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Help designing a space
libbybin
January 11, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Hey everyone. We are currently building a house and we love the open concept of our floor plan. However we feel the great room is too open. I was thinking of adding a wall to the far back right of the great room that extends to the beginning of the kitchen island. I am just trying to define some space as trying to furnish this area is stressing me out. We also cannot change the location of the front door as it would look dumb anywhere else on the outside of the home. Any advice? Thanks all!!
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PRO
Interiors International, Inc.
Are you saying you will basically be adding length to the hall way? I think that would be fine. I don't really care to see my kitchen from the front door. Can you move the fireplace toward the front of the house. This would get rid of the run through hallway for the bedrooms. It will make the living area much easier to furnish.
January 11, 2013 at 1:34PM     
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bupshill
Not sure I understand where you are proposing to put that wall......in my mind, the fire place is in the wrong place. A fireplace is typically a focal point in a room, but seems to be ignoring the great room. Once walls start going up....open concept goes away. If your floors are going to be solid surface, use area rugs to define your furniture arrangements.
January 11, 2013 at 2:22PM   
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PRO
Main Line Kitchen Design
I don't know about the wall but definitely move the front doorway to over by the stairs. The front of the porch won't be symmetrical but the door in any other location ruins the usability of the great-room
January 11, 2013 at 2:35PM     
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thislittlehouse
Although it is a large open space, when you consider your paths through the space, you will find it is cut down drastically.
Draw your pathways on your plans and you will see what I mean:

The existing hall way from the right side of the house will essentially continue through the middle of the open plan area to the other bedrooms on the left. So the centre of the room (where the fireplace is - not a good spot for it btw) will be unusable.

With the front door centered like that you are creating another pathway that literally cuts your great room in half!

Your ONLY solution is to move your front door to the right, near the stairs.

Many houses have the entrance off centre so it's not unusual, and frankly your inside square footage (which will otherwise be cut in half) is more important than front door placement.

Elise :)
January 11, 2013 at 2:48PM   
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architectrunnerguy
The center part of that plan says "Hey!! I'm an apartment"!!!" very well. Front door swinging into the great room with no defined entry space, circulation space everywhere including BOTH sides of the fireplace which is usually a focal point for furniture grouping, kitchen stuck over in the corner but entirely open to everything else, great room basically a big hallway (did any one take the time to lay out furniture here??).

Now this is probably going to be the same as suggesting to the Texans that if they could get just one more guy down to the Alamo everything is going to be ok, but I'm with Main Line, move the front door!!
January 11, 2013 at 2:55PM   
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wmpj
Our living is similar to yours and the problem we have is with lighting. There is only one wall where we can plug in a lamp to have next to a seating area. If you haven't considered it already, you may want to have outlets installed in the floor because it looks like your furniture, or at least some of it, will be floating in the room.
January 11, 2013 at 3:07PM     
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wmpj
I'm surprised to see that your master bathroom has only one sink in it. This is just a suggestion, but I would omit the half bath that's in the laundry room and add another vanity in the master bathroom.
January 11, 2013 at 3:14PM   
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libbybin
The front door is NOT moving nor is the fireplace. The front door is going to look silly if it's not centered. I have attached a photo of the outside of the home so you can see why the door cannot be moved. I like where the fireplace is as it's unique and is a great focal point for the whole room. We did eliminate the 1/2 bath in the laundry and are doing a double vanity in the master bath. I just don't understand why everyone is saying to move the fireplace is it because it's not the norm?
January 11, 2013 at 3:25PM     
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wmpj
I like where your fireplace is because it can be enjoyed whether you're in the greatroom, dining room or kitchen. I just have a difficlut time figuring out the furniture layout and tv placement for the greatroom.
January 11, 2013 at 3:31PM   
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libbybin
Thats my dilemma as well. Again I love the open space but am so stuck on how to furnish the great room. I actually don't think putting a wall up anywhere will do much and just close the space up. I need help!
January 11, 2013 at 4:23PM   
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wmpj
Here's a suggestion, you may be able to do a sectional on the wall to the left of the front door (facing the kitchen). Place is so that the smaller part is against the bedroom and window wall so that it is facing the stair wall and kitchen. Place the tv unit on the stair wall and then add a chair or two, maybe a swivel type, across from the sofa. Another option would be to place the tv in the corner where the bedroom wall and window (on the far left of the front door) is. What are the dimensions of the left wall in the greatroom that is shared with the bedroom, the wall left of the door and the stair wall?
January 11, 2013 at 5:05PM   
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John
Try looking at different positions of the dining room. Such as, if your kitchen was mainly ran along the whole back wall, you could stick the dining room on the bottom left. Then you could surround the fire place with furniture. Just a thought...
January 11, 2013 at 5:08PM   
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cassidyd
As others have mentioned it bothers me that this house does not have any kind of vestibule or private entry but presumably you will usually be using the garage entrance most of the time which poses another problem. Your garage opens directly across from the master bedroom. Typically you would want a little more privacy for your master.
Secondly you said you liked the fireplace where it was located because it could be enjoyed from all spaces. This is a great idea but the fireplace is shown as a very traditional design which typically serves as a focal point around which furniture is centered. I would suggest rotating the fireplace 90 degrees and changing it to a more contemporary 3 sided fireplace which can be enjoyed from all sides instead of the more traditional design which could create an unfocused space between the great room and dining room.
I have marked up the floor plans so you can see my suggestions for the garage entrance and dividing the great room. Good luck on everything!


