The (Floor) Plans

As we share the unraveling (and subsequently, the re-raveling) of this house with you – between demo, clean-up, more demo and more clean-up – it’s been mentioned a few times that, wait a minute!, this isn’t making sense. You need to see the layout of our home. How are the rooms connecting? Where is that orange wall in relation to the future studio?

Luckily, our awesome friend and architect (and home-woes-therapist and cheerleader) Nancy whipped up floor plans, and now (finally!), we can share with you what in the world you’re looking at. Because our house is a two-flat conversion, we inherited 2 bathrooms (yay!), 2 kitchens (not necessary) and way too many chopped up make-shift bedrooms.

Let’s start with the first floor, which you might remember looked like this before we picked up our sledgehammers (just click on any thumbnail below to view larger):

And here’s a side-by-side of how it was laid out as a rental unit (on the left) vs. our plans for the future (on the right). The corresponding numbers on the right are explained below:


1. We opened up the entry walls completely, removing the original door from the first floor unit. The small closet from bedroom #1 was reversed, closing it off from the bedroom and opening it up to the entry – making room for a much needed coat closet. New drywall will be installed to repair the holes we’ve opened up, tile will be laid, and an arch will be added as an ode to the original architecture of the house.

2. The door to bedroom #1 will be widened, allowing light from the north-facing window to stream into the living room. Eventually, we’d like to add a sliding barn door on the inside of this room to close it off in pinch (say, for example, if we need an additional room to set up an air mattress for guest overflow), but for the every day, we’ll set this space up with a cozy chair or two, an ottoman and a stack of books.

3. The partition wall has come down, and the chimney will be removed completely from the first floor. (It was already taken down half way, and for whatever reason, the previous owner just boxed it in with drywall, rather than take it out altogether.) A new proper support beam will be added to support the weight of the second floor, which will also raise the second floor, eliminating its steep slope. This is one of the bigger jobs that’ll be tackled by a licensed contractor.


4. The first floor bathroom has a very, very small shower, and down the road, we’ve been dabbling in the idea of making this room larger by taking space from the bonus storage behind it. We’re not completely sure we’d like to do that though, because…

5. We might use that bonus storage room to re-arrange the kitchen. The kitchen, while large, makes absolutely no sense in the way it’s currently laid out. Because this will be a pretty hefty expense, we’re going to make do with what we have now (i.e., add a floating butcher block table for more prep space, set up temporary shelving for food storage, etc.), and we’ll decide on what makes sense for this family once we’ve replenished our bank account. It could also become a pantry, so, we’ll see. (Thoughts?)

Aside from the partition wall on the second floor unit, not too much has been changed – yet. I’m using this floor as the studio (6 pets have since been painted up there!), but we have big plans to make it the most functional space possible for the business. Here’s what it looked like less than a month ago (click on any thumbnail to view larger):

One of the big things you’ll notice in the side-by-side below is that we’ll be eliminating 2 of the bedrooms. Really though, we’re not technically removing bedrooms, because they were never proper bedrooms in the first place! They didn’t have closets, and even by Chicago standards, these rooms were small. Like, maybe they’re 6′ wide. Below, see the floor plan before (on the left) vs. our plans (on the right):


1. Item 1 falls in the in-between category. Technically, we haven’t done a single thing to the landing. But! Scott and I are toying with the idea of moving forward with our plans now, since there’s a chance the cost of drywall repair can be lumped in with the rest of the home’s repair – which, hopefully, will save us on costs overall. (We still need to discuss this with our contractor; I’m sure he just loves us!) In any case, we’d like to remove the wall that blocks off the stairs, opening it up to the second floor. It’s currently closed off (again, since this building was a two-flat, so it only makes sense), but we’d love to create the single-family-house vibe, and taking down this partition will help us to do this. It might happen now; it might have to wait.

2. We finished taking down this partition wall, and after several talks with a handful of contractors, we’re almost positive that the chimney can stay! This means it will just have to be properly framed out with new drywall. Three cheers for a slice of exposed brick in the future studio!

3. Scott and our friend Pete ripped out the second floor kitchen in less than 30 minutes (which, along with everything on this floor, created a smell that had us running outside for air). We still need to cap off the plumbing, but we’ve converted this entire space into our master bedroom. Because the room is large (at least to us), we’ll likely install a wall of closet space. For now, our clothes are hanging on these guys – which is more than fine in the meantime.


4. Originally, Scott and I swore off this bathroom as unusable. It was so bad, that even after a sweat-inducing scrub down, pulling out the medicine cabinet and a laying on a coat of primer, it still didn’t have us touching it with a ten-foot-pole. After calling it a loss, Scott’s mom kicked this bathroom’s ass this past weekend! It might not be beautiful, but it’s completely disinfected, our shower curtain has been hung and a pretty mirror was installed. Eventually though, this bathroom will be a complete gut rehab.

