Part 2 – Ritter Lupita Residence, Massachusetts

Part 2 – Ritter Lupita Residence, Massachusetts (PDF)

  • John Brown


    This is the completed concept design for the Ritter Lupita residence.

  • Brad W

    Yesterday my first thought was to recess the fridge and pantry into the bathroom to gain kitchen counter and island space. The result of that decision was that I never could properly resolve the bathroom door issue. Thanks John…good lesson and nice, simple plan.

  • Murray


    My comments/critique focus on John Brown’s kitchen layout.

    My first thought is that the entrance to the dining area is too tight in relation to the corner of the island. Also, the floor space between the cabinets and the island is only about 3 feet wide.

    I am not a fan of the stove being directly opposite the sink, especially with the narrow space; this would make it awkward to open the oven door. Further I think the location of the fridge is not ideal. Complain, complain, complain!

    Here are my alterations based on the above – a relocation of appliances and sink, and a slighter smaller island.

    I much prefer the galley kitchen that many others have proposed. These layouts help to open up the entire main floor.

  • James Scott


    Good morning Team Slow Home,

    I asked myself what if we got rid of the straight stairs and added spiral stairs? Well here’s my answer. I think this can really open up the space. Unfortunately I have little experience with spiral stairs.

    John Brown – The clients are embarking on a consulting career, I could see one of the bedrooms used for office space so I didn’t feel the need to add a desk on the main floor.

  • John Brown

    I take your point about the appliance location but I am concerned about how your redesign exposes the powder room door to the kitchen and the dining room. What do you think?

  • John Brown

    Spiral stairs are tricky. Although they appear to take up less space in plan the turning radius with standard size 3′ to 3’6 treads is pretty tight for day to day use. The experience becomes more pleasant if a small space is created in the center around which the stair rotates. However, this quickly eliminates any potential saving of space on either plan.

  • Jeremy W.


    I frequently watch your videos and have never commented. I did have a question today though. I didn’t fully understand what you meant that redesigning the older home several times is a slow thing to do. Could you explain that a little more? Thank you!

  • Murray

    Hello John,

    I thought your solution to the powder room entry was great, and I intended no change at all to that part of my revamped kitchen layout – as you suggested, a pantry or some such would keep privacy in order.

  • Doug Roberts


    I decided to take a bit of a different approach. I eliminated the front entry and turned the side entry into the main entry for both guests coming in from the front and for the clients coming in from the garage in the back. I then relocated the powder room into the old front entry space (with a stained glass window), which opened up the entire south wall. I decided to make this a feature wall running the entire length of the house, perhaps covered in antique brick to add to the “loft” feel of the space. I then tucked a small but functional kitchen against the stair wall. I also replaced the centre pane of the bay window with sliding doors out to a small front patio.

  • John Y


    I like that solution quite a lot.

  • Louis Pereira

    Doug – That’s an interesting approach (…making good use of the side entry). Although where i’m from, you would require a variance for not having the ‘Main Entry’ facing the street.

    I hope that planting is low in your front courtyard – would be nice to engage this passive area with the street.

  • Louis Pereira


    John – i like your solution and how you’ve maintained an uninterrupted circulation route along the north side of the house. Quickly, only one comment and that is the Living Room furniture arrangement which i would propose having the television along the south wall instead, thereby providing more storage along the north wall next to the desk.

    Missing my slowhome! (back to work…)

  • Doug Roberts


    John Y and Louis — thanks for the feedback. With respect to the plantings around the front patio — yes I would envision them to be reasonably low, at least towards the front half of the patio. Their main purpose would be to create a subtle barrier around the patio to prevent visitors from mistaking the bay window sliding door for a front entry.

    I just noticed that the powder room toilet was visible from the kitchen island, so I flipped the powder room around to fix that problem and make the powder room door more private.

  • Scott Walkinshaw

    Doug, note that this comment is prior to seeing the upper floor, but if this couple are going to run a consulting business, presumably from an office upstairs, do you see it as an optimum arrangement to bring clients through half the (private) house before they get to the office space upstairs?

  • Doug Roberts

    Scott — certainly something to consider. However, I would be surprised if the couple planned to host client meetings in their second floor home office. My own view is that the second floor of a 2-storey house should be considered private space — off limits to visitors of any kind — and I suspect that many clients would feel uncomfortable being taken up to a “bedroom” floor for a meeting. The second floor home office should be used only as a work space. If the couple does not expect to meet with clients at the house very often, then I would suggest having the dining area do double duty as a meeting room on those occasions. If they expect to meet with clients at the house regularly, then I would recommend putting a proper meeting room in the basement, which in my plan would be directly accessible from the side entry.

  • John Y

    I’ve been assuming that they’re running the sort of consulting business that doesn’t involve clients coming to the house. If meetings are required, they’re almost certainly going to go out to the client’s office.

  • James Scott


    I agree with Doug that if they were to host meetings at their home than possibly an entry to a basement office could work, possibly off the front. Of course basement ceiling height is an issue.

    Now how about a little Frank Gehry inspiration. As with the AGO, we can place the spiral stairs outside of the envelope.

  • John Brown

    Jeremy W,
    Sorry for the delay in responding to your question about reworking old houses. I indicated that this is a slow thing to do because it involves starting with an existing structure rather than from scratch. It means reworking materials that have already been harvested or extracted and extending the life of their embodied energy rather than building with things that are new. It means working within the context and constraints of the culture in which the existing structure was built rather than always embracing the cult of the new.

  • John Brown

    Moving the kitchen over is a very nice solution to the stair problem.

  • John Brown

    It is really nice to hear from you and thanks for the suggestion about the furniture. Certainly an improvement to the scheme.

  • John Brown

    Jeremy and Scott,
    Welcome the site and thanks for commenting.

    The question about clients visiting a home office is an important one and certainly tailors the response that one would develop. In this case, the consulting practice does not generate that many visitors. Any meetings would be at a coffeeshop or the other person’s office.

  • Jeremy


    Thank you for your clear explanation and warm welcome.

    I really appreciate this unique site!

  • John Y

    If we were *really* thinking outside the box, I’d be tempted to put the spiral staircase in that bay window. Of course, the clients want the dining room up there (or possibly the living room), so I’d resist the temptation anyway…

  • James Scott

    John Y – I had played with a few plans changing my original spiral stairs from 5′ to 7′ and seeing if they would work in the front window. It did make it difficult since it really pushed the dining space across from the kitchen and created more problems. Possibly someone has an idea how this can work.

    Remember too that the stairs service both the basement and the upper floor as well.

  • Terri

    Regarding your comment “the consulting practice does not generate that many visitors,” I wonder why you felt it necessary to even mention the consulting office for the purposes of this week’s design exercise. I doubt anyone would have been tempted to try and put an office in the limited space we were dealing with!

  • John Brown

    I guess it was a bit of a red herring as the idea is to incorporate the home office on the second floor in next week’s segment. On the other hand, that may have been a useful exercise as I find a large part of my work at the beginning of a design project is spent trying to sift through too much information.