Office oddities

My office,which we’re making over, is an odd little room. It is by far the smallest of our bedrooms. It has a weird floorplan. And it’s also apparently haunted. Yup. You read that right.

Here is a floorplan that is mostly to scale. Note the off-centre window and light. The weird little niche just inside the door. The pocket door that leads into our bedroom (which comes in handy as the switch for the second light is in our bedroom).

Office floorplan

When we scraped the ceiling, we uncovered evidence of earlier walls, and Matt came up with the best explanation I’ve heard so far to explain the odd layout.

It appears that at one time the room was divided roughly in two. Matt’s theory is that half the room served as a large pantry for the kitchen, and the other half was a big walk-in closet off the bedroom. (You can kind of see the lines on the ceiling around the dangling light bulb).

Evidence of old walls on the ceiling

The closet theory explains why there are three full-length mirrors in this one little room–even the pocket door is mirrored. As dated as the mirrors are, they come in handy when I’m sewing and want to see how things fit, so they will be staying.

My office before

I’m doing my best to make the layout work for me. You may remember that our long term plan is for this room to become the foyer when we relocate the front door to the house. So I don’t want to do any major renovations that will be ripped out down the road.

I think I’ve come up with a furniture plan that will work.

Office furniture layout

I figured out how to make use of the tiny niche a few years ago when I set it up as a command centre with a tall narrow dresser, bulletin board and our calendar.

Beside the pocket door, there’s a track light on the ceiling. This makes that wall the best location for my desk.

I bought the china cabinet specifically because it was the exact dimensions to fit on the wide side of the window. The cabinet could also go just inside the door (where our filing cabinet is currently located). However, I feel like a tall piece of furniture might crowd the entryway too much.

I’m hoping that all of the changes will exorcise the ghost in the office.

When we were scraping the ceiling, the room got a little humid. The words “Raven Room” appeared in the steam on the window.

Raven room

So very, very odd.

Do you have an odd room at your house? How about a haunted room? How would you lay out the furniture in this room?

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Floorplan #3 – Master suite on the edge of the forest

This month, I’m sharing some of the floorplans I’ve worked through in the four years since we’ve owned the farm.

Just a reminder, here is our current layout.

Current floorplan

Last week you saw my second idea–adding a garage off the living room and turning the pool room into our master bedroom–which has been the plan for most of the time we’ve lived here. But all the way along, I struggled with losing the lawn on the south side of the house to the garage.

Matt has advocated pretty much since day 1 for the pool room becoming the garage. I could stomach the south lawn being a driveway better than I could handle it being garage. So that became the basis for floorplan #3.

Floorplan #3

Highlights:

  • The pool room becomes the garage. I’m pretty sure we’re going to need a mini-extension on the garage in order to fit two cars. Basically, the width of the mudroom gets tacked on the end.
  • Like in all of my plans, the current mudroom comes off and the front entrance shifts so that my office becomes the front foyer. Again, I think I can deal with the first view as you come into the house being the bathroom.
  • The back door in the kitchen is closed in, the window is expanded, and the wall pushes out about 5 feet.
  • The hallway is extended through the closets in the two bedrooms and the master suite (along with new closets) is added on the north side of the house. (And as I look at this, I realize it may make sense to switch the bathroom and closet… although I think this very not-to-scale floorplan is skewing the proportions).
  • The new mudroom and back door are still about 6 steps down from the kitchen.
  • We would still upgrade all of the doors and trim and add a metal roof.

Pros:

  • This reno could likely be done in phases.
  • The kitchen expansion gives us a bit more counter space, room for bigger appliances, more natural light and my coveted view down to the pond.
  • There is direct access from the mudroom to the outside, so we don’t have to walk through the garage.
  • Bedrooms 1 and 2 still have good closets, added along with the master.
  • The bedrooms are all together at the end of the house. The master bedroom is nestled up to the forest and still has a pretty good view of the pond.
  • We keep the lawn on the south side of the house.

Cons:

  • This is a bigger renovation with three separate additions: the garage, the kitchen and the master suite.
  • Running plumbing, electrical and HVAC to the master bedroom addition is a long way from the utility room under the living room fireplace.
  • This reno disrupts pretty much every room in the house.
  • Bedrooms 1 and 2 lose the windows they currently have on the north wall.
  • The pool room–one of the best rooms in the house in terms of size and windows–becomes the garage. Not a room you typically visit to enjoy the view.
  • We’ll lose a few trees, and we might have to fill in part of the small ravine on the edge of the north lawn.

Here’s the view of the north lawn. Pretty much this whole lawn would be taken over by the addition. The ground drops off right at the tree line on the right side of the picture. To be able to walk around the extended house on this side, we’d have to take out a few trees and level the ground a bit.

