In the original plan for this 1970s contemporary house, half the floor space was chopped up to create a kitchen, laundry, three-quarter bath, and back door.
The removal of virtually all the non-bearing walls in that part of the plan allowed a tight U kitchen to expand into one that has a full island with pantry closets layered onto the remaining bearing wall.
The powder room and laundry room were relocated to an existing rear shed pop-out that was previously unheated. Sink and stove locations were maintained to keep costs down, and new cabinetry respected the existing window locations, again saving money.
The lack of structural and exterior work kept this major redo cost-effective. Demolition is cheap, and, if structurally viable, renovating unfinished unheated space is far less expensive than adding on.
There are over 80 million single family homes in America, and it's estimated that in 2011, 18 million of these were underwater, meaning with a mortgage larger than the value of the house.
Millions of families feel trapped, living a life of domestic frustration in homes that do not work for them, while being unable to move to solve the problems they confront on a daily basis.
The benefits of concise, appropriate remodeling where you live now, independent of market conditions, can include improved convenience and lifestyle satisfaction, better looks, and a reduced environment impact, since improving an existing house is almost always greener than building new from scratch.
This series in ArchitectureWeek, and the book Staying Put that it's drawn from, offer tangible hope for getting the home you want from the house you have right now.
Each of these projects is a select example of the great and affordable outcomes that can be created, when a good architect and a good client team up together.
Architect Duo Dickinson runs his own practice in Madison, Connecticut. In over 30 years of professional practice, he has built more than 600 projects across the United States, with budgets ranging from $3,000 to $5 million. Dickinson has written seven books, including The Small House, Expressive Details, and The House You Build. He is a contributing writer for Money magazine, the architecture critic for the New Haven Register, and a contributing writer for New Haven magazine. He has also taught at Yale University, Roger Williams College, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design summer program.