Part 2 – Donnely Fitzgerald Residence

Part 2 – Donnely Fitzgerald Residence, Colorado (PDF)

  • Brad W

    John – good plan…

    I kept the bathroom and closets in place as a cost saving measure.

    In the kitchen, it was an oversight on my part not to close off the stairs and extend the wall at the end of the stove counter. Do you think, in your kitchen layout, there is enough space to walk past the peninsula?

    In the living/dining, I agree that the room needed character and a fireplace is a great solution. By adding the fireplace/storage along the side wall the overall width of this space is reduced and your furniture placement makes it difficult to get into the living room.

  • Doug Roberts

    Hi John

    I like your plan, particularly the way you integrated the kitchen between the front and side entry doors. My only concerns are as follows:

    1) you mentioned that the grandmother had limited mobility, so I would strongly recommend that the new design be made more wheelchair accessible by widening both the hallway and the family bathroom and providing extra-wide doorways to both the family bathroom and the grandmother’s room. You may also want to consider adding an extra-wide pocket door between the family bathroom and the grandmother’s room.

    2) there is no longer a hall closet – it should be possible to both widen the hallway AND reintroduce a hall closet or linen cupboard by cutting down the size of the master bathroom.

  • Doug Roberts

    PS. Next time please also post a PDF copy of your proposed solution, as it is a pain to have to pause the video in order to study your proposal.

  • Louis Pereira

    John – A tough, tough project, which is why i needed the extra time! Thanks for the challenge. It was very satisfying however (and reassuring) to see some similarities in my plan.

    In the interest of time, i’ll keep this posting short and hope to follow up later in the day!…


  • Louis Pereira

    ^ Further to my previous posting, here’s Option 2, – a more accessible design layout for the In-Law Suite and the Main Bath…


  • Robert T


    Nice solution. I like what you did adjacent to the mother-in-law’s closet very much. That’s a nice touch and, as you said, a nice focal point from both the kitchen and dining room.

    Too bad there’s not more room for a larger living area or a private room for computer use. The footprint is what it is though. Perhaps in the basement?

    Once again, Louis comes through with a great solution as well. Keeping the one bath in the original location cuts down a bit on the plumbing work.

  • Brad W

    When you look at the similarity of the plans that have been presented certianly you would conclude that the homeowner has found the right concept. But when you start adding up the costs – new kitchen, new bathrooms, new plumbing, new electrical, moving walls, etc. and the fact the this is an original 1960s home you might want to consider gutting the house. While I think Louis did the best job of minimizing changes by not moving the bedroom walls or impacting the exterior, additional changes that maybe required to implement these designs include new windows, new doors, proper insulation, basement plumbing rough-in, repair of water damage, new shingles, new siding, new furnace, new AC, etc. It is certainly worth looking at a plan that assumes the home is gutted. I know John gave instructions not to rebuild the house but, in effect, his changes or my changes or Louis’s changes do just that.

    Changing tack, maybe the solution is not as complex – redo the kitchen in place, renovate the existing bathroom and develop the basement now. Compromises ensuite and side entry but…

    BTW, well thought out design Louis…and Doug, good point about mobility.


  • Bill Kratz

    Nice job to all on a difficult project.

    My primary concern with the suggested solutions (with the exception of Brad’s “redo the kitchen in place”) is that the kitchen remains buried in the middle of the house without much in the way of natural light (unless we pop in some skylights). While the project brief put the kitchen at only about midway in importance, we all end up spending a lot of time in the kitchen, and a view out is certainly nice.

    I know that the assignment was to work with the existing footprint, but I can’t help wondering what possibilities lie in connecting the detached garage to the house and that side entrance.

  • Terri

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but I find it hard to plan a renovation without actual space dimensions. I do know that in BC our standard minimum closet depth is two feet (inside space, front to back), which in the case of this plan means that with the removal of a standard wall between the two closets, the overall width of a bathroom would be about 4ft,5in. and therefore not wide enough to accomodate a standard-sized tub (need 5 ft) across the end of the room.

    Similar problem when trying to visualize that breakfast bar/hall combo. There’s a good chance that the stools will be a problem if not well tucked under most of the time, especially since we have to walk all the way around them to take items between the dining room table and the kitchen. Okay, you could put items on the counter as a transfer point between the two rooms, but you still would have to move your body around that bar eventually!

    I think Louis’s master bedroom plan is nice because it requires less plumbing changes and incorporates that extra side window (in closet?). I would add that the original bathroom layout was more to my liking (I need a bathtub), and besdies, how often do couples really brush their teeth or wash up at the very same time? In my experience…extremely rarely. As for the huge closet (again, the standard minimum is considered to be about 8 feet for a couple and even by shortening this one, we’d have that)… I’d put a wall through it to separate the desk from the closet (hoping that there’s about three feet between desktop and this wall!), and then open up the now-solid wall besdie the desk to a pony wall, creating a den-like alcove space with extra light for bedroom.

    Overall good design solutions to a challenging space.

  • Louis Pereira

    Terri – Good points!…

    While it’s a matter of preference, here’s a version that may be more to your liking. The Ensuite now feature a sumptuous 2 person tub, which could also function as a shower, one vanity sink with a his and her cabinet…The amount of closet can be reduced as shown to 8′. Also, I was able to rotate the Make-up Bar so that it faces the wall instead.


  • Louis Pereira

    Brad W.

