Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Home Improvement

I like our new house. I really do. In fact, if you remember, I went so far as to admit that after the stress of trying to get into this school district, and trying to live in something that wouldn’t qualify as section-8, that I burst into tears of relief when I found out our bid was accepted and we got it.

Do I love our new house? Love, love, love it with all of my heart and want to marry it? No. No partly because I am a bitter hag who wanted to build my own house with my own floor plans on our own acre of land outside the school district and I just can’t let go of the dream and get over it and instead I’ll nurse this burning ember of a grudge until the day I die …… and partly because this house isn’t anything like what we **would have** built ourselves.

The previous owners (who I am totally NOT going to bag on because although I don’t know them personally, we do have quite a few mutual friends and I just KNOW anything negative I might say would get right back to them …. Such is the joy of living in a small town**) bought this house in its original state, and remodeled it and added on to get something bigger; something a little more modern. The realtor told us they tore it down to the studs ….. the neighbor told me they didn’t. I don’t know which story is true, but overall, they managed to build a lovely home; it’s only four years old, and we are enjoying it very much.

But --- {you knew there would be a but, didn’t you?} There are parts of this house that possibly worked better for their family of three than for our family of five. The longer we are in it, the more things I see that are or are not working for us. And therefore, we have a laundry list of work we would like to eventually do to the place ourselves. Some projects are very small … a few are medium …. And a few are big. Can we live comfortably here in the meantime? Yes, easily, although I will bitch until my dying day that there is not one of those up and down shelves in the kitchen to easily store cookie and baking sheets. You know what I’m talking about? So instead I have to stack them horizontally on top of one another and it’s really heavy and awkward to pull out your muffin pan, or pizza baking stone, or whatever, because no matter which one you want it is inevitably on the bottom underneath all the others which you then have to drag out as well, such is Murphy’s Law …. (see Small House Renovation Project #1: Build Vertical Shelf Cabinet Area Thing in Kitchen to stack cookie sheets the proper way.)

One of the first, if not THE first, project we will undertake (code for: when we get the money) is the bedroom the girls are sharing. Interestingly, despite its size, this is only a 2-bedroom house. Both bedrooms are big, but one is the downstairs master and one is the upstairs bedroom that the girls are sharing. Kellen is sleeping in the storage room, although when I show you pictures of it, you won’t think it’s quite as pathetic as it sounds, and please don’t call Child Protective Services until I have a chance to explain.

Back to the girls. They are not happy sharing a room. And although they have plenty of space, you know what? I don’t blame them. I hated sharing a room with my sister growing up, too. We also had a room that my parents had added on to, so it was nice-sized, but we got on each other’s nerves and in each other’s space and in each other’s THINGS. The next-to-the-final-straw was the day I went to school and saw her best friend Stephanie with a cute shirt on, and I said, “Hey, Stephanie, cute shirt! I have one just like it!” and she smiled and said, “I know, this is yours.” The final, FINAL straw was the day that her boyfriend came to school wearing my most prized possession, a concert t-shirt from the 1984 Adam Ant Goody Two Shoes tour, that he had the audacity to CUT THE SLEEVES OUT OF, what kind of jackass cuts the sleeves off a concert t-shirt that doesn’t even BELONG TO HIM!?!?!? (Why no, I'm not still holding a grudge, why do you ask?) THAT was the day I decided I needed my own space, and ultimately, why if our girls really want their own rooms, we will try our best to make it happen. And I think the room they are in now is big enough that we can make it work. Here, you judge for yourselves:

See? Plenty of space for the girls to hang out, just reading books** (**photo totally staged) and relax.

Lots of space, the whole of one wall, for racks and shelves for clothing and shoes.

In fact, I have both their summer and winter clothes hanging here, and plenty of room left over. No more Rubbermaid bins of off-season clothes out in the garage for us! (Thank goodness, too, because how much of a hassle is that? And you always seem to get a cold front or warm front the day AFTER you swap out the clothes, you know what I mean?? And then you’re out there digging through the bins for something to wear …. Such a headache.)

There’s also enough room that they each have their own dresser for underwear, pajamas, swimsuits, etc.

And even another wall of shelves for things like books, trophies, hats, stuffed animals, etc. Really, whatever they might want to fit in here for the two of them. Yep, lots and lots of room for their stuff in this bedroom.

Wait, what’s that you say? This doesn’t look like a bedroom? There’s something missing????

OH, you mean like BEDS!?!?!?!?!?

