How would you open up this house?

shannonazApril 7, 2012

We are happy with the footprint and size of this house, we just want to make the living areas more open. It is an old rambling ranch so no super high ceilings and the ceilings in the dining and living room are 9 ft., We want to open up the kitchen somewhat to both the dining room and library and are toying with making the library the formal dining room because of higher ceilings and a grat view BUT that leaves a lot of space at the back of the house without clear focus. I am confidant/competent with finishes and some kitchen design but furniture placement is not my strength. That makes it harder, I think, to be creative with the floor plan. There are so many awesome design minds on this forum, I was hoping to get some great ideas I would not be able to think of!

I know that how we live matters, but my I think some principals are universal and I would love your knee-jerk reactions!

The garden room is just a room with a skylight. I have faith that a solution can be found that does not require moving the powder room...The library has a large window and a view.

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How does the room labeled "garden" work? Is it an indoor atrium? I cannot grasp this architect's design at all as to how the traffic moves and how the seemingly very isolated foyer functions.
The narrow central hall between the garden and kitchen end seems like a bottleneck, nut not understanding the garden rm. at all, I can't suggest any alternatives.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 5:47PM
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Thanks for your candid reply :) maybe I was unclear, these are the plans from 1962 when the house was built. The architect was using conventions of the area and the era, not all of which I appreciate but many of which I do! This house is 4400 sq. ft. on one level, which we love. We actually love many things about the house but not everything about the areas I posted about. We are going to change some things which is why I posted. It sounds like you think the house is beyond fixing which is certainly fair enough! There are folks who will curse us for changing anything about this house, but oh well.

As far as the foyer, I agree that it is closed off! The architect was a Frank Lloyd Wright disciple and small, dark entries are a FLW thing...we definitely prefer them over grand entries, but I understand that we are in the minority!

Maybe no clarification was needed, but it seemed possible that one would think that this was our proposed blueprint...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 6:31PM
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It's a little hard to make suggestions without pictures, especially of the garden room, but here are my first impressions:

Right now it's very awkward to get from the front door to the living room ... you walk straight through the foyer, turn left, then immediately right, then go past a large opening into the kitchen before you reach your destination ... all the way on the other side of the house and past informal areas (the kitchen). There's not a lot you can do about the length of the walk, but you can make it more pleasing and less choppy.

Is it possible to open up the garden room and use it as part of the passage? It could be a lovely transition space, especially with plants and a small sitting area. Then you could slide the kitchen to the left into the hallway space, close off the upper entrance opposite the closet and the doorway into the living room, and create a new kitchen entrance from the garden room. This would give you enough room to open up a doorway into the now-library, so you can use it as the dining room if you wish. Get rid of the peninsula in the kitchen and the built-in table and add a family dining table at the window. Enlarge the opening from the dining room into the kitchen. You could also shorten the wall between the living room and the dining room.

You might also consider moving the wall between the living room and dining room (or library) to the left about five feet, so it clears the window, then continuing the wall down to the outside wall at the bottom of the plan, with a wide framed opening between the living room and dining room. This would narrow the living room, but if I'm reading the plans correctly, it's now 25 feet wide, which is pretty wide with only nine-foot ceilings. You would still have a 19x16 living room.

One thing to consider about switching the library and dining room is that the two "public" rooms would be separated from each other, by either the long walk through the garden room and foyer or another through the library (which you may not want to consider public) and kitchen. Party circulation might be an issue.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 6:46PM
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Great ideas Chibimimi!
The garden room is simply a windowless room with a skylight. It is a bit claustrophobic, actually!

I LOVE your idea of moving the kitchen to the left using the remaining space as a passageway. I really dislike looking at a wall when I walk in the front door. How wide would the passageway need to be to allow for traffic flow AND a seating area? We also have room for a little sitting area against the powder room wall and an entryway table to the right of the door.

Right now we like the idea of removing the wall between living room and dining room and using the dining room as a the dining room. We like the idea of having the kitchen open to the library (maybe a bar higher than the counter with a doorway to the kitchen on the left?) and open somehow to the dining room. I like working in a really open kitchen.

The dining room/living room really screams to be opened up. Neither space feels large at all so our first instinct is not to divide them...

Great ideas!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 8:18PM
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Some ideas to consider:
If you don't currently use the library, why not convert to the dining room as you originally posted?

My thoughts are to combine the living and dining rooms and make that the new living space.You could open the wall between the current dining space and kitchen. Then to make the LR not so huge, why not create another bedroom by extending the wall from the Garden room to the outside wall, next to the slider. You could also possibly create another bathroom out of part of the garden room if needed. This could be a guest/study or office with entry off the living area if you wanted.

I like the idea of opening the garden room to the entry, you need a minimum of 6' width to create a seating area with a small bench, 8' is better.

Just tossing out some ideas without knowing the rest of the layout or loadbearing walls.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 3:41PM
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