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:
WHAT WE’VE DONE SO FAR:
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.
WHAT WILL CHANGE IN THE FUTURE:
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):
WHAT WE’VE DONE SO FAR:
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.
WHAT WILL CHANGE IN THE FUTURE:
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.