Please Critique My Lakefront Design


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I've designed a home for a lakefront lot I just purchased. As a software engineer, I designed it very logically: lots of windows towards the lake, a structure that allows panoramic views, frequently used rooms on the lake side, less used rooms on the back. It's very functional. But as a software engineer, I fear I have no artistic taste. :-(


I would really appreciate critiques and advice. Do you find this attractive or ugly? If the latter, what problems do you see and do you have ideas to offer? I've uploaded pictures and floor plans at:


I've also embedded them below.


Thank you,








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Be careful of doing your own designs. it can be costly to you in mistakes, changes, resale, actually enjoying the spaces. etc if the design is not well thought out. While you may think its functional. its far less so than you are thinking. right idea on where spaces go...public spaces to back, utility type spaces at front. Many will avoid answering because nobody likes to bash someone doing their own designs and seem like a jerk.


Here are my 2 cents


1. The entry is very underwhelming and tight to enter and doesn't open you up to view of the lake beyond or a nice room. I would relocate possibly to where the bath is. Be sure to show furniture in each room so you can see if you have enough room


2. I wouldn't enter a laundry from the middle of the kitchen. traffic is right through kitchen and is a mess. Consider moving door to hallway. pantry could be there or get reworked.


3. Kitchen layout is not very efficient and its closed off from living room. Lake houses should be more open. Windows should go in front of sinks not either side as it reduces wall cabinets and they are too close to Ref.  Cooktop appears to be in corner and should be centered on sink wall or pantry wall as a featured space with counter space on both sides for prep. I would also want a nice size island to gather.


4. Dining space should be more open to kitchen and living. It doesn't look to have enough room for any decent size table that lake homes should have with many guests.


5. Living room looks too small especially with a piano in there and laying out furniture will be hard. You also have traffic patter to get to your master suite right in middle of that room. where are tvs going?

perhaps flip stairs and move entry to where the 1/2 bath is?


6. You have a bathroom door opening into your living room. think noises, smells and awkward guest interaction.


7. Just a hunch but stairs look too narrow and location is ok but maybe not best. is there a basement / stair needed? if so stairs need to be wider for going down next to foundation.


8. Doors and windows to sunroom from kitchen should be symmetrical, or use a 4 wide slider so you don't lose space to door swings. should have a door from sunroom to patio or porch out of way of furniture layouts.


9. Many windows on sides especially are not placed well or in a few cases too many.


10. Master bedroom should have bed on opposite wall when you walk in with a window over night stands and spread apart. Closet for master is tiny and unusable as laid out. you need 5 ft wide for a single line of rods/ shelf and best for 7 ft to double load rods/ shelves if single...door should shift to one side. Too many windows in a small closet.


11. Master bath is not well laid out and shower size is small it seems to me. 36" x60" a min I would do for a master shower. anything bigger is better. Vanity sizes are small, toilet on wrong wall and tight.


12. Consider a covered porch that's not screened in off of living room ? 12-14' deep. its nice space out of sun/ rain but still open view.


13. The bedrooms/ offices and baths upstairs seem a bit awkward in size and function. a lake house usually wants to have more bedrooms due to number of family and friends who come to visit. Halls are narrow and the one is dead end into back wall by office. All less desirable than you should get.




1. The front is very bland and lacking any curb appeal. that draws your eye or pulls you into it. Garage doors could be painted a white or contrasting color to break things up.


2. Window sizes are all same size and shape. they give you no hint of what the space inside is. Lake front in many cases also has some nice grid patterns.  could be simple and in top pane of double hungs only which I would suggest for most windows. The can be larger, open better, don't swing into patio, deck or walk space and are usually cheaper than large casements.


3. The house seems to be all one material? lap siding of some sort? Mix of materials can break up the elevation, scale, add texture, color, variety etc. Rear isn't horrible but still could use work and make sure windows are properly sized and enough room is left for structure / trim etc. Trim details can really help.


4. Also when designing a plan a good designer can lay it out to get good use of materials and reduce waste of materials by using standard sizes for materials and methods of construction etc.

5. If the drawings are not complete enough and you go to bid it to 2-4 builders you can get wider ranges of costs that can cost you in long run. Also banks want a house that they can sell if they should ever be put in the position of having to take it over.


All of this is based on me not knowing site limitations, best views, size and budget limitations or your specific needs and desires. I would be careful doing things so specific to yourself that any resale is killed by having spaces like offices that cant easily be used as bedrooms. Keep in mind $6000-$10,000 could probably get you some good design assistance at the very least. every designer and or architect will have varying price schedules and could be more but if you make many mistakes that you end up changing later  they will likely more than make up the cost of a good designer. plus you shouldn't end up getting done and regretting many of the design decisions. Resale is also hurt or price reduced for poor design.


Go to Houzz website and search lake house pictures and save some that you like. notice the spaces, focal points, use of variety of materials, Entry emphasis, window groupings etc.


Here are a few pics as an example. The renderings were from early in this design and was my first Chief model / project so they aren't great but you get the idea It was designed for a specific person but with resale in mind so it has tons of flexibility in how spaces are used.


Hope this is helpful.











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Thank you to all who have responded so far.


For those who suggest I get a pro: I agree completely. In fact, the builder I'm working with collaborates with an architect who drew up an initial design for me. I felt it didn't have the features I was looking for, so I made this design more as a guideline than as a final design.


Whether this architect is willing to work from my general design and make it better remains to be seen.


- Bob

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The only thing I would add to Nelson's critique (which is very good IMO) is to add a door from the garage through the laundry/utility room, which is too big IMO, into the kitchen - and in the master bath think about accessing the closet (to small as well) from the bathroom - clients love it. You've got an OK start but it really needs work to be more livable.

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Roof lines are too basic for a custom home. When the roof lines are basic then the inside will also be basic. It would take some thought time to get it smoking hot. You can do a lot by changing the roof lines vertically. Good luck

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The one issue I see that hasn't been covered is fixture placement. There is alot of variance which will require a good bit of plumbing when you could use common walls and simplify the rough plumbing required. 


I also agree, Laundry Room too big, Entry too small, Master Configuration awkward. 

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