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:))
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 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 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.
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?
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.