Thursday, April 15th, 2010
Now that we’ve explored the changes to the lower level, let’s move on up to the main floor of this home. As I mentioned previously, we were inspired by the lessons in Sarah Susanka’s “Not So Big House” books. In total there were 21 principles we incorporated into the home, ranging from spacial defining principles such as Entry, Shelter around Activity, and Sequence of Places to the light and sightline related principles Inside Outside, Connecting Views, and Light to Walk Toward. You will see many of these principles put into practice on the first floor.
We strengthened the entry to make it a space in its own right. Since storage for coats, mittens, boots, etc. was not in the original plan for the entry, I designed a tall built-in piece that has both hanging space and shelves where baskets can be placed to hold loose items. Under the window on the opposite wall there will be a mat for wet shoe storage (always a necessity in snowy Minnesota!)
Another significant addition was the storage towers designed to wrap around each of the support columns that run down the middle of the first floor. Storage is always a necessity in any home, and with such an open floor plan it can be a challenge to find places to put both things you want to display and things you want to have out of sight. From books and pretty vases to stereo equipment and party platters, these new storage towers accommodate it all. I’ve even incorporated a laundry chute that connects the 2nd & 1st floors to the laundry room in the lower level, perfect for quickly throwing those dirty kitchen towels into the “laundry basket” without running up and down the stairs.
To further enhance the functionality of the entry, the first column has a bench incorporated into the end that faces the front door. This serves as the perfect spot to sit down and take off or put on shoes. Plus storage for dog food is cleverly concealed under the flip-up lid (the dog’s kennel will be located in the entry next to the powder room.) Art or hooks can be placed above the bench. Art would provide a focal point and spot for the eye to rest before it continues to look down the vista through the house to the backyard through the sliding glass doors on the end of the kitchen (Connecting Views & Light to Walk Towards.)
The other two columns offer a mixture of open and closed storage. The column closed to the kitchen serves as storage space for pantry items and larger plates and platters.
In the kitchen I changed the layout significantly to add more work surfaces as well as help define the boundaries between the kitchen and living room.
This view is looking towards the sliding doors on the front of the house across the raised bar counter. You can see the pantry storage on the column on the right side of the view with both glass doors and large drawers.
Looking at the kitchen from the dining room. Here you can see the main work zone with a built-in refrigerator and range.
Here is the four views of the kitchen island. There is open space on the dining room end where stools can be tucked underneath. False doors on the ends of the cabinets are mixed in with functional narrow drawers on the sides of the island to create a uniform aesthetic.
Even the dining room is improved with the addition of a low built-in. Rather than doing a standard height set of cabinets along this wall, I did a low slung version with a mixture of doors and drawers (if you look back to the inspiration images you can find the idea that inspired this choice.) It’s great to have room for placemats, napkins, the silver chest, and other dining room related items within easy reach. Plus this offers a great ledge for informally displaying artwork – vases and platters mixed with framed art leaning casually against the wall looks just right. Hanging sconces on either side of the windows helps frame the view as well as offer options for different lighting levels – always important in a dining room.
So those are the highlights of the first floor! What’s your favorite part? It’s a lot of information, so I didn’t want to overwhelm you with details. Are there parts you’d like explained more? Stay tuned for the third floor – see how the three bedrooms and two bathrooms offer livable private spaces for this home.