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brian_hann66

Design Layout - Help!

Brian Hann
last month

Looking to remodel and renovate our house but I am a bit stuck on optimizing our layout and our first floor space! We have a small cape and it feels too tight. We would like to see if we can optimize our space now. Have considered removing the load bearing wall between the kitchen and living room now. Any thoughts?? Layout plan is attached. Any advice helps! Thank you!


Comments (39)

  • sheloveslayouts
    last month

    I don't think removing that wall will add a lot of value or function. How about swapping the office and the kitchen? You'd have to extend your porch and add a back door entrance. You'd probably also want to swap the bathroom sink and tub so the bathroom door can move to a less conspicuous location...





  • marylut
    last month

    What specifically do you not have enough room for? What is your end goal?

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  • Nancy R z5 Chicagoland
    last month

    Yes I think we need more information. But my first thought is using your living room as the dining room and then combining your dining room and office into a more spacious living room. But we don't know how important that office/fourth bedroom is to you.

  • Brian Hann
    Original Author
    last month

    We would like more counter space in the kitchen. We'd like to just optimize what we have. With the walls and the hallway it feels a little cramped. So if theres a way we can optimize and open the floor plan up that would be great! The fourth bedroom and office isnt important to us

  • marylut
    last month

    You really do need more counter space in Kit! If you can block up the window in lower right corner, this gives you more work space.

  • PRO
    Sabrina Alfin Interiors
    last month

    Optimizing your space---for what, exactly? How many people are in your family? Are you looking for more space to entertain? To make your kitchen bigger? What's the goal?

  • mcarroll16
    last month

    Carrying dishes down that hall from kitchen to dining room would make you feel pinched and cramped, every single meal. Just switching the living room and dining room could make a big difference. A more functional flow will instantly make things feel bigger. I would try that first, because it's free. Marylut's kitchen revamp would make things even better, as would opening up the current dining room and office into one larger living room.


    Please don't get rid of the hallway, no matter what else you do. That little bit of privacy for the bathroom entrance is a really nice thing to have.


  • PRO
    RappArchitecture
    last month

    P.D. Schlitz has a good idea worth considering. Also, I wish I knew how to draw on my phone like that...

  • decoenthusiaste
    last month

    Schultz nailed it, but consider reversing the front door swing so guests enter to face the stairs and living room, not dining and kitchen.

  • 3onthetree
    last month
    last modified: last month

    In the last scheme from P.D.Shlitz, moving the Living Room to the old Dining Room would then be too small. Choices for Living Room location (while keeping bathroom and Kitchen locations) is either keep it where it is, or take the entire 4th Bedroom/closet and up to the center bearing wall.

    Also, the side door looks to be the backhouse/mudroom entry as well so the Kitchen location there should remain.

  • coray
    last month

    I’d put the kitchen in the office space, open up that wall to dining, leave living where it is, perhaps reduce former kitchen/new office a bit if not important to gain more space for living or storage….all depends on the owners’ needs. Sometimes it’s not about ROI, esp if people remain in their homes for years to come; it’s all about ease of living.

  • 3onthetree
    last month

    Maybe the recent commenters and "likes" cannot see the text on the drawing - the existing Dining Room is 11'-6"x11'-9", and that footprint includes the required circulation thoroughfare. So Living swapped with Dining is a terrible option to be thrown in the dustbin. Besides, it appears the OP does not want to do a lot of rearranging anyway.

  • mcarroll16
    last month

    Well, OP mentioned taking down the wall between the kitchen and living room. Swapping LR and DR and taking down the wall between the LR and office would be a much bigger improvement than opening the wall between LR and kitchen, but leaving the DR where it is, an awkward long walk from the kitchen.


    And it's all about furniture scale. I've worked with living rooms smaller than OP's. There's room there for a loveseat, 2 chairs, and TV against the staircase wall. Or a small sectional and a chair.

  • P.D. Schlitz
    last month

    Important to remember that this is a small, older Cape Cod home— these room proportions are pretty standard for the style. I’ve lived with a 12 x 12 living room that had much less wall space and was perfectly comfortable. And the OP likely has a larger basement rec room that supplements this living space.

    Also— 100% agree about changing door swing if swapping living and dining. And if expanding kitchen, I would also go with a larger bank of windows on the back wall overlooking your porch.

  • 3onthetree
    last month

    Whether the existing size of the rooms are small or large in comparison to another house is not the issue - for this house they are small and that is the bones of the house - however, as in any size of house, there is an heirarchy to functions associated to footprint size - the Living gets the biggest room, the Owners get the bigger bedroom. It's house design 101.

