- Style - What style works well for the architecture of the house & the neighborhood? Many of the homes in our neighborhood were built in the early 1900's. It's a New England beach community with small houses on small lots - victorians, cottages, capes and bungalows. So we try to stay true to their origins. I would never want to take one of these houses and turn it into a super contemporary home. Instead, we try to work with the architecture that's already there and enhance it. It might be something as simple as cleaning up siding, or it might require the addition of architectural elements to enhance the the style of the house.
- Evaluate Floor Plan and Traffic Flow - Old houses typically have clearly defined rooms. While this might have worked well in the past (although my poor mother always felt like she was sequestered in the kitchen cooking!), today's lifestyle has a more interactive lifestyle. Whenever possible, I try to make a circular floor plan on the first floor. It allows people (and in our house - pets!) to easily move through the house. Think about how the house would work if you were entertaining. Is there space for people to move about and interact? Or are there 'pinch points' that make it hard for the cook to work or people to gather around the dining room table? If you look at the example below, from our second project, you can see that by removing a few walls, we dramatically changed the space. It helped the traffic flow and made the overall house feel much larger. Click here to see the difference!
|Diamond in the Rough - After Floor Plan with walls opened u|
- Economics - It's incredibly easy to over spend when you're updating a house. You can fall into the 'while we're at it' trap. Such as: While we're moving the plumbing, let's go ahead and add an additional sink/bath/tub/etc. Or, while we're adding a new back door, let's build a new deck too! Keep thinking about your total budget. And remind yourself that you don't want to over-improve the house. Real Estate doesn't go up in value the way that it used to, so it's critical to carefully weigh the investment for all of your changes. You might even want to prioritize your list, so when something unexpected crops up, you know what you would be willing to sacrifice to pay for the surprise.
|See the nail going through the wiring? Yikes!!|
|'End of life' furnace in our current project|
Once you've evaluated these 5 priority areas, create a list with what you've learned. This will start to shape your plan. And once you understand these elements - and what they'll cost you - then you can start working on the really fun stuff - design!!!!