Do you live in one of the Boston area's wonderful older homes? If so, you may love your house's character and location, but yearn for spaces and a floorplan that are more suited to modern living. Here are four of the most popular renovations that we do to update older homes:
1. Opening Up a Kitchen
Tired of a dark, cramped kitchen? Bring in light and open it up to the rest of the home by removing walls. If a wall is load-bearing and can’t be replaced by using a header beam, you may be able to get the open feel that you desire by using columns or a half wall.
If removing a wall is not an option, installing an interior window on the wall between the kitchen and an adjoining room makes the kitchen feel larger and gives it better sightlines. Doubling the width of the entryway or using archways instead of solid doors both achieve a similar effect.
2. Repurposing a Basement or Attic
Finishing a basement or attic is a cost-effective way to gain additional living space without adding to your home’s footprint. Basements with a fieldstone foundation, significant moisture issues, or low ceiling height are clearly not good candidates for finished rooms. Otherwise, basements are fairly easy to remodel from a structural standpoint. Most are sturdily built, offer easy access to utilities, and walls can always be added to simplify electrical wiring. Radiant heating can be installed below the floor to counteract cold, while well-designed lighting systems can replace natural light if windows are limited.
Renovating an attic can be a bit trickier. Angled dormers can often be accommodated in the design of the space, but low ceilings pose a far more significant challenge. Most attics also do not have an adequate point of exit and entry, so a new or remodeled staircase will have to be added as part of the remodeling process. Most attics are also not built with floors that can withstand day-to-day living, so you will probably need to strengthen the joists and lay down sub-floor if you are converting it to a useable room.
An underused attic was transformed into a light-filled playroom.
3. Bringing the Outside In
If you can’t be outside, the next best thing is seeing it. Windows, skylights and glass doors instantly make a room feel more spacious by drawing the eye to the outdoors and letting in light and air. Transoms above doorways may not frame a view, but they can be a wonderful way to share a room’s natural light with an adjacent space.
A skylight over a partial wall and porthole window flood this bathroom with natural light while establishing a connection with the outdoors.
5. Expanding to Accommodate Multiple Generations
Is an adult child coming back home or an elderly parent coming to live? You’ll probably need to renovate or add on to create additional living space. The space should feature:
Privacy with Proximity – Successful multi-generational living requires a fine balance between private and communal spaces. Separate entrances, morning bars or kitchenettes in bedroom suites, and sitting rooms provide much-needed privacy. A large, open kitchen/eating/living area is ideal when the family comes together.
Flexibility – Flexible spaces can be easily transformed to function for different purposes and ages. For example, an underused living room and sunroom may transition into a home office, then an in-law suite, then a space for an adult child who moves home, then an entertainment area.
Universal Design -- Universal design works hand-in-hand with flexible spaces to create environments that are usable by all people. Hallways that are wide enough to accommodate a wheel chair and zero entry thresholds are classic examples of universal design features.
The zero entry threshold to and from this sunny hallway makes the space easy to navigate for people of all ages and mobility.
Need more ideas? Contact us about your project!