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Design

Our Farmhouse – First Floor Tour And Challenges + What Original Elements We Plan On Keeping

I feel like the nervous 16-year-old boy, picking up a girl for a first date, being confronted by her overprotective father in the TV trope we’ve seen a million times. In this scenario, YOU are the protective dad and your daughter is this house. So, ahem, I just want you to know that I have only the best of intentions with your daughter/this house. I know publicly watching someone renovate an over 100-year-old historic home and add some modernity to it might be hard for many purists. I get that. But trust me, I want the same things as you – to respect the original intent of the home and bring it to life for our family to live long term without having to renovate again. Will every decision be what you would do? Nope. And that’s ok because I think you’ll see that by the end this house is going to be STUNNING and I hope we’ll all learn how to embrace original intent while also making it what you want for your own life. In short: If we didn’t want a house with a ton of soul and vintage charm, we simply would have not bought this home.

With too much to show you last week, we are breaking this up (thank you so much for all your wonderful supportive and exciting comments – I teared up so many times). Today I’m going to take you through the first floor, room by room, and break it all down. First off while I used to think floorplans were boring (mostly because I didn’t really understand them, now I LOVE them and devour them on every blog, especially the ‘befores’ as I rearrange them in my head). So after two days of the Arciform team measuring (four people for 8 hours, it’s a real science), we have our ‘as-builts’ which is a fancy name for the floor-plan AS it was BUILT (I’m assuming that’s why it’s called that but if not then that’s the easiest way to understand it).

Let’s go on a little video walkthrough first! (Just let the ad in the beginning play through:))

THE ENTRY

As you walk in there is this little entry that is super sweet. It has an original window that we love but might move and put in a larger one here to add more light. I guess in Oregon you need “coat closets” for guests so they don’t throw their raincoats on the back of your sofa, so I’d love to figure out how to do that in a non-messy way. Brian and I are not on board with the plan here so you’ll hear more about this later. I love the original door, but will likely strip and stain or paint.

THE LIVING ROOM (OUR GREAT ROOM)

As you can see the living room is BIG, lodge-like even, with the dining room in the back. This room is a real wonder for that era because it has high ceilings (9′ to the beams, 10′ to the tongue and groove) even though in photos it doesn’t look that tall but it is! This is pretty surprising for when it was built – to have a first floor this tall is rare (the whole original house is strangely spacious, not chopped up at all). You walk in and you are like, woah this is a GREAT room (which is what we are ultimately going to call it – the GREAT room). It feels really solid and warm.

CHALLENGE #1 – LIGHTEN IT UP

The space itself is GREAT, but this room is pretty dark, as you can see. A lot of this might be solved by lightening up the ceiling and painting the walls, but where it’s positioned in the house is challenging (it kinda floats in the middle with the only windows facing west (with a huge bush blocking light) and North (with tall trees). We can’t add skylights here because it’s on the first floor, so we have some pretty great ideas already on how to bring in an abundance of natural light. If you guessed that we are opening up that West wall to the backyard, you are right. But we have even more ideas…

THE FIREPLACE

The fireplace is original (as far as we can tell) and I’ve actually totally grown to love it as-is. I love the humility and simplicity of white brick and the scale of it is great for the room. Even though it’s not load-bearing and we could change it, I’m into it and as of now, we are embracing it. We’ll likely repurpose the stove into the victorian house and add a gas insert here because I love the ease of a gas fireplace in the mornings. I’d love to give another shout out to Anne from Arciform because I was sure that as a designer she would have preferred to ‘reinvent’ everything and push back on things that I wanted to keep even though they might not be my “dream” element. But no, she was like, ‘It’s good, let’s keep it and spend your money somewhere else’ which is such a relief. Not everything has to be new, perfect, or “your fantasy” situation. Every single thing you change costs money in materials, time, and labor and we know that there are some things that we want to do that are going to be very expensive so why not save on things that we like and are good enough? The fireplace stays.

THE WINDOWS

The whole house has a mix of these beautiful original windows (with the diamond pattern) and not original aluminum windows. Since we are opening up that wall to the backyard we are going to repurpose at least one if not both of the originals to another area of the house (after they are fully repaired, double pained, stripped and stained, or painted). Then we’ll design a front window (or 2 or 3 :)) for the front that works well with the diamond pattern.

FYI, we aren’t keeping anything that is super damaged or won’t work long term – we don’t want to just replace something later, in the name of keeping something original now. We are trying to find a place for some pieces in the other house if they are salvageable (that like bookcase and bench). We are still determining the age and quality of many elements. While I have committed to wasting as little as possible in this house I’m not going to be held hostage by elements that we don’t like, especially if they aren’t original, practical or functional. Remember, we are doing this once, and for the long-term.

This room shares the space with the dining room, near the kitchen. Yes, we are doing some intense reconfiguration down here which I can’t wait to tell you about.

THE KITCHEN

Right off the massive living room is this sunny galley kitchen.

For a galley kitchen, this is again very spacious – much wider than most I’ve been in. It was redone in the ’80s to match the original style of the house and it’s in GREAT condition (Tom, the former owner told us that it was done by a master carpenter and you can tell). The cabinets are solid, the soapstone is so pretty and the sink is in great shape. I even love the little beadboard backsplash, which is also in the upper cabinets (thinking about leaving it and painting it). I have ideas flying on how to integrate this into the overall design but will this remain “The Kitchen”? You’ll see!!!!

The appliances will likely be replaced (and mostly integrated) as I’m staring at the photos I’m wondering where the dishwasher is, but we’ll figure it out 🙂 The fridge will go into the garage (FINALLY A GARAGE FRIDGE!) and, well, I have lots to show you once we get the floorplan nailed down. Overall – it is in great shape, even though it’s not original and we are not going to spend money to redo it and instead integrate it into the overall design of the home (likely paint the cabinetry). The flooring here is again not original and since the whole first floor is a mishmash of different floorings (linoleum, two different woods, carpet) we are likely going to replace all of it with fresh wood reclaimed flooring from Oregon trees. 🙂

THE SUNROOM/BREAKFAST NOOK

The cutest little room in the house is clearly an addition, but I LOVE it. It could easily house a little breakfast table and more mudroom storage. This is likely the everyday entrance to the house as it’s closest to the cars, so this will be more of a multipurpose space. It does seem a shame that this room gets ALL the sun and the living room gets none, so we are hoping to make it more equal. Every room deserves some southern light, no?

she’s cute, huh??

