I wanted everything perfect, like a Dwell magazine spread, before showing pictures of our new place. But it’s time to let go and show our progress. Maybe when everything is really done, I’ll hire a real estate photographer to get the full effect. Maybe Dwell Magazine will even come knocking. (An amateur can dream right?) Here it is, as promised…
Presenting our new floor plan:
After the insane stress and pressure of a major renovation, it was a relief to discover upon moving in that we loved living in our new home.
The Great Room
Unbelievably, even after adding a 3rd bedroom and an office, our great room is still bigger than it was, demonstrating the tremendous potential of bad floor plans for remodeling projects. We stole space from the master bedroom, entry hallway, and former master closet. With the walls around the kitchen gone, a kitchen island with seating for four fits comfortably in the center.
It is brighter too. In the old floor plan, both bedroom windows were hidden by walls. In the new plan, if the bedroom doors are open, all four windows shine into the great room.
The genius of our office is it can be part of the great room, part of the master bedroom, part of both or completely separate. It has triple sliding doors to the living room and a door to the bedroom.
Because I stay up late and can’t keep an office clean to save my life, I didn’t want to disturb family members with either bad habit. My solution at our former rental was to move into a back closet. This is much better – right next to the picture window.
The only thing we knew for sure going in to this remodel was the wall blocking the picture window from the entry had to go.
Lord knows why, but the designers of the building ran the majority of the condo’s electrical wires through that very wall. So yes, we had to rewire the entire condo. $20,000 painful dollars later, there are no regrets. Before, it was wired as a 1980’s rental apartment (they were condo’ed years later) with minimum outlets, minimum lights, and not enough juice for a regular dryer. We now have 2 to 3 times the number of outlets and lights, and plenty of juice.
For those shocked at the cost (like I was) commercial codes and high rise limitations have a way of doubling the cost of everything – be warned, should you embark on a similar journey.
Which brings me back to the entryway. So much better don’t you think? Water pipes kept us from taking out the entire wall. But I got enough to make me happy every time I come home.
It’s our largest bedroom at 10′ x 10′ 6″. (Smaller, by the way, than the smallest bedroom in our suburban “dream home“.) What makes it work is our wall of closets. Made of 100% Ikea Sektion cabinets, it has His and Her closets with built in dresser drawers, a night table with outlets, deep floor to ceiling storage down the center for miscellaneous household stuff, and helpfully hides an ugly soffit across the ceiling.
I tried avoiding vertical storage, but there was no way around it. I wanted an office more than a separate closet and we had to hang our clothes somewhere.
An awkward space around the wall furnace proved to be another great spot for built in Ikea cabinets. One cabinet is 24″ deep and one is 15″ deep, but the experience from the front is a flush, even wall.
I love this room. Only 8′ x 5′, but with cubbies carved into the wall and multiple large medicine cabinets, there is ample storage for everything – even laundry (and knick knacks, heaven forbid, should I relapse). The tucked in lighting, visual lines of the tile, and large mirror over the sink and toilet, make it feel bigger. And, by stretching the $1.99 shower tile from Home Depot to cover the whole wall behind the sink, it looks super high end. Of course, maybe I love it because for 3 years we were a single bathroom family. Yeah. Probably that too.
The Kid’s Wing
The 3rd bedroom came by expanding a hallway. It doesn’t have a direct window to the outside and is inches shy of the 7′ x 10′ minimum required to be legal, but it has fire sprinklers, proper ventilation, room to sleep 2-4 comfortably (on 30″ wide beds), and still has two unencumbered escape routes. At 30 floors above street level, egress and safety requirements shift from needing windows to needing sprinklers. Having a darker, windowless room to sleep in has actually been wonderful for early bedtimes.
We could have made the 2nd and 3rd bedrooms separate but we decided instead to make a shared closet that doubles as a hall between the rooms. The kids can play more easily. Mom and dad can wake them up and tuck them in more easily. It’s a great short cut through the house.
There is more, but another day.
We put our faith in the “less is more” preachers and we have not been disappointed. Less space on the front end has meant more planning, more attention to detail, more careful selection of furniture and appliances, and more time and work explaining things to contractors. But now that we are here, we can’t believe how spacious it feels. 989 luxurious square feet for a family of 4. Less to clean. More time to enjoy. Amen.