Monday, February 10, 2014

Slowing the design process can be a good thing

As I mentioned before, there was a period when we slowed down the design process. In total we ended up delaying our start date by about a year. The main reason for the delay was to save more money for the project, but the side effect of the delay was that it gave us and our architect the opportunity to reflect on some of our decisions. In a couple of cases this led to some really wonderful changes that we weren't necessarily looking for but are so glad they came about.

In our existing house there is a lovely attic bedroom with lots of head room and two really pretty arched windows. Unfortunately, the only way to get up there is by going up a steep, uneven, staircase with two turns in it. Not exactly the type of stairs our guests would want to go up after a drink or two. An early pipe dream of mine was that we could straighten those stairs out. Doing so would mean we would lose a "bedroom". But in reality that bedroom was a tiny little room that might have been okay for a nursery or small office but not much else. We ended up using it as a clothes closet to make up for the lack of space in the bedroom closets.

The staircase next to the "UP" is the existing way up to the lovely attic bedroom.
The small room at the bottom of the image is a little nursery room that we use as a walk-in closet.
The little square in the middle of the stairs is our existing linen closet.
The new configuration shows the new straightened stairs going up to the attic.
Notice the nursery room is gone with a landing/sitting area taking its place.
Also note the larger linen closet.

Changing plans along the way

We were very excited when we realized we were going to be able to straighten out the stairs and were also excited by the resulting new linen closet which would be about twice the size of the old one. This is what is was going to look like.

The double doors are what would have been our new double-wide linen closet. The staircase to the right goes up to the attic. Since these were early design drawings the staircase railings and other details are not drawn in yet, but you get the general idea. (The style of the doors is based on the existing doors in the house. Since all of the interior doors are being replaced the look of the doors will be different as well as you will see in the next picture.)

Several months later when the next set of drawings were ready we were surprised to see that, unbidden by us, our architect changed the design of the linen closet. Being the control freak that I am, my initial response was annoyance. But that lasted for about two seconds. The new linen cabinet that she proposed instead of the closet (in the picture above) was truly a thing of beauty. Not only did it look way better, but it is clearly going to function way better for linens that the previous version would have.

Granted, the picture looks better right off the bat because the stairs are drawn in more detail and the chair rail has been added, etc., but you have to admit the new linen cabinet is way better than one we were planning before. I don't think there was anything wrong with the original design, but it really pales compared to this one. 

I never thought I would be so excited about a linen cabinet, but I find myself fantasizing about organizing sheet sets and towels in this beauty. Not surprisingly the cabinetry is more expensive than a simple closet with shelves inside--and it seemed for a while that we weren't going to be able to afford the new version--but I think the upgrade is so worth it.

I'm so glad our design had time to breath before we went into construction and I am so glad our architect took the initiative to make it better. There are a few more design changes that came up during the delay period that are equally exciting but I will save those for another day.


  1. I'm liking the new look linen closet. Very streamlined. No chance of visitors getting lost and ending up in the linen closet!

  2. I love an open hall too. I think that sitting area is my favorite new space in the house. Cozy reading corner!

  3. Hi Stefan (from your earlier post). Just now realized that there were comments!

  4. I am madly jealous of your linen closet. My tiny little row-house had one, but my bigger farm house doesn't. I am thinking of converting the 99.99%-of-the-time unused guest room's closet into a linen closet. It's such a handy thing to have!

  5. I like your twisty staircase. One of the reasons I bought our row house was because the stairway rises straight from the first floor to the third. It's a dramatic sweep. But when we have guests staying in the third floor guest room, I constantly worry about them falling down two floors on the stairs! There are always trade-offs.

  6. Tamara: I never thought of that. They would have to be one drunk guest to think that was the bathroom.

    Stefan: I think you are right about the reading corner.

    Meg: I didn't think I wanted such a nice linen closet until they showed us one.

    Joan: Most people over 40 who visit don't want to climb the twisty stairs mainly because they are steep and uneven. Good time to get rid of them.