Yeah, well, that’s because ---- (are you ready for this?) That’s because this is their CLOSET. Their closet, which I swear on the latest Jodi Piccoult, is 14 x 11 and is bigger than the entire bedroom either of them had in our previous house. In fact, I think it might be bigger than MY bedroom in the previous house.

You want to see the actual bedroom?

THIS is the actual bedroom! The door on the back far right is the door to the closet.

22 x 20 feet of emptiness, because my two girls combined don’t have enough crap to fill it up. Which I guess is a good thing, right? This is Brayden’s “side” ….

… and this is Kendrie’s “side”, although when you’re dealing with a room this size, it sounds silly to be dibbing on which “side” is yours.

And this is the view of the bedroom from the closet door. Sadly, I don’t have a wide-angle lens on my camera so I’m not sure these pictures will even do justice to the space.

And of course, that’s not including the full bath that is opposite the closet.

Our initial plan was to just put a partition down the middle of the room, with both ends open, so each girl could easily walk to the closet or bathroom, but still have their privacy. But then we realized that would simply make it two long skinny rooms, and we would still have all that extra closet space.

So now we’re leaning more towards taking out the wall to the closet and making two distinct rooms, so each girl can have her own bedroom. And making another door at the far end of the bathroom, so Kendrie could get to the bathroom without having to walk through Brayden’s room.

So I guess technically I’m not sure if this qualifies as a medium project, or a large project. It’s large-scale, to be sure, but overall I don’t think it would be Toooooo complicated (said the girl who can’t even hang a picture straight) since it wouldn’t involve any plumbing, and not much electrical. It’s basically nothing more than moving a few walls, adding a few doorways, and building closets in each room since the “old” closet would now be part of a “new” room. Clear as mud?

I don’t know … what do you think? Any home-improvement gurus out there with a suggestion on how we can maximize this space, without wasting any of it? I’d love to hear from you.

Until then, I’ll be in the kitchen, grumbling about my cookie sheets.


**I went to a funeral yesterday. A friend (and classmate my entire life) mother passed away and while I know a funeral is not the proper place or time for old-school reunions, both my 4th grade and 5th grade teachers were there -- And my junior high counselor -- And many parents of friends of mine. And my fifth grade teacher said of course she remembered me, I was the young girl with the beautiful blonde hair, and I said yes, but that was thirty years ago and I have to pay for the blond now and quite frankly, I’m not sure she got the joke --- but my gosh, how cool is it to live in a small town???


Caroline said...

First, I don't have a vertical shelf for my cookie sheets in our new house either and Chris has to hear me bitch like crazy every time I have to get something out of the drawer under the oven.

Second, I have NEVER seen a closet or bedroom that size. Holy cow! You can make 2 rooms with good-size closets out of those spaces EASY! That just blows my mind. Who did they build those spaces for? Did they live with the Jolly Green Giant???

Grandma J said...

I stack my cookie sheets and cooling rack in a small space between my refrigerator and cabinets.
What a huge room and closet. I like your idea, it's the perfect solution except will Kendrie have to walk through (God forbid) Brayden's room to get to hers?
My brother tried to charge me a fee to pass through his room...key word, TRIED!

lizinsumner said...

Wow - big rooms!! And, I think you're right - taking all of the space (bedroom and closet) and redesigning it into 2 separate bedrooms (with separate closets, I presume) would be the best thing to do. You'll have to rip out the carpet....my only suggestion, do yourself a favor and replace it with hardwood or laminate....much more versatile for decorating and less allergens for the kids. Wish my whole place was hardwood floors! Good luck! Will be interesting to see how each girl chooses to color/decorate her new space when it's done. And, I'm still worried about poor Kellen in the store room!!

Renee' said...

Holy crap - -they have a dream room. I need to send Papa your way for the renovations. Seriously, I'll talk to Kristi about what she would suggest. She is awesome with design. And Papa does the work.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kristie,

Why not post a floorplan of how it is now and let people come up with their suggested alternatives? The one with the "winning" plan gets a prize. A BIG prize. Like a mention on your site. :)

--Patti in NJ

Alice said...

Holy crap! I think their room is bigger than my ENTIRE condo. I'm serious - I live in 800 sq ft. Of course, that's all I could afford in Atlanta. I'm getting married in June and moving back to *my* hometown, so I have enjoyed reading about your adventures of "going home."

Tiffany said...

I'm with you can't live without the cookie sheet cabinet.. I'm not sure about you but home improvement projects never stop do they? The girls room is huge, but that's a great idea to split it up for them. If the storage space is as large as the girls' closet Kellen should be safe:)

Marcia said...

