Design touches are what make a home your built-for-you home. In this post, I’ll introduce our lower level house plans with a walk through of a few of the design features. Let’s start with the exterior: We dream of achieving minimal outdoor maintenance and maximum outdoor living and here are a few design elements to take us there:
Planting low, drought resistant ground cover on a small lot with a gravel perimeter around the house – no watering, minimal weeding and no mowing!
Creating a driveway of gravel which is less costly and more environmental friendly than asphalt.
Providing streamline, no fuss outdoor storage – easy to access items by building a wide and shallow shed. Roll up doors can open easily even after a heavy snow fall. Winter storage on one side, summer on the other. By attaching it to the house, we save a bit on siding. Elegant!
A screened porch, accessed directly from the house, extends living space and keeps bugs out of the picture. Originally, the porch was tucked on the west side to make way for plenty of solar heat gain. But sliding it around to the south-west corner provides some benefits. It reduces some solar heat gain opportunity, but it allows for a bit of a courtyard effect on the south side and it’ll give us eastward and sunrise views. Most importantly, this move means we can fit a more efficient kitchen design into a smaller area inside by allow us to slide the exterior door from the west to the south side.
A screen porch may seem like an unnecessary luxury on a small budget build, but with a small interior, a screen porch expands living space and, for someone who is allergic to bug bites, a screen porch greatly enhances the enjoyment of outdoor living.
Heading inside, the stairs are in the most cost-effective and space-saving location. A tall window on the bottom landing visually widens the foyer.
The placement of the lower bath is directly below the upper bath and between the mechanical room and the kitchen. This design keeps plumbing runs very short – saving money on material and installation and saving on hot water production by getting the heated water to its destination quickly.
The down side of this bathroom placement is that it directly opens toward the front door. A few design elements have been planned to draw attention away from the bathroom door: the previously mentioned window on the lower stair landing, vertical step-to-ceiling spindles on the staircase, open shelves on the left, a rustic wood barn door on right and two dramatic light fixtures spaced down the length of the hall.
Rather than a separate dining room, a slick space-saving design sets the table partly under the kitchen island, creating an eat-at counter while allowing for an open floor area. We’ll move the table out into the center of the room for entertaining.
The key to custom designing your home is to honestly consider how you really live. For example, we admit we never eat at our dining table except when we have company, so why use up space accommodating a table that sees action only a few hours each month?
Window placement is key to beautiful design and this one of the many areas where an architect is worth his or her weight in gold. Architect Vincent has placed and sized every window with intent. Some are placed for views, solar heat gain and ventilation. While others create long sight-lines. Some are high and square for privacy and others high and square for little surprise vignettes. Architect Vincent has thoughtfully positioned windows to invite shafts of direct sunlight in at surprising angles at specific times of the year. It’s the little touches the make it our built-for-us home.