Thursday, September 13, 2012

DIY Renovation: Creating a Plan

Plan your work and work your plan. Those are words to live by, or work by at least.  The first step in our renovation was creating a floor plan.  When my husband and I were searching for a home to buy, the area we were looking in was all old houses. No matter what house we bought, it would need work. We were given the advice to always go for the house with more square feet. When we were deciding between our top two options, we did just that.  The first house looked more finished, but was smaller.  The house we bought looked like a hot mess, but we bought it anyhow. Both houses actually started out with the same floor plan, since the majority of the houses here were identical when they were built.

My neighborhood was built in the 1940's. The houses were almost all 2 bedroom, 1 bath houses with a living room, dining room, fire place, screen porch, and eat in kitchen. Most of the houses have had additions over the years. Mine has had two. Unfortunately, when those additions were made, the goal seemed to have been to simply make a bigger house. There was no regard to what the additional rooms could be used for, or the traffic flow through the house. The original back porch of the house had been used at the foundation for the first addition, and a new back porch was added next to it.  The next owners decided that one bonus room wasn't enough, and used the new porch as a foundation for another addition. They did not add a new porch. The biggest problem was that in order to get from the back of the house to the front of the house, you had to walk in a big U shape through the two bonus rooms, the kitchen, the hallway, and then the living room. If we were leaving from the back door and couldn't remember if we had locked the front door, it was faster just to run around the outside of the house and check than it was to walk back through the inside.

It took my husband and I a long time to agree on a floor plan. We knew we wanted to have a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a new kitchen, but we couldn't agree on where those things should go. I spent hours in front of the computer almost daily drawing every possible layout. Finally, after months of deliberation, we nailed it down.

This is the original floor plan:

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Please excuse my simplified drawing. I originally only created it for me to be able to work through different floor plans, so while I did draw out where the windows were, I didn't bother to draw any doors.

This was the floor plan when we bought it:

Click to enlarge

In addition to the long path from the front of the house to the back, and the kitchen being in the middle (which turned out to be really annoying for a number of reasons), the screen porch had been turned into a bedroom. It didn't have a closet, and you had to either go through the living room or another bedroom to get to it. It wasn't exactly private.

Another major problem was the kitchen layout. Once the toaster oven was on the counter and the canisters were put out, there was no counter space left. Since the original pantry had been sacrificed to add more counter space, the pantry had been moved around the corner into the hall linen closet. The washer and dryer were also crammed in the tiny space, sort of. The wall between the dining room and kitchen had been cut down to a knee wall to open up the space before the last owners bought the house. The space left in the kitchen wasn't wide enough to fit a washer and dryer, so they knocked down the knee wall to make more room. They patched the floor with a scrap piece of plywood. Everything about this room was a mess.

This is what the house looks like today:

Click to enlarge

This is the only drawing where there aren't supposed to be doors in every doorway. The wide doorways between the sun room, dining room, hall, and living room are all open.

While I realize that my house isn't perfect, it's about a million times better than where we started. There are a few things that I would do differently if I had to do it all over again, but overall I think it turned out well.

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