I knew this would happen. It’s one of the first pieces of advice I give in my next book – IF YOU CAN, PLEASE LIVE IN A HOUSE BEFORE YOU RENOVATE. You need to experience it, have a few months of “day in a life” so you aren’t trying to guess your future behaviors. But we wanted to stay in this fully done mountain house while we renovate and since school was kinda “out” this year anyway it felt like the best thing to do for our family (and admittedly it’s way more fun living here in the mountains during a pandemic than a city where everything is shut – no real regrets here and certainly not complaining). But, now that it’s demo’d, no one will be living here for months.
Last week I felt like I was going MAD with indecision and I think Anne would agree (bless her heart for designing with us). We are trying to be the “good clients” that I promised her we would be, but Brian and I keep changing our minds due to too many unknowns. It’s all good and fun and honestly we aren’t stressed (mostly because Arciform makes us feel very safe and calm) but making decisions on your future home from another state when you haven’t lived in the house, lived in the state in years, or experienced the climate recently is not advisable. Add in the unpredictability of growing kids and dogs’ behavior. I don’t know how they are going to use the house, either! PLUS the pandemic has “forever changed me”, but has it?? I’ve become such a homebody, I’m not even going to have a car when we move, and right now I think I’m going to be at the house all day every day. So I’m trying to predict my own needs/wants but I have NO idea how I’m going to turn out once life is “normal”. I think I’m not going to go back to being as social as I was, entertaining as much as I did, but is that even true?? WHO AM I GOING TO BE???
We are going around and around and around not knowing how we are really going to use the house. Which door will the kids come in more often? The kitchen door via the car? The back kitchen door that’s closest to the gate to walk to school? The new big living room doors that go to the backyard/sports court? How can we predict? Where will the dog run be? We’ll need to create an area for them to dry off when it’s muddy but we don’t know where those mutts are going to play so we can’t predict. How muddy will they get? We have foregone the dog washing station when we lost the big mudroom but we could still do it somewhere, but we just don’t know where it makes the most sense???
Then there is the issue of the sun. My main obsession in life and design is natural light. I want as much of it as possible and I’ve been SPOILED living in California. All our past houses have had excellent natural light. The farm does not (except upstairs). So of course we can add it through windows, glass doors, and skylights (where we can) but the way the sun moves over the house is SUPER important to know because it changes how it moves and lights the inside the house. You don’t want to add windows where you’ll get blasted at the exact times of the day that you’ll be in that room (if you can avoid it).
Oh, we’ve tried to predict it, knowing which way the house faces at what time of day, during summer and winter but we don’t know the tree-line, what might obstruct the sun in a good way (during the hottest times of the day/year) or in a bad way (too much shade). So since Brian’s parents were already up at the mountain house visiting, we looked at the weather in Portland and it was sunny all week. We booked a ticket for the next day to go up and see for ourselves. A quick 30 hours trip to literally just sit and walk around the house on a sunny day.
Here were our main questions and the goal of the trip:
1. Should we put in skylights in the new kitchen? If we put in skylights in the new vaulted area (that faces south) will it get BLASTED with sun in a bad way? Or will it just be between a couple of hours in the morning when we aren’t in the kitchen that much anyway and we can put the shades down if needed? Or will the trees block that harsh light? It’s overcast so often so the skylights could bring in such beautiful soft light when it’s not sunny – and natural light is not just something I love but it makes my job so much easier. A dark room is VERY hard to shoot which means that we have to set up lights or spend hours photoshopping, and then it looks fake. But I don’t want to heat up the kitchen for no reason or make it unbearably bright to sit at the island in the morning. Once we plugged the skylights into the rendering (kitchen NOT designed yet) we were all like – YES WE NEED THOSE. It will bring so much soft beautiful light into the main kitchen but even more importantly the living room which needs some southern and eastern light. But sometimes it’s even harder to shoot spaces if one room is so much brighter than another because of light balance and the camera auto corrects, making the dark room even darker (good photographers can fix this but on an iPhone it will be hard to balance).
2. The living room is west facing which NOT IDEAL SO PLEASE LISTEN UP – if you are building a house and can control the direction of your main spaces, in general, you want to face north or south, not east or west. With a west-facing living room, you get less natural light during the day until it’s the hottest time of the day (nearing sunset) and then you can get BLASTED with this harsh horizontal light. Sure there are things you can do (oh and I’ll write a whole post about it) but our hope is that by being there for sunset we can see if the trees on the property block it in a pretty dapply way or if we need to rethink an overhang. Our last living room was east/west facing and it was only a slight problem for like an hour in the evening if the trees weren’t blooming – but it was fine – we would either pull down the window shades or people wouldn’t sit in that exact spot that it blasted (it did, however, bleach out the back of our sofa pretty quickly). So we needed to be there at sunset, even though the huge scenic door/window isn’t framed yet (so it’s just a wall) but we can stand outside where the new porch will be and get a sense of what the sun is doing at what time – LIKE FULL ON CRAZY PEOPLE.
3. To cover the porch or NOT?? We don’t want it covered because we don’t love the idea of sitting on the sofa in the living room, looking up outside, and seeing a structure instead of the sky. A covered porch will reduce natural light as well. However, we could do an all-glass structure on that side of the house. We could connect it to the roofline and give a sense of a “wrap-around” but then I’m like is it weird if it’s all of a sudden glass? If we are going for the charming “wrap-around” look then does glass negate this anyway? The exterior architecture would be prettiest with a wrap-around covered porch that ties in the sunroom. BUT Brian and I care more about how we experience living in the inside of the house rather than the EXTERIOR – our day-to-day is not staring back at it from a distance. I know I can make the exterior look good, but I can’t add natural light if we take it away. Oh and also if you are building, you can build an overhang without blocking light if it starts high enough. We have windows on the second floor that don’t let us go any higher (unless we reframe them all higher which seems ridiculous but could work… (also, where does the string end??)
4. Will the new sunroom be our version of a “covered porch” anyway? It’s full of windows that can open, but no it’s not out in the fresh air (but you can see the sports court from it). Will we even need a covered porch? Do people hang outside in the rain for hours? NOT HAVING LIVED IN OREGON FOR 20 YEARS, WITH KIDS AND DOGS, I HAVE LITERALLY NO IDEA HOW WE WILL LIVE. I’ve texted everyone I know asking them about their porch, what direction their backyards face, where the kids go in and out from. Very odd questions. Everyone has different opinions. For some a covered porch is mandatory and they use it frequently, for others they never go out in the rain/cold anyway. And if we find out that we want one we could also build some sort of cool gazebo situation by the sports court to provide shade in the summer while kids are playing. OH SO that’s another thing, without the covered porch in the summer it can get really hot and sitting in the sun sucks, but we can get a table with an umbrella! If we went with the glass roof outside the living room door it wouldn’t really do the trick anyway.
ALSO – the sunroom will get blasted with the sun in the evening (we think) so we’d likely have to put down window treatments if we are in there on a sunny evening. But if it’s sunny would we just sit outside at an outdoor table anyway??? Also, we can plant trees (and will) strategically to block the harsh sun. So knowing where that would be is a good thing to start thinking about.
5. Is our bedroom too big and am I making the new windows too small? I found these awesome vintage interior shutters for our bedroom (8 of them) that I was excited to use. But they are 16” wide which means that the window really shouldn’t be wider than 32” (they are close to 5’ tall). There would be four of them. But the view out those windows is really pretty, and if we went bigger then we might feel really open to the backyard (and we want our bedroom to feel like a retreat as it does here). This is why I would ALWAYS recommend a primary bedroom suite on a second floor – it’s innately more private and you feel like you are kinda away from the action even if you have lots of windows. Since I was afraid that the bedroom was too wide, I asked Arciform to frame it a bit smaller to give us really deep window sills (which I LOVE the look of). The problem is the deep sill now with the narrow windows means even less view and less light. So I’m fearful that these shutters are dictating too much of this room and I need to tape them out on the wall to see if we are going too small with them.
6. Will we regret giving up our small laundry room upstairs in exchange for an additional full bathroom for guests and future teenagers? This is the current plan – thanks to you guys, to add another bathroom where the laundry room was. It means we would only have a laundry closet on the bedroom landing with room for a hamper, but I know what will happen – a big pile of clothes will be on the landing all day every day. Maybe. But maybe not! The kids can just keep a hamper in their rooms and fold their laundry on their beds??
