With much of the exterior work at Greenhorn Farmhouse completed, it was time to tackle the interior. Sometimes a house has a great layout, and in those cases, I can jump right in with cabinets, paint, tile, and flooring, etc. But sometimes, there are repairs that need to made and a house might even benefit from some reconfiguration. Addressing these types of issues creates a good framework for adding all of the finishing touches.
This old farmhouse would undergo 7 such foundational changes and repairs.
During demo, the house had been emptied of debris and personal items. Then kitchen cabinets, a couple of old brick chimneys, the bathtub, bathroom vanity and toilet were all removed.
In the now vacant rooms, it became readily apparent that the living room floor sloped drastically in the corner, as did one of the bedroom floors. The kitchen floor had a pretty severe sag as well. I decided that the best thing to do would be to pull up the subfloor and have a look.
I found that the existing joists were not attached to the exterior foundation at all. While they were attached in the center of the room, on the exterior side they were free floating. No wonder the floor was un-level. This was not something I’d anticipated and I was glad I’d built a buffer into my budget.
Eventually, my crew would need to install new joists, joist hangers and subfloor to insure the floor was level and structurally sound. But before we did that, I’d need to address the wall dividing the living and dining rooms.
2. Living Room Wall
I’ve never completely bought into the open plan concept. Years ago, I was actually opposed to it. I liked having separate living spaces. I think this preference was heavily influenced by the presence of five small children in the home. Having separate spaces allowed me to contain the inevitable mess and chaos more effectively. In recent years the open concept has grown on me, though I’m still not that girl who is always in favor of taking down walls.
None-the-less, in this house, it was the right decision. The living area immediately felt twice as large.
3. Bedroom wall
Sometimes, a space can benefit from simply moving a wall. Remember, this is an old farmhouse, and as is often the case, the bedrooms were all small. There wasn’t a lot I could do about this, short of building an addition. However, there was something I could do.
The master bedroom had a small jog in the wall it shared with the living room. By pushing that wall out, I was able to gain a few feet in the master bedroom. The actual area gained was relatively small, but the impact was huge. This had the added benefit of eliminating a strange and unnecessary jog in the living room.
4. Laundry Room
The next task was to build a new laundry room closet. The existing laundry room was too narrow to really function well. There just wasn’t enough room between the front of the appliances and the opposing wall.
If the room were just a little bit wider, the appliances could have been placed on the adjacent wall. As this was not a viable option, I decided to convert the former laundry room into a spacious pantry, and create a new laundry room closet.
I incorporated a pocket door system into the new framing to provide a way to close the pantry without sacrificing floor space. Later, I would build a barn-style door for this purpose.
5. Relocate bathroom door
Before we put away the framing nailer, there was one more issue to address. In old homes, it’s very common to find bathroom access directly off of the kitchen. In an era where adding plumbing was expensive and even considered a luxury, it made sense to locate all the plumbing as close together as possible. As a result, bathrooms were often located right next to kitchens and this house was no exception.
The bathroom door was right in the middle of the kitchen wall. While this could function perfectly well, I really disliked it. So I closed up the door between the kitchen and bathroom then relocated it to the end of the bathroom, near the new laundry room.
Eventually, the stove would sit just about where that door had been.
6. Bathroom layout
This was the first step in reconfiguring the bathroom layout. The tub and vanity remained in the same locations, but the toilet was relocated to the area where there door had been previously.
7. Kitchen Layout
Finally, I needed to create a new kitchen layout. When working with floor plans, I still like to start with good old-fashioned pencil and graph paper. Eventually, the design makes it’s way into Home Designer, the 3D design program I use.
Creating a design in 3 dimensions is not only a lot of fun, but it helps highlight any design elements that might not work well. My clients love it too. It helps them see what I see in my mind’s eye.
This design morphed several times before I settled on a layout that I loved. Unfortunately, it involved closing up another window.
This particular window was really more of a pass through between the kitchen and the front entry area and didn’t make much sense anyway. Closing it also provided some wall space in the entry where one could hang coat hooks or place a bench.
With the new framework in place, it was finally time to focus on the finishes. Next week I’ll talk about finishes, paint color, tile, cabinetry, flooring, and more.