Beaugureau Studios

Dining Room
January 11, 2013 at 5:43PM     
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architectrunnerguy
That's a vast improvement cassidtd. Unfortunately I think this plan is one of those "get the exterior looking good at the expense of the interior" and now the owner is looking at it more critically.The elevation shows the fireplace coming up the side of the main roof. Now it will be at some strange distance from the gable, not quite centered but not on the gable either. But maybe it's ventless, I don't know.

I'd suggest this. Doesn't really help the "I'm a condo" feel but at least the fireplace becomes a furniture (actually shown) focal point. Also there are far better ways to organize that laundry and powder room but as a minimum I'd get a window in the powder room and slide the door over to get more counter space (I know the door location is porch (exterior) related again but the roof will work but too complicated to explain here.)

Also, libbybin, you need to think about furniture arrangement from the get go, not on moving day. Here's another wide open plan (and photos) but furniture is key in my mind before pen is even placed on paper.
January 12, 2013 at 4:28AM     
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grevillea
What about if you put the entry door through where the store is? Then you could use double opening french doors to open out onto your front patio area and on the right hand side facing the store you could put a hedge in and make a private front sitting area in your garden? Would that still look funny from the outside? The previous post with the plan moving the fireplace across is a great compromise I think. If your front door opens into the living space cold air will rush in and heat out when people come in during Winter, and maybe it is worth thinking about where you will you put all the bags/shoes/ etc that go with coming in and out? Also, not sure if you watch much TV, but where will you put it? Is the fireplace the type where a TV can go near it? When searching for house plans it took us years because once you work out exactly where you can put everything it gets a lot harder! Good luck.
January 12, 2013 at 6:13AM   
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grevillea
cassidydid ideas for moving the fireplace are great too and they give you extra storage
January 12, 2013 at 6:15AM   
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grevillea
if you do much gardening or entertaining outside then the toilet in the laundry allows people to go there instead of walking through your house.
January 12, 2013 at 6:21AM   
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libbybin
I appreciate everyones feedback. However again we're not moving the fireplace. We actually are not having the covered porch in the back so we eliminated the door in the laundry room. We are just doing a regular deck off the dining room with french doors to open up to. I was thinking of putting the tv to the left of the great room on a nice ent unit. To the right I was thinking of doing bookcases against the wall with a little reading area and maybe a desk somewhere. I was also thinking of putting two accent chairs in front of the fireplace with a little coffee table. I don't really want to alter the great room area but yes need help on how to make it a great space. When people come in the front door I don't know what I will do with their jackets etc but I cannot make a foyer as it will close it up too much. We are going to have hardwood floors throughout as well as 9' ceilings and a tray ceiling in the master bedroom. We at first we're going to do cathedral ceilings in the great room however I think our heating costs will be too much. If anyone has any ideas other than to move the fireplace or door that would be great. Some suggestions have been helpful so keep them coming. Thanks everyone!!
January 12, 2013 at 6:38AM   
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grevillea
Those plans of yours sound great and it sounds like you've thought about it a lot. If you have the TV to the left of the front door maybe you might put a couch facing directly onto it and you could put a low 'wall' of built-in cabinetry or even just a low bookcase directly behind the couch - so it forms a kind of barrier to the couch area? The idea of defining ares with rugs seems a good idea. Also, you could define areas by lighting. The reading area sounds nice. I have seen some images/photos on here and elsewhere where perforated metal screens have been used to provide a break up of functional areas while keeping them open.

