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Update on my house plans

In case you missed my previous mentions of what's going on at my house, we're planning some rather large additions to what we have discovered is a house FAR too small for 2 people (especially when one likes to collect furniture and lamps) and 7 cats. At the beginning of February I blogged about some initial plans we had gotten from our architect. We had discussed simply adding on a section to the side of the house (luckily we have a rather large lot for a house in the heart of the city) and replacing the old addition at the back of the house that has crappy insulation. This seemed the most feasible because dealing with construction when you have 7 cats is a nightmare. So we were going to live in the old part of the house while the work was happening. Before we left on vacation to Mexico, I received an email from the fabulous folks of local design firm Vok Design Group (Dylan and Thu) who wanted to help with the exterior plans. When we met with Dylan and Thu they also expressed interest in coming up with suggestions for the interior and we were SO game. We met Friday so they could show us their interior ideas before they delved into the exterior. We were rendered completely speechless. It turned out to be WAY more work than we were anticipating but it makes SO much sense and will make this house incredible.

Let me show you what they came up with for the main floor.

Here is a photo of the initial plans from the architect with a couple minor changes made by me. The existing house is marked off in red.

And this is what Dylan and Thu came up with (sorry the measurements aren't clear because I had to photograph it):

{Now, we have no idea how much this is going to cost, and I'm frankly afraid to find out. Which means at this point we're not even sure if this can happen. And, to make matters worse, the plans for the upstairs (as you'll see in a moment) means we're in serious trouble if we plan to live here, with the cats, while the work happens. Not an ideal situation but we REALLY want this to work out.}

We absolutely adore their ideas for the main floor. The new entrance is open to the upper level, which makes the house finally feel sort of grand. And OMG there's a FOYER. Right now you walk into the house and you're standing in the living room. And if you want to put your coat somewhere you had to walk all the way to the back of the house and hang it on some hooks we installed next to the back door. Right there is also a new staircase to the second floor. The new plans have the old staircase (currently in the living room) being removed. Which creates a very large dining room. :-) Love the powder room being off the foyer and more out of the way. This all shrinks the new living room a bit but I think it's worth it - and 13'x17' and some change is a decent size. Most of the back wall will be doors to the backyard and windows so the light coming in will be awesome. Dylan and Thu suggested moving the fridge to the left of the kitchen so the opening to the back of the house will be in line with the windows at the back. Since these plans eliminated my new pantry (a bit of a bummer), I now instead need to do something on the wall with the fridge to incorporate the storage I was looking for.

Now for the second floor. HUGE changes up there. Initially we were going to create a huge master suite with a bathroom, and a laundry room, and that was pretty much it.

The new plans have a complete redesign of the upstairs, with only the current master bedroom at the front of the house staying relatively the same.

I don't even know what to say about this it's so different. We'll now have 3 normal sized bedrooms, because the current second bedroom which I use as dressing room, is only 7' wide. And the existing hallway is reeeeally narrow. These plans include a big laundry room - SO EXCITING. After doing laundry in a dingy basement for over 3 years passing puddles and litter boxes to get to the washer dryer, to a proper laundry near the bedrooms with a SINK and a WINDOW and some storage makes me so giddy. Since we don't have kids and only really need 1 guest room, I'll make bedroom #2 a dressing room and my hubby can have the walk-in closet.

That, my friends, is hopefully my future home. I am going to be saying alot of prayers over the next little while, because after seeing these plans, I don't know how we could do anything less and be as happy about it. Perhaps I should start a Kim's House fund. Or get a third job. (Too bad cats can't work). While I'm on this subject, now would be a good time to mention if anyone wants to donate or give us a really good price on products we'd need for this project (flooring, sinks, toilets, fireplace, exterior materials etc.) we'd totally appreciate it and it would not go unmentioned here on the blog I assure you... :-) (I'm not very good at begging).

Reader Comments (26)

The new plans look amazing! I'm so jealous... ;-)

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarol-Anne

I love these plans. Yet, it reminds me of a regret I have: I wish I had downsized my material life instead of scaling my house up! I did essentially the same thing you are planning, to a darling small house in a fabulous location. Sadly, I ended up selling it, and scaling my life down anyway. The biggest regret is making redundant areas: too many bathrooms for example. I wish I had utilized the space I had better (including the existing basement)- or been more conservative with any changes that could have been made. Good luck with these hard choices!

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Oh my goodness, the new plans look AMAZING!!! I think the layout is much better and the 2nd floor makes a lot more sense- the bedrooms are a much more useable size etc. Can't wait to hear and my fingers are crossed for you that it all come in within your budget- that's always the trick yes:) I'm renovating my kitchen right now so definitely can relate to the spending!

