I haven't been as active on the blog as I recently and for a good reason. We're about to start a major home renovation that's been a long time coming and has taken up a fair amount of my time.
Our house was built in 1968 and had never been updated when we bought it. It's a one-level ranch with a walk-out basement. We've been in our house for 10 1/2 years, and we've managed to do a little bit every year: stripping wallpaper out of every bedroom, updating two bathrooms, removing hideous paneling in the basement , replacing light fixtures and painting every wall at least once.
Now we're looking at tackling all the rest of the problems. We knew we had to update the kitchen and half the basement as well as find a permanent home for my husband's orchid collection. We went with a remodeling firm that has architects on staff.
Our list for the upstairs started off like this:
- Gut and update the kitchen, removing walls to improve the layout and give an open floor plan. This includes new cabinets, countertops, flooring and applicances.
- Replace the bannister and railings to the basement (preferably with ones that don't fall out on a whim).
- Replace the original siding.
- Replace the original wood windows.
- Repair the ductwork to half the house a prior owner screwed up with flexible tubes that just don't work.
The current layout of the living room / dining room / kitchen is just awkward. And the galley kitchen with very few cabinets has always been a problem. What we want to do is knock down those L-shaped walls and move the cabinetry to the front of the house giving us a U-shaped kitchen with an island.
And the basement has it's own set of problems. Basically, we're undoing a bad remodeling job from a prior owner.
- Put back in the hallway off the family room next to the bathroom that a prior owner covered up (see a trend?).
- Remodel the downstairs bathroom in it's original footprint.
- Add space back to the laundry room that was taken out to make an "in law" bathroom and realign the washer/dryer/utility sink along the wall.
- Close off the current hallway to the bedroom as well as one of the closets. This corner room will become a home office covered in bookcases. Right now it houses orchids.
Finally, a home for a large orchid collection. Orchids are a unique plant to grow and have some special needs.
- They like humidity. More than what I like inside my home. We want a greenhouse or sunroom addition where the humidity can be kept higher without bothering us humans.
- They need sunlight or a combination of sun and artificial light -- windows. As many windows as possible.
- They also need to be watered, but not like most houseplants. You have to let the water run through them and my husband keeps them in trays. So we need access to hot and cold water and a sink big enough to hold the trays.
- Electricity for lights and a fan.
We first thought about a separate freestanding greenhouse in the backyard. However, we'd have to run both water and electric lines from the house. And, if the weather was rainy, snowy or just generally miserable it wouldn't be fun or easy to get to.
Our other options are to place an addition somewhere on the back or side of the house, either close to the downstairs bathroom or behind our garage. We've gotten plans for each option from our design firm, although we're not satisfied that either option meets all our needs. I did find a company in Pennsylvania, Solar Innovations, that specializes in greenhouses that we're going to contact.
We expect to start demo in a couple of weeks, and until that time I'm busy packing up basically half a house.