Part 2 – Wu Cars Residence, California

Part 2 – Wu Cars Residence, California (PDF)

  • Brad W

    John – As I am sure you are aware your kitchen location is a subject for debate. I think the kitchen in the front of the house makes the layout work but is that the best location for daily living? The main concern is that the kitchen is disconnected and far away from the back entry. Groceries etc. must be carried through the living space and if you consider the location of the garage every trip is long indeed.

    The living room view to the back of the garage is a concern which can be addressed with landscaping but, if possible, I would rather have a view into the larger yard.

    Finally, the connection to the garage bisects the garden in serpentine fashion. This sounds wonderful but I have to question how practical this will be on a daily basis.

    I also have two questions: 1. How have you furnished the bay at the west end of the dining room? and 2. What is in the niche on the north wall of the dining room?

    BTW, great project this week – I can relate because I live in a similar house.

  • John Brown

    As was suggested last week, here is a jpeg of my final design uploaded into the comment section.


  • John Brown

    I understand the debate about the kitchen location. However, in our experience locating the kitchen at the front works quite well. We have done over 50 projects like this over the years in typical 40′s, 50′s and 60′s bungalows. Standing in the space, the kitchen does not too feel far away from either the living room or the back garden. In fact, I believe it tends to draw it all together because you are standing at the front of the house looking through the living space and out to the garden.

    We have also found that it is a very cost effective approach to opening up a house with a renovation that maximizes the functionality of the rest of the room. This is because the width of the living/dining/kitchen space in these houses doesn’t usually allow for a sufficient living space if the living and kitchen are situated side by side. Front to back usually allows a more properly proportioned space for living room furniture.

    Your concern certainly comes more into play, I feel, in houses that are either square in plan or longer than they are wide. At that point the kitchen is too far away.

    In answer to your questions, the bay overlooking the garden is a built in desk and I am proposing a fireplace on the north wall of the dining room.

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    I like how the public and private sections of the house are separated by the study and the master bath.

  • Gordon Johansen

    The kitchen in the front of the house works much better for an older couple as they do not need to have the same back yard visibility. I always found that while preparing supper or cleaning up, it was nice to be able to see into the back yard to keep an eye on the kids playing. Older people tend to want to see what is going on in the neighborhood rather than their yard.

    The distance to bring in groceries and items from the garage is valid but with an older couple, this does not happen as much or with large amounts of awkward bags.

    I have a bigger issue with the distance from the kitchen to the dining table. As you mentioned in an earlier show, most people do not use the island bar to eat off. It is more for guests just to keep them out of the way while they can still interact with someone in the kitchen. This distance seems excessive for day to day eating. Would it not be better to reverse the dining and living room locations so that the table would be closer to the kitchen? It would enhance the view to the larger back yard. The rear entrance location could still be a problem though as you would need to leave a walkway to the kitchen which could limit furniture placement. It would also have the advantage of having the fireplace in the living room where people would be more likely to use it while relaxing or just as a space heater.

  • Brad W

    John – Fair enough and, in general, I agree with you. Certainly, your plan features rooms that are well proportioned and work within the existing footprint. The kitchen design is fine and working in the kitchen with a view thru the living space towards the outside and another view towards the street would be very nice.

    However, in context of the discussion this week, I am confused by locating the kitchen at the front of the house. I thought the idea was to create a closer connection between the garage and the house. It always seems a good idea to locate the kitchen near the garage because that will end of being the main entry.

  • Trent

    I think the way you renovated the access to the study is great. It creates a very nice flow from the living area and I think will be a very well used room.

  • Louis Pereira

    John – I think your solution is very successful in its conceptual approach and in keeping with SlowHome’s SIMPLE ideals. I really like how you’ve integrated the Study and its accessibility from the main living space and i agree with Trent’s comment about it will be ‘very well used’ – something that i don’t feel i accomplished on my plan…

  • David Pease

    John, I don’t mind the position of the kitchen but do agree that there should be a defined path from the back door from the garage to the kitchen and so have opted for a hall way directing traffic through to the kitchen. I have also changed the position of the guest and master bathrooms.

