would you if you could? room flipping

suz1023October 1, 2012

in our home we have constant traffic jams in the 11'6 x17 kitchen, as one must pass through it to enter the rest of the house. of course everyone is always squeezed in there and the ginnormous l-shaped great room is always empty.

that room has the dining table, entertainment center and seating for a dozen easily, as well as gorgeous views.

lately i'm dreaming of switching the room functions, making the l-shape great room into a large eat-in kitchen and the small current kitchen into a small and cozy den/living room.

i'd have to change out four windows and open a wall to access plumbing and gas lines, but overall it could be done fairly easily.

my home is in a great school district as well as a resort, if you were thinking of buying would the larger kitchen with a smaller living room be a good or bad thing?

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Sophie Wheeler

A better more functional traffic pattern is always a wise motivation for a reno. But spending money on a home that you're trying to move from isn't. 75-100K on an involved home project like that simply will NEVER pay for itself unless you are there another 10 years to enjoy the results yourself.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 2:33PM
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I did a project where the kitchen flipped from the back of the house to the front. There were no load bearing walls on the interior of the house at all, so it involved moving the gas line and changing the plumbing a bit but it ran through the house to the back anyway so it was right there. The electrical needed to be revamped anyway, the windows needed to be changed anyway. The additional expense of moving the kitchen instead of doing the project with the kitchen staying in place was only a couple thousand dollars. The project came it at under 35K including everything, but the only "high ticket" individual item was quartz countertops.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 3:04PM
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Our kitchen is larger than our living room, which is more like a sitting room or parlor. We planned our home in stages with the hope of adding a larger living/family room later. But DH and I often joke that if we built again, we might not even need a living room, since the kitchen is everyone's favorite room.

As far as your idea turning off or attracting a potential buyer, it's easier to add or expand empty space, like a living room, but remodeling/enlarging/moving a kitchen or trying to fix a traffic pattern is expensive and difficult. If you've done it for them, it seems a good trade for the smaller living room to me. Of course, everyone's needs and priorities are different. I always think that if you like and prefer the change to what you have now, someone else will appreciate it, too. Of course, affordability, and what you're gaining for what you'll spend in your particular house and situation, always have to factor in, darn it.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 3:21PM
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we have a similarly 'easy' fix here too.
water is already in the two interior walls, and there is water in the wine room below also, with room in there for plumbing as necessary.
i'd have to replace four 3x6 dblhngs with counter height cranks and set the vintage vulcan range into the corner with the vent behind instead of above.
i'd reuse my cabs which need new counters anyway, so most of my cost would be in labor.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 3:24PM
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We considered it but it made our LR so much smaller. I don't think I'd put that much time and money into a place I was planning on moving from, though. Is there anyway for you to 're-route' the traffic through the kitchen so everyone doesn't congregate?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 3:44PM
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I went to an open house down the street that had a kitchen you had to pass through to get to the living room. I hated it and would have to change it if it were mine.

My new kitchen is larger than my living room.

If you are moving soon check out comps in your area first to see what they are like.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 5:00PM
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Can you post a current layout and maybe a proposed layout? For me, it would depend on the overall flow of the house, shape/size of the spaces.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 5:09PM
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In your position, with a square peg in a round hole property that really doesn't have good comps for the price you want to ask for it, I'd merely deduct that 50K off the the asking price of the house and let the new owners do what they will with the space. Especially with your spouse having health issues. The inconvenience and disruption of a remodel and then possibly a year or more on the market will take a big toll on you both. Just keeping the place clean and staged for a sale is draining enough! Better to drop the price of the house dramatically until you find a buyer and keep all of your money and energy to focus on a new dwelling.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 5:36PM
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I didn't read anywhere that the OP was going to move.

OP asked >>if you were thinking of buying would the larger kitchen with a smaller living room be a good or bad thing?So, to answer your actual question, probably a good thing. Particularly if the kitchen dining area or not-appliance-area opened onto the smaller living room

Your traffic flow sounds awful, and since you didn't mention planning to move, you don't have a lot to lose by trying .