North lawn

Right now, this plan is the front-runner for me. I’m willing to sacrifice the north lawn as opposed to the south. I still get everything I want–better kitchen, front porch, master suite, attached garage, farmy-country appearance. Plus I get to keep the quality of the property around the house.

This is the last plan that I have to share. Going back to the home goals that I shared at the start of the week, my next step is to meet with a contractor or two and start to get some idea of costs of plans #2 and #3. The contractor I have in mind has experience with big renovations like this, and I think he might have some good suggestions for the best layout too.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your suggestions.

What do you think about this plan? Do you like all the bedrooms to be together? What adjustments would you make?

Floorplan #2 – Private master suite overlooking the pond

This month, I’m sharing some of the floorplans I’ve worked through in the four years since we’ve owned the farm.

Last week you saw my first idea, which I eventually realized was more house than we needed.

The second floorplan is the one that’s been in my head the longest. Really, this floorplan preceded my decision not to add a second storey. I realized I could get pretty much everything I wanted almost within the bounds of the current house.

And just a reminder, here’s the plan for the current house.

Current floorplan

Plan #2 was about the master suite, the attached garage and the front porch. So there are some similarities and some differences between this plan and the one you saw last week.

Floorplan #2

Highlights:

  • Like in the last plan, the current mudroom comes off and the front entrance shifts so that my office becomes the front foyer. Yes, this means the view as you come in is of the bathroom, but I think I can deal with that.
  • The back door in the kitchen is closed in, the window is expanded and the wall pushes out about 5 feet, just to give us a wee bit more space.
  • The mudroom and garage follow the same layout as Plan #1 on the south side of the house.
  • The bulk of the indoor pool area becomes the master suite.
  • A modest addition behind the garage houses our walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom.
  • The mudroom and master bedroom are still about 6 steps down from the kitchen.
  • We would still upgrade all of the doors and trim and add a metal roof.

Pros:

  • Most of the renovation is confined to one area of the house. The two bedrooms on the north side of the house are pretty much undisturbed.
  • The utility room is under the fireplace, making running HVAC, electrical and plumbing to the master bedroom easier–and likely less expensive.
  • The kitchen expansion gives us a bigger window for more natural light, a better view of the pond (I’m all about my view), a bit more counter space and room for bigger appliances.
  • We get our garage and the little nook I love at the person entrance (as opposed to the car entrance). It may sound silly, but the space behind the garage would also be good for the firewood pile, and I even love how the back door of the garage would be a convenient path to the (future) chicken coop.
  • I get my mudroom and the long uninterrupted wall up against the master bedroom gives lots of space for benches, cubbies and hooks.
  • The master bedroom would be a beautiful room with lots of windows and my favourite view down to the pond. The steps down to the doorway could be cute.

Cons:

  • The steps down to the master bedroom could be weird.
  • The master bedroom is separated from the other bedrooms, which I don’t love.
  • Like in plan #1, the garage would take over the lawn south of the house, one of the best lawn areas we have.

Losing the south lawn was a sticking point for me. With the way our property is configured, the garage would stretch nearly to the bank of the barn. Our largest southern exposure would be blocked by garage–not the best way to increase the sunlight that comes into our house. And our best lawn would be taken over.

Here’s a photo of the south side of the house taken last summer. The garage would extend from the same area as the sunroom. It would stretch to the tree that overhangs the left side of the picture. The driveway would be where the clump of bushes is in the middle ground. The weedy patio to the left of the sunroom would be the closet and bathroom.

South lawn

Here’s the view of what would be the back of the garage to give you an idea of how much space there is between the house and the barn. (The barn’s at the right edge of the photo. The driveshed is in the middle. The tree would have to come out as it’s inside the future garage.)

South lawn

I really didn’t like the idea of losing the lawn. So I continued to work on floorplans to come up with an option that preserved the lawn.

All along, Matt has advocated for the pool room becoming the garage. I could stomach the south lawn being a driveway better than I could handle it being garage. So that became the basis for floorplan #3, which is coming up next.

In the meantime, what do you think about plan #2? What would be your priority if the house was yours? Are you all about the garage, the master suite, the porch or something else entirely?

Floorplan #1 – Go big

This month, I’m going to be sharing some of the floorplans I’ve worked through in the four years since we’ve owned the farm.

To start, I have to share my original vision–the one that popped into my head right after we saw the farm.

My original vision was based largely on achieving the exterior that I wanted. Namely, something that looked like a farmhouse. That meant dormers. That meant wrap-around porch. That meant two stories.

Someday farmhouse

Source: FamilyHomePlans.com (I made a few edits)

Can’t you see how that country farmhouse could come from our little bungalow?

Our house

But the outside is obviously just part of the puzzle. The inside was where we would be spending at least half of our time, so it had to work too.

