This is one of my favorite stages of a project, when a design originally conceived and expressed via drawings starts to become visible in reality. The "Before" photo on the bottom was taken at roughly the same angle as the "After" photo above it. That's the same fireplace to the far right in the "Before" photo as the fireplace in the "After" photo, though we've added another gas fireplace behind the original wood-burning fireplace in the "After" photo.
The footprint of this space hasn't changed, but we've removed the low, flat ceiling, replacing it instead with rod ties in a cathedral ceiling, which adds volume and a sense of spaciousness. In my book The New Small House, I call this design strategy: Pay attention to the third dimension.
By removing the full-height partitions between the former dining, living, and kitchen spaces, the renovated space serves multiple purposes comfortably under the taller cathedral ceiling. The location of the now free-standing fireplace provides some separation between the primary living space, captured in this photo, and the smaller sitting and dining space on the other side of the fireplaces. The low wall guard rail around the basement stair also differentiates without dividing. In the book I call this strategy: Create multipurpose spaces.
Less obvious in this "After" photo, is that opening up the space to the new reconfigured windows will allow the relocated kitchen, which is where I was standing when I took the "After" shot, to borrow view and daylight from the living space.
Since this is still a work-in-progress, it's too soon to write about finishes, but suffice it to say that we're going with a quieter, soothing, fresh palette. No yellow. Built-ins, cabinetry, and finishes will be introduced in coming weeks. The homeowners have also substantially edited their belongings, opting for new, more contemporary furnishings to complement their '50's ranch instead of the older furnishings that populate the "Before" photo. Stay tuned.
by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast