1OO YEAR OLD FARMHOUSE REMODEL
A PLEASANT SURPRISE
A few weeks ago, I got a pleasant surprise! I received an email from a former interior design student telling me that she, and her husband recently purchased a 100-year old farmhouse. The house is surrounded by beautiful orchards and not far from where she grew up. She went on to say that although the yard is amazing with lots of mature trees, the inside of the house is poorly designed and will need to be totally gutted.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in interior design, Jen went on to get a masters in fashion design & merchandizing. From there, she followed a dream and opened a women’s boutique clothing store.
Fast forward to now - feeling rusty with her space planning skills, overwhelmed and out of her element, Jen reached out to see if I could design the floor plan, elevations and prepare the working drawings. The whole intent with purchasing the 1400 square foot house is to be close to family, and to live a smaller, simpler life, so they can enjoy experiences over ‘things”.
EXCITED FOR THE CHALLENGE
I was immediately intrigued by Jen’s inquiry. First, because it would give me an opportunity to connect with her again. She was a delightful, eager and talented student - a true stand-out!
And secondly, I was excited for the challenge! It is much harder to design small spaces than it is larger ones. Modernizing the floor plan of an old 1400 square foot house, for a family of four takes a unique skill set.
WHITE CENTURY HOUSE PROJECT
When I arrived at the house, I wasn’t at all disappointed, it was as charming as Jen had described. I completely understood the appeal with purchasing the house and turning it into a their forever home, and a place that would function well for their family.
EXISTING FLOOR PLAN
As far as I can tell, it looks like sometime in the 1960’s, maybe even 70’s, a kitchen, dining room and another bedroom was added to the original house. As was typical back in the day, not much thought was given to appropriate adjacencies, circulation and flow. Instead it was like they plunked down a portion of a house and then stuck it on the end of the existing house. Notice how the kitchen and dining room are at the back of the house with the living room being at the front.
In an effort to save space, most often hallways were eliminated in small, modest farmhouses, of this era. Without hallways, private spaces like bedrooms and bathrooms open up to more public spaces of the house like, we see here with the kitchen, dining and living room.
Although there are two bathrooms, they are both poorly designed. Notice how the main bath shares space with the laundry room. The master bath is cramped and the location of the sink doesn’t even allow for a mirror to be placed above it.
FLOOR PLAN OPTIONS
My mantra for designing space is that there is always more than one way to solve a spatial puzzle. It just takes care, and a thoughtful approach to unveil the possibilities. Within the existing footprint of this house, we’ll need to fit the following:
Master bedroom with private bathroom
If possible, separate tub and shower in the master bath
Two kids bedrooms that are obscured form the main living spaces of the house
Storage / closets
Kitchen, with no upper cabinets, with shelves instead
Office space, if possible
I’ve always loved Jen’s aesthetic so I wasn’t surprised when she shared with me her inspiration gallery. Many of the images I recognized because they have been favorites of mine. Here are just a few.
IN THE MAKING
And lastly, I’m excited to say that this project is becoming the catalyst for Jen to return to her original love and passion for interior design. Although not officially working in the industry, over the years, Jen continued to hone her design skills by successfully flipping houses with her husband.
Though the task of designing the interior architecture for this project felt overwhelming to her, I’m convinced that this journey will rejuvenate those skills. The exercise of spending time designing a floor plan, no matter how frustrating it might be, and then see how someone else solves the same space is an incredible learning experience.
It’s actually the same format and process that happens in design school. All the students are given the same project, with the same perameters. Most, if not all struggle to come up with viable solutions. Having been through it, I know how frustrating if can be. Often it feels like what’s being asked is impossible. It takes staying with it, not giving up, and through the design process, eventually there will be break-throughs that help open up new possibilities.
All that to say….stay tuned, there’s a new Northern California interior design firm in the making!
THE TAKE AWAY
So what’s the take away with all of this? I think it is about ego. Jen could have easily dug in her heels and refused to reach out for help when things weren’t coming together like she had hoped. But what would that have gained her? A house she hated? Probably. A poor investment? Absolutely.
Often the remodel projects that I work on were originally designed by home owners, and / or builders. Unfortunately they typically aren’t the most well-designed homes. With the help of an educated, and skilled designer, these same homes could be sought-after and appreciated, rather than frustrations that people aren’t sure what to do with.
If you have a remodel project in your future, or a new build, we can help! Go here to learn more about TF Design.
Check back soon to see the floor plan options I come up with for the White Century House.
Photo Credit: Lindsey King Photography - *House photos, only.