CHALLENGE #2 – WE NEED A PROPER TV/FAMILY ROOM AND A PRIMARY SUITE…

The house has this massive living room, and this huge wing of rooms but no family real room or even (and more importantly) a primary bedroom suite. So I needed help reconfiguring the entire downstairs to A. Add a family hangout area and B. Add our bedroom, bathroom, and walk-in closet (I MIGHT FINALLY GET A WALK-IN CLOSET). And yet we still want a sunroom/mudroom and we need more of a pantry. If you are wondering if we are stealing from the living room you are right AGAIN. Indeed we are. And by ‘stealing’ I mean ‘joining’… you’ll see.

THE ’60S ADDITION

I guess in the ’60s it was permitted as an adult foster care or adult support group something, I forget, and needed more meeting rooms. So they added a really large wing. Right now it’s a big bathroom, that opens to a large laundry room. Then a family room and two offices (one was most currently used as a bedroom). The potential for this space is huge as it’s a huge wall of rooms that could have southern light and yet could open to a big deck that connects it to the living room…

This is why I originally wanted to hire someone, to help me with this puzzle. And Anne and Stephyn (Arciform), and Brian and I have been having 3-hour weekly screenshare zoom calls (plus an additional hour on the weekend because IT’S SERIOUSLY SO FUN) to play “floorplan puzzle”. We’ve already reconfigured it like 12 times (don’t worry we recorded the entire thing) and each time I’m like ‘THAT’S IT’ and then we stare at it and realize it can be slightly better but by making it slightly better something else has to give. Stay tuned early next week for the upstairs tour and those challenges. Then we’ll get into the floorplan porn for all of you who get as excited about this as I do now.

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Nathalie
6 months ago

So excited to watch you work your magic! We’re taking an extended break from big, messy renovations (in order to remain sane), so doing this vicariously is the best. Also, I love the layout of this post with the floorplans and then the pictures.

Eve
6 months ago

Really looking forward to seeing what you do with it, I think it’s going to be amazing!
As a side note do any other UK/European readers find it quite funny how Americans are so amazed by a 100 year old house?! Here a house of that age wouldn’t even be worth mentioning…I used to live in a house that was built in 1670 and nobody was impressed 😂 I know people whose houses are even older!

Vicki
6 months ago
Reply to  Eve

Haha, yes I’m in the UK and I find this funny too. 100 years is nothing at all!

Johanna
6 months ago
Reply to  Eve

I thought the same. In Germany, living in a 100 year old house is very common. I like that you are keeping the windows!

Kelly P
6 months ago
Reply to  Eve

As an American who now lives in the UK I laugh when I hear Americans say 100 years is historical too even though I used to do it ALL THE TIME regarding my 1928 house in Tucson, AZ. To be fair, that *IS* old for Tucson but it still sounds hilarious in the context of what is considered old in the UK.

Wally
6 months ago
Reply to  Eve

I think this varies by coast – on the east coast a 100+ year old building is not at all unusual, but it is far more unusual on the west coast.

Jessica
6 months ago
Reply to  Wally

Yeah, the West Coast of the US has 2000 year old trees instead of 2000 year old houses.

I once told a coworker from China that I was taking a class where we were translating a very old Chinese poem, he asked how old it was and when I said 1300s he laughed at me and said that wasn’t very old at all!

Fern bunny
6 months ago
Reply to  Wally

Yes, it varies. I live in Chicago in a house built in 1873–2 years after the Great Chicago Fire. So our house is considered rare. It would be not noteworthy in Virginia or Néw England.

Katharina
6 months ago
Reply to  Eve

Haha, yes, and I’m also really confused by things such as a “family room” that isn’t also the living room, as well as a “sun room”, certainly not terms used in Germany! 🙂 Really looking forward to all renovations, I’m so into it!

alexa
6 months ago
Reply to  Katharina

Yes. I am American, but also don’t understand the need for both a living room and a family room. Feels like one would become a museum room that no one really uses.

Morgan
6 months ago
Reply to  alexa

I just came to the comments to ask about the family room vs living room thing too! As a Canadian, I thought maybe the need for two separate rooms was an American thing, but maybe it’s more of a class thing? Like a formal sitting room vs a living room? Do both rooms actually get used daily? Maybe the kids hang out in the family room and the parents stay in the living room? Or daytime vs nightime use?

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  alexa

It works well for kids and adult spaces. Spesh when the kids are teens.

Mandy
6 months ago
Reply to  alexa

We have both and neither room is anything like a museum. I personally cannot stand the sound of a TV on, hate the aesthetics of one, and simply don’t watch it hardly at all (except for a weekly movie night), but I’m not going to banish it from the house, haha! So our solution was to create a family media room in the spare bedroom where the door can be closed and that’s also where the kids keep their toys and we have basic furniture that can get messy. Then we have our living room/den downstairs with a gas fireplace and nice furniture and built-in bookcases and that’s where we cozy up together everyday to read, play the piano, chat, snuggle, play board games, listen to records, etc. and it’s simply the best. It is SO nice to not have any toys strewn about or distracting shows on…just uninterrupted family bonding time.

Jen
6 months ago
Reply to  alexa

We’re in a relatively modestly-sized century-old home (1100 sqft) and we have both a living room and a separate “family room”. Every other place we’ve lived has had the wide open “great room” and I hated having the television as a focal point. In our house now, we refinished the attic (has proper stairs up but sloped ceilings only reaching a little over 6 ft tall) for a play space and cozy television watching space. It works out wonderfully, especially in normal times when we have friends over. The adults can hang out in the living room downstairs and have nice conversation and the kids can play/watch a movie upstairs.

Andrea
6 months ago
Reply to  alexa

Not at all – one room can have the tv and one can be quieter for reading or socializing. Especially with kids or sports-lovers, it’s great to be able to have a nice spot to read or visit with a friend while others in the family have the tv on in a different room.
Our house is too small for both, but we repurposed a main floor bedroom as a tv den for years and I loved it! Finally Child 1 got to be too old to share a bedroom with Child 2 and we had to give up the tv den to be a bedroom again. I miss it desperately!

Evelin
6 months ago
Reply to  Katharina

Same here, and if you live in an 100 sqm apartment this is big enough for a family of 4, hence 3 bedrooms and 1 “living room” for all. But this seems to be tiny in the US. I really love and enjoy the different persepectives on living here: US East, Middle and West, Australia (hi Rusty!), UK, etc.

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Evelin

Hi Evelin!👋
I’m almost ashamed to say that the houses being built now in Western Australia are a flippin’ 200 square METRES!
Ridiculous! And most gavd virtually no garden area!
Ugh!

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Eve

Eve, it’s a huge thing in Australia. Such a western ‘young’ country with the oldest living culture in the world!
Most houses are extremely young by UK standards, so 100 years old here is 1/2 as old as the colonial country itself.
We love ’em and cherish them, because there was a flurry of “bowl ’em over” anarchist developers in the 1970s who butchered the historic architecture of Australia.
You’d laugh that, here, the Millennials are xalling 1950s and 60s houses “character homes.”🤣

Katie
6 months ago
Reply to  Eve

I think in the US we also have this, but at a more compressed scale! For example I am originally from the Boston area and moved to South Carolina, near Charlotte. My hometown has a lot of houses from the 1700’s on, and that feels kind of normal, to have a house of that age. In my new town, my 70 year old mill house bungalow is OLD for the area. People will comment on it all the time as being so old, and I find it kind of funny after growing up in a house that was probably three times its age. Obviously you Europeans have nothing on us in that regard, but it’s fun to think about the difference in perceptions of age in different areas.

Kallie Elder
6 months ago
Reply to  Eve

That’s is interesting. We live in Ok, which was not even a state until 1907, so a house that is older than the 1920’s is a real gem.

Katie
6 months ago
Reply to  Eve

Yes I find that so funny too, I grew up in a medieval inn. You had to duck to get through every door, there were four massive inglenooks which snow would come down, all the walls were wattle and daub and the downstairs floors were all flagstones. 100 years old is practically new in England.

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Katie

Katie, I’ve watched a ton of Escape to the Country!
Even the newer builds in the UK look old compared to the crappy McMansion builds in other countries, like, sadly, Australia and the USA.

Nicolette
6 months ago
Reply to  Eve

I’m in California, my house was built in 1950 and everyone says its SoOoOoOo old 🙂

Paula Carr
6 months ago
Reply to  Eve

Well, Europeans building European style buildings haven’t been on the continent for more than a few hundred years. You’ve had the more-or-less same culture living in the same places for thousands of years. There’s no real comparison at all. I happen to be older than the house I grew up in (I was a year old when my family moved in), and that’s not unusual.

Wesley
6 months ago

This is going to be stunning and can’t wait to follow along. I’m curious—given the vintage of the house—if lead paint is a concern at all. And if it is, how you’re treating it. You mentioned stripping some windows or doors, but I’d love to know more. Thanks!

Kelly Radu
6 months ago
Reply to  Emily

I assume you’re testing for asbestos as well?

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Wesley

Having been a teen while we had an antique store, acid baths are a frequently used way of stripping doors and windows (minus glass obviously) which removes the lead paint issue.
The acid ‘fluffs’ the wood a bit, but that’s easily fixed via careful sanding where there’s fine detail or carving.
Oh, my… the things that are stored in the crevices of my mind! Ha!

Jane
6 months ago

Such a complex layout, I wouldn’t know where to begin or how to imagine it any other way! That’s why I prefer self-builds, these renos are great for puzzle solvers!

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane

But then you don’t get the history, true patina, soul or bespokeness of old homes.
I’ll be staying in my Old Girl for as long as possible.
Even if I need to move to a more ‘affordable’ suburb, I’ll be looking for an oldie with good bones to fix.

Caity
6 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

I totally agree Rusty! I grew up in New England and old houses are just so common there (my town was settled in 1628), and when I moved to Indiana I was pretty dismayed because while there are beautiful old houses here, there just aren’t as many! We ended up in a 60s house that has some Frank Lloyd Wright elements, and we are slowly renovating away the bad renovations from the 70s and 90s. It has great bones, but it doesn’t feel really “me,” you know what I mean? I long for a New England cape or saltbox or farmhouse…By the way, I LOVE historical Australian architecture. You can see a beautiful example of it in that Nicole Kidman film “Australia.” I’ve always wanted to build a house in that exact style. I love how huge the central hallway is and how all the rooms radiate off of that. What is your house like?

Melissa
6 months ago

Can’t wait to follow along on this transformation! Please don’t rip out that beautiful trim. It won’t feel heavy if it’s painted. Looking forward to the floor plan porn. I’m constantly looking at real estate photos and reimagining the layout. Maybe I missed my calling…

Beth
6 months ago
Reply to  Melissa

I agree about the trim! My house has what appears to be the exact same trim as here, but painted white (my grandparents used to own the house and my granda painted it like 50-60 years ago), and it looks great! Not at all heavy.

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Emily

Fine tuning my radar here!

6 months ago

So many cute elements in the house (that cute white door in the breakfast nook area, the built-ins!). I LOVE floor plans. This one definitely feels trickier, but I’m sure it’ll be great after your reconfiguration.

i’m so excited to see what you do. i LOVE that kitchen so much! that woodwork! swoon. i don’t think the “fussy” things in there are fussy. they fit in with the house age and feel and aren’t super frou-frou. They’re actually pretty sleek (for a traditional style at least).
the fireplace is a DREAM. i’m so glad you’re keeping so many of the older elements in there. i find it so much more interesting to see how designers work with those things vs. just ripping out and replacing. that is where the creativity lies and what makes a home more unique.
i actually like the layout of the laundry room. is it’s location what is awkward?

Kj
6 months ago

The laundry room layout is terrible. Never separate your washer and dryer, interrupts your workflow by adding steps to a task that isn’t that fun to begin with.

Reply to  Emily

oh, yeah, i could see that being a better plan. laundry room + mudroom.

NancyNimmo
6 months ago
Reply to  Emily

Your planning and showing us is so fun. We just finish a house wherein the garage door goes to the big mudroom, that has the laundry machines, that attaches to a big walk through closet, then our bathroom/ shower then finally the bedroom….from messy, to cozy clothes, to bath room facilities, to not so big bedroom. The mudroom has been a godsend to southern Californians new to rain/snow.

Cath M
6 months ago
Reply to  Emily

Yes, I wouldn’t be crazy about a laundry room attached to a bathroom. That area of the house is definitely a puzzle. Cannot wait to see how you solve it. This is all so exciting. Can’t wait to see what you do with it. Such a great house and great bones.

Rusty
6 months ago

I agree re the fussy bits n bobs. If they’re going to paint the wood (🙃) the fussiness will be more in keeping and streamlined.
It bugs the bejeebies outa me when people pull the guts out…it loses the soul, but sounds like Emily is set on keeping the soul.
So relieved…yaaaay!

Caity
6 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

I also think those trim bits are not original to the style of the house, they feel more 80s to me, so I think you should feel free to get rid of them!

Kelly P
6 months ago

I’m so excited to see this project happen! The house is gorgeous. I have to admit that I’ll have to start to prepare myself now both mentally and emotionally for the possibility of the kitchen cabinets being painted. I think they are so beautiful as is and would absolutely leave them. I’m very interested to see how it all ends up though!

Evelin
6 months ago
Reply to  Kelly P

yes, the wood looks great! maybe sanding and a fresh laque? or light stain? I think paint would loose the look and touch of an quality carpenter´s work.

Emily
6 months ago
Reply to  Kelly P

Agree – unless the cabinets are in bad shape I would 100 million percent leave them unpainted! Less maintenance and so pretty.

Maggie D
6 months ago

Oh man, so much goodness going on here! I love floorplans too! So much fun! Question though, why do you feel the need to have a family room in addition to a living room? Just curious as I never fully understood why this is necessary lol.

Cannot wait to see all this unfold!

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Maggie D

Ever lived with teenagers?
Makes for a happy family without kids being bats up in their rooms, hanging out on their own, getting up to….hhhhmmmmm…..

Kara
6 months ago
Reply to  Maggie D

Yup, love having separate family room/living room. Lots of times my kids are watching YouTube or something annoying in the family room and I can retreat to the living room and read my book in peace.

Michelle Van Winkle
6 months ago
Reply to  Maggie D

I love having more than one living space. I will say, I guess it depends on your family culture. In our home. . . we expect that our kids don’t really hang out in their bedrooms especially when they have guests, and once they are entering tween ages its tough to have friends over ect if they can’t hang out in a space that isn’t separate from parents. Also nice when we have people over. Allows adults to be in one space and kids in another. We actually have two living spaces in an open concept main floor and a finished basement and all three spaces are used every day with three kids.

Amber
6 months ago
Reply to  Maggie D

I think this reflects a change in our culture. A generation ago, kids would entertain themselves in a “game room” or a “bonus room” or even their own bedrooms. Now parents spend more time with kids (given the data that 70s housewives spent less time “parenting” than today’s working parents), so it seems people want a more prominent “family space.”

This is purely anecdotal, but I have noticed that once kids leave home, most empty nesters I know seem to abandon one of these living rooms.

Meg Wohlford
6 months ago

I love floor plans as much as you!!! Thank you for sharing – I am on the edge of my seat waiting to see the rest of the house(s) and the new plans!

Alexandra
6 months ago

The kitchen gives me such Plain English vibes — I could see a forest green on the cabinets, a veiny marble, some unlacquered brass … can’t wait to see it come together! Also amazed by the fact that you’ve got 10 ft ceilings to work with in the great room. Are they 9-10 ft everywhere in the house, including the entry, kitchen, etc., or just in that room? They look much lower in the photos (I think all the dark wood and lack of natural light is creating that illusion), so curious as to how you start to help this creaky old girl take in some sunshine.

However you move forward, don’t feel the need to apologize for moving certain features, removing those that don’t work, or otherwise making the home your own. The point is to end up with a space that works longterm for your family. Enjoy every moment of this process.

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Alexandra

Veiy marble is making me spewk! It’s an old Portland home, not an Italianette or new build.
I’m over it. The soapstone is bluddy gorgeous!

DB
6 months ago

Obviously, it’s a wonderful home inside and out! From personal experience, I think part of the challenge in redesigning this home is that you haven’t lived in it. I realize that’s not practical or possible, but it’s hard to see how it really functions for you as a family until you really live in a space….at least for a short time….and see how the natural light changes from a.m. to p.m. The LR is so spacious and beautiful that I would want to really use it, although I get needing a family room space, especially as kids get older and have friends over and you want to separate areas. One little thing that I noticed when I first looked at floor plans (which I enjoy studying) is the closet on the stair landing. Seems like an odd place for one. I think I’d rather remove the door and turn it into shelves for displaying books, etc. Closets for coats, bags, etc. are much more functional near the kitchen/garage entrance (you can always add a coat rack in the front). Mudroom will be perfect. Every coat closet I’ve had near the LR ended up being used for coats but mostly other… Read more »

DB
6 months ago
Reply to  Emily

totally agree but I do love a few book shelves in a room.

Sheila
6 months ago
Reply to  Emily

Emily, I know what you meant but I’m cracking up about your guests getting laid on the back of the sofa!

Andrea
6 months ago
Reply to  Emily

You’ll definitely want hooks for rainy coats by the front door for guests. In my Portland experience you don’t want a closed closet – guests feel like it’s too formal to hang their coats up, plus they won’t dry much and will get everything else in there wet. Just some hooks and a bench for taking off shoes (with a boot mat). I also recommend having a basket of washable slippers (like the ones from Muji) for guests so they don’t bring wet and mud in the house. Pretty much everyone here takes their shoes off in houses because of the climate.

Kristin
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrea

Guest slippers? WHY HAVE I NEVER THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE.. IT’S OBVIOUS AND SO GENIUS! Thanks for the hot tip!

