp at keeping the kids out when cooking! I get your point & I certainly have kept my kiddo out at times, but I frequently remind myself that my MIL kept her kids out of the kitchen, resulting in grown men that absolutely cannot cook. Girl needs a break! My teen is an awesome cook, now to work on his dishwashing skills! (I’ve always thought swinging doors were cool, going back to wanting a house like the Brady Bunch)

      1. Fair point, but one of the kiddos is a 14 month old with no sense of self preservation. What I like about doors is that they can be opened if you want! But generally goes to the idea about permanent design for temporary problems, right? We do have extreme Brady Bunch vibes though – it’s a 1948 ranch!

        1. I feel quite ancient saying this but as someone who grew up watching Brady Bunch reruns on the daily, I must point out that the Brady Bunch house was a ‘70s (maybe late ‘60s) split-level, not a ‘40s ranch. (Brady trivia is the rare subject at which I excel, gotta show my skillz.)

          1. Oh my god, yes, the sentence I left out is that the Brady Bunch vibes are confined to the kitchen, which was last redone in the 70’s (appliances from the 80’s – still work!).

    2. I read a few articles about how WFH during the pandemic hasseen a huge shift away from open plan homes. It seems people want separTeareas, with doors, again!
      I like both.

  8. This is all so interesting and I love looking at floorplans. I learned the hard way with our first house that layout is SO IMPORTANT and I feel like the layout of our current home solves all of the problems of the first one (weird shaped rooms, lots of hallways wasting space, pass through rooms, no clear flow and a garage that opened into a bedroom) . However since our current home is only 1250sqft a lot of these do’s and don’t you are laying out aren’t really an option. There are two bedrooms, they share a wall. Not much we can do about that. There’s not really much ability to rearrange things, they are where they are, but the layout works for our family of three really well (kitchen is around the corner from the living room so they are ‘open’ but separated by a brick wall which really helps with sound, laundry/powder/mudroom is at the backdoor perfect for a constantly messy toddler etc) and we are happy. I think there’s always changes that could be made, and things that could be improved, but there’s also a lot of smaller houses (not sure the square footage of both the farm and the river house) and families without the budget or ability to do full rearranges of walls and rooms. There’s also something wonderful about using the rooms that are there and making them work better without moving walls.

    1. Fist bump from another small house owner. 1400 sq ft, 3 stories on a skinny urban lot, lots of tradeoffs in layout & flow but wouldn’t change our access to friends, walkable neighborhood, and rivers & parks.

      It’s interesting how priorities shift over time. We are adding a 1st floor powder room (we didn’t miss it for the first 9 years but now with a toddler we want one closer).

    2. So much of these recs are personal preference. We have a larger house, but I probably only agree with 1/3 of what Emily said above!

    3. I was also thinking I wish I could even apply half of that to our small (1700sf — the original is a 1948 1200sf with a 500sf add on for a family room in the 70s) house. We have 3bed and only one bathroom for our family of 5. We are currently drawing up our remodel and going to a more open plan despite the pandemic. It’s tough to fit a proper primary bedroom suite and keep access to the backyard. And resigning that a walk-in closet just gives too much wasted space vs. a long reach in. Powder room?! I wish there was space. Pantry? I’m hoping for at least a 2’ width full height cabinet space. The mud room is either our dining room or the entry. So that’s not a thing. Haha! I do love looking at the floor plans though. I also have just made it a family priority to have less ‘stuff’ to make every room more intentional.

    4. I found the points about hallways interesting- they seem like such a waste of space to me, but I live in a 1200 sq ft house, so every inch counts! I have a 3′ x 2′ “hallway” between my kitchen and living room and a 3 1/2′ x 10′ hallway upstairs that leads to all 3 bedroom and my only full bath. It’s a tight squeeze, but allows those rooms to be a bit bigger within the small footprint of the house. I do, however, wholeheartedly agree with the suggestions for main floor powder rooms! I have a tiny (less than 2′ x 4′) powder room that was built into a corner of the original dining room space, which means it is IN the dining room and also visible from the living room. I’m keeping it for now, but I really want to do a small addition to the back of my house someday to house a mudroom, laundry room (it’s currently in the unfinished basement), and a powder room that would be close to but separated from the kitchen.

