Saturday, February 9, 2019

Remodeling Our Hut: Part 4

In the first week of December,  Carl and I had just finished eating dinner one day and got to talking about the fact we hadn't heard anything from Contractor Phil for quite some time, actually, come to think of it, not since late September.  Wow, was it really that long ago?

You know how it is when you lose yourself in a project and time seems to accelerate?  We'd been working on the driveway and the culvert replacement for all of October and it was well into November before we were done moving trees and stone walls.     After the culvert was installed, I was getting the garden ready for winter and had about half of it cleaned up before the weather forced me to quit for 2018.
Culvert delivery October 2018

Anyway, during that discussion on a Friday in December, Carl and I surmised Phil had possibly changed his mind, too.  After a long talk about what our next move should be, we decided to just let the remodeling idea go, the same way I had seven years earlier when I never heard back from the very first contractor.  Once again, it must not be meant to happen for some reason.  Besides, we have the hosta convention tour in June; why create a crisis?  We'll be busy enough.  Though it may seem strange to say this, we were more or less relieved.  We have time, after all, we've waited this long. 

Ironically, the very next day Phil drove in our yard.  We were very surprised, we weren't expecting him.  Carl went out to talk to Phil, who apologized for the lack of notice, but he was here to meet with the designer.  She wanted to take some pictures and measurements and by coincidence, they were both nearby at the same time.  Would it be ok if they took the outside measurements?  They wouldn't have to come in the house. 

Carl said, "As long as you're here, you may as well take interior measurements, too."

I was scurrying around picking up Christmas ornament boxes (I had been decorating the tree) and all the other junk that gets disrupted when doing holiday decorating and trying to tidy up the best I could, but it was a losing battle.  

When the designer, Nicole, walked in with Phil right behind her, I quit trying to clean and put on a brave 'Yes, sadly, this is the way the house always looks, but I'm sorry you had to see it this way' face.

After introductions, Nicole assured me she wouldn't be posting any photos online (that's good) but she was taking pictures for her own reference for design purposes.  She also had a fancy laser gizmo for measuring interior dimensions.  After a bit more talk about what we were hoping for, Nicole said she'd draw up some preliminary plans and we'd be in touch.  


In a week or so, Nicole sent us these preliminary pictures of what this old hut could look like from this:
April 2018: We hadn't shoveled out yet after the record-breaking blizzard last spring.

To this:

We would be adding on a mudroom, attaching the garage, adding a  porch across the entire front of the house and wrapping it around to the side, and adding a dormer upstairs.  

Currently, there are two bedrooms upstairs on each gable end of the house, facing east and west.  In the middle, there's a stairwell and a very tiny half bath.  And I mean tiny, and complete with a slanted ceiling which you quickly remember is there when you stand up too fast. 

By adding the dormer to the front and back of the house, we could have a room that is approximately 13' wide by 28' long which I was hoping to turn into a stained glass studio.  By adding windows to the dormer, we'd gain much needed light to the space upstairs, too.  Right now we do all of our stained glass work in the basement and it would be fantastic to have the advantage of natural daylight for glass selection.    

She also sent along a proposal for what the main floor and mudroom would look like, too.  (The upstairs floor plan is still in the works.)  

Since we'd eliminated a mudroom from the plans when we first built the house in 1978, it hasn't been fun.  Upon entering the back door, the kitchen is to the right and the dining room is to the left.  There's a narrow two feet of space between the dining room table and our current 'breakfast bar' where we eat 99% of the time.  To get to the kitchen, we need to walk around the peninsula/breakfast bar.  Carl added on an extension to the peninsula that can fold down if need be, but since we need the room, it's always in the up position, leaving about a foot between the peninsula and the adjoining countertops.  

In other words, it's a tight space.  

When we have guests, people have to get up from the dining room table or the peninsula to let other people out or into the house.  And there's no place for wet shoes or coats, either.   My garden shoes, boots, gloves, trowels, ski poles and whatnot are chronically in a dismal, chaotic heap right by the back door.  