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  DB

I hop Emily chats with the girl who commented here, the daughter of the vendor, who grew up in the home.
Imagine the insig5hrs to be gained from someone who experienced the place as a child, teen and now adult.
Man! That’s worth gold!

Jenna
6 months ago

Just wanted to say that I think you’re so wise to add a first-floor master bedroom suite, since this will be your forever home! My in-laws are now desperately wishing that their forever home had a first-floor bedroom and bath because they’re now at the age where climbing the stairs of their old Victorian home is becoming challenging. They’re going to have to sell in the next year or so and it’s stressful. On the other hand, my parents live in a one-story ranch house and absolutely love the way it functions in their retirement years. This is obviously a long way off for you and Brian, but you’re very smart to think ahead! This house is beautiful and has so much potential, can’t wait to see what you do with it!

Jenna
6 months ago
Reply to  Jenna

I’ll add – my in-laws aren’t even old (late 60’s) but my MIL is having unexpected health challenges that have accelerated the need for easy access to her bedroom/bathroom. You never know what’s going to happen.

Susan
6 months ago
Reply to  Emily

Kids are very adept at handling stairs to find their parents in the middle of the night (3 kids upstairs, me on the main level) they were 5 7 and 9 when I moved here.

Also 2nd the notion that you can blow out a knee or break an ankle or whatever at ANY age and not be able to navigate stairs. Consider age in place specs now, like wider door ways, a shower that has no curb so you can wheel in (even temporarily for an injury accessibility is invaluable) easy to operate door handles etc. Anyone using the home young and old will also have an easier time if it’s accessible to begin with. This includes a way to get in the house that doesn’t require steps. You would think one or 2 steps to get up or down is no big deal until you have surgery and realize it’s a HUGE deal. Disability isn’t always related to age and can affect anyone instantly.

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Susan

Excellent points, Susan.
A nrighbour recently stepped off a pathway and broke her foot in multiple places, like splintered it (she has a slight osteo issue due to being skinny obsessed) and it’s so bad she’s been in rehab for months!
It can happen to anyone at any age for sure.

Katie
6 months ago
Reply to  Susan

When i broke my knee skiing I was a 20 year old living at home with my parents. The stupid 4″ curb into their shower then completely became my nemesis. Accessible design is helpful at any age.

Kate
6 months ago
Reply to  Susan

Absolutely this. Ask for Universal Design on the main floor, you have such an opportunity to incorporate those elements from the start instead of trying to adapt after the fact. When they’re incorporated in the original design it’s seamless and invisible. My folks built their house many years ago with UD principles, planning for their “old age,” and 2 years after moving in my early 60s mother had a brain aneurism. Months later (when she was able to return home) she used a wheelchair. Most families confronted with these situations are suddenly forced to turn a main floor office, or their dining room into a bedroom, bathing is reduced to sponge baths, and the person is confined to only a room or two in the house. It’s debilitating and awful for all involved. Because UD was part of their home design, my Mom was able to sleep in their bedroom, she was able to be bathed by using a shower chair in their bathroom, and she was able to be present and part of the family in every room in their house. She used a wheelchair for 2 years, and a walker for another year after that. As she made… Read more »

Kate
6 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Adding: her mobility is 90% of what it was prior to her aneurism, she left the walker behind after a year of use and she’s doing very well now. My parents encourage *everyone* they talk to to think about UD for any remodeling or design/build project. When done thoughtfully and proactively it doesn’t look like you live in a hospital – it just looks like any other thoughtfully designed home.

🙂

Roberta Davis
6 months ago
Reply to  Emily

I was wondering about that- but I’m sure you’ll all adapt one way or another. Baby monitor could provide some sense of security (for both you and them) until they feel safe being on their own up there! Or- you will find a way to put the master up there and keep the first floor for family spaces and maybe a guest room.

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Jenna

Yes! It’s really good forward planning.

Romy
6 months ago
Reply to  Jenna

And of course it would be so helpful for guests or family that may have a disability, tempory or otherwise.

Romy
6 months ago
Reply to  Romy

Oops, I meant to reply further down this thread 😊

Kristin
6 months ago

This is going to be a really cool project. I can’t wait to see what you do. Also, as someone who has lived in a number of 100+ year old houses in the Midwest (our current home was built in 1890), 9 and even 10 foot ceilings on the first floor are common. And to be honest, I feel like you have a blank slate to work with in your house. Maybe it’s because I’m used to craftsman or Victorian houses of that general era, but I don’t see a ton of original features that I would keep. It looks like much of your house has been redone and added on to over the years…I give you a pass to change it all. 🙂

Roberta Davis
6 months ago
Reply to  Emily

I agree- there’s nothing precious about the house style that you would violate by simply updating. Maybe more challenging to create curb appeal and make the house feel really interesting on the outside.

Suzanne
6 months ago
Reply to  Kristin

I also thought the built-ins don’t feel common to what I’ve seen in my own house and the houses in the historic neighborhood I live in. Also, my 1912 Craftsman has 9′ ceilings throughout the first floor, and typical 8′ ceilings on the top floor. Many of the Victorians in my neighborhood have higher ceilings.

Elizabeth
6 months ago

I’m into the second year of my 100 year old house redo and am looking forward to going on this journey with you! I’m not doing a total restoration and some how want to have all the decades represented when I’m done as people lived here during those years.

I do want to give a shout out to donating any materials you take out to your local Habitat for Humanity Restore! Or just leave them on the side walk – they will find a good home and make some one very happy.

Kara
6 months ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Yes! Please donate all cabinetry, lighting, etc to Restore. Put all your lumber, bricks and things in a “free pile” at the end of your driveway! Wood has gotten very expensive and your “junk” is exactly the size someone else might need to build shelves with.

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Kara

👍

Sheila
6 months ago

I can’t wait to see what you do! That addition has a lot of space but the current layout certainly makes it hard to reimagine.
Another floor plan fan here. I used to pour over them as a kid in every magazine they showed up in and I still love looking them. I’ll spend ages on the websites of new home developers going over their plans just for fun.

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Sheila

Hahaha 🤣😂
Floorplan porn is real!

Roberta Davis
6 months ago
Reply to  Sheila

When I was 9, we moved to a new house and my parents had lots of those catalogs of floor plans from builders. So I became fascinated and then would sit at the kitchen counter and draw floor plans on graph paper for hours, days, years! It led to me getting 2 design degrees and still being a geek and still drawing floor plans on graph paper. Even though it was not my main career, it is still my passion! So I can’t get enough of this project!

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Roberta Davis

Roberta, at one stage my dad built houses and I loved drawing on the back of the huge blueprints… massive art pads!🤗
As a kid, I thought I’d become an architect and design buildings that my dad would build … but, then life had other plans for both of us! Ha.

Suzanne
6 months ago
Reply to  Sheila

Love floorplans and totally appreciate them here, as well as the repeat for each section. It made the post a pleasure to read. I can’t wait to see how you handle the challenges the first floor present. I can see why you hired a team to work through this with you. Can’t wait!

Leila
6 months ago

It’s going to be gorgeous! I think I’d leave the entry window/doorframe as is but paint the woodwork a pale colour – I really love the trim and don’t think it will look heavy when it’s not dark brown. I’m also wondering if you couldn’t revamp the stairs so you could walk directly from the entry into a hall with kitchen, living room and stairs leading off it, instead of always having to walk through your living room to access the rest of the house? It would mean losing the closet but closing off the living room from the stairs, which will be warmer. It also means that anyone who can’t take their shoes off in the entry can take them off in the kitchen instead of having to trek mud across your living room.

nicole
6 months ago

can’t wait to see what happens to the kitchen and the extra rooms. this is a great house! look forward to watching and following the process! good luck!

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  nicole

Me thinks it’s gonna be a primary suite to die for!

liz
6 months ago

This is for sure my favorite part. I love floor plans.
I’m on the edge of my seat for the next post.

Elizabeth Leach
6 months ago

I can’t wait to see your mood boards! And what style you are going with??? So exciting!

Madeline
6 months ago

Those kitchen cabinets are perfection. Color, condition, style. Drooling. Exactly what I’m trying to put in my new build. Amazing!! I’m going to start work on myself emotionally to handle seeing them painted. Can’t wait to see how you reconfigure the house. That is some tricky work. Love this.

Susan
6 months ago

Such a cute house! Look forward to seeing its evolution in your hands! What about putting built in bench next to fireplace into breakfast room as a banquette? Can’t wait to see you lighten up all the dark spaces in your great room, those beams 🥰 !Oh the decisions you have, can’t wait to follow along!

Rusty
6 months ago

Oooooh! The inauguration and now this! Soooo goood! 🤗 The dark trim is what I have in my house. I was sooooooo tempted to paint it when restored the house, but I’m really (wah-really) glad I didn’t. I decided to live with it for a bit, coz painting trim is easy while you’re living in the space. I live with original, cleaned eith a secret, dark trim. It’s super cozy. I spied the door with yhe diamonds that’s painted white and it looks great too! I have high ceilings too, I think they’re 12ft. Just as well, because my rooms are small! Add the dark trim….squeezy! But, hey, it’s a cottage. 🥰 GAS fireplace! Yaaay!!! Good environmental choice Emily (even though it’s still fossil fuel, still better than wood). That original built in BENCH! OMG! If you move it … maybe put it in the entry (instead of the cottage)?? I have an antique bench in my entry and everyone puts handbags, backpacks, whatever, on it as they arrive. It’s great. But THAT bench….so good! And original to the home, what a warm greeting at the front door. Any ORIGINAL FLOORING that you remove to get everything the same with… Read more »

Kelsey
6 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

I’m curious how a gas fireplace is more environmentally friendly than burning wood that they could source from the premises. I understand burning wood releases carbon, but what about the environmental ramifications of sourcing gas?

Patricia
6 months ago

Excited!!! I’m delighted you’ll be repurposing those charming original windows. Before seeing the actual kitchen, I was mentally ripping out walls between the breakfast nook and kitchen and filling in with cabinets. But I can see you’ll probably go another way. I would like to see some of that kitchen/nook sunlight spread into the Great Room.

Jen
6 months ago

So great to see the actual rooms and what you are thinking of doing with them. You mentioned you want more light in the entry which would mean getting rid of that beautiful window. You won’t be spending any time in the room except to greet guest and quite honestly most of your friends will probably use the back door if that is where they park so I vote for keeping it as is because of course you want my opinion!!

Also, love the idea of keeping your room on the first floor. There is so much potential with that whole area, I want to be in those meetings with you!!

Caitlin
6 months ago

One of my favorite laying awake at night activities is reconfiguring floorplans for houses that I know well. This one is quite a puzzle! I can’t wait to see what you and your designers come up with. I also wanted to share that we have soapstone in our kitchen and we love it so much!

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Caitlin

You crack me up!
I can imagine doing that too!

6 months ago
Reply to  Caitlin

I’m thinking of putting soapstone in my master bathroom, do you think it would hold up there?

Jessie
6 months ago
Reply to  Diane

Soapstone is impervious to chemicals. It was used in labs for that reason, I believe. I have it in my kitchen and love it so much. It would be great in a bathroom. It is softer than most other stones, so it does aquire a patina over the years, which is a quality I like.

Caitlin
6 months ago
Reply to  Diane

Yes, just know it can be knicked/dinged so if you’re a perfectionist that may be a challenge for you. Soapstone should be oiled regularly which is another thing to read up on to make sure if fits with your housekeeping routine.

Roberta Davis
6 months ago
Reply to  Caitlin

Me, too! Usually my own! If ever I am awake for hours in the middle of the night- it’s for this reason! Working and reworking plans and designs and the tiniest details!

Betsy
6 months ago
Reply to  Caitlin

Caitlin, Can I send you my kitchen floorplans for your insomnia nights? I’ve lived in my house for 17 years, and still trying to figure out my full on redo. But then again, it might just be decision paralysis. I’m so fearful of spending all of this money, and then hating what was done!