WOW!! That's the kind of bedroom I need in this house! We have 7 people living in a 3 bedroom home. We had to make 2 bedrooms downstairs just to fit everyone. That room of yours is nicely wheelchair accessible, too, which is what I need for one of my kiddos. I want that!!

The Running Girl said...

And I thought our closet in our last house was huge! You should definitely check into moving some walls and making two rooms out of that huge space. I need to show my kids these pictures to show them that it IS possible to live without so much junk in their rooms.

I'm lucky to have a vertical space for my cookie sheets. It's nice :)


Monica H said...

That is a huge room and I love the wall color. I think you could split the room, and make it 2 rooms, but it's much more difficul than just "more than moving a few walls, adding a few doorways, and building closets in each room" It sounds simple, but if done correctly, it could be expensive.

Also, I don't have one of those vertical cookie sheet things either and it annoys me to no end. Because of the way our kitchen cabinets are, I can't just put one in either. I bought one of those inexpensive vertical kitchen organizers under my cabinets and it works. Although, not the real thing, it is functional.

Mrs. Staff Sergeant said...

Wow! I am totally jealous! We're living in 1000 square feet of fantabulous base housing right now. I think that bedroom is as big as our entire unit :X

You could easily make that into 2 bedrooms! (and doesn't that add to the value of the house too?) My husband has done a few additions in his day. Too bad I cant send him over to help you out!

Good luck, I'm sure it'll turn out great!

Anonymous said...

A funeral is a good time for reunions. Why else do you think we have them? For the deceased person? Weddings and Funerals are social opportunities for our community to renew old friendships and relationships, and even create new ones. What is our life made up of, if not relationships? I would be honored if, at my funeral, everyone had a good time and renewed any lapsed friendships and met some new people. Nothing would make me feel more worthwhile (as a person in a casket) than if people were pleased to be around each other because of my connection with them! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I think I'd kick all the kids downstairs and use the upstairs as an adult retreat.


Brenda said...

14x11 and 22x20...we'd probably find a way to move the wall dividing the closet and the bedroom to make the two spaces more equal in size and then yes, punch a second hole in the bathroom wall for a second entrance. The hard part will be moving the wall, especially if it's a load-bearing wall.

Framing in closets in each room would not be difficult once the wall is moved.

Anonymous said...

Hey there!

I don't know if you remember me or not, but I posted in your thread about moving expenses/military pay back in the summer. I line in Northern VA and told you I was Soooo envious of you moving and how expensive everything is here. And how all 3 of your purchased houses likely cost less than my 1 crappy townhouse here. Ring a bell? Anyhoo, it seems my wish will come true and we look to be Kansas bound this June. Aren't you just absolutely overjoyed for me?

Now about that cookiesheet shelf...I have one and never knew what the hell it was for. So it holds my phone books and old issues of Woman's Day I keep for recipes. Wasn't that genius? The cookie sheets and muffin tins are stacked where they belong, in the drawer under the stove.

Onto your cutie pies. I have 2 boys and 2 girls. They are ages 6-12. The 2 girls have shared a room and the 2 boys have shared a room since we moved here, 12 yrs ago. Well, actually I guess since they had a same sex sib. And calling them "rooms" is very generous. I have seen bigger jail cells. Each room holds 2 chests and a set of bunks and that is IT. Actually, for my boys, the younger son's chest is in his closet. Anyways, they are so very close. So I think some good things can come out of sharing a room. Much like inmates, they have had no choice but to learn to get along. I really do believe the shared space has made them closer. All kidding aside, nothing like whispering and giggling into the night and trying to double team and outwit your half witted parents to bring you together. So, don't feel too bad about them sharing. I think getting Mr. Kellen out of the storage room should come before the girls getting a redisgned room, lol. Actually, why not make that "closet" a room for Kellen and then divide the other room in half. They will still be good sized rooms, and you will have 3 bedrooms upstairs. And hey can all watch each other and Narc out a window sneaking out sib in a few years.

Good luck to you. I have followed you little girl for a long time and I am over-joyed how well she is doing. And her daddy too. You guys are always in my prayers, even though I never met you. You will be my source of insperation as we trek from Va to Kansas. Tell me everything wonderful about the midwest!


Anonymous said...

Holy cow that's a big ass room!!! I think I would have chosen that as my room ;) My hubby is a general contractor and I am sure he could come up with all sorts of ideas for ya.

And Rita from VA - Kansas rocks!! I lived there 23 years and now live in Missouri. It's only 12 degrees right now but I love Kansas, let me be the first to welcome you!!

Jill from Missouri

Kelly said...

