Good Sightlines in New Home Planning


In the planning process for this new home, my architect was quick to understand that hallways are important to me. He knew right away that I don’t gravitate to wide open rooms. I tend to want closed off rooms with hallways between them. Which is strange, since I have an issue with claustrophobia in very small spaces, but I guess there’s a sweet spot between the two extremes that I’m most comfortable with. And I think the reason I like hallways so much is because I’m a sucker for good sightlines.

sightline of artwork

I like to look down a long hallway to a piece of art framed perfectly at the end. When I was designing our house, I always considered what the view would be from various vantage points. For example, the above photo inspired my plans for the back hallway of our house.  See the whole plan here.

good sightlines are important to consider in new home planning,
good sightline down back hall

When you enter the house from the family foyer, there is an extended sightline through the back hall, to the laundry room hallway. I wanted to have a blank wall there for a piece of artwork. Take a look at the plan above. When the plan was originally drawn, in the powder room next to the laundry room the door was where the sink is. Having the powder room door there would have messed up the view from the family foyer, so we moved it to it’s current location. For that we’re rewarded with this view, rather than a view of half a door.

good sightline down back hallway,
good sightline down back hallway from family foyer

Sidenote:  I have to figure out how to use lighting in SketchUp. Usually I just leave the roof off to provide light, but the sky was too distracting in this shot. There will be sconces and overhead lights in the hallway, so it won’t be so dark, but you get the idea.

On the right side of the hall you can see a little bit of the mural that I want to add, which I mentioned in another post. It’s by RajiRM, and it’s called Leopold’s #2. I’m attracted to the colors of this mural, and I think it would be so cool to stand in the foyer and see just a glimpse of this “gathering” through the barrel vault.

good sightline through barrel vault to mural in back hall,
sightline through barrel vault to mural in back hall

Here’s a shot of the back hall from the other direction, as it looks now.  I’m standing in the laundry/powder room hall, looking toward the family foyer, with the door to the breezeway at the end.  The kitchen is on the left and stair foyer is on the right.  I love the light pouring into the family foyer from the triple windows and glass door.

good sightlines in new construction,
the back hall under construction

When we were working on the design of the house we found ourselves toward the end of the process with three different plans to choose from.  One of them had a hallway along the back of the house with french doors in two different locations.  My inspiration for that hallway was the AD image below.  Although I loved the hallway in that plan, other aspects of our current plan were much better.  But I added as much glass as I could to the little bit of the back hall that faced the backyard.

good sightline down a light filled hallway,

Here’s another thing I love.  A sightline down a dark hallway with a light filled room at the end.  So. Much. Drama.

good sightline down darkened hallway to well lit room

Another good sightline I planned in our house is standing at the kitchen island, looking through the breakfast room and great room to outside.  As I mentioned in a previous post, we originally had the fireplace on that back wall, but at the last minute I knew that I wanted to walk into the kitchen and see the back yard at the end of the house.  So we moved the fireplace, and added extra windows to that end wall.

sightline through dining room to outside
a good sightline through a room to the outside source

And in the opposite direction, coming out of the kitchen into the back hall I knew that I wanted both doorways to have similar views of an attractive wall of art, rather than different views.  The plan originally had the stairs to the basement opposite the left kitchen doorway, but we rotated them to the side, and now you enter the basement stairs in the barrel arch.  That gave both doorways views of the opposite walls.

good sightlines on floor plan,
good sightlines from kitchen

And the last view I’ll mention (although I could go on!) is this one.  From the foyer, when you enter the master bedroom suite you are treated to a view out the window at the end of the little hall.  The bedroom and closets are on the right, and the bathroom is on the left.  I love this totally unnecessary moment between all of those rooms.  I’ll probably hang a light fixture where the foyer intersects with the bathroom door and the hallway to the closets.


good sightline out window in master foyer plan,
good sightline out window

Sightlines are something that can be considered in any house plan.  It doesn’t have to be a grand home, just a thoughtfully planned one.  A small amount of shifting to create good sightlines can usually improve the feel of a house greatly.