My First Home!

SamanthaJRJuly 3, 2013

First time on these boards... and I just bought a house for the very first time! My dad is mister fix-it: has built a house from the ground up, and has done multiple additions to his own home. He is *very* excited to be a part of the (possible) renovation of my new home! Finally got the floor plan drawn up and it just doesn't seem big enough to do anything with. Upstairs is great, but my main floor with living/dining/kitchen just doesn't seem to work. It's a rather closed off kitchen with two entry points, the "dining room" doesn't seem big enough to fit a table, and if it is, it will block the sliding glass doors. My first instinct is to take down the center wall to open the whole place up. It is load bearing so I'll have to put in a column or two. Then put an island there with the sink and dishwasher? There doesn't seem room to have stools on the other side of the island. I would also have very few upper cabinets.
Also, with the wall gone, there doesn't seem to be a good spot to put a couch in the living room (would be used as a main area for watching TV).
I really wanted to do bench seating in the dining area, but that doesn't seem to fit either. I'm hesitant to eliminate the idea of a kitchen table... I may not have a need for one (just me in this house), but I think it will take away from resale value.
It just seems like everything I think of blocks access to the sliding glass doors, limits counter space, limits cabinet space, or is just plain illogical.
Any good ideas here? Any advice would be great at this point, as I'm closing next week and need to be out of my rental by the end of the month... doesn't leave a lot of time for kitchen renovations. I would hate to take down that load bearing wall, only to realize that floor plan doesn't even work.

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You are not going to like this answer, I'm afraid. But my advice is to move into the house as it is now and live there for a year before you do anything.

You are looking at this on paper, and jumping from one idea to another. Take some time and live in the space and figure out what works and what doesn't work for you. Find out where the sun comes in during the morning, and what rooms are sunny at night.

Most kitchen renovations take months, not weeks. Removing a load-bearing wall is expensive and time-comsuming.

I know you are excited about moving into your first house. And I know it is easier to remodel when you aren't living in the space. But I'm not sure it's a good idea to start remodeling with such a short deadline and with no firm idea of where you are going.

Right now, you seem to have a kitchen with a good work triangle--sink, stove, refrigerator. And those two doorways are well-placed. People coming in from the sliding glass doors can avoid walking through the kitchen and move easily into the living room. People headed from the living room to the bathroom also don't have to walk through the kitchen to get there. That's important--you don't want people having to walk through the work area of the kitchen when someone is cooking.

Since most of your concerns center around the kitchen/dining area, I would suggest that you post this exact same post over on the Kitchens forum. There are many very talented people who post there a lot, and they are usually glad to take a look at a floorplan and offer suggestions--they come up with interesting and innovative ideas that I never would have thought of.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 7:25AM
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Are the sliding doors the only source of natural light? That seems odd for a free-standing home; is this a townhome?

I definitely agree with everything camlan said, but I'll fool with the floorplan anyway. What's the ceiling height?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 5:34PM
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It is a townhome, so the sliding glass doors are the main source of natural light. The front door is windowed and there is a small window next to the front door...
The ceilings are 8 feet tall, and there's 12" soffits coming down above the cabinets.

I posted in the kitchen thread and included this information: As for the kitchen's current state, the laminate is coming off the cabinets (the house has been vacant for many months and I believe it's from the temperatures reaching too low in the house during the winter months), the flooring needs to be replaced, and the sink (and drain) is leaking and in need of replacing. I figured that since I was touching base on some of the major kitchen overhauls right now, it would be best to evaluate the entire kitchen at this point.

I suppose that living in it the way it is is always an option, but some of these things need attention sooner rather than later.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 5:50PM
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'my advice is to move into the house as it is now and live there for a year before you do anything. '

it's really the best option. I've been living in my 'new' place for just over a yr now - still not much in furniture. mattress on the floor, my tv, a nightstand, 2 built in cabs (that will be moving), some stray furniture in a back room, and tons of boxes in the middle of the LR/DR. I've had flooring down in the kit and back hall for maybe 6 months. the old vinyl is still in the laundry and 2 baths. the rest is subflooring... still.

I've changed my mind about many things since moving over here last May. It's made a huge difference from what I 'thought' I'd want to do in here.

Move in the basics and stack boxes in the middle of the LR. unpack only what you absolutely need for bathroom/kitchen use. btw, my place sat empty about 4 yrs. It was a filthy mess!

Along the way I've picked up a stove, dw and sink on CL. dw not hooked up yet. sink will go in maybe next fall. the stove is operational - but I lived w/out one for 14 yrs!

Do the cleaning of it and as you go you'll really see what needs to be redone. Since your dad will be doing it that should make it easier.

I've had things like the windows fixed, doors and locks fixed, cab 'floors' fixed, some pipes, sockets, light fixtures changed, more shelves put in cabinets and closets.

