Unless you have the money to hire an architect full-time to design and document your custom dream home, you’ll find yourself stuck living in an existing house or picking out a model from a mass-home-builder’s short menu of available plans. Basically, the majority of us including me live in houses that fall short of meeting our needs (and wants…God, how I’d love to have a mudroom one day!). Whether those shortcomings have to do with lack of space, a weird layout, an open plan when you like cozy rooms, cozy rooms when you like open plans, small or nonexistent closets, unused rooms and on and on, there are things you can do to make improvements without renting a front-end-loader and knocking the whole house down to start from scratch.
My Clients (R and J) own a modestly sized Sears Catalog styled home. (We’re not sure yet if it is a true Sears home, but the one next door is!) It is a 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath house with a Living Room (and fireplace), Dining Room and Kitchen as well as an unheated Playroom off the back which was once an enclosed porch. They have one daughter (M) and one of them works from home full time. See the existing First Floor plan and Second Floor plan. They love their home in some ways, but not so much in others.
Here is their wishlist for the First Floor:
Open up the wall between the Living Room and Office (front)
Take the door going down to the basement and switch it to the other side of the stair in the Office (middle)
Open up the stair going upstairs to the Dining Room, adding a railing, balusters and a newel post
Expand the Kitchen into the Playroom
Here is their wishlist for the Second Floor:
Pop up a dormer in the back of the house and create a Master Suite (Bedroom, Bath & Closets)
Maintain a second Second Floor Hall Bath, possibly with a Laundry Area/Room
Maximize closets wherever possible
Because they are looking at renovations or changes to both levels of the house, a large package/consultation (7 hours +/-) was needed. I arrived early (with latte in hand, of course) and the first thing I did was take measurements so that I could get outlines of their existing floor plans down on [graph] paper. I then sat down with R for a bit to go over their wishlist so that it was fresh in my mind. I spent the next couple of hours doing some sketches on trace trying to address the items on their list. I sat down a second time with R to look at the sketches that I had done and get his feedback, talk about any new ideas and make sure I was heading in the right direction. I did a few additional sketches in response to R’s comments and questions. I did a quick exterior view of the proposed addition and spent the rest of the time tidying up all the sketches and reviewing them with R.
Here is what came out of the workshop. Click on each sketch to see it larger:
We discussed using movable panels to be able to open the Living & Sitting Rooms up to each other, but also still in some cases close it back up. The homeowners know that certain aspects of their home are not the way they want them but until seeing some sketches of what is even possible they had no idea where to start. The project has not been built yet, but at least now they have a visual goal of what they hope to accomplish in the future and know that they home they love (even with it’s shortcomings) can become perfect for them.