I had the chance to sit down with my brother over Easter and endure his disparaging critique of my house plan. I guess dream homes are fine as long as you have the money for them. But really, mine was a little too grandiose for where I’m coming from. (Where is that exactly anyways?) Instead, Reuben gave me his super cheap, three story, 1000 sf., engineer free house plan with a 16’x24′ footprint, that looks sort of like this. Voila.
Only sawed in half at the peak of the roof, leaving what amounts to a tall, skinny tower with a slant roof. (You just have to hold your hand over half of this picture and squint. You’ll see it.) The dimensions are determined by how far you can span with the cheapest available floor joists. Likewise, a slanted roof negates the need for trusses.
Like the last plan, the bank of windows on the south side will be catching all the sun. We’re toying with different deck arrangements. Marc is reluctant about my plans for a sun deck on the southern exposure since it shades the windows below. In which case we might have a double deck on the east side, which is not what is pictured here. (You’ll have to excuse his shoddy drafting. He drew my house plan once and like hell was he doing it again. Or so he said.)
We would like a daylight basement on the ground level. (The grading is what is pictured in the drawing on the right.) Provided our acreage had a nice hill. Otherwise I’m not opposed to some sketchy looking tower out in the open.
Because wouldn’t that be awesome? Although I suppose you are all wondering where we are going to fit. …Considering how I have just flippantly halved my square footage. The answer being somewhere else. Like in a garden shed or something.
After my brother derided my house plan and told me all the ways building inspectors would hate me, I decided to go out and take a look at his 200 sf. shop. 200 square feet flies under the radar. I thought, “Huh, I just need five of these instead.” Reuben said, “Only if you want someone to come take your children.” Man, people are so picky. I guess you still need a house to hook up to electricity and plumbing and ward off CPS. “Which very thing I was eager to do.” If I scale the main house down to 1000 sf. then I can make the auxiliary sleeping/studio/shop buildings however I want, out of whatever I want, and whenever I want. That way they don’t influence the initial budget. We did some really bad math and estimate that we could build the main house for around $30,000. Someone asked my husband, “Are you okay with this?” To which Marc replied, “I really wouldn’t care if we lived in a tent.” That’s my man.
The main entrance will be on the second level, into the kitchen/dining area of the house. This is where all the action happens. From here I can cook, help little kids with their school, give the older kids assignments, and monitor traffic. The third floor, on the other hand, is kind of a retreat. A big open space for bookshelves, desks, and comfy chairs. And probably, in the early days, a stack of those handy, roll-up Ikea mattresses. The ceiling reaches a height of 12′ on the southern end, and I would like to have a narrow reading loft at the top, accessed by a rope ladder. The walk-out basement houses the wood stove, laundry room, family closet, clothes storage, and communal bathroom.
Oddly enough, the hardest thing I had to come to terms with with the new layout was not the space issue, but the sheet-rock. My brother said that if I really only cared about being cheap, then I would have to get over my aversion to drywall. Consequently, with a smaller, more intimate and more finished space, I couldn’t really transfer my design from the old plan to the new. It needed something else. The first house was essentially a barn, with a heavy duty commercial feel. This, on the other hand, is a cottage. A very crazy, slightly modern, slightly rustic, and now un-repentantly English – cottage. Complete with it’s own Pinterest board. Let me take you on a tour starting with the first floor. Across from the walk-out basement there will be covered firewood storage for a year’s supply of wood. (I like to have my ticket to wasteful and exorbitant heating in the bag, way before it even starts to get cold. I have three seasons worth in my yard right now, just in case.)
Crossing over a salvaged concrete patio to the back door.
Where you will be met by a Wellies rack and a foot washing station.
As I mentioned before, I find shoes to be overrated.
Inside the back door will be my Jotul stove, cuz it’s hot. If you’re not sleeping in the house, you’re not going to want to tromp through the snow in the middle of the night to put wood in it. A luxurious necessity. I insist.
Straight ahead will be the laundry room, indoor clothes line, and a long double clothes rack. Boy clothes on the back side, girl clothes on the front – arranged smallest to largest. My guess is that the clothes rack itself will provide enough privacy for the boys to change behind. Otherwise the bathroom stalls can double as fitting rooms.
When you walk in the back door there will be an open, communal bathroom to the right. I didn’t want to close in the bathroom since this is a daylight basement, and I want the light to make it through the whole space. Because what good are rooms without windows?
In our plan, you will see that there is room for two toilet stalls and one large bathtub stall. But I think I want to switch that to one large bathing stall, one small shower stall, and a single toilet. By all means, use the outhouse.
The stairs on this place are a bit epic. I’m assuming that only makes them more fun. Personally, I like living with stairs. When my brother asks me if I ever get any exercise I respond by saying, “Do you have any idea how many times I go up and down these? Because I don’t think you do.”
On the second level I tried to cut the traffic flow off from my kitchen with a defensive bar. In fact, I might put a gate on the remaining opening and issue threats. One end of the kitchen still houses a walk in pantry and a potential scullery sink/dishwasher. Again, there will be no upper cabinets, just windows and some room for hanging pots above the bar and range. Reuben also shot down my hopes for steel cabinet frames. Too expensive. But I think framed wood ones will be fine.
Again, I don’t like how most of these pictures mistake my cheapness for coldhearted minimalism. As though grey were the most righteous color. I imagine my kitchen to be a very colorful place full of very interesting and useful objects. One of the reasons I don’t like “shabby chic” is that old ladies pick up lots of cool things, pile them in the most inconvenient places, and for what seems like no purpose whatsoever. I love to collect beautiful things at yard sales for quarters, and then I like to break them.
This yard sale season I have decided to begin my vintage china collection for my new house. I’ve been holding off, but the last yard sale did me in. I can resist no longer. The game is on.
Alongside the kitchen runs my 12′ kitchen table/work space. It’s what I’ve always wanted. Right now I’m seating 7 where there is room for 4. One of my pet peeves. Which this should fix.
I think having a little shelf underneath the table will help with stowing school stuff. Although I know from experience that a ridiculously huge table is ridiculously hard to keep clear. Maybe it’s just a necessary evil if I ever plan on being able to have 20 people to dinner. And I do. Along the external wall of the pantry will be a built in book shelf for more school storage and cookbooks.
In the corner by the stair landing I would like to have a cozy chair and table for reading, giving lessons, and early morning tea, nestled in by the stovepipe.
And if it does come to drywall, I think I can counter the effect by doing a heavy, plaster-like texture, complemented with wood window trim, wood ceilings, and wood floors. If our future property has timber on it, I can mill it and use it cosmetically, but not structurally. Which is why $13,000 of my budget has to go to 2x6s. But I think I can still be happy if I never have to paint ceilings, trim, or doors. Ever again. One of my favorite things about this plan is the absence of interior doors. I had the count on my last plan down to 7. It may seem odd, as I’m sure most people take doors for-granted. But apparently they never bought a house with 16 doors, in which every single one had to be replaced or in some way modified. I’ve had to shorten doors (after stuffing them with newspaper and wood putty), make doors longer, rent a concrete saw because the hinges of a door were inside the wall, replace slider doors for French, replace accordion doors, make a door opening an inch and a half smaller because no doors existed in this apparently imaginary size, not to mention replace every hinge, door knob, and stick of molding around, near, or on every door. I hate doors. The only doors on this house are the three exterior. One in the basement leading to the patio, one upstairs leading to the sun deck, and the entry door on the main level leading to the east deck and outdoor kitchen.
I would like to have a canning kitchen on the porch, as well as a sink to rinse fresh produce and a place for Marc to grill. The downside being that it really doesn’t make much of an entrance. But I imagine these are the kinds of things we will begin to deal with on site when the time comes. All I know is that an outside kitchen is a bit of a must. Especially with a smaller house. And since we’re back outside I thought I would mention the landscaping. There isn’t any.
And we will never own another lawnmower. Ahha.
But I do want my own formal garden. A place for growing lavender, tea, roses, and cut flowers. As well as a special place for the girls to have tea parties. All in all it makes me very excited to have my dream cut down to size, and yet still be something I like. We’re getting closer to being able to sell our house and it’s good to know that if we found some land, there might just be a way to get on it. The hardest part is getting there.
**Update** Apparently I did not mention this, but I want two bump outs in the stairwells for window seats. Carving out a little useful/quiet space. Holes you can crawl in and shut the curtains. I call dibs.