what room goes where--help me fill in walls!

Fori is not pleasedSeptember 20, 2012

I've been here before. I've gotten ideas. I chickened out. Couldn't decide what to do. But it gets to the point when things start to fall apart and you just have to remodel.

So, the back story: the house is a 50s ranch. Originally it had a kitchen with a eat-in nook, a family/dining room (back in the day when a table in the corner was formal dining), and a living room. The latter rooms have fire places. What they no longer have is walls. The POs opened it up and it's a mess.

The living room is skinny, partly due to a fireplace that was savaged in the remodel. I want to remove this thing to make the living room more functional. I want to perhaps add back some of the missing wall between kitchen and living room as well as between family and living room. I currently don't have much wall space.

It would be nice to get things so that the living/dining/family rooms work. The kitchen/nook area is a good size but a little more privacy between the kitchen and living room is desired.

This is a rough scale sketch with measurements in inches. Of course you have to pretend there are walls when applying the measurements. Green bits are windows. Orange doors. Yeah I should invest in some software. :)

I did the sketch with kitchen counter removed. The counter actually spills into the living room and sort of separates the LR from FR. It can't stay there. A pony wall might work but I do need a wall to help me park some furniture.

This is standing on the hearth of the fireplace in FM looking at the kitchen and the doomed fireplace. See, this is weird.

Breakfast nook looking toward LR:

Anyway, what would you do with this space? I can probably do something with windows (although I love the funky corner windows in the FR). The sliding glass door to the backyard creates traffic problems in the family room because the room is narrow when you take the fireplace into account. The window in the LR is low, about 144" wide. It could possibly be done as a sliding glass door. I probably should replace the window anyway as the openings crank out and would be dangerous to people on the patio if they were clean.

Keeping the dining table in the corner of the FR is awkward but not bad. It seems weird but is consistent with BH&G decor of the period. :/

I'd like to keep the foyer as is but won't sacrifice a good plan for it. And yeah, I actually did pay a lot to an architect for some plans and now know that I need to have a darn good idea of what before hand. I should have known that already...

The overall feel of the place is fairly casual, but nicely done (or at least at one time it was).

Any suggestions are most appreciated! I don't even know if the kitchen should stay in the kitchen hole (the size is okay with me). Thanks!

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the front door needs moving to approx where kitchen window is,or over more into that corner to the left..you have the entire front with kitchen and eating zone to do up however you wish-a dining zone can be over where entry was and kitchen more where dinette is-or vice versa...as you move to the rear of home the living room will now be off to the side where family room was-create as much separation as you need-a hallway with an opening or even french doors to keep it a more formal living room. Then,your"great room" place will be where living room was-a big family area and create a patio or french door opening to deck in the existing header of big window. I'd remove the kitchen side wall of fireplace set up-but leave the fireplace-this removes bulk and leaves the fireplace more like a"floating" pice of architecture original to the home-it is slenderized with the wall off the back.Do remove that bar setup to the side of fireplace. Just exactly how you want the passage from new front door through to the rear depends on how much open ness you want and your vision for that opened up middle area once that bar is out. There's a few spots for dining/eating locations really: where front door was or in the rear part of new great room either on left or right end of this area, as well the current dinette can stay an eating location.The problem is if you make the living room off to the side,which is the best plan,and turn living room into a great big family room,the access to living room is necessarily right through the family room...doesn't work... By shifting the main entry into the home into this middle section, you create the traffic through to the back where it needs to be for the natural split off to one side or the other. I'd leave the fireplaces but not entirely sure about that.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 9:08PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks, Herbflavor!

Unfortunately (cuz a middle door would solve a lot of issues) the door stays put. The house is bent to fit onto a cul de sac and um the driveway is already an issue without getting the entry closer to the garage. This is from the appraisal when we bought this mess that sort of shows the angle:

The fireplace in the living room really can't be saved. It's missing bits. See the brown patch in the corner of the side? I dunno. I think there were once builtins(the wood-hearth-vinyl flooring in the "bar" supports that theory). The mantle is gone. The stone is 16" deep on one side (pictured) but a full 32" on the other side. This is a small house and at ~6 feet wide, I think I can let it go. The other fire place is in good shape and I'd like to keep it, even though we don't use it.