    Notice the stair is not centered? To swap 1:1 the Living and Dining is a mistake. And to extend the Living into the back bedroom is possible, but you will have a big beam dissecting your Living Room which will dictate "sub-"spaces below the beam. These are things to always think about.

    The OP stated quote "feel" and "optimize what we have," by making the Kitchen seem larger by removing the wall. The OP has so far not warmed up to completely rearranging rooms in the house.

  • Jennifer K
    last month

    I think the issue with your kitchen is that too much of it is given over to passageways. If you moved the door to the sunroom to the back of the house, you'd have a better work triangle, more counterspace and traffic would flow naturally past the work area. Something like this:


    If you put a door to the back yard in the porch near the kitchen door, you'd have easy access to a patio, deck or grilling area.

  • herbflavor
    last month

    changing the path of traffic from living room straight back to exterior porch door keeps a new kitchen work zone free from that main traffic flow as Jennifer diagrams out . It mght strike you as quite different in terms of coming in w groceries , as the side door optimized that . but the few extra steps around to the back for this entry is probably going to be easy to adjust to and allow that kitchen to function better... Only thing we dont know is if you want an island or peninsula seating to make the case for wall removal , as in a more casual open situation. Start by sketching out a kitchen that meets your needs w some seating for day to day with the WALL REMOVED and see what graph paper and a pencil can do. I think the wall removal may have some value but i dont see yet what you want to do exactly.

  • marylut
    last month

    Nothing will make your narrow hall feel wider - just make sure it is well lit with recessed ceiling lights, not wall sconces or entry chandeliers that can make it feel tight. Is the front door or the porch door used as your family entry? Is your parking area convenient to the front door? If you have the budget, here is one way to optimize your interior space, without losing the value of a home office/downstairs 2nd master BR. Do you want to have a little separation between DR and Kit? How many people will you need to seat for most meals? If you can afford a beam, you can remove entire load-bearing Kit/DR wall. if you can’t afford a long beam, you can use short beam and load-bearing pillars to support a 2nd doorway.

  • marylut
    last month

    If you consider the above changes, it then makes sense to move the coat closet door out of the hall and onto the LR so you have a straight shot from front door to closet.

  • marylut
    last month

    You could also start planning long term changes to 2nd floor, like this - unless you need huge closet space.

  • laurahmckinley
    last month

    I would remove wall between k and living room. Would add island where wall was. I would make lr the ding room with a banquet in the front corner. I would add a built in on that little alcove by stairs/ closet for a bar or serving area.( I would also probably take out any uppers facing backyard above sink and put windows across there to lighten up area.)
    I would remove wall between existing dining room and den and make that the lr/ family room

  • lindalindalindalinda
    last month

    If you had the budget, I would remove the full bath. This would give you more room on the back wall and open up the space to allow an island. Leave the sink where it is and place the stove where the bathtub is currently.. Now you can keep the fridge where it is on the left wall, but have bonus counter space beside it. Now there is room for a 6 foot island (horizontal) with drawers and an unobstructed countertop for chopping and serving. Remove the bedroom door and turn the closet into a half bath. Use the room as an office, reading room or TV room.

  • lsemartha
    last month

    Yes, you have a dilemma. I’ve lived in that footprint.

    A few thoughts:

    PD Schmitz (so?) design will give you ‘breathing space.’

    At some point you will sell this place as it won’t fit your needs.. especially as you get older.

    Things that ‘sell’ your house and, if you don’t have, will make your house undesirable to prospective buyers are: Here goes.

    UPSTAIRS

    MBR and ensuite (yes, in today’s jargon, ‘Primary’ suite.) that can accommodate a King bed, if possible, a decent walk-in closet.. not huge, we’ll designed, bath needs to be non-trendy. As large a walk-in shower that fits, sink with decent size vanity and toilet.. keep it all neutral.. WHITE is good.. change towels for different look. Consider swapping out dressers, nightstands, etc by creating built-ins. Incredible way to create ‘virtual’ spaciousness.

    Find a space for stackable W/D..I have an ASKO… excellent, smaller space needed. If you have a basement that has your laundry in it, keep itas an extra! Teach your kids how to do their laundry, great foot overflow.

    Other bedrooms just need paint etc..

    Bathroom… keep a tub.. (your house will sell to a young couple and need a tub to bathe little one.

