how far to take this remodel?

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how far to take this remodel?

Post by dman508 »

We have an 1874 Victorian in Eastern MA. At one point early in its history the house was made into a two family but never officially. We are making it back into a one family but are puzzled how to do this right.

The first floor has a large living room, dining room, kitchen, bath, pantry and two bedrooms. The second floor has two bedrooms, a den, a kitchen, bath and two pantries.

The problem we are having is that the kitchen on the first floor, the one we wish to use primarily, is very awkward. It is small and the layout doesn't allow any room for a refrigerator. Adjacent to this kitchen is a pantry, bath, and large bedroom. We have dreamed about making the bedroom into a large bathroom and using the space from the present bath and pantry to enlarge the kitchen. But, we are very hesitant to remove a bedroom because we think this will hurt resale value.

What is more important- a house with a great kitchen and a great bath, or a house with a cramped kitchen and bath but a full 4 bedrooms? Would it help if we added a closet to the upstairs den so we can still call it a 4 bedroom?

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Post by leanderbrughshouse »

I've heard the phrase many times...kitchens and baths sell houses. We purchased our home as a triplex and had to unfortunately get rid of a bathroom but that was the only way to get a usable kitchen size. I think that it would be worth it in the long run to get rid of a bedroom if it can improve the size/usability of both your bathroom and your kitchen.

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Post by Tujo »

What are you doing with the upstairs kitchen? It sounds like you should have plenty of room for one bedroom downstairs and three upstairs.
I removed a bedroom from my house, thinking that it was more valuable to have every room properly accessable, with closets, and a bigger bathroom.

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Post by dman508 »

we were thinking of making the upstairs kitchen into a sort of lounge bar area. it is weird because the space is essentially a very wide hallway. a
At the top of the stairs there are two rooms on either side and the kitchen in the middle. through the kitchen there is a back hall with the master bedroom suite and a door to the back deck. there are few other uses for this room, and we like the idea of a sink/fridge upstairs for midnight snacks. What is doesn't make is a nice kitchen. too small for a proper table and not nearly enough counter space.
Thanks for the advice!

S Melissa
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Post by S Melissa »

Many old houses had a lounge or upstairs parlor in a center hall area - that's pretty typical. How big are your bedrooms upstairs? Often they are huge and might be usable for 2 bedrooms rather than one huge one if 4 bedrooms is important in your market.

I do think a large usable and comfortable kitchen is important - more than downstairs bedroom in old houses. Draw up your existing floor plan and do some manuvering ofo the spaces to work out a good plan - before you tear into the spaces. Figure on a nice bathroom/powder room downstairs into the plan,, possibly a laundry room as well. Upstairs try and figure where you can locate reasonable sized closets and bathrooms - possibly shared between rooms if possible. If you make your floor plan work as well as you can it will result in a more livable and desireable home from a resale point. If you need to - possibly have an architect or interior designer familiar with historic houses give you a hand with the plans -knowing how to design such things isn't something we're born with!!
Canton, MI
1860 Italianate - Reuben Huston Home

Nancy W
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Post by Nancy W »

Is there a common wall between the den and either of the pantries? The pantry could be a closet (walk-in?) for the den to make it a bedroom.

Are you sure the walls are in their origianl locations or that additional walls weren't added upstairs?

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Post by dman508 »

I should give you guys a floor plan. I'll work on uploading one. I had a page of images of the place but for some reason it never works. Try this though:

All of the walls are original. There is one missing that used to divide the front hall from the living room. We took that down. We are also enlarging the doorway between the kitchen and living room. Hopefully the contractor is there now doing this.

So, the upstairs den is pretty small. We discussed options for adding a closet, but the only adjacent room is the upstairs kitchen. We already converted one of the pantries into a walk-in closet for the master bedroom. If we do add a closet it will be if we plan to sell, and would reduce that room to 8x10 or so.

My ideal plan is to make the downstairs bedroom into a large bath/laundry area. It's a 15x15' space with two windows and a closet so there is plenty of potential. There are a lot of walls though in the main kitchen. And i'm getting worried about permits. Contractors always tell you they are getting permits but rarely do! The current guy said if the inspector comes and tells him he needs one he'll get one. This is after I thought he already had one. Then there's the wall I removed myself. At least I know it was NOT weight bearing, so no worries there at least.

Aren't old houses fun? The best part is that no one ever added vinyl siding. That stuff is the bain of my existence. Stop using it folks!!! It destroys houses and neighborhoods and entire cities with ugly plastic that breaks. And don't get me started on those stupid plastic fences. They break! How will you fix that? And on front porches?! get real. literally. with wood. Real authentic, repairable wood.

I'm having fun reconstructing the Victorian details and gloating at the losers who are removing theirs. It really is bringing the neighborhood down.

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Post by HB »

I would say that for resale value, a large kitchen and a first floor master bedroom will bring you the most bang for your buck.

Regarding the 2nd floor kitchen, add some built in book cases and a wet bar and make that a library/study area. You can use the bar sink and a small refrigerator for your midnight snacks.

Also, you haven't mentioned the attic space?? Most of those large old victorians also had some useable space up there too. Perhaps that's where you could install another bedroom to hit that magic mark of 4?

Just a couple of thoughts.


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Post by dman508 »

Great idea about the bookcases! I was thinking of putting some in the small bedroom downstairs that we are making into an office but never thought to put any upstairs.

As for the attic, there is some space up there but it is limited especially by the presence of the original roof inside a dormer and the fact that access is through a hole in the ceiling. We may loft the ceiling in the kitchen/lounge but I doubt there's any possibility of living space up there.

My next step is to call realtors in the area and see how many bedrooms are optimal for our area.

Thanks for all the great advice!

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Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 10:10 am

Re: how far to take this remodel?

Post by dman508 »

Wow, what a blast from the past! I'm still knee-deep in this reno in many ways! As many of you know, it never ends. I'm back on here using this wonderful resource, but for a different purpose- to help others. Here is the post I put in the general group. If anyone has a few minutes to answer a quick survey, I would appreciate it!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Hi, I'm Darren. I have been a member of the Old House Web since 2002 when we first bought our 1874 home. I came here for information on how to fix the radiators, what to do with the floors, fix woodwork, and more things than I can count. Since coming on here, I've been able to (mostly) renovate our lovely home. Sure, I'm still installing one floor, and the master bath is gutted, but such is life in an old home.

So, why am I here now? Because I just received a grant from MIT to create my own high-tech startup to help restore old homes! To that end, I'm looking for input on the best way to do this, and where else would I go but to you? The survey is simple, and hopefully non-intrusive. I'm just looking for ways to gauge the potential market, see what others think, and to focus on what can have the most impact.

My goals are two-fold: First, to preserve the architectural integrity of our historical legacy by preventing the wholesale slaughter of precious architectural details, from crown moldings, to window casings to 5-panel doors, etc.; and second, to save the old materials, keep them out of landfills, and reduce the impact on our forests and other natural resources. If you are committed to the idea of preserving our heritage, and focusing the efforts of modern technology toward old home restoration, please join me!

The link is here:
The password is myoldhouse

Thank you for caring!

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