Caitlin
6 months ago
Reply to  Betsy

Sure Betsy! Something that was invaluable was going to cabinet vendors with my dimensions and having them do renderings for me. It was all free…they do the work with the hopes you’ll buy their cabinets and make the commission. They can provide every view imaginable and you can request tweaks if needed. I ended up going with Home Depot/Kraftmaid because the guy I worked with there was incredible. My only complaint is I wish I had thought out my spice storage better. If I could do it again, I would do a big drawer with all of my jars laying flat on those cool liners they have for that purpose so they don’t roll around.

6 months ago

It’s so exciting to see this happen – I’m looking forward to reading all about it. You mentioned that the bathroom was probably going to be a complete redo; that’s the part I’m interested in. I have to completely redo our master bathroom and would love to know what a good price range is for doing it. I’ve had two quotes (we’re not moving any plumbing) and I’m aghast at the numbers. Could you give me any insight into $$? TIA

Daisy
6 months ago
Reply to  Diane

ChrisLovesJulia redid master bathroom in their old house a couple years ago and have a detailed post with costs – I found it very helpful for budgeting for my own bathroom remode

6 months ago
Reply to  Daisy

Thanks, Daisy – I just checked it out. They paid $53K for the reno. That’s a figure I can’t even relate to. My husband would think I had lost the plot 🙂

BeckyB
6 months ago
Reply to  Diane

Hi Diane, We just did our bathrooms and one was a full gut. We chose not to move plumbing, and invested in good quality tile and fixtures. The demo we did ourselves and the rest was contracted out. The full gut was about $10k. We live in Portland, in a late 1970s ranch, and this bathroom is a shower only, no tub, just to add context to the cost. Other than labor, our second biggest expense was tile. Good luck!

Molly
6 months ago
Reply to  BeckyB

I’m in a 1960’s ranch too (in Atlanta) and redid the primary bathroom for abt $14,000. It was a total gut job but no plumbing moved. I didn’t do any of the labor at all. Could have come in a bit cheaper, but I like what I chose. Not super high end but nice, solid stuff. It’s been 7 yrs and I am still totally happy with it. Glad for CLJ that they can swing 53k but that is insanely outside of the realm of what I could do or would even WANT to do.

Daisy
6 months ago
Reply to  Diane

Diane,
For sure- their project wasn’t cheap but it kind of gives an idea of what to expect/ where to save. We just redid ours and spent ~ half of that (no plumbing moved, new everything,tub and shower, big city so high labor costs)

Suzanne
6 months ago
Reply to  Diane

Hi Diane. We redid a bathroom a few years ago and we spent just over $30,000. New tub with glass shower surround, new toilet, new vanity with marble top, marble basketweave tile floor, handmade subway tile (half-way up the wall), and mid to high end plumbing fixtures. Plumbing stayed basically where it was. I believe the toilet moved just a bit to a place it looked like it was at one time, based on the subfloor. I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area in California, where I believe construction labor costs are highest in the country. I’ve seen quotes on blogs for various remodels that I’m sure would be double here. I hope that helps you get an idea of costs though. Good luck!

Courtney
6 months ago

I love floorplans! Playing around with them (mentally anyway) is so fun. I love that you’re keeping the kitchen cabinets and counters. And I’m so jealous of a mudroom!

We have friends with a very similar house–beautiful older house with weird addition on the back (was used as a doctor’s office). They restored the main part of the house and lived in the addition during reno. Can’t wait to see how yours turns out–I’m sure it will be beautiful!

Courtney
6 months ago
Reply to  Courtney

Oh and we also live in an “older” house (built in 1938, ha). The master is upstairs in the rehabbed attic and the kids are all on the main floor. The only time it’s really been an issue is when the baby wasn’t sleeping through the night, but we have a monitor set up for that. Otherwise it’s kind of nice to have separate spaces that you can retreat to.

Meghan
6 months ago

As a fellow Portlander it’s so fun watching this and hearing you talk through dilemmas specific to the area. Re: coat closet: could you move the front door slightly to the right (more into the living room), then close up the little entryway into a true closet? I know that would take away the window but may not be missed if you’re adding light elsewhere and you’ll really want a closet! I live in a house without an entry closet and it’s incredibly annoying—wet coats just pile up on our dining room chairs. Excited to see what you do!

Nora
6 months ago

I am so hooked…I live in SW Portland and am scratching my head thinking where this incredible property could have been hidden away. Based on what you did to your past homes, I have complete faith in the changes you will make. I can only hope for an open house in the future.

Claire
6 months ago

I could study these plans and read about your ideas from sun up to sun down. I’m so excited for every detail of this project!

Roberta Davis
6 months ago

I’m sure your capable designers, teamed with you and Brian, will come up with a fabulous floor plan and overall design! There are so many charming aspects to this house, as you’ve shown it. And it is so spacious and gracious. It’s not surprising to me that the ceilings are high- they typically were high in those old houses and only got lowered in the mid-century period, I believe- or just before that. I don’t like the kitchen layout but I do love the wood cabinet color and craftsmanship of it. I know the inside will be amazing. To me, the exterior will be more of a challenge, to bring it up to your aesthetic standards. Bring $$$$$$$$$$!

Suzanne
6 months ago

I just love it! It’s so beautiful, particularly the great room. And, yes, I will be the reader crying when you paint that beautiful woodwork, but I trust you and can’t wait to see how you transform it!

MKK
6 months ago

I am with the person who stated make the closet into bookshelves; or leave original size. Appears it would be awkward visually to make larger. An expense that is likely not to be used as often as you may envision. Why make larger for the few times you have people coming through your front door. Close friends and extended family members will most likely come through your back door/mud room after the first time they come to your home. Love to see the bench in living room across from the front door with hooks on each side ( for the few times people come through front door 😉 ), if there is room; or in the mudroom. I do not know if you would like aesthetically, but a few built in miniature night lights in walls of staircase may be appreciated by your young children. I live in a very tall two story 1910 house. Teach your children how to escape house from second floor. We taught our children the possible routes to escape the second floor- how to haul an escape ladder to a window, hook it and climb down. Or, to leave by a certain window to a… Read more »

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  MKK

Some great ideas and sensible points!

