ONe LR or two in a new house? - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-19-2006, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are looking at houseplans, and DH thinks we need one w/ two living rooms. ONe will be our front, pretty, for guests room, w/ no TV, just chairs and NO kids/toys, ect. THis would be what you see when you walk in the door. THe second LR would be on the back of hte house, a family room w/ a TV, and the kids can play in there. Is this overkill? Right now we live in a 1500sq. ft house, and we are practically tripping over toys every day, no matter how often I clean up. I even do the toy rotation thing, and only keep one small box of toys upstairs. They just take that ONE box and strow it everywhere. DH wants one nice room that does't look like a disaster when you walk in the door. What do you think?

Here is a link:
http://www.dongardner.com/plan_details.aspx?pid=2695

We don't really need all that space, IMO, but every house we find w/ the number of rooms, the size we want is at least 2400 sq ft. We also like these:

http://www.dongardner.com/plan_details.aspx?pid=2530

http://www.dongardner.com/plan_details.aspx?pid=2619

We would just have to tack on that extra room ont he back? What do you think?
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Old 09-19-2006, 09:16 PM
 
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i like having my living room without toys, etc. but that is the room where the TV is (i try to discourage kids from watching it). so, i vote for the 2 rooms.
however, if i had it to do all over again, i would prefer a library to a second living room. large bookcases, nice cushy chairs. and that room would actually get use, as opposed to our l/r right now where no one goes unless they are watching tv.
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Old 09-19-2006, 09:41 PM
 
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I vote for 2
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Old 09-19-2006, 11:20 PM
 
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We don't really need all that space, IMO, but every house we find w/ the number of rooms, the size we want is at least 2400 sq ft.
Given the increased construction and maintenance costs of a too-large house, it may be worth the money to have customized plans drawn up (which of course would also allow you to add other customizations you want).
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Old 09-19-2006, 11:39 PM
 
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I guess it depends on how you live. I prefer a smallish house - less to clean, less to heat, less to furnish, lower taxes, etc.

I've always found it wasteful to have a room just for show, that nobody uses. I see formal livingrooms in most of the houses that I visit, but we are never entertained in that room. Instead, we all go into the kitchen or the den, so the point of the front room is ???

We are developing plans for a new house. Instead of a formal livingroom and family room/den, we are going to have a living room with a small library/reading alcove off to one side of the living room. So there is a somewhat secluded retreat with a couple of chairs.
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Old 09-19-2006, 11:54 PM
 
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Our front room is the living room- no tv, lots of books,computer, fireplace. We have a family room off the dining room which has a large toy closet, and thats generally where the biggest messes are. I like the idea of two rooms- but wouldnt want to have a room we didnt LIVE in. Since the computer is in the living room, and some cozy reading chairs, we usually end up here at night...
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Old 09-20-2006, 12:04 AM
 
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Given the increased construction and maintenance costs of a too-large house, it may be worth the money to have customized plans drawn up (which of course would also allow you to add other customizations you want).
This is what we are doing. The 2-story, 3-bedroom, 1 1/2 bath house will be 1600 sq ft, plus 600 sq ft of finished basement space (exercise room, laundry room, and pantry storage). The custom plans will be pricey, but it should be less expensive to build, and just what we want.
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Old 09-20-2006, 12:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We will get customized plans, I think, when we get closer to actually having a plan :P Right now we are just trying to decide what to put where And we will have a basment, but no upstair (I think). Just one level that we live on, and a basment. If the house is really big, like the first link, we won't have a full basement. We also run a business from our home, and people do stop by. DH ususally goes outside on the front porch instead of inviting them in. We do plan to have a study/office on the main floor, by the front door for this reason. It just seems when you add up all the rooms, the house gets big! Also, I think we would use the formal LR as a reading room, ect., it jsut won't be used by the kids w/ toys everywhere. It will be a NO TOY ZONE!
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Old 09-20-2006, 12:41 AM
 
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i agree with the need for a "show" living area that you never have to worry about cleaning up when people come over - but the truth is, people almost always walk with you into where your kitchen is anyway, to have drinks etc.

the ideal would be a kitchen in between 2 living rooms, both with doors that slide shut:
- normally, you'd keep the formal living room door shut, and have the kids play area, meals, tv and living area adjoining the kitchen.
- and when guests come, you'd slide the family room door shut (to hide the messy toys and cushions etc), and just have the guests move between the kitchen and the formal living room.
that way you can also keep the kids and the guests apart, each having their own space - kids can still have their playroom when guests are over, and you can check on them regularly.

one thing you could try with your family / playroom to keep the toys under control, is to partly subdivide that room's floor space (eg with a sofa across part of the middle of the room, or a low bureau), so that no matter how the toys are strewn, they won't make it all the way across the room. that way DH at least has a cleared area to relax in while the kids play nearby to their heart's content.
that way, you can also just throw toys that "leak" out back over the sofa into the play area, which will suffice until you all put the toys properly back in the toybox.
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Old 09-20-2006, 12:46 AM
 
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It's pretty standard around here that all the newer homes are built with a living room out front and then a larger family room adjacent to the kitchen. Makes a lot of sense if you have a large quanitity of toys/stuff.

