May 2008

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You're gonna hear the washing machine and dryer when you're trying to sleep. And hear people in there doing laundry when you're trying to sleep. The storage room is going to be a disaster. You're not going to even want to open the door, eventually.


The bathroom probably should not open off of a dining or kitchen area, awkward noise and sanitation issues, came up while renovating our house.


Wow. I've been toying w/ the same idea for a long time. Weird. I got there differently...

I wanted something that was energy efficient too -- and the kitchen, in the winter, generates all the heat. I wouldn't have an upstairs, I'd have a courtyard w/ a grill for the summer months. Or maybe a roll-away roof over the dining room.

I also casually studied housing patterns of "less civilized" people, and the hearth is usually the center of all. We've replace the hearth with the television. But if you look at parties long enough, most of them end up in the kitchen. Why not just make that the center to start with instead of moving the party there?

I have had various permutations from there, but like Scott, those things that we do most often (eat, commune, prepare food) should be in the center, and the things that are noisy or smelly should be further away (garages, teenagers' rooms).

Basement instead of upstairs-- thermal mass for energy reasons and then it's a place to go for severe storms. Maybe an upstairs for people in earthquake zones, or too close to water...


I like Dilbert's Ultimate House,

Surabaya Stew

As an Architect with over 4 years of residential home design experience, I think that your proposed plan is pretty darn good! I won't say that 90% of homeowners would find it useful; 25% is more like it, for the many reasons listed in the comments. Still, that is pretty darn good percentage considering how many different kind of family types and personalities there are in this country. Here are some of my observations:

Scott Adams idea #1. Kitchen as center of house and no formal dining or living rooms:
Part or all of this idea is already becoming a part of many homes; this is simply observing how many Americans really live. Good observation; I have already designed homes something like this, and they seem to work very well.

Scott Adams idea #2. Family Room storage area:
This was quite intriguing; basically, you are proposing an accessible basement or attic next to where people really need it! While many people would be against having their secrets so close to where everyone has access to them, it would make a lot of sense considering how many times people change (or want to change) their main room functions and appearance. (Architects always fill up extra space on a floor plan with closets, because we know that there is never such a thing as too much Storage.) Still, this is the part of the plan that would be the hardest sell, because most people would just want to assign a fixed use to this room. Nice try, though.

Scott Adams idea #3. Laundry as center of the Second Floor:
My personal favorite, as Architects have a mixed success rate of getting clients to go for a large and useful Second Floor Laundry. Why homeowners must insist on a dirty and rank Basement Laundry is something that i cannot understand for the life of me! Making a nice and accessible Laundry area close the the Bedrooms (50% of homes in the USA have all the bedrooms above the Main Level), is a personal priority for me. (The only difference I can think of is that rather than a flat panel screen, I would design a window, to the outdoors; but that's a personal preference.) Realistically, I can't see how more than 2 Bedrooms would have direct access to this Laundry, but the main point of making laundry an enjoyable experience is well taken.

Overall, this one of the most interesting posts I have ever read on any blog. Thanks for making my day!


I don't want the bathroom connected to the kitchen. That's gross. Other than that, it sounds pretty good. I especially like the idea of all the bedroom closets having a little door that opens to the laundry room. That's genius!


I think the biggest problem with this plan would be the high traffic through the kitchen, especially during a dinner party where everyone would be walking through the kitchen and disturbing the cook. Another problem is not having a bathroom on the same floor as the bedrooms, which is very inconvinient for night pee-ers.


How cool! You just described the main floor of our house! Our kitchen is in the middle, and if you picture a clock, there's a door to the garage at 8:00 (a short carry for groceries), a family room with a full bath off that between 8-11 (I dunno why they put a tub in there, but it's come in handy), a large back room with skylights (we use it as the dining room but it was intended as another sitting area I think) from 11-2, the real dining room which we have a computer armoire and my animals in (chinchillas and an iguana) from 2-4, that formal living room up by the front door that no one uses except at Christmas (ok, actually I use it to read because it's the only quiet place in the house) between 4-6, and the staircase at 7. There's a hallway that leads straight into the kitchen from the front door, and the kitchen is open to all those other rooms with pocket doors and archways. I've always wished the laundry room was upstairs, but the house was built in the 60s so it's in the basement. I still find it a blessing just to have it IN the house tho. I'll take 2 flights of stairs over a laundromat anyday. Having the kitchen in the middle with it opening onto the other rooms is awesome for parties since you know everyone always ends up in the kitchen. There's an island in the kitchen too so we always set all the food out on that. It rocks. :D


