22101   Non Addition

CREATING SPACES tm           by Marcia Lyon

Stairways that look (and feel) like afterthoughts degrade the value of the home. They certainly don’t have to be a prominent feature but if your only way upstairs to the bedrooms is through a weird closet in the kitchen, that can impact daily life.

Houses get changed through the years and those changes are not always well thought out. Usually, people make a reactive change to their homes to solve an immanent problem, sometimes creating uncomfortable proportions and peculiar roof lines.

Back up, take a breath and work the plan for good traffic patterns, views, and proportions.


This story and a half home was probably built in the 30’s.  I suspect there had been a porch (A) for the front door (B) instead of a concrete stoop.  Guests enter the home in an oversized living room (C). There is a fireplace (D) that is not in an ideal location, but I’d rather save money and keep it where it is and make it work.

A very large dining room (E) is next, with a den (F) off it.  The next room is the kitchen (G), which is isolated from the living space.  A half bath (H) opens off the kitchen, which most people would find objectional. Another door in the kitchen exposes a fairly tight and dark stairway (I) up to the two bedrooms and full bath (not shown) upstairs.

A former porch (J) off the dining room (E) must have been nice or at least functional at one time, but now, it is where the stair to the basement (K) was put.  An awkward double stair with a landing is how the side yard is accessed (L). This is essentially the back door – but to nothing because no outdoor living space was developed.

The laundry is in the basement, so this stair is used at least once a week.  Since the porch was so chopped up, it wasn’t good for anything except accumulated junk.  It was full.

This whole house made me feel uncomfortable and the homeowners felt the same. They had lived in the home for 8 months and knew that they wanted some big changes!


With no garage or desire for one, they were happy with parking in the circle drive. The front door (B) needed a porch (A) to identify the entrance. I claimed this end of the living room (C) for an entry (M), coat closet (N), and stairs up (O) and down (P).  We made a dramatic statement by removing the ceiling in the living room (C), resulting in a cathedral ceiling.

The kitchen (G) was relocated into the dining room (E), making the island a main gathering spot for the house. I recessed two closet style pantries (R) into the existing den (F).  The den door (S) was put in the living room (C).  A built-in desk made this more abbreviated space work efficiently.

The porch was rebuilt and made to be heated and cooled with the house.  The new dining room (J) is more convenient and has a view.

The tiny half bath (H) was enlarged, and a window added.  Now, it is off a hall and not the kitchen. The former stair up (I) and what remained of the kitchen made a great laundry room (T).  A new, short hall (U) is the way everyone can access the new deck (V), bringing people out to enjoy the newly landscaped side yard. This new back door (full glass) is not far from the kitchen and dining rooms.

MARCIA LYON is a professional remodeling designer and freelance writer, producing projects locally and several other areas across the US and Canada. Like Creating Spaces on Facebook! Reach Marcia at; or phone 515-991-1300.   Her website is


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