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amy_williams190

First Time HomeOwners

Elizabeth Willis
4 years ago
We just bought our first home after looking for almost half a year and are set to close in about two weeks. It wasn’t my first choice, but we got a good deal which leaves us with a good budget to do remodeling/renovations. The first thing I said I wanted to tackle was figuring out how to manage the downstairs layout.

We’re planning on ripping up all the flooring and doing one solid flooring throughout the downstairs for starters. Right now the living/dining room is hardwoods, with the kitchen/hallway being tile.

I wish it had a real foyer and a larger kitchen, and the prison looking half wall is not really making sense to me. The kitchen is to the left of the sliding glass door if you’re trying to figure out the layout from the photos.

I took pictures of what the house looked like during the initial staging of the house. I’m not sure if how they had it staged is what’s got me feeling pessimistic or what it is about the layout of the first floor. I can’t figure out how to set it up. We haven’t purchased furniture yet and that’s probably a good thing seeing as I haven’t gotten a concept just yet.

Comments (33)

  • phuninthesun
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    If you want a foyer, you can extend the entry wall back to the front door. (It may have been there originally.) I would also remove all of the wood framing from the wall opening and replace with drywall.

    I know this isn't your furniture. A normal height round dining table would look great in your space. The wood flooring you're planning will greatly improve the entire house.

  • gm_tx
    4 years ago

    Congrats on your first home!


    Can you post a rough floorplan?


    In the meantime, I like phuninthesun's idea to bring that wall down and create a more defined foyer. If you do that, I'd replace the front door to one with some window(s) to let in some light, so the entry area is not too dark.

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  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    4 years ago

    Buying a house one doesn't like and then doing MAJOR remodeling of the floor plan, will turn out to be a costly decision.

  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9
    4 years ago

    I would take the middle bars out of that wall and then paint everything in an off-white color to make the space look larger, and paint the surround of the opening the same color as the wall so it looks more unified. At this point I would not do more unless you're contemplating taking out that dividing wall if it isn't there for structural reasons.

  • decoenthusiaste
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    For the prison wall, I would have it drywalled closed, but also wired for TV so you can enter the home without seeing the TV first. This will allow you to use all that long wall for a 3-seat sofa, possibly end tables and lamps or just a tall pair of floor lamps. Then I would flank the sofa with a pair of swivel chairs facing each other over a coffee table. Change out the dated builder's grade lighting throughout for an instant upgrade. Eventually, I would plan to replace that pony wall stairwell with pretty stairs and railing for a more open feeling. The way your door swings open puts you into a foyer of sorts made by the stairwell corner. Add a floating shelf and mirror or art on that wall for a faux foyer and a good looking welcome.

    Moraga Residence · More Info

  • caligirl5
    4 years ago

    Why rip up the hardwood? I'd match it and run it through the kitchen and hallway, then refinish everything. Or if you are eventually planning a kitchen remodel, I'd hold off until then. I don't love the tile either, but it's pretty inoffensive to live with while you figure out what to do.

    People will be able to give more ideas once you're able to post a 2D measured drawing.

    I think advice to live with it for a while and think through different ideas is good. Would caution against doing anything major before you have a plan. It's hard when people post threads: "we tore down the wall, now how do we lay out the kitchen", where tearing down the wall really limited their options. Doing nothing keeps your options open until you've thought everything through.

  • Elizabeth Willis
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    I’m working on a 2D model as all I have at the moment are dimensions from what we got from the real estate listing. Apparently our house was the last one built, so they didn’t even have it on the neighborhood lot officially. We had a land surveyor come out and do the outside, but an interior survey with blueprints of the house has never been done. Regarding the decision to rip up all the flooring downstairs, the reason for this is I have very large dogs and we had hardwood in our rental that we lost our security deposit because the dogs scratched it up. We’ve been looking at luxury vinyl planks and found the color we liked. The kitchen is pretty small and the cabinets don’t match, so that will be a remodel later down the road. I like the ideas regarding the prison wall. What do you mean regarding the pony wall where the staircase is?
  • Helen
    4 years ago

    If the wood floors are in good shape, why rip them out? If your dogs damage them down the road, they can probably be refinished. You are immediately reducing the value of your property because wood flooring is much more desirable than luxury vinyl tile.