We have a 1950s house, so instead of the family room, we have a huge rec room in the basement. The space really gets used, and I kind of like not having to go down there and look at the mess.
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Old 09-20-2006, 10:16 AM
 
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We have a 1950's ranch which had a family room added on sometime after the house was built. We use our living room all the time, but we do have the TV and the toys in the family room. I like having both, but our house is still only about 1500 sf. And it suits us fine.

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Old 09-20-2006, 11:05 AM
 
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We aren't considering building but if we do move we will look for two living rooms and a kitchen downstairs. There are six of us and as we all share bedrooms it would be really good if we had two rooms where we could do different things without having to be together all the time. Something like a 'working' room and a lounging tv room.
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Old 09-20-2006, 01:23 PM
 
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We have two living areas, but we also house-share with my BIL and his GF. The plasma TV, humongous collection of DVD's, DH's computer, and BIL's GF's computer, the foldout couch, and a couple of cushy chairs are in one living area (the one toward the back), while a sectional couch, my desk, bookshelves full of books, and the altar are in the front living room, along with DD's mini table and chairs and bouncy horse. Guess which room I like better?

Of course, I'm by far the clutterbug of the house (not counting DD), so my desk tends to be rather cluttered, along with the floor around it, and it's in the front room near the front door. I do clean up when guests are coming.

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Old 09-20-2006, 02:24 PM
 
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I vote for two, but stringently disagree with having "a pretty one for guests." I grew up with that mindset and so many people never even walked in their living rooms, and lived in smaller dens. We have two, and use the front one for a "living" room, and the second for the schoolroom / office. It would be the music / playroom if we didn't homeschool.
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Old 09-20-2006, 03:36 PM
 
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We have three. The living room is in the front of the house, very peaceful, no tv, we use it all the time for reading, talking, playing board games, etc. The family room is on the bottom floor (we have 3 floors) and contains a tv, computer, foosball table, video games and lots of comfy furniture. This room is used mostly by our kids and their friends (my kids are 15, 12 and 9). The third is what we call the "fireplace room", on the middle floor right off the kitchen. We all gather there most regularly and I especially like it because I can be part of things even when I'm cooking. So, I would vote for at least two...especially as your family grows up, you'll be happy to have the space.
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Old 09-20-2006, 03:54 PM
 
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I vote for two, but stringently disagree with having "a pretty one for guests." I grew up with that mindset and so many people never even walked in their living rooms, and lived in smaller dens. We have two, and use the front one for a "living" room, and the second for the schoolroom / office. It would be the music / playroom if we didn't homeschool.
I agree. I had a friend in high school who used to refer to her livingroom as "The Museum" because us kids weren't allowed to touch anything or even sit on the chairs or use the room in anyway. It was strictly for guests. So weird.
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Old 09-20-2006, 04:04 PM
 
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My sil had her old house set up like that and it was nice. If I was building a house I've thought about it. It wasn't a no one allowed in it room but it was kept cleaner than the family room in the back of the house and it was decorated more so you saw a nice room when you looked in.

I wouldn't have a no kids allowed pretty room but I wouldn't want toys and stuff in it.
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Old 09-20-2006, 05:48 PM
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have you tried the exercises in the book The Not So Big House?

the theory is that you should build based on what you use and need, and also based on how your family will grow. The book has a series of questions about where your family spends the most time, what you perciece your needs will be over time (for example, in a couple of years, toys will be more contained as children age and learn to put toys away), including things like how often you entertain and how you entertain.

in the circles that my hsuband and i run in, all but two of us DO NOT have separate living rooms/dining rooms. Whenever we go to these homes (both of which have young children under 5), we always gravitate toward the kitchen and 'family room' and not the formal spaces.

also, one of the families bought the extra room for the same reason that you are talking about--only to discover that she rarely entertains, and when she does, it's usually friends and family who are completely "ok" with any mess to begin with.
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Old 09-20-2006, 07:02 PM
 
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We turned our formal living room into our home office. We never entertain any "formal" guests. Our guests are friends with kids and our families. We all end up in the kichen and family room anyway. That's where the food and fun is!

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Old 09-20-2006, 07:26 PM
 
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I like the idea of having the extra room being the library, maybe a game table and a fireplace, that sounds nice.

