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Choosing Our House Plan

Building a New House to Get a Porch

This is part of a continuing series that journals our new home being built. Sharing our journey and tips we've learned along the way. See all our journal entries.
Our lot was reserved. Now to choose which house plan we will have built.

Our Wish List

  • A charming home with an open floor plan
  • A nice front porch
  • A window above the kitchen sink
  • The master bedroom on the main floor
  • A space for Dave's woodshop
  • A storage shed for lawn tools

The model home filled the bill in many ways - it had a wraparound porch, a covered back porch and an open floor plan with the master bedroom down. But it was too large for the two of us. Vickie shared that they built a smaller version of this home and if we wanted to see it we could visit a sample home in a different town.

So we did. We walked through the smaller version that very day. It was not a decorated home like the model and consequently it was not furnished with all the lovely furniture and upgrades that the model home had. But we liked the size of it and the price was more appealing, too.

So we decided to forge ahead and explore how this plan could be modified to meet some of the things on our wish list.

The Window Above the Sink

Not an Easy Option to Find

It does not seem like a lot to ask, but getting a window above the kitchen sink is not much of a standard in newer housing around here. The style seems to be for the sink to be in the island - and often overlooking the living room.

But we love a window over the kitchen sink. It's a place to look out, see the birds, and enjoy the light pouring in while doing dishes.

We were very surprised to find very few newer homes with this feature. Most of the home plans the builder offered were no exception. The sink was in the island. So one of our first questions was whether we could move the sink to the wall and put a window in place of the cabinet above the sink.

Initial kitchen layout with sink and dishwasher in the island (first photo below). Outer wall has cabinets and range (second photo below).

kitchen layout blueprint

kitchen layout blueprint -outer wall

Revised kitchen layout with sink and dishwasher on outer wall with window and a transom above the sink (first photo below). We added an additional 12" cabinet and extended the countertop to balance out the revised layout.

kitchen layout blueprint with new sink location

kitchen layout blueprint with new sink location

Pleasantly Surprised

We were very pleasantly surprised when Vickie expressed confidence that they could do it. And after checking further, they confirmed it could be done. Most of the other builders we had spoken to (track builders, not custom builders) would not have accommodated our request.

We came up with several configurations for the kitchen including swapping out the locations of the sink with the stove. But after exploring that with the builder, we decided the best option for us was to have both the sink and the stove against the outside wall. The island would just be a great work surface.

Making the Most of the Porch

Can We Make It Larger?

As you can guess, the porch is very important to us. But the porch according to the plan is not the size we hoped for. So we asked another question: Could the wraparound porch be extended by two feet on both sides? If so, it would have been a perfect size for us.

But after submitting our request, the answer was no - simply because the lot size would not permit it. It was disappointing.

We really wanted a nice-sized gracious porch. But as you know, when you are making a big investment you have to make a lot of choices. There were other lots available in this area that would accommodate the larger porch. So we decided to take a look at those.

Looking at Other Lots

We walked a few other lots with Vickie to see if we could get excited about building on another lot. Several lots were still available and they were larger than ours. Yes, we could have the porch we wanted. But we knew there would be trade-offs with a larger lot, too. For example, some of the lots were on a slope. And we had just moved from a home on a hill. We were ready for something flat.

Then there was the mowing. We travel a lot and didn't want to have a large yard to mow. We also realized we'd be giving up the pretty woods next to us and also some of the privacy that we would have on that little lane.

So then we realized how much we really liked our little lot next to the woods and decided we would be ok with the smaller porch. Dave has come up with some creative ways to make our wraparound porch feel more open and larger. Take the porch columns, for example.

Working with the Porch Columns

The columns on the builders' porches are very pretty with large stone or brick bases and wooden pillars at the top of the column. But those attractive bases take up quite a bit of porch floor space - and we treasure every square inch of floor space.

So we decided to forego the brick pedestals and go with the more narrow columns - and fewer of them - to maximize our porch size and view.

Here you can see the size of their porch columns.

craftsman style columns on model home
Notice the Craftsman-style columns. Attractive but they take up lots
of space on a small porch.

We knew we could gain additional space and make it more aesthetically pleasing by removing columns that were not really required.

Model Home With Multiple Porch Columns

typical home plan with multiple porch columns

A More Open Porch with Fewer Columns

porch columns removed for more space
We used our graphics package to "remove" a few of the porch columns so you could see how much more open this porch would be with fewer columns. This is what we are opting for - a more open porch.

Because our lot is fairly flat, we believe our porch can be open - meaning no porch rails to obscure the view or close in the space. So even though our porch isn't going to be spacious, we know we are going to make the most of it and truly enjoy it.

Dave also has some plans on how we can extend our front porch with landscaping once our home is built. We are also considering wrapping the columns in cedar, too. So little by little as we talk through it and work through it, we know our porch is going to be just fine.

Back Covered Porch, Too!

And guess what? We also have the blessing of a back covered porch, too, so no porch complaints from us. You'll find us on one porch or the other.

covered back deck with outdoor fan on model home
To give you an idea of what our rear porch will look like

Our covered porch in the back will measure 12 x 16 and comes with a nice fan.

As we have worked with our builder over the past few weeks, we have also tweaked our porch a bit more. On the plan, our front door would have been set back from the porch in a narrow alcove. Because we want to decorate our front door and have it be more easily seen from the curb we asked if we could move it forward by a couple feet.

front door location on blueprint

Again, no problem. Yeah! This gives us more space in our foyer, too.

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Building Our House Journal

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Our Sponsors

The Porch Store
Porch Store
Custom Porch Products

Shop for Porch Parts at Vintage Woodworks.
Vintage Woodworks
For Your Porch Parts

Screened porch windows at
DIY Eze Breeze
Screen Porch Windows

Aluminum screen doors from PCA Products
PCA Products
Complement Any Home!

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