  • Elizabeth Willis
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    I did the best I could with RoomSketcher. I have Sketchup Pro but haven’t figured out how to use it just yet. This is an outline of my first floor.
    I hate it didn’t give me the chance to put the dimensions from the wall. The prison wall is 8’ wide. It’s about 81” from the entrance door to the edge of the prison wall, and 122.25” from the other end of the prison wall to sliding glass. The window in the living room is 71’x58 and from the window to the front door it’s
    40.25”, and 35.75” from the window to the back corner of the living room beside the long wall. My hallway is is about 2’7” wide measuring from the prison wall to the hall closet.
    35.75” (window to corner wall)
  • Elizabeth Willis
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    The listing has my kitchen measuring at 10’5”x19’ but I’m not sure where they got that number from because the mud room behind my kitchen is 5’10 x 7’2”.
  • Elizabeth Willis
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    I hear what you’re saying about the hardwood being more of value than luxury vinyl, but we really wanted to have the entire downstairs the same flooring. I have no clue how we would match the hardwood to the existing flooring.
  • Helen
    4 years ago

    You would go to a good flooring company and see how it could be done.

    It seems an economic waste to take up a good hardwood floor and replace it with fake plastic :-)

  • Denita
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Don't rely on the listing to have accurate measurements at all.

    The easiest way to measure is to physically get out a tape measure and do it yourself. Make a sketch by hand on graph paper, put in your accurate measurements including window and door openings and that wall you have when you walk in the front door. Then take a photo and post here in the comment section. It will be better than having inaccurate data. It will be much more helpful for you too.

  • Elizabeth Willis
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    You’ve all been so helpful with your suggestions, advice, and recommendations for next steps. It’s a lot to take in when buying a house, and while it felt like settling for me, my husband just said that since we came way below budget that we could take that and make modifications to make it feel more like ours. I just laugh and say it’d be cheaper to move. I’ll do my best to try and get all the layouts of the dimensions complete by tomorrow. I have all the walls as I asked if I could come in and measure quickly since we haven’t closed yet.
  • artemis_ma
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    I await the measurements - and understand that this will be the house you will work with.

    I agree with others NOT to replace the hardwood floors yet. Maybe they're a better quality than the ones you once had. I don't have large dogs, but can a good qualified groomer help trim their nails?

    In any case, I'd wait on the flooring until you get ready for the kitchen, which you plan for down the road. That way 1) you can see what the dogs really do, 2) that wood is lovely and why not use it rather than immediately consigning it to a landfill to rot, and 3) if you do decide it works well enough to try to match into the kitchen, you'll have the kitchen dimensions and sitings in hand for the kitchen you later decide you want - you aren't removing newly-laid kitchen flooring or patching in bits since your counter or island layout may well change. And then, if dogs or other factors determine, replace the entire floor then instead of trying to patch it in the kitchen.

    It is good to wait on the kitchen, which you've decided to do, as you'll learn how you live, and what annoys you about it, and what you like.

    I could see waiting on the rest of the house, too, as others have suggested -- BUT you don't have furniture yet. Now is the time to do other things for your furniture-using living/dining room, and even the hallway. You don't know, until you do these things, the size of couch, types of chairs, or even the optimal size of TV until you know where you plan to place them, which will be dictated by room shape and size - in short, what you do to remodel.

    That prison wall (!) sounds like a good place to start!

  • arcy_gw
    4 years ago

    phuninthesun's idea gives you an entrance. Possibly just remove the jail /shift the wall down to where the door open, leaving your room more open, less narrow. You need to decide how you will use the space before purchasing furniture. That end by the glass doors screams dining area to me, but this design always confuses me as it invites formal and informal eating to be so close together it is silly. A kitchen expansion could well eliminate the present eating area shifting your dining room down to next to the sliders.

  • localeater
    4 years ago

    I am in the close up the prison wall with dry wall camp.

    What do all the doors across from the prison wall in the hallway go to. Are they closets?

    I might turn them both and get rid of the hall. I am assuming you can enter house through front door and garage. Turning one closet to the front door helps to define an entry.

    I might divide the long room with an arch way or two pony walls with bookcases, as I like a space to gather that has no tv.

