Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Ranch Transformation Plan

It's always fun to start creating a new project plan.  Many years ago, I came up with a standard approach to designing a project (click here) that focused on Safety, Energy Efficiency, Traffic Flow and Economics.

But this isn't a business as usual new project.  Suddenly, our world has been turned upside down and our needs are changing.  I've been doing a lot of reading and attending webinars to better understand what post-pandemic home design might look like.  All the experts seem to agree that homeowners will want some changes as we emerge from COVID-19 quarantine.  And as I look at their suggestions, many are features we would want anyway.  So I'm going to try and incorporate many of them in this project design.

But to give you an idea of what I've got planned, let's start with the 'as-is' floor plan.
As best I can tell, the original house was 670 square feet, built in 1952.  At some point a garage was added, but I can't tell when.  And in 1972, a big family room addition almost doubled the size of the house - and an enclosed breezeway connected the house with the garage.

Today it's a 2 bedroom house that seems a bit odd for today's lifestyle.  Many of the rooms are cramped and dark.  Attic insulation is awful.  The electrical system needs to be completely updated.  And the boiler died 10 days after we bought the house (in February!).  But we can change all that!

For the 'to-be' floor plan, I tried to incorporate some key elements tied to my standard approach.  And now we're adding some features for a post-pandemic world.

First, it will be a 3 bedroom home with two baths.  The old living room will be repurposed to create a master bedroom with an adjoining bath (en suite as they say on HGTV!).

Next, the living space needs to be much more open, to bring light into the kitchen and make it easier to move from room to room.  The current kitchen is so dark!  Opening it up will make a world of difference.

And this living space will be amazing!!! This may be the biggest open floor plan we have ever done.  The house appears so small from the street, but as you come inside, it's going to be a huge space with everything buyers want - a big kitchen with a large island, nice family dining area and a living room with a gas fireplace.

I know it's hard to tell this early, but this gives you an idea what it will be like.  As you walk into the house, you'll see the kitchen with the dining room beyond it and the wall of windows to the backyard

When the old wall is removed (it's load bearing, so we will be installing new engineered beams) this will be a seamless space.
Living Room and Dining Room - Kitchen is behind the open stud wall
It's such a big room!  And will appear even larger once we remove the old joists to expose the cathedral ceiling.  

What else is planned?  Well, the original front door will be closed up and we will create a formal entrance on one side of the oversized garage.  That gives us the opportunity to create a big mudroom - a key feature for a post-pandemic home.  Everyone wants to remove their outerwear, including masks and gloves as soon as they get home.  Of course in Maine, a mudroom was already pretty critical, since we have lots of inclement weather and need a place to keep boots and winter gear.  I've started collecting inspiration for the mudroom.  Do you like this approach?  I love the curved supports.

And we're adding a first floor laundry room - yup, the washer and dryer are coming out of the old living room.  Won't that be a be a nice change?!  A dedicated laundry room is a bit of a luxury in an old house, so I'm really excited about it.  This will be a good sized room, with plenty of space for folding clothes, storage and more!

This means some existing walls need to come down, and some new walls need to be built.

One of the bigger projects is creating the new master bath.  The unusual exterior alcove will be enclosed to create a master bath, but that means we need to pour a frost wall (4 feet deep in Maine!) and get new exterior walls built.  And of course find a new place to keep the trash cans!!

And it's not shown on the drawings, but we will rebuild and enlarge the deck across the back of the house.  With all those sliding doors leading outdoors - we want to create seamless indoor/outdoor living.  And given our new pandemic living style, having outdoor entertaining space is a must!  Perfect for social distancing!

But what about the basement?  Well there is a lot of flexible space down there!  But it needs some serious updating.

Currently, the two 'quasi finished' rooms are separated by the utility room.  Our plan will open up the wall (it's a big job - that's a poured concrete wall from the original foundation!!) between those rooms to create a circular flow in the finished spaces.  No more wandering through the utility room to get to the back room!
Basement Floor Plan 

We will completely gut the basement rooms and redo them with new finishes, windows, electrical and lighting. Lots and lots of lighting!  How the new owners will use it is up to them, but it will be almost  800 square feet of living space!  The original house wasn't that big :-) This can be home office, playroom, or gee, there's room for a pool table or a home gym!

Is this a good post-pandemic floor plan?  It will certainly have a lot of great features for multiple family needs.  And it's a great size - what started as 1250 square feet on the first floor will become 1500 with the additional living space.  Add to that the 800 square feet in the basement and this will suddenly feel like a big home!

Now we just need to build it!

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  1. Well have thought of everything! Cant wait to see it finished.

  2. A beautiful plan. You are always so thoughtful in your design. Just one question - do you have an easily available sink in the laundry room so that people can wash their hands as soon as they come inside? That's something we are quite conscious of doing now.

    1. So funny you mention that, because I've heard that a sink close to the front door is an important design criteria. I just said today that I need to talk with my plumber to see if we can add a sink to the laundry room! Even without COVID, it's a nice feature!


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