Thursday, April 8, 2010

What's The Big Idea?

Mare loves old houses.  He can take one look at an old house and immediately look past peeling paint, a bad remuddle, vinyl windows, and the like to see the potential in it.  Back in the day, before and during our relationship, he bought up old houses (and one commercial building) in my hometown and began ambitious restorations on them...Problem is, he'd get bored with the project and never finish, a trait that unfortunately continued into his foray as a contractor and cut short that career.  His strength lies in his ideas.  And boy, has he had some good ones.  His latest idea, involving my own house, is one of those good ideas.  Or at least half of it is. 
Here's the half I'm already sold on.  I'll refer you again to my colored-up pic of the floor plan.  (High-tech, isn't it?)  See that wall behind the bathtub, the wall that divides the two bathrooms?  Mare wants to knock out that wall and extend my bathroom all the way to the back wall of the house.  That would eliminate the half-bath that probably would never be used anyway.  It would also create a suite-like layout between the master bedroom and the spare bedroom, which opens up the possibility of turning the spare bedroom into a big walk-in closet and dressing area eventually.  (And realistically, "eventually" is a long, long time from now.)  We'd still be demolishing that shower stall and the structure around it and moving the back door over so it's in line with the kitchen door—and the back walkway, of course.  Instead of the existing doorway from the back porch into the bathroom, we'd extend the original exterior wall of the house (that green line) all the way across to the back wall of the house.  Now that I've mulled it over for a couple of days, I like that idea.  It would add some cost to the project.  I'd have to buy about 18 sq. ft. more of flooring and additional beadboard, moulding, and baseboard, and I don't know if extending that wall will cost more than a door and framing would.  But the additional cost wouldn't put the project out of reach for me.  I think it makes the area "flow" better because it gets rid of that awkward little hallway-like bathroom at the rear of the house.  The more I think about it, the more I like it.

It's the other half of his idea I'm not so sure about.  Mare proposes to get rid of the dreaded basement trap door, build a railing on the two long sides of the stairwell, and move the washer and dryer into the basement.   Yowza.  I don't know about all that.  Y'all know how I hate that trap door.  Two of my greatest fears involve that stupid thing:  one, that the hook which holds the trap door to the kitchen/laundry room wall will pull out of the wall while I'm in the basement and the trap door will slam shut, imprisoning me down there; and two, that if I don't corral the animals beforehand one of them will try to run down the basement steps just as I let go of the trap door to let it fall shut and thus be crushed.  No trap door would mean none of those worries.  There'd be plenty of room in the basement for the washer and dryer because the front half of the basement has a concrete floor and brick walls and an almost 7-foot-high ceiling.  It runs underneath the whole kitchen, to give you an idea of the size.  The plumbing and drains and what-not are situated so that moving the washer and dryer downstairs wouldn't be a big problem, or so Mare says.  (I'm taking him at his word on that, because I know nothing about plumbing.)  I'm just not sure I want a big gaping hole in the middle of the back porch floor, even a hole with a railing around it.  My future grandkids might fall into it.  My future little-old-lady self might not like to walk up and down those steps all the time just to get her unmentionables clean.  It's an interesting idea, and one that I'd never have thought of myself.  I'll have to mull it over for a while longer.

So what do you all think?  


  1. I'm confused. I have questions.

    1. Am I correct in thinking the only way to get to the bathroom with the tub is through your bedroom?

    2. If so, will you keep it that way? Because people generally don't like that set up. (I'm thinking resale value here.)Could you add another door?

    3. Do you get to that spare bedroom through the narrow bath now? How would you get there if you extend the other bath?

    4. If you make the spare room into a dressing/closet area could you put the washer and dryer in there? I'd hate to walk down to the basement to do laundry. Been there, done that, too old to do it anymore. (again, I'm thinking resale value too.)

    5. If you do decide to move the washer and dryer down there, do you know a good exorcist? Or do you think you could convince the spooks will do your laundry? Now that, would be awesome, ;)

  2. Okay, I do see the door between the two bedrooms.

    Personaly, I'd take out the shower, move the door and call it a day.