So I can't move the front door but I like the way you're thinking! That gives me some things to think about.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 9:45PM
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the bedroom on the other side of living room wall would make good space to borrow for living space....enter the existing front door,if it can't be moved. With the central fireplace removed, the kitchen and eating area can shift to a front to back alignment.... Off to the far right around good fireplace is the 2nd of your living zones. Up where breakfast nook was becomes a quieter office/guest bedroomm if you need the 4th bedroom. I would seriously think of a 3 bedroom home and more flexibility given to a plan without the 4th bedroom. I would want a nicer entry[skylight?],wider,inviting...You have to establish some groundgame issues with this property....the bedrooms[4 to 3??]....any bumpout across back to expand living space??....the necessity of living room/family room vs a great room with much more open feel to the home[for the style-it could be nice]....To keep the bedroom setup as is,and create the requisite living spaces including separating living/family is tight in that footprint[why do you think they opened it up?]....if you can do some bump out construction and get more space it makes it feasible.The borrowing the 4th bedroom is an alternative.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 6:22AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I would think about closing off the doorway in the kitchen entirely and filling it with cabinetry. Keep the peninsula that runs across from the kitchen and use it as an eat in area, but get rid of the arm sticking into the living room. Looking at the first sketch, I would make it a shared living and dining room with the dr table floated in the middle so it and the LR can share the smaller fireplace. Then use the family room solely as a family room. Keep the flooring the same throughout and then use area carpets to define the separate spaces.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 10:13AM
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Can you swap the kitchen and nook? I think that would take care of a lot of issues...and get those cabinets away from the fireplace. And, you could extend the wall between the nook and family room, to give you a bigger kitchen. Maybe a banquette or small table and chairs in the kitchen, with the main table in the family/dining room?

I like your house plan. It's got a lot of space and two fireplaces! I would probably make the living room the living/family room (with TV over fireplace) and move the dining table up to the other end of the family/dining area. Maybe a few wicker chairs in the sunny corner, with easier access to the sliding glass door.

Just a few ideas...hope they help :) From Cottage house plans

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 12:02PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks so much for the suggestions. I guess we're at the brainstorming stage and everything helps us focus.

Annie, that would be least invasive and probably function well enough. I should be able to live within this footprint! But running it by my spouse--ack! The spouse has big plans. The spouse has been talking to Herb I think! :)

So HerbF, what do we want? That's the problem. The spouse wants to add on and when asked what room do we need I'm not getting a good answer. Oh a gym or an office or a den or a...I guess the spouse just wants more space.

We can't borrow space from the bedrooms (we need them and they're as small as tolerable already). We can't build up due to local codes. We can add on behind the FR--in fact when we moved in, there was a home made addition filling the spot between the FR and garage and we sort of planned on doing a real addition there when we bought. (On the topic of work done without permits, see that missing major supporting wall? Yeah, no permit pulled.)

So we need to keep the 4 bedrooms. We can expand to the right (on appraisal sketch) and up quite a bit if I can bring myself to tear down an adorable greenhouse I have no use for. It would be a nice place for a kitchen with lots of windows.

The place was originally opened up to well, make it open. It is very nice before you try to arrange furniture. According to the neighbors it was a bit of a party house. The peninsula off the other peninsula that juts between the two rooms has many electrical outlets for serving gadgets (while covering the spot where the wall was removed to save money on flooring repair). (No permits pulled for that, either.)

We like the openness. But we would like 1. some walls to put stuff against and 2. a little more concealment of kitchen mess from the rest of the public area.

LLass, that's almost how we have it set up now! We currently have a TV and living room furniture in the living room (TV in front of the fireplace, very classy!), a dining table on one side of the fireplace in the FR (which turns in front of the fireplace to pick up leaves at the holidays, ~102" long if I remember correctly) and a few odd chairs at the other end of the fireplace. It functions okay but looks shabby. Not chic. Moving the kitchen passage as you have it and swapping rooms could work. I'll have to do some measurements...but it might be nice to sit at the nook and not look directly at the garage. I still want a wall of some sort between the FR and LR because I need walls. Removing the LR fireplace helps a lot with that (it is definitely going!).

