An Impossible Open Floor Plan
Older Residential Homes have a bad habit of creating many small rooms inside themselves! Modern floorplans are focus on large open spaces that allow the kitchen to be brought into the rest of the home.
Before, people used the “living room” for entertaining guests and the kitchen was nothing more than a work room that should be hidden in the back. Although many other nations still desire this compartmentalization, American design has moved on.
Home Owners have come to realize that while entertaining, it is quite common for people to gather in the kitchen. Larger kitchens help make it easier to have more than one person help with the food prep (and cleanup!). When we were not looking, the kitchen essentially became the living room. Fast paced life styles have made formal dining a special occasion, most dining actually happens in the kitchen/living areas.
Building materials and technology have become more advanced (at least with techniques and technologies offered by Dan Guardo Contracting) to allow larger spans, meaning more open space.
So now we have combined the kitchen with the living room and added the dining room as well. The only way to make this work is to remove some of those walls, load bearing or not. It is actually MORE cost effective to combine three rooms into one, when changing layouts and utility placement.
We then supported the weight of the structure above allowing us to remove the two load bearing walls that were supporting the rooms above as well as some of the roof load.
The specifics of this 3 to 1 room expansion
We gutted, removed bearing walls, replaced with a full kitchen- all surfaces including tile cabinets, flooring, heating runs, electrical. As a bonus, we resided the house.
We removed all finishes (cabinets, flooring, trim, drywall, etc…) and disposed of them.
We then supported the weight of the structure above allowing us to remove the 2 load bearing walls that were supporting the rooms above as well as some of the roof load.
The next step was to design a structural member that would not only support the weight above, but still be manageable for installation. Once we had our structural component calculated and designed we had to retro fit it into the existing load bearing supports of the house.
Upon installation, the weight that was supported by the load bearing walls has not been uniformly distributed to the existing foundation of the house.
The second challenge was to remove the soffits so taller wall cabinets could be installed. In order to do this, large holes had to be cut through the floor joists that support the floor above. The problem with this is if you cut a large hole through a structural member it loses its strength.
So once again I incorporated steel reinforcement into the solution. After the structural work was completed new mechanicals were installed including upgrading the electrical service to 200 amp. New energy efficient insulation was installed, then drywall.
The key to making this look great is to have a nice, smooth, uninterrupted ceiling that flows from one end of the house the other. It never hurts to add some strategically place recessed lighting. It makes more sense to place lights where their function is optimized. Under cabinet lighting not only looks good, but it is extremely functional.
The next step was to install bamboo flooring that started in the kitchen and led into the dining room. This is a great product because it is durable, low maintenance and easy to clean. After the flooring came the new cabinets, followed by the granite counter tops.