Part 2 – 1000 sqft 2 bedroom condo, Texas

1000 sqft 2 bedroom condo, Texas (PDF)
1000 sqft 2 bedroom condo, Texas (JPEG)

  • John Brown

    Good morning from Barcelona everyone:

    Based on Brad W’s observation from yesterday I suggest that you take these current comments with a grain of Gaudi’s salt (and more than a little Rioja).

    First off, it is interesting that the group used the 10 point scale for each of the segments. As you can see from today’s video I didn’t do that. However, I like the nuance of your approach. Do you think that 1-10 is too broad a range for each segment? I was thinking it may be clearer if we had a scale that was either a letter grade (A, B, C, F) or more qualitative (Excellent, good, fair, bad).

    My second observation is that the checklist format seems to be a useful addition to the format of the what’s wrong with this house project. I think that it gives some structure to both the analysis and the discussion. I also really appreciate Ron Murray’s observation that the process allows one to look at each of the pieces of the design as well as the overall. David P had an overall sense of the plan that he then revised after going through the process while BradW finished the checklist and then revised things a bit while preparing the overall summary.

    This process of moving between the specifics of the individual elements and the overall whole is exactly what Matthew and I have been trying to achieve. It is how architects are trained to look at buildings and it is a very valuable skill to develop.

    On that note, I think that Jim Baer’s use of the marked up plan is a great example of how to visualize the analysis process. I like the way it flows naturally from the editing process we have all been working on.

    My third comment is to compliment Doug Roberts and Sherry for their redesign work. As always, it is very informative to see how a few modest physical changes can so drastically improve the quality of the house. It also adds a lot to the evaluation discussion because, like the editorial comments last week about showing good examples along with the bad, the revised plans illustrate quite clearly how problematic certain aspects of the original house really are.

    Finally, now that you have all had the chance to see my video evaluation (which seems to be in the minority) it would be interesting to discuss the range of evaluations and what this might mean. I don’t think having a range of opinions is a bad thing because it encourages more conversation.

    What are your thoughts?

  • John Brown

    Sorry Everone,

    I see that yesterday’s video was mistakenly loaded into today’s post. It will be fixed as soon as the webmaster arrives in the office in Calgary. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  • John Brown

    Here is a summary of the results from yesterday’s review of house 1.

    David P 5
    Brad W 3
    Jim G 8.2
    Elizabeth 3-4
    Doug Roberts 6
    James Scott 7-8
    Terri 5.9
    Sherry 5.5
    Murray 5.2
    Jim Baer 7
    Cat 7
    Ron Murray 3
    John Brown I thought it was pretty slow (around 3?) but can’t recall the
    exact number off the top of my head and without access to the

    Two possible discussion topics for the day:

    1. What are your thoughts on the variation in ratings?

    2. How would you rank the revised plans by Sherry and Doug?

  • James Scott

    Good points about the rating system, a scale a little less aggressive may be more suitable.

    About Sherry’s and Doug’s plans, both are great. The revisions create a buffer from the entry and really open up the public spaces. Doug’s addition of the sliding partition takes it to the nest level. Without addressing the ranking of each space again I would rank each overall plan as excellent.

  • Terri

    I found the scale too large. Either a 5-point or simple grading system would probably work better for me.

    As for the two reworked plans…I didn’t like the laundry in the kitchen in Sherry’s, and I also thought the dining room should be more adjacent. Doug did a good job of addressing those two concerns, but then he went one step further by opening the north end of the master bedroom, which I felt was unnecessary.

    A note: I see the plan on the screen above has a completely different entry closet than the PDF file shows. This was the same yesterday.

  • JimG

    I like the 0-10 grading scale, it’s in common enough use in North America at least, that we’re familiar with it.

  • Elizabeth

    Good reworks by Sherry and Doug.

    Much better access to the one wall of light by eliminating the kitchen wall. Sherry’s also has a useful closet by the front door, then the walk-in can be used for storage. In a house this size, it’s reasonable to put the W/D in the kitchen. And the circulation problems clear themselves up too.

    I like that Doug has moved the closet for Bdrm2 to maximize the terrace. Also providing access to the master closet is a big plus. But not crazy about the changes to the kitchen. The counter space is minimal, and I’m not sure that a breakfast bar is needed with the dining room right there. Also, opening up the master bedroom to the public areas adds to the overall light, but I think sacrifices privacy too much.

    I also found 1-10 scale too large and would prefer a 5-point scale. It forces you to make a decision! I’d also favour a simple, relative numeric scale (1 to 5) rather than qualitative (i.e. poor to excellent) because the words can mean different things to different people.

  • Doug Roberts


    Terri — Given that the unit only has north-facing windows, and therefore will struggle to receive sufficient natural light, I felt that opening up the north end of the wall between the dining area and master bedroom could help in this regard by allowing additional light into the living and dining areas, including direct sunlight in the early mornings. Without such an opening, the living and dining areas would likely never see any sun at all.

    Another idea would be to install a mirror or other reflective surface on the west wall of the terrace, as this would direct more natural light and morning sun into the living and dining areas.

    Yesterday Cat raised the concern that adding the north opening into the master bedroom would result in the unit no longer being suitable for roommates. I don’t think privacy should be a problem, as long as the millwork divider goes all the way to the ceiling and both openings have pocket doors, so that the master bedroom can still be fully closed off. However, if more privacy is desired, one option would be to eliminate the south opening, so that the north opening would be the only entry to the master bedroom. The downside would be a longer walk to and from the master bedroom and ensuite, but the upside would be a more private master bedroom while preserving the greater access to natural light and early morning sunlight.