  9. Like the other posters, I love floor plans. I like the river house plan a lot – love that all bedrooms have windows on at least 2 walls. I like the circulation paths – I think it has a good flow. I do have minor quibbles, based solely on how I use my kitchen. I wouldn’t want the stove and the sink back-to-back. I would put the clean-up sink/dishwasher in the counter by the deck, this will make the clean-up zone and cooking zone separate. Someone can be loading/unloading the dishwasher while someone else is cooking. Without dimensions, it’s hard to tell how crowded the cooking/clean-up area will be. And personally, I like my island clear of anything. If this will take the sink too far from the cooking area, then I would put a small prep sink in the island — this would make a good fridge-sink-stove triangle.

  10. Our townhouse has the powder room door opening into the dining room even though it also shares a wall with the hallway and it’s infuriating. It’s also weird because apparently our townhouse community was designed by a fairly well known architect so you’d think he would have known better. Our plan had been to move the doorway when we renovated but we discovered that there was ductwork in that wall that would be too expensive to move.

  11. My current floor plan works pretty well for us. We built over 20 years ago. But my biggest regret is not having a urinal & sink installed in the garage. I had no idea my husband was such a mechanic. And when he needs to use the bathroom he leaves his greasy fingerprints everywhere. 🤦‍♀️

    1. Is it at all possible to retrofit a small ‘powder room’ in or to the garage? Is there room? Could you build a little outbuilding attachment?

    2. I totally feel you, the telltale mechanics finger prints in certain places on certain doors! We are remodeling and putting in a laundry sink next to the washer, which has direct access to the garage! I am giving up storage space in a small house to have this, but I know it will be totally worth it!

  12. Lady Emily Von Henderson… FANCY!!!🤣🤣
    “Designing both a new build and a historic remodel at the same time is a true new level of education.” Shiver me timbers! Just the thought of it! You didn’t thrash yourself enough with the Mountain House and the Portland Project at the same time?!

    This is basically floor plan porn!! I love it!! 😏

    I find the whole idea of a new build both exciting and terrifying at the same time.
    I think my niche skill is restoration. I lurve it! Buuuut, I definitely would build new as a forever, til nursing home, kinda proposition.
    My new build would be ultra-modern …steel and glass, possibly tilt-up, pre-cast concrete (not so great for the environment though, concrete!, but great thermal properties).
    I like really old, characterful homes OR ultra-modern.

  13. V v funny Encanto reference. And sorry in advance if I sideline the conversation but literally everyone recommended this movie and I found the messaging very sad and disappointing. The music also seemed rather random (and I say this as a fan of musicals and Hamilton especially). I dunno…maybe I’m the only one who didn’t feel like forgiving the Gma so easily for all the intergenerational trauma she inflicted (kidding/not kidding). And everyone gets their powers back in the end? Cool, so even though we just spent the last 1.5 hrs learning that what matters is grit and determination, ultimately, the take-home is some people just are better than others. Hmmmm, very Disney. I guess I expect more these days.

    1. My read was different, it was that in the US we really value and elevate people with “special skills” (see current crop of billionaires), which creates a society that is ultra worried about keeping these special skills, and thus creating so much pressure. While it is great that we have “special” people in our society, we are also able to achieve so much by working together (rebuilding the house), and understanding that people are so much more than just the one special skill they have, “the miracle is you, all of you.” What I liked about the music is that there are continual references through the songs that refer back to other.

