Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Creating an Open Concept Living Space in a 1950's Ranch Home

It's always fun to see people's reactions as they walk in the front door of the house.  You see, from the street, it appears like a very small house.  But as they come in the door - they get the WOW moment!  The kitchen, dining room and living room are all open and thanks to removing the old pressboard ceiling to expose the cathedral ceiling, it feels huge.

Of course it didn't start off that way.  The original floor plan had your typical segmented rooms.  The kitchen was dark, thanks to wood paneling and no natural light.

Original Floor Plan
To get to the living room, you had to go out to the hallway that leads to the garage and enter from there.  We changed all that by removing a couple of walls.  We also opened up the cathedral ceiling in the living room - to make it feel even more spacious.

Final Floor Plan

And the kitchen?  Well that changed a lot.  The centerpiece is this large island.  It provides lots of counter space for cooking, but there is also room for seating - perfect for a casual meal or to chat with the cook!
Can you see the feature that stayed the same?  The doorway on the right!

But even with the wall removal, the space was still a bit dark.  So we enlarged windows, added new ones (the double window behind the dining room table) and installed an operable skylight.  That will also help channel summer breezes through the space!
I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Opening up a cathedral ceiling is one of the biggest bang-for-your-buck projects you can do.  The old pressboard ceiling was low (7 1/2') and once we raised it up, it was 10'.  It was a big job, requiring some structural changes, but so worth it!
And while I usually do lots of new built-ins, the existing bookcases were really well built.  So we left them in place (and had the fireplace reworked to be wood burning again) and added new trim and lighting.  Once it had a couple of coats of paint, it provided a dramatic focal point to the room.

Now that it's done, I have to admit I'm pretty thrilled with the result.  This once dark, cluttered living space is now bright and open - perfect for the new owners who will be moving in soon!  Don't you love it?

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Thursday, November 12, 2020

Hardworking Rooms - Can They Be Pretty?

Typically, when you think about a room that takes a lot of wear and tear like a foyer/mudroom and laundry room, you think about utilitarian surfaces and finishes.  But we wanted to do just the opposite to Romance the Ranch.  We wanted these spaces to be beautiful, so we created custom built ins and added antique elements for a bit of a WOW!

Opening up wall from garage to kitchen
But first we had to create the rooms.  We started with a section of the garage and turned it into living space.  That meant we had to open up a wall to the kitchen to connect the two spaces.  Once that was done, we built the new walls and stairs to get from the front door up to the main level of the house.


But we didn't want it to be a blank boring space, so we planned lots of special finishes.  We started with a tile that would mimic terrazzo and wood.  It has a slightly rough finish, so it won't be slippery when wet.  So important when you're coming in the door with ice and snow on your boots!

And I wanted to add some antique elements, to give the room some more character.  So I spent weeks stripping layer upon layer of paint from an antique newel post and balusters - what a difference that made!

And then there is the mud bench.  I ordered a set of baskets and designed a set of cubbies and hanging space to hold lots of coats, gloves, hats and stuff.  Kyle turned that design into reality

So many people took photos of the mudroom when we had the Open House!   I have a feeling lots of folks are going to have a mudroom on their 'honey do' list 😂

With the new glass door and birdcage light, it's so bright and sunny!  And of course this beautiful painting by Holly Lombardo makes a great statement.

Just off of the mudroom is the laundry room.  It's not huge, but there is a lot of space for folding clothes and storage.  That long counter and sink will be so useful!
Of course these are the first glimpse of the house as you enter the front door.  Hopefully you'll agree they're not your standard, utilitarian rooms.  They're hard working - but pretty! Wait till you see the rest of the house!

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Thursday, November 5, 2020

Romancing the Ranch - Before and After Curb Appeal

Rarely has the exterior of a house that we've done changed so much!  This 1950's ranch had a cobbled together appearance, with a garage that appeared larger than the house.  Plus with its mismatched siding, mismatched roofing and a never used front door, it was time for a change.

How did we do it?  We had big plans, but it was a lot of work.  First step was enclosing the odd alcove and making it interior space (a brand new ensuite bathroom!!).  

The front door was closed up and all new windows were installed (they were larger to meet fire safety codes and to bring more light into the house).

We created a new front door by using an old garage entrance and building a false gable above it.  

And of course we installed new siding on the entire house.  This vinyl that looks like shingles is pretty amazing, people keep touching it to see if it's really wood!

But what really made the difference was the trim work and accents.  The crisp white trim really pops against the blue gray siding.  And that bright blue door looks pretty sweet!

But the changes to the front of the house were just part of the story.  The back of the house looked pretty tired as well.  The old deck was a disaster with broken joists and failing decking.  
Rear of house - Before

We wanted more light in the house, so we enlarged some windows and added new ones as well.  And we covered the entire house with an air sealing membrane and new trim and siding.  

I guess you'd call this rear curb appeal - can you believe the difference?
That deck is such a nice spot to sit outside and relax in the private backyard.

We've had a few people come stop by and tell us they couldn't believe the difference.  Farewell boring little ranch - hello beautiful!!  

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