by George Taniwaki

Sue and I have been in the planning stage of remodeling the first floor of our house for the past 3 years. Now we’ve finally started work. We are acting as our own general contractor, coordinating the trades, and will be doing a lot of the grunt work ourselves. This post contains a floor plan for the remodeling project along with some “before” pictures. Our architect is H. Robert Soderstrom of Soderstrom Architects in Boulder, Colorado.

Our house was built in 1980 and has a typical floor plan for that era with the space divided into small disconnected rooms. The kitchen is designed as a workplace and not as the entertainment/gathering place.

Our redesign opens up the floor plan by removing two walls to create a single space that contains the kitchen, dining room, and living room. The kitchen will be larger with lots of counter space. We are also creating an office for Sue.

CD A20 (2)

Figure 1. The new floor plan overlaid on the existing plan. Drawing courtesy of Soderstrom Architects


Currently, the first thing a visitor sees when entering the house is the side of the refrigerator (Fig 2, in the background). We will be moving the refrigerator and placing a more visually pleasing focal point in its place, a breakfast counter with a soapstone counter and topped with a fused glass bar area.


Figure 2. The front entrance looking west into the foyer. Notice the door swings to the right

Once in the foyer, one would normally turn right (north) to the stairs or to the living room (Fig 3). However, to do that, one has to close the front door first because it swings the wrong direction. We will be switching that during the remodel. Turning left from the foyer (south) leads you currently to a coat closet and the dining room (Fig 4). We will be removing the coat closet to open up the space and I will build a mission-style coat tree with lift-up seat (I’m a woodworker). We will add a wall with French door to the old dining room, turning it into an office.


Figures 3 and 4. Inside the foyer looking north into the living room (left) and looking south into what (was dining room) will be Sue’s new office (right)

Living room

The living room is in the northeast corner of the house. It is a bit small and unused because it is closed off from the rest of the house. A load bearing wall will be removed and the adjoining room (formerly a family room) will become the new dining room (Fig 5).


Figure 5. The living room looking west; the load bearing wall in back will be removed

Kitchen and dining room

In the southwest corner of the house was a kitchen and breakfast nook. Next to it in the northwest corner was a family room. We are demolishing the wall between these two rooms, moving all the plumbing, gas, and heating to create an open plan kitchen/dining room combination. The doorway (on east) between the kitchen and the old dining room (Sue’s new office) will be closed off (Fig 6). The load bearing wall will be replaced with a beam to allow us to fit custom cabinets, a walk-in pantry, and a 36-inch refrigerator in this space (Fig 7).


Figures 6 and 7. The kitchen looking east; the doorway on the left will be closed off and the load bearing wall will be removed

For more ideas on home remodeling projects see the Home Remodeling Guide.

All photos by George Taniwaki except as noted