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 6:37PM
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We moved ours ... I posted photos but not floor plans in my kitchen reveal 3 years ago ...

We basically turned the family room and dining room into the kitchen and breakfast nook, turned the kitchen into the dining room, and the living room into the family room, losing a separate living room in the process. I was a bit concerned about it, but we also have a study on the same floor that was DH's office ... we moved his office into the guest bedroom, and now there is a living room again. Our dining room could definitely function as a living room if we are ever to sell; the breakfast area is plenty big enough to serve as a more formal dining area.

We too had really awkward traffic patterns, and although it was scary, I'm VERY glad we did it. We took down two load-bearing walls. Our basement was unfinished at the time, so moving mechanicals wasn't too bad, plus there was a wet bar in the room where we moved the kitchen to, so plumbing was already there.

Yes, it was more expensive than leaving the kitchen where it was, but we aren't planning on moving any time soon, as in ever. Or at least 30 years! So we weren't concerned with recouping what we put into it.

Here is a link that might be useful: my kitchen

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 7:31PM
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I think you plan has merit...but be aware of the costs.
We are in the finishing stages of moving the kitchen. The basement was unfinished so the mechanicals were straighforward but time consuming (you are building everything from scratch and tieing into existing lines).
Although I am DIY'ing the lot (except for drywall :-)) the quotes I received before doing it myself were in the $100K plus appliances range.
It included opening up a stair case and removing a load bearing wall - not trivial stuff so they charge accordingly.
One BIG advantage is the old kitchen is all there while the new one is being built so the usual kitchen in the basement scenario is avoided.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 7:38PM
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Christine, the OP has posted on the Buying and Selling Homes Forum several times about their plans to sell and move. You may have missed that info if you don't also look in there occasionally.

Here is a link that might be useful: what if there are no comps?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 7:44PM
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I read the link greendesigns posted.

Before doing anything I would recommend getting a good real estate agent. You may have to interview several until you find one that has successful experience with unique properties. Call the owner or manager of agencies and ask them to come out to look at your property.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 8:05PM
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Nope. I've never graced the pages of Buying and Selling, living in an unsellable, and don't-wanna-ever-sell home!
All these replies "assuming" she wanted to makes more sense, Green Designs.

In such case, it's crazy without decent appraisals, and I know debrak has a very good suggestion.

Well, if they weren't going to sell?
Swap it! :)

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:40PM
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lol, yep i've been debating this for a long long time, no doubt!
and yes our place is very unique indeed and dh suffers from a chronic illness.
in order to sell we'd have to get a certain number and with skimpy comps it's unlikely for this year anyway.
meanwhile fixing the traffic flow through the kitchen would make living here way easier.
i spent two years working with an architect and finally had a fab plan for the kitchen but when dh's health tanked so did the plans.
so 'fixing' the kitchen needs to happen anyway, and we're extremely lucky that we have the skills and labor necessary to get it done for much less than most people.
(yay for awesome neighborhood handymen!)

that said, a friend suggested a long while ago that i simply create a wall opening between kitchen and a wasted space to create a large 'bar' area.
that would actually solve the traffic problem, as people would congregate there on bar stools instead of in the aisle between the entryway and great room.

that would be incredibly cheaper and easier, could even be accomplished in a weekend.
i'm going to file that in the 'biggest bang for the buck' category.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 8:23AM
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We just did this! And for pretty much the same reasons. Every time someone sees the space in its new configuration, they say how much bigger the rest of the room is. It's actually smaller, but the flow and use of space is a trillion times better so it looks and feels bigger. Then they realize that the kitchen is bigger too, and ask if we added on. :)

We're lucky that we've been able to DIY most of it. We knew we'd made the right choice when half a kitchen of temporary plywood counter plus the old sink was more convenient to use than the entire old kitchen....I say go for it, and make whatever reasonable changes you can to have a more comfortable space to live in. The bar area sounds like a fantastic idea.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 8:23PM
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