Friday, February 03, 2006

About adding on

So a few weeks or so ago I mentioned that my hubby thinks this may be the year of the addition to the house. I was a little dubious at the time, but he's starting to convince me its doable. I, in turn, have convinced him that fall would be better than spring if for no other reason than that it usually rains less in fall and we will have to rip half our roof apart. Besides, I'm not ready just any old day now.

Our house is not so much small as awkward. It wasn't ever meant to be a house. It is 16 feet wide and 36 feet long with a barn shaped upstairs and no basement. It is made of concrete block. The ceilings are low, the electrical is inadequate and the windows aren't sealed anymore. It was built as cheap as possible 30 years ago and it shows.

Truthfully, I would rather take a bulldozer to it than fix it up. I dream of larger windows, maybe even french doors. We live in the country after all. I dream of vaulted ceilings and...and AIRINESS. This isn't airy by anyone's definition.

Some rooms are adequately sized. The front 12x16 on the main floor consists of a 5x12 bathroom (the only bath) and a mudroom/laundry room/junk room. In reality, everything that *should* go in a basement is in this room, and it's the only entry. I'm not into comparing myself with the Joneses to be honest, but this is a depressing way to enter a house. The second 12x16 module is the kitchen/dining room. It also contains the sort of spiral staircase, and of course you have to walk through it to get to the third module, the living room.

Upstairs, there are decent sized bedrooms on either end and a smaller one along the hallway in the center. And a linen closet beside the stairs. The severe wall/roof angles make furniture placement upstairs challenging. Total square footage: 1152 square feet. It's not a big house by North American standards.

I shouldn't complain. Hubby's folks raised SIX kids in here through their teenage years. Two boys in the little bedroom, and four girls in the *big* end room (a bunk and a double). So when I consider that, I feel pretty silly for wanting a bigger house for me and a halftime husband!

Part of it, however, is that the house really doesn't help to make the farm saleable. Not that we're planning on selling any time soon, but still... If we don't go crazy spending money on the reno we should be able to enjoy a nicer house now and reap the benefits at resale down the road.

It occurs to me that most of the cramped feeling of the house would change if the living areas were more open to each other, had a higher ceiling, and took advantage of the great view (once you look past our cows...) The current house is to protect from the elements, not to ease indoor/outdoor living. So...what if we added a section to the east side of the house approximately doubling the current footprint? What if the current living room became the new master bedroom; the smallish window and low ceiling would be just fine in that case. The current kitchen could become the new master bath; the plumbing's mostly there already. And upstairs we could either leave the three bedrooms or turn the small one into a third (luxury!) bath. It would be directly above the new master bath so again the plumbing wouldn't pose a serious detriment. On paper, it all looks good.

I turn my attention to the new space. How should it look? Well, it should contain a main entry for company. The mudroom we now have is perfect for a farm entry but it shouldn't be inflicted on anyone else. I really dislike the current core of the house: the kitchen/ dining room/ stairway/ walk-through-to-living-room space. My ideal is a kitchen that people don't come into unless they're helping. Through traffic drives me bats. (Yes, I know, that's easily done.) So it seems logical to place the kitchen at the south end of the new space, with the dining room and then the living room flowing north from there. It puts the new kitchen back to back with the current bathroom and near the electrical panel, both of which will save some money. Another nice thing is that if the dining room and living room are more or less one room, you can expand the table as much as you want when you have dinner company; just shove over the sofa a bit if needed. The spaces can borrow from each other.

I designed it really nice that way. A great 13x10 kitchen that has many of the bells and whistles I would like without being extravagant. I was mulling over the design while I made dinner a few nights ago, thinking through the steps I would take to prepare this in the new kitchen.

You know what? I never used to watch tv, but I've started to with hubby gone so much. In our cramped space, I can stand at the sink OR stove and see the tv clearly, and I've been doing that for the past five years without really thinking of the significance of it. When hubby is watching those law and order shows with the stalkings and the bloody murder investigations, I wish I couldn't see it or hear it, but honestly, I've gotten used to the tv being right there.

I mentioned this to hubby and he nearly split a gut laughing. "The first step to curing an addiction is admitting you have a problem," he says between chortles. Thanks, hon.

I wonder what the addition plan would look like with the kitchen in the middle? I shudder. I want open space; I don't want walls. Can you build a kitchen without upper cabinets? I sharpen the pencil again and create a multitude of new sketches. (I live for sketching house plans; this is not a hardship.)

Tonight I came up with a plan (about the fifth one...) that I think I could live with. In fact, it has some fun features that I kind of like. It would be very open, although the dining room table definitely can't borrow space from the living room. But how often do we have ten people for dinner? Aprroximately never? It's more important to plan a house that works for the two of us, that would work for the mythological family with two and a half kids (maybe we should leave the small upstairs bedroom for that half kid) that may buy the farm from us in ten or twenty years.

I'll show the sketches to hubby when he's next home and if he thinks it has promise, I'll start on the detail sketches. Those are always fun! I can get a lot of entertainment mileage out of this project yet.


Jean said...

You've described wonderful renovations. I'm looking forward to hearing more as you get further along.

Oh, and I think the cows are wonderful for the view--it's the "things" associated with them that might not be so great for it. ;)

You might want to reword that "halftime" husband thing--you don't want him getting ideas the job got easier just because he's off working. :)

Karenee said...

Lovely! Can't wait to visit (once it's all done, of course)! Hugs to you.