7. Are we TRIPLE sure that we want the kitchen to be in the former breakfast nook – the corner of the house, opened up to the living room but not actually creating a “great room”? That’s a HUGE decision to just say yes to without being inside the house to confirm it. If so, then we will have to demo and salvage out the existing cabinetry that we WERE going to turn into our butler’s pantry (and if you are asking why we can’t still use them… it’s mostly for functional reasons. We don’t need an additional sink/dishwasher there because we’ll need to put fridge/freezer and pantry on that side. So before the demo crew comes back to salvage (and we are giving everything we can’t re-use to Urban Renewal – stay tuned for that) we want to triple confirm the new kitchen layout.
8. Do we want to put back in the three original windows on the first floor even though we have to mix them with new windows? I know there is a way to make that work aesthetically but it’s definitely harder (right now the plan is all original upstairs, all new downstairs with a pattern that connects the new with old). The original windows could work but they are smaller than we were going to do AND next to a new window, the green tint of the new would be obvious next to the old glass. And no, we can’t double glaze them like I originally thought. Maybe the bottom half that is clear, but the original wood diamond grid is not deep enough to have two panes. I’m sure there are other solutions but at this point even restoring them with the original glass is about $1k a window (we are paying for that upstairs). So basically it doesn’t make sense to keep investing in them at a certain point, especially if they aren’t going to add value to the living room and instead just make it colder and make the new windows look too NEW.
It’s a lot. It’s all SO FUN but it’s a lot and we haven’t even STARTED the real decision making (tile, plumbing, lighting, etc). But these decisions are important and can only come from us – they are VERY personal to how our family lives and what we want out of our home. Anne is so patient, thank god, but we are done annoying ourselves and we are going to make REAL decisions this week.
So that’s why Brian and I flew up to just going to walk the house for a little over 24 hours. Live in it in the morning, afternoon, and sunset. Tape out the island. Tape out the new small mudroom and kitchen door. Tape out the bed in the bedroom and the windows. Sit and stare FOR HOURS. Pretend to lay in the bed. Pretend to carry in and set down groceries. Pretend to walk in from school. Pretend to sit in my bathtub to see what I’ll be looking at. Pretend to write the blog – where am I going to write?? I’m assuming the sunroom on most days (which sounds DREAMY) but maybe I’d rather do it in our big retreat-y bedroom??
The house is mostly demo’d which means the wall from the old breakfast nook is open to the living room – giving us a sense of what the kitchen and living room will feel like. And the 60s addition wing is opened up too (besides some structural framing that has to stay) so we can get a sense of the space, the ceilings, the view.
I wish so bad that there was a VR program where you could put your house renderings in and physically walk through your renderings while in the house. I want to open doors. Arciform uses Chief Architect for their initial renderings (because it’s so fast and gives elevations, plans, and 3-D capabilities very quickly). After every change we make they send us the latest version and we can walk through it on our iPad so we’ve spent HOURS doing that, going back and forth on every scenario, but it’s not the same as being there. I’m even going to force my brother to bring his kids and dog over to see what happens – where will they gravitate towards outside, how muddy does a dog actually get if it’s sunny outside?
So that’s the latest. It’s all good stress, honestly. The process so far has been so much FUN. The indecision makes me annoyed with myself, but otherwise the stress has been manageable mostly because I’ve renovated enough to know that stressing does not help and any major mistake is just a good blog post to write about anyway. We knew what we were getting into – it’s all good. Our main goal is to not make major changes after things have been framed or walls closed up because THAT’S when it gets stressful (and expensive). We are going to make all the changes on paper, now. And listen we keep reminding ourselves that we can’t have everything, nor frankly do we want to give our kids everything. We don’t want the fancy house on the street. We want the inviting, casual, and sweet family home with pups and chickens. But when renovating a house as a designer, it’s so easy to make it look new and fresh and yes, “perfect”. So I’m constantly battling that (and really wishing that there was more original charm in the first place – like wide plank pine floors or prettier windows in the 60s addition).
Anyway, Anne is going to write a post for the blog about how it is to work with Brian and I – both because I’m a designer, and the strangeness of doing this so publicly with so many people weighing in on every decision (of which I love and appreciate, but as you can imagine it’s also challenging). I can’t wait to read it, honestly.
Gah! 😳 I need to re-read this and absorb it all.
I had to re-read as well. The pressure to get it just right is real.
One idea that jumped out at me: move the family room upstairs into one of the bedrooms, and switch the guest room downstairs. The half bath could be upgraded to a full bath to accommodate the guest room. Then keep the single bath for the kiddos and laundry room upstairs. Just a thought but it feels “right” IMO.
Also, skylights all the way with every decision catering to getting all the sunlight.
You need to watch ‘Your Home Made Perfect’ on BBC. They do VR walk-throughs of two different designs for the house which show how the light moves across the space etc etc. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00048xh
Yes, this is such a fun show and it is available on Hulu. I really enjoyed seeing how the VR experience helped people better make decisions about how to change their homes.
Yes, love that show! And the two architects on it are wonderful too.
A laundry room is great for adults. Teens, however, will not want to hang out there folding laundry. They will just be much more likely to fold it in on their bed, while hanging out in their room. Ditto for the hamper. More likely to throw dirty clothes in a hamper in their room vs. collecting it to go to the laundry room. So I vote laundry closet. I don’t actually think another bathroom is necessary, though. I mean it might be handy sometimes, not a bad idea, just not needed. If you have some other use for the space, I mean. Otherwise a bathroom won’t hurt!
My vote – don’t lose the laundry room. Better to have a laundry room than two bathrooms upstairs. Without it, highly likely you will have exposed laundry piles.
Agreed! One bathroom in the second floor is good, and having a designated space for laundry is more functional than a laundry closet.
Agreed. Plenty of people (including me) only have one full bath in our entire home and we survived raising teenagers in it. Really wasn’t a problem. And kids (and adults) need to learn patience and waiting their turn anyway. Team Laundry Room.
I am also for an extra laundry room. If you are changing out the laundry room are you going to change the placement of the one downstairs?
Totally agree. We are a family of four (w/ 2 very large teenage boys) and only one bathroom in our entire home – we are totally fine. I think one bathroom on the 2nd floor is totally sufficient, laundry room all the way!
I don’t know. I’ve almost always folded laundry onto a bed or couch while watching tv. I truly cannot imagine teenagers folding their laundry in a laundry room. And I always ended up with more laundry piled up in my room when the hamper was elsewhere. I prefer having hampers in each room. Easier access and also easier for said teens to wash their own stuff as needed. Rather than have to wash both their and their siblings (and you know they’re not going to want to do that and the sibling might be annoyed they then are forced to either fold clothes they weren’t ready to wash yet or let it get wrinkly). All of this coming from someone who has laundry in the basement of her building and shares a single bathroom with 3 other family members. So neither is necessary, but if the choice is two bathrooms or a laundry room instead of a laundry closet (w/ washer and dryer, right?), I think the bathroom is the way to go.
I’m with Lauren. I’ve been doing my laundry since I was 9 or 10… basically when my mom forced me to learn. You always did the laundry- which was across the house- then brought it back to your room to fold and put up. Hampers were in everyone’s rooms. As a kid I was super messy, but as I started getting older (high school or so) I started making my bed daily and putting my laundry away quickly. I think it helps that you have to bring it back to your room. Now you have to look at it constantly and I only had a bed and dresser in the room so its not like I could just stuff a clean pile somewhere. I think it’s good to teach your kids all of this early. Much less likely to be a gross adult who leaves shit everywhere.
Fully agree, don’t lose the extra upstairs bath! Especially important for guests who are staying with you!!!
Oh goodness, do the 2nd bathroom! You already have a laundry downstairs and will have the laundry closet upstairs. No need for a room! Your kids can fold laundry on their beds. As your kids get older, you will be so grateful for the extra bathroom. I have 3 girls- 2 teenagers, and they are constantly fighting over bathroom space and time. They like to primp, take long showers, do makeup, style their hair, have privacy, and take their time. I think especially having both a boy and girl, having their own space in the mornings/ nights will make your lives so much easier. And of course, having that 2nd bathroom when guests come will be critical. That is way too many people to share 1 bath. Please think long term- teenagers!
