Downsizing 101 and basement plans

That’s right! We are downsizing and have purchased a new builder home that will be ready in a little over a year.

It’s a long time to wait, but it gives us plenty of time to get our ducks in a row such as, disposing and donating many items and it gives me lots of time to play with the exact design and decor I want for this new chapter in our lives.

QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN DOWNSIZING

So if you are thinking of moving in the same direction or even if you are purchasing a condo or a smaller already on the market home, here’s some things to keep in mind.

Think about how you live or about how you want to live. Ask yourselves these questions.

How much space is needed for entertaining family and friends?

How many bedrooms or home offices are necessary?

Parking requirements

Ease of maintenance

Take the time to think about this and what your priorities will be for the next few years (we like to use 10 years in our plans). Write them down and compare them with your spouse or partner. It is so much easier to have a priority/dream list when you are out there looking for your next home.

For us, even though we are downsizing, we wanted a bungalow with a double car garage, space for two home offices, a guest room and an open plan for entertaining.

The layout we went with is approximately 1600 square feet without the basement. It has a very open layout with the kitchen, living room and dining room as one large room. This works well for us and when our large family comes to visit. There are two bedrooms and den in our plan and we will be converting the second bedroom to a second den. Click here to see our main floor plan from my previous post.

BASEMENT PLANS

Now onto the basement plans. This model’s basement comes partially finished with a family room and we will be completing it with a guest bedroom, exercise room and a full bath. This will give us lots of room to entertain and host family events.

 

Basement downsizing

 

We will leave the family room (or games room as it is called on the plan) will stay as it is. But we will be adding a gas fireplace centered on the back wall.

Bedroom #2 will be our exercise room and bedroom #1 will be our guest room, right beside the bathroom (which we are also keeping as per the plan). This gives us quite a bit of space for storage in the back room.

We want the family room to have a large seating area with a projector for movie watching. I also wanted a table with four chairs for games and hobbies as well as a large contemporary shelving unit for books and other items. I think we are bringing our pool table with us so that will take up a good chunk of the space.  It’s a little challenging to design as there is a post right centered about 8′ from the fireplace. I’ll be sharing a few of the design options in a later post.

One thing to mention about basements is that there needs to be alot of light. So make sure you think of that at this early stage. Our builder has placed quite a few pot lights in the space so I will be concentrating on supplemental lighting exactly where we need it.

So again, think about how you need the space to function and write your priority list. It’s a must!

NEXT STEPS AND WHEN TO HIRE A DESIGNER OR DECORATOR

Once you’ve signed on the dotted line for a newly build home, keep in mind that the questions and decisions will be coming at you fast and furious. It can be quite overwhelming.

Many major decisions need to be made quickly, so now is the time to hire a decorator or designer. They can walk you through these steps and give you some guidelines on where to spend and where to save. I’ve already made quite a few decisions, you can read some of them here.

Once you’ve decided on your new home and it’s layout, it’s time to look at your current furniture and ask these questions.

What will fit?

What do you need?

What can be multi purpose?

What can be reupholstered, repaired or painted?

I literally listed all my current furniture and then measured everything. I also thought about how it could be used (not only where it is used now). Keep an open mind about this. Lots of items can be repurposed. Downsizing can be liberating and fun!

Next post, I’ll be talking about exterior finishes and how to coordinate them.

 

 

 

 

New build floor plans and what to look for

So you are looking at a new build floor plans. Do you know what to look for when looking at new build floor plans?

I’m sure you have your wish list of needs and wants for your new home. So obviously, you’ve narrowed down your search to the homes that fit you best. Of course, there are always compromises when buying a new home. Sometimes, tweaking a new build floor plan here and there can get you an even more perfect fit.

For example, we selected the Bellingham Model as shown below.

New build home - bungalow

Here’s the original floor plan (our home will be the reverse of this). Keep in mind that this is a brand new model and neither is there a model nor a new home that we can walk through.

 

bungalow floor plan

This home came with three optional layouts, we went with this one as it makes the master bedroom and bath a touch bigger and I could make the changes below. It does this by eliminating a small hall between the master and second bedroom. Definitely wasted space for us.

