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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  1. This looks so good!

  2. Great looking renovation. I read the comment that you had the fireplace reworked to be wood burning again. Had it been converted to gas? I have a brick fireplace that was wood burning and previous owners made it gas. I would like to convert it back to wood burning but can't find much of anything on Google to tell me how this is done. Some actually say it can't be done, so your note about converting your fireplace really caught my attention. How would I find out more about how this is done?

    1. We were able to disconnect the gas line, repair the flue, add a new damper (to the top of the chimney, because the one at the bottom was ruined), and then clean it all up and seal it. Thankfully I have a great chimney guy - hopefully you can find one near you!

  3. I saw your note about converting the fire place back to wood burning. Caught my attention as I'd like to do the same thing. I have googled this but can find nothing on how to convert a former wood burning fireplace, turned into gas, and go back to wood burning. Some say it can't be done. Do you have any suggestions on how to find out how this is done?

  4. Wow you did an amazing job. I would love to raise our low ceilings in our 1960's ranch. How much does a project like that cost?

  5. This looks amazing! We are hoping to remodel our 1950s ranch also. What are the before/after dimensions of your kitchen and family room and then kitchen, living room, dining room?

    1. Hmmmm.... the big living/dining space is 16x24. I think the kitchen was only 12 feet wide when we started. Removing the wall to the dining room made a world of difference!

    2. That's so helpful! Thank you!


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