Hi, everyone. Welcome to the first project of my blog. Bear with me on this, there’s a lot to take in. It’s a pretty big project but the house has lots of potential and the clients are letting me go wild with my imagination – a contractor’s dream.
This is a 3,300-square foot home in Irvine with four bedrooms and 2.5 baths. It was built in 1975 and if you’ve seen some of the older homes in this part of town, you know it’s boxy and dated looking. Have a look:
The living room and family room are sunken.
Dining room viewed from sunken living room
Sunken family room looking towards breakfast nook
And those railings, yeah, they’ll be gone soon.
The kitchen is long and narrow, but pretty small, especially for my client who entertains a lot. Also, there’s a wall dividing the kitchen and dining room on the oven side that really compartmentalizes the home.
Kitchen and dividing wall (dining room is on right side)
You can see the oak floors – they’re in good shape, but
they age the home.
The previous owners extended the house out and up several years ago. They broke the back exterior wall of the home to extend the family room, making it double in size.
Extended family room
Yeah, it’s big, maybe too big, unless you’re making a home theater. It’s also not configured well. Can’t imagine how they furnished it, especially with the built-in library off to one side.
They also added a huge, extra bedroom (actually, it was used as an art studio, hence the sink) upstairs in the front of the house over the living room. It’s really a great room, with soaring cathedral ceilings and nice, laminate flooring, but again, it might be just too big. Think “maximizing your space.”
Fourth bedroom, another look. Note the sink and freestanding wardrobe.
The owners are happy with the size of the home, but they want
to open it up and update it. They bought it well under market value (at least the recession is good for something), so the idea is to give it a more contemporary look both structurally and cosmetically while adding features that will get them a good return on their investment when they eventually sell.
My first thoughts – let’s try to get the downstairs all one level by either raising the sunken living and family rooms or by lowering the kitchen and dining area (did you know that single level homes and homes that do not have sunken rooms are becoming more desirable as the baby boomers get older and want to age independently in their homes? Something to think about for your home – more about that another time).
Raising the family room might be a problem because the ceiling right now is about 8 feet high. Raising the floor might make the ceiling too low. But lowering the entryway, kitchen and dining room is a much bigger job , maybe more money than it’s worth. I might run into another problem if lowering means not leaving enough crawl space to get to the pipes – a big no no. I’ll just have to wait and see what it looks like under floors.
To offset that huge, unmanageable family room, I’m thinking of breaking the wall between the family room and laundry room (the one with the ivy painted on) and taking some of the square footage away from the family room by expanding the laundry room into a full guest room or office.
Family room looking toward laundry room
That would mean moving the laundry room upstairs. I’ll have to see about that. And the built-in library would have to go. I don’t think it will be missed.
A beautiful kitchen is always a sound investment. Remember that wall dividing the kitchen and dining room? I’m thinking of takiing it out and extending
the kitchen. We can update the kitchen with new tile flooring and a big, granite island with seating for six.
Kitchen - kinda dated
I’ve always thought separate living and family rooms were a waste of space and money (how many times have YOU sat in your living room?) and it looks like I’m being vindicated. Many of the new homes going up in Irvine are being built with a great room consisting of a kitchen, dining room and family room – no separate formal living room. If I can get the floors to one level, I can extend the kitchen even further out to
where the dining room is now, then push the dining room out into the current
living room, leaving a cozy seating area in what’s left of the living room. My guess is they won’t miss the formal living room since they have that oversized family room.
And since beautiful bathrooms increase value, I’m thinking of updating the master bath, which sure could use some help…
Master bath shower
Master bath vanity
Master bath, second vanity and makeup table
…and adding another ¾ bath to the fourth bedroom, which would
still leave the room at 10’x14’ – certainly big enough for my clients’ preteen.
Those of my thoughts for now. Gotta sit with Theodora, my talented architect and get some plans drawn up. Demo starts tomorrow. Can’t wait to see what’s inside those walls.