High ceilings are wonderful. Is your climate predominantly hot or cold? In a hot climate the high ceiling could help and you can use fans that can recirculate air. Fans are actually very useful for moving air from a fireplace.

Maybe on the wall directly to the right of the entry just before the window - the wall that is the front of the house - you could put some hooks or nice cabinets for bags etc.

The French doors off the dining will be very nice.

Maybe it is worth googling images for uses of cabinetry/joinery to define spaces? Can you tell I like storage?

I am not used to working in feet so I can't really tell how big the area is around the fireplace but if it turns out that you can't fit chairs you could consider a low upholstered bench that still allows people to sit there but doesn't obstruct your view of the fireplace.

What will the fireplace surrounds be? There are images of some striking colours or use of stone.

Good luck with it all.
January 12, 2013 at 7:00AM   
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grevillea
Not sure if you have kids, but they tend to have a lot of stuff. That area to the right of the door would also make a great play space for kids and you could put in cupboards to store their toys. That way you can sit down on your couch at night and not have to look at the train sets etc
January 12, 2013 at 7:05AM   
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grevillea
Re your idea of the wall mentioned in your first post, maybe it depends on how you want to use that space. eg, a reading nook could do with extra quiet from the kitchen and a wall provides you with extra space for books, but a play space for young children is best viewed from the kitchen so you can keep an eye on young kids and half-height low wall or cabinet/shelf might be better in that instance and would keep toys from spilling into the walkway space. I also read somewhere that carpet tiles can be a good and cheap way of making your own custom sized 'rug' - though you'd want to see a beautiful hardwood floor.
January 12, 2013 at 7:20AM   
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architectrunnerguy
I'm curious, is this house already framed up?
January 12, 2013 at 7:22AM   
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englishaccent
Here is a look at the door being changed. Just an FYI. Before and After.
January 12, 2013 at 7:39AM     
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architectrunnerguy
@Englishaccent. tha'ts why I was asking if the house is already framed up. From libbybin's posts I would guess that it is.
January 12, 2013 at 8:01AM   
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englishaccent
My post was neutral, just throwing out a visual. :)
January 12, 2013 at 8:20AM   
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libbybin
Yes the house is framed up. I like the door much better visually in the center. The fireplace will have granite tiles and it will be gas. We do not have any kids. It's just the two of us and our two cats! I agree with having hooks by the door for coats and maybe some type of built in. We live in CT so we have hot summers and cold winter and we will have propane heat.
January 12, 2013 at 8:31AM   
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architectrunnerguy
I figured as much. Would have been great to have this discussion a few months ago.
January 12, 2013 at 8:57AM   
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pebblebeachcottage
Wow! What a lot of time and insightful information is being shared on this post. If I can put in my amateur two cents in Libbybin. What about moving the fireplace so that it is centred with the front door. If it was a two-way, all three spaces could enjoy it. If it was brought forward into the great room somewhat, it would create a nice path from bedrooms to kitchen while still retaining a large space all around. This may not be possible but, thought I would throw it out there.
January 12, 2013 at 8:59AM   
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englishaccent
Libbybin, let's address your original question. How to set up the room, moving no doors or fireplace. To start with, kudos to you for a getting a new home. Also I think it is adorable. Here a couple of floor plan ideas. I went old school and printed off your fp then moved my little furniture pieces around. My scale is off a bit but I think it will still work.
As far as the coats got, if you look at the TV unit I placed on the stair wall, the end cabinet could be a closet for quest coats. I imagine your coats will be going into the closets by the garage door so you will not need a lot of space. If you have a big party, throw them on the bed. :)