I feel like the issue isn’t whether it is CRITICAL or ESSENTIAL to have an extra bathroom or a full laundry room (neither are NECESSARY, and two or more people definitely CAN share one bathroom) but which is more likely to be conducive to family happiness long term. Completely agree that a laundry closet with washer-dryer is enough and even ideal, because kids won’t want to spend a ton of time in a laundry room folding their clothes, so they will be more likely to use one that is simple, small, and open to the landings / close to their bedrooms. They will almost definitely prefer folding laundry on their own beds (and this way their laundry will mix less), and as little kids they will NEED to fold on their beds because they won’t be able to reach counters! Definitely agree that the second bathroom is the way to go. If the kids still happily share a bathroom later on, then the second bathroom is for guest, so there’s no bad outcome here!
I totally agree. I always fold my clothes on the couch and the kids have folded their clothes on their bedroom floors since they were 3 years old. No one will carry the laundry from their room or bathroom where they are changing to the hall closet. Just put a hamper in each kids’ room and they can carry it downstairs to wash it. Then carry it back upstairs to their room to fold it.
Yes to this! Em, you always say how much you LOVE second floor laundry rooms – don’t give it up! This will be the “what if” you regret the most. You do you! Also, – The kitchen location is perfection. – FIND ALL THE LIGHT! And that one time of day the sun “blasts”, just put the shades down. – Do not cover the porch – get a beautiful retractable awning instead (they exist). – Don’t let shutters (!!) dictate any decision. Also, if you would “ALWAYS recommend a primary bedroom on the second floor”, then put a primary bedroom on the second floor! Em, go with your gut – do not lose yourself in this process. Your first floor lack of privacy statement is a sound one. The teen hang out spot is going to be family room, not their bedrooms. Which means that movies, music, and tv shows will be blaring right next to your bedroom. Moving the primary BR upstairs may throw a huge wrench in your plans, but maybe not! Turn the first floor room into a guest room (or two? the space is HUGE), and add a full bath. Not matter what you decide, this… Read more »
But what if her kids become the sort who will only wear the same pair of pants and the same shirt, every single day?
What if? What if? What if?
You design the house you want and the kids and parents adjust.
This is also my thought on guests. Are you really designing a house for the 3% of time you have a guest? Em’s brother is also already in Portland! Who is coming over all the time!? haha!
Yep, this. Teens definitely don’t need their own bathrooms. They’re no different to a couple sharing a bathroom – if Brian can handle seeing tampons, so can Charlie. If Emily can handle seeing beard trimmings, so can Birdie (just as examples). I think it also helps kids learn to be considerate of other people’s space, time and belongings.
Teens absolutely do, however, leave piles of clothes everywhere! One hamper in their room will not force them to do laundry more frequently; they’ll just find additional places to make piles instead.
This this this! I’d much rather have piles of laundry in the laundry room than on the landing! I had four kids share a big bathroom (two boys, two girls), and it was never a problem, even when guests came. But having a tiny laundry room with piles of clothes kids forget to move or throw out of the dryer would annoy me more than anything. You’ll have three bathrooms in the house without a second bathroom upstairs. That shouldn’t affect resale value. But two laundry rooms? Yeah. That would up resale, I would think.
This is SO MUCH FUN to follow! Thanks for sharing the process with us!
Yes, go with the laundry room upstairs. You really don’t need 2 bathrooms there. Plus it’s a good practice for children to learn how to share spaces. It better prepares them for a future in dorm rooms, with roommates and spouses. Otherwise you’ll have 2 bathrooms to keep clean and you won’t be able to shut away the mess in the laundry room, which is important for your mental health.
I don’t think you need an extra bathroom upstairs (agree that kids and guests can share just fine) but I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with a laundry closet. It’s probably easier to get your kids to put their laundry away when it’s sitting out in the hall than when it’s hidden in the laundry room.
This is so interesting. I grew with everyone having a laundry hamper/bin in the bedroom closet, as do my kids now. When the bins are full, we do the laundry. When done, we carry it out of the laundry room to fold and put away. Do people put their dirty clothes in one hamper or the floor/counter of a laundry room? And leave the clean ones in the laundry room to be folded later? I never realized this. Makes more sense why dedicated laundry rooms with doors that close are so important to some families.
We do our laundry the same exact way. Everyone has their own hamper and when it gets full we do laundry. The kids fold their clothes wherever they want and put it away. We used to have a laundry room before we remodeled and we now have a laundry closet at the end of our galley kitchen. Our laundry habits have remained consistent and we always take laundry elsewhere to fold. That said, we have one small bathroom for 2 adults and 2 boys who can never manage to aim. I’m torn on the upstairs bathroom situation…would guests be sharing a bathroom with the kids? Are the kids tidy in the bathroom or are you always wiping toothpaste out of the sink (just me?) and pee off the seat.🤦🏻♀️ Will the guest need to clear out bath toys in order to take a shower? I was originally thinking if we can do one bathroom for 4 of us there’s no way you need 2 on one floor….but in your forever home with guests on the same floor it makes sense to have 2 over a laundry room. Living with laundry piles in their rooms is a great natural consequence for… Read more »
Why not both? What about a second bathroom with just a shower and a stackable washer/dryer in a closet with maybe a little bit of space to hang dry. You probably don’t need an entire laundry room, but it would be nice to be able to run a load upstairs.
at the end of the day, neither the barthroom nor the laundry room are necessary. People share bathrooms, people share laundry rooms, people don’t have a laundry room (I have a washer in my kitchen and that’s it), people wash their family’s clothes in addition to their own clothes because running the washer for your favorite pants and teeshirt doesn’t make sense.
Decide whichever luxury you prefer and own it!
From an appraisal and resale standpoint (I know you think you’ll live here forever, but … plans change!), it makes so much more sense to have a second bathroom in a home this size.
Also, FWIW, I had an upstairs bedroom with a downstairs laundry room as a teen. My hamper was in my closet. When the hamper was full, I carried it downstairs, washed my stuff, folded in the living room while watching TRL, and then carried it back up. To this day, I still love to fold and watch trash TV. And I do think folding in a main living space gives you incentive to finish the job / bring the clothes back upstairs!
Yes I agree! My first thought was, how about a small toilet/sink with a washer dryer upstairs. Love following this journey! thank you
Disagree. My current home is our first ever to have an actual laundry room, versus machines in an unfinished basement or a laundry closet with stacked machines, and I hate it. The room is too small to really function for folding clothes, especially if you are at all claustrophobic. And laundry just sort of disappears in there, clean and dirty (I assume this would be even more true with kids). Much better to have hampers and clean laundry more visible, especially if you are trying to keep kids accountable and teach good habits.
Your kids will only be teenagers for a pretty short period of time. Then they will most likely be returning to the house with partners and families of their own. That’s when a second upstairs bathroom will be great. You can always switch out the laundry room and turn it in to a bathroom in 15 years or do it now.
I agree that Charlie and Birdie won’t necessarily have a problem sharing a bathroom- tons of teens manage, but I would still always opt for an extra bathroom. There are plenty of bathroom shy house guests & having that extra bathroom when they are teens is going to save you from a lot of yelling. There is something very “grown up” about having your own bathroom space.
But can’t you have both? I don’t see the need for a laundry room, but there can always be a laundry closet with stacked washer /dryer that can be easily used to wash guest towels and sheets as well as the kids to do their own laundry. Maybe there isn’t enough space to have it, but if there is – win win.
I agree–I would always opt for the second bathroom. And as for the kids’ clothes piling up in the landing? Umm, no. . . you’re doing well if you can get them to throw their clothes in a hamper in their own rooms! They definitely will not be carrying them out and dumping them in another space. Not unless you pester them. (At least, this was my experience.)
I can not imagine a teen wanting to stand inside a laundry room to fold their laundry. Store the hamper in their room, then they wash it when it’s full and fold it in their room.
I think the laundry closet with washer/dryer (+ third full bath, attached to the guest room) is the current plan!
Team Bathroom vs laundry room. I have three kids in a small house. Kids take forever in the bathroom, especially teenage girls! My kids put their dirty clothes in hampers in the bathroom and in the bedrooms. They fold either in their rooms or in front of the TV. When one kid is 💩 and one needs to get ready for something, you will wish you had two bathrooms.
I’m just wondering if you’ll have anything like as much bother with the sun being too hot/too glaring/too fierce up there as you’re used to in California? I don’t know, as I live in Scotland where it’s only too hot about one week of the year and some years not even that, but isn’t Oregon also quite cloudy and rainy? It might be better to aim for as much natural light as possible and then also have blinds, so you can bring in the natural light when it’s overcast and gloomy outside.
It’s a very Scottish winter, and a glorious, sunny summer!
