Things have slowed down a bit at the Off Center Center Revival. There was a natural break, I think, as the first wave of contractors moved out and we started to figure out the next wave (we really had to get demolition done before we could get bids on other work – no one wants to bid work they can’t see). Joe had two trials over the last two weeks, a murder case and a child molestation case, which means he was working around the clock. And in the middle of it all, I spent 6 days in Ohio at a once-in-a-decade conference for pediatric and neurologic physical therapists, educators, and researchers. So the stars sort of aligned (or didn’t align, depending on how you look at it) for things to stand still at the house for a week or two. But we’re ready to get moving again.
Now that interior demo is done, the next step is framing. And we can’t have someone frame it if they don’t know what they’re framing… So, to keep going, there is this tiny little detail we need to finalize.
The floor plan.
Before I go any further, there are a couple of things you should know:
- This house is made of brick. Every exterior wall is 14-inch-thich solid brick…and there are a few interior walls that are also solid brick. So it isn’t always simple to go Joanna Gaines-style and start opening up and moving walls. They are big and thick and LITERALLY HOLDING THE HOUSE UP (I am shouting because this is how Joe has had to shout at me, many times, to convince me that I am not Joanna Gaines and this is real life and not a 40-minute TV show). And, even if we wanted to start knocking down and opening up walls…
- We really do want to keep the house as intact and original as possible. We bought an 1883 home because we loved an 1883 home. If we wanted a huge kitchen and open-concept floor plan, we could have just built a house with a huge kitchen and open-concept floor plan. For much less money.
- I am a terrible decision-maker. I am quite analytical and a bit of an over thinker. I like to read and research and think and consider. I am really good at coming up with a lot of options, but really bad at settling on one (What if there’s something I haven’t thought of? Wait – let me do a little more research! I’ll never get to design another kitchen again in my life!) Although Joe has obviously been involved in floor plan design, this has been my task to lead. He is patient.
So I’ve been working with a designer for months now (you can check out Studio O’Reilly and their awesome work here), trying to come up with a plan that keeps most of the original structure and interesting features of the house but will also accommodate modern family life. And I think we might, just maybe, finally have our final floor plan.*
First floor “before” and “after.” Click on either picture to open a larger version. Our only big changes here were to open up the wall between the dining room and kitchen, make the bathroom a little smaller, reconfigure the kitchen, and add a very small mud room as a drop zone when you walk in the back door. The living room, dining room, and downstairs bedroom remain unchanged. You can’t see it on the floor plan, but we also plan to open up the space under the stairs into the entry hall for a built-in bar. Don’t pay too much attention to the measurements and square footage – they are close, but not exact. This was created on a free app by a non-professional (me) after all.
Second floor “before” and “after.” We converted then smallest bedroom into a bathroom/laundry, borrowed a little bit of space from one bedroom for two small walk-in closets for the boys’ bedrooms, and added a closet and bathroom to the master to create a master suite. As with above, click on a pic to open a larger image. The measurements may not be exact, especially for the “before” (I just didn’t spend on much time on that). But you get the idea.
The kitchen has probably been our biggest challenge, but I think I’m happy where we ended up. The wall between the dining room and kitchen is one of those big brick walls. We started out thinking we wanted to open it up, then were told it would be a pretty big project and could cost thousands. So our initial design turned the dining room into a kitchen with a dining space. This literally kept me up at night – were we changing the entire character of the house by jamming a kitchen in this big, original dining room? But after interior demo, we discovered major structural issues with the wall between the kitchen and dining. Turns out it won’t cost much more to open up the wall as it will to repair it. So, in the only move we’re making that really changes the original overall design of the house, we’re adding a 9-foot opening between the kitchen and dining. It’s not going to be a huge kitchen, but it will be the biggest kitchen we’ve ever had and I think opening it up to the dining room, along with the 12-foot ceilings, will make it seem bigger. And I’m getting an island, to boot.
Tell me I’m not Joanna Gaines now, Joe!**
Other decision points along the way have been pretty ho-hum. Mostly figuring out how to arrange a bathroom, where to put the laundry (I wanted it upstairs), deciding whether to keep that big beautiful upstairs landing or create another room (we kept it!), and negotiating existing windows and doors (which can’t easily be changed…because brick).
Final decisions are hard for me. So I’m taking a deep breath…3…2…1… Pencils up kids!
Onward to framing.
*If Joe can pry them from my almost-done-one-more-thing-I-need-to-change fingers. Just last night, when he asked me for final floor plans to send to one of the guys bidding framing…I sent him 3 versions before it was “final.”
**He’s no Chip, that’s for sure.