07 May, 2011
Reno post #007 – a small unveiling and several big thoughts
Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno
I need to sort out my thoughts on the reno, so forgive me if I ramble.
I think I’m going to start devoting the weekends to reno and home design posts here too.
So, to begin. This is our house, as painted by Sarah. I think she pretty much nailed it. In fact, I might have this framed.
This is the floor plan for the main floor that we are currently considering, at least, the general layout of it:
Click on the floorplan to view some extra notes.
This is not a final plan. We’re still tinkering. For example, we are in desperate need of a pantry and I am determined to find a way to make it work in this general layout. Also, I would like a wee computer station in there somewhere… although I am not convinced it will happen. Boo.
And then there’s the mudroom. In my estimation, this area needs:
(a) a floor-to-ceiling closet. A good sized wardrobe from Ikea might do the trick, like this one, which comes in a version that’s 200 cm wide, has a mirror, and (space-saving!) sliding doors.
(b) a mail sorting / key-holding station. This can be as simple as an open shelf with taller spaces between the shelves.
(c) a small bench and some hooks, because a hook is more likely to be used than a hanger, and better for dripping wet outdoor clothing.
I have really had to think hard about how we use our space, and make sure that what we’re dreaming up is actually useful. I’ve been pouring over some Sarah Susanka books I borrowed from the library to help me better formulate what’s going on in my head.
I want my home to be practical, comfortable for my family and I, and welcoming for others. We’re adding on to our house because we need to solve some space-related issues we’re having. I’m not designing to impress. The concept in my brain includes words like cozy, and not grand. Modest, not mind-blowing.
I want to make less do more, and not the other way around.
I want to live in a smaller footprint; both environmentally and economically. My mantra is think big (in terms of ideas), think small (in terms of everything else). We need smart space, not a ton of extra space. We don’t actually need a lot of extra room in order to increase the efficiency and comfort of our house.
I’ve been thinking a lot about big homes, ones that are bigger than the occupants realistically need them to be. How much is enough? I think the overall issue of “too much” is one of the biggest problems we have in Western society today. Somehow we have grown to live in a culture of entitlement. Bigger is not always better. I will not supersize my life. Living smaller doesn’t just translate into a smaller abode, it trickles down into many ordinary things and daily decisions. Living small means that I cannot in good conscious create a monster home which has one bathroom per occupant. It means that I won’t be buying a dining room that seats 12, just in case we have company. It means driving one car, and a smaller one at that. It means not owning as much stuff. It means eating less crap.
We can get by quite well with less. And amazingly, we can be just as happy.
Susanka is big on a few key things that really resonate with me, namely, finding a balance between open and closed spaces. A family needs both. The kitchen/family room creates a great open space, one we are drawn to and tend to gather. How many parties have you been at in which everyone ends up in the kitchen? At the same time, I think it’s a mistake (at least it would be for me) if the entire main floor was opened up to create one giant room. It’s certainly doable, and it was one of the early floorplan options our architect showed us, but I couldn’t live in a totally open space. If the kids are watching TV and I want to read a book I would like to go somewhere (relatively) quiet that isn’t the office or a bedroom. Also, I don’t want to stare at my dining room table all of the time.
According to Susanka, everyone needs a nook. She calls it the “away space.” I think it makes sense. That’s why there are two living spaces on the main floor in the floorplan pictured above.
In my last reno post I was suffering some degree of reno paralysis. Design for today, or for resale? It still haunts me a bit, but I think I’ve come to terms I can live with.
We are not planning anything crazy that would make the house seem overly odd to potential buyers in the future. I want to design for who we are today, with a small eye to the future, but not let that future and potential resale issue weigh me down. So what if we don’t end up with an enormous walk-in closet, or ensuite bathroom? Or a garage?
Here’s the other big issue. Because of limited funds (read: my hesitation to take on a giant mortgage) it is looking more and more like will have to minimize the amount of work that gets done on the upper floor. I would still need the bathroom enlarged, or should I say, gutted with all new stuff. I am a little sad that we probably won’t be able to afford larger bedrooms. The girls have especially small bedrooms, but I wonder how much of this is just an organizing problem. Can our issues be remedied with smart design and new furnishings, and not by knocking down walls? This is where I really need help.
Also, the architect is encouraging us to go full basement – citing our space needs – but I have to wonder. Is this bit of extra space worth the extra cost? I flip flop on this ten times a day. Personally, I think if we cleaned out the basement (it is just storage right now) and built floor-to-ceiling cupboards/shelving across the entire back wall it would be just fine. We’d insulate it, add some great lighting, replace the hot water tank with a tankless system, rough in a future 3-piece bathroom, and dedicate the rest to laundry and living space.
Ack. There is just so much to think about.