Having discovered that 1) we couldn’t afford what we had designed and 2) we didn’t really want it anyway, we were faced with starting again. Round and round we went with ideas until a good friend, after being bored with me ranting on about the design and constantly saying that I was unsure as to what I wanted, said to me that one of her late Father’s favourite sayings was, ‘want what you need, don’t need what you want!’.
It took we a while to get my head around that but it actually makes complete sense. Why were we trying to force ourselves to have what we thought we wanted simply because we wanted it. We had moved from a huge house which we had built ourselves and which was beautiful. Huge master bedroom and en-suite bathroom, lovely kitchen big enough for a breakfast table and sofa. Family room, main lounge, study, 5 bathrooms etc. I think I had not really got over saying good-bye to it – and quite honestly we really didn’t need all that. Our children no longer live at home so why were we, i.e. me trying to re-create it here when we didn’t need all that to be happy and actually it was making me unhappy trying to afford it and fit it within our new house.
So we made a list of what we needed – well OK there was a bit of wanting as well! So starting at the top of the house where we had already made 3 small rooms into 2 larger ones whilst doing our initial 9 days of mad renovations. We decided that we needed a shower room on the top floor – something to serve those 2 bedrooms. Easily achieved by hiving off a small amount from each room and a bit of the hallway and adding a dormer. New windows to replace the mis-matched ones that were there – upgrade skirtings etc – done. Great.
First floor. The bathroom and our en-suite had not been touched since the house was built in the early 1960’s so they definitely needed re-doing. The entrance to the en-suite needed to be moved to re-position the toilet and the toilet in the main bathroom needed pushing back closer to the wall. The large cupboard that housed the existing water tank would be removed to site a new shower into that room. Done. Our bedroom was to be extended to bring the space where the balcony was, into the room. But that was all that was needed save for cosmetic changes – new doors, windows, skirtings etc.
So downstairs – the elephant in the room. What to do. What did we actually need? We needed to sort out the hallway so that the house looked better from the outside. The previous plans had us knocking down the flat roof section of the house and the existing garages and the projection that ran from them to the house. What if this could be kept and incorporated more seamlessly into the house. After much deliberation we decided to extend rather than remove the flat roof section which meant that the house actually looked more balanced from the outside and to keep the garages and the projection – the later could house the laundry room saving us building a new one. We could move the front door slightly and add a second gable to the front giving more shape and symmetry to the house. Putting in windows that matched made a huge difference. Internally the downstairs toilet could move into the new hallway on the left hand side – a new study area on the right.
We needed a large lounge – there are 7 of us when we are all here (and hopefully our family will grow in the future) and at the moment we can’t all fit into the lounge. So that was a need. But we didn’t need a huge dining room just because we had a table that extended to sit 15! So that went. In its place we decided to create a more intimate space – we will be able to get 8 round the table which will be fine for high days and holidays as they say.
So we were left with the kitchen area. The old plans had us building a huge kitchen/breakfast/family room. We didn’t really need all that space and in fact it meant that the central part of the existing house became just links between it and the rest of the house – no mans land in fact. What did we actually need? We needed a space by the kitchen where we could sit and just doss – read a book for a bit, drink coffee – an informal space. But we didn’t need another huge lounge – just a snug. So we decided to leave the breakfast area where it was, replace the existing conservatory with a slightly bigger room to house the new kitchen and to put a snug where the existing kitchen is with doors out to the garden. It meant we kept the courtyard that we had been enjoying so much, halved what we were building – not including the fact that we no longer needed to build a new laundry room as that was going to be sited within the extisting link between the house and the garages. Much simpler, enough space, cheaper and ultimately more what we needed – with a few wants thrown in!
So back to the architect!