    You will be talking about the relationship between the inside space and the garden so I am suggesting that the wall material, perhaps stone framing the fireplace [mine on the south wall], be continued into the garden as a garden wall.


  • Jim Argeropoulos

    I agree with Trent. The long book shelf almost extending out into the living area draws you into the study. To me this feels much the same as using the same materials on both sides of the windows as was highlighted on the Rue Street case study.

  • Louis Pereira

    What struck me most about the client’s profile comment, was that they currently live in ‘a big house’ but ‘want to live in a nice small house’. My approach then was to maintain an openess but to create smaller scale rooms within in an expansive floor plan. Although, i like Brad’s approach of having the Main Living areas along the West wall, i prefer to have the Kitchen and Dining flanked by the Indoor and Outdoor Living spaces. The Kitchen then always serves as the nucleas and is always in promixity to either indoor/outdoor activity.

    Everytime, i work with large floor plans, i tend to think ‘high-design’ so i hope this submission doesn’t put-off some of the Slow Home faithful…

    I welcome your feedback…


  • Grace

    I like the width of Brad W’s living space opening to the back. It made the house seem more expansive than it is. The house allows entry and then opens wide, with the outside opening up even wider beyond.

  • Paul C

    I will echo Louis’ comments from yesterday in that there is a lot of space in this home. A bit of a departure from previous exercises but similar in a way to last week’s case study. I don’t mind the location of your kitchen, except to say that those sitting at the counter would need to turn around to view the garden. Not a huge issue as open kitchens such as these tend to create a “milling about” nature. I very much like the long millwork in the study. Depending what is contemplated on the hallway side, I think this could help offset the long corridor. I have some reservations with placing fireplaces too close to where people will be. Gas fireplaces can throw quite a bit of heat unless enough distance is provided.

    Relying on the homeowners write up, I took the approach of trying to maximize the relationship to the rear yard/future garden. The most significant effect I guess would be the relocation of the secondary entry. I also felt that a vestibule with direct access into the study would enable the homeowner to address his part-time consulting practice in a slightly more formal manner. The furniture placement choices in the study as it stands is maybe more limiting than what I would prefer so the question of how important a closet is in this room would need to be addressed. The bigness of this home(if that’s a word) has been echoed in various places. For example,the vestibule sliding door is 4 ft wide, the kitchen cabinets along the wall have been pulled from the wall to gain a slightly deeper counter, the opening into the rear yard via accordion doors is akin to a garage door opening and the furnishing would need to be proportional to the spaces. The dining table for example is drawn at 42”x 96”. However, I did remove the bump out off the rear wall as I felt it impinged on what might be in the rear yard and did not work well with this proposal.


  • Louis Pereira

    Paul – Exceptional!

    Like John’s, a very resourceful approach. The vestibule is a good idea and i’m certain would be done in a tactful manner so that it still maintains a residential-like expression…

  • Paul C

    Thanks very much Louis, as always, I look forward to seeing your approach. I found that with the size of the home and spaces, one could spend much time playing with all the possibilities. For example, I toyed with the idea of a pin hinged door (not sure if that’s the correct term) (attached image) for the vestibule interior door. There would need to glazing in it, but I particularly liked the overall scale of the door.


  • Brad W

    Paul C – Nice plan…I especially like your side entry. When I saw John’s plan I was wondering how a side entry would work. I also like the your use of accordian doors to access the backyard. I like the vestibule concept but I think one entry into this room is enough.

    For fun, I quickly reworked John’s plan eliminating the back entry in favour of a side entry and reversed the position of the dining and living room. Removing the back entry allows some space to be gained in the living area along the north wall which now lines up with the front entry. The laundry has been moved to the MB closet.

    Also, have previously posted drawings not shown up?