So what did I decide to change?

Firstly, take a look at the flow of the rooms. In this plan, there was one spot where we felt it would be tight. Can you guess where? Look at the hallway from the entrance to the staircase. See how the bedroom 2 corner wall and the garage corner wall meet very closely in the hall? Well that seems tight. Angling the wall in bedroom 2 allows the hallway to be a touch wider and I think it’ll make the sights lines from the entrance/hallway to the kitchen/living room much better.

Change to the wall are shown in red below.

Revised new build bungalow floor plan

Now to the master bath. This option includes a roman tub in the master bath, a tucked in shower and shelves in the second bedroom’s closet.

However, we didn’t want the roman tub. I know….I know…. some people would kill for it. But for us, we have a roman tub in our current house and we rarely use it. Plus, there will be two other tubs in the house and we’ll likely have a hot tub in the backyard.

The master bedroom closet was also a major source of trauma for me, as we will be going from two walk in closets to one….sob.

My solution to all these issues, was to move the shower to the roman tub area, and enlarge it as well. Then I added the removed shower’s square footage and the extra shelves in the second bedroom’s closet (which will be Den #2) to the walk in closet. Ta da! A good sized closet. Easy peasey.

Changes shown in red below.

Revised new build bungalow floor plan

The other changes that we made were:

Larger doors (something to definitely keep in mind if you have high ceilings). 8′ doors on our 10′ ceilings will be much more proportional than the original 7′ doors.

Hardwood stairs – this is the time to decide whether your stairs will be carpeted or done in hardwood. What surprised me here is that I needed to decide on oak or maple at this time. Off to the design centre I went to see the options. We went with oak, since we both like seeing the wood grain.

Finished basement and any bedrooms/bathrooms added to the lower floor. More on the basement and it’s layout in another post.

We added a fireplace in the basement and raised the main floor fireplace and removed the mantel.

Other examples of structural items can be:

Adding, removing or enlarging windows, open staircases, additional gas lines, changing doors, enlarging or removing tubs or showers, adding bathroom sinks, relocating your laundry room, etc…..Keep in mind that that somethings that you don’t think are structural may actual be.

Your builder will likely have a list of items to look at before you sign off on all the structural changes. Then your blueprints will need to be redrawn so you’ll likely pay an administrative cost for that.

Of course, maybe there is a model home that you can walk through. That would definitely make this process so much easier. But sometimes that just isn’t possible. A great help to us  was we found a model home from another builder that was very similar to the Bellingham’s layout so we made a visit to that model home. It was a great help with visualizing room sizes and the finished house.

Next post, I’ll talk about finishing a basement in a new build home.

Buying a new build home?

new build bungalow

Big news for us! We have signed on the dotted line to purchase this new build home. So if you are in the market or have just bought a new build home, follow me along. Or if you just want to declutter and reduce, and really who doesn’t after Christmas?

We are downsizing as our last child gets ready to leave the nest. Honestly, with our large log cottage, there was just too much yard and house work to keep up with. So we have bought a brand spanking new bungalow design from Urbandale. The closing date is a long way off though, April 2020. We could have pushed this up to December 2019 or even February 2020 but who wants to move at Christmas or even in the winter? I’ve been there, done that, and didn’t like it, so we pushed it back to April.

It has been very exciting to think of all the design possibilities and even a little overwhelming. Even for this design loving gal. However, we have already signed off on any structural changes. And I’m starting to nail down kitchen and bath finishes, etc… It was a little challenging to decide on the bungalow design as we bought from a floor plan only since this model is brand new. A little tip if this happens to you, check out some other builders and see if they have a similar layout and model so that you can walk through and get a better idea of the space. We were lucky enough to be able to do this and it really helped us make a few decisions quickly.

We are staying in our neighbourhood, it works well for Rick’s work. I’m so looking forward to a much smaller lot and house to deal with.

I’ll be sharing more details of the house and what changes we have made so far and a few of the design choices that have already been finalized.