The two rectangles by the door is representing artwork. You even have room for some cute hallway tables there. Just remove that table next to the wing chair in the corner. Please stop stressing and have fun with this. I know you worry about purchasing the wrong items and so on, but please try and enjoy you new home.
January 12, 2013 at 9:47AM   
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libbybin
@ Englishaccent, FINALLY someone not asking about the darn fireplace or front door. Thank you for answering my question and taking the time to layout our plans with furniture. I never really thought of doing furniture right in the middle of the space. What do you think of the kitchen island should it be left at an an angle or just be a rectangle? Thanks again!
January 12, 2013 at 12:30PM   
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wmpj
I think your kitchen island should be left as is. It looks like if you do it as a rectangle, you would lose one of your entrances into the kitchen so the island would fit in properly. Keep in mind if you position the furniture in the middle of the great room, you'll need outlets in the floor to plug in lamps.
January 12, 2013 at 1:31PM   
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grevillea
Your original request said you wanted more definition and did not say that you could not move the front door or fireplace. I have to say that your capitalisation and emphasis that noone seemed to help or listen to you really upset me. A lot of people, including me, spent time trying to provide helpful info on your actual question and your response to that really made me down for all the people that put their time in to try and help.
January 12, 2013 at 1:47PM   
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grevillea
actually I'm wrong, you did say you can't move the front door, my apologies
January 12, 2013 at 1:50PM   
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architectrunnerguy
Grevillea: That's not Libbybin's "original request". There was no mention regarding the front door or the fireplace (Do you think I would have taken the time to do a drawing if the fireplace was noted as a fixed feature?) She later edited it to read something different.

Nothing wrong with being clearer but she should have mentioned the edit out of respect to all the people who in good faith read the original and tried to help her out.
January 12, 2013 at 2:14PM   
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PRO
Christopher F. Caponigro, AIA
I think the placement of the fireplace is odd. I think if it were placed between the dining room and the great room both would be better defined and easier to furnish.
January 12, 2013 at 3:11PM   
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momx3
I'm studying this floor plan. I'll begin by saying my current master bath has only one sink, and we hate it. We currently have no foyer or coat closet and we hate it. A foyer makes your house more welcoming. At the least I would have a coat closet built under the stairs, facing the great room. I do not see how a 1/2 bath in the laundry is practical. I would take that out. I'm glad we are now moving to a new house with a foyer and coat closet and a master bath with two sinks. We've been in our current home for 8 years and have been regretting a foyer-less plan and missing an extra bathroom sink.
January 12, 2013 at 4:37PM   
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pebblebeachcottage
Libbybin is not asking about her bathroom or her closet but specifically about help with her great room. "However we feel the great room is too open. "
January 12, 2013 at 4:43PM   
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momx3
Yes I know that but I felt it worth mentioning because of my own experience.
January 12, 2013 at 4:48PM   
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piperreno
I really like englishaccents Plan A or B but i wouldn't feel comfortable stepping from the entry into a seating area so I would just take it a step further by building a custom made room divider with sofa or built-in seating on one side and entry on the other. It would give you a proper entry hall with a waist-height counter to place a vase and a wall for artwork or even open shelving, and a drawer for keys etc. The key is to have it designed and made to match the rest of the house style so it becomes an architectural feature. Be careful with measurements so it looks proportionally good and you still get your sofa and other seating into the plan. Expensive, I know, but at least you don't have to move the front door or fireplace!
January 12, 2013 at 4:58PM   
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pcmom1
Ok, probably in for it, but if still possible move front door to the far left? Then you could take the closet away from the bedroom and make it your entry closet.