  14. This all makes sense to me. I’ve never had the opportunity to design from scratch or even do a major remodel where the layout of rooms was drastically changed. However, as a (bored) kid in a new house/neighborhood with no new friends yet, I spent HOURS and HOURS studying the home plans from builders that my parents had gotten, and drawing floor plans on graph paper. I still geek out over that. One thing I can say is that no matter where you put the laundry room, you will have many steps back and forth, and up and down, unless you live in a one-floor home. I had mine off the family room and it was very convenient for doing laundry on Sunday nights, but I still had to lug the clothes down and then back up to our bedroom. Now it’s on the second floor of our new house, and I completely forget about it. And it’s multiple trips up and down to change loads, as opposed to just one trip down and one or two back up. I always wanted a laundry room large enough to keep the ironing board set up there (back when we ironed things). Having 2 laundry rooms, with one near the mud room, seems like a really good idea. And one set of washer/dryer that is large enough for bedding (not really related to the topic, but it’s always an issue for me).

    1. Maybe you need a dumb waiter? Put the laundry room on the ground floor with a dumbwaiter up to the second for when you go up later? My grandparents had a laundry shoot from the second floor by the bedrooms, and in the groundfloor bathroom (yes one bathroom for 2 adults and 4 kids) and the laundry went right into a rolling laundry cart in the basement. But there was no dumbwaiter so lugging the laundry up was still a thing.

      I like the idea of a dumbwaiter and laundry shoot. I’m going to go add it to my list of ideas for a new home. 🙂 Although maybe somebody will come tell me those are banned by modern fire codes.

      1. I love laundry chutes! We had one as a kid and they were very cool. But I do know of some kids depositing their siblings down them! Probably why the trend stopped? 🙂

          1. Serious question: are laundry chutes not safe if they have tight fitting “lids” or “doors” on them? If I recall correctly, I’ve seen laundry chutes in some hotels.

            I figured this was some kind of fire code thing but I’d be very interested to know more about why laundry chutes went out of fashion. (excluding Roberta’s suggestion of younger siblings getting a carnival ride 😉 )

            For me, who has rented forever, the idea of “en suite” laundry is a dream. And by “en suite” I mean not schlepping the laundry basket across the condo complex, or out to my car in the dark morning with snow on the ground/car or in the rain, etc. etc.

          2. I’m not sure about the actual physics of it, but most cities are really serious about fire blocking these days, which basically means putting certain materials between rooms so that if a fire starts in one place it stays better contained to that area vs. spreading quickly to the whole house. I don’t know if there would be any way to apply the same kind of principal to a laundry chute, even with a lid, because it’s basically a direct path between floors where fire could travel. So I don’t know if there are ways to make them “safe,” but I suspect there is not an option for that for residential code in most cities. Maybe for apartment buildings or hotels, commercial building code would offer some more options.

        1. We had a laundry “chute” in our home growing up, but it was really a little door in the wall of the hallway with the bedrooms, and when you went around to the other side of the wall, which was in a corner of the kitchen, you could open the door on the other side and remove the laundry much closer to the washer dryer. The house was a rancher so it wasn’t 2 stories. We used to hide in that chute for hide and seek and once locked the babysitter in there 🙂 Good times!!

    2. Such a good point about how there’s schlepping any way you slice it. I’ve also heard that though everyone seems to now want laundry on the second floor, that it’s much less convenient (and as you point out, much more forgettable) this way because people generally spend their days on the first floor.

    3. Yes and if you have the room we should be drying the washing outside. So you have to “schlep” it either way

  15. what does everyone think about this article?? it’s so interesting, but I know nothing about old/new homes so interested in viewpoints:

    basically it says that newer homes are far better for the environment, much safer in terms of fire/lead/earthquakes, and better on every level of living comfort. He says that Americans fetishize old housing but we need lots more new construction for access. apparently in Japan almost everyone has a new house and they tear down/ rebuild 30 year old houses. I’m sure it’s totally different in parts of western Europe too. Just curious about thoughts.

    1. In terms of climate change, old homes have all kinds of “embodied energy”, that is, lots of carbon has already been put into the atmosphere from harvesting, manufacturing and building the home. Even an efficient new build, if not a strawbale house, or a similar low embodied carbon structure, will emit huge amounts of carbon just to be built. The carbon you will save from more efficient utilities is great but the savings add up over time. We need to stop putting carbon into the air NOW, not little by little over the next 20 years. We simply can’t build our out of the climate crisis. Renovating existing housing stock to be more efficient is therefore so so much better for the environment than building new.