The size of that bedroom and closet is insane! The possibilities are endless!!

Jen said...

That closet was about the size of my first year dorm...and we had 2 people living in there...it almost seems like you could put the wall up down the centre, ...i'm sure if you made the wall short and not all the way to the ceiling it would provide the necessary privacy without having to rip things up. It would look narrow but not too bad and you wouldn't have to worry about losing any daylight in one of the rooms. You could turn the closet room into private closets by building two closets in there. Even if you hang curtains in front of the shelves it would still give them some privacy and seperation

Amy said...

OMG!! Are you kidding me? The girls room is almost as big as my entire house!! We have 3 bedroom 2 full baths and only 920 sq. feet!!We don't have any storage other than a shed in our back yard. That's right NO garage. Oh, I also have 3 kids, 2 dogs & 1 husband. I think my entire family could live in that room!! I can hardly wait to see Kellen's storage room.
I have never had a special cookie sheet cabinet or seen one. I just put they on their sides in my tall drawer proped up by something heavy.
I'm sure you guys could do amazing stuff with that house you call a 'bedroom'. Good luck!!

Hyzymom said...

OMG! That room is insane. I think it's bigger than the entire upstairs in my INSANELY expensive Northern Va. house.

On the other front, when my husband and his brother got tired of sharing a room, John moved into the laundry room. I kid you not with the washing machine and everything. And he seems to have turned out okay. Insanely irritating at times, but basically decent. So, no worries for Kellen. You know he could probably move into the girls closet and still have more room than John had. :o)
Good luck on all the home improvement projects. You are a better woman than me. Everytime John pulls out the "Home Improvement for Dummies" book I break into a cold sweat and have to leave the room.

P.S. The only thing that makes me feel a little bit better is that at least my half a million dollar house does have a vertical shelf for my cookie sheets. Ha! Ha! :o)

Patty House, Indiana said...

I am SO Jealous! They hav more room in their bedroom/closet and I do in mine!

I think your plans will work, but then again...I'm just like you..can't hang a picutre. =)

Pink Lemonade said...

ummm, I think your daughters closet is bigger than my bedroom!!! lol

p.s. I don't have a vertical shelf either! and it sucks!!!

Stephanie said...

Wow -- I would love to have space that big...just think about the awesome scrapbooking room you could have....

As for how to do the renovations, I have no idea, but have fun!

Anonymous said...

I vote for Kellen to move into the current closet, make some sort of hallway outside the closet door that leads to the bathroom, which is also accessible to that large bedroom split into 2 separate rooms. Then all 3 kids are there, with privacy and a bathroom nearby.
Shouldn't be too tough.


JMR said...

What an amazing closet! I think I've dreamt of that very closet! Best of luck with all the projects. We're trying to get started on a few similar things at our house - but all while my hubby is deployed to Iraq! He thought it would be great if I 'took care of' getting those walls knocked down and the bathroom renovated while he is away! Now that I've recieved all the estimates, though, I think many of the projects will still be waiting when he gets home! Good luck and I hope it all comes out just as you want it!

Tracey in Calgary said...

Finally, photos, whoohooo! ;-)

This is our fourth house and I finally have my special cookie sheet shelf in the cupboard. It will be an easy project for you.

I KNEW that had to be a walk in closet, I couldn't believe that they would have a room with an exposed area like that, ha ha! (I think you just jinxed me, the 'c' key just came off my laptop, crap!) I am with Andrea...make the closet into a nice bedroom for Kellen (either frame in a closet or he could have a nice armoir for all his hanging stuff and a dresser for all the rest....). Then, create a hallway by putting a long wall across the room, and divide that space down the middle to make the two rooms for the girls (not sure if you will need to put in a new window in one of the bedrooms). If you make the 'halllway' large enough, you could have double desks built into the walls, also put a sofa in there for lounging and their game systems, etc, I have seen this in a showhome and it looked great :-) All the kids doors would come out onto the 'lounge hallway' and everyone would have access to the bathroom without having to knock out another door into the bathroom. Very excited to see what you finally come up with!
Do you have an office on the main floor area as well? More, more! ha ha ha

Tracey said...


Very sorry to hear about your classmates Mom, I hope she led a long and happy life. Meant to mention that in my previous post.


SBMaya said...

Your kids' closet is bigger than the bedroom i have to share (sharing! Do not like!) with my husband. I would gladly move into our second bedroom, but I would miss the snuggling. Sounds like a great idea- and until than, why not check out the ceiling- hung room dividers from Ikea? They have ones on curvy tracks, or you could hang them diagonally?