Dylan and Thu have made a much better use of the space available. How could you ever go back to the first plan? We just finished a major renovation of our house last summer and although I went over budget, I have no regrets. We also have the perfect location with no thought to moving so repurposing the interior space was the only way to go to get what we wanted in a very old house.

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoan

No wonder you are excited... these plans seem to make a much better use of the space.

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered Commenternightowl_72

Dylan and Thu's plans make so much sense. Fabulous! The house will have flow and no senseless/awkward areas; a house really works well when you can walk around the spaces and not have to back track to get out of a dead end area. I know the cost will be more than you expect, but don't 'cheap out'. It's the home of your dreams so make it look like that. And, if some day you decide to move, well, then, you've created a really marketable space that will appeal to a lot of buyers. Keep us posted on your decision. Good luck!

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCathy

the new plans look very interesting..how new rooms are added while making the whole house way more spacious...they do envisage a whole lot of work..but it will all be worth it in the end...our own house took over 3 yrs to build...at times it was painful and went way over the budget..but in the end we could not have been happier!! all the best for the next step! xx meenal

We had a big house fire several years ago, and when we had to start rebuilding, we decided we wanted to add a second floor to our one story house. We framed out everything, put in the wiring and plumbing and the fiberglass bathtub/showers (because they're huge and the plumber said to put them in before the walls are finished or we'd never get them into the room), and over the course of the years, we've been finishing the house one room at a time. I know a lot of people don't have the patience to do this, but it worked for us because we didn't have to find all the cash at one time to do everything, and we didn't have to make so many decisions at one time either. From the outside it looked finished because the windows were in and the siding was up, but inside was a different story! It all worked out though, The walls, lights and carpeting, sinks, toilets, vanities, stair railings etc, were eventually installed, and the house looks great. So, maybe if you do only the big construction work now, you can do all the interior finishing work later? Just a thought....
Good Luck and keep us posted!

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkath

The new plans are fantastic! I hope you'll be able to make them reality :-)

One question though: Why have a big dining room and a "dinette"? It always seems to me that it's wasting space. I absolutely know that it's a question of personal preference and I don't mean to offend, I'm just wondering about it. I also see that a lot in US American movies, although stats say that US Americans like to get take-away for dinner and eat it in front of the TV. Are those rooms overcompensation? I have no idea how the Canadian lifestyle works around it and how often you cook and use the dining room or eat take-away and I don't mean to judge either way. Anybody could eat ramen noodles daily hanging from the shower curtain rack and I wouldn't care, if they like it that way. I'm just wondering about the big spaces set aside for "dining" :-) If anyone has any input about it, let me know ;-)

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRelatable Style

relatable style, I agree. I do know of a well known graphic designer who has a table where a large number of people can eat, but the primary purpose of the room and table is a library. She has to clear the table of books and projects. Lots of interior designers in the states feel rooms need to be multipurpose. As you said, there is a trend towards practicality in spaces these days, what with the uncertainty of heating with fossil fuels etc. My "kid in the candy shop" sees these new plans as awesome. My practical self says: are you going to have children? Is that why you need lots of new space? Or, what is in the middle between those two things?

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Thanks for all your comments! You guys are making me even more excited. :)
We are for sure considering leaving some parts of the project unfinished where possible - like only finishing one of the full bathrooms.
As for the dinette, Dylan and Thu put that in the plans as a suggestion on how to use that space but we don't need a dinette. I cook alot (as much as I can with my fairly busy schedule) and plan to eat all meals in the new dining room. It's not going to be at all formal as it's just going to be the existing table and chairs shoved into that room from the kitchen. I'll leave a TV in there because there's nothing I hate more than sitting there having a meal with my husband and listening to each other chew. And it can double as a second office if I want to watch TV while I blog.
We're not planning of having kids, but I need space, because I like stuff. And if this ends up being a house of about 2000 sq ft, I don't think that's too big for 2 people and 7 cats.

3 Apr 2011 | Registered CommenterKiM

thanks for your response, Kim.
here is a fun post about space-living working, creating it:


3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Perhaps consider living in a Tiny House (they have a blog) or RV outside of the chaos of building. We did that while building our place in MT. If you can muster stamina to get through this, you will absolutely love the new place. "Trials produce perseverance, perseverance leads to character, character leads to hope, and hope does not leave one ashamed" (or disappointed). So said a wise man 2000 years ago (The apostle Peter).

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrosemarie

It does look fantastic. How very exciting.
Just wondering with the main floor plans...I think the new dining room is where your living room is now. That space appears larger (and especially with the staircase gone) than where the living room is being moved to at the back. Not sure how much entertaining you two do but, if you both enjoy it and cook, it's nice to have a kitchen open to a living room space. I think having the dining room at the back (where it's marked office/dinette) may work better and have your office(s)/family space/television in the area marked family.
From the plans, you'd have more options for furniture placement if your living room stays where it is because flow from the front door to the kitchen just passes/requires a corner.
Signed, A Fan That Could Be Completely Off-Base. :)

Best wishes with the next stages.