I also want a 4 car garage and a basement. =P

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 2:14PM
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Fori- How much separation do you want, for the family room?

Here's an idea...still switching kitchen and nook, but closing off door to entry, so there's room for a corner banquette.

The living room is now the living room/libray (shelves on the long wall) and dining room. Your big table can still be there and you can use the extra chairs, when you have holiday dining.

The family room is now a dead end space (with french doors if you want to shut out the noise) and I moved the sliding door to the patio, to the living room/dining room. Would something like this work? From Cottage house plans

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 3:56PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks, Lass. I kinda like this! Naturally we'd have to have pocket doors instead of French--this is the fifties after all--but this is good stuff!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 4:16PM
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Because it is the 50s, I'd not try to impose the usual current lrm + drm + frm-kitchen-dining idea. Lavender's layout separates a frm in more of a 50s den or library way, but...

You know, these houses were developed to have a strong relationship with the garden and living areas outside. That's what they were about. Living was supposed to flow back and forth, with separation minimized. This was a big change from older ways of living, where you were inside until you found a door and went outside. It's also, quite frankly, similarly different from today's typical home, which, aside from more and bigger windows and a pair of French doors or sliders to a back patio, really harks more back to the in OR out, but mostly focused in, way of living.

I realized that that's the reason I can't come up with any ideas for your outline. I don't know what's outside and where. Views. Sun. The main room's obviously meant to flow out to a patio sheltered by short extensions of the house to create a bit of a transition.

FWIW off the top of my head, and remembering homes of this era, I don't think that corner would be a strange place for a dining table at all. It's only strange if you see a dining room as the typical 11x15 rectangle to the right of the seldom-used front entry hall that the typical subdivision offers. Or the unofficial dining ("breakfast") table directly adjacent to the kitchen, separated only by a row of stools at a counter.

Although I, like you, would be open to completely moving everything, in all likelihood, wherever it all landed I'd end with one beautifully large open room with large sunny views of the garden and doors to the patio. It would have bookcases, entertainment, rugs scattered about, different seating groups for different purposes, a table for both dining and games, a piano if only one of us played. :)

The kitchen would be a compact design that might or might not be partially open to the big room and would have a little intimate sitting area as part of it--out of sight of the big room for change of mood and intimacy. It would ideally have a different view and sunshine at different times of the day too.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 5:27PM
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Love your house! I would take out the L shape counter and put the wall back up, starting at the fireplace and stopping to give access to the kitchen.

I'd run the wall between dining/family and the living room, starting at the end with the slider and continuing it toward the kitchen.

The opening left allows you direct access from kitchen into dining/family when serving meals there.

Do you not use either fireplace and don't want to retain them for emergency heat? I would be for putting new facing on the one in your living room and keeping it unless it really interferes with furniture placement. I'd be more likely to remove the one in the dining/family.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 6:28PM
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Fori is not pleased

I should not post with my first cup of coffee. I should at least wait until my second. But anyway.

I really appreciate all the input. I've slid my dining table down to the window end of the FR and it's very nice there (we've been eating at the real dining table while the kitchen table is being refinished). I didn't think it would fit. But I am willing to stick the dining table on one end of that room, as intended by the architect. It works just fine and it's nice to have it where the people are. The dining table is a craft table, homework table, tax preparation table, and an eating table when we have guests because you can't really squeeze more than 4 in our little nook. (Laying out the kitchen better would end up with not having the fridge in the nook area, but that's a whole 'nother topic!) A formal dining room and table has never been a wasted space for us, no matter where we actually eat. But keeping these activities in the open isn't a bad thing either and I have learned to appreciate the informal dining area vs room.

