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Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

Posted by cwalen (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 11, 13 at 10:07

Hello KDs and other design experts...

we are planning a kitchen renovation which will include opening up the small kitchen however we are re-thinking our whole first floor layout.

What doesn't work for us:

1. The choppy left side of the first floor (DR/Office, all the doors)

2. The DR too far from the kitchen which results in under use (2 dinners a year in that room maximum)

3. Because DR is so far from kitchen we eat 99% of meals in Breakfast room.

4. Office is seldom used now that we both are on laptops and work wherever the kids are. So it's basically turning into a storage room for electronics.

5. No eat in options in existing kitchen. Would love an island or breakfast bar.

What works for us:

1. Location of the kitchen. I prep overlooking the back yard which is great for watching kids. I wash dishes looking out into the neighbors pretty back yard. I honestly have no qualms about the kitchen except for the feeling of being closed in and no eat-in options.

2. Big Living Room.

3. Location of 1st flr bath. Even though we don't need a 1st floor shower (it was there when we moved in, its an old house) our guests have occasionally used it. But location is nice that its tucked away from any one particular room.

What I'm tending towards, but don't know if its the BEST use of first floor layout:

- Gutting left side of house, making it all one big room.
- Swapping DR and LR essentially making DR off of kitchen.

WHAT DO YOU ALL THINK? Thank you in advance.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

question(s): how high are the ceilings in the breakfast room off the floor? any walls load bearing? is that an entrance from the breakfast room into the kitchen?


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

Ceiling height in breakfast room is weird because it was a porch at one time that previous owners enclosed.

It is higher than the adjacent rooms, and slopes.

Per our structural engineer friend:

- Walls between office and sunroom are load bearing.
- Walls between kitchen and sunroom are load bearing. -Walls between kitchen and LR are load bearing bc the kitchen (and the room above it) was an addition and the roof line is different than the main part of the house.

YES - there is an entrance from breakfast room into kitchen, however the walls of the breakfast room are brick because it was at one time the back porch. To remove those masonry walls will be costly, messy, and IMO, expensive. Not sure we gain anything by opening up breakfast room and kitchen except a long narrow room.


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

I could see the office and trio of closets being used for kitchen....flows into dining room for one main eating area. Current kitchen becomes an entry zone with lots of things:counter/storage/laundry/etc. the very top part of living room could have a secondary eating area if you want it. Swap the tub for a shower stall:the space gained could be more storage from the hall side,which buffers the fact of having a lavatory there. Put a partition pony structure between toilet and sink and it won't be so[icky?] in the general area of kitchen when the door is ajar.


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

You have listed what does not work in your current house.
You need to make a list of what you want.

Do you need kids room where they will entertain their friends: ie media, TV etc?
Do you need a room to practice music?
Do you need a quiet room to read?
What size LR is ideal for you?
Do you think you will eat in the DR even if you had a DR next to the kitchen if you have a breakfast room? This is a very personal question. Some never use their DR even if it is right next to their kitchen.
Do you need a mudroom coming in from the outside? If so where? The front of the house or the back of the house.

What is your budget? (meaning how much structural change can you realistically pay for?)

Once you really ask how you live, some of these questions will sort out for you....


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

Geez... I meant how high are the windows off the floor. I really should read and edit what I write.


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

Could you post dimensions of all the rooms? I like herbflavor's idea of opening up the space between office and dining room, and turning that into your new kitchen. You'd still have access to the sun room, but bring the dining room into play. Old kitchen can take over the office functions.


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

The office is small. Maybe 10x11? I'll measure when I get home.

I've thought about the office as kitchen and I REALLY struggle with where appliances and cabinets go. Not to mention the scary thought of the cost of moving a kitchen.

The windows in sunroom are too low to accommodate counters/ cabinets...


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

The office is small. Maybe 10x11? I'll measure when I get home.

I've thought about the office as kitchen and I REALLY struggle with where appliances and cabinets go. Not to mention the scary thought of the cost of moving a kitchen.