    2. i loved that article! here on Oahu, a lot of people definitely fetishize the old plantation cottage style houses. these are about 100 years old, often beautiful redwood with high ceilings and hipped roofs, but also often with busted old windows, odd layouts as people added here and there, and severe termite damage. Given the climate and the high cost of living here, when we bought we looked for 1) location, and 2) orientation. Our new house has double walls and lots of windows, so it’s cool and breezy. we love it, even though it has less light, and much much less vintage charm than our old house.

    3. Thank you for sharing this piece! So many good points here. I have lived this experience. We have just purchased a new build townhome in a great location. It has 8.5 NAThers stars (this is the system we use in Australia to rate environmental efficiency, 8.5 is a great score). It comes with all the thermal insulation and design features one would expect of an architect-designed new home. Our previous home was 120 years old. It had been renovated but still required CONSTANT maintenance which just didn’t work for my husband and I with our busy jobs and, at the time, long commute. We’ve learned the hard way not to fetishise old houses. And we’ve traded off “charm” for reliability and convenience. I will always love old houses but will be unlikely to own one again unless I somehow got to the point of having unlimited time, money, energy and willingness to work on it!

      1. Yes! I’m in the same boat, with a new build, energy efficient, low maintenance townhouse and I LOVE it! Important reminder to think carefully about what YOU really value and where YOU want to live. I’m 100% sure some think we made a bad choice with the whole ‘but houses go up in value more…’ obsession with property investment, and occasionally I have a pang of envy when I see a friend’s big backyard or Granny flat (ADU) – but then I remember that I love love LOVE my low water and electricity bills, toasty warm and comfortable house, no need to renovate (unless I want to) modern and easy to clean spaces, convenient location and enough space to plant a few veggies but no need to spend all weekend mowing etc etc etc. prioritise what you and your family value and need 🙂

    4. I think this really depends. We wanted the location (beach) but also lots of old oaks. Our canopy of old oaks alone makes our 80’s postmodern more energy efficient, plus we are remodeling and keeping eco friendly in mind. Lots of new neighborhoods and homes are built by first tearing down all the trees and vegetation. And then they get variants to be able to build on almost the entire lot.
      So I think better for the environment and energy efficient should be both of equal concern and many times with new builds it’s not the case. My friend did a new build about 4 years ago being extremely thoughtful of the environment, off gassing and energy efficiency so it can be done!

  16. I am on my second home with the laundry room upstairs and I actually hate it. I know I am the dissenting voice here because most people love it. Three reasons: 1. I never hear/forget about the laundry when I am downstairs which is most of the time so it sits in the washer forever. Especially annoying if I am trying to get a lot of it done in a day, which is my preference. 2. I hang dry a lot of my clothes so when the weather is nice I want to do this in my backyard. To me this schlep is much worse than carrying dry, dirty clothes downstairs. A third reason is when the laundry room is upstairs, somehow laundry ALWAYS end up in my bedroom for days on end. It makes my bedroom feel like the laundry room.

    1. As kids I remember my sister and I turning the carpeted stairway into “Laundry coaster!” where on laundry day we would load up the dirties into the baskets and send them soaring down the stairwell on the shag track. So much fun! Of course picking everything up once the basket exploded into the front door at the bottom was a whole other story. Upstairs laundry would have robbed us of this childhood joy. Just sayin 😉

    2. My mom feels the same way! I live in small, old house with a basement laundry (and no space to move it upstairs, should we wish to), but my parents built their house in the 80s and my mom put it in the mudroom between the garage and kitchen. All these years later, she says she would make the same decision in a heartbeat. Most of the dirty laundry comes from upstairs, yes, but downstairs is where she spends more of her time.

  17. Fantastic discussion! What’s the reality on stackable washer and dryer? Say you want an auxiliary W/D on your second floor by the bedrooms, but you don’t have or want to give the floor space for side by sides. Is it a terrible idea to stack full size W/D in a closet? Is it safe?

