Part 2 – 2000 sqft 3 Bedroom House, Tennessee

Room By Room – Rules Of Thumb (PDF)
2000 sqft 3 bedroom house, Tennessee (PDF)
2000 sqft 3 bedroom house, Tennessee (JPEG)
[popup url=""]ROOM BY ROOM SURVEY[/popup]

  • John Brown

    Good Morning Everyone!

    As you saw in the video clip, we quickly put together a very rough mock up of the Checklist for you to try out with this house. I am interested in testing how the Checklist works when analyzing a floor plan.

    Click on the Checklist survey button at the bottom of the player and the Checklist that will pop up in its own window (be sure to enable pop-ups if necessary). Record whether you think each of the seven segments we have covered so far are fast or slow and then click submit to compare your results with everyone else’s.

    Unfortunately you can’t see your results after you have done this. We were really limited by the poll software that was available. As a result, you may want to consider including your fast-slow evaluation for each of the rooms in a comment post so that we can have a comparative conversation about the results throughout the day.

    I promise that the final online checklist that we are developing will be much much cooler and more effective.

    You will also see that we have provided a pdf summary of the rules of thumb for each of the segments. Remember that we haven’t had a chance to incorporate any of your comments yet.

    I hope that you find the Checklist helpful. It is not meant to stop all of the great commentary that we typically have in our What’s Wrong With This House sessions.

  • Elizabeth

    Hi there,

    Great to meet Matthew!

    One question: you guys included the two master walk-in closets with the ensuite, but they are really part of the bedroom no?

  • Li-Na

    Cool! Hello Matthew, it’s nice to “meet” you. It’s great to have a face to go with the name. :-)

  • Terri

    Good day, all,

    It’s great to meet Matthew and to hear you discuss the plan in detail. You didn’t use the Rules of Thumb points as you considered the plan, so the Entry became Slow, because the back entry wasn’t included in your discussion. It seems that this highlights how the two entries are quite separate entities to consider.

    Using the Rules of Thumb checklist makes assessing quite a different exercise. When I tallied my checkmarks on the ROT checklist, I found that one or two categores came out as 50/50. In those cases I opted for Fast. Perhaps the checklist could include a suggestion that anything less than some percentage Slow (say 60% or more) makes the home Fast.

    Also, I think I misinterpreted the “colliding geometries” when I evaluated. For example, the master bedroom door problem (bad swings throughout, as well as awkward placements) seemed like colliding geometry to me. I think you’re planning on clarifying “colliding geometries,” so that it’ll be more obvious what to consider–is that right?

    Finally, circulation is not always specifically discussed except for kitchens, but to me, how people move through a space is very central to livability. I’m not sure everyone thinks of traffic flow and they might be helped by having to analyze it more closely through the checklist.

  • John Brown

    Elizabeth and Terry,
    Doing this exercise together and using the checklist for the first time on the site was an interesting, if somewhat chaotic experience. I realized about 1/2 way through that we hadn’t dealt with the back entry and according to the rot we should have considered the closets with the bedrooms.

    There were certainly some frustrations and inconsistencies but at the same time I like the idea of following a process for the analysis. Obviously this is something that we are all going to have to work out together.

    I think the checklist will make more sense when we have the other 5 sections – 3 of which deal with the house in the world and two with the house as a whole. Circulation and other organizational issues are dealt with in the “house as a whole sections. We will introduce those next week.

  • BradW


    I view the checklist as a guideline to be combined with your personal sensibilities. It is OK to have a different view – even John and Matthew couldn’t agree. For sure, it appeared that John and Matthew did not follow the checklist but I chocked that up to the fact that these two have so much experience that this type of analysis is almost automatic. And, finally, I marked the entry as fast because of the back entry and minimal closet but I can see Matthew point about the front entry space. This is not black and white, it is shades of grey.

  • BradW


    And just for fun here is a quick revision of the house…

  • John Brown

    Thanks so much for revising the plan. Even though it has only been about ten days since we started to review the checklist it feels like a long time since we had a chance to look at a project design.

    Moving the kitchen makes so much sense as does the reorganization of the family bath and the laundry room.

    I would rate this new design as slow for all of the 7 individual room sections, although there is still the problem with the narrowness of the back entry and its proximity to the bedroom and bathroom.

    The “house in the world” and “house as a whole” sections still have some problems but those are more systemic in nature and not something that can be so easily fixed.

    Thanks for showing everyone how simple it actually is to make the fast elements of a house so much better.