The windows in sunroom are too low to accommodate counters/ cabinets...


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

if the thought of that kind of move[to office] for kitchen is too much..[are you certain of that?].....then there are probably some modifications to the spaces near the kitchen
to allow a less cramped kitchen. On the living room wall right outside kitchen you have a good sized corner on the left and some wall on the right of the doorway. Some entertainment type cabinetry/counter that provides some good storage to relieve the kitchen of it's demands. maybe a sink and beverage center. In that top part of living room would be your dining zone. Once you can eliminate some cabinetry in kitchen, place fridge and range on left and right on the longer window wall,and sink generally on the smaller window wall.. Bring the dishwasher around to the right of sink and end the run at the wall.[don't make a turn around the corner]...then since you freed up the old fridge spot think about a counter with some stools.Maybe some lift up wall cabs there.The other spot you can spread kitchen storage into is the lower right corner of breakfast room. [?pantry] . So then back to the left side of home. For me, I'd be sure the dining zone at top of liv room would be the destination that in reality functions as such. Then turn the lower formal dining room into a den-probably calculate a repositioning of the 3 closets as you still want storage for coats and misc. I would basically keep the office but as a smaller room that does dual duty as a guest room/hobby spot. So really it would be about the closets and repositioning the wall furthur back, so the?den becomes a nice relaxing comfy room that you really use. The door between small guest room and breakfast room is ideal as you can create shared functions with counter/storage/entry/maybe laundry adjacent to that guest room-it just depends on what your household needs are. Believe me,home offices are not in decline, and yespeople have their laptops,but leaving some semblance of a room altho smaller,is not a mistake in my opinion.


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

Herb....

Our GC told us to approx figure double our initial $12K reno cost to move a kitchen entirely due to electrical, plumbing, and gas utility needs. To me, to move a kitchen into barely bigger room and lose my prep zone backyard view and clean up view of side yard is not appealing to me.

Kaismom:

Do you need kids room where they will entertain their friends: ie media, TV etc?

-> we have a room like that - our basement is finished and has a big flat screen wall mounted TV. Almost all kids toys are there, play kitchen, etc. nicely finished. As the kids get older, this would be their media room with games and whatnot.

Do you need a room to practice music?

-> Not really. We have a family hierloom upright piano, but it belongs to my husband. Eventually I'd like the children to have lessons so it is important for us to keep this and have it be in our home, ideally first floor.

Do you need a quiet room to read?

-> Not especially.

What size LR is ideal for you?

-> I like a large LR suitable for family gatherings at the holidays, big room to host Christmas, open presents, etc.

Do you think you will eat in the DR even if you had a DR next to the kitchen if you have a breakfast room?

-> I grew up eating at our formal DR table every night (with the proper pads to protect the table). I liked it but it was our only choice as our kitchen was not eat-in. I think outfitted with a proper pad to protect the table, I'd like us to use the table as well.

Do you need a mudroom coming in from the outside? If so where? The front of the house or the back of the house.

-> We park in our driveway and 99.9% of the time, enter in the front of the house. I would love a mudroom, but our house is small and I don't want a mudroom in the front entryway. If we were a family that entered off the rear, absolutely I'd love for something like that. But we don't.

What is your budget? (meaning how much structural change can you realistically pay for?)

Our budget is $25-30K


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

I too like the idea of using some space from your unusually long living room.
You could keep fridge in the same place only turn it towards the sink. Open up the load bearing wall enough to add cabinets on either side of the living room wall and put in peninsular seating making the kitchen open to the living room. You could put the stove in front of the window.