I've been having every crack and crevice I can find caulked or otherwise sealed - including around doors and windows.

Have your dad check out plumbing things, make lists, check (change) locks etc

I surely wouldn't try to redo a whole kitchen in a wk or 2.

With a bit of time living there it will become clear to you what you should do with that wall.

here or on kitchens you'll need to post a better LO for any real help.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 7:51PM
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How many people will live in your home? How many people will routinely use your dining space? Do you have any wish-list items for the first floor space?

I could see removing the 4-ft 5.5-in wall between dining and living (so long as that would not require a mid-span support column), but I would leave the kitchen wall in-place. I do think you need it either for the TV or sofa (depending on how you orient your space).

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 10:42AM
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I noticed some discrepancies on your floor plan. The discrepancies are small, but should you make kitchen changes, they could prove costly. At the top middle, your wall is 4'-5.5" plus 3'-0" opening, for a total of 7'-5.5". This appears to be even with the 7'-0" dining wall on right side, despite the 5.5" difference in dimension.

Your overall dimension on the left side is 20'-10.5" (17'-6" + 3'-4.5"). Overall dimension on the right side is 20'-9". Is it true that you see just a slice of the refrigerator when you look from living room into the kitchen? Is there a second entry door near your half bath, or is that a window?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 11:28AM
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I agree with the advice of live with it for awhile. The longer you are there the more you will see what works and what doesn't work for you.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 12:34PM
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Some visuals (source: Room and Board) for living space with roughly your proportions. Your sofa could go on either side of the room.

I couldn't find a good photo to illustrate, but if you (or your dad, you lucky person!) were to build 12-inch deep, built-in shelves on the 17'-6" wall, your living area would feel quite expansive. Shelves could be kept low, or carried all the way to ceiling, with openings for TV, and maybe a drop-down bar or table. Or, if the shelves are on the other side of the room, you could continue them around the top of the door openings, such as shown in the last photo, with the bed (source: Apartment Therapy).

b-t-w, a 42-inch round table could be pushed into kitchen right top corner and accommodate 2 people with being in the way. The table could be pulled out when needed to seat more, altho' it would be tight if the 4'-5.5" wall remains.

Good luck with your new home!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 1:39PM
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what camlan said. Also, there are things you can do to make places seem bigger and more open plan. We took out several doors and stuffed them in the attic in our first place. They just had a door to EVERY room. It was silly. We hung curtains and took down the blinds. That made a whole lot of difference.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 8:37PM
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Rather than trying to picture whether you want the wall to come down or not, think about some of the details that might work in your space.

A few ideas...white cabinets will make the space seem larger and a dark counter top will give you a nice contrast.

From Farmhouse plans

Without the windows in the kitchen, glass uppers can make the space feel lighter and also show off some of your nicer dishes.

From Farmhouse plans

And even a small nook can add a lot of personality to a space...

From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 1:45AM
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Could you replace one of the sliders with windows? That might open up some more design possibilities. Here's a link to a kitchen remodel that might give you some ideas for changing spaces.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to kitchen

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 2:17AM
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I'll be the dissenting voice - I don't think it is practical or desirable for most people to live in a fixer upper "as is". If the home is in move in condition, sure. But when we bought our townhouse I was not going to live in the yucky carpet and grubby paint, etc.

I too only had 10 days to get our home ready for move in, and I did it all by myself - alone. I didn't remove any walls though but I removed all carpet, tack strips and underlay (including scraping the glued down padding off the concrete slab) patched walls, painted everything including ceilings and trim, sealed the concrete slab, make repairs as needed, then installed 1500 sq ft of vinyl plank. Then we moved in - on time! Also, I spent only $1800 including the flooring paint.

After move in I did the gardens and then recently (almost a year later) gave the kitchen a $500 facelift by repainting the cabinets and pouring concrete countertops. But our kitchen was livable at move in and I knew I was not going to replace the cabinets.

My advice would be forget about removing the wall its probably too expensive and would take too long for your time frame. If you are replacing the cabinets, go to Ikea with your measurements and get an Ikea kitchen designer to help lay out your kitchen, they are good at optimizing small spaces. I think yours looks fine, maybe just move the stove towards the dining room so it's not right across from the dishwasher.

Consider using open shelves instead of upper cabinets, to open up the space more.

Painting a nice light colors in eggshell finish and using sheer window treatments goes a long way to making a space more bright and open. So does a medium to light color floor.

What do the diagonal lines indicate, is that wood floor on the diagonal?

Before (yes that is dirt on the carpet showing outlines of furniture)

During (removing the glued down padding was the worst)

"After" a week after move in - still some details to attend to at that time (need to get some new pics), but livable, light and bright.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 8:22PM
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I have not looked at your plan closely, but at my first glimpse is to see if the wall between the DR and LR could come out..would open up that space so it does not seem as closed in.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 11:15AM
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