Where to begin with on the little red house and all its problems? Not only was it ugly, but it had some serious "deferred maintenance" issues. The back yard was overgrown with shrubs and trees gone wild. There were literally termite holes in the floor of the dining room and office. It had a terribly awkward floor plan with no easy access to the kitchen from outside. It had holes in the living room carpet, water standing on the roof, and the main bathroom was so small you could use the toilet and brush your teeth at the same time!
Our first step was to clean up the yards, take measurements, and start planning. My English Home magazines became my best friends. I spent hours studying them, looking for the little details that truly make a home look English. Meanwhile we realized that the floor plan wasn't really so bad, but the doors seemed to be in the wrong places for efficient traffic flow. Several ideas were tossed around; add a second story, add a garage to the front of the house, expand the house towards the back, expand the house towards the side. But before we could do the "Big Remodel" we needed to address the worst problems to make the house livable. Since we were doing the remodeling in phases and it could take years, we had to have a master plan before we started anything. We had to make sure our early decisions would mesh with the final plan. It was a little scary, but we took our time and made drawing after drawing of possible floor plans. In the end we settled on a plan that kept most rooms where they were, expanded to one side, put a long driveway down the other side for access to the kitchen, and added less than 500 square feet. Now we could actually begin work. Below is the model I made of our final plan.
Our first project was remodeling that tiny bathroom. We borrowed space from a closet for a new bathtub and repositioned the other fixtures. We even had room for a separate stall shower and linen closet. At the same time we installed a new gas water heater and renovated the laundry room. Then we installed four new double paned windows and finished up the two bedrooms on that side of the house. Wow, four like-new rooms! We felt happy and proud and our daughters loved their pretty new pink bedroom. (By the way, they now detest it, sigh.)