Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Our (DIY'd) Home for 10 - Question 2

House rendering of how the plan would look with all phases complete...
We already know the garage won't look like that, and
Hubby nixed the red in favor of gray.
The porch gable was lost in the shuffle of construction.

"Did you guys design it?" 

On our third date (2 1/2 years after we'd met in our college dorm), Hubby was telling me that his big dream was to build a home of his own.  Having always been interested in architecture, I asked what kind of home he wanted to build.  

And, nonchalantly, he answered....
"Any kind you want."  :-)

Of course, I was positively impressed, not realizing that coming up with just the right romantic thing at just the right moment --thereby making huge points-- was, pretty much, a once in a lifetime event.  ;-)  A silver-tongued devil, he is not.  But that can definitely be a good thing, too.*   

We thought we'd build fairly soon after getting married.... as we did a few more times during our marriage.  For whatever economic or logistical reasons, it wasn't right and we pursued other plans, until this last move.

Gustav Stickley's Craftsman
Homes and Bungalows
All through the 21, pre-build years we discussed the type of homes we liked.  One of our main goals was to contruct new that looked old... A house that had the modern niceties, but looked like it had been there 50 or 100 years. We didn't quite hit that goal, but it would've taken more time and money than we had available to do it 'right.'  

Sears, Roebuck Catalog
of Houses, 1926:
Small Houses of the Twenties
We knew we wanted covered porches. We favored Craftsman homes, since they used a lot of great woodworking details that Hubby and I both related to, and which felt so homey.  We married in the mid-80s when this type of style and detail was certainly not the norm, and we liked the idea of doing something no one else was into. As seemed to be usual, our plans may have been ahead of their time, but by the time we got to do anything about them, we were behind, and Craftsman-style homes were everywhere.  

California Bungalows
of the Twenties
I'd studied many books of house plans from the early 1900s.  Plans from the Sears and Roebuck catalogs of mail-order houses were good and fascinating resources, as were books showing the home designed by architects of that period, like Gustav Stickley, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Greene and Greene. 
The American Foursquare
 1936 Sears Cornell Kit Home
shown on AntiqueHomeStyle.com
As our family grew, I could see that the customary 1 1/2 story Craftsman Bungalow, which we loved, was going to be a tough fit.  We needed more upstairs room for bedrooms.  The American Foursquare style, though, appeared to be just what we needed.

Hubby and I make a good team... I am the idea/creative person, and he is the 'make it happen' guy.  I design and he builds, and that's, primarily, what happened with our home.

My first plan was too big, and I had to start over, planning a home we could build in stages.... Most essential part now, with a family room and garage to come later.  With 8 kids at home, most all day, we couldn't exactly start small, but we had to try to stay as modest as possible without being cramped.
First try at the kitchen... 2 standard cooktops
and 1 long island with seating. Fridges with doors
that swing in inconvenient directions.  The 2nd sink
was an attempt at an in-the-kitchen butler's pantry.  Yikes.

The kitchen was the priority, as that seemed to be where we liked to spend our time, and 3+ meals a day for 10 people is a major undertaking, for which it was worth preparing properly.  
The table can
extend through
39 feet if needed
The next important thing was a place to have a table that would fit us daily for family meals, with room to expand for guests and extended family occasions, including when the kids grow up and bring back families.  8 children with 1 spouse and an average of 3 kids each, means, God willing, we'll want room to seat 40 to 50 people!  This meant situating the dining room so that the table could stretch into other rooms when necessary, but they needed to be useful to us the rest of the time...Every square inch counts and needs to earn its keep.

Then, of course, we needed places for all of us to sleep, and bathrooms.  Since that relates more directly to Question #3, I'll leave those details (and the 2nd floor) for the next post.

I started on graph paper, getting workable ideas in mind, hammering out the bigger challenges like house flow, and the staircase location.  Using Chief Architect drafting software, I drew and redrew the top idea, until it seemed to work and make sense.  The 3D renderings (like the kitchen and exterior renderings above) I was able to create and study were priceless in the process.  --Some ideas that seem great in theory, can look pretty bad in real life, and it's nicer to see that on a computer screen instead of when it's finished in a house!  Plus, it's invaluable to be able to tweak general ideas into better efficiency.  

Click to view larger
Many would say most of our rooms are too small, especially compared to the space allotted to the kitchen and dining room.   Although, without the future family room, we're a little short on seating room for watching TV or a movie together, we don't regret prioritizing the space in that way.  It works for the way we live.  

I took my plans to our architect friend, hoping for some professionally creative tweaks that would add a bit of pizazz or an extra dose of perfection to what I'd drawn.  He said he could never have planned to the extent I did on how this house would be used to our best advantage, and he had no improvements to offer.  He did help with roof pitches, beam sizes, etc., and since he was the high school drafting teacher at the time, also oversaw Prince Stoic's creation of the official set of construction drawings to submit for our permits, and to use as building guide.

The initial plan... See bathroom to the left, with storage area
by back door.  Full wall of shallow cabinets facing the stairs,
and tiny sewing room off desk area south of kitchen
A major, and wonderfully providential change was made in the midst of framing... Hubby figured out that the main floor toilet, as planned, would end up sitting directly over a floor joist.  

The result: Bath more central to living area,
larger sewing room for kids to join me,
and my beloved pantry!  A smaller desk area
in the hall left room for the fridge/freezer set.
With no room to scoot it one way or another, it gave me reason to rethink some other issues I'd questioned.  The changes we made at that time gained us a pantry and a much bigger sewing area, which we needed, besides locating the bathroom in a more convenient 

location.  I lost some hallway cabinet storage I miss, but mostly, I'm very thankful for the 'problem' that led to the great improvements.

*    Happy Valentine's Day, Hubby... I love you!!   
Thank you for being the part of my team that makes dreams happen.
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