Interior Renovation: When Better Space (Not More) Is the Solution
The first thing you need to know about interior renovation is that it is usually more cost-effective than building a room addition. We’ve worked with clients who called on us to design an addition because they thought they needed more room in their house. After further investigation, it turned out that what they needed was “breathing room” inside the house. The clients needed better space not more space. In other words, they needed to open up or reconfigure the floor plan to improve flow.
By “flow” we are talking about room-to-room relationships and how sight lines and room dimensions shape that space. Improving flow generally means removing road blocks or snags that cause visual and physical interference. In so doing, we achieve visual harmony and improved function. That is the value of an interior renovation approach to solving a problem related to room dimensions or room relationships in a house or larger condominium. By making small adjustments and by selectively enhancing finish details, an architect and interior designer can completely transform a dysfunctional layout.
Here is an example of an interior renovation project in progress in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington DC. As you can see in the photo, it is very much in the midst….
What this shows (please excuse our mess) is how much work is being done to relay the floor plan by removing and relocating walls. The purpose of this project was two-fold:
- enlarge the sun room at the rear of the condo
- open up the sight lines from the rear so that natural light from the sun room could reach into the adjacent rooms
- slightly re-position the entry to the kitchen so it would relate to the dining room more fluidly
Steal From the Large and Give To the Small Room
Since this residence is in a condominium building, a sun room addition was not an option. Fortunately, the turn of the century time period when this condo was built favored generous room dimensions particularly in formal dining rooms. So the designers and clients agreed to steal a few feet from the dining room and give it to the sun room, creating wider passages between the rooms and increasing open-ness and natural light.
Gaining Space Without An Addition
Interior renovation can be applied just as well to a single family home provided the overall square footage is large enough to reconfigure. The before and after floor plans of a Bethesda French colonial show how interior renovation can improve sight lines and room-to-room flow.
The owners wanted a large center island in the kitchen—but the room simply wasn’t large enough to accommodate that feature. Several remodelers had told them to build an addition. They didn’t want to do that because it would mean having to sacrifice a backyard patio that they treasured. We suggested removing a couple of walls (note highlighted areas on before plan) and adding a couple of box bays (bump outs) at the rear of the house to give the kitchen just enough room for that center island—which was very important to the owners.
The floor plan and kitchen lay out were transformed and made fully functional without the expense of a large addition. Good design solution for the house, the family, and the budget.