Part 1 – Ratliff Residence, Pennsylvania

Part 1 – Ratliff Residence, Pensylvania (PDF)
Part 1 – Ratliff Residence, Pensylvania (JPEG)
Part 1 – Ratliff Residence, Pensylvania (Full Symbol Library)
Part 1 – Ratliff Residence, Pensylvania (Demo)

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    I think the design brief has the wrong text in it. Looks to be the correct floor plan though.

  • John Brown

    Good idea. Sorry for the error. Have fun with the exercise.

  • Brad W


    The Symetrical House. Services including a guest bath, stacked laundry, closet and galley kitchen are centrally located. The living and dining room mirror each other. The porch at the front has been enlarged.

  • John Brown

    An elegant solution. Very clever way to incorporate the stair and services into one element. If Louis were here he would have already posted a great precedent image or two.

    What about the front entry? Any way to not have it open directly into the living room?

  • John Y

    I hope to have some time in a bit to take a crack at a floor plan myself, but in the meantime I have a question about what the clients want in the way of a back entry: are they looking for a mud room? Because, knowing how nice the Pennsylvania climate is for indoor-outdoor living most of the year, I’m very tempted to put a set of French or garden doors in the back to really open up the dining room onto that patio and extend their main-floor space.

  • Brad W


    John, the influence here was a home used in an earlier In Detail discussion. The project, 83A Marlborough Ave, was done by Drew Mandel Design. I have included images here as well as a slightly revised front entry.

  • John Brown


    My sense is that the mud-room could be downplayed in this house because it is for a couple, not a big family. Given that it isn’t in Houston or Southern California (based on the discussion about closets in yesterday’s what’s wrong with this house exercise) there does need to be a closet at the entry to this house.

    I like the idea of the french doors out to the back garden but I would hesitate using it as the entry. I like to think of the french doors you describe as being about going OUT to the garden from the inside. A back door entry is about going IN from the garage.

    Hope that helps. I look forward to seeing your concept design.

  • John Brown

    A great impression of Louis! Thanks for reminding the group about this project.

    The front entry is much better. Closet??

  • Brad W


    John – In this revision I added a front entry at ground level. Once inside you up several stairs to the main floor. A stone patio provides a place to sit and enjoy the street scene. This design presumes a modernist facade on the home.

    To do something within the existing footprint seems to compromise the living room so I look forward to your solution.

  • Doug Roberts


    Here is my attempt. I like the way Brad moved the front entry to the corner and enlarged the front veranda, so I did likewise. The old central entry has been replaced with large patio doors to allow the living room to be opened up to the front veranda. I added a cube at the front entry containing a small closet and a powder room. The wall of the cube facing the living room would be a good place for a wall-mounted flat screen TV, but having a TV opposite to a fireplace would make furniture placement a nightmare, so I solved that problem by removing the fireplace. I assumed that the existing chase could not be moved so I created a second matching chase and incorporated them into the ends of a U-shaped kitchen counter. To maximize the openness of the design, I am proposing below-counter drawer-style fridge and freezer compartments, instead of a traditional upright fridge. I added another cube at the rear entry containing a closet and a pantry/broom closet. I replaced the back window with another set of patio doors to allow the dining area to be opened up to the back deck.

  • John Brown

    Nice design.

    I like the way your used the guest bath to create an entry condition at the front. Removing the fireplace and reorientating the living room to face the side wall of the cube is also a good idea.

  • MichaelG


    Heres my attempt. The flu in the middle makes the flow a little constricted, its a tight walkway through the house. That was main challenge for this exercise. I like how it was used in the two other designs. I’m curious what John will reveal tomorrow.
    I used it like Brad as part of the guest bath wall, using that space to add a pantry to the kitchen, in effect separating the main floor into two distinct spaces. The front of the house is the lounge spilling onto the front patio, and the rear is the kitchen and dinning room spilling out onto the back. The glass doors onto both patios can be sliding or concertina, the key is that they are full walls of glass, and open or closed, blur the boundaries between indoors and outdoors. You can sit on the front patio with the doors open and watch the tv or enjoy the fire, have a coffee… The back entrance/patio I took the two John’s comments and added two doors, a traditional swinging door (all glass) for entry and quick exits, and the rest of the back wall is the sliding or concertina glass doors.

    The plants on the front patio would be max waist height, possible a hedge, to allow a view out onto the street but still a bit of separation and privacy.

  • Terri


    I’m posting my final version after a few attempts to get access to staircase to be direct–that is, from top floor to basement, or vice versa, you don’t have to pass through a room or around an obstacle.

    Both doors now protrude to the side of the home. I enlarged the front verandah but not the rear deck. Most of the built-ins are labelled except for the fireplace wall, where I expect room for a smaller TV can be accomodated.

  • Terri

    I just saw your posting (after submitting) and I like the simplicity of your plan. You managed to do what I wanted to do with grace. Nice work!

  • Grace

    This was a tough one! I LOVE Brad W’s original symmetrical house. It’s so elegantly simple that I would just place an equally elegant coat rack to the right of the entrance, or, if that became too messy, I’d put pegs along the wall facing the toilet inside the guest bath and stash guest’s coats there.

  • John Brown


    A very nice concept. I like the way that you integrated the guest bath with the flue and the pantry. It does end up closing off the front living space but that is not always a bad thing. I also appreciate the effort you spent articulating the exterior living spaces.

  • John Brown

    I appreciate the idea behind your plan. You are basically creating two long zones in the house. One contains the front entry, stair, circulation, guest bath and back entry. Running alongside it are the three main living spaces.

    This is a very clear strategy.

    The difficulties you encountered are where these two zones connect – to the left of the flue and to the left of the guest bath. If the house had been maybe 2 feet wider I think your concept would have worked really well.