5. This tiny space will make the perfect laundry room – that is, once we can afford it. We originally tacked this project on to our initial estimates with contractors, and while it wasn’t too expensive (but certainly not cheap, either – running the pipes and venting the room came to a ballpark of $2,500), we decided to hold off on this “wish list” item and use that money for more immediate fixer-upper projects / furniture needs around the home (because as we all know, items add up quickly!). There is laundry in the basement unit (which we’re working on for city approval as a potential rental apartment), so we’re okay using that for now.

So, there it is!

There are items on the above lists that a floor plan can’t show, such as the need to: replace the flooring in the second floor guest room and future laundry room, level the hardwood in the studio and in conjunction with that, fix our sagging first floor ceiling! Man, that’s going to be a happy day when we have our ceiling back. In the end, here’s our projected idea for both floors (bearing in mind that tweaks will likely be made as we live in this space for a while, you know?):

As we motor through this new adventure, we’ve learned to never ask, why? There are so many unanswered questions as we (literally) uncover walls, floors and ceilings, but rather than dwell on the corner-cut-decisions that this house has seen throughout the 100+ years, we’re only looking forward.

This house is really going to be something. We can feel it.

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  • Rachel8.2.13 - 8:53 AM

    Wow! I love this – thanks so much for laying everything out. Your photos are beautiful and your home is coming together so nicely. You can tell that you are there and making such a difference. I am so excited to be able to follow along with you on this awesome journey. I know you will do great things with your new place.
    Have a great weekend!! :-)ReplyCancel

  • Sarge in Charge8.2.13 - 8:58 AM

    For some reason I am picturing the sun nook becoming an unofficial pet dormitory! If your pets are anything like my basset hound, they will be snoozing in the sun all day.

    One idea for the bonus storage- maybe you could rip out the wall and add built in seating and a table. It would be a perfect breakfast nook.ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.2.13 - 9:57 AM

      Sarge, yes, I can guarantee that the sun nook will fast become the pet dormitory (love that!). Good idea for the bonus storage. If we take Melissa’s idea, technically, we could put the breakfast nook in the left corner OR the right corner. Regardless, Scott and I have definitely been discussing a casual eat-in-kitchen-corner!ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ Our Waldo Bungie8.2.13 - 9:35 AM

    Is it just me or is that orange wall just awesome?! Also, I wish you could win the lottery so you could just do everything you want to do now… watching this remodel is like having to wait ANOTHER week for the next episode of your fave show… it’s awesome but also excruciating. I’m sure you don’t feel the same way at all? ;)ReplyCancel

  • Melissa8.2.13 - 9:48 AM

    what a cool house! You guys are going to make it look amazing. I had a thought about the first floor bathroom. What if instead of taking space from the storage room you moved the wall that the shower and toilet touch out to the LEFT. Meaning extend the hallway that leads into the kitchen by taking away the counter area and moving the bathroom wall out to where the counter is currently. If you reconfigured where the counters would go in the kitchen you could open up the storage space completely into the kitchen.ReplyCancel

  • Kim8.2.13 - 9:51 AM

    Rachel, you’re so sweet! Thank you!

    Emily, haha – you hit the nail on the head! Send some lottery vibes our way (I guess we should buy a ticket first though, right?). The wait is hard, but it also allows us to more thoughtfully plan our next move. What’s the most important? What can wait? It’s been fun and scary, and we’re just so excited to keep diving in…

    And Melissa, that’s a GREAT idea! Out of all the things we’ve discussed, that never crossed our minds. Thank you so much! It would create a little bit of a hall (a very, very small one), but it would make the kitchen more square and allow the the first floor bathroom to be more functional. Such a good tip!ReplyCancel

  • Katja @ Shift Ctrl Art8.2.13 - 11:41 AM

    I am so excited to follow along in this adventure of yours. Looking at your floor plans, I was wondering if I could throw out an idea I had? I don’t know if it is good or not. You decide… :)

    How about turning the upper part of the Guest #1 room into part laundry (accessed from the hall) and part closet for the guest room.

    That would free up the bonus room by the master for a walk-in closet?ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.2.13 - 12:55 PM

      Hi Katja, that idea could definitely work, but the number 1 reason we want the laundry upstairs is since that’s where all our clothes will be :) Also, the bathroom we use for showering is up there, too. Otherwise, we were thinking of putting it in the downstairs bonus room – but your idea works much better!

