It’s never too early to make aesthetic choices

Actually I’m making decisions now because I have to. And by that I mean reclaimed lumber is on sale at Philadelphia Salvage for this week so if I decide things now I’ll save a lot of money. Here’s the a sketch looking into the kitchen from the living room. I don’t know if you could see it from this angle lying on the floor, or if you would have to cut a whole in my living room floor and look up from the basement, but whatever. And don’t even think about it. Now those floors are just about the only thing I’m able to keep that the house came with!

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So here’s what you can see in the sketch: the windows have the original Craftsman style woodwork installed around them, which is painted. The radiator under the narrow living room window isn’t there, but it will be in real life. I just didn’t feel like drawing it. The pipes and supports in the corner next to that are covered in rough sawn reclaimed wood. I’ll probably have the ends mitered so that the seams are right on the corners of the column, and then hand sand it to get the rough splintery wood off and take enough off the corners that they all match up and hopefully look like one piece of wood. Above that is a similar box built over the beam. This will run all the way to the ceiling, and right now I’m thinking that it will extend past the column and have a curved/flared cut on the end where it meets the wallboard in the living room.

There floor joists in the kitchen are exposed. I plan to install wallboard in between them, leaving enough space above it for wiring. There is a tube skylight on the bottom face of this beam. Tube skylights basically consist of a plastic dome on the roof and a very shiny round heat duct that reflects the light down to where you want light. This will take some space out of the guest room closet. That’s the circle you see on the beam, and it will be white glass and metal. I want it on the beam so that the light will shine unobstructed into both the living room and the kitchen, and it also fits better and takes up less of the closet this way. The skylight is off center. have a structural beam that’s about 5 inches thick, and the skylight will come through next to it. I will then build the fake beam about 16-17 inches wide to come beyond the skylight, which is a 10 inch circle. The column covering the pipes will be about 12-13 inches square, and will be against the living room side of the beam, off center.

So for construction details, have to build the beam extra wide on the kitchen side to accommodate the skylight. I could build it even wider still so that the skylight would be centered on the beam, but I think that would close the kitchen in more and not be worth it. The column will be off center with the beam because that’s where the pipes are. Also it makes it easier to lay out a kitchen with that in the corner of the room. I think that this slightly awkward placement makes the most sense given what I have to work around.

Windows: I drew the window over the kitchen sink with 2 over 2’s because that’s what I got (cheaply) for the back bedroom, and I think I want to make them consistent through the house. The narrow windows are 1 over 1’s because the glass is already narrow enough.  I could do the whole house except the guest room in 1 over 1’s instead. This is probably what the house originally had, but 2 over 2’s are common on similar houses in the same neighborhood so I think either will look fine.

The line under that window is where kitchen cabinets will go. I didn’t feel like trying to draw them in, and I’m not replacing them permanently yet anyway.

Here’s the other side of that beam, looking from the other side. You can see here that the beam runs all the way to the end of the room, and that there’s an outside corner made of wallboard under the beam. The refrigerator will get tucked into this corner behind the stairway.

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And here’s a similar angle before I started anything when the house still looked like a house. You can see that I drew the ceiling way too low and made the basement stairway door open the wrong way.

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I can say that I don’t regret losing the arch; it really was too low, and I think an open floor plan works better, at least for now and in this small house. The sketches look much more old fashioned than I think it will look in real life. My plan was to keep the old fashioned details that make this house unique, as well as nice furniture I’m getting from family, but to get a modern vibe with crisp paint colors, kitchen cabinets, lighting, and seating in the living room. That’s one thing I didn’t inherit much of. Anyways, I’ll probably be buying the materials to make this happen later this week, so give me your thoughts! Or, if you don’t have any, make me feel good and validate my choices!

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13 thoughts on “It’s never too early to make aesthetic choices

    1. chadscrookedhouse Post author

      A couple hundred. Maybe more if I have them mill it for me, but I might just go use someone’s table saw. I’m debating if I want to thicken the beam to center the skylight. It’s already a bit awkwardly thick. I have 48 hours to decide.

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  1. curt

    I got rid of the arches in my house as well. Looked like yours really low and awkward. I have 9′ ceilings and brought them up to 8′.

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    1. chadscrookedhouse Post author

      My ceilings are about 8′-9″, and I’ve also brought the opening up to 8′ exactly. Also widened it from about 3 feet to more like 7. Now one thing I’m debating is should I build the box beam a little wider, 24″ instead of 20 or so, so that the tube skylight can be centered on the bottom face of it?

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      1. curt

        My only question is about the skylights in general? With the windows in the kitchen and living room will that need enough light. I would think the skylight might bring in too much directional light that will end up feeling like a spotlight. I’ve worked on projects in houses that had tube skylights and they caused more problems that they solved. It’s hard to regulate the light and they can look like a flamethrower. Just a thought – you know your space better than anyone – but if it was mine I’d try to make it work without a tube light.

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      2. chadscrookedhouse Post author

        Hmm, I think I want one in the upstairs hall – which would bring light down the stairs – but the one on the beam is optional. Trouble is, I have a 5 foot overhang on the back of the house, and the windows at the back of the living room and the side of the kitchen look out into a lightwell that’s probably less than 30 inches to the property line – and 60 to the neighbor’s house. Putting the skylight right there would bring extra light into the darkest part of the house, but it’s possible that I won’t need them with the awnings off. Maybe I should do that tomorrow? Trouble is, my downstairs awning is HUGE. But if I skip that, the box beam can be the same width as the column, which will make more sense aesthetically.

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      3. curt

        I understand the upstairs hall for the stairwell. It was just a thought for the one in the beam. I think you might get quite a bit more light in with that awning off. But I’m sure whatever you do will look fine.

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      4. chadscrookedhouse Post author

        the awnings are on the front windows, which are 26 feet away. Trouble is I have to make this decision this week because the reclaimed wood is on sale this week only, so the awnings need to go ASAP.

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  2. CindyH

    while I like the light that comes in through our tubes in our house, I do not like the bugs and dirt that have accumulated there – don’t know if you can avoid that with better craftmanship than ours had. I’m not sure how that tube will look in the middle of a beam, but I’m here to validate your choices whatever they are!

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      1. chadscrookedhouse Post author

        Now what do you think of curt’s comment (above) that it’ll look like a spotlight? And I asked Merle yesterday and she thinks the amount of light I’d get from a 10 inch skylight with a 10 foot shaft in a room that has ok lighting to begin with is not worth the expense, loss of closet space, and extra beam thickness. The upstairs hall skylight would be bigger and give a good bit more light.

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