Given climate change, things have been changing in the Northwest – it’s getting far warmer in the summers and more mild in the winters. It’s still Oregon (so, rainy) – but things have been changing.
It really depends on the light to a particular house in the PacNW… Our home in Seattle had beautiful, soft light all year, but a friend 15 minutes away gets sun blasted to the point that if she leaves something on a window sill, she can smell it burning later.
Funny, as an Oregonian reading this I was thinking, I’ve honestly never worried or thought so much about sun placement in my house! Maybe because the few months of the year we do have sun, we embrace it so wholeheartedly that we don’t care about getting blasted 😂 I lived in LA for a decade so I do know what an inconvenience the sun/heat can be… I just simply don’t feel that way about it here! I’ve never thought of it before, but I also don’t know anyone in OR with issues with sun bleaching their furniture or floors. Can you put those retractable shades on the skylights in the kitchen? That could solve it. And I’d say yes, cover your porch. I actually love sitting outside and listening to the rain, especially in late fall/early winter and spring. A non-covered porch in OR is only going to get a lot of use a few months of the year. Plus if you plan an outdoor event there is pretty much always a chance of a passing rain shower! I’d be team laundry on the 2nd floor— the idea of piles on the landing sounds maddening. And I also say yes… Read more »
Where I live, we don’t get quite as much rain as Oregon, but we still get a lot. I think the answer really is do you love being outside? If yes, then you’ll want a covered porch. Especially in a rainy climate it is so nice having a porch. In Cleveland we sit, eat, gather, drink coffee and more on ours, rain or shine from end of March to beginning of November. A deck isn’t as versatile. Of course, you can pull chairs up to your carport as well as it’s covered.
There’s a thing called a VERGOLA
(Australian product name, but they must be in the US too) is an outdoor roof that you can tilt open to different degrees, depending on the weather.
Friends have one and it’s terrific for whatever amount of sun or rain.
You get to choose the angle of the dangle!
The “angle of the dangle” made me snort tea up my nose. Definitely doesn’t sound like an architecture term 😉
Yes, there is a vergola local Portland company https://www.equinoxroof.com/residential/
You can shut the pergola slats for rain or too much sun or keep them open. Looks lovely!
Portlander here (who’s also been to Scotland – I love it there!).
The climates are not similar, and Portland has been getting hotter and hotter in the summer. This past week it’s been close to 80 degrees each day.
July and August (and some of September!) it can be in the 80s and 90s semi regularly, and we also have been getting a week or so where it’s over 100 degrees each year.
Having a west facing room, you need to plan for deciduous trees outside (for light coming through in the winter, but shade in the summer), or a dedicated shade plan for summer.
I’m sure you will make beautiful and thoughtful decisions!
Remember the path of the sun is different in different times of year.
Here’s a website that talks about mapping the solar paths in a year relative to your home and even tracking the interplay with your trees.
This is so important. I get blinded sitting in my south facing office during the winter, when the sun is lower, but the room is barely bright in the summer. The effect is more pronounced the further you move from the equator, obviously, so more pronounced in Portland than LA.
I was going to say the same thing – what’s happening here with the angle of the sun in April, is not what it will be like in the summer – the angle changes a lot more up here than it would in Southern California.
1. Should we put in skylights in the new kitchen? Yes absolutely! If you’re concerned about harsh light, install skylights with integrated shades (with a remote and/or on a timer) 3. To cover the porch or NOT?? Not! Light is more important and you already have the covered BBQ area. As you say, you could have a pergola for the rain, or look at sails or something else that filters the light without being a structure. 5. Is our bedroom too big and am I making the new windows too small? Depends on how much you want your bedroom to be sleeping + other night-time activities, vs the parents’ retreat where you hide from your teenagers during the daytime. If it’s just for night-time activities, window size is fine. If you want to escape your children in there, you’d want to prioritise bigger windows / more views. 6. Will we regret giving up our small laundry room upstairs in exchange for an additional full bathroom for guests and future teenagers? Yes. Having teens share a bathroom is not a problem. I would even venture to say that it teaches them about sharing spaces, hygiene, and, frankly, the other sex’s bodies.… Read more »
This! 100% especially regarding the bathroom. So well put.
Yes to all this!!! So agree about the extra bathroom! And I think a pergola with vines would look so good on that porch if you feel you need it. You can even add roofing material to one down the road.
I totally agree with all above. Though I feel your pain about the windows and I am agnostic about you keeping them, I think you may regret if you don’t/turn out to love them if you keep them. They add that charm and character you want to keep. I really, really, don’t think you need an extra bathroom up there. If you put that in, you better believe one bathroom is going to turn into Charlie’s and the other is going to be Birdie’s in their teen years. Which is fine, but from many things you’ve written you want to make sure your kids grow up grounded etc, and I feel like a) sharing a bathroom with their sibling and b) making it easy and (therefore no excuses) for them to do their own laundry is going to help you achieve your parenting goals. By the way, I think it is awesome that you are even thinking along those lines. You guys have found real financial success but through it all you continue to seem grounded and conscientious of the financial hardships of others, as well as the larger struggles in our society. I’m pretty sure you’re the fairy godmother… Read more »
Absolutely, about the bathroom! Would a teenage girl love more space dedicated just to her? Sure. But whyyy at the cost of much more valuable space!? I can’t think of a single time I ever had problems sharing a bathroom with my two brothers. No arguing over long showers, messes, etc. It was just the norm. However, I do remember massive piles of laundry in the hallway that I had to step over before my parents would relent and/or lose it at us for.
Agree with all this.
If you are concerned about a covered porch reducing natural light in your house, you can put skylights in the roof of the covered porch. And shades on the skylights in the kitchen will solve the issue of unrelenting sun in the kitchen. Just choose shades that blend into the ceiling as much as possible when they are closed.
This is intense.
Yes, this is really intense. I mean, I feel so raw and almost beat-down after this past year. So I can’t IMAGINE kicking into super-high gear on a huge renovation, where there are 10,560 decisions put before you and they all come with the weight of your life and how it will function in a home for the next who knows how many decades. We did a major reno in 2017, my girls were 4 and 5 at the time. It feels like a different life to me, looking back now. I also thought we would NEVER EVER NEVER EVER NAH-AH NO WAY move, as this is my dream house, but from time to time I do look around Zillow. So maybe give yourself some breathing room on the idea of the “(perfect) forever home”.
Also, can you lean into your architect and team more? Actually, LOL – I would be the same way…….We’re renovating my new shop area for my business, I’m working with a designer (first time and loving it) and I know I drive her bat-shXt crazy……….
Oh my goodness, yes. I need a Lorazepam after reading this!
Again, such a fun post! Here’s my perspective:
Kitchen location: GREAT!!!
Natural light: Maximize it (i.e. skylights, biggest windows, no covered porch, etc.) And then have light filtering shades or curtains. In Canada on grey days I am so grateful for our huge windows. In many previous homes we had artificial lights on during the day which really bothered me. But here we almost never have to do that. On sunny days the short-lived “blasting” light is fine because we can filter it.
Q uestion about your bedroom: Why is it on the main floor? I’d assumed that was your preference for access to patio/hot tub, but you say in this post that you think second floor is ideal, which is my preference too. I’d rather have parents near the kids than guests. And if I were a guest, I’d feel uncomfortable staying near my friends’ kids while my friends are in a totally different part of the house. If it were my house I’d make the 60s addition the family room, small guest room, and turn the powder room into a full bath so guests have a shower right beside their room. And then above that on the second floor, I’d put the parents’ suite. So instead of a main floor addition, I’d enlarge the second floor as needed (probably not much). And then you could all use the same laundry space! Laundry: I would keep it on the upstairs landing, as I’ve campaigned for before! Have one small bin in the kitchen for household linens (towels, dish cloths, etc.) which you bring up as needed to wash. If each person has a hamper wherever they get dressed, then any piles that… Read more »
I forgot to say, the main floor guest room would be a great flex space when not needed for guests!
I don’t see anything wrong with having the parents on the first floor. It’s not a 120 room mansion. They’re not that far away from the kids. And it gives the parents some nice privacy. Why would a guest care about sleeping upstairs?
I LOVE this suggestion! It makes so much sense to have the main bedrooms and laundry all together and the guest space separate. (I would prefer a laundry room with built-in linen closet to the landing idea, though.) I personally love the airiness of sleeping on the second floor, summer breezes blowing through, bird’s eye view of storms, and find ground floor suites sort of frumpy. You can always use the guest suite when you’re elderly, but why live like you’re elderly now?