~Joan, Happy mom to 2 beautiful kiddos, one new puppy and 2 lovely felines
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Old 09-20-2006, 10:30 PM
 
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If you are not going to have a basement, or a bonus room (one of them has a bonus room above the garage I think?) then I would definitely go with the two rooms. One for sitting, talking, drinking coffee, etc. One for instrument playing, toy storage, more relaxed seating, game playing, messes etc. Keeping the first room fancy isn't practical though. Create relaxing, comfortable atmospheres in both rooms so that they are both equally used. We have two rooms, and one has mismatched furniture, a sliding glass door leading to the backyard, our computer, TV screen (movies only- no TV) and this is where we will store most of the baby things (swing, bouncy chair etc if we end up needing them) and kids toys. The front room is so comfortable and is where I sit to read, knit, drink coffee, watch the fireplace, sit and talk with friends, use the phone and it is also where company congregates. Kids tend to go to the back room, and adults to the front.
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Old 09-21-2006, 01:08 AM
 
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We did something different that's worked out fantastic for us!

We bought our house - a 1971 ranch - and gutted it. It was VERY outdated and needed a lot of work. We took out the wall separating the small, galley kitchen and the small living room. We took the whole space down to the wall studs and the subfloor. Then, we put in a nice sized kitchen with a HUGE island (5' x 6'). On the living-room side of the room, we left the fireplace and have added a new couch as well as side tables and a bookcase. So....it's basically a huge eat-in kitchen!
On the other side of this room is the dining room table, so it's 3 rooms in one. We keep toys, tv's, etc. out of this room and keep all that stuff in the family room.

We did it this way because we didn't see the need in having a room that would get used VERY infrequently. Most of our guests are either family (IL's) or other mom's from my MOM's club, so there's no one to impress :. The room you see when you walk in is still nice (no toys, etc.), but it's also useful. The other reason we're SO glad we did it this way is that when we have guests over, the adults can congregate in the kitchen (where they do anyway) and have enough seating, etc. Meanwhile, the kids are all in the family room (where the toys are), which is just a short hallway away. Perfect!

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Old 09-22-2006, 04:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You all are full of ideas! Now we are back to building a country-style home w/ 2 bedrooms upstairs, and only the great room on the main floor, and making hte kids toys stay in the basement (we would put a LR at the bottom of the stairs, so it's not a HUGE ways to walk, but it would be out of site? I just DON"T know. I do know that we do need two living spaces, one w/ plenty of toy playing area. Keep the ideas coming, mamas!

Another question, how do I get a big enough lanjndry room! UGH! ALl these house plans have stupid laundry rooms that are either a hallway w/ a W/D there, or a small mudroom connecting the garage and kitchen. I want at LEAST an 8x10 room, and I want cabinets, a small sink, and a window in it I'm not asking for much, am I?
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Old 09-22-2006, 04:53 PM
 
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We didn't build, but we purchased a home and knew we would be doing a large remodel before moving in. I sat down with the good old legal pad and started listing how we lived. What activities and where we were trying to do them in the old house. I actually measured things like how much of the living room we really used. While the room looked fairly larger, if you measured where you are actually sitting and moving around it can sometimes be only a portion of the space.

We decided on a bedroom for everyone in a family of six. All personal items and toys to be stored there. Very large kitchen and eating area with a love seat and space for craft type storage and games, which we always did at the kitchen table, no matter how large the house. DH ended up with a large home office on the main floor and now runs his business from home. I wanted a space for myself, so I have a room right off the kitchen. Our living room appears small at 11 x 17, but we only watch TV, read or sit there. We don't play large motor games there and I love being only a few feet from the fireplace. It is also NOT in any traffic pattern, so no living room space is lost.

Previous home had a traditional L-shaped living room and dining room, with two additional family rooms. We all ended up in the same space anyway and most of the house just sat. We now effectively use the same amount of space with well planned storage, etc.

We don't do any formal entertaining. We have no need for formal spaces. With private spaces for each of us, messes are always contained. Keeping the house clean is a breeze. The end result was 5 bedrooms, 3 full baths, 2 home offices, large entry and closets there, large laundry room, living room, kitchen/dining. We were able to downsize from a 3 car garage to a two car very easily.

I also read all of the books by Sarah Susanska in the Not So Big House series. It gave me very useful information on what I didn't like in other places. Ideas about natural light. Every bit of our home now has some type of natural light. We do not have traditional 36" hallways. All hallways are at least 5' wide. This house flows, which allows for much more comfort in our living spaces. This home really works for us and I believe it's because I really evaluated our needs, didn't get caught up in how the house looks from the outside or what the current fad is like huge master bathrooms. Detailing the space to how your family functions will allow the home to work, even as the kids grow and needs change.