The front door opens onto the front porch, but I do not ever remember welcoming guests into the house using the front door.  We do sit out on the porch now and then, especially when it rains because it's my favorite perch in the summertime, but it is very small.  I had always wanted a screened in front porch, but since the square footage of our house plans had been drastically cut down back in the day to make my dad happy, the only way we could have the porch was to cut into the dining room area four feet.  Now, we are going to bump the dining room out flush with the living room which will add much-needed room.

Remember I said in an earlier post that we'd been boring our friends and relatives with the 'someday' dreams about this remodeling for at least a decade?  Well, it hasn't gotten any better for those poor people since we received the plans in mid-December. 

There are three people we've bugged the most about this, all of them are in their 30's and we are old enough to be their parents.  Dale is our neighbor who rents our farmland and who has a background in cabinetry and house design.  I've been bugging Dale about our house since he was in middle school and he always has valuable input.  He's done cabinetry for me in the past and I appreciate his help.

Cody and Briana are a young married couple with three adorable little girls who have had to put up with us traipsing over to their house with our laptops and house plans all this winter.  We have attended builder-sponsored new and remodeled home tours with them for a few years now and we're always on the search for ideas.  We all especially love to see the older home remodels, since we love Victorian and Arts and Crafts homes and the detail and craftsmanship that go into them. 

Cody works as a technician, but on the side he is a talented carpenter who did a fantastic job on remodeling their home, complete with a new kitchen that is a masterpiece.  Their house should be in a magazine with before and after photos; it is beautiful.  Briana is a math teacher has a wonderful sense of architectural design.  They have both helped us immensely with the house plans; I don't know what we would have done without them.

Since Christmas, we've been working with Cody and Briana on making changes to the plans Nicole sent.  We were thinking about moving the mudroom door to the east side and rearranging the kitchen to make more room for a nook, and a bunch of other what if's too numerous to mention.  

I had been in contact with the designer, asking about the possibilities of changing stuff around and she'd been doing her best to accommodate our randomness, but we realized we needed to have a definite plan in place for what we wanted so the designer would know exactly what we hoped for. 

A few weeks ago, we were at their house when Carl and Briana discovered the house dimensions on the plans didn't seem to make sense, so we kidnapped Briana and headed back to our house at 11:30 PM to take measurements the old-fashioned way, with a ruler.  Cody came over later around midnight to pick Briana up (his sister was staying overnight and was with their children) and before we knew it, it was 3AM and we were no closer to figuring out a solid plan. 

That's when we decided to invest in our own home design software and have Briana draw out a variety of house plans for us.  The software wasn't terribly expensive (the designer's fee is $35 an hour) and the way we were going, we'd have a chunk of change tied up with all the 'what if we do this, or what if we do that' scenarios.

All four of us worked on the house plans over the next few weeks and though there are still a lot of bugs to be worked out, we finally came up with what we hope is a winner.   

The relationship of the garage to the house to Carl's shop limits what we can do with the size and placement of the mudroom and door arrangements, plus, every change raises the price of the project considerably.   We have to face it, there's only so much we can do when it comes to remodeling this old hut.  

With Cody and Briana's help, I emailed the plan we'd come up with to the designer days ago and now we're waiting for her input.  

We really hope there's help for this little hut in the alfalfa field.


Beth said...

Karen, I love the design you show toward the top of the post. Beautiful look, much curb appeal. But, it has to meet your needs for floor plans inside, obviously. Hard decisions for sure. Praying you get the look and function you desire.

Indie said...

The pictures of the possible remodel look really great! I love the Arts and Crafts styles. Our original red house was along those lines, and I really miss that house. I hope you figure out a good functional place for the mudroom. They are so essential, between winter weather stuff and gardening.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Very smart to buy your own program to do revisions so that you don't rack up a huge bill with your designer.

Thanks for keeping us posted. I know that whatever you decide on it will be great for you. I love the idea of your upstairs glass studio.

Happy Valentine's Day week ~ FlowerLady

outlawgardener said...

The before and proposed after shot from the designer is stunning. Good for you for investing in the software. It's nice to have such helpful neighbors. Sounds like Joan was right, "Tear down that bitch of a bearing wall, and put a window where it ought to be!" I do glass in the basement too, having moved down there from a bright room upstairs because of concerns about the weight of the glass hoard. There's nothing like natural light to help with glass selection. So happy you're going forward with your plans.