Also, my way of thinking, in rural VT, is less hiding from the kids in the house, but also less monitoring them when they’re outside. It’s a good balance.
If this is where they plan to live for the rest of their lives, a first floor bedroom is a better solution for aging in place. Stairs can become difficult to navigate when older.
An alternative would be for them to make the guest suite their primary bedroom once stairs become an issue.
Older people need to walk and do stairs to be healthy. My husband and I are in our sixties and have just intentionally bought a home in a walkable neighborhood with a second floor for sleeping to keep our bodies moving. Non-American cultures around the world stay healthy this way.
Great point about the main suite, PLUS another advantage of a main floor guest room is accessibility for aging relatives/in-law suite situations that may arise.
I love this idea!! I think I would do something similar too…
This discussion is so much fun. I will add my thoughts based on my own experience as a parent and as an architect who also obsesses over every detail: Kitchen—maximize that daylight, you will never regret it. Mudroom/main laundry room—get a big enough space back in the design, right off the carport. You will have soccer/softball/swimming gear coming in that door several times a week, as well as daily rain gear and dirty dogs. It is much better to contain the mess in one room. I would ditch the family room, move the kitchen over a few feet to the west, so that you can get a big mudroom on the east side, still have lots of windows in the kitchen on the south side, and also have that door to the back deck on the west. Sunroom—I still think that should be the playroom/TV room…as the kids get older, having a little more separation is a very good thing. Master bedroom—you will love your spacious and private first floor master, especially as you kids get older. You might want a combo of those sweet smaller windows along with French doors to a private patio, where you two can sip… Read more »
I also agree with this collection of comments! I would absolutely want a mudroom! Shoes, coats, gear, bookbags, dog stuff!!! Where will that all go? Despite living in several homes with a mudroom, our current home has only a coat closet. With 4 kids and a dog I’m always looking for solutions for the stuff, and I think we’re pretty minimal. I love Meredith’s comment above about moving the kitchen over to add the mudroom off the carport, and moving your bedroom upstairs. There are SO many comments and we all are saying different things with different priorities. Crazy maker! I enjoyed all the perspectives, but agreed most with her thoughts!
My last comment is that yes to hampers in rooms, but also the kids shared bathroom needs a hamper. My kids share a bathroom, and they disrobe in the bathroom before their showers. They are constantly “asking” their siblings to get their dirty clothes and put them in the hamper (which for us is in a closet in the hallway). Small thing, but something that is a nightly discussion at my house.
Hi- I could not agree more. For me I think there are some ‘flow’ issues here and I personally think the plan needs to be taken back to the start a bit and reworked from scratch without too many preconceived notions. I do feel like your bedroom is too large and I have had both large primary bedrooms in the US and smaller in GER and the large ones feel cavernous and soulless. You start finding other things to do to your bedroom like workout or work and it can change your ability to sleep and unwind in the space. I would love the primary suit upstairs focusing addition money there. You could even have the small balcony then! Guest suite can be your future ‘retirement bedroom’- complete with handicap accessible shower ect. Good for grandparents now as well. I think this whole 60s addition area could be reworked to include a bit larger family room (where kids and friends will definitely spend their time), a guest suite with a full bath as well as possibly allow you to shift your kitchen over more to allow you to maintain your mudroom- which I really think you will need! We had… Read more »
Also, if the main suite is upstairs you can have a little private balcony off it (again above the 60s addition). Assuming you like the balcony off your mountain house bedroom of course!
I love the idea of moving the primary bedroom upstairs with a guest suite downstairs. The guest suite can be used as an office space for you when guests aren’t there.
Also, a mudroom is an absolute must. I can’t imagine our level of disorganization if we didn’t have our mudroom with each kid having a closed locker. We also have a desk in there for mail sorting and filing. You could even write at this desk if you really do the mudroom right!
I actually started laughing out loud at how many times getting “blasted” by the sun was referenced. I haven’t lived in Portland but I do live in a grey and rainy climate and for me personally, the times when my house gets “blasted” by the sunlight are GLORIOUS. I live for that. I run and sit in that room, the cats lie in the sunny spot on the floor, we are 100% NOT putting the shades down. Especially if your house is not oriented toward the most natural light, I think getting blasted will be the best thing that will be happening to you on a weekly basis.
On the laundry/bathroom, I would prefer the laundry room over two bathrooms. This is coming from someone who grew up in a family of five and one bathroom shared by all. It’s ok. Your teenagers will survive.
yes, 1000%. i think E might look back at all this hand-wringing about the sun and see it was quite influenced by a CA perspective. especially coming from LA, i would say NOTHING should be built around the idea of impeding the sun. you’ll always want more, never less 🙂
Portlander here – we’ve currently had a week of it being near 80 degrees now in April, and sadly the summers are getting hotter and hotter. It is common for July and August to be in the 80s and 90s, and we usually also get a week of it being over 100 degrees.
Yes! I live in Portland and we have been getting “blasted” by the sun all week (we’re having unusual April weather) and my family and animals are spending all of our time in those hot spots soaking it up!!
Well, I live in Portland and I would say that it does get quite hot in the summer, and many of us with old houses don’t have air conditioning, which can mean 2-3 months a year that are uncomfortably hot. Our bedrooms are on the west side of the house and do get blasted with sun in the summer, making them particularly hot. I grew up in LA and I still think it gets hot in Portland. Even though it rains a good portion of the year here, I think it’s reasonable to plan for what this house will be like in the summer.
I live in Portland too, and my front room faces west and it is HORRIBLY hot in the summer time when it’s in the 80s and 90s.
I think people have ideas about what Portland was like 30+ years ago, or think it’s some sort of damp climate *year round*, whereas we have a wet winter but very dry and increasingly hot summers.
You’ve obviously reached the point where you are overthinking everything and second and third guessing yourselves. I’ve moved many times and as you know, there are always going to be compromises. It’s probably unrealistic to think that you won’t make any changes down the road but hopefully not major ones. You have a very livable plan and I personally much prefer the updated floor plans, especially with the kitchen open but separate from the living room. I do agree that having a laundry area upstairs is practical but also think you reach a point where decisions feel right and you just have to do it….or keep delaying, which is time and money. Maybe there are certain decisions that can be made later if necessary.
Really well said!
Completely agree! Also – I know they are thinking about this as their “forever” home, but as far as resale value goes, if it were ever to come down to that – having an additional (3rd) full bathroom is MUCH more valuable to future buyers than a second laundry room (which can be an excellent luxury to live with, but often isn’t a “requirement” for people the way number of bathrooms are.
Skylights in kitchen with automated shades – YES! Two baths upstairs vs. laundry room- YES! I get a little tickled when you talk about how your kids are going to be folding laundry etc….maybe it’s just mine but their version of ‘folding’ is wadding it up and throwing it in the closet. Don’t be too concerned about all that. They will really appreciate two bathrooms as teens. They will probably not have piles of laundry in the hall…it will be piles of dirty clothes in their rooms haha. Teens are not usually naturally neat creatures no matter how much you try to influence them :). Also a covered porch for us is a must. We have windows on three sides of the room and the covered porch faces west. It’s 12 feet high so we do have some light coming in. To me, the covered porch is 100% for shade purposes so the glass idea wouldn’t work for us. When it rains, it normally blows in a bit so we don’t sit out in the rain anyway. Also, can you imagine how that glass would look in a few years? Incredibly hard to clean. Excited to see your choices!
What about covered porch with skylights??
We actually have a covered porch with skylights that faces west right off our kitchen in Seattle. It is ideal as it provides a lovely afternoon reading spot without relentless sun exposure, a dry spot for the frequent package deliveries, and in the late spring and fall, a delightful place to sip tea and experience the drizzle while staying dry. Emily and Brian, I think you would love a wooden pergola covered in a kiwi vine or wisteria or any number of shade-producing plants that grow abundantly in the PNW. You could have a big table underneath for outdoor family dining/entertaining and would have dappled shade in the summer months when you need it most.
Here are my votes: keep the kitchen where it is, tucked back from the LR; add skylights over the kitchen – you can always get shades or blinds for them; yes, your bedroom seems cavernous unless you know exactly what furniture pieces you will use and how they will fill up the space; don’t cover the porch, PLEASE; and finally, put a laundry back on the second floor – you will NEVER regret it!
