Before Renovation: Space Planning & Conceptual Questions
A message from a new client in Miami made my morning: “Hello, Alla. I am so happy I came across your website – thank you for offering your services.” She was very smart to consult an online architect and address space planning or conceptual questions before taking on a renovation project. Obviously, when someone says that “your help and insight are much appreciated,” you work a little harder.
Bringing me up to speed, she wrote: “My husband and I are in the process of purchasing a fixer-upper that we want to renovate and rent. I am handling the renovation and need help in determining the scope of the project. The renovation needs to be value driven. My goal in reaching out to you is to have you assess the space and give me your opinion on how to re-arrange it.”
A modest 1950s single-story structure, was originally a 2-bedroom/1-bathroom house with a garage and a covered porch. Currently, it is used as a 3/3. Prior owners added bathrooms and closed in the porch + garage for extra living space. According to my client, “these ‘additions’ were done with little concern for flow or layout. As a result, living room and kitchen areas are too small, and there is no reasonable dining area.”
Presently, the house is configured in such a way that the back bedroom is accessed through the kitchen. There are many other odd features. Thus, space planning has to be addressed, even if a more appropriate layout would require moving walls, plumbing, etc.
I think it’s wise to address conceptual and space planning questions or concerns before embarking on a renovation.
She shared: “My initial thought is to remove the addition (laundry room and fridge space), change the location of the kitchen, open up the main living space and remove a bathroom or maybe have a powder room instead of a full bathroom.”
My client was eager to provide all of the information necessary. Unfortunately, some of the scribbled sketches were barely legible and had to be deciphered. Once we were on the same page, I was able to draw up a plan of the existing conditions. That was the key to understanding and distinguishing between the original layout versus the add-ons.
Next step was to to clean it all up. My mission was not to design but to arrange building blocks diagrammatically.
I wrote to my client: “The proposed layout assumes that you put the new master bedroom suite in the area of the old porch. I am supposing that you can open it up with windows to the backyard. Please note a consistent ‘buffer zone’ between public and private areas.”
I was relieved to hear that this is exactly what she wanted at this stage.
She emailed a few days later: “The more I study your drawing, the more I like it. I could never have come up with this layout. I hope I can actualize it.”
Even though it was a rough sketch without dimensions and she still had a lot of questions regarding details (storage space, door openings, hallway width, etc.) she appreciated the conceptual moves. They made practical sense from the space planning point of view.