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An adorable little house needs a new layout

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I had the opportunity a year or so ago to tour a friends home, it was the cutest little thing ever!! Sure it was small but it has the best kind of charm there is. Happiness and love lives there and that’s what counts, the rest is just function and putting your own personal stamp on it.

Everybody knows that when you have small spaces you have to maximise your floorplan to work with your needs and not waste an inch.

She was ready to renovate and she knew she would have to move some of the rooms around. But she needed more than just some ideas about what would be feasible to do, she needed to be able to see it and study her options. This is when she came to me and asked me if I could help her work out the layout of her home. When I got there she took me around and told me everything she liked and didn’t like, everything she thought she might be able to do and had a lot of questions about how this or that could work out. Was there enough room to do this and have that? We talked for a while and I got a very good sense of what she was looking for.

By the time I made it back home my head was already full of ideas and I couldn’t wait to get to work to find some real solutions for her.

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Here is what we are working with and what she needed from her house.

  • She wanted her dream kitchen:

    • More storage

    • Better workflow

    • More counter space

    • New everything, cabinets, countertops, sink, and appliances

    • She even thought of moving the kitchen to the back of the house

  • She wanted a dining room where she can have at least one if not two couples over for dinner.

  • Her bathroom was tiny and claustrophobic

  • Her laundry room had plumbing issues

  • She needed two beds, but if that wasn’t possible, she would need a king size bed

  • She wanted it to be bright and pretty, farmhousey, and updated.

  • Her husband wanted to keep his recliner and huge TV

To know her is to know that she is happy, bubbly and full of personality, so her house needed to be too.


As always, I begin with the floor plan. It is an essential step!! All the pretty stuff comes later.

Now I understand that the following images are not the most glamorous images of a floor plan ever. I do that on purpose. While I could take the time to add color and texture and all the fancy stuff that makes it look pretty, like I would when I present a plan to my clients. I don’t want to do that, first of all, we haven’t even talked about finishes or colors yet. Secondly, seeing things in this way helps us focus on the what we need to focus on, the function of the layout. Besides, this post is about showing you the importance of brainstorming options for how these rooms (and your rooms) might be laid out.

So here we go.

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This is the existing floor plan

Boy, do I love working me a floor plan! Why? Because it is challenging.

The reason I love this type of project is because it’s like putting puzzle pieces together, there are so many things to think about beside the question of if it fits.

To prove my point, I am going to show you 3 separate options for this tiny little house and walk you through the choices for each one.

Option #1 - The Island Kitchen

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This was a great floorplan that had many advantages, but it had a few disadvantages too.

In order to give her an island, we had to remove the wall on the left which opens to the living room space. To help create a visual division of space here a tall pantry was added at the end of the row of cabinets. It is also nice to have that extra storage in addition to the storage the island provided.

We set the refrigerator back a little so that is sat flush with the counters. This was important to allow enough space for walking though.

Opening the wall for the dining room was a point of controversy since it was a weight bearing wall, but with a reinforced header it all works out. We also moved that wall over a little so that with the right size dining table, it allowed for a buffet where there is more storage. Four seats sit at the table and two more can be pulled up for occasional use. Win!

In an effort to make the most of the mud room area, we added a storage bench, some coat hooks and small desk for paying bills.

Fixing the plumbing issues in the laundry room was a must so that the washer and dryer could sit side-by-side.

The part I couldn’t fix was the bedroom area. Because of the new open floor plan, I needed the front entry door to remain where it was, which meant that the bedroom couldn’t get any bigger.

Another downfall to this living room space was that the recliner wouldn’t fit. No good!

Time to try again.

Option #2 - The Switcheroo

There are many thing to love about the next floor plan option

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The first thing I did was to move the front door to the center of the house, this allows more room in the bedroom to have that big bed in there. YEA! Plus, the recliner fits in there now too.

Now I have to tell you that I normally try not to move things around that will disturb the exterior of the house, because then you have to deal with matching siding and its just a much bigger headache. But in this case, the pros and cons were weighed out and we all decided that it was the best solution to gain some space in the bedroom. Besides, they said that “we are upgrading our siding anyway”. Well, okay then! Happy happy, joy joy!

The next thing on my list was to switch the bathroom and the laundry room around. I knew that if we could get that to work, it could get her a bigger bathroom. Not only did this work, but she also got a bigger laundry room that now had room for a wash basin. Another win!!

The dining room wall was moved over in this plan too, but it couldn’t go as far since there is a walkway that needed to be accounted for now. The homeowner talked about adding doors to that room so they wouldn’t have to go to the trouble and expense of creating a heftier header. The only disadvantage to this was that the buffet would no longer fit comfortably in the dining room.

This is a classic example of the importance to include your furniture layout while reworking your walls. Everything has to work together and fit comfortably. Sometimes you can get scaled down pieces of furniture but you can’t scale down the amount of space you need for a person to move around.

Overall, I think this is a very good floor plan. But there was one more thing I wanted to try out.

Option #3 - The Kitchen in the Back

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I do believe that this one is the winner. It seems to have all of those little kinks worked out.

By simply moving the kitchen to the back of the house and switching the space previously used by the bathroom/laundry room, we were able to fit the bath and laundry into the space in a way that feels appropriate.

There was a little let down that we couldn’t fit the wash basin in the laundry room in this plan, but since it wasn’t in the original set of needs and just happen to work in the previous plan, it was decided that we could let it go.

Now we have this nice big kitchen with lots of storage and counter space that she wanted. It has a nice view to the backyard and the layout feels right. We used a mixture of upper cabinets and open shelving to help the space feel lighter and more open and that worked out wonderfully.

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Now, if we take a look at the list of problems we needed to solve, I think we can check off all the boxes.

  • More storage

  • Better workflow

  • More counter space

  • New everything, cabinets, countertops, sink, and appliances

  • Possibly moving the kitchen to the back of the house

  • A dining room for company

  • Bathroom to feel open

  • Fix laundry room issues

  • Two beds, or a king size bed

  • Farmhousey, and updated.

  • Keep the recliner and huge TV

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Now I know that most people don’t tackle renovating the whole house all at once, but if you are thinking about renovating multiple parts of your home, here are a few things you might want to think about.

If you are eventually going to remodel more than a room or two in your house, you might want to do this type of exercise first. You can see how as we moved along with our problem solving we were able to work out all of those little kinks ahead of time. That would not have been possible had we decided to just fix the bathroom and laundry room first and wait to work on the kitchen.

My best advice to you is to have a master plan. Have it worked out on paper (or digitally) so there is no questions about how it is supposed go as you move through the steps. There is nothing worse than getting three or four steps down the renovation road and realizing that you could’ve, should’ve done something differently.

Now if you are going to renovate ANY PART of your home it is recommended that you have a floor plan with measurements, and notes, and all the things done before you start. This way you will be prepared and you will know that is is going to turn out the way it is supposed to.

Preparation is the key to success

With this particular home, this exercise used up a block of 10 hours. I would recommend an additional 5-10 hours to work out some of the smaller details and to get it fine tuned. You might have a home renovation that is more or less involved than this one, but this way you can decide what you can potentially expect for a service like this.

Remember, it is your home and you are investing a good deal of time, money and effort on making it your dream home. It is worth making sure that it is done to its best potential.

I am here to help you accomplish that. My goal is to help you make smart choices, to give you options, and to help your projects run smoother and turn out better than you could have imaged.

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