Wow, this sounds overwhelming! I am glad you’re going back, even for a little bit of time and am sure it will be helpful. That said, a few uninformed opinions: 1) Do not do the covered porch. Covered porches sound nice and they are nice, but the loss of light just isn’t worth it, esp. in a climate like the PNW. 2) YES to skylights in the kitchen. I have a south facing dining room and yes, it gets sunblasted in the morning, but not for too long and not in an unbearable way. Also if you have shades up there or can close/block the light in some way, you’ll be in great shape and it will be beautiful. 3) Do NO get rid of the upstairs laundry room. A laundry room will be infinitely helpful in corralling clutter and the extra bathroom seems unnecessary to me. Siblings of opposite gender have shared bathrooms for years and survived–just get a lock. Plus I think they may be more likely to keep it clean(er) if they share it than if they each have their own private space. 4) Those maps that tell you the path of the sun are ideal for… Read more »
Oh and one other thing: we got a new construction house 7 years ago in the Great Lakes region, so similar latitude and cloudiness issues to the PNW. We did not have the freedom that you guys do, but we did have some ability to customize an already existing floorplan, so we can really compare our house to almost identical ones that made different choices. I do not regret AT ALL is maximizing light wherever we could. When I compare our house to our neighbors’ homes in the same subdivision, the addition of windows makes our house SO much brighter and happier. I agree completely that natural light should be your guiding star in this project. I mean, maybe not in small ways, but for the big things (skylights, porch), follow the light and you won’t go wrong….
“Will I regret . . . ?”
Yes. Yes you will. You’re a creative perfectionist designing a house for a region you haven’t lived in and a life you haven’t lived, on a lot that you don’t have much experience with, for a future you can’t foresee or control, while also choosing to invite hundreds of people to give their opinions about it all. This is the perfect scenario for tying yourself into a million knots. It seems like something has to give: The “getting it right,” the fear of regrets, the public nature of this thing, something . . .
I think the downside of designing your own home is that it seems to offer the promise that if you just make all the right decisions, you can get the outcome right. And then when you live in it, all the things that you might mildly regret if you’d bought a home designed by someone else become personal mistakes or regrets.
This, this, this. You really got to part of the heart of the matter with designing your own home, ie, that we tend to blame ourselves if things aren’t perfect.
So astute! I’ve lived in a spec house for 16 years that was new, but fully completed-soup to nuts-when we moved in. I always say that the finishes may not be exactly what i would have picked, but who know i could have done worse and had no one to blame but myself! Now I’m in the midst of fully renovating a different house to move into, literally a dream come true, but also fraught with so much pressure and stress. The phrase be careful what you wish for comes to mind lol. I think you are right that Emily (and me!) wil need to expect and accept some level of regret, and vow to let ourselves off the hook entirely and do our best to focus on what we got right! And enjoy the process, which she def seems to be doing!
yes yes yes. I lived in several decent homes and was always satisfied with my kitchen — because I couldn’t do anything about it. We recently remodeled our kitchen and it is so easy to not appreciate what does work as i rue the compromises and wonder… don’t let it get to you. Perfection is impossible and the illusion that it is is a trap.
I live in Chicago and I have a sun room (windows on 2 walls) and in the summer it gets unbearably hot. The windows are south and west facing. I also love light but there is a line where it’s too much. To me with all those South facing windows, the skylights are probably overkill, and I think will make the living room appear very dark in comparison. In regards to the dogs, you can train them to come in and out of what door your prefer. Don’t leave it up to them. 😂 Yes they’ll get super muddy often, and if there’s a way to include a dog washing station I would highly recommend it for those daily foot washes. I like where the kitchen is in the updated design but try to add back in a mud room. Lastly, although you can plant trees strategically to offer shade, trees take a long time to grow big enough to be useful. I suggest adding a pergola across the deck and growing vines for shade. We did this in my last house that had west facing windows in the living room. This will offer quick growing shade, be easily thinned… Read more »
The smaller bedroom windows with deep sills and shutters sound beautiful and charming — just the kind of quirky detail I’d expect in a farmhouse. I love a darker cozy bedroom. I wouldn’t like skylights in my bedroom because darkness leads to better sleep for me but understand the need if the room is going to serve other purposes.
I’ve been contemplating gutting our first floor and completing changing the floor plan, and I’ve been using the app live home 3d which DOES let you walk through the space using augmented reality! It is really neat, but you would have to have arciform build the space in the app for you and then you just click start AR experience 1:1 and you can literally walk through the house looking at your phone and see what it would look like!
Just got the app you mentioned. Thanks, Amanda! Excited to try it.
Have you lived in Portland before? I’m reading this hearing you say “blasted by sun” so much and as a native Californian who lived in pdx for 7 years- Portland downs blast sun. Summers are THE BEST but the other 9 months is just gray. Get the most natural light you can but you will rarely be “blasted”
Totally depends on the house and window placement. I recently moved away from Portland, but our house there had really wonderful natural light all year. I previously spent several years in California and the Portland house had much nicer light than my various homes in California, I think because Californian homes are often designed to shelter the living spaces from afternoon light and heat. That said, we did have some spaces in Portland that got “blasted” at certain times of the year. But that’s what shades and curtains are for — get blasted, pull the shades, wait 30 minutes until the sun moves, open the shades. (Up/down shades are really great for this.) A few weeks later it would be a different window and a different room where we’d be doing the same routine. I will say that an outdoor covered area is really nice as we do get rain (though really not as much as some folks let on), but to prevent blocking light, I’d consider making it a pavilion separate from the house somewhere else on the property. Or just be like the normal non-design blogger folks in Portland and move your outdoor furniture into the carport in… Read more »
My 2 cents from someone in a chilly climate (Canada, so colder than Oregon, but still)
– Keep the kitchen where it is. it’s great
– Get the skylights. Light makes such a difference. You can always add automatic shades as needed (Velux makes good ones)
– No covered porch. I honestly cannot imagine sitting outside in the rain except on a warm summer night, in which case our retractable awning works just fine. Light is more important. The sunroom will be a good place to sit on a rainy day (nice and dry!).
– no opinion on the upstairs, but I think you are overthinking. We only have one bathroom upstairs, and one laundry room in the basement, and everyone does just fine. Either way, that extra room is a luxury and if you have plumbing, you could always adjust down the line.
Pst – you can virtually walk through your house using Enscape and VR goggles 🙂 We use it all the time in our office for commercial projects. Not sure if your Architect has this software but it’s definitely possible! Technology is cool.
Yes, that’s what I thought, too.,
There is a VR program where you could put your house renderings in and physically walk through your renderings while in the house!!!! Perhaps it’s very time consuming to create that rendering if Anne and her team aren’t already using software that’s compatible. I’m an owners rep on commercial construction and on my last project our contractor brought over VR glasses and we were able to physically walk our project before groundbreaking. It was SO COOL!!
As a teenager myself (17 year old), I would definitely vote for the two bedrooms. When I do my laundry I just take my hamper out to the laundry room and then load the machine. Also, folding always happens in my room, even though our laundry room is full sized (granted we only have one). I think that they will adapt to the layout, whatever you decide. If the laundry room doesn’t have space to fold, they will fold in their room.
As a girl, having my own bathroom is really nice. I understand that I would survive without it, as many are saying, but I also really love having it. I don’t bicker with my brother about how he smells as much 🙂 . Also as I’ve gotten older, being able to go to the bathroom and do my skin care routine, alone, has been a nice time to decompress after school and sports. I’m not saying that it’s absolutely necessary, but I also think that If you have the option for two bathrooms you should do it.
Correction to the 1st sentence **two bathrooms
I also forgot to add that if one of your kids is having sleepovers, sharing a bathroom is doable but may be a bit of a pain
Great contribution, Grace.
Ahhhh so cool to get an actual teenager’s perspective!! Thank you Grace!
Just to echo Grace’s great point, I’m nearly 30 and I STILL take my clothes from the laundry room to fold in my room! It’s what I grew up doing, and what I did all throughout college/apartments where I only ever had communal laundry rooms (big fan of the take the one huge pile of clothes or sheets directly out of the dryer to plop into the basket).
Usually I’ll play a podcast or have Friends reruns on in the background, so it’s nice to be able to spread all my piles out on the bed and take my time instead of potentially rushing.
Morning! I’ve shared this in a DM but it might have gotten lost and you know when you have an idea and you think it’s the best so you just have to share it again (and again?), but I still think you can keep the mudroom and build the kitchen out even further, and that way it would get East and South facing windows (which we currently have and is THE best). I obv don’t know if that’s an option you’ve considered already, but it would allow you to keep the mudroom, got a lot of extra light in, have a huge kitchen and keep the great room for a dining table and living area. It would be extra $$ and construction, but it might be worth it in the long run to get exactly what you want.