  • Elizabeth Willis
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    Well I finally was able to make a 2D and 3D of the entrance, hallway, family/great room, and stopped at the eat in kitchen area. The only dimensions missing that I couldn’t figure out how to include were the openings from:

    door to the start of the prison wall (81”)
    other end of the prison wall to the sliding glass (122”)
    width of hallway with closet section (2’8”)
    width of entrance area where the stairs are (5’5”)
    Eat in area width (10’2”)
  • Elizabeth Willis
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    Someone asked about the hallway closets. The first one is a typical standard hall closet. The other one is like 23” wide and is what holds the air handler for the HVAC unit.
  • Jenn TheCaLLisComingFromInsideTheHouse
    4 years ago

    After the recent water damage (a blocked pipe revealed the cause to be a pair of small children’s socks, solid waste, and hair from the previous owner - nobody in the house now has super long black hair - led to a geyser of contaminated water from the laundry stand pipe and overflow of the floor main drain in the basement furnace room) I have been extremely grateful not just for good insurance replacement value coverage but for the LVP down there in the laundry and 3rd bathroom being one of the less expensive things that must now be replaced, after completing the 5 days of remediation to dry out the things that weren’t removed in the process of cleanup.

    If you plan to stay in this house closer to a decade in length than a couple of years, don’t worry about keeping the wood floors because of the resale value. The money will still be there (as long as you don’t spend it on other things in the meantime) if you wait on tearing things out and spend some time living in the house to decide what really matters in the layout and what stays/goes.

  • suezbell
    4 years ago

    You might want to live in the home for at least a few months or even a year before making a lot of major changes; however, since you've already decided you want one flooring throughout …

    Do you like either the hardwood or the tile and, if so, could you match the flooring you like? Alternately,

    There is now tile that supposedly has the look of wood and is (supposedly) low maintenance. Would want to actually look at and touch this tile but, if it is as advertised, it would rate serious consideration.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=Wood+look+tile&source=lnms&tbm=shop&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiwwfrzkZvcAhXQV98KHf1OAwkQ_AUICigB&biw=1366&bih=628

    Tile is a good idea in the kitchen and bathroom. If you go with hardwood or plank flooring, it needs to handle getting well.

    The half wall at the stairs is probably a safety measure -- perhaps a prior owner had a small child and didn't want the child's head to get stuck between vertical boards. When you've decided what you prefer, change them.

    You could add a rail to only one side or both; you could create a floor to ceiling wall on one side or both -- either would look better than that angled "pony wall" .

    http://hoekstraglobalstrategies.com/painting-stair-rails/staircase-window-seat-on-landing-custom-newell-post-dark-treads-scheme-of-painting-stair-rails/

    Are there utilities -- furnace and/or washer and dryer -- in the wide closet that appears to include space beneath the stairs within it? If so, changing that might be problematic -- or at least costly.

    Is that wall behind the sofa the "prison looking half wall"? and is it a weight bearing wall or in place just to define the living room as separate from the hallway -- and/or put there because putting "floating" the furniture or putting furniture against those closet doors wasn't desirable?

    If your "prison looking half wall" is a weight bearing wall, you might need to leave the two side posts (perhaps w/an additional beam installed at ceiling height) BUT it is very likely could remove all that "prison" look in between, wrap the posts that are actually needed and replace the pony wall with a built in bookcase (your sofa back height) with open shelves or a cabinet with glass doors -- either open to the hallway. Guessing doing that would help get rid of the prison bar vibe and improve your opinion of this space a great deal. Important: you'll want to know what you are ripping out and leaving before redoing the floor.

  • suezbell
    4 years ago

    Hope you will consider keeping the hardwood floors and tile in the kitchen and bath.

    Something you might consider is finding out if the walls separating the kitchen from the mud room are weight bearing walls; if not, consider removing them and making that space one large kitchen, perhaps with a washer/dryer in a closet rather than in a separate mud room.


  • ci_lantro
    4 years ago

    We’re planning on ripping up all the flooring and doing one solid flooring throughout the downstairs for starters.

    Regarding the decision to rip up all the flooring downstairs, the reason for this is I have very large dogs and we had hardwood in our rental that we lost our security deposit because the dogs scratched it up.

    Sensible plan, IMO.

    Replace the flooring before you move in.

