Hello again! Well, there’s no turning back now. Demolition of my little house is well underway, and now the only direction to go is forward. So here’s the plan. Outside, as I said before, the vinyl siding has to go. While vinyl is a long-lasting and low-maintenance choice for a home exterior, one of my primary goals in this project is to increase the quality of the house overall (remember: quality over quantity!). I also want to update the look of the house, so I intend to brick the exterior and then paint the brick for a monochromatic, more contemporary aesthetic. I am also going to replace all the windows and both exterior doors…no more 1950’s style picture window and front storm door, thank you very much! This will help bring the house into the 21st century and go a long way toward making it more energy-efficient, another of my main goals.
To add to my energy-saving efforts, I also plan to replace the HVAC system, including all the duct work. The old ducts are rusted and are not insulated, so replacing them should really help. In fact, the whole house is uninsulated. I mean practically none, anywhere. So, I will have to add insulation in the walls, floor and attic, but all these eco-friendly investments should pay for themselves in no time by reducing my utility bills to practically nothing.
Inside, there is plenty to replace, as well. The wiring in the house is a patchwork of amateur “improvements” that took place over the years, and the electrical service itself is no longer sufficient for the demands of modern living. So, everything from the pole on the street will have to be replaced. As far as the plumbing system goes, everything between the house and street has just recently been replaced, so that is good news; however everything on the inside also needs to be redone. This is one of those things (which pops up in every project by the way) that is not really any fun. I would much rather spend my money on decorative light fixtures, or a piece of original art, but it just has to be done. Quality over quantity! Often in my professional projects, I have to convince clients to invest in similarly unexciting, and many times hidden, infrastructure elements such as proper drainage. These largely invisible but necessary items take longer, cost more and are the kind of thing other companies might quickly omit to reduce the bottom line, but they make all the difference in whether or not a project is ultimately successful. By doing things right the first time, you actually end up saving money in the long run, as well.
In terms of layout, I plan to leave most of the interior walls in place. Still, I have a couple of ideas that I think will really improve things with respect to aesthetics, flow and liveability. As the house is now, when you walk through the front door, your first line of sight leads straight into the bathroom. This is one of my all-time pet peeves! So, the first thing I am going to do is close off one of the entries into the back hall. This will solve the problem of the bathroom view and make the rear part of the house more private. My next idea involves the bedroom on the front of the house, which shares a wall with the main living space. Remember, I thought there might be some potential here, and indeed there is. I plan to open up this wall, connecting the two spaces and almost doubling my living space. This room will function as my den and television room, but a pair of pocket doors will allow the room to be closed off as a temporary guest room, as well. This setup will also keep the house classified as “two-bedroom,” an important consideration in terms of resale value.
The back bedroom, will remain pretty much as is (minus the lovely wall lattice!) and will serve as the master. The bathroom is so small that there really isn’t any room to change the overall layout, but it is definitely getting gutted. In addition to new electrical and plumbing, I plan on employing a couple of creative techniques to make this tiny room seem as large as possible. As I mentioned last month, the kitchen had very few cabinets to begin with, and was basically non-functional. It also doubled as the laundry room in the past, something I am going to change. My plan is to install new, custom cabinetry to create a functional U-shaped kitchen. The room is just wide enough to do this and still allow for proper traffic flow. At the end of the kitchen where the laundry used to be located, I plan to install a built-in bar. This area will have glass-front upper cabinets, an ice maker and additional storage. It will be located just around the corner from the dining room and just inside the back door, which will make for convenient drink mixing during indoor and outdoor gatherings. Since I am removing the laundry function from the kitchen, I have to find an alternative location for this indispensable facility. Luckily, the closet in the back hallway is plenty large. Formerly, this closet housed a pantry and a conventional hot water heater. My plan is to switch to a tank-less hot water heater that is about one fifth the size of the old heater. This will allow me to fit a full-size washer and dryer, as well as a sizable linen closet, into this space. So, that’s the plan. Be sure to come back next month to see how things are progressing and more specifics about some of the Outside the Box elements I hope to incorporate. www.dkdesignoutdoor.com