You're right about the inside-outside aspect of these homes, Rosie. We're thinking now of replacing the living room windows with glass sliders (now I know why they call 'em "door walls" in some places!!). We don't want to go full-on Eichler because this house just isn't all that "modern", but what could be nicer than a window that opens like a door? :)

The view out front is a typical suburb. Not much traffic but enough to keep the blinds closed at night (and not to feel the need for more windows up there). Back yard--I don't know if I'd call it a "view" but it's nice enough. Let's go with rustic. Grill, patio furniture, pool access are on the patio. Don't mind trekking kitchen to grill through the rest of the house because it just isn't a great distance.

The sun is always adequate if it's shining and never blinding. It comes through the back of the house in the mornings. Except for needing some improvements on the blinds in the FR/DR, we don't need to make any accommodations for the sun.

Thanks, MuleHouse! I think you have almost described the original layout of the house (based on what I know of the builder's work as well as palimpsests on the floors). This is my first inclination. Just fix what was broken. Perhaps double pocket doors between the FR/LR and just let it be.

We don't need either fireplace and I'm being irrational and sentimental to want to keep any. For emergency heat we can put on a sweater--it doesn't get cold here. Add in the kid that gets an asthma attack with wood fires and it seems unlikely we'll ever use one. (Actually I think they both have gas lines in them. So I could probably use them that way...) The LR fireplace needs so much work and it sticks out so very far into the room and it's so very trashed. It has to go. The other one really should go but I'd rather not. I might look into redoing the hearth so that it's a little more flush to the wall. It's cute and traditional but really eats into the space.
(These photos are from before we moved in. Note the plywood in the window here--that is part of the home made addition between garage and house we had removed but might replace properly. Cool, huh?)

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 12:34PM
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Fori, I wanted the extra inches where our hearth is for extra walking space, so we recessed it flush with the floor. You could also always do a Candace Olden and set a gas or electronic "fireplace" on or into a wall. The advantage to this is it could go wherever you wanted.

BTW, have you defined the way you'll be using these areas labeled "LRM/FRM" yet, or have they told you? There's talk of adding undefined space. What needs are they already not filling and why?

Back to the kitchen, you could have a very nice kitchen where the original galley was, of course, especially with the door in off what you're calling the FRM area now, so the one counter could go long. It's a shame the door to all the utility areas and garage is in that wide area. I'm wondering about that space beyond, though. Flying totally blind here, but

1. Any possibility of adding some of the back hall/pantry/laundry space to the kitchen nook and putting the kitchen down there? If you were to extend it toward the garage, would it be possible to have a kitchen with windows and/or window plus glass door to both the front and rear? That might create a very nice feel for the kitchen, slightly eccentric in shape, views front and rear, breaking the standard galley box.

2. Or, how about slicing off about 6-7' of the garage end of the family room and turning it into a family entry that didn't run through the kitchen, reorienting some of the functions off the garage? This would allow the kitchen to fill in that end with cabinetry uninterrupted across the south side and no through traffic. Perhaps the stretch of the current kitchen/nook wall separating it from the family room could be pushed into that 6-7' hall a counter depth's worth to add that space to the kitchen? Could the powder room be accessed without going through the kitchen?

For the FRM/LRM area, this would have the effect of "shifting" the FRM toward the back yard, adding further definition and eliminating that long rectangle feel that'll be there whether a wall separates the spaces or not. I like that, on paper at least. The FRM end could even have its own shape, not echoing the other.

3. It seems the rear yard is pretty much filled with pool and pool decking outside the LRM part, plus? If that's the case, could you make that view and an indoor-outdoor connection a defining element for the LRM side itself?

4. You have a nice piece of yard in the corner formed by the garage and FRM area. Could you add big windows/doors to orient the FRM to a view out there? It could be a complete change of mood from the pool area (presumably, still flying totally blind here), AND the window(s) would face south for sunshine all day (in summer sun arcs high so mostly wouldn't come in). If you have mostly paving elsewhere (?), this area could be green. One issue with these 2 spaces is is that they're both oriented to the same view, same sunshine, same privacy, shape, ceiling, etc. If they're going to be different spaces they would benefit from different characters that fit different moods, times of day, etc.