    Dogs do dog things. Like go outside, step in poop, roll on dead squirrels, dig holes & track in dirt. They eat grass and come inside and barf in places where you might not find it for a day or two. Get the vinyl so you can clean the floor with hot water and disinfectant.

  • tatts
    4 years ago

    You can refinish wood. You cannot refinish vinyl. And you can't repair it when the manufacturer stops making it.

    Wood is a far, far, better choice. Just watch the scratches and touch up anything before it goes down to the wood.

  • everdebz
    4 years ago

    Door in kitchen nook - where does that open into?

  • Jenn TheCaLLisComingFromInsideTheHouse
    4 years ago

    Wood still isn’t ideal in ‘wet’ rooms like the kitchen and bathroom (or laundry).


  • Elizabeth Willis
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    Door in eat in nook is the pantry.

    I stopped off in the eat in area, but the space beside it is my kitchen area, and the opening you see in the back is our mudroom with a door leading into the garage and our laundry room which is behind the fold out doors. There’s also a half bath behind the kitchen wall. There’s a gap between the connection to the connected rooms but that’s because I didn’t want to lose the measurements visibility.
  • Elizabeth Willis
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    I know at some point the next step will be to redo the kitchen. I have no clue who installed these cabinets, but I’m betting they’re bathroom cabinets or didn’t think them all the way through because they don’t match and are very narrow. We bought on foreclosure. The house I picked out was a brand new home. Hubby picked this one out because it was $50K under what we were approved for what we were approved for we could handle the monthly mortgage and still be comfortable. How do you handle when you have wedding china and inherit more China from a grandmother who passed and left it to you? I worry about that because if I had to get a hutch to put in the dining room space to hold all our dishes on top of a dining room table, plus living room furniture, I’m surely going to feel closed off. I’ve got paint figured out, but decorating with furniture and trying to figure all that out is making the anxiety of moving even higher.
  • Denita
    4 years ago

    Elizabeth, it will be okay.

    I'm a Realtor and have sold many foreclosures. It is more difficult when you are the buyer purchasing a property that hasn't been well maintained. Most foreclosures are the opposite of well maintained IME. But you can do this. Even if you make a misstep or two, it is easy to correct. The main thing is to have a plan.

    Are the systems of the house in working order? I mean things like roof, HVAC, electrical and plumbing? Is the floor serviceable for now? These are the important things on Day 1 of move in. The design part takes time and planning. Don't rush. That's where mistakes are made. When you are looking at a (presumably) vacant house, it shows smaller than when you actually begin to furnish it.

    It is best to live in the house first so you can see what works and what doesn't work from a planning perspective. I know it is more convenient to change things before you move in, but again, that is when errors are prone to happen. The best thing you can do as step one is to make any necessary repairs to the house, clean to the bone every surface and then move in and begin the planning stages to make this home your own.

  • decoenthusiaste
    4 years ago

    The way to match the hardwood is to learn what your present flooring is. Maple, pine, oak??? Then you have the same raw wood installed in the other rooms, strip and sand down the current wood and have all of it stained to match.

  • Helen
    4 years ago

    Having just boxed up all the stuff inherited, what you do is determine whether you will actually ever use the china. If not, get rid of it or box it up until you can figure out what to do with it. Do NOT buy storage so that you can store stuff you don't want.

    Take photos of it if you must for sentimental reasons but remember that people do NOT live in their physical objects and you are not honoring their memory or keeping them close by hanging on to physical objects that belong to them EXCEPT for those few items that for whatever reason actually make you smile.

    I had a major problem getting rid of the accumulations of multiple households and I kept only those things which I still found intrinsically beautiful (or functional) and a few odd stuff like the donkey planter which my mother picked up for me (circa 1950's) and told me it was because it had a sweet face which both cracked me up and which I understood because the pottery donkey did have a "sweet" face :-)

  • suezbell
    4 years ago

    For china you keep for sentimental reasons but seldom, if ever, use, consider building a high cabinet that is a box shelf with glass doors next to the ceiling all along one wall so you can proudly display your family treasures w/o needing to dust them regularly.

    It is very likely that paying for storage space for family heirlooms will make you dislike it rather than treasure it.

    If you're stuck with more than two supporting posts from the prison wall, you might consider redesigning the "bars" to be shelves for displaying family treasures, with or without making the living room side a solid wall.