Even though there are three levels to our house (basement, main floor, and upstairs) we consider it a “1 & 1/2 story” home because we chose to build on top of less than half of our main floor. A main floor master suite was a “must have” for G which brought our first floor up to 1,800 square feet – the size of your average ranch-style home. To fully build on top of that would have brought our home’s total square footage up to 5,400 sq ft which was both ludicrous and ridiculously out of our price range. On the flip side, with the layout and structure of our lot (it’s somewhat narrow with the added challenge of a building into a hill) we knew our best bet was to build up rather than out when it came to the rest of the spaces in our home.
[Related: Our Lot]
As a result, we added 700 square feet of living space upstairs to accommodate Kate’s bedroom, my office, and a full size bathroom. This was the perfect solution for us because it fit in our budget and allowed us to have a double-height living room and a double-height entryway – two things that have always been on my “love” list.
It was such a thrill to see the upstairs of our new home take shape! Below is a picture taken from the doorway of my 2nd floor office. From this picture you can see the steps that take you up to the second floor loft area. From those steps the overlook to our two-story entryway is ahead to the left, and Kate’s bedroom and bathroom are ahead and to the right. My favorite part of this picture is seeing for the first time how our open, square-shaped staircase will help prevent each of the levels of our home from feeling too closed off from each other. From this spot (my office doorway) I can see down into our future kitchen (where that ladder is) and the walkway space leading to our mudroom, powder room, entryway and G’s office – I love it!
Now here’s a look from my 2nd floor office doorway with the camera pointed straight ahead. This is our entire upstairs hallway/loft area and I’m totally nuts about it! I’ve always loved the idea of an upstairs “catwalk” type of space that overlooks the lower level on both sides! So here’s what you’re seeing – the bottom right corner of the photo is the steps leading up to the upstairs. The open square next to it is our 3 story staircase which looks all the way down to our basement (with sight lines into our main floor as seen in the photo above). Directly across from that (on the other side of the walkway) is a large rectangle that looks down onto our two-story entryway. To the right is a little alcove leading to Kate’s suite. See the little square framed out on the floor? If you’re standing in the entryway of her little alcove you can step in and turn left to walk into her full sized bathroom, or go straight ahead to enter her bedroom. (And again – this photo is taken from the doorway of my office, which is the only other room up here.)
Here’s a look from the top of the stairs, looking back toward my office:
From the exterior wall of my office I was able to snap this one-time aerial view of our master bathroom and closets. It may be hard to make out, but it helps to look at the board outlines on the floor. See that small rectangle on the floor at the center? That’s the little alcove off of our master bedroom. We enter that alcove from the bottom left corner of the photo. From there we can turn left to step into our master bathroom, walk straight to enter G’s closet, or turn right to enter my closet. In the far right upper corner you can see part of G’s office. (Look at the horizontal boards on the floor or the horizontal boards at the top to see the outlines of these spaces.) We aren’t building on top of this part of the house so soon there will be a roof over this area.
Below is a look at our two-story entryway from the upstairs overlook. There will be 3 square windows at the top to let in natural light and allow us to enjoy the beautiful views, and a railing outlining the rectangle at the floor that overlooks the front door and entryway. (See the cement outline on the bottom right? That’s our front stoop.)
Here’s a look from the main floor at our two-story entryway. The large doorway to the left will be french doors that will lead to G’s office, and the smaller doorway to the right is the coat closet. To the right of that is our front door, and if you look up you can see the bottom corners of the cut-outs for the second story windows.
Okay, this isn’t a 2nd story thing, but I’ve got to show you the view into our house from the ground at this moment. At this point, the only way to enter our home from the front is to walk the plank! (That narrow board leaning across our front stoop.)
And let me remind you – we decided to excavate under our front stoop to make a tornado shelter, so it’s quite the drop!
[Related: ATG&D Dream Home | Foundation]
Needless to say, we gladly walked around back to enter our home through the dining room at this stage in our home building process.