    1. You’d need to make sure it was a ventless dryer if you are putting in a closet with no outside venting… generally those are pretty tiny… 24 inches wide or less.

    2. I’ve done stackable W/D and it’s a huge pain for a variety of reasons. Front loading washers always get gross/grimy and have lower capacity than top loaders and the dryer is hard to use since the controls are on the top. I’m 5’6″ so if you have a super tall family, this might not be an issue. Also my front loader seems to just have more mechanical issues than my top loaders. Finally, if you need your washer serviced bc front loaders seem to have more frequent issues, you need 2 fairly strong people to move the dryer out. If your washer/dryer are in a tiny closet, this is an even bigger issue…

    3. Stackables in closets are super common in my part of the world- Canadian PNW. Space is expensive here, even in rural areas, and nothing is taken for granted. The idea of a dedicated laundry room is a dream- not unheard of at all, but not common. There is ventilation to consider, but if done properly it is totally safe.

      1. We have a stackable w/d in our basement and in our hallway bathroom on our main level. We bought both sets basically brand new off of Facebook marketplace. One set is a Miele and one set is a fisher paykel. We could never have afforded these machines retail. We love this set up and they are not grimy at all– the key is to leave the doors ajar after washing/drying to make sure moisture evaporates. The dryers are ventless, and one is a heat pump. We’ve saved a lot of money on our electric bills and haven’t had any issues. The only downside (for us) is that we have a king size bed and every spring I wash the down duvet and I have to take the down duvet to the laundromat to use a big washing machine (the king size sheets and duvet cover fit in our machines at home). I figured that the once a year laundromat trip was a small inconvenience and I’d rather have two stackable w/d that don’t use much energy for the other 364 days of the year. The other upside is that given the smaller size, the water/ energy to wash one load means you don’t have to wait to have a monster load of laundry to be efficient in your energy use.

    4. I live in a 1-story 1950s ranch with a basement, and my husband and I recently remodeled. Part of the renovation included adding a stackable washer/dryer in a closet near the first-floor family bedrooms. We left the original basement laundry room, as well, since we have a family room and guest bedroom and bath downstairs. Our architect thought it was a strange choice when I requested it, but we absolutely love love love having both and I think it was honestly the best decision we made in the whole renovation! Doing routine laundry is so easy as our w/d are right near the bedrooms, but we still have a larger top-loading set in the basement for larger items like duvets, for basement sheets and towels, and for rinsing/soaking (as there is a utility sink there). The stackables don’t get gross at all – you just have to leave the door ajar for awhile after washing so the interior and door seal dry properly – in fact, you’re supposed to do this with a top-load washer too. All that to say, I don’t know that I would want a stackable as my only W/D, but having a set located near the bedrooms so we don’t have to schlep but also on the first floor so that I don’t forget about it is a dream.

  18. I liked this post because I’m trying to decide if I should buy land and build (eventually) a forever home to age in, or give up on ever owning because of the insane housing shortage/extreme prices in California.

    Maybe in a future floorplan post you can give some tutorials on how to read them (and maybe draw one by hand for those of us trying to work with our current homes or dreams). For example, I don’t understand the “Farm House Laundry Room plan” – is it some kind of first floor/second floor mashup?

    The other thing I noticed, is that none of the floor plans seem to have any storage other than closets and the bare minimum of furniture. Where will the book cases go? It makes the rooms seem bigger than they probably will feel once you actually have your stuff in there.

    I like the idea of a mudroom and a walk-in pantry is a must. My first apartment was 1930s era build and had a walk-in pantry.

    Regarding which way to face the windows. My first apartment also had East windows in the kitchen/dining room, and West windows for the living room and bedroom. It was sunny and happy. My current apartment has North and South windows and is surrounded by trees. It’s so gloomy dark and sad most hours of the day. I can’t even keep the houseplants inside from dying without artificial light. If I build a house my priority will be max windows facing all directions and skylights to ensure max sunlight at all hours of the day.