Let’s start with remembering the original (current) floorplan of the house.

Current floorplan

Because I was planning on adding a second storey–which would house all of the bedrooms–my plan was to blow out the main floor. There would be a huge kitchen, a dedicated library/office, a new main entrance, a large sewing/laundry/craft room, a big mudroom, my coveted attached garage, and of course the porch. (And just a reminder, this plan isn’t at all to scale).

Floorplan #1

Highlights:

  • Current unheated, flat-roofed mudroom at the front of the house comes off, improving the balance of the front facade.
  • Main entry moves to the middle of the house, and my office becomes a generous front foyer.
  • The garage is added on the south side of the house.
  • The pool room is about 6 steps lower than the rest of the house, hence the steps down into the mudroom.
  • We also upgrade the doors and trim throughout and put on a steel roof.

Pros:

  • Wrap-around porch. Do I need to say more? Alright, I will. From the porch you enter into a large front foyer. The entry we currently have at the top of the basement stairs is waaaaay too tight. And all kinds of farmy bits–pine needles, leaves, dirt–get tracked down the (carpeted) stairs.
  • Powder room right inside the side door, so if you’re outside and you have to pee, you can slip inside without tramping through the house with your boots on.
  • Main floor laundry room with plenty of space for a big sewing area. Windows on three sides and a great view to the pond would make this a beautiful bright room.
  • Big kitchen with lots of storage and prep space, plus a walk-in butler’s pantry. Oh, I really want a pantry. Plus I added a much bigger window along the back wall above the sink to improve our dim main floor.
  • Mudroom. Essential at a farm. Bonus, this one would be heated!
  • I love the little entry nook at the front of the garage. A bit of shelter as you’re coming in or going out.
  • The stairs to the second floor would be really cute with a turn and a landing at the top and a pretty railing all the way along.
  • On the second floor lots of bedrooms and a huge master suite with walk-in closet and private bathroom. (Although I never did get the layout of the second floor completely worked out in my mind).

Cons:

  • Adding a second storey would eliminate the vaulted ceiling in the living and dining rooms. At first, I didn’t see this as a big deal, but I’ve come to really like the tall angled ceilings.
  • Big kitchen means more cleaning.
  • We’d probably not use the library a whole lot… but it would sure look nice.
  • I’ve come to like my basement laundry room. We tend to watch TV downstairs, and it’s convenient to throw a load in while we’re relaxing in the evenings. Running up and down the stairs doesn’t sound like as much fun.
  • The garage would take over the lawn south of the house, which is one of the best lawn areas we have.
  • This reno would be expen$$$ive.
  • This is way more house than we need.

After living at the farm, I quickly realized that we did not need a second storey. If we ever win the lotto, this plan may come back on the table. I would not only need money to build the addition, but also to pay someone to clean it regularly.

But the reality is, our house at its current size is pretty close to enough space for us. I went back to the philosophies of the Not So Big House books and thought about what we actually need… and also what I want, ’cause I’m not pretending that’s not an important factor here. No one really needs a private master suite. But I sure want one.

So Floorplan #1 was a no-go. Onto plan B. Next week, I’ll share Floorplan #2.

For now, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Floorplan #1. What’s your favourite part? What could you live without? Are you a fan of vaulted ceilings? If you won the lotto, what would your dream house be?

Four years of floorplans

Hello. Happy New Year.

The start of the year is always special for us because it marks the anniversary of when we found the farm.

Four years ago today, we submitted our offer on the farm. Our search had lasted a year and a half. We’d seen lots of farms and a few that we actually liked.

With any farm that we thought might have potential, my usual routine was to return home and work up a floorplan of how I would reconfigure the house to make it my dream home.

The house was usually the least important factor when we were looking at a farm. Location, quality of property, whether there was a barn. Those mattered to us. The house, I figured I could work on that.

My floorplans were not to scale and usually more dream than reality, but they were a regular part of my process.

Except on this farm.

I never drew a floorplan. It wasn’t that the house was perfect. Lots of things were missing: master suite, garage, front porch. And there was a big thing that I wished was missing: it had an indoor pool, and there was no way I was keeping that.

Matt in the indoor pool

I definitely had the floorplan in my head.

However, I never sat down at my computer and mocked it up.

But now I have. In fact, I’ve mocked up three different plans.

I’m a big believer that living in a space helps me make the best decisions about how to renovate it. My vision for this house has changed over the past four years.

Before we get to the vision, let’s start with the reality. Here’s the main floor as it exists today (in fact, pretty much as it existed when we saw it four years ago).

Current floorplan

And here’s the front of the house as it looked last June.

Front of the house

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some different floorplans with you, and you can see how my vision has progressed over the years.

There are still lots of questions to work out, and I hope that you’ll share your opinions as we go.