  • Terri

    Further to this ranking discussion, yesterday I had made a list of our rankings just to see how I compared with others. Jim Baer didn’t actually rank the individual categories, but I interpreted his “pretty good”s and “not bad” or “terrible” to be 3, 4 and 10. Anyway, using this made him come out with a 5.4, but he rated it 7. So. I may have misinterpreted what he meant exactly. What this tells me is that if the scale were more limited, such as the old Bad,Poor,Fair,Good and Excellent that we find in common questionnaires, perhaps it would be easier to do the ranking.

    I also noticed on my chart that I was way higher than anyone else on the Shape/Size category, and I realized that it was because I had put more emphasis of the last rule of thumb under livibility: allowing light into the centre of the house. I felt it failed due to the north exposure. Yet it all the other rules, the house comes out pretty good. There were more 3s than any other number on this category (4), followed by 4s (3 of those), so 7/12 were pretty much in agreement.

  • Terri

    I didn’t rank Doug and Sherry as John suggested, so I’d say they’re both in the slow range, say 2 and 3. I’d give Doug’s a slightly better ranking for dealing with the two bedroom closet problems, but then the privacy issue of the master bedroom kind of cancels out some of that.

    Doug, Your idea to open up to the light is good, I agree, I was just trying to assess given the rules of thumb, and one was to have privacy for bedrooms.

    Elizabeth, Maybe you’re right: make it 1-5, since language can be a problem.

  • Cat

    Doug- I like the more private option. Would a window on the wall between bedroom 2 and the terrace work?

    I kept getting mixed up yesterday with the scale, thinking that 1 was bad and 10 was perfect. I have a feeling that I might like having the 1-10 bigger range next week when we have 2 more houses to compare with this one.

  • Murray

    I will offer that any sort of evaluative scale have an even number of increments – ideally 4. By having an odd number of increments it allows for fence-sitting with the middle of the scale. The fewer the choices the more committed one needs to be, for example 10 offers a nebulous 5-6 range, whereas with 4 the increments are much broader and therefore 2-3 is a more dedicated choice.

    John mentioned earlier that he and Matthew didn’t include a 3rd option between fast and slow to avoid the fence-sitting aspect with the check list.

    Cat, I think you are right when you say this place looks like a home for roomates rather than a family.

    Doug, I too thought the big closet in the second bedroom should go, so am I pleased to see you put in the effort to come up with a very good workable plan.

    When we were presented with Shape/Size I suggested that there is not a lot the average person can do to radically alter the dimensions of the house (cost, building codes, etc.) but that the tools offered by this book can easily let one work towards workable solutions with the interior design and layout. Plans such as Sherry’s and Doug’s are very good examples of theory put into practice.

  • Doug Roberts

    Cat — Yes, a window between bedroom 2 and the terrace would work well, as it could do double duty, both allowing additional light into bedroom 2 as well as acting as a reflective surface to bounce additional light into the living and dining areas. The only issue would be privacy, as someone on the terrace would be able to look directly into bedroom 2, but that could be easily handled with a proper window covering. John mentioned in his video the possibility of giving bedroom 2 direct access to the terrace, but my concern with putting a door on that wall is that it would turn the west end of the terrace into more circulation space and make furniture placement on the terrace very difficult.

  • Terri

    I’ve finally viewed your video and was surprised with your rating. I know that there’s obviously differences in interpretation, but I’m wondering if rating the outdoor living as fast because of the problematic living room is fair. To me, it’s a circulation and therefore organization weakness in the plan.

    BTW, I found it odd giving the bathrooms a fast rating just because you can see the shower in the corner of the family/guest bath. I personally think a toilet is a more personal “object” than a shower, but that’s just me (with IBD).

  • Sherry

    I think that a 1-5 scale or even a 1-4 scale might be easier to work with. With 1-4 you would have the option of slow, somewhat slow, somewhat fast, fast. A 1-4 scale still makes you make a call for either fast or slow, but gives the option for some nuance.

    I really liked the idea of opening up bedroom 2 to the terrace in place of the closet, but since this was a condo unit, my assumption was that the exterior facade was not something that could be changed significantly.

    I liked the more open kitchen in Doug’s layout. I like what opening up the bedroom does for lighting but agree with Elizabeth that it sacrifices too much privacy. I still have children at home and cherish my solid wall and door that closes.

    One thing that I didn’t like about the changes that I made was losing the direct connection between the kitchen and the terrace.

  • Elizabeth

    I also thought that the toilet would be a less desirably “view” than a shower. But the toilet will be used by guests, and the shower will generally not, making the shower more “personal.” Still, I’d leave the room as is.

  • Doug Roberts

    Sherry — Given this is a “What’s Wrong With this House” exercise, as opposed to a “Which House Should I Buy” exercise, I approached the redesign of this condo more from the perspective of how the builder could have made it better from the outset, as opposed to how someone buying it now could renovate it to make it better. Accordingly, on that basis I felt that changes to the exterior, at least relatively minor ones, were fair game.

  • Sherry

    Doug. Nod. Not criticizing your path, but explaining a constraint that I had self-imposed on mine.

  • Terri

    Thanks for explaining that little nuance that I didn’t pick up on. I’ve never thought of introducing guests to the toilet like that! And here I was thinking it was such a nice polite toilet, behind a little pony wall. :)
    I agree with you, though, having the shower next to the door seems like it might crowd the room’s entry too much, and therefore a guest will be forced to face it.

    BTW, I’m glad you asked about that “multi-purpose” dining room point on yesterday’s post. I’ve wondered exactly what to make of that detail too.