Special Issues » Homesteader

Time to redesign

Transformations in living spaces



Did you know that you can transform the interior of your house to appear and feel like a new home, one redesigned to be the house you always wanted? If you’ve been living in the same house for years, or even if you just moved in, you may have thought that your home would be perfect if it wasn’t for a particular design scenario that doesn’t quite fit your lifestyle or sense of space. It’s possible to rethink your home’s basic layout to find strategies to better integrate different areas.

By moving or modifying certain walls you can dramatically transform the look, feel and texture of any area in the house. I use the term “area,” because I am interested in evaluating the whole house as the dynamic living space that it is. Redesigning certain areas of the home, such as the kitchen, dining and living room, will allow a natural connectivity between those rooms. Creative redesigning can entirely transform the relationship you have with your living space.

Missoula Independent news
  • Cathrine L. Walters

It’s amazing how little it takes to change and impressively liven up an otherwise plain building design. To any basic home layout you can alter, rearrange, remove or add an element that will turn your living space into a place you’ll appreciate for years to come. In some home designs, the kitchen is segregated from surrounding areas in the house. The kitchen area, however, can be brought into the rest of the house by consolidating some of the cabinets and opening up a few walls. This technique creates a very open and welcome feel to the entire area.

As an example, a recent client had a fairly new house. He and his son loved the neighborhood and made some improvements to the home to fit their lifestyle. What the homeowner didn’t like is that the original house design placed the laundry room in the kitchen, which completely infringed on the whole purpose of having a kitchen—cooking food.

In this home, a second living room sat next to the main one, with just a pass-through partition separating them. The property owner decided to get rid of the second living room altogether and use the space for a newly created laundry room and expand the master bath, doubling its size.

I cut down a wall that separated the kitchen from the main living room, meanwhile, making it counter height and then installed a large countertop. Now the living room, kitchen and dining areas were integrated. With the addition of a 6-foot-wide patio door, daylight flowed into all of these areas. The finished project gave the whole house a completely new and open feel.

Missoula Independent news
  • Cathrine L. Walters

On another project, the issues were completely different. It was a much older house that once served as a trading post prior to being transformed into a residence. The front half of the home incorporated the kitchen and living area in one large room with high ceilings and many windows that provided an excellent sense of spaciousness. The homeowner and I decided during the process of remodeling that it would be a good idea to give the kitchen area a space of its own, without closing it in or diminishing the great room. In order to accomplish that, I constructed a large archway along with some half walls between the two. The effect was a very impressive transition from the great room to the kitchen and dining areas. This was a very simple solution that made an enormous positive impact on the whole living space.

Missoula Independent news
  • Cathrine L. Walters

So what does it take to transform the design of your home into something new and more functional for your lifestyle? It starts by looking at your home from a different perspective. Look at the flow and function of the different living spaces; what would give these areas a new look and better integrated dynamics to the rest of the house? See your house as something you could remake and restyle; what would you change in the design? What’s getting in the way of the natural flow? Be creative with your ideas; refer to remodeling publications and save tips that appeal to you.

It’s essential to consult with a qualified architect who can identify load-bearing walls and other considerations unique to your home. It’s also important to hire a licensed remodeling contractor who understands and is interested in your ideas and your project. Now’s the time to redesign, enjoy the process of transforming your home.

Kirby Whetstine is the owner of Building Solutions (mtbuildingsolutions.com). He has been activly involved in residential remodiling projects since 1991.

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