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Old 09-22-2006, 05:20 PM
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have you considered hiring an architect?
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Old 09-22-2006, 06:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The "how we live" written down sounds like an excellent idea. How do I do it? Just write down what we do and where we do it? I am hoping to make a house that is easy to take care of, leaves room for other children should we have them, adn that grows w/ the girls. The "must haves" for me include a minimum 12x12 kitchen, with a pantry nearby (or the utility room if it's big enough will serve the pantry purpose, too), a large laundry room w/ cabinetry and a utility sink (and I really want a window in this room, I want it to seem inviting instead of like a dungeon). We also want a seperate powder room for guest, so they won't have to go into our bathrooms. I want one BR for us, and one for the girls, and the powder room. THere will be more in teh basement, but I havne't got that far yet w/ my thinking DH needs a LARGE mudroom, infact we plan to put a w/d in there, too, so he can leave all his mess in one place. He works manual labor and gets FILTHY dirty, covered in grease, ect. everyday, and I want a place for him to come in, strip off and get hosed down I want this room to be tile or concrete, so I can just hose it down to clean it. We also need office space as we run our business from home. So, how do I convert this info into a floor plan? I am still missing info on teh actual living space, I'm still trying to think that thru.
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Old 09-22-2006, 06:57 PM
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yeah, it starts out pretty basic like that. i can't find the book right now, or i'd put the questions out there for you.

there are a lot of big things like "which room/rooms do you spend the most time in?" and small things like "do you have a collection that you want to display and store?" these sorts of things can lend themselves to different kinds of decisions in how things are built and built in.

the primary aspect is to decrease 'less used' space and make space more functional. most modern homes have multiple places for eating: dining room table, kitchen table/breakfast nook, and island bar seating. yet, many families rarely use the formal dining room, opting for the kitchen table or island bar seating more often than formal. So the NSB house motto involves cutting out that extra table, and making the main table more functional/prominent and part of the house as a whole. And then this frees up square footage for other rooms/useage.

it helps to create multi-use spacse and appropriate work/storage for what yu want. for example, the wash room that you might want could be fulfilled in a smaller space. in my friends NSB home, she wanted what you want out of a laundry room, but where the previous or first architect wanted to put it was well away from the closets (bedrooms) and bathrooms where the laundry would ultimately need to be. so the NSB house architect put the wash room in the hall way in a wide-closet setting. across form this were built-in cabinents with a beautiful countertop made of stone for folding laundry or whatever else. there was a cupola that ran above the hallway, giving a lot of natural light to the space (and a sense of openness), and the laundry room (above the washers) had cabinetry as well. it had all of the storage needs, without needing to add another room--there was a sink next to the washers as well (it was as if it were three washers wide in there--sink, washer, dryer). and, it was easy to get the things from the bathroom to the wash, from the wash to the bedrooms to be put away because everything was so close it encouraged this behavoir.

so, it's about being creative with space so that you can utilize the square footage elsewhere. as we know, square footage equals money. so, if you can save square footage for things like a 'play room' or simply cut out space that is 'unencessary' but still gives you a house that does everything that you want and need, you save cash and can spend that on landscaping or somehting.
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Old 09-22-2006, 06:58 PM
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this is going to sound funny, but a 'pittsburgh potty' might be right for your DH. i have a client now, but i'll write about it later.
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Old 09-22-2006, 07:06 PM
 
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Our dream house has a walk out basement so that area down there can be the play room. But I am also more interested in a great room upstairs where the kitchen is open to it. The think I disliked most about our old house was that when I was in the kitchen I felt I was miles away from everyone else.

My family of 3 (plus pup) Indigo (Aimee), Rob (dp), Ryne (ds) & Phebe (dog), plus my BIL's family of 3.

 
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Old 09-22-2006, 08:46 PM
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a pittsburgh potty was a common feature in pittsburgh homes when it was a mining and steel city. obviously, men came home from work pretty filthy.

on the side of the house was a door that opened the the stairwell from the first floor to the basement. down in the basement was a shower, toilet, and small sink--usually under the stairs--and near the washer. the basements weren't finished, but that was common.

a friend of mine, who builds home himself (literally, start to finish on his own with little or no help), built his own home with a large laundry/mud room. you entered from the side (there was a back door to the kitchen garden and back yard, a front door facing the street, and then a side door from the driveway (the garage was detached). there's an entry that has a type of rubbery flooring that can be washed and water splashes on no problem. he has a big, tiled shower there on the one side, and opposite this is a closet with clean clothes.

beyond there, he walks into the laundry room which is sink/washer/dryer on the one side and then cabinetry on the other side. he tosses his clothes in the wash and draws out the dry stuff to be folded.

then you walk into a part of the kitchen/family room area.

it's a really nice house--he designed and built it himself for his wife and his child and himself. they don't know if they'll have more (one is common where he lives); he says "the house is too big for us"--it's a beautiful house. i just think he wants/needs an excuse to build another.
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