    ADVICE:

    When you have a small house, the way to ‘fool the eye’ is to maintain the same color scheme throughout the house. Forget about painting pink/purple walls.. STICK with WHITE. Buy pink/purple bedding (sparely), a small area rug..

    LESS IS MORE.

    DOWNSTAIRS:

    PD Schmitzdrawing Is good.

    Something to consider is to install E Z Breeze windows throughout the porch.. it will give you a ‘familyroom’ space where the Christmas Tree goes, homework gets done, space for occasional parties can overflow into.

    Office.. pull out sofa or Murphy bed for accasional overnite guest. 1st floor bath.. have someone change out tub for walk-shower.. think about a scenario when an aging parent visits.. stairs and tubs are their enemy.

    Yes, it won’t be cheap but.. do it right and it will pay you back in spades. Space first, decor second. Stay focused. ☺️

    So.. think about how to improve your life, keep the mantra of ‘it’s cute, but it’s just more ‘stuff’.. a waste of money that you can use better by finding and using every square inch (inches do matter!) and use it.

  • Rhonda
    last month

    Good comment lsemartha, but having had an injury recently, I realized that having a tub or shower option on the main floor was imperative. Love the idea of a powder room, but don’t give up bath accessibility. You can always lose a bedroom and sleep on the couch or in a recliner, but if you can’t make it upstairs to bathe, it makes the recovery battle more difficult.

  • Rhonda
    last month

    Sorry, meant that bathtub for lindalindalinda

  • Cristy Stup
    last month
    last modified: last month

    PD Schiltz’s plan is well thought out. I would go a bit further and open up the office/bedroom with french doors into the new living room on the left and remove that unneeded section of the hall. A new door would go in at the end of the existing hall entering into this newly opened space. You could then close off that rear room from the new front living room for tv time, guests, or quiet time. Or the doors can be opened up for a feeling of larger space when needed. The existing closet in the rear room could turn into a Murphy bed or a desk/office that has doors on it. Opening up part of the stair (with a half wall or railing) into the new livng room would also add to a more spacious feel. Also don’t negate the value of using a limited color palette and the same flooring material for visual continuity. Reconfiguring bathrooms is costly and keeping existing plumbing lines in the kitchen as well keeps costs down. As someone said earlier “it is a small house with small rooms” so visually optimizing what is already in place and making minimal structural changes are the smartest things financially and for staying true to the house itself. It is what it is! When more actual square footage is needed you either add on or move.

  • lsemartha
    last month

    Good points Cristy Stup..

  • lsemartha
    last month

    Rhonda.. none of think that we’ll not be comfortable climbing stairs but.. life happens.. keep full bath and change tub to shower.. some from the upstairs’ bedrooms will surely use whichever is convenient. And, having a 3 bath house is always a good return!

  • briandbec
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Brian, I think I may have a solution that doesn’t involve removing the bearing walls. Out first house was a 2 bedroom bungalow with a smaller footprint than your 1st floor: 800 sq ft. the dimensions were similar except it was an L. Anyway, being familiar with the small confines, I can tell you what’s killing you here is that back passage, the kitchen that is really only 2/3 of the room size and the small bathroom. I assume this is in the NE and you have a basement, wood flooring instead of a slab, mechanicals in the basement, and you have cold winters.

    First, the back passage. The bathroom intrudes too much. If the bathroom was rotated 90 degrees, you could make a bathroom 6’x9’ that ran along the exterior wall, bumping your back passage by 2’ easy. To do this, I would move the bathroom kitchen wall toward the side entry and make the new, smaller space (8-9” wide?) into a mudroom. That allows you to move your coat closet to emlarge the living room too. The chase you have opposite the downstairs door would have to be moved outward toward the back wall to match the new bathroom wall, but then you could remove all the walls in the office and have a new L or U shaped kitchen that relates directly with the dining room AND utilizes all the square footage. The last trick is keeping all the water fixtures off the outside walls. In the bathroom, the tub fixtures can be in the same wall as the corridor, the toilet can be next to it, then the door, and the sink (I think) should have just enough room to squeeze in the space you are using as a bedroom closet after you move the chase. The wall that has the toilet and tub on it will have to be 6+” deep to accomodate venting, and the real challenge would be venting all the way up since it has to tie into the stack above it, but I think it may be doable. You can also put the kitchen sink against the bathroom sink in the new right wall of the new kitchen which will allow you to share venting and supply/soil pipes. IDK if the house has gas, but the logical location for a range is along the outside wall, where the gas like can be on the outside, and the vent can evacuate right to the outside as well.