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    Nice to meet Matthew!

  • Terri

    I agree, our sensibilities have to ultimately guide us as we evaluate a home. I guess I sometimes (mistakenly) think we can follow “rules” like they’re cast in stone–I have the same problem with grammar rules. The more I learn the more gradations of grey creep into the mix. Such is life.

    I’ve been renovating that house in my head. Good to see you’re back in form and actually drafted a new design!

  • Sherry


    Here’s my attempt at revision of the plan. I left the master bath unfinished and am not pleased with the hall bath, but just stopped here. I’ve added a closet to both the front and back hall and made a more direct path from the garage to the kitchen. Part of the back hall closet could instead be pantry if more kitchen storage were needed.

  • Sherry


    Trial 2.

  • BradW

    Both of these revisions, just show how a little extra effort could have made this house so much better.

    It is this kind of example that should be in the book. Here is an existing poorly designed space, here is why using the checklist and here is the revision as completed by Slow Home/Housebrand. You could even bring the Slow Home design school to the book by not giving the reader the opportunity to do the exercises – first identify what is wrong, compare to the Slow Home analysis, attempt a revision, compare to a Slow Home rework, etc.

  • BradW

    That should read “by giving the reader” as opposed to the existing “by not giving the reader”. I wish you could delete your own post to correct mistakes – I do not always proof read my thoughts.

  • John Brown


    I really like your idea of making a connection between the garage and the kitchen. It starts to address the issue of the back entry and clarifies the front entry. I think that it could go one step further with a change to the location of the door into the second bedroom so that it is not right beside the garage. The master bathroom is also much more reasonably sized and could be turned into a great space.

    As Brad said, it reinforces the idea that you sometimes don’t have to do very much to make a big difference with these plans.

  • Terri

    You’ve pretty much done what I was imagining. Looks good!

  • Sherry

    There’s still room for improvement in the master bath and closet area. I really didn’t do anything there except take some of the area for the laundry room. It still needs a door between the master bath and the bedroom itself, but the two doors from the closets make placement difficult. I do not like having closets that connect directly with the bath. The house would have to have better ventilation than any house that I have ever lived in to keep the bathroom moisture from being a problem in the closets.

    I like John’s suggestion of moving the second bedroom door away from the back entry door to the garage. It would also look nicer from the front entry to not have a door there and it could increase privacy for the entry to that bedroom.

  • Murray

    A series of random thoughts formulated in the wee hours of the morning.

    Firstly, it was a real pleasure to be introduced to Matthew. You and John are courageous for putting your book into the ether and soliciting critiques. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in your project.

    Sherry, great solution for the Tennessee house.

    John and Matthew, re: the checklist divisions of space – could you do a section on laundry, mechanical, and storage. Many of the plans I have seen on this site seem to have inadequate storage facilities of all types. Annette Eason let us know that many garages in LA can no longer accommodate the car for all the junk stored away.

    Re: the checklist as an evaluative tool – in the Residential Profiles that clients submit for the design projects they make a priority list of the rooms in the house. Will this be an option within the final version.

    I was curious about John’s response to Li-Na when he mentioned a 30-pt scale. Also GaryC proposed a 100 point system for evaluation, and James Scott suggested a Residential Matrix.

    All of this made me wonder about a rubric as a means of taking all this information into an evaluative plan.


  • John Brown

    We have been thinking of separating the garage into its own section. Adding something on storage as well as the mechanical equipment page would be a good way to round out the laundry section.

    We hadn’t thought about adding a room priority list to the checklist as that is more about the person living in the house than the house itself. However, I can see the appeal in doing something like that.

    In terms of the metrics, we are planning to weight each of the sections in the checklist and then use that to give an overall indication of whether the house is fast or slow. For example, orientation and location probably play a bigger role than bathrooms or laundry and storage in determining how slow the house is.

    When we are finished going through all of the checklist sections I was going to ask the group to help us fine tune the weighting of the various sections. We are still working with the programmer who is creating the web based application of the checklist about how best to display this summary information. When we get further along we will ask everyone on the site to give us their opinion on the short listed options.

  • Terri


    I took the liberty of playing with your plan this morning. I wanted to see if there was some way to make the family/guest bath be accessible from either bedroom without so much hall involved. Then I played with the Master suite. I removed one closet and turned it into pantry. The other closet was enlarged. I kept the water closet as a unit and tried to fit a shower, hydrotub and double vanity in the rest.

    The great room lacks a focus, but I didn’t have time to address that end of the plan.