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

you'll likely be able to do something with kitchen left in that general spot like Karen's sketch/whether it's a peninsula or island or dining table there..... but with the other half of the floor not meeting your needs, maybe posting on a whole house plan forum will help figure out what to do. i think actually that's going to be just as much a challenge for your home. Have you seen any remodels of similar floor plans in your area? The transforming of the formal separated dining rooms into another kind of usable space has traction and I would be planning to do that...question is how to repurpose it in your floorplan. What kind of purposes would you give to the left side? Would a 2nd entry on the side be conducive to better flow...depends on where people come in from driveway...you do have that "everyone passing through the kitchen" effect if the back sunroom door is the entry used 80% of the time by all people.That would be something I might to try to remedy if possible. Or try to get traffic routed thru the office/sunroom door..depending on what happens with a renovation....opening it up and more of a living space destination will change the flow. that door may be a window of opportunity.


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

I'm feeling the breakfast room as an informal/formal dining with built in seating. Why not take room with all the windows that you don't seem to really like and convert it into something you love that is fully integrated with the back yard, takes advantage of the views, and works for you? It seems easier than tearing apart the rest of your house. You could even look into opening it to the office and having the whole space as a dining. Still probably cheaper than redoing half your house.

The other thing is that by moving the living room away from your kitchen, you are losing a lot of "openness" from the kitchen, that is, you are isolating the kitchen even more from the heart of the home where people spend time. People don't spend time in dining rooms.

It may be worth checking out, if you haven't already, Sarah Susanka's book The Not So Big House for ideas on how to convert your space so it suits you.

Taking out those closets is, in my opinion, going to incur a lot of costs just to repair the ceiling, walls and floors. So you may wish to investigate the comparative cost of putting a few more openings in that brick.


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

Rob,

What would you with the front DR and the office space then?


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

Front DR --> add propane fireplace and use as formal living room with piano and no TV (keeping larger LR as less formal family room).
Office space --> I would keep it intact, because (personal opinion only) when/if you go to sell it becomes a main floor guest room with ensuite, adding to your bedroom count.

I know it seems like wasted space to you however. How about a formal dining fully open to breakfast room which becomes informal dining or sunroom area? Knocking down and beaming out that wall might cost less than you think. Then built in dining hutches in the closets.

Storage? Pantry space? Main floor playroom? Music room? Guest room with a daybed in it? Craft room?


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

Rob,

So you would suggest leaving the LR intact, with the large TV in there (bc that is where it is currently), and setting up the DR as the 'formal LR' with piano and maybe gas FP?

Then the office becomes a stripped down DR (unsure if I can even fit the table and chairs in there let alone china cabinet)?

We will have pantry storage in cabinets. I don't want a playroom on first floor if I can avoid it. We have a full, finished basement with a large wall mount TV and 99% of the kids toys are there. We also have a sofa bed in the basement for the once/twice a year guests.


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

To me personally, the way I live, it wouldn't make sense to separate the two most heavily used areas of the house (living and kitchen) unless I craved more isolation in the kitchen or didn't mind being separated from everyone while cooking. Your mileage may vary. It sounds like you crave a nice big dining room and your initial plan may work well for you in that way. What is not working for you about eating in the breakfast room?

This post was edited by robotropolis on Tue, Mar 12, 13 at 13:33


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

Rob,

I hate eating in the breakfast room because where we have the table setup its very cramped (with three doors in the room, there is only one place to put the table and have 4 people sit around it). Plus, it really just feels like another small room off the kitchen...its not part of the kitchen, nor is it really open to the kitchen.


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

And from what you have said, if you had to choose you would choose to have DR open to kitchen rather than LR? In that case I would agree, do the switcheroo, extend the kitchen into the (former) living room space so your DR doesn't feel enormous, and whatever you were thinking about on the other side. Perhaps convert the breakfast room into a little sunroom with wicker chairs (take table out completely) so you drive the eating traffic into the new dining?


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RE: Desperately Need First Floor Layout Help!

What if you got rid of the closets (adding a few feet on to now-living room), kept the office but installed nice big French doors from LR to office? Piano could go in office. That way you can keep a buffer (the office) b/w living and powder but still have a nice open-feeling space and easy access from LR to outside (breakfast room)

Also remove door and expanded the arch b/w new LR and front door.

This is feeling like a pretty pricey job depending on your area and level of DIY. New floor and ceiling in LR plus major kitchen redo.


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