Step 5 – Bedrooms

Step 5 – Bedroom (PDF)
Step 5 – Bedroom (Page 1)
Step 5 – Bedroom (Page 2)
Step 5 – Bedroom (Page 3)

  • David P


    Great section. I like the two side bars on the walk-in and location. I found the examples very helpful too.

  • Meg

    I’ve been doing battle with my scanner software all morning and I’ve had to concede defeat. I’ll snail mail you my scribblings at Housebrand once all the rooms are done.

    There have been so many great comments already. I’ve a few things to add that I haven’t seen discussed yet.

    The points in the rules of thumb box seem to repeat room to room. Did you try grouping the chapters as design principles and showing examples of how they are applied to different rooms?
    • Supersizing / wasted space / redundant space (too big entry, too big master suite, too big kitchen, protruding closets)
    • Sunlight and ventilation (living room in middle of plan, study
    • 45 degree trickery (kitchens, walk in closets)
    • Shapes, sizes and proportions that make furnishing and circulation difficult (bowling alley entry, long thin living room)
    • Organisation / plan that doesn’t work (tables in the middle of kitchens, fireplaces and TVs on opposite walls, desks squashed into corners of living rooms, laundry by the back entry, dining table in space in the middle of circulation, windows and doors on all walls of bedroom, irregular shaped bedroom.

    Balancing problems with solutions
    As well as showing good examples of design as others have suggested how about using the intro paragraphs to paint a vivid picture of what it’s like to live in a well designed home, pulling on the emotions and inspiring readers.

    Supported and consistent message
    The messages might be easier to follow if the phrases used in the intro, the rules of thumb and examples were consistent. For example in the kitchen chapter the into refers to ‘colliding geometries’, the ROT to ‘unnecessary angles’ and the examples to ‘awkward angles’. Sometimes the points in the ROT aren’t supported by an example and vice versa. Someone has already pointed this out and I think it’s a really important point. Have you tried putting the ROT after the examples. This might make things easier to read unless the ROT can be more developed in the intro text. I think your idea of loosening up on the format of the ROT is a good one. Some need more explanation and there might not always be an even match of livability to environmental footprint.

    Looking forward to tomorrow’s pages.

  • Meg

    Another thing I forgot to mention is the appendix idea. I think things like dimensions for kitchens and dining clearnance should be with the main text. How about including some of the functions and features we considered in the room by room segments? There was some good stuff there.

  • John Brown

    Good morning everyone.

    I hope you all enjoyed your “free Friday”. I also took the weekend off. As a result I didn’t get a chance to complete my responses to the last 1/3 of the dining/study comments until last night. There were some very thoughtful criticisms and suggestions. – Thanks to all.

    I am looking forward to the week ahead.

    I am glad you liked today’s section.

  • John Brown

    I really appreciate your comments – in part because they confirm the larger organization of the book. The second chapter (immediately preceding the one that describes the checklist and all of the sections we are currently editing) outlines the five most common themes in fast houses – redundant spaces, false labeling, supersizing, and colliding geometries. We tried to reinforce these ideas through the common pitfalls as much as we could to provide a conceptual continuity through the book.

    I really like the idea of painting a vivid picture of what it’s like to live in a well designed house – it could be a nice foil to the more specific approach of pointing out all of the particular problems or pitfalls with fast houses.

    In terms of sunlight, proportion, shape and organization – you will see in the very near future that they are each their own section in an earlier part of the checklist. In those sections we look at the issues in terms of the house “as a whole” instead of each interior room. Again, to maintain consistency we included some of the same issues again in these individual room sections. This may very well be too much.

    I think everyone should keep the concerns you raise in the back of their minds for the overall discussion that we will after we have gone through all of the 12 sections.

    I am going to print out your phrase SUPPORTED AND CONSISTENT MESSAGE and paste it up on the wall in the office. Thank you for this.

    The appendix idea is gaining momentum in our eyes as well.

  • BradW


    Probably the best section yet. That may be the result of the bedroom being well-bounded in scope. For example, the master bathroom has been kept out of the discussion.


  • Grace

    Yes, looking forward to that bath discussion and hoping Terri and I have backup out there for dedicated tubs! With jets.

    Someone on the site referred to the ‘primary bedroom’ rather than the ‘master,’ and I like that very much. ‘Primary bath,’ however, sounds as if it might be the ‘family bath,’ so that won’t do. Maybe the issue has already been resolved with John’s use of ‘en-suite.’

    The bedroom section is pretty straight-forward. I don’t have much to offer other than:

    They need to [both] BE quiet, peaceful places to sleep
    as well as efficient storage lockers

    be aware that it is usually just a supersized fast-house marketing

  • Murray


    Monday, Monday

    John, I know you are the “point man” for all of this, but it
    would be nice to meet your partner, Matthew, at some time – if he is so-inclined.

    I agree with BradW that the narrow focus of “the bedroom” makes this section quite strong.