If all the rooms in the house come off the kitchen then the entire house will have smells from cooking which my not suit everyone the toilet is also off the kitchen so when your friends go they stink the kitchen up on their way back you need to have some corridor off the kitchen where the bathroom is.
If you have the laundry room next to the bedrooms you won't be able to run the washing machine at night it will keep you awake. unless you have a super expensive quiet one.
One Idea have a drain on the laundry floor so that when the washing machine gets blocked there is somewhere for the water to go.


What a novel idea. It won't work, but it's novel.

Some people like their bedrooms upstairs. Others are handicapped.

Some people like doorbells and others are deaf and need strobes.

Some like strobes instead of doorbells, but others are blind and need bells.

Some people have narrow lots and want narrow hallways. Other are in wheelchairs and want wide hallways.

Some people like windows facing every direction. Others like living in apartments and therefore generally don't have windows on side walls.

Some like entering through their kitchens. Some hate it when people come in through the kitchen.

Some people live alone and only want one bedroom. Others need a huge number of bedrooms and baths.

So in the end, their is only one design that will work for "everyone". It's to use portable walls so you can quickly and cheaply reconfigure the space to suit the needs of the people. So there you go, you've invented the ultimate house -- and it consists of reconfigurable cubicles. Cubicles. Cubicle house from the guy who draws about people who work in them. Go figure. I guess it was inevitable, wasn't it.


Those who claim laundry rooms near bedrooms cause to much noise must either 1) live in tin shack OR 2) are talking out of the wrong orifice.

I suspect the latter in most cases. Our house has the washer and dryer off the hallway next to the master bedroom. The washer makes a little noise when it's in the spin cycle and you leave the door open.

Now if you have a front loading high RPM machine then it might be a different story. But you should be able to account for this by making sure the structure is beefed up a bit in that room.

Alternatively you could flip the house and put the bedrooms and laundry on the first floor with all that other fun stuff up top. This doubles as a way to benefit from the nice views you have from higher up. This also deals with the problem of hauling laundry outside to line dry.

But, I have another solution for the line dryers. Up in rainy Seattle, I usually line dry INSIDE the laundry room. This works fine so long as you have an exhaust fan and maybe another fan to circulate the air. But you could take it a step further and go big city line drying style. Have a line outside the laundry room window on pulleys. This could go along the side of the house up under the eaves.

As for the basement, as west coasters know, we don't have a lot of basements out here. The best you can do is maybe a crawl space or even better the SW slab! Although I do like the idea of a chute, but you'd have to throw in a stupid waiter to get me to buy. Tie in the dumb waiter with access to the garage and kitchen and now you also get an easy way to unload groceries... Ah, maybe garage & laundry on the ground floor with bedrooms + chutes on the top and everything else in the middle floor. Nothing wrong with 3 stories and you shouldn't have to go upstairs much anyway. Bedrooms are only for two things.


I love it. ESPECIALLY the tricked out laundry room!


"I wonder if there is one ultimate floor plan that would satisfy 90% of all homeowners."

To summarise: no.

Now go read the rest of the comments if you have time to kill :-)


IKEA have built the house for everyone.

Oncoming Storm

I'm too lazy to read the prior comments so here goes my ignorant, repetitive input: The kitchen pantry should be contiguous with the entrance you use most often, like the back door or garage door. Carrying those Costco-sized containers of everything is hard enough without having to dodge furniture and crap through half the house before reaching a place to set it down.


Not a bad attempt at a universal house, Scott. I would suggest, however, that there is no single house that will satisfy most people's needs. Single people, or couples without children will need a lot less space than a large family, and elderly or disabled people will have different needs as well.