  • Paul C

    Brad W,
    Nicely done and yes, there appears from here as well to be a minor glitch with earlier posted images. Further to the side entry discussion, from my perspective, I thought that the distance travelled to the interior spaces was essentially the same so why not. I had that 2nd study door in, then out, then in again. I thought easy access to the master might rule the day. Lots of possibilities for sure. The other “trade-off” I reconciled with was the distance to the laundry. Having it directly in the master closet is another good option although I like to see as much space as possible around laundry. They tend to be “stuff” magnets. Thanks for the feedback.

  • Paul C

    I think you successfully and effectively achieved what you sought out to do. The use of circulation corridors to create intimacy without jeopardizing the openness is very effective. Short of feeling a breeze, I think the homeowners would feel like they lived in their garden. Well done!

    How’s my math…

    High design = no clutter = simpler

  • Louis Pereira

    ^ Haha…indeed! I’ll remember that definition next time i talk to a contractor!

  • John Brown

    There are a lot of interesting options being presented. I thought it would be interesting to see what you could do with a bit of extra space and I am happy to see that people are taking advantage of the opportunity.

    I found Paul’s side entry particularly interesting. I had not thought about that andit makes a lot of sense.

    Brad’s reworking of my plan is pretty much exactly what I would do in response (but now fortunately don’t have to – thanks Brad!). I think that it addresses the concerns expressed by some about the proximity of the back entry to the kitchen and flipping the dining and living reduces the distance from the table to the kitchen. Most of all I like the fact that the back entry is no longer taking up valuable rear garden frontage. Expanding the living into the space makes a lot of sense.

  • Brad W

    Louis – I could say nice plan but I think better might be I could live there…the pictures you include really help visualize and sell your design. Based on the discussion on this project, I obviously prefer the kitchen in the back near the garage so no problem there. As always, the master suite is very well done (you should redesign mine)and I love the living spaces. The fireplace wall and other custom millwork is very well conceived. A weakness maybe the location and size of the study but then I suspect you knew that already.

  • Brad W

    John – I thought you might be mad at me! No offense was intended by reworking your design or asking about the kitchen location.

    Louis – Normally, I’d nail you on the cost of your design but I think everyone went over budget this week.

  • John Brown

    The last think I am is angry or upset. I think it is great when one person draws overtop another person’s scheme. That is what happens in a real design school. Our common goal is to explore the potential of the problem. Thanks for your ongoing enthusiastic contribution to the site.

  • Louis Pereira

    Brad – Agree on my Study location/size being not so great…and you’re right too about the cost of my proposal. Cost is a reality of course but like John will attest, in a design school format you don’t want to stifle creativity. For this reason we see many interesting soltutions and perhaps the reason we’re never informed on the specifics of budget for each of the Design Projects.

    I’ve had clients in the past tell me ‘to just make things right’, and when this is the case, i’ll typically start at the level of what i submitted today…(not to mention drool)…


    Paul – i had to chuckle when i read your remark, ‘Short of feeling a breeze, I think the homeowners would feel like they lived in their garden.’

    I value you that and it also reminded me of FLW saying to Philip Johnson when inside his famous Glass House, “I don’t know whether to keep my hat on or take it off”

  • James Scott

    You guys, and gals, are on fire today. What a great discussion. And each idea really drove the projects development.

    This evening I’ve tried to use Graphic Converter on my Mac with limited learning curve success. Quite rusty I’m afraid. Anyway I made it part way through my attempt and I now must rest.

    What I tried to accomplish was to get all four of the main features on the garden wall…the kitchen, the dining, the living and the master bedroom. I extended the wall from the kitchen out past the back of the house. Not quite sure how that would work but the idea was to create a house wide patio or terrace to expand the living space outward. The extension of the kitchen wall could provide some shelter. I was thinking about the Rue Street Residence in the project catalogue.

    I have the study on the lower left and a second bedroom, 2 baths and the laundry on the lower right. Sorry I could not get the design completed, but here’s what I came up with.


