B&A 20901

There are all kinds of duplexes – up and down; side by side; identical on both sides; different on each side.  Both units have their own front door and when they are combined to make one, which front door is used? Combing two into one makes for some big decision making. How do you deal with a single-family home with two kitchens? One of the biggest challenges is how to balance everything and make a flow plan that makes sense.


This 1955 duplex had one two-bedroom unit (A) and the other unit had one bedroom (B).  The styling was quite nice and looked very much like a single-family home. Set on a corner lot (C), there was only street parking on the front and side. The family(s) parked (D) on the backside of the house and entering the basement, used the stairway (E) to access the units.

The current homeowners bought this split-personality home some 20 years ago and just lived with its combined quirks through the years of raising their children.  Heading toward retirement, they felt that it was time to give their home a big RE-THINK, so it could serve them into the future.

They lived primarily in the two-bedroom side (A) but using the bedroom (F) and the spacious living room (G).

Visitors were confused what front door to use [there were three!]. The front door (H) was the most visible, but the family was more often near the other one (I).  The third door (J) was on the side of the house facing their neighbors and wasn’t visible from either the street or parking behind.  Clearly entry identity was an issue.

The used the other two bedrooms (K&L) but only two (M&N) of the three bathrooms (O).

The kitchen (P) in the B unit had been used for many things but not a kitchen.  When the children were small, that seemed OK.  The kitchen (Q) in the A unit and the living room (R) were the two main rooms used.   They had developed a nice stone terrace (S) for entertaining, but when strangers used the (I) door, it felt wrong.

The homeowners requested a screened porch be added somewhere.


The entry identity was the first job to be tackled. Door (H) seemed the easier one to get to from the street, so we added a porch (T). We created an entry (U) just inside by adding a coat closet and defining the space.

There was a need for an office (V) somewhat away from activity, so we created one here, consuming some of the living room (G) space.

The remainder of the second kitchen (P) worked well as a main floor laundry room (W).  We added some extra closets (X) in the hallway.

Bathroom (N) got re-configured to have a large more contemporary shower.

Bathroom (O) was turned into a large linen closet (Y).  Bathroom (M) stayed the same.

No changes in the side entry (J) or the bedrooms (F, L &K) or the living room (R).

The kitchen (Q) was updated, moving appliances and changing the peninsula into an island.

We added the screened porch (Z) just outside the kitchen, adding a glass door for access.  This porch was connected to the new front porch (T) with a bridge, making a good traffic connection. A door out from the screened porch, with steps down and a walkway connects to the stone terrace (S). Now the outdoor areas connect with the indoor areas with a good flow.


MARCIA LYON is a professional remodeling designer and freelance writer, producing projects locally and several other areas across the US and Canada. To reach Marcia email: ; or phone 515–991–1300 Find her book on remodeling design The Essential Planner for Home Remodeling.






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