    Thanks for the comment. Like your latest plan, I thought many times to keep the Kitchen where it is (my eyes are still crossed from looking at it for so long), but I couldn’t make it work due to that darn side entrance. For me it was necessary to add a closet there. And once you do that, it starts to encroach the Kitchen – making it less functional.

    Your plan has the least amount of disruption which is great, but not without the clients having to make some concessions. It would be interesting to get some costs on the minimal and optimal options.

  • Paul C

    An alternate take attached here. Suffice it to say an entire blog could be dedicated to the topic of “the bathroom”. I will simply offer that this proposal challenges the notion of the typical ensuite/main bath arrangement. I also felt that this home lacked good entry(s), given its’ Denver locale and family requirements.

    From that premise I am suggesting deleting what I consider, the redundant side entry and providing more space to having one very good entry. The marginal increase in distance for access from the garage is justified, imo, given the much better entry. A vestibule works well given the climate, a seat for putting on little boots or for those who need to sit while putting on shoes, a multi-purpose piece of millwork in the entry hall helps to define the space and offers the potential for additional storage or functionality, and the entry hall itself provides that spill over, greet the guest space. I think a good entry provides transition and a sense of anticipation prior to entering the heart of a home. Some form of glass separation would be between the stairs and hall. The wall at the end of the entry, perfect for art.

    Once you are past that, the home opens up. Living to the right, sleeping to left.

    It sure would be nice to get rid of that oddball exterior recess by the bathroom…


  • John Brown

    Sorry I was not more involved with the discussion today. I have been enroute to San Francisco and the AIA convention. It is nice to check in and follow the day’s evolving commentary.

    I didn’t realize this was as tough an exercise as it actually turned out to be.

  • Louis Pereira

    Paul C.

    I like how you managed to re-organise the front living space – it has a lot more clarity to it – and being that it is much more simplified, it’s much easier to furnish.

    I would consider having a window at the former side entry, at the top of the stairs – perhaps a tall vertical window.

    I also like the Ensuite as this reduces the amount of toilets to clean! :) I wonder if you require a window in that Bath by code?…I didn’t have one in my plan and i didn’t see one in any of the other submissions. Even if it wasn’t required, it would sure be nice to get some natural light in there. Perhaps a nice big skylight?…

  • Terri

    Louis, I didn’t realize that you’d created a makeup space off the master bedroom, so now I understand why it’s adjoined to the closet. Nice idea.

    Paul C., I like the one-entry-fits-all approach–makes it much easier to access the downstairs (not through the kitchen) as obviously the laundry has to be hauled down there. My only comment is the kitchen configuration. There seems to be an empty wasted space in front of the window–could this be a good place for a sink? If so, we’d probably close off the end to create a U-shaped working space.

    I also like your combo ensuite/main bathroom solution. I’ve wondered about that alcove beside the bathroom…perhaps it’s for a chimney coming from a furnace in the basement?

    Nice plans, guys!

  • Paul C

    Louis and Terri,
    Thank you very much for the feedback.

    Louis, good points, any additional natural light sources that can be added would improve the overall.

    Terri, regarding the kitchen shape, the notion was that for ease of access to the dining area and to emphasize the galley style of cabinet layout that the island would be open on both ends. It would also tend to make the space feel more open as the flooring continues around the end of the island. But moreover, typically a u-shaped kitchen requires a little more width than what is available here.

    Thanks again for continuing the conversation.

  • Grace

    The living space in this house continued to feel claustrophobic to me until Paul’s design appeared. Very nice!

  • Lisa

    I haven’t had the chance to look at this until today.
    I personally really like Paul’s design–it’s the best I’ve seen so far. Very nice use of the space.

  • Alex Botic

    Lisa Paul C’s design is not to be taken into consideration due to the fact he has not thought about the structure. Thus, the house is pretty unstable (the living room that is). I understand that you like big open spaces, but the structure cannot be treated so lightly. Maybe a pillar or some kind or of in-between wall would help the minority.


  • Paul C

    Thanks for the feedback. Structure is always a very important consideration. From my experience it would not be unusual to achieve this level of “openness” via a flush ceiling beam, even in snow country. Granted we don’t know exactly the specifics of the roof structure for this particular single storey home, however this is not an insurmountable span.


  • Paul C

    I am interested to know how or what you did/used with respect to the image you included? I thought the animated effect was quite cool.

  • Alex Botic

    Sure thing Paul. I used PS4 to edit your image. The extension is .GIF whereas a normal picture is .JPG. I found a tutorial on youtube similar to what i did, to guide you through.

  • Paul C

    Thanks for that.

  • Alex Botic

    Don’t mention it Paul. By the way, are you an architect? Where have you studied if i may ask? And if so, how many years have you practiced?

  • Paul C

    ^ Sorry I had to duck out. Just curious, what is your interest in my story?

  • Alex Botic

    I just wanted to know whats the average education/experience on this thread is, so i can tell how plausible the answers are.

  • John Brown

    My understanding is that the participants on oursite come from a wide range of backgrounds. While a certain percentage are professional architects and designers, the site is really geared for the majority of viewers who are non-professionals with an interest in design. I consider everyone’s opinions about their home to be valid and we encourage a broad range of discussion on the site. Issues of a more technical nature are less common and I would recommend obtaining advice from a local professional about your specific situation.

  • Alex Botic

    No it’s quite ok, I enjoy watching the project solutions on this site and communicating my ideas with others from what I’ve studied. I didn’t mean to be too bossy or too nosy.