How to re-arrange to be more open? Ideas please

EMC2011January 27, 2012


I have a small 1940's cape house. 1st floor: walk in to living room (15x10), then behind LR is kitchen on right and dining room on left. in the very center are two back to back closets with needed storage space.

There's a half wall between living room and dining room as well that can be removed but not sure how big a difference it'll make for the 1k it costs to do that.

Removing the big block in the center (2 closets) would add openness and space but we need at least one closet. Any idea where to put a closet? The first floor consists of what i just mentioned..then on the right side of the house are two bedrooms and a bath with a narrow hallway. it's pretty much like a small rectangular box lol. when you walk in the front door there's a wall immediately on the right which has a bedroom on the other side. so if we put a closet there we'd have to take away space from the bedroom. directly in front are stairs going to 2nd floor.

here's living room pics:

any way to better lay out furniture? remove walls? also very dark so thinking about adding some ceiling light...any ideas very welcome! thank you!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi, EMC2011! My DH has a cape built in 1948, and he started with the rooms about like you must be dealing with.

My first question is, how committed are you to staying in this house, and for how long do you expect it to last? In DH's (Dear Hubby) case, he has lived there since 1963 or so, I think. That gave him a lot of time to make changes.

Second question is, how long have you lived in your cape? You get a better feel for a house after "wearing" it for a while.

Third question is, how many live there, like are you newlyweds with kids in the future, parents of young kids with more anticipated, parents of teens, or empty nesters?

And about the house, you said there is a second floor. So you have more bedrooms up there? Do you use your dining room for every meal, or could it be made into part of the kitchen? Where do you watch TV, sort of a family room spot, and do you have a basement finished out.

I dearly love the capes. I heartily recommend that you check your public library for a book about CAPES. I have one by that name which I read cover to cover, and learned a lot. We ended up making (almost) a master suite with a walkin closet, and created the space for a master bath, but had to quit because we are selling the house and will let new owners do it as they like.

So, if you have a rough sketch of the arrangement which you can post to a photo site online (Photobucket, Flickr, Tinypic, Picasa, whatever), you could show everyone what you have to work with.

Always great to have new neighbors stop by. Welcome.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 11:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm glad ML stopped by to answer you as she has the most experience here with capes.

How much of the work will you be doing yourself? That will make a difference on cost too.

Do you have any photos from the kitchen-dining room?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 1:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


my husband and i have lived here for 4 years. trying to have a baby, but none yet. just us and the 2 pups for now.
we have a contractor friend who would do the work.

1st floor: living room, kitchen and dining in back, bathroom, 2 bedrooms on the right side.
2nd floor: 2 bedrooms and a full bath.
basement is unfinished.

So we spend 95% of our time in this living room since the basement is unfinished and not sure i want to finish it as we need storage.

will try to post more pics today... thank you!!!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 4:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you're planning on kids, I'd take down the wall between kitchen and dining room so you can oversee homework while cooking dinner, etc.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 5:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

hello again

i've updated this link with more photos so you can see better what i'm talking about:

my question is....if i am able to remove the center block that's in the middle of the kitchen, dining and living room and make the whole room one open space...where to build /add closet storage?

also any ideas for better furniture/room arrangement?

thank you very much! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: More pics added

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 1:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

update :( someone just told me he thinks the middle wall is load bearing :( is this hopeless?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 3:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi EMC. Thanks for the picture link. You can make a clickable link by using the two lines below the typing block when you reply to a GW thread.

From what I'm seeing in your pictures, I think you really could do much better by joining the kitchen with the dining room. Also, I'd think about blocking off the doorway from the living room to the dining room, which would give you more wall space for storage in both rooms. Less need for long passageways.

To keep from making the dining a "dead end" and folks cutting through your kitchen to get there, just drop back whatever appliances or cabinets that exist now on the side of the kitchen that would lead toward the dining/family space. Or, where that other wall is now (a load bearing I'm thinking), you could also build in cabinets or make it a pony wall with columns bearing the load.

What I mean can be seen in a thread posted here by JudithVA, who has knocked down a LOT of walls, reconfigured her living room kitchen and dining together. Plus, she took in a small bedroom as a family space and that is where the columns and the pony wall are that look so great. Judith is amazing, because she did most of that grunt work HERSELF.

Base cabinets can be the bottom portion of a pony wall, with a counter top or bar on the outer side, maybe into the living room space, creating more use for that wall in your living room. I like your doorways, but if gaining more storage locations is your problem, I don't see how you can save them.

Squared off doorways seems to be more typical of a cape as I understand it, with lots of fat woodwork. A cape has such a substantial feel to it, usually lower ceilings too, but of course having a section with higher ceilings to let in more light will not be rejected. To test out whether you can do without that door from LR to dining room, block it off and enter only through the kitchen. If you get claustrophobia with a solid wall, then consider knocking out the top part, using the support posts, making the pony wall w/countertops to serve numerous purposes in both LR and DR, maybe have a bar in the LR side? Or, bar in BOTH rooms, with cabs opening from both sides in the parts where there are NO base cabs. Hmmmm, I'll have to think again about what I just said. I'm getting a sugar low, and must go eat.

Go take a look in your library for any of Sarah Susanska's books, NOT SO BIG HOUSE series. Modern thinking for new or older homes.

Thanks, Marti. I do love working with capes, and will miss DH's cape when it sells.

Here is a link that might be useful: Elana's cape

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 4:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

thank you so much moccasinlanding! yes, i've thought of pony walls (or knee walls i've heard of them being called) with base cabinets for storage. that would definitely make the room more open and give us some storage.
my one big question though is where to add a coat closet :/
the front entrance opens in front of the staircase, with a wall to the right (other side is a bedroom). i guess we might be able to carve out a small closet by cutting into that bedroom but it would take space away from that bedroom.
what judithva did was amazing! i hope she's ok and continues posting...

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 10:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Whether it is a load bearing wall or not is something you need to know FOR SURE, and the only way is to get someone in there who can see the whole house. We can't tell that from the pictures you've shown here. It will depend on how the floor joists from the 2nd floor are laid out/tied into the walls below.

After looking at the pictures on your links, one thing you can do is paint the walls a lighter color. It looks like you took the pictures at night but a lighter color will expand it visually and you might feel you have enough room then.

I'd hate to lose those gorgeous doorways.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 11:53AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
ML - what's happening?
Is it done yet?
This "makeover" is too bad to continue with. Too bad.....
" I agree with Paul8511 "going elsewhere...
Is anyone else having trouble getting on this new Houzz site???
If you're having trouble (which I did) use your email...
Tiny House Forum?
I like this forum- but I sometimes think that we could...
Fancy expensive 'niche' market appliances
Just now reading @appliances, and there is ever more...
Sponsored Products
Prestige Three-Light Bath Fixture
$108.00 | Bellacor
T3 Source Shower Hand-held Filter
$150.00 | FRONTGATE
Italian Designs Profile Arched Cabinet and Drawer Pull
Signature Hardware
Ashbury 17" Square Distressed Gray Wall Mirror
$90.00 | Lamps Plus
Deco Pendant by Lights Up!
$134.00 | Lumens
Quest Concealed 2 Outlet Twin with Diverter Thermostatic Shower Valve
Hudson Reed
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™