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How To Plan A Renovation

How To Plan A Renovation
This bungalow design is super charming.
Every winter, I become very jealous of my cat. In the cold months, she lives in the laundry room, the warmest, sunniest room of the house, while the rest of us look on enviously. An addition to the back of the house, the laundry room cuts the kitchen off from the backyard. This awkward layout isn’t something that can be fixed easily: it needs a major rethink. I started out by pulling photos of inspiring-looking kitchens, but quickly got hung up on how the kitchen looked. So I thought I’d try using Houseplans.com to think in terms of layout and floor plans instead.

Here's our cat enjoying the sunny laundry room while we’re in the kitchen with the lights on.

We’re definitely not the first to tinker with this house in Menlo Park, which was built in the 1920s as a vacation cottage for San Franciscans who wanted to escape the foggy summers. It’s obvious that the laundry room was one of those quick-and-dirty solutions, with a minimal foundation and a small window. While having a separate laundry room is nice, the downside is that the kitchen is very dark and needs artificial lighting even during the brightest times of the day.

In the past, as my basic sketch shows, the window over the sink looked into the backyard, but now it looks into the laundry room.

Architects refer to the "program" for a project, which is all the different requirements and needs that the design must address. The program for our kitchen remodel would include:
--Daylighting the kitchen.
--A physically separate laundry room since some family members are allergic to the cat.

Houseplans.com lets you narrow your search by all sorts of specific parameters to help you zero in on your dream home. I start by searching for single-story homes that are no wider than 30 feet (under "Basic Options"). I also pick some key features: "Main Floor Laundry" (under "Additional Room Features") and
Covered Rear Porch (under "Outdoor Spaces").


Among the options that turn up is Plan 513-2071, a cute cottage that has a kitchen with a little back porch.

It’s not an exact match, but it occurs to me that I could put the laundry room where the porch is in the layout:

move it to the side of the house instead of across the back. However, the kitchen becomes longer and thinner
—not ideal, but could work with a large skylight. This compact plan is not far off from our current layout; the porch could be modified into a light-filled laundry room.

I also notice how many other plans, including Signature Plan 900-7 by C3 Studio LLC, above and below and 

at the top of this post, put the dining room/great room at the back of the house, allowing it to open onto a back porch. That indoor/outdoor flow sounds really appealing. What if we expanded the kitchen/dining room significantly and moved the adjacent bedroom/bath to a new second floor?

I redo my search to see what it could be like if we just rebuilt the whole back of the house. I look for 2-story homes with 1 bedroom and 1 bath that are less than 30 feet wide. The first plan that comes up is 

Plan 479-12, a signature plan by Peter Brachvogel, AIA and Stella Carosso. It’s a contemporary vacation cottage, what a San Franciscan might build today if they wanted a woodsy hideaway.

With floor-to-ceiling glass on two floors, this plan offers plenty of natural light. While this plan would be a much more substantial remodel, it’s a near-perfect fit in terms of aesthetics. Of course, it would need to be modified to include a separate room for the cat/laundry. But now I have a vision for what we could potentially do for the next major evolution of this home.

How To Plan A Renovation Inspiration

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