Note that the typical subdivision home orients front-rear only, so developing this asset alone, opening to the outside on 3 sides, would give notable distinction and make both the house and the yard feel richer and more spacious.

5. Or vice-versa for the living areas, with the LRM oriented more inward toward TV, bookcases, game table, cozy conversation, etc., without direct access to the back yard, that being reserved for the FRM side, which could be more of a sun room area oriented to outdoors activities on both sides. ?

Likely all impossible or unsuitable, but maybe something'll spark an idea. :)

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 6:07PM
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what if you put the living room where the kitchen is, dining where breakfast is, and put kitchen where dining/family is, then family where living is. That way you get a larger kitchen and family great room.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 6:28PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks again for the input. I am thinking that since the spouse can't really give me a solid need for an addition that can't be solved with touching up the space we have, it can be ignored for now. :) A door to the addition would go where the beanbag is in the above photo. If not, we oughta have a window there. I suspect the original owner (who did some customizations on the builders' plan) had a particular item that went there.

Michou, that's a possibility, and although the current kitchen is too skinny (~9 ft wide) I am talking about moving walls, after all...I like the idea of keeping the casual stuff towards the back but then everything we do is casual.

Rosie, I'll look into doing a flush hearth or at least one that doesn't jut out far. I do love its cheesy look and if I took it out I would not replace it. My climate really doesn't call for it.

Let's see.
1. The odd shaped room between garage and kitchen has a door and window to the back yard (and covered porch). It contains a coat closet, a large shallow pantry cabinet, a deep odd shaped pantry cabinet, and a powder room. (And a dog bed.) It also currently has a freezer and some unfitted cabinetry. It's one of those grubby utility rooms that's just really great to have. Also a mess so no photos. :) Excluding the bathroom and deep pantry (which are next to the kitchen), it's 14 feet long, 10 feet wide by the kitchen tapering to 4 feet at the other end. I don't think I'd want to give it up.

2. I'm gonna have to think about that one! Hmmm

3. The yard isn't really all pool. The pool is stuffed behind the bedroom wing (little houses can have wings!) though currently you can see if from the stove (the downdraft stove that vents directly into the crawlspace). The decking isn't large although it needs to be redone and uh well the backyard is also on the list of expensive things that need doing. Anyway there is quite a bit of yard that isn't paved--the lot is oriented weird due to being on a court. And while it's not a big lot by most standards, it's pretty good for around here. Crummy google image for general orientation:

So, the area between garage and FR is definitely underutilized and paved. Just a sunny accessory patio with doors to the greenhouse and potting shed (potting shed space is taken from the rear of the garage and is under the garage roof, directly behind greenhouse). It would be a nice place for a tree. Or I guess a future room for the spouse to determine later. Roof lines for an addition here will necessarily be really weird.

Currently the "dining room" is thus:

The view can be--will be! yes will be!--improved (we're doing the front yard currently since that's what more people see). We decided we like the table here. It's a little close to the fireplace but really not bad.
Yeah we need to wash windows and paint and replace the blinds etc etc and that square on the ceiling? Someone painted over a light fixture.

These are all good thoughts and definitely making me think some other directions, and that is exactly what I need. Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 1:57PM
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Fori is not pleased

Simply shameless bump after stubbing my toe on the ^&%*& %@#$$#ing fireplace hearth once again. It's not drawn on the diagram but it's pretty much in the main walkway as you cruise into the living room. Gr.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 5:00PM
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I like the idea of making your dining room the kitchen/eating space. That nice window would be perfect for a banquet to sit at on a lazy day with paper or checking GW

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 6:07PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks Lalitha. I think something along those lines makes a lot of sense, especially if we decide to add on now. I could break through where the red beanbag is in that one shot and back my kitchen up to the greenhouse and feel compelled to grow tomatoes all winter. I will have to take more measurements and perhaps even invest in software.

On the other hand I hate remodeling and think it might just be easiest to adjust what I have. I'm seeing why some people like to remodel before moving in.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 9:43PM
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