Please enjoy these Paint-made renders!
Forgot to say that you could also keep the awesome three sided cabinet with this layout!
Love this idea
Ok so this is rather out of curiosity because I live in France and don’t really know how construction works in the US, but is it common to build new windows or completely change the plumbing when renovating a house ? When I bought my house, some of the windows were not in the best positions sun-wise but changing them would have meant heavy masonry (? not sure I’m saying this right) and it costs A LOT, so I just kind of accepted the layout. Same for the kitchen : I renovated it but didn’t really change its location as it would have needed a lot of plumbing changes (and obviously gutting the floors to accommodate it), and it is really expensive. Maybe it kind of works differently in the US ? I’m really just curious and also totally understand that as a designer you would want a forever home exactly tailored to your needs. (also re: the number of bathrooms, I am always super surprised by the number of baths per bedrooms in the US compared to here ! We had one bathroom in a house for 5 growing up, and now I have two but it’s a big… Read more »
Almost all US houses are timber-frame built, and many are also built with timber-framed floors (the floors depend on what part of the US you’re building in), so changing window locations is fairly easy to do, especially in a remodeling as major as this one. Changing plumbing is harder, but still very do-able with the wood joist floors (i.e. timber-framing). In some parts of the US, houses are built on a slab foundation (i.e. poured cement), and as a consequence, the plumbing gets put in place as part of the slab foundation. In those houses, it’s MUCH harder/more expensive to change plumbing around — more like what you have with stone walls!
Also re: bathrooms, I’m American but have lived overseas several times, and YES, the US is crazy on bathrooms. Way too many bathrooms in modern houses, and people get very weird about <gasp> SHARING a bathroom. 🙂
Changing window locations and plumbing isn’t common… at least not in my price bracket.
Sandra, I think it’s a LOT easier to knock out walls and shift plumbing, etc. with wooden framed houses than with brick construction.
I havd a doubke brick house and think similarly to what you wrote.
Thank you all, I did NOT know all that !! Makes more sense now, to understand the difference between timber framed houses and poured cement ones (my kind) !
I live in the Czech Republic with meter-thick masonry walls (I’ll link my instagram if anyone is curious) so we definitely don’t move walls or windows if we can help it! And we had to jackhammer through our floors to install new plumbing. On the plus side, though, it’s much harder to permanently water damage masonry!
I’m an American who has the “normal” 2.5 bathrooms here in the US…but in my just-purchased house in Italy, there are 4.5 bathrooms serving 4 bedrooms. All of the 4 full bathrooms have a bidet, in addition to sinks, tubs or showers, and toilets. And it is not a grand house at all. None of the bedrooms have closets or even built-in wardrobes. There were 2 kitchens, but the seller took all the cabinets and appliances with him, as is the norm there. So what does this have to do with Em’s house? Just a note to illustrate how different places think about what is important, and maybe give us all a chuckle.
I definitely recall this stage of house planning when you start questioning everything, but I don’t regret the time and consideration we took on the end product, you have to live with it!
My two cents, not in the right order: Definitely forgo the extra porch in favor of living room sunlight the reasons: 1) your property allows you plenty of other options for enjoying the benefits of a porch elsewhere (think modern gazebo or farmers porch over that old structure you already have), 2) landscaping can help with the ‘blasting’ problem, if and when you decide it’s a problem (potted flowering tree on porch?). On the bedroom, I don’t think you’ll need that much space in bedroom, is there another first floor function you could give up some sq ft for – ahem mud room/storage room! Love the kitchen with the skylights, agreed on points for same colored shades. On kids bath/laundry, my vote is laundry, there are just fewer drawbacks.
! Can’t wait to see only have a tiny comment on 6. Laundry.
I love the two bathrooms (I asked for it back then) but technically you could do a washer dryer closet if you or a linen closet onto the landing or inside the bathroom.
For the hamper just do a chute 🙂 to the downstairs laundry (always cool!)
I love that you have the kids folding laundry on the bed 😉 I think the biggest success you’ll have is having folding in front of tv and the kids have a basket each to take up to their room and put it away 😉
Good luck! And can’t wait to hear about the natural light because I need light too…
Wow! I had no idea y’all had started demo. I’m sorry. If I had known you were this far along, I never would have made my comment last week about turning the kitchen 90 degrees and keeping the old kitchen as a pantry/mudroom. The design you have now is very similar to the mountain house in not having a mudroom and it works for your family. So, don’t stress! As for the natural light….YES!!! In my old house, I had skylights in the kitchen (white, not clear and no shades) and they were fabulous!!! And I live in Texas. In my new house I’m still trying to figure out how to add more natural light because we’re covered by trees. Always go with more natural light!!! You’re house is going to look amazing. You got this!!!
1. The new kitchen location is amazing! I can’t see how you will regret this decision.
2. Do skylights with shades!
3. Add a pergola off the west facing living room with vines that shade during the winter.
4. I would not give up the laundry room. I might add a closed off water closet in the bathroom instead so both kids can use the bathroom at the same time.
5. How do you see yourself using the main bedroom? Mostly to sleep or to escape from the kids during the day?
The dogs will be very muddy and the kids will not going outside that much when it is raining, which is all but 3.5 months per year. Put the overhang on the porch and plan on coming in the door near the car. (Can you tell I hated the weather in Portland?) We lived on a 5 acre farm and by the time you come inside from doing all the things you have to do in the rain you are not going to want to go hang outside in the rain.
I really vote to keep (IMO) is the kitchen in the breakfast nook so you get the nice light. I think you are really used to the California light. I laughed at how many times you wrote BLASTED in all caps! Just get shades for the 45 min the sun is in that position. I also vote no to covering the porch. We have a covered “porch” (which is really just a bit of roof overhang over concrete) on our house in Indiana, and the rooms behind that area are INCREDIBLY dark. Yes, they are not facing West, so that could be a factor, but we plan to put in skylights in those rooms eventually because they are like dark closets. I think it won’t be possible to have zero regrets, but this house is going to be beautiful and incredible and you will be so happy there, surrounded by your extended family. We are rooting for you!
Love reading about this! I do think you’ll regret not having laundry upstairs. Our second story only has our kids’ bedrooms, a Jack and Jill, and a laundry closet…they keep their hampers in their bathrooms, and having the washer upstairs really helps keep the kid clutter in their “lair”…we dump their dry laundry on their beds to fold it and immediately put it away and it works really well. Sometimes there is a hamper in the hallway, but I honestly don’t mind it–it’s their space to manage.
I’m from sunny Medford, lived in Portland for 6 years and I was constantly chasing the sun from where I lived in NW 21st. I would only sit in the south facing room and I would even sit on the floor in that ray of sunshine if need be. Go all out on windows, quality heat AND AC!! When it’s hot in Portland, it’s HOT. Sounds like you’re getting a tub as an outlet to warm yourself up. If there’s room in the budget, think of sauna or swim spa. Swim spas are great for the kids too. You’ll love an outdoor umbrella moment on an uncovered patio. Definitely do a gazebo situation for a little destination out in your yard. The kids who live in the West Hills only have their covered decks as play space and they make the best of it with bouncy houses and climbing obstacles equipment. The dogs even do their business on the patios! There’s always a towel at the door to wipe those paws off because it’s usually raining 🙂 Some people resort to turf for the dog areas. I hope the move is an enchanting new chapter! I’m excited to read all… Read more »
So many decisions, no wonder you feel overwhelmed. I only feel qualified to offer input with dogs and covered porches. We do not have a mud room, so our covered porch is the “capture zone” when the dogs get messy from mulch or outright muddy. We added a hose bib to that side of the house for the garden, and we have used it once when the dogs got extremely muddy. Now I LOVE to sit on my covered screened porch spring, summer, and fall, especially when it thunderstorms. I have surrounded it with bird feeders, bird baths, hummingbird feeders, and plants that attract birds and butterflies. In the warmer months there’s about 15-20 where the sun “blasts” the porch swing before it gets blocked by a leafed out tree. In the heat of the NC summer, I only use it in the mornings and evenings (with the overhead fan running). I do wish I had skylights in the adjacent room, it does affect how much light I get inside. But I use this porch like one might use a sunroom, so I’ll turn on interior lights, eventually get skylights before ever giving up my precious screened porch. Our future… Read more »
Regarding the laundry room, I’ve never understood why anyone wants a large laundry room. We keep a hamper in our closet (where we change, and thus most laundry originates) and fold on our bed – which means a large surface to spread thing out into categories, so you just gather socks in one corner, workout wear in another, shirts to hang djust get laid out and put directly into the closet, no intermediate folding necessary. The only thing I’d want a larger laundry space for would be hang dry since we generally have 1 load of that each week.