Comments on the plan you mentioned:

As has already been mentioned, people like bathrooms. To simplify construction, these should be kept close to the kitchen and laundry room.

I like the laundry room being close to the bedroom. Our new house is built that way (with a bathroom antechamber between) and there is very little noise, even from our ancient washer & dryer.

Multi-level housing is a PITA. I know it's a more efficient use of space and heat/air conditioning, but those stairs are a problem for a lot of people. With a disabled mother and elderly grandparents, I ruled out every multi-floor house we looked at, because half of my family would be unable to use half the house.

What the heck is a storage room? Mere mortals don't have the money to purchace and heat/cool large chunks of storage space. We keep our extra chairs, our excercise equipment, and everything else out in the open, wherever we can find a place for them.

In the end, your design might satisfy the DESIRES of a lot of people, but not their needs. One of those needs is affordable housing, and I somehow doubt that what you've described would be affordable for most people.

Diana W

In my home the kitchen is off the garage, with the pantry immediately next to the entrance, making it easy to put away food. I wouldn't want to have to carry the food through other rooms to get to the kitchen. My laundry room is in the hall between all the bedrooms. I like having a hall - I'm not sure I'd like having to crawl around through closets to get to my room, or have the halls on the outside, leaving the bedrooms with no outside view.


After reading through about half the comments, apparently I'm the only one who has issues with carrying large baskets of laundry UP stairs. I can appreciate the noise and flooding concerns. And sure, getting the dirty stuff to the basement or first floor is a hassle, sure. (Then again, it's soft and, as long as the cat is watching out, there's little harm in tossing it down the stairs.) It's that trek back up: attempting to fit in the narrow basement stairwell, not lose balance and negotiate the door at the top of the steps that is the FUN part. Guess that's why my husband just chooses to use the basement laundry as his closet...


I'd prefer the master bedroom be on the ground floor - I don't want to have to go up/down stairs so often.

Folks who mentioned using a laundry chute need to remember that clean clothes would then need to be carried back up stairs - could use a "dumb-waiter" though (still have to walk up/down stairs).


I couldn't even get past the first phrase of your description before disagreeing with you. The kitchen must have a window!


Washing machines eventually leak. If you don't notice the leak immediately, you now have a heavy piece of machinery sitting on an upstairs floor that is suffering water damage... CRASH.

Admit it, you're really looking for some way to set up continuous work for subcontractors who'll replace that central piece of flooring.


That is similar to what I've been trying to cook up. My concept is largely based on the set of Good Eats, the one they mostly use for the newer shows. Seems very comfortable and functional.


Why a guy who DRAWS FOR A LIVING would DESCRIBE A FLOOR PLAN WITH TEXT is beyond me.

Jeff G

I generally like the idea. Locating the laundry room upstairs where the noise and leak potential is high isn't necessary - install a laundry chute. It's been done for years.

Unlike a few commenters, I agree with the fact that some room(s) in the front of the house are often under used. Many home designs have a front living room or dining room that is rarely used for anything. Many houses use a "Great Room" format to mitigate the problem, but it's still a problem.

Instead of a storage room, which many families would just convert into an office or bedroom, why not scale the garage such that it can hold two SUVs and still have the depth to store other stuff? The modern definition of a two-car garage will barely hold two Mini's. I'm thrilled to live in a 20-year-old home whose garage can actually store both of our vehicles and quite a bit of our stuff.

I'd also like to see attic storage be cleaner and more accessible from the inside of the house. I'm sure you can work that in to your master plan. :-)


When remodeling we went a few steps further. The “laundry room” is a small bedroom we converted to a closet with washer and dryer, added an exterior door and a vanity. We ran out of room for a toilet though. There are shelves up high sized to fit large totes that are labeled according to contents. Several have different labels on each end, they contain seasonal decorations or clothing. One wall has a door to the master bedroom. The other wall is common to the main bathroom and has a laundry and linen closet common to both rooms. There is also a door to the living room. The living room has the dining table in it as well as TV and such. The kitchen is open to the living room and the main bathroom is right between them on a common wall. You can see and walk directly to almost any part the the main floor from any other part and all amenity's are on one floor.

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