The front of the house can be tweaked to "look right". I see one large front window instead of two, one of the porch posts removed and replaced with a railing across the porch and post and railing leading up the stairs to front door.
January 12, 2013 at 5:27PM   
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englishaccent
libbybin. The one thing I like about the angle is that it adds one more point of interest to the room. Plus if you put the island and as a corner piece it will take more space away from the neutral zone between the living room and dining room and conversation/book reading spot by the fireplace. I was going back and looking at the island and that is your cook top. Where would that end up on a corner set up?
I did not address this earlier, I would not close off that entrance to the kitchen either. You will probably prefer to have that open once you close it. Stop and think about cooking and doing laundry at the same time, you would miss your door way. :)
January 12, 2013 at 6:08PM   
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englishaccent
It sounds like everyone is scared that you are stepping right into the living room with out an entry way. I say close in the front porch and then you have and entry way. Kidding! Imagine you are walking into Libby's home, she greets you at the door with a huge smiles and welcomes you to her home. You step into a large great room furnished beautifully. Your eyes are enjoying the view and your are excited to get the 25 cent tour. Did you miss the foyer? Did you feel like the anticipation of leaving the foyer and exploring the rest of her home was snuffed? Or were you welcomed right into Libby's home and thrilled to be there? I'm a story teller, can you tell?
If you love Plan A make sure there is a strong rug to ground the area to announce to the rest of the space that this is the Living room not the entry. If you love Plan B the back of the sofa or love seat or two chairs will give you a sense of separation from the door too. Put a sofa table with plant on it or high accessory behind the sofa, love seat or two chairs to further separate door from room. I hope this is helpful and I hope you enjoyed the story. :)
January 12, 2013 at 6:35PM   
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PRO
Eagledzines
Wrap around couch. Leather tufted square foot rest/table. Door hinges reverse for traffic.
January 12, 2013 at 7:01PM   
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pcmom1
Just a guess here: but looks like around 3 feet from back of sofa to the front door. Sort of difficult for guests and hosts to get around.
January 12, 2013 at 10:05PM   
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libbybin
Thank you everyone. I didn't mean to upset anyone about me stating that the fireplace and front door are not moving, but they aren't and in the beginning of this conversation everyone was harping on it so I had to say something. I should have been more clear of what I was asking. I really appreciate the layouts you all have been submitting with furniture on it as this is the most helpful for me. I do not think I am going to add any walls and just keep the space open. Also I do not think I am going to keep the cooktop on the island and will have it centered with the cabinets with a range hood. Thank you again to everyone, I appreciate everyone's feedback.
January 13, 2013 at 6:46AM     
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PRO
Eagledzines
pcmom1--A typical front door is 36". This one is open at a 90 deg angle. That leaves about another foot to the sofa. If the door were hinged the opposite way to direct traffic to the right, 48" is plenty of room to walk into the room. But, the sketch isn't meant to be to scale but just to give some inspiration.
January 14, 2013 at 6:38PM   
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kathy
I like the sectional idea as well. When you're sitting on the sectional, everyone still sees fireplace.
Perhaps tv could go go on wall shared with bedroom.
Backing the sectional, facing the front door you could have long, low bookcase/storage divider (like Ikea Expedit -31"h * 58"L) for a place to store mitts, keys etc. You might even have one backing each end of sectional, if you need that much storage - one side front hall closet stuff, the other more books, dvd, whatever. Whatever size of sectional, you have created a traffic pattern that doesn't having people entering the house walking between TV and viewers, and depending on size of everything still maybe an armchair at front left and definitely at the fireplace.
Hope this all helps!
January 14, 2013 at 7:23PM     
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