The houses I grew up in had first floor laundry and it was never an issue for my parents, brother, and me. When we were young my brother and I had a shared hamper in the bathroom and as we got older and started doing our own laundry we had individual hampers in our rooms. We kept laundry upstairs until we were ready to wash and then brought it down. We ended up folding on the kitchen table or island sometimes or on our beds.
As a person who has never in my life had a full blown “laundry room,” (and I’m now in my late 30s) it’s not something I feel I would need. We have a hamper in our primary bedroom bathroom and each of the kids have a hamper in their rooms. They are still little (4.5 and 1.5) but I think I will continue to have hampers in their rooms. It feels like less dirty clothes will end up on their floors as they grow (a constant pain point for my mom when I was a kid/teen and I had to put my dirty clothes in a hamper in my parents room). Or, with that large bathroom the kids will use, a hamper could go in there to collect their dirty clothes. I think the laundry closet aspect will be fine. I also prefer to fold my laundry either in the room it’s being put away in for ease and guarantee it makes it to the drawers! Or while watching TV at night and then carry the laundry basket into the appropriate room to be put away. I feel like a laundry room would become a collection spot for both dirty… Read more »
Coming from someone who lives in a 140 year old Victorian home, here is no such thing as too much light when the alternative is not having enough. Add the skylights and make your bedroom windows bigger. Ditch the interior shutters. Cute, but not necessary and not quite gelling with the look of the other windows.
I wouldn’t add a covered porch. You have the sunroom and a covered porch in the front if you really want to sit outside with a cup of coffee on a rainy morning. It’s back to the lighting thing and I think you’ll want to maximize that. What about a retractable sunshade for when you want the cover? Not sure if the space is too long for that.
I would not add a second laundry room. I think bathrooms are always more important. The kids may want their own as they get older and it will save time in the mornings, plus you have more options for guests. Bathrooms you use many times a day, laundry is less frequent.
I love these posts! So fun to see your thought process and I’m so excited to see this home develop.
Excellent point about how two upstairs baths will save time in the morning!
Will the dogs even be muddy? Yes.
I grew up on the dry side of WA and when I moved to the wet side one of the first lessons I learned was:
— if it’s not paved, it’s mud (and sometimes it’s mud even if it’s paved)—
Perfectly manicured lawn? Mud. Mulch? Mud. Gravel? Mud.
I cannot tell you how many pairs of leather shoes I have destroyed by forgetting this rule. August backyard wedding when it hasn’t rained for weeks? Oops, 15 minute rain showers and now your beige suede block heels are toast.
So, will the dogs be muddy? Yes.
Hahaha! 😹 I love this, because it is so TRUE!!! 🐾🐾 🐾🐾
My hot tip as a lifelong PNW person is to have a super absorbent rug and towel next to the door the dogs go in and out of. It is not aesthetically pleasing but it makes life so much better. I have never had a mud room and wouldn’t probably lean toward getting one. It’s definitely manageable as long as you’ve got a dog-friendly, washable rug.
So true! And don’t forget…if it’s flat and outdoors, it will mold and mildew, so that covered porch isn’t a back idea. Put some sunlights in it to bring in the light.
Edited: bad idea….not back idea.
We moved to Portland from San Diego in October of 2019 so I feel very confident telling you to get the skylights. Please. It will make an incredible difference in the winter. Get all the skylights. Also, I’d vote no on original windows downstairs – we had a 1912 craftsman down in SD with all original windows blah blah which was doable there but would just be too cold here particularly on the first floor and particularly when you say they will let in less light. They will create a cold spot that no one will want to use. Modern windows, lots of them, are the best thing about our house here. And the gas fireplace. And the tub. Also, I don’t mean to be a jerk but, when you get old and you walk around all day with no shoes on, your body starts hating stairs. You might want to reconsider that 2nd floor laundry. Good luck and welcome back!
I have lived in the same house since 1986. During that time I got married, had two children, remodeled, got divorced, waved goodbye to the children when they went off to college, remarried, retired. My advice is, you CANNOT get this perfect just like you CANNOT get life perfect. It’s OK. Houses are hardware; humans are software. We adjust. The two things I still love about my remodel are a) a black granite countertop and b) dark gray slate tiling in a hallway. I don’t even still love my wall of windows in the living room because the beautiful tree they used to look at FELL DOWN due to climate change. Luckily, not on my house;). Pick 5 things you know you will love and just make some decisions on the other stuff and enjoy.
Houses are hardware; humans are software.
You should TM that!
Agree that is brilliant!
Ha! You guys are cute! Thank you. I had a career in tech. And let’s put it on the Creative Commons available for any and all;).
I find that I adjust how I live to the space I have. It will never be absolutely perfect, but you’ll adapt to whatever is and it won’t matter that much.
And tubular skylights can be a way of getting more soft sunlight into your home.
As far as which doors kids will go through when home from school, playing, etc – determine what works best and tell them ‘this is the door we come in after playing/school, whatever.’ Just establish the new systems of the house.
We have hampers in the kids rooms for dirty laundry. When they are full, we wash. Don’t give up your second guest bathroom upstairs just for laundry pile reasons that you have had in previous homes. Again, establish new routines and systems.
‘Blasts’ of light: I know you have sunny summers in the PNW, but isn’t it worth having extra light for the long winters? You can even place indoor plants where you feel there is too much light in the summer. I lived in Seattle for a few years and remember how much nicer it was in my apartment with big windows opposed to my apartment with few windows.
I think it’s great that you are going to the site to confirm all these decisions. My two cents: Get the skylights in the kitchen but with integrated shades so you can control the light of it’s too intense. With the covered porch, this is intensely personal. We have a covered gazebo on our deck, and we LOVE it. I burn super easily and it rains her a lot in the pretty months. Especially during COVID, having a covered area to sit outside on both sunny and rainy evenings has made a huge difference for us and we will REALLY miss it when we move. We love sitting under it on our outdoor couch with cocktails and a fire in our gas fire pit. BUT, our gazebo is not against the house so it doesn’t limit our light. Having a ceiling fan in the summer and a roof in the winter really helps make the space more usable all year round for us, but this is really really personal to your needs. With regard to laundry/bathroom, that’s a know your family as well. Will the kids actually do their laundry right away and take it back to their rooms? Or… Read more »
Reminder about retractable awnings – I think they are much more attractive than they used to be and can be added on later.
My vote is to totally lose the laundry room upstairs. A separate guest bath (if possible) is thoughtful, safer for all involved (protecting privacy and uncomfortable walkins), and very handy for keeping clean/ready to go. Also, when one child is barfing, the other can use the guest bath to avoid germs until the bout is ended and the bathroom deep cleaned. (Just packing on the positives of the guest bath.) If you have a landing where you can put a laundry closet b/c you want the kids doing their own laundry, you can train them to be thoughtful to each other, guests, and to the owners of the home (you and Brian). Honestly, it isn’t that difficult to get kids to developed a routine for laundry and to do so thoughtfully. Great consequences of not doing what they are told/the thoughtful route…pushups, folding others’ laundry, quarter to the donation jar, etc. Kids learn quickly – it is the parents who take longer to learn that we have to monitor and follow through. As for the others…legit questions/concerns. I think you can ‘train’ (for lack of a better word) the kids of which door (or two) they come inside regularly. If… Read more »
It is looking soooo good already!!!! As you know we have a West facing living room with a covered porch and well, you know my whole dilemma there.
I grew up in Seattle. Designing for light up there is honestly much less important than other places. The skies are overcast so much of the year, in the end you end up wanting your house to feel like a place you can snuggle into. I don’t ever plan on moving back but if I did, I’d design for cozy, warm spaces. The kind of house where you sip tea on a dreary day wrapped up in a blanket because that’s what you do. Those bright, gorgeous days you’re not in your house anyway. You’re out in the world enjoying those beautiful days because they’re more rare.
Not sure if this will fit the aesthetic of your house but a pergola with retractable canopy could be a solution for the area outside the living room.