6 months ago

Hi Emily! It’s so exciting to see your dreams coming to life and I can’t wait to see how you make this place your own! I’m sure your team has thought of this idea (and it’s probably cost prohibitive), but as I was looking at this plan and some of the exterior shots I wondered if it would make sense to demolish the whole 60s wing and actually grow the main house backwards extending the hip roof and growing the breakfast room etc. It might feel more natural and allow for a big main bedroom suite upstairs as well as a family room besides the breakfast room below. But again, you guys have probably considered all the possibilities and this idea would be hella $$$!

Amanda
6 months ago

My favorite part of the whole house is that staircase that wraps up and tucks behind the fireplace! Please dont change it (except flooring of course!) Its so cool and so unique. I also really love that whole back wall of the kitchen, the wood cabinets and black soapstone and white farmhouse sink and window. So great. Excited to see what you do to make it yours!

6 months ago

I am SO HERE for this content! I can’t wait to see you turn this historic home into a beautiful home with all the modern amenities but historic charm.

Susan
6 months ago

I love floor plans! And I agree that organizing the post with plans and then pictures is the way to go.

Is the 8′ x 2″ wall in the entry load bearing? If not, what if it were opened up to the stair well? You’d have access to more light and more area to configure for coats etc.

So looking forward to following this project.

6 months ago

In the kitchen maybe you could take the panels out of the upper cabinet doors and put in glass. The backsplash could be painted white. I’m excited to follow along!

Becca
6 months ago

This is so fascinating to me…man you’ve got your work cut out for you to figure this puzzle out but seriously what an awesome outcome it will have!

I totally get the need for a separate living room and family room. Right now we have one living room and with our oldest starting middle school next year we have considered moving just to have a separate space for friends to come hang out. We’d much prefer everyone hang out at our home since I’m at home and can keep tabs/make snacks. 😃 We would love to have another space where the grown ups can hang without having to go to our rooms. 🤣 Especially important here in Oregon where we can’t just be outside all the time.

Also, I love the mudroom/laundry idea. Again super important in Oregon to have a place to take off wet shoes and jackets. Maybe if you have a mudroom with enough hooks/storage and you use it as your primary entrance perhaps you won’t need a closet near the front door? Also this room would make a great space for the dog stuff!

Becca
6 months ago
Reply to  Becca

Another thing I was thinking since the front coat closet is so controversial, in our house, wet jackets go on hooks but only Bernie has just one jacket! Where are you going to be storing your other jackets that are out of season? Is that something you’d put in a closet elsewhere if you forego the entry closet? Everyone in our house has different jackets (and coats…are these the same thing?) depending on weather (and the weather varies so much in PDX). Its certainly nice to store them all somewhere with easy access, as long as you have a plan for them I think you could totally do with just hooks in the entry!

Catherine
6 months ago

Can I just say I am SO EXCITED about the fact that you’re not just ripping everything out?! The fireplace and kitchen especially… those cabinets and countertops are beautiful! I don’t think the trim piece over the sink is too fussy, but I do agree some of the other trim you pointed out as being fussy (eg in the mudroom) should go. Have you considered putting in a greenhouse window over the kitchen sink?

I love that you’re putting reclaimed wood floors throughout the downstairs. That will look soooo good. and thank you for the reassurance regarding the “great room” feeling spacious. From the pictures, it looked like the ceilings were 8 feet, which had me concerned. I can’t wait to see where you guys end up with the floorplan. It seems like a very tricky puzzle. Anyway, this will be so fun to follow along.

Bailey Rummler
6 months ago

Oh gosh! I love hearing your process, but hope you are paying Archiform for all of your additional floor plan changes! 2-3 alterations is usually standard in the industry. Sorry, just speaking from experience. I’m so excited to see the final result!

Kallie Elder
6 months ago

In the existing breakfast nook, I feel like I would move the entrance, extending the end of the kitchen into the breakfast nook and having the entrance off to the other side, using that space as a mudroom. It would be nice to have a direct path from the mudroom to the laundry/bath. We live on a farm, and our daily entrance is the mudroom area, with a bathroom directly to the side and the laundry area, it works very well for containing messes in that one area.

Janelle
6 months ago

Can’t wait to see what you do. Glad you can lighten it up, as up here in Portland we need all the light we can get. We luckily have windows on ALL four sides of our house and really no window coverings. It helps in the winter. Thanks for sharing your process!

Rusty
6 months ago
Reply to  Janelle

Janelle, don’t you lose a lot of heat through the windows??

Rachel
6 months ago

I’m excited to follow along, and as someone who lives in a very cloudy and Rainy city (Pittsburgh) you NEED all the light possible! I know that skinny little closet isn’t very practical, but it’s incredibly charming! Our house is about 100 years old as well and those non-standard size things always jump out to me.

Jeanne
6 months ago

I’m curious to know if the previous owner will follow your changes.

Holly Hanna
6 months ago

OMG FLOORPLAN PORN. I can’t wait!!!

Donna T.
6 months ago

Really good flow to this post, with the floorplan and then the pictures with labels, it really aided understanding of the layout!

Your comment about not being “held hostage by things you don’t like” really resonated with me. When we did some renovations of my husband’s childhood home, his parents were so against painting or removing anything made of wood. “You’re not replacing that vanity are you? It’s solid oak!”. It’s frustrating to be told “please leave this” or “please don’t change that” by people who are not going to be living in the space!

I’m excited to follow along and see the upstairs next!

Laura Feinstein
6 months ago

Hi Emily, this looks like a super fun project and I can’t wait for you to share your design decisions. I would love to see you replace the appliances with all-electric, fossil fuel-free options. Oregon gets most of their power from hydro so if you go all-electric, you’ll have a pretty green house. And, cooking with gas is pretty unhealthy because it pollutes indoor air quality. Just keep the wood-burning fireplace and when you replace the stove, water heater, furnace, etc, look for induction and heat pump technology. At some point in the near future, Oregon is going to phase out natural gas because it is such a climate polluter. You can be on the front of the clean power trend…

Rusty
6 months ago

Laura…. Hallelujah!!! Yaaaay!
Except the wood burning bit. Ugh.

6 months ago

I think you grew up in the PNW but I just moved outside of Seattle from CA/NV. I never understood the need for a Mud Room until now. Don’t forget a mud room! We are building one into our mini farm farmhouse now.

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