    1. This is all of the information you give to an architect to and then they can make a floor plan that fits your needs! I have found it to be very empowering to work with an architect, because she listens to my needs and wants, and then puts all of the puzzle pieces together, and then adds some practicalities. We started talking to an architect during our bigger house hunt in California, and were looking and talking at the same time, but now that we have a floor plan that is exactly what we want it makes other houses so much less appealing!

    2. “ I don’t understand the “Farm House Laundry Room plan” – is it some kind of first floor/second floor mashup?”
      ^I was so confused by this, too!! Is there a mud room off the 2nd floor primary bedroom? I couldn’t figure it out.

    3. The farmhouse plans were weird. Usually if you are drawing a second floor plan you would show the roof plan of the first floor that is outside of the footprint of the second floor. So it looks like the bedrooms are next to kitchen when in fact the are on different levels. And I dilute that you can’t see the door swings very well.

      1. I’m so sorry. I didn’t understand most everything after the first sentence. The second sentence was the most confusing.

  19. Great post! One thought I have for any fellow greenies and future-proofers concerns the laundry room. I love having my laundry room right next to the garden so I can hang my washing out to dry whenever possible. Dryers are energy hungry and wear your clothes/bed linen out too fast – so on many levels I believe we will be ‘encouraged’ not to use them, and will need to return to good old fashioned ways.

    1. I agree completely! We moved our laundry room to the first floor (from the basement) and I insisted on an outside door just for this reason. Our contractor thought I was kind of silly because we already have a bunch of outside doors but I line-dry all my linens and it’s so convenient to take the laundry right out the door to the clothesline!

    2. We’re building and have a tiny covered deck off of one of the bedrooms. I’m thinking it will be my laundry spot in nice weather :). We put the washer/dryer in a nook between all the main bedrooms.

    3. Yes! Totally agree. Laundries (or utilities as we’d call them in the UK) belong downstairs and as close to the garden, ideally with their own access to the garden, as possible. I’d always rather carry dirty but dry clothes and linens downstairs to a utility than wash them upstairs but then carry heavy wet washing downstairs to hang it out.

    4. Everyone, we’re talking ‘normsl’ everyday people, in Australia hangs their washing outside to dry.
      Apattdwellers, not so much.
      Seriously, dryers shouldn’t be a thing unless your vlimate is extreme.
      We’ve had this discussion st least twice in the lastyear here.

      1. To be fair, many many places in the US would have weather we Aussies consider ‘extreme’ given that most of us don’t get snow! But the US reliance on dryers for most washing, all year round does seem very strange to us. We’re still proud of inventing the hills hoist 😂

        1. What is a hills hoist?
          When i had access to a laundry line I like to use it. I do have an extra rod for hanging things up to dry in my bathroom, but it’s capacity is limited.

    5. Great idea– we put in a fold down drying rack on our wall so that we could air dry clothes inside during the wet/winter months.

  20. The previous owners of my home added a bathroom to the “office” so they could use it as an additional guest room. While I originally thought this was unnecessary, now that I work from home and have a kid at home with the nanny while I am working, the bathroom off the office is ESSENTIAL. Now I don’t have to try to perfectly time my bathroom trips for while my son is occupied. I also think COVID makes us all re-think office placement in general. I would gladly let people walk through my office to use my bathroom over having a separate “powder room” if that was the trade off. All that to say, you should totally add a door from the office to the powder bath in the river house!

  21. Great post, love floor plans!
    On the laundry, since I know you’re trying to go more green: actually the laundry should be on the first floor on an outside wall. (That way, with an outside door, you can hang your laundry to dry as other noted.)
    But just as importantly as saving energy by line drying, you can save so much water by installing a laundry to landscape grey water system.
    It is simple and cheap. It’s just some pipes and a valve. I live in Tucson so got my kit at Watershed Management Group for a couple hundred dollars. Also see Oasis Designs in California and Brad Lancaster in Arizona for more info.
    It saves so much landscape water. You can water fruit trees and ornamentals. You have to use a special soap (or soap nuts) but that is easy to get and works just as well. (I use Oasis.)
    Because the washer has its own pump, it can even water plants that are slightly up hill. With climate change, even areas that used to get tons of rain are going to experience water issues. Please look into laundry to landscape grey water systems!

