Back when we were young and utterly foolish (now not so young and clinging to the cliff of sanity), we purchased a good quality dining room table and chairs for Thanksgiving dinner and other grownup events. Adult life was just around the corner. We were very imaginative. Then kids arrived, followed by capitulation to reality. We probably should have bought an extra garage door and attached legs to it.
Today our dining table is covered in several birthday gifts worth of Lego, an abandoned snowman art project that will surely survive another snowfall because a child is "still working on it", an eternal unicorn project that apparently has no season, and markers. Four dozen markers? Five? Ah, the elegance of it all. We can pretend it's Thanksgiving while we pass turkey sandwiches and nouveau beaujolais to each other as long as you can reach across the popsicle stick forest. At least we purchased table pads. Hope springs eternal.
All of which got us thinking about how we use the space in our homes, and the ways in which old homes were built according to a mostly outdated way of living. Consider the Colonial style home, for example. Take a walk through one and you will see the elongated formal living room with a fireplace on one side, the formal dining room on the other, traditional center staircase, and something like a den, all laid out in a familiar format. Predictably, the small kitchen is closed off from the rest of the living space in the back of the house.
Our priorities are different today. The way we use our homes has changed. For one thing, recent research shows something you already knew: families use their kitchen and family room about 70% of the time. These are the true living spaces. The graphic at the end of this post shows where people spend the bulk of their time on the first floor. Formal living rooms and dining rooms see little use. Front porches are essentially decorative. Yard space consumes a fraction of the time spent indoors, despite the premium buyers pay for large lots.
In other words, most of us are paying dearly for a plenty of real estate that has low utility.
It makes sense to upgrade the spaces where we spend so much of our time. For one client, this meant modifying a traditional Colonial home with an addition to hold a spacious new kitchen. Below are pictures of the original galley kitchen and recently finished kitchen.
Where you keep your Lego is up to you, but homeowners are pointed in the right direction when they apply renovation dollars to the spaces they use most often. The kitchen above is an important part of a large-scale renovation project for this client, but the same principle applies where less drastic changes are occurring--see Kitchen Clean Up for an example of an upgrade that did not require an excavator, new cabinets, and new appliances.
More from this home and others coming soon. Good luck with all of your renovation projects, both large and small!