Monday, 30 November 2015

Redesigned House Plans: Our Sweet Suite

Last week I introduced my new series, “Redesigned House Plans.”  If you missed this post, click here to learn about what I’m about to do.

The first segment, “Our Sweet Suite,” will be an analysis of our current home.  It is completely hypothetical since we are renting and can’t alter the property without permission of the owner.  I decided to take a look at our basement suite because it is the first place we’ve lived in since we married that feels like “home” to me (ie. I like it a lot and hope to stay here for a while!).

Our basement suite.
Notes: Cross-hatched section is inaccessible to us (doors from kitchen and laundry room are locked). Windows are not included.  All measurements are approximate (rounded to the nearest 6 inches).

What I Like

  1. I like the central location of the bathroom.  It is conveniently placed near the bedrooms but is also easily accessed from the common living areas (the kitchen and living room).
  2. I like the large entryway, kitchen, and dining room.  There is plenty of space for many people to remove coats and boots in the entryway and to cook and clean in the kitchen without bumping into each other.  The dining room is large enough to fit a table for eight and still have plenty of leftover space.
  3. I like the generous amount of counter space in the bathroom and kitchen.  More counter space in the bathroom makes the room feel more spacious.  More counter space in the kitchen equals more room to prepare food.

What I Don’t Like

  1. The most annoying part of this layout: going to the dining room from the kitchen for meals.  It is awkward and inconvenient to say the least.  But let me explain why it was designed this way.

    Stage 1: Before the back porch.
    Stage 2: Storage underneath back porch.
    Stage 3: Current layout.
    [Note: I included the windows from the kitchen into the dining room but forgot the one from the hall into the entry.]

    Originally, this suite didn't include the current dining room and entry.  Perhaps it wasn’t even a suite back then.  The door from the entry to the hall is actually an external door and the remains of a doorbell can still be seen. 

    The dining room is positioned below the back porch add-on and was used as a storage area.  Later, tile was installed over the concrete floor and previous tenants used the room for storage, eating, or whatever else.

  2. There is an excessive number of doors in the suite.  The main reason there are so many doors, of course, is because of the previous layout.  I personally think the doors from the entryway to the dining room, entryway to hall, and hall to kitchen are not necessary.
  3. There are unnecessary windows looking into the dining room from the kitchen and from the hall to the entry.  Understandably, this is because of the addition of the back porch and dining/storage room to the house.
  4. I don’t like the location of the kitchen sink.  It is difficult to wash the dishes without counter space on both sides of the sink.  For me, at least, I like to have the dirty dishes on my left and work towards my right.

    My typical dish-washing system (with section d to the left of the sink and sections a and b switched): Take dirty dish from section d, wash in section b, rinse in section a, dry in section c.
    My current dish-washing system: Take dirty dish from section a until empty and then from section d, wash in section b, rinse in section a, dry in section c.

  5. The pantry is too small.  To make things more difficult, the folding door interferes with the space needed to put in and remove items.
  6. It seems that in rental suites there is never enough closet space (or it is in inconvenient locations).  There isn’t a linen closet for the bathroom and only one hallway closet for storage besides bedroom closets.

How We’ve Embraced the Space

extra pantry space in kitchen, recycling and cleaning stations in hall, storage space in entry, dining room contains Lucas's tinkering, Kristina's gardening, games.
Zones we've implemented to make things work for us.

We've been able to maximize our space by using zones in various rooms.
  • Entryway: extra space is used for storage (mostly old packing boxes and our bikes right now).

    entry storage
    We really need to get rid of those boxes...
    • Dining room: table in center of the room, and then in the corners we have a chest freezer, Lucas's tinkering table, games storage, and my container garden.

      Lucas's tinkering table, freezer, dining room table
      Lucas's tinkering table, freezer, dining room table.

    games storage
    Games, oh our lovely bunch of games... ;)
    My (wilting) container garden brought indoors for the winter.

    • Hall: recycling station and cleaning supplies nook.
    Our messy recycling station.
    Cleaning Supplies Nook
    Our cleaning nook.

    • Kitchen: extra pantry items on shelves.

      Extra "pantry" space... on shelves.

      What Should Be Changed

      And now, what you've all been waiting for...

      The re-done floor plan of our basement suite!
      1. At the least: remove doors.  No door is needed from the entry to the hall and from the hall to the kitchen.  Even more so, remove walls.  No walls are really needed between the entry and hall and the hall and kitchen.  Removing doors and walls would make it easier to pass between rooms and opens up the space.
      2. Build a small coat closet in the hall where our current cleaning nook is located.  It is close to the entrance and no temporary wardrobe or several coat hooks are necessary to corral coats, shoes and boots.
      3. Open up the wall between the kitchen and dining room next to the living room to make a doorway.  (A small portion of counter and cupboards would have to be removed and the previous doorway filled in.)  This is the more convenient set-up to be able to serve food, eat, and clean-up without feeling like you are running in circles (or, rather, U-turns).
      4. Build a small storage space with the extra room in the entry.  For renters, at least, this is an awesome addition!
      5. Rearrange the counters, cupboards, fridge, and sink in the kitchen so that there is counter space on either side of the sink and fridge.  This allows the counter space against the dining room to be used mainly for cleaning and serving and the opposite counter for preparing and cooking food.

      The Final Comparison

      floor plan comparison
      Click to view larger size.

      What do you think?  Assuming it is all possible, is this a good or bad change to the floor plan?

      Next week's topic: [Microsoft Excel 2013 Family Budget Spreadsheets for 2016]


      1. I like the ideas. The space definitely has more potential.

        1. Thanks Dad! It'd be cool if the landlords decided to use this idea but I doubt we'd be living here to see it actually happen.

      2. Ah storage rooms are a definite must in life. nice changes you've made.


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