    1. Yes yes yes! I would love to see more discussion of grey water systems! I’m having a hard time figuring out how to install one (in Seattle). We aren’t allowed to filter and store it, but can use it directly in the landscape apparently.

  22. Great topic! I am seeing from comments that there is a really geeky group of readers (me too!) who love love loves the floor plan pouring over and all of these awesome tips. Maybe this idea could be incorporated into a new book or magazine-type print where there is a section in the back with graph paper for sketching out your own? A page with teeny furniture and appliance cut-outs for placing and moving around the floor plans at our leisure? Expert advise from pros, regional considerations and lots of full color inspiration photos. Heck this could even include exterior and landscaping spaces! It could be like a Building/Reno 101 textbook, could include a quick quiz to help readers determine which option they might want to head into, new build vs. renovation and everything that leads up to the point where construction ends and the design begins…when do we publish?

  23. This was so great to see, I love looking at floor plans and am constantly dreaming and designing my ideal one. I’d love to know though why they decided to have a full bathroom and a powder room on the main floor? Is the tv/family room going to double as a guest room? If I was designing this for myself, I would eliminate the powder room, flip the kitchen and dining so that the kitchen is full of windows, and put the fireplace on the wall of the powder room.

  24. These are some really great tips. The only thing I might add, if at all possible (and sometimes it isn’t), would be to have a window in every bathroom, including the powder room. Like, in the river house, I would switch the pantry and powder room so I could have an exterior window. Maybe create an “anteroom” before you enter. it looks like there might be room for that. I love me some fresh air!

    1. Oh! Yes, 100%. I don’t even think a bathroom is really a bathroom without a window: it’s just a cupboard with aspirations. My least favourite thing about UK housing stock is shoehorned in en suites without windows; so gross and unnecessary.

    2. I agree with switching the powder and pantry. I wouldn’t want the door to the powder room to be open to the entry, and making that the pantry instead allows that entry wall to be solid, since the pantry door could face where the pantry currently is- which gives more room for design on that wall that faces the entry. I’d love to have the powder room closer to the mudroom and backyard access anway.

      1. The mudroom is already connected to a full bath. But I agree it would be a prettier entry with no door to the powder visible. I wonder what that area is outside the shared wall of the powder and what would be given up to do that? A little butlers pantry or coffee station? A big plus for the current powder entry is the accessibility to the office and living room. If you are WFH and on back-to-back calls all day, you might have only a few minutes to pop into the bathroom.

        1. NVM!!! I confused the TV room doors for the entry doors. 😂 I don’t think the powder door will be visible from the entry.

  25. I’ve been reading you for a while, and I just am so confused. River House? What are you talking about? I know the Mountain House and the hose that you are renovating, but what’s the River House? Where is it?

    1. Her btother in Portland is building a new house on a blovk that is on the riverfront.
      Emily is designingit.

  26. Love your posts – always so informative! Can you reveal what was used for the island top? It’s gorgeous. Looks like it might be calacatta marble? Looking for something similar, but is there a material out there that looks similar but at a better price point?

  27. Really curious why there’s both a full bath and a powder room on the first floor – with no bedrooms. For me, 4 bedrooms upstairs with 3 baths would be enough, assuming a powder room on the first floor.

    1. It makes sense to me because the full bath is in the mudroom. This is probably for when they have muddy/dirty dogs or kids coming in so they can rinse off in the shower before heading into the rest of the house. It’s a great feature. I see there is also an outdoor shower, but this is in Portland, so the weather probably isn’t always warm or sunny enough to use an outdoor shower. Hence why having an indoor one in the mudroom makes sense.