  3. LOL at Chrisine's #5! I was thinking the same thing!

    Here's my thoughts.....I don't like trap doors either...we have one in our rental and I have the same fears, and we use to have one in this house. Instead of putting railing around the hole could you box it in and put in a door. That's what my father-in-law did in this house and you would never have known it was once on the floor.
    And, I'm not liking the laundry in the basement idea. I have a dehumidifier in my basement and I hate going down there to empty it, and that's only once a day. I'm wondering why can't you have a washer and dryer in your future walk-in closet? I see that on HGTV all the time. You can build a closet around them to disquise it. Or, maybe you could put a stackable unit in your bathroom. If you want me to I can send you a picture of my son's side by side washer and dryer, it's behind closet doors in his hallway. You would never guess that's what's behind those doors.
    Also, I use to take care of an elderly couple....they needed me to do their laundry for them, because they could no longer go down those basement steps. As much as we hate to think about it, that day will come...;D

  4. "Personally, I'd take out the shower, move the door and call it a day."

    Ditto. Except extend the bath.

    I agree with the future resale value thingy. Despite the fact that we always say..... we will stay in these old houses until they pry that old rusty hammer from our cold dead still need to think resale value.

    Wouldn't removing the door and shower give you a huge laundry room? Plus maybe the Craigslist gods will find you a nice used stackable washer and dryer (buy with the money you save from not doing the whole project. The idea of enclosing them would be great.That would give you a nice craft room with maybe a cool vintage table and chairs. Plus if the doors line up and you add a window to the laundry room, you might get some great breezes through there.

    Seems most people prefer huge laundry room/craft room over basement laundry.

    The idea of adding a door to the enlarged bath and making it an optional master suite is a plus as long as you leave the original door so people don't have to come through your boudoir.

    Could Mare make a better trap door for you? Maybe one you lift off and slide to the side? AND maybe at a later date put in a powder room in your enlarged laundry room. That would give you a bath and a half for future resale value.

  5. I'm with Christine - I'm confused! I can't read the room labels so I'm guessing.

    If you do turn the Spare Room into Closet/Dressing area and eliminate the Hallway Bath by extending the Main Bath - then you have a 1 Bedroom/1 Bathroom house - right?

    Do you have any friends in Real Estate who would give you any thoughts about differences in resale value? Even with entrance to Bath & Spare room being through the Master, you may have more resale value/potential as a 2 Bedroom house.

    I don't think moving the laundry to the basement is a plus - especially if the trap door is where I think it is. Not sure you can ever make that entrance to the basement very safe but perhaps Mare might be able to create a better trap door and critter barrier.

    Perhaps carving up the current laundry room into 2 rooms - laundry/half bath along the outside wall where the washer & dryer are now and leave the rest a big open space - that would give you back the half bath you lose if you extend the main bath.

    Just some random thoughts - good luck with the decision making.


  6. Well I like the first part of the plan :) I would open up the basement as much as possible, just take out the door completely

  7. I dread going under my house through the trap door that's in a closet.

    For a minute there I was thinking you were talking about replacing it with an opening from the outside. That's what I used to have in my old house, a Dorothy in Kansas slanted door opening to the outside, with nice sturdy concrete steps and when the door was open lots of light flooding into under the house.

    I'm not sure what your possible plans are but a permanent hole in the porch floor doesn't sound good.

    If you don't like the appearance of the washer and dryer on the back porch, how about an enclosure. You could move them so that they're against the kitchen wall in that corner (not sure why, it just seems less obtrusive, plus aren't they blocking a window a bit now?) and enclose them.

    I have an enclosure like that in my kitchen. It's just wide enough for the washer and dryer side by side, and there is a big shelf high enough about them for storage but not so low I bang my head against it. You could have a second shelf above it for more storage.

    It's where I keep all the stuff like emergency lighting, canning supplies, etc. The doors are louvered for ventilation.