Log home dining room update

It’s certainly been awhile, but I’m back with my last post on my log cottage renovations and makeovers. This time I’m sharing my log home dining room. Also if you’d like to read the other log home posts here they are:

Living room makeover

Modern log home bath renovation

Log home sunroom

Fresh and bright log home kitchen renovation

 And back to the dining room. Here is what it looks like now.

Log home dining room after

Photo credit: Mark Hollaron

It started off like this.

Log home dining room before Log home dining room before

Log home dining room before

So as you can see there weren’t a huge amount of changes in this room. It was actually a make under., I took away alot of things. Here’s exactly what I did.

Log home dining room changes

I also painted out our hutch in a sunny yellow chalk paint. It was originally dark brown, you can see it here and how I did it’s makeover  in this post. Also, this hutch and the buffet (used in the front entry and also painted the same yellow) and the table in the sunroom (painted a bright green) were all from the same set. So don’t be afraid to break up sets and paint them in fun colours.

Blue and green plate wall

The plate wall is done and continues to be a work in progress. As I collect plates, I’ll add them to this display. I wrote about this plate wall and how the plates are hung in this post. Obviously,  I really need a better photo showing these plates over the buffet now.

Also just visible in the left corner of this picture is the window seat. I had new window seats made in a soft blue and finished them with some fun throw pillows in various textures, patterns and colours.

Log home dining room

And I am still not quite done with this log home dining room. I’ve been wanting to paint out the windsor chairs in a black for a long time. Maybe one of these days I’ll get around to it or have someone do it for me. I think it would be a great update to the space.

And that amazing open black lantern is from Troy Lighting. I instantly fell in love and it was my first cottage purchase and also the first item we installed.

Here’s the before and after for you one last time. Sorry about the quality of the before picture.

Log home dining room before

Log home dining room after

Photo credit: Mark Hollaron

You can check out more of my log home in the online version of Ottawa at Home’s Summer edition 2018.

 

 

Breaking up the squares

Round table versus square

Breaking up the squares? What am I talking about? And exactly what does shape have to do with design? Well, actually a lot. It is one of the things that we unconsciously notice in a room and it can either make us feel at ease or uncomfortable.

Think of a room that you may have been in, that is all rectangular and square furniture. A large rectangular sofa together with square armchairs and a square coffee table and end tables. Add the square or rectangle shaped art and perhaps even an area rug that is, you guessed it, either a square or rectangle. Often you’ll see institutional waiting rooms, like hospitals, schools, community centres which are decorated like this. This doesn’t help with our sense of unease or make us feel like we want to stay awhile. Everything feels hard and well….not so friendly.

Now, think of a room that has rounded or curved furniture. Typically you may see this in spas, bars and coffee houses. Round tables with chairs, a cute curved banquet to sit at or a friendly furniture arrangement around a round coffee table or ottoman. Now don’t you feel more comfortable and want to stay awhile?

It is the same way with our homes. Too many squares and cubes like armchairs and sofas? The remedy is simple. Round, oval or asymmetrical accessories or furnishings. Ottomans, coffee tables, end tables or mirrors in a rounded shape are the perfect way to counteract all the squares and rectangles that are so common in our fixtures and furnishings. An asymmetrical piece like a cowhide rug or even artwork will also help break up all the squares. Even by adding in a round vase, pendant or table lamp can change your room’s feel. This is definitely one of the most common things I suggest to a client during a consultation.

Another benefit to using oval or round furniture is that they often help with traffic flow. If you have a tight dining room consider swapping out your rectangular dining table for a round one. All of a sudden the flow is better and it is more conductive to table talk. Same thing goes for a round coffee table.

This is the before of the kitchen above. A kitchen is obviously primarily square due to all the cabinetry, sink, countertops and appliances. Add that to the fact that they are all hard surfaces. Just by changing out the rectangular table for a round one in this example served two purposes. It breaks up all the squares and it makes for an easier traffic flow to the sliding door. To read more about this renovation, click here.

Rectangular table versus round

Ahh..now that’s better.

So consider even adding in a round pendant light or mirror to your room that is full of cubes, it will definitely help to break up all the squares!