  28. This is a great piece, but… this is also what interior designers do, Em. I know your team is mostly (all?) self-taught (and wonderfully so), but pretty much all of this is covered in some way in design school. The adjacency matrix to help clients think through which spaces should be next to each other, seasonal daylighting, space planning, engineering coordination, on and on.
    As an interior designer who’s passed the NCIDQ and has spent the better part of a decade working on the commercial side with lots of other registered interior designers (alongside architects), it’s kind of a sucker punch to read “and this is why you hire an architect!” when reading a post that’s really a description of all the value that professional interior designers bring to the table. It’s been a big fight to get interior design professionals recognized for the value we bring, and this post (because of the huge reach you have) can unfortunately set that back in the public eye.
    Hope you’ll consider that. And maybe it would be a cool topic for a future blog post?

    1. To be fair, the house overall is a project that requires a licensed architect but yes, the interior portion could be well served by an interior designer and the lack of a trained interior designer on the EHD team is apparent. As an architect, I can confirm that this blog also seems to have a poor understanding of what architects actually do. A lot of homeowners seem to think they can DIY not only interior design but also architecture because they don’t actually realize what the job entails and why you’re required to have multiple degrees, thousands of hours of experience and a license to do it!

  29. Regarding the bedroom placement – my parents built our house when I was in third grade and my brother and I were in a loft upstairs. It worked out great for everyone, our messes couldn’t be seen by company and we could be upstairs if they had parties. Now that my parents are 80 yrs old they are able to just live on the 1st floor without changing anything. It’s very practical!

  30. I want to know why you seen to have three bathrooms in close proximity (to the mudroom) in the river house. Outdoor shower, full bath, and powder bath. I do love the hallway situation.
    Personally, I adore my early morning sun streaming into the living room and the late afternoon sunlight streaming into my kitchen in winter, and found my north/south living rooms in the last home to be dingy.

    1. This is what I was going to point out. My absolute favorite thing and almost a must have in any house is a comfy place to sit where morning light is coming through the window and illuminating the space. Looove. In terms of afternoon light I think it depends on the setting. our living room faces west but has a covered front porch so there is a brief time in the late afternoon evening when we pull a sheer shade but the whole room is so bright and warm (in a good way). the covered porch is key, but a window awning or trees could do the same thing. I find north facing rooms cold. always cold. The best is really south facing windows to get light in the winter. in MHO.

  31. Don’t dismiss windows facing West in more Northern regions! I live in Central Europe, but well above all major Canadian cities in latitude. My dream is to have a West-facing living room. Or ideally South-West, to capture all the light. I get that it may be annoying and too hot when there’s plenty of sunlight to go around, but if sunlight can’t be taken for granted, living areas that open to afternoon light (when you will be home and actually enjoy it! And oh, the sunsets… <3<3<3) are sooo important. My current place has huge, amazing glass fronts to the east, but since I am a night owl I never get to enjoy that light. Also, have a window that opens towards the South. That way, light is actually pouring in instead if just skimming your house, as it does (especially now in winter) when windows only go East and West.

  32. Love this post. Love floor plans. Love problem solving. More please. Love the River house floor plan and while i would say old house charm as a go-to this floor plan would make me think again. my one thing is 4.5 bathrooms for a family of 4 seems -ahem – excessive. Regarding mudrooms, I thought CLJ made a good point when they posted what they were going to do in the Idaho house (before they moved to Raleigh) that there was a way to pass through a corner of the mudroom from kitchen to outside but not have to pass through the whole mudroom if you were just nipping out and not putting stuff on or taking stuff off.

  33. Great stuff. Having just relocated a powder room that was adjacent to the dining room, I’d also suggest people talk with their architects and/or contractor about acoustics. Drywall thickness, insulation, ceiling height, amount of powder room tile, door material, and other items can contribute to undesirable noise bleed even if you’ve tucked the powder room away a bit.

    1. We did the same as our primary BR is large enough to include a reading area/work/lounge space. If the room is dark during the day, particularly if it requires lights to be on, I know that space would be less desirable or used.

      1. Oops. This was meant as a reply to Pinny’s comment about prioritizing daylight in the bedroom, but I put it in the wrong spot. My bad.

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