The good and the bad of 'great' rooms :)

lavender_lassFebruary 20, 2010

I'm considering taking down the wall, between the living room and what is now a bedroom with half bath. If I did, it would give me a much bigger kitchen/dining area where the bedroom/bath is now...and would open up gorgeous views of our creek and back hill with pine trees. It would also give me room to add a sun/screen porch onto the back. My old farmhouse is a complete electrical/plumbing redo, so I have to put a whole new kitchen in either way.

What is now the dining room, kitchen and full bath/utility porch would become two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It's an interesting approach, but I'm wondering, how much do you like your "great" rooms, those that have them. I'm not used to having the kitchen open to the living room, but the best feature of the house is the brick fireplace in there. The kitchen/dining area would be in the back, with the porch behind, where I could have more room for a table and chairs, if I wanted to dine out there.

It would be easier to leave the kitchen/dining room where they are and the bedroom in the back, but I don't want to spend all this time and money, remodeling and not like the results. I love traditional cottage/farmhouse feel, but I think a more open concept might be more fun...and I want to use my spaces everyday. What do you all think? Any suggestions?

Thanks for the input :)

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We have had the open concept in two houses. One closed concept between them. So we had it and LOVED it then lost it and we said over and over. Wish this house was more open to the kitchen. Now this house we have is open again and we really like it.

The down side is it is noisy when I run the mixer or microwave. Bang around cooking. We do not have a dishwasher. I have heard they do not make as much noise as they used to.

Living room and kitchen run side by side and open to each other about half way on one end. Really works for us.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 5:26PM
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The house where we live now has one big space that is the kitchen, dining area, and family room. A six-inch step down and a vaulted ceiling define the family room from the kitchen/dining room. It is all behind the garage (which faces the street),so is in the quietest corner of the house. There is a formal living room space next to the front foyer, but we use it as the library/music room/office.

We love the homeyness of our great room area. Someone in the kitchen can still see the TV program or hear the stereo, so DH does not mind doing clean-up. Times like today, with the Olympics on TV, we can hang out here all day. I like being able to hand a glass or dish up onto the counter from my chair. Our fireplace is in the family room and is on the wall that faces the kitchen/dining area,so can be seen from there. We have a small art-deco oak buffet and a kitchen table and chairs for six, that expands to eight when needed. When small, the table can sit in either direction, when large it has to extend into the kitchen half of the kitchen/dining area and the kitchen island has to scoot over to the end of the line of cabinets on one side of the kitchen.

Some of the pros are listed above. We like the informality of being in either room and still being "together." With a good, quiet dishwasher (we brought the Bosch from our old house) we have no difficulty with dishwasher noise. My chair is right behind the dishwasher cabinet, and it causes no problems. There is a blind corner cabinet in the kitchen next to the dishwasher, and if we wanted to, we could cut a hole in that cab and add a door to access the back of it from the family room, or we could even inset a bookcase into the back of that cabinet.

Our rooms are too small to consider having a breakfast bar on the backside of the cabs facing the family room. The island, on wheels, does have a fold-up breakfast bar, however. We don't bother with it often, since we really don't have room for counter stools. We mostly use that bar surface as a server during large gatherings.

The cons: our squeaky floors mean that anytime anyone who is here taking care of my father-in-law enters the kitchen, it is best to pause any programs we are watching because just walking drowns out our entertainment. Even with good floors, the noise of getting ice, running the faucet, running the microwave would interrupt movies or music in the family room. Most people, however, do not always have other people in their home like we do! Either one of us is in Dad's room with him, or a caregiver or sibling of my DH is here taking care of Dad.

Our other problem with the set-up is that our biggest dog (a setter-sized mix at 60 lbs) can climb from our family room chairs onto the kitchen counter. I have to use a shock mat on the counter to keep him off of it. I am sure that if the smaller guy wanted to, he could do the same at 40 lbs. Again, most others would not have this same problem!

I recently had another difficulty with this great room. I have a small table set up in the dining area on which I am working on tiling some wooden boxes to use as stands for planters that I currently have sitting on the carpet. I am at the point where I am using my Dremel to etch cut lines into the stone tiles. I am making a lot of noise. DH was trying to do some work for work on his laptop in the family room, so I figured I better not try to cut my tiles today.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 10:43PM
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On one hand, it sounds like you'll really benefit from the change, but on the other have you considered where furniture with unfinished backs will go, and that the lack of wall space for hanging things could matter to you?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 10:26AM
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our home is open concept as well and I do enjoy do get good heat circulation and air and light..the only problem i would have with it is less walls to put things on or against..but if that isn't something you need then open concept is for you.

when we had our housefire..the old house was warrens of small rooms and lots of walls, and when we moved here..nearly all of our art and wall units were given to there is nothing to put them on or against.

but i don't mind..i like the light and air..

sounds like your best features would be better taken advantage of too..go for it

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 12:47PM
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I really like the idea of opening up the rooms. I'm not too concerned about the noise and lack of walls. There will be a big opening between the two rooms, but still a little wall on each side (load bearing wall).