  • Li-Na

    Introduction, Paragraph 1, line 4: They need to *be* both [I think you could remove "both"] quiet, peaceful places to sleep as well as efficient storage lockers for all of our personal possessions.

    John, are these the _absolute worst_ walk-in closets you’ve encountered? They are definitely problematic, but (and I’m playing devil’s advocate here) I couldn’t help wondering if the wasted space (especially the bottom left example) might be overcome by some sort of creative storage solution?

  • Li-Na

    Ah, after I posted, I see Grace has already mentioned the missing “be” in paragraph 1. :-)

  • Annette Eason C.S.B.A.

    I apologize.’We’ are the team currently in the studio/office. That would be Jules(Julie), Nick, and myself.

  • John Brown

    Brad and Grace,

    Thanks for the positive comments. I am curious about what your sense of why this section is more successful than the others. Is it, as Brad suggests, because it is more circumscribed or are there other factors at play?

  • John Brown

    That is a good question about closets. The task of assembling all of the drawings for this book was more massive than I had imagined and at some point it all became a bit of a blur to me. I am sure that the consequence was that we haven’t found the best examples for all of the different areas. In looking at that particular page again, and with the benefit of your comment, I agree that we need to go out and hunt down a few more, better example – we all know they are out there.

  • John Brown

    Welcome to Julie and Nick, the “we” in Annette’s posts. Thank you for bringing your expertise to our project. It is much appreciated.

    Those of you who have been following slow home for awhile will remember that I had the pleasure of speaking with Annette on camera when we were at the CA-Boom show in Los Angeles last June. Here is a quick link to the conversation.

  • John Brown

    Once again, I appreciate the detail of your review.

    I think that introducing Matthew to everyone is a great idea. I will arrange it, perhaps for later this week.

  • Terri

    I’m glad you enjoyed your trip to Toronto. I enjoyed the break too, though I was still proofreading over the weekend.:(
    I think this section is more straightforward because the topic is limited in scope.

    I see that others, especially Murray, have marked the points that twigged for me, usually the missing hyphens, such as “high-quality bedroom.”
    I did wonder if you explain the concept of “wasted space” in the earlier part of the book when you discuss colliding geometries in fast houses. Although I use the term “wasted space” all the time here on Slow Home, today it struck me that perhaps someone less familiar with house plans might be helped with an explanation of how a space is wasted; that is, it is space that’s difficult to access or furnish and therefore will be unused and wasted.

    This idea struck me while reading The Walk-In Closet box. I could imagine myself stuffing junk in some of those corners and therfore not completely wasting it (even though it’d be hard to access). In those examples, it would be great to have one of those bird’s-eye-view human figures that Louis often inserts into his plans, so that we could see how a body would actually fit into the closet (much as you’ve shown hangers).

    Murray felt that Location, Location, Location needs revising, and I’d concur. The terminology you use might be a little offputting to the average house buyer, particularly the use of “plan” for “house” and “elevation” when you don’t need to even mention it, front and back will do. For example, I’d reword the sentences where “plan” and “elevation” occur as follows:

    Many fast houses are long and narrow with bedrooms located in the middle, removed from either the front or back of the house. Middle rooms offer smaller windows that look out on only a side yard where another house may be only feet away.

  • John Brown

    We do define wasted space earlier in the book.

    I really like the idea of adding some kind of figure into the closets so that the absurdity of the design becomes more apparent (not withstanding the potential to use the difficult corners for storing stuff).

    Thanks as always for the ever necessary simplification and clarification of the text, it is really hard to get away from architect-speak.

  • jim baer


    i have been out all day, so i am only getting to this now.

    these are my thoughts.

    i will now read all of the other comments.

  • John Brown

    Thank you for the detailed review. I particularly appreciate the “Too Architectural” comments and the dissection of the common pitfalls is really helpful.

  • Elizabeth

    Yikes, I’m behind! I’ll have to post tomorrow. If there’s anything left to say.

  • Elizabeth


    I liked this section too, despite the red ink (I have to feel I’m adding value!). The “feel” of this section captures the mood of bedrooms, evoking a peaceful oasis.

    Apologies. I guess my comments on the Walk-in closet (in the posted jpeg) appear above Common Pitfalls on next page.

    I think the Rules of Thumb and Common Pitfalls could line up better.

    I think the box on Walk-in Closets works well because it pulls out an important aspect of bedrooms and discusses it in detail. Also, it brought out “what to look for” info that is so useful.

    The “Location” box contains essential info about where bedrms should be situated and oriented to their external surroundings. This seems to be basic info about the bedroom which belongs in the ROT and in the page 1 Intro instead of in a box.

    I think I’d mention what the dastardly fast-house people are doing in a short meaningful passage in the Intro, but eliminate negative comments about their style unless necessary or providing a specific contrast. Kind of think that negative comments detract a bit from the positive lessons you’re teaching here.

    And thanks again, John, for allowing us to participate in this process!

  • John Brown


    Thanks you for the completeness of your commentary. I also very much appreciate your suggestion to limit the negative commentary. On re-reading it I agree that it detracts from the larger positive message.