      Jessica, that’s actually a REALLY good idea. Melissa (above) suggested that as well! We can see that working – thank you so much!ReplyCancel

  • jessica8.2.13 - 11:45 AM

    For the first floor bath/kitchen/storage…what if you bumped the bath out to the left where the kitchen counter and sink are? Then you get a bit more space in the bathroom and can use the bonus storage for kitchen and pantry space.ReplyCancel

  • Jodi8.2.13 - 12:33 PM

    so exciting!!!ReplyCancel

  • Helena8.2.13 - 1:30 PM

    Sarge in Charge – I can confirm that my sister’s sun nook is now “The Cat’s Room”. She goes there in the morning, bakes, and leaves at night for tunas.ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.2.13 - 2:15 PM

      Helena, that had me cracking up. I imagine our girls will be no different!ReplyCancel

  • Laura at Rather Square8.2.13 - 3:29 PM

    It looks so ambitious, and yet I know you will power through and make it amazing! For all our (millions and millions, it seems) house projects to do, I just keep chanting “it’s not a race, it’s not a race!” It helps keep the pace reasonable.ReplyCancel

  • Emily8.2.13 - 6:36 PM

    Hi there,
    Not sure if it is common in America (I’m in Australia) but I don’t understand the laundry coming off your master bedroom? Would it be better to have an ensuite and walk in robe in that space and move the laundry to another location? Possibly where the current bathroom is.
    This is really exciting to be a part of and thank you very much for sharing. Hope my comment doesn’t come across as rude. I guess it’s because in my mind I had a vision of your home and you are going in a different direction so it’s messing with my mind hahaReplyCancel

    • Kim8.2.13 - 8:02 PM

      Hi Emily,

      That’s not rude at all! We’ve seen this popping up more and more – laundry rooms off of master bedrooms. It makes sense because that’s where all your clothes are going once you put them away! Scott was hesitant at the idea at first too, but then I showed him a few examples and he warmed up to it. Nothing is set in stone just yet, so plans could certainly change. However, our bedroom is big enough, that we’d love to install a wall of “built-in” closet space and still have room for a whole dedicated laundry room.

      Time will tell! We’re getting antsy though :)ReplyCancel

  • Blair @ the fox and she8.5.13 - 12:15 PM

    ahhh! it’s going to be amazing! I can’t tell you how jealous I am that you get to do this. I’m hoping for a similar project someday. And I can’t wait to see the studio, I know it will be amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Janet8.5.13 - 12:15 PM

    Are you living in the house as you work on it or are you living else where?ReplyCancel

  • Kim8.5.13 - 12:17 PM

    Janet, we’re living through it! Meaning, we’re still living out of boxes… ;)ReplyCancel

  • Julia @cuckoo4design8.6.13 - 1:17 AM

    Wow, love seeing all this!ReplyCancel

  • Cait @ Hernando House8.6.13 - 3:07 PM

    Ok, I read this post when it went up, but I’m late to the commenting party.

    Thanks for making a floor plan, it makes it so much easier to visualize things! I love the changes you have mentioned, and I also really like Melissa/Katja and Emily’s suggestions.

    On laundry placement – our laundry is off of the “master” bedroom (otherwise known as “the guest suite” for the past 4 years, and we’re finally starting to move into it ourselves). Originally the “master” was a carport, and the laundry was an outdoor closet accessed (we’re assuming, based on the neighborhood) by walking out the backdoor. Later the carport was converted into a bedroom, bathroom, and walk in closet, so the laundry was connected. I have always felt a little weird about having the laundry off our master, and have been racked my brain for a way to change this configuration (maybe make a tiny hallway, or a sliding partition so that future non-furry kids don’t have to walk into our bedroom to do laundry?) Now I’m finally beginning to warm up to its placement for the same reasons you listed. I’d love to see the examples you showed Scott. (Are they on Pinterest? Or could you maybe email them to me?)ReplyCancel

  • jane8.19.13 - 11:31 AM

    Love the blog – it’s certainly keeping me focused on my own home renovation (it’s also shaming mine a bit – you guys are killing it!).

    What program do you use to make the floor plan? It’s so helpful in visualizing what you guys are doing that I think I need to make my own!


  • Kim8.19.13 - 11:39 AM

    Hi Jane, our friend and architect, Nancy, made these floor plans for us, then I used Photoshop to add the text and numbers. There are free online floor plans you can make though, such as I’ve tried to use them myself, but honestly, got a little flustered! Sorry I can’t be of more help…ReplyCancel

    • Anna6.13.17 - 2:52 PM

      Hi, I’m a big fan of your blog, I’m planning to build a house similar to yours and I would like to know if I may the dimensions of the house so I can compare my notes!

      Thank youReplyCancel

  • […] wrapping our brains around the reconfiguration of our house’s entryway, we knew that there were two big things we needed to take care of: […]ReplyCancel


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