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAMR

AMR you bring up a great point... If I ever do a renovation on my place I would open up my kitchen to living/family room

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCA

I get where you are coming from. We are currently adding and redoing our entire home and taking it from 2200 sq. ft to 4500 (U.S.A. here). We went through about 3 plans before we found the one we absolutely loved and a lot of it had to do with how traffic can easily flow through the house. I see in the last plan on the first floor the architect just opened up the space so well and even created a wonderful foyer that opens into a once closed off LR. That's talent! I hope you go with the last floor plan even if you have to leave some of the rooms unfinished as it can always be done at a later date.

P.S. I am getting a Dining Room too, but I am adding bookshelves and big cushy chairs so I can use the space as a study, library, eating and game space. Good Luck!!!

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjet

WOW! how exciing!! love the new drawings!! I have someone you should connet with for kitchen and bath materials --- I need to dig up the right contact person and I'll connect again.

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

Love the plans.

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpriscilla

It is going to be amazing! We're at the end of Stage 1 of our renovations and we lived here for all of it ( except 1 week at Xmas when all our kids and partners came to stay from all over Australia and NZ).

It is the most thrilling thing you'll do! I couldn't believe seeing my vision actually turning into a home. I was my own client ( no training - just obsessed.) and I'd never done it before. Do some mood boards of colours and rooms that make you feel good. Be really vigilant with editing because there are so many gorgeous styles and products out there you will get torn!

We used an architect to tweak dimensions and help us with orientation of sun etc and I'm really glad we did. I think your architects have done a fabulous job.

Some thoughts- imagine standing in all the spaces and try to "see "what you'll be looking at. Also, think about how you want to feel when you're in the home and what you have always wanted to include in your dream home ( I wanted a pantry and I nearly gave in to using the space for something else).

Enjoy the journey - its wonderful!!

3 Apr 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Hi Kim! This is so exciting. I don't think these plans are final yet. I see some tweaking that needs done. It needs a little more of your ingenuity, but you'll get there. You're so talented. I am glad you will be sharing the journey with us. One suggestion. Get a small apartment if you can during. A renovation is HELL on a marriage. It will also be much better for your health. Are you going to try and use green materials? I love the idea of a totally green renovation, but everything I read about their cost shocks me. Good luck!

4 Apr 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpeggy

Love the new plans (especially the second floor) -- so great for cross-ventilation and light! As a quilter, I'm insanely jealous of that laundry room! Space to move around, a sink for treating stains or testing fabric, and a window for natural light-- oooh la la!

The dinette area could be multi-purpose: eating or office project spillover. I can see using your laptop at the table so you're facing the larger part of the room rather than the wall, especially since the seven furballs will doubtless be lounging in front of those big windows.

Can't wait to see this evolve!

4 Apr 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRuth

AMR already said it but I agree. It seems more feasible to have your kitchen open to a space that's lived in more, especially based on the way you say that you live. And then...If you were my client, I would suggest turning that L-shaped area in back into not just a dining room but into a dining/library/ office area. I will be designing this in my head for days now, thanks a lot!!! BTW-still loving the Pets on Furniture posts, keep them coming :)

4 Apr 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIspirato Design

I love it, except for the laundry room upstairs. A problem with the washer hose can cause major damage in minutes.

4 Apr 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Here's my take on the living/dining room location ideas.
Call me crazy but I like the idea of the dining room being close to the kitchen - so we're not carrying plates of food around the house and the trip to the stove for seconds is pretty effortless. Also, the new living room space is going to be more open and much brighter, so I see that as a plus for the makings of a living room and not really a dining room. Also, I'd rather have the fireplace in the living room. And if we have to do any special wiring and such for the media centre, then I'd rather do that in walls that are not yet drywalled etc. rather than making a mess to the walls in the existing living room (as it's currently not at all set up properly for a decent media centre).
I do love the idea of a library/dining room though....
Ruth, I do like the idea of a table in the dinette area for having a decent view while blogging, but I think I'd like to get an iMac which I'd use more than my laptop, which I then can't use on a table in the middle of the room....
Mary, I see your point, but I think it's SOOOOO worth the risk...

4 Apr 2011 | Registered CommenterKiM

re: washer hose - not sure about in AUS, but there are metal weave wrapped washer hoses that detect a water burst and shut off water. sure there are other similar along the pipe contraptions....having 2nd fl laundry quite common.

5 Apr 2011 | Unregistered Commenterg

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