A few weeks ago, I shared the First Floor plan of our new cottage. I promised to show you the Second Floor the next week and now, a month or so later…here we go.
Why the delay? I’ve been traveling quite a bit, hitting up design markets in Chicago and High Point, and hammering out the details, trying to figure out what we can afford to change and how to modify the things we can’t. Some spaces took priority over others and some were more problematic to lay out.
The program for the kitchen and master suite came first, and contained some non-negotiable items. We have a large immediate family, a dozen or more when everyone is home, so the gathering spaces are atop the list. Opening up the main floor to the backyard, well, that was so important that if I couldn’t figure out how to make that work we planned to re-list the house, sell it and move on.
If I’ve relearned anything from living in a three windowed
box apartment for six months, it is that fresh air and greenery are like crack to our family. By walking away from the plan and ignoring it for a few days, the solution to opening the living areas toward the backyard came to me and I’ll be sharing it as soon as the structural gurus tell me it’s doable.
We won’t have a pool, but there will be a fire pit and a couple of hammocks out back.
The renovation plan for the second floor was easier to knock out, but, again, relies on the experts confirming that the first floor can carry the change in weight loads.
Believe it or not, demolition of the second floor was more challenging than the first. While the downstairs walls were made of plaster up to two inches thick in some spots, upstairs the main walls were a thin gypsum board that crumbled in our hands.
Even worse, the ceiling was ½” compressed paper and some of the walls were just painted cardboard. This piece is from before the U.S. had zip codes and, oddly, came from someone else’s house, a few miles away:
We constructed a hell of a chute to make it easier to remove the bags of cardboard and drywall bits. It took my son’s mad skills and long legs to make it happen:
Consider this your Key Plan for the pre-demoed space:
- Bedroom 2 is quite large and will be divided into two bedrooms when we bump out the back with a new shed dormer.
- Whoever finished out the second floor decided creating a space I like to call, “WTF?” was a good idea. It wasn’t. Typical of many 1 ½ story houses, the stairs are located near the center. This oddity is wasted space that only collects dirt and will be realigned with the staircase during the renovation.
- Fugly is the yellow and black and beige and even beigier tiled bathroom with a raised toilet, medical grade cabinetry, and submarine shower.
- Bedroom 3 is only about 7.5 feet wide and, although it appears to lack an entrance in this image (it was marked “demo phase” on the floor plan, so the door disappeared along with a couple of windows…my bad), contained a closet with a two foot high door that was painted shut.
- Considering Fugly already reminded me of an episode of Dexter—one without Jimmy Smits in it, because he pretties up everything he’s in—was a little afraid of what we’d discover behind the little door. I nicknamed it the Troll Door during our first walk-through and felt a hint of disappointment when there weren’t any naked eunuchs with high ponytails living behind it, but thrilled there were no human or animal remains. Ew.
- The off-center dormer makes no sense. Both dormers and all of the windows are in need of some love–ok, they are rotting–so I’m going to correct the miscalculation and add a third dormer in the center of the front elevation, as well.
- The Random Bookcase in A Wasted Space is coming out and *fingers crossed, prayers to the engineering gurus* will become part of the new bathroom on the second floor.
The stairwell will be partially open on the first floor, so the doorway at the bottom will go away.
In my last missive, I believe I promised you pants. They were hiding behind an undocumented door in Tinkerbell’s tiny bedroom (which will soon be The Cool Room Where The Guys Watch Football). They look to be from the 1940s and their construction is quite good. Maybe I’ll figure out a way to incorporate them in the new design and maybe goats will fly.
Here you go, pants:
We found a few interesting things during demolition: newspaper articles, paper ceilings, cardboard walls, an empty tuna can, and a No. 2 pencil. I would love to weave a fantastical story about how a pair of pants got wrapped around a vent stack, but in truth someone used them to block a leak in the roof. I really hoped we’d find something a little kookier that could become part of the legend of the cottage, but we got…pants.
In the coming days, I’ll share some of the fun finds I saw in Chicago and High Point, albeit nothing as unusual as pants. I found some beautiful things to incorporate into the design of the new floor plan and have begun the fabric, fixture, and finish selection process. I’m looking forward to getting to the pretty.
Tell me:: What’s the craziest thing someone left for you to find in a house? In our last house, the owners left padded cornices covered in a hideous fabric the attic. They were very unattractive, but not strange enough for my tastes. I like weird. Leave the gift of your weirdness in the comments!
Until next time,