Some exterior 2nd story looks:
This is a view from the backyard looking at the rear of the house. To the far left is our master bedroom. In the center (lower) is our dining room which will have french doors that open onto a screened in porch. Above that is my office. To the left is our double height living room.
Okay, back to the inside. Here’s a view from our entryway, and yes I’m still drooling over our staircase!
[Related: Framing (1st Floor Interior)]
The photo below is looking to the left from our entryway, into the kitchen, with the living room toward the right, and my little cutie pie coloring in the center.
With the 2nd story framed out, this was my first time seeing how the ceiling heights would play for these first level spaces. For a long time we tossed around the idea of a two-story kitchen but it just never sat right with me, even though I really wanted a two story living room. I eventually nixed the idea of a two-story kitchen and we changed our floor plans to put Kate’s bedroom over the kitchen. I wasn’t sure how the overall space would feel transitioning from a 9′ ceiling in the kitchen to an 18′ ceiling in the living room, but now that I see it I think it is absolute perfection!
At this stage they also drew out on the floors of our kitchen, bathroom and dining room where our cabinetry was going to be, which was so fun to see. Here’s a look at part of our kitchen cabinetry layout:
After our staircase, the feature I was most excited about was the balcony we added to my office which overlooks our living room – and now we finally get to see it! This was another one of those things that we kept asking ourselves, “Are we totally crazy…or is this crazy awesome??” Okay, so here’s how it happened…we originally planned for our upstairs to have an open walkway/perimeter around the two interior walls of our 2-story living room. Part of this would be my lofted office that overlooked the first floor, with sliding doors I could close when I needed privacy or keep open when I needed to keep my finger on the pulse of things throughout the house. Our budget just wouldn’t allow for this kind of a layout, so we slashed it, rearranged, and pared down to just the minimum that we needed up there – Kate’s bedroom, my office, and a bathroom. Once we finally had our square footage and budget under control we were THISCLOSE to signing off on the plans.
I was majorly mourning the loss of my whole “sliding doors/office overlooking the great room” concept but knew I would get over it since our budget was our top priority. I explained the changes to G, leaving out my personal opinions about all that blank drywall we’d be staring at from the downstairs. He replied, “Sounds good,” about the changes and left it at that.
Until later that day.
I had yet to email our architect to approve the revision, and then G said, “You know…the only thing I miss about the new plans is that there won’t be any kind of open railing that we can see from the living room…”
“REALLY?!!” I squealed with excitement.
That was all I needed to hear and soon I was emailing Brandon Ripp (our insanely talented architect through Classic Custom Homes of Waunakee) to discuss how we could somehow still salvage even just a bit of that look we were originally going for. A few emails back and forth and we worked out the perfect solution for our design desires and budget – a cantilevered balcony off of my office overlooking the living room.
I can’t even.
It is SO FRICKING AWESOME!!
Here’s a look at our first look at it. What you’re seeing below is our two-story living room to the left. To the right (lower level) is our dining room, and above the dining room is my office. See that chunk sticking out? That’s the balcony off of my office, overlooking the living room!!
I still can’t even handle it!! It’s the coolest flipping thing to me, and I love it a bajillion times more because it’s actually a functional feature for our family!
Okay, so here’s the dining room (my office is above)…
And here’s a look up at the balcony above, jutting off of my office:
The balcony is deep enough that we can do a club chair up there for reading, or something along those lines. (Truth serum: Reading is awesome and I highly recommend it, but somehow I envision this being the world’s smallest wine bar. You’re all invited.)
Think all this framing talk is over?
We still need to slap a roof on this sucker. More to come soon! In the meantime, catch up at the links below:
We’re Building a House!
ATG&D Dream Home | Floor Plans
ATG&D Dream Home | Breaking Ground
ATG&D Dream Home | Foundation
ATG&D Dream Home | Framing (Lower Level)
ATG&D Dream Home | Framing (1st Floor Exterior)
ATG&D Dream Home | Exterior Inspiration
ATG&D Dream Home | Framing (1st Floor Interior)