I think what appeals to me most is bringing the brick fireplace into the kitchen area. It's a beautiful fireplace, floor to ceiling with almost a rose colored brick. It was my huband's grandparent's farmhouse. His grandmother's brother built the addition in the 1950's and her son-in-law built the fireplace.

On the remodeling forum, one person was saying they had an idea for a big fireplace with a back stairway going up behind the fireplace. They had this "picture" in their head and didn't know where it came from, until recently watching Lesley Ann Warren in Cinderella...and there was the fireplace :)

It seems that the more uncertain things are in the outside world, the more cozy and secure I want to feel at home. A big fireplace that can be seen from the kitchen and living room does give almost a fairy tale feel to the room. I also have been designing a fairy-style garden for my nieces to play in. Maybe it's just a nice reminder of my own happy childhood, but there's something to be said for open, cheerful rooms that promote being together...and a big cozy fireplace, with a comfy chair to curl up in and read a book :)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 3:31PM
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Lavenderlass. You make it sound so wonderful I think it needs to be so. The fireplace sounds great. And being the family home and all. I am sure the Folks would be happy you were making the house yours yet still paying homage to their ideas too. Love the wing walls. We were supposed to have one here and it ended up going out to the front porch and not inside. Well it is fine but I had plans for that inside wing wall.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 8:43PM
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We bought a house about 5 years ago with a living room and a family room. They are each about 13x15. Well we are always in the family room with the sofa, the comfy chairs and the TV. The living room has a loveseat, small chair and some other pieces. It's like a big entry. The peke sits on top of the lovseat and looks out the front window. Partly it's lack of use is everything we want is in the family room so a great room is probably a good idea.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2010 at 12:42AM
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Well, I've been thinking about this a lot lately and I'm leaning toward not taking down the wall. As much as I'd like to open up the space, I think it might be too much noise and traffic through the main living area. It would be better if the living room was in the back of the house, but being in the front, if I moved the kitchen to a new location, people would be walking through the living room to get to the kitchen.

We have some friends who have a similar layout in their new house and after seeing it, I don't think it's what I want... a little too open and people talking in the kitchen area were trying to talk over the television that was being watched by the other group.

Instead, I'm thinking of taking the walls down between the existing kitchen, dining room and porch to make a large country kitchen. I would like to have a wood stove there, to heat the area and be able to use it for cooking, if the power goes out. I'm hoping that two large, but cozy rooms will be a good solution, one for reading, watching TV, or curling up in front of the brick fireplace and the other for cooking, eating, and sitting by the woodstove as I go through my garden magazines :)

Two rooms will also give me the opportunity to decorate the spaces a little differntly. The bricks in the fireplace are such a pretty rose color, that I thought greens and dark wood tones with a little pink and lavender would be wonderful. The kitchen I've always pictured with cream cabinets and blue accents, wood floors, and lots of painted furniture. I would love a little french country settee and a few chairs by the wood stove (what used to be the porch) and be able to use the chairs at the dining room table when we have company. Still very fairy tale in a way, but maybe with a little more elbow room (LOL)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 5:39PM
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Lavender_lass, Good idea to keep thinking about what you really wand and how your family will live in the new space you hope to create. Was thinking about your post while folding laundry last night in living room and looking into dinning room wondering how it would have been to be closed a little more. For just the two of us with very little company all open works.And with our dinning room there is a small couch instead of table and chairs.

For a family and more activity I can totally understand smaller spaces for different uses. I would love to see pictures of comfy chairs before the fireplace. All sounds so wonderful Dreamy.I am sure you will get it figured out. Just hurry .Want pictures.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 10:17AM
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Chris- Thanks for being so supportive! Sometimes it helps trying to figure out what I want just by writing it down. I've been on the fence for a while, wondering if I should have one big room or a combination of smaller rooms. A formal dining room sounds wonderful in theory, as does a library, but I don't really have the space and it would leave the other rooms looking so small. Two medium to large sized rooms, over one huge or several small rooms, seems the best choice so far.

I do like to watch TV in the evening, but I don't like it on while I'm cooking. I love to bake and garden and I'm just starting to think about growing herbs for potpourri and tea. It would be nice to be able to work on crafts at the big kitchen table and still have another room for watching TV, reading or even playing games. Although both rooms are used all day, my mom says my kitchen style reminds her of a big porch with lots of pastels and plants. The living room is darker colors and more "sink in and relax" seating. While my husband and I seem to use the kitchen more in the daytime and the living room more at night, the kitties just run all over and make themselves at home in any sunny window they can find :)

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 7:38PM
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Lavender_Lass, I totally understand your talking/thinking things through in type. And there are a couple here that probably go insane with my constant mind changes in emails to them to not make the whole board crazy. I am approaching a HUGE, for me room switch around that I have been working over in my brain and yacking up with email about it for over a year. FINALLY it is going to happen as soon as I recover from the kitchen redo. Almost every detail had to be considered before making the switch. Then weighing facts. Will this help or not and would I have to give up something to make this switch and on and on and on. Hey just look at our house album from beginning to end and you will see many changes and I am still not done. For the most part I had this house built to fit my things so they went in as I had planned it all on paper. Now we have been here close to two years I keep thinking this or that might be better here or there. It is all ok.

Have fun with all of it. It is only walls.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 8:30PM
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