Desperately seeking design help!! kitchen/dining

I've posted this on several different forums and haven't gotten any feedback. I know it's a lot of questions, but I can't wrap my mind around what I need to do and it's consuming my thought process!
My house is an old 1 story farmhouse. It is very small, around 1000 square feet with 2 small bedrooms and 1 small bath, a den off to the side and another den/office at the front, The kitchen is around 12x12 and there's another room off of the kitchen that is the exact replica of the kitchen (size/shape wise). It's the center of the house, but has little purpose currently, other than connecting the other rooms and it also houses the monstrosity that heats the house! It's is a giant freestanding propane heater, with a lovely metal stovepipe chimney! For at least the short term, this will likely have to stay here. However, I am open to ANY suggestions on an alternative!
Also, for the short term, the wall between here and the kitchen will stay, but I am interested in removing it. In my design challenged mind, I think removing the wall and making the kitchen ALL kitchen, no dining-but just work space, and making this "middle room" dining is the best option. A) Is that a good plan at all? B) That can't happen right away, so is it still a viable solution to move the dining to the middle room and put an island or some other workspace in the kitchen?
I am going to replace all of the carpet and the kitchen in the next few weeks with hard wood (all the same). I would also like to paint the "middle room". The kitchen has just been painted. The walls are Benjamin Moore French White at the top with white bead board and trim and the cabinets are BM Blue Danube. the den is a very light blue/gray. Suggestions on paint color also please.
This is a lot of questions, but I'm driving myself insane!!!! I've lived here for some time, with the future plan always to be to do something different, but this is my husband's family farm and it looks like we are staying, so I'm hoping that I can make this a home that I will love. Any help is appreciated. There is nothing you can that will offend or hurt my feelings... so give me all you've got!
Pictures of the actual rooms are included, as well as a very rough (advance apologies ) floor plan that I drew to help visualize.
Also, for more info: the existing table I will probably keep, and the size is comparable to the amount of space taken up by the green chairs. I am also wanting to get new chairs. The dining table is drop leaf and dark wood, needs refinishing, and has a matching glass front china cabinet. The giant eyesore gun safe is also being relocated and also, this room is truly in the middle... there are no windows!
q desperately seeking design help kitchen dining, dining room ideas, home improvement, kitchen design
q desperately seeking design help kitchen dining, dining room ideas, home improvement, kitchen design
q desperately seeking design help kitchen dining, dining room ideas, home improvement, kitchen design
q desperately seeking design help kitchen dining, dining room ideas, home improvement, kitchen design
q desperately seeking design help kitchen dining, dining room ideas, home improvement, kitchen design
q desperately seeking design help kitchen dining, dining room ideas, home improvement, kitchen design
q desperately seeking design help kitchen dining, dining room ideas, home improvement, kitchen design
  37 answers
  • Slm1379834 Slm1379834 on Mar 04, 2015
    I'm not a designer; but I suggest that you get the picture that is above the glass storage cabinet and give it a very special place. It is really nice and looks special from what I can see.
  • P.A. Anderson P.A. Anderson on Mar 04, 2015
    Hmmm. I've done a few older homes myself. I agree the wall between both the dining room and 'den' and kitchen should be opened up so you see clear through the home when you enter the house. Just be sure to check for support walls which may need an "I" beam. You can put that beam up in the attic for a clean ceiling. Thought about the look of tin ceilings? Just saw where someone found 'look alikes' on Amazon that were made of a sturdy foam (apply with adhesive) and you can even paint (silver to look like tin OR a bronze color?). Is the additional den a viable 3rd bedroom...good for resale. Anyway...have fun. It'll take a long time, enjoy the time spent on it. You are making a lovely home. Good luck.
  • Tara Tara on Mar 04, 2015
    @sim.5389 thanks! and @P.A. Anderson resale is not a concern so 3rd BR not really an issue. We use the front den as an office mostly, guests rarely, if ever even go in it. No one even uses the front door :) So, take down the wall between the kitchen and the room with that heater and make that area dining? Which, would really just be the eat-in portion of the kitchen? But, would you suggest doing that while the wall is still up? Thanks! :)
  • Katrina Warren Katrina Warren on Mar 04, 2015
    If you are going to put hardwood in the kitchen it would be smart to take the wall down first or at least buy extra hardwood to match up the middle room to the kitchen once the wall is down. I would definitely check with an engineer or contractor to see if the wall was load bearing & what needed to be done if it is.
  • Katrina Warren Katrina Warren on Mar 04, 2015
    Those heaters are ugly & not much you can do to disguise them other than to hang artwork around them & make the area look nicer. The silver stove pipe could be painted with a High Heat paint, you'd still have the pipe there but at least it wouldn't be shiny silver....
  • @Tara ....I looked at your floor plan, and it reminds me ( a little ) of the ' rail car ' houses that are older and very similar to yours. Your advantage is that you have other rooms OFF the main area. I would make the back " den " area a Master Bedroom, ( the one that is 14' x 16' ) its large and even if its not ' close to the bathroom', I feel its better used for that. ..and make the other front bedroom ( on the other side of the house ) your office/ den. I have lived in a OLD home that had a wood burning stove, so I see nothing wrong with your stove. ...other than I would paint ( with the proper paint ) or replace the stove pipe to black so it at least matched the stove. Replacing your flooring is a good idea, but be careful on how its laid, due to the floor plan you have. dont wish it to look like a ' bowling alley'. and is best laid on the diagonal , if will make your rooms feel larger, also. ..and area rugs will warm up and ' ground' your areas so they ' feel ' like their own room. If you CAN remove the wall, thats great...even if you have to put up an I-beam, if this happens to be a load -bearing wall. ...; it will definitely give you better options for design / decor and help the rooms ' flow' better. :)
  • P.A. Anderson P.A. Anderson on Mar 04, 2015
    From what I saw in your photos, it seems like all you have on the wall between the kitchen and your den with the heater... is a single door walk-through. There is no reason why you couldn't just move your eating space into the area with the heater and work on expanding the kitchen and eventually take down both walls (living room and kitchen). It's all a 'work in progress'. You are really going to have some fun, though cover everything up really good when you start taking down those will be plaster/lathe. I truly don't envy you...I'm at an age where I couldn't take on what you are!
  • Tara Tara on Mar 04, 2015
    Thanks everyone for the suggestions!
  • Carol Hougaboom Holman Carol Hougaboom Holman on Mar 04, 2015
    I agree with @ P.A. Anderson on opening up the den,middle and kitchen walls. I also agree with @Katrina Warren about the flooring and the the support of the house. I would check This Old House website for possible designs that deal with the heater. Maybe you could get something that looks like a two sided fireplace and still heat the house. As for color I would use colors the would reflect your personality or the country life. I see blues, crisp white, soft yellows. I like the blue painted cupboards. Maybe you could play off of the color of the cupboards. You might want to add some more storage in the kitchen. The wall should come down before you start flooring.
  • Roni Filla Roni Filla on Mar 04, 2015
    First of all....Don't let this confuse you....but your little house can be opened up, and appear more spacious, and useable.....Be Bold with Colors....Paint can always be changed. Bold paint on one or two connecting walls can be fantastic. Red Pillows or Bright Yellow is mood changing, and energetic. Connecting rooms should be cohesive and the colors should connect some how...either by a frame around pictures or dishtowels and