    Last thing: ceiling height. making the back passage too wide in relation to a low 7’ ceiling will throw off the proportions and it will always feel odd, so you might want to settle on a 40” wide hall especially if it will look like a hallway and not an open corridor. That’s one of the reasons for removing as many back walls as possible. If it is open and airy on both ends and more open to the living room, I’d hope you could eliminate the ”hallway” feel and instead it will be more of a passageway or open social space. good luck!

  • azmead
    last month

    I agree to swap the living and dining rooms; open up the den with pocket doors, with hallway access to kitchen/bath from the den and open up the staircase. The attached photos may give you a better visual of swapping rooms and stay with the original hallway. Change the downstairs bath to a Powder, push back the kitchen/bath wall to add additional kitchen sq. ft. and maybe lose the den closet to accommodate the Powder bath; add an ensuite to the master bedroom.










  • cpartist
    last month

    I would swap the kitchen and bedroom/den.

  • Carol
    last month

    Whatever you do, I would maintain the privacy wall in front of the downstairs bathroom (assuming you don't move or elimiate it altogether). I've had guests altogether refuse to use a bathroom where they felt everyone was staring at them when they are using/leaving the bathroom. True story.

  • simplynatural
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Okay, one thing led to another here, so this might be more than you are willing to consider, but to me the spaces feel much more open with these changes. There are sight lines the entire width and length of the house from both entry doors.

    Questions and concerns:

    (1) Is the grayed-out area on the first floor a chimney? If so, where does it rise through the second floor? I don't see it indicated on the original second floor plan.

    (2) I expanded the kitchen into the screened porch, which might not be possible. Is it structurally sound enough to become part of the interior space? The removed exterior wall there is not carrying the roof load but it is carrying the second-floor exterior wall above, so a beam (or at least a doubled joist) might be required. Someone with structural expertise should advise. I've shown a shallow (1') storage wall along the left side of the kitchen since cabinet space is so limited.

    (3) I switched dining and living room (as others have also suggested) and removed the wall separating the bedroom/office, making it a study/reading area that is not physically separate. A beam will be needed there to support the second floor. On the kitchen side, I left part of the wall separating the kitchen and now-dining room, but it could be removed and replaced with a beam as well.

    (4) I widened the existing first-floor closet, reversed its opening to serve the entry, replaced the wall on one upper side of the stairs with a railing, and removed some of the entry ceiling to make it open to the sloped underside of the roof (again, possible?)

    (5) I added a master bath adjacent to the existing second-floor bath, which, again, could be a challenge. As shown, it uses a "wet room" concept in the shower/toilet area. If the closet in the existing bath can be sacrificed, the new shower could perhaps be relocated to that space and a vanity with two sinks could then span the whole wall.

    Some ideas, anyway . . .



    With the kitchen/dining wall removed and the alternate master bath configuration:



  • simplynatural
    last month
    last modified: last month

    And assuming there is a chimney rising through the second floor (plus a few other changes/options):



  • signatuur
    last month

    The way I look at it, the staircase is wrongly located. This way it'll keep dividing the space and you keep different 'rooms'.


    By 45 degrees rotation of the staircase you get the possibility of 'open plan' living space which gives you air and breathing space.

    By doing so, you have the side entrance where there's a window now.


    You create a corridor to the kitchen and make a (double) glassdoor in the bearing wall. The long corridor wall can also be made into a cupboard wall on the side of the corridor or livingroom.

    The other side of the entrance can be for bedroom or study with small bathroom.


    The rotation of the staircase also gives upstairs a lot of potential;

    masterbedroom with bathroom/walk in closet (depending on what you all want) , 2 bedrooms sharing a bathroom, small stoageroom etc etc.


    a rough sketch as to what I mean



  • coray
    last month

    Not a bad idea with the 90 degree rotation (with a 45 the staircase would sit at an angle), but isn’t that very costly?

  • ccala
    last month

    I think your best option might be to move the location of the door to the screen porch. Then take down the wall between kitchen and current living room and utilize the former living room as your kitchen/dining space. You could run cabinets and appliances along right outside wall). Move your living apace to the current dining room. Leave the stairs where they are and simply open the wall so there are bannisters on both sides. Agree pocket doors or just a wide doorway between office and living room would bring more light, flow and functionality

  • Elizabeth Campbell
    last month

    Open back section