  • James Scott

    Let’s see if this works. You may have to zoom.


  • Paul C

    Very nice. The image of the kitchen counter/cabinetry continuing through the glass wall would be quite neat I think. As well the kitchen extension will lead nicely into John’s discussion next week (I believe he said next week) of outdoor “rooms”. I am curious to see, how did the rest of the plan work out?

  • Terri

    I’ve just returned to the site after a vay-cay in California, and I’d like to put in my “two cents” on these plans.

    Brad W.–I liked you first plan posted. The study seemed a little large, but with the audio-visual equipment you described, it’d need to be that size. I also liked the acess to kitchen from garage. My only criticism was the location of the laundry and the size of the main bath. I felt the bath could be a little more generous and the laundry more accessible from the main part of the house. While it’s true that the bulk of the laundry is generated in the dressing area of the house, we still have to come back to switch from washer to dryer or take it outside to hang up (what I do, and may well become the politically correct thing to do again…)

    Your modification of John’s plan was great. I liked Paul C’s side entrance plan.

    Paul C.–as said, liked the side entrance, if the access is generous out there, it certainly allows for better planning inside. My only criticism (again) would be the laundry location–not great to haul the stuff past the main rooms, in my humble opinion.

    Louis, I really liked the north end of your plan. GOOD laundry location–you win the laundry award from me! I also liked the study tucked into the corner, but when John pointed out that the Wu’s might need access for business, this hideaway became less desirable. Your “screening” wall system on the master bedroom wall would be nice. As much as it’s great to look out at the garden, or access it, that western heat could be a problem (no doubt you’ll be addressing that in next week’s garden plan).

    David — I couldn’t open your file, so I couldn’t see what you came up with. :(

    James–I think the access to the rear is the best addressed with your plan; however, I wonder about the privacy between living room and master bedroom.

    Wish I could have contributed more than my “two cents.”

  • James Scott

    I had a chance to finish this up today, sorry to be so tardy.

    I did re-arrange the front rooms a bit. The guest bath does include the laundry. I thought about mill work for much of the home but that’s subjective I suppose.

    I also as mentioned earlier extending the wall out from the kitchen, but I am cautious about going to far for I feel there needs to be some disconnect from the garage.

    There is a sliding door between the master bedroom and the living room. I remember the sliding door in the Green Penthouse Loft (Paul Cha Architect) project.


  • James Scott


    I meant to add the photo from the following page but erred. This is kind of where I am headed, but I don’t think I’d want the loo overly exposed as they have. Nice ideas though.

  • Paul C

    Never too late. Interesting take. It is a home with a bit of a dual personality if you will. The front is somewhat restrained/reserved/quiet whereas the rear is completed exposed. I like the straightforwardness of the master entry. I suspect standing in the front entry, looking towards the rear it would almost seem like a portal to the afterlife. The bright light coming through that opening would surely draw you near. Having transoms above the walls in the hallway and maybe even the wall between the study and kitchen would permit light to filter further into the home. The extended kitchen wall and full length deck would suggest maybe a very deep roof overhang to offset the heat from streaming in. Nice plan.

  • James Scott

    Paul, you’re right about the use of transoms to bring the light further into the house. I also neglected to place a second window in the second bedroom even it if had been on the north wall. some tweaking and I’m sure a more useful master bath can be had, including a shower.

    The concern I have is the entry is a bit tight, maybe a foot or so can be stolen from the second bathroom.

    I like the idea of blending favourably into the surrounding neighbourhood, but I think all of us need to break free once we get past the facade. Though it could be tough to let go.

  • Paul C

    I am not sure if it was intentional but your last comment (re: breaking free) is eerily in line with the discussion that occurred on Friday regarding the home in the case study segment. Have you followed that discussion?

  • James Scott

    Paul, regarding ‘breaking free’ and Friday’s discussion, probably one of the most enlightening and important discussions so far. As I posted on that page, the Cheskey Residence is one of my favourite projects.

    And thanks for the positive comments on my design.