This post is written by Kelly Parkinson, my fabulous Design Assistant. When we left for our vacation to the Amalfi Coast I asked her to write a guest post to show us the updates on the house they recently purchased! It needs lots of work, here’s a common dilemma a lot of people wrestle with when planning a renovation.
During the start of my renovation six years ago, the contractor said “Why don’t you open up the space between the kitchen and dining room? When I asked my designer friend Jan Romanuk about that, she said “Why would you do that? You’re already further opening up the space between your kitchen and family room.”
Given that was her advice to me, I was surprised at what she said to Kelly and her husband Mike when they started their renovation.
However, this is why it’s always the best to hire a professional (I cannot help you with the footprint of your house or designing your kitchen, that’s not my expertise), read on to find out what Jan said:
My husband and I took possession of our new home, a 70’s original rancher in March 2018. The entire house, interior and exterior needed a complete re-model. This is the largest renovation project the two of us have taken on together, but we were very excited to be able to call it our forever home.
Here is the front of the house. The picture was taken standing in the driveway. The exterior landscaping was beyond overgrown you couldn’t see the house from the street. That’s wild bamboo growing in between the walkway to the front door. I’m a 80’s baby, I have never seen scalloped fascia boards before – Wowee! Was this a trend in the 70’s or a custom install 😉
Front of house
My Dad and two brothers run a local contracting company, so thankfully, we were connected and were able to get them to start right away. They did an amazing job with our last home, see the home tour here.
Mike and I had one month before we had to move out of our house and into the new one, so plans needed to be figured out relatively quick! Maria came by to take before pictures. While she was on site, she suggested we hire her good friend Jan to help us with the layout because my husband and I couldn’t agree on whether we should take out the wall between the kitchen and the living room.
Here is what the interior of the house looked like when we took possession:
Front entrance with wall panelling and pink beige carpet
Fireplace in formal living room
The main wall colour throughout the entire house was similar to BM OC-12 Muslin. It looked especially pink against the pink-beige carpets and yellow-beige fireplace surround tile.
Formal living room and adjoining dining room
When Jan came over I mentioned how odd it was that the only way to get into the kitchen was by walking all the way through your formal living room and dining room. She replied that back in the day, it was intentionally designed that way to deter people from walking through your formal living area and to use the hallway.
Also, notice the two tall skinny windows in the dining room? These look into our garage. We assume the owner enclosed the existing carport and never got around to removing and filling in the old windows.
Kitchen Area (Fireplace is directly behind the drywall on the right wall)
We saw the potential in this home when we bought it, but it was really difficult to envision the kitchen space while it was so closed off from the rest of the house. However, my husband’s design inspiration and mine were entirely different. We both wanted to open the space up, but how open was the question. . .
I kept thinking about a post Maria wrote about open concept spaces here, where Eddie Ross’ said it best:
“It’s often difficult to make an open plan work. How do you know when to stop one paint colour and start another? Can you do stripes in the kitchen and a floral wallpaper in the living area?”
So, as usual, Jan Romanuk came to the rescue and helped us determine what we needed to do.
Here are the two design options we discussed:
Working with the existing fireplace structure and opening up on either side to flow into the kitchen
This image perfectly illustrates our house layout, even the blue-green painted room off the back which is where our laundry room is. I thought if I could find a nicely designed room that perfectly illustrates my idea my husband would be on board. . . it turns out it wasn’t that easy to convince him.
The problem was, I became too attached to the fireplace, so I couldn’t hear any other ideas.
Our massive fireplace that you saw when you walked in the front door was actually quite bossy in the space, but I have a thing about fireplaces.
They are so cozy and inviting.
Our last home only had a fireplace in the formal living room which we never spent anytime in, except when I was reading a book or watching a Netflix series that didn’t interest my husband.
Seemed silly to me.
It made more sense that a fireplace should be in every living/family room. So my preference was to keep the existing fireplace, and work with it. Re-design the front with new tile, add a new mantle and millwork, and create two large openings on either side that flow into the kitchen.
Removing the fireplace and wall to create an open concept floor plan
Mike envisioned opening the space up by adding an architectural beam to create a 14′ span kitchen opening.
At the start of our conversation we told Jan we wanted our home to reflect our personality.
Mike and I entertain a lot. It’s not unusual for us to have friends over almost every day of the week so his design reflected this. He suggested keeping the dining room walls as is so that it is still it’s own room, but opening the formal living room up to a large kitchen.
Which option do you prefer? Are you an open or closed floor plan type?
Before we agreed on a plan, we decided to remove the drywall that needed to be replaced because it was damaged. This would allow us to get a better picture of the space and how it would feel if it was opened up.
Once we had exposed the two rooms, immediately, it was clear that my design wasn’t going to work. The massive fireplace wasn’t centered on the wall between the kitchen opening.
It would make it very difficult to create a balanced opening on either side to flow into the kitchen.
Jan advised us to remove the fireplace and told us that we could always add in a two sided fireplace between the dining room and living room, similar to this (below).
I was sold and my husband was thrilled.
Here is the progress picture of what we did!
Before, Kitchen design
After, Kitchen design
In the end, we both compromised, but we’re happy with the decision we made with the layout of everything as I think it makes the most sense for what we both wanted.
We are so excited to be able to create a home that is reflective of what we love and who we are. The progress continues on our 70’s rancher, we are so excited to show you the transformation. Stay tuned.
My holiday in the Amalfi Coast (after we spent one week in Seville and Barcelona) started with my luggage that did not make it to Naples from Barcelona where we took a boat to Capri for two nights.
After packing up all the correct outfits I did not have on my trip 3 years ago to Tuscany, I have to admit, I was profoundly disappointed. It’s Day 4 here and I still don’t have it back, but the news that makes me feel better is we just found out today that they had a glitch with their tagging system on the day we flew here and it’s taking longer than usual for them to locate my bag and apparently I’m not alone with lost luggage as a result so fingers crossed!
If you’re following me on Instagram you would have already seen this photo, but if you’re not, this was the view from the suite that we booked in Capri (below). Truly breathtaking!
This is me with a hat firmly place on my hair which is stick straight without a curling brush or iron!
Stay tuned, I’ll let you know how it’s going!
PS. I have already moved from one hotel I didn’t like to another hotel (in Barcelona), and asked to move to a different room when we got to the hotel we’re currently staying in. However, I have learned. I did not lose my mind, I asked sweetly. I guess it helps to get older and wiser.
Are you a fan of open or closed floor plans?