In an effort to take our own advice to be more deliberative about decision-making, we have been spending some serious time on floor planning. Unfortunately, it has taken a while because we have been faced with a dilemma downstairs. Trying to fit a decent sized bathroom as well as a hall and doors with modern proportions into a house that was built nearly 100 years ago has been a bit of a challenge. But, we think we have finally landed on a solution….at least we hope so.
What was the plan?
Well, that is kind of the issue. There are architectural plans obviously, but those are based on the original dimensions of the hall, which to be honest was a bit dark and cave-like. We have decided we want the hall to be bigger. That one decision pretty much changes everything.
Also, the original plan included keeping the bedroom doors the size that they were. That was 30 inch doors with oddly small trim jammed into 34 inch openings. Again, not something we were not overly enthusiastic to keep.
Below is a comparison of the original layout of the bedrooms and bathroom. In the new plans, you can see where there would be a closet that opens into the hall as well as one in the bathroom that gives access to the understair storage.
What is the plan?
Again, making the hall and doors more spacious is our main motivation. We want both the hall and the bathroom to be easily navigable for someone in a wheelchair. (No one is in that situation now, but it is a future possibility for some family members, so we just want to make things easier if it comes to that.)
With that mind, we plan to push the bathroom wall in 3 1/2 inches to gain some space in the hall. This should give us a finished dimension in the hall of 38 1/2 inches. In order to make this work, we will need to do some creative trim work around the stairs to cover some structural posts that sit in the new hall space. (You can see what I am talking about in the drawing at the bottom of this post.) This may actually be a blessing in disguise because it will allow us to create an architectural detail to make the stairs look less like they have been jammed into a space that is a little too small for them and more like they were meant to be there.
The next issue was doors. We were initially thinking 36 inch doors to make sure there was plenty of room for a wheelchair to move easily. Well, on further examination we found that was probably not going to be possible. Basically, there would have been barely any room in the bathroom for a sink to allow for the door swing. A closer look at ADA requirements showed that a minimum 32 inch “clear” door opening is necessary for wheelchair accessibility. This basically means a 34 inch door. Our main concern is bathroom accessibility, and the good news is we have enough room. A 34 inch door will also allow room for trim around the bathroom door, which has been a concern since we started this process.
We were hoping to have 34 inch doors on the bedrooms too, but we realized that would leave almost no space for trim. We may end up going with 32 inch doors here since we’re not quite as concerned with accessibility to these areas. (This is one piece that is still up in the air.)
The Wet Bar
“Hold on a minute! Wet bar? That wasn’t in the plans.” Correct, you are. That was not in the plans, but to be honest we are going to have so much more closet space in the house than we really need that we thought, “Why not?” So, we traded the new hall closet for a wet bar. It will be easily accessible from the dining room and the plumbing will be a breeze thanks to the proximity to the bathroom. Wet bar, done!
This has probably been the biggest sticking point. Will the bathroom be big enough? For a while, we were wavering on this question, but we have finally (hopefully) decided that it will. We have already chosen the tub, which is 32 inches wide. Pretty standard. We are also planning to having 18 inches from the center of the toilet on each side. This is what code recommends, although we could go as little as 15 inches from center if we want to make more space for the sink. Right now, the sink is still the unknown in this whole equation. We chose a sink a loooooong time ago, and of course it is no longer available. Typical. We know we want a wall-mount, so we are in the process of looking for another keeping in mind the space restrictions. These are a few we are considering. As per usual, we have different preferences, so we’ll see who wins. We’d be happy to hear your opinion if you care to weigh in.
There has been a lot of discussing, measuring, marking, discussing, remeasuring, and remarking. We’re hoping that we have finally hit on a plan that we can be happy with and that can actually be built. If we have, framing is up next! Then we can go through this whole planning process again for the upstairs. Yahoo! I’ll try to contain my enthusiasm.
Here is my totally amazing (and so totally to scale) drawing of the whole thing. Don’t give me a hard time. I am not the engineer half of this team. Clearly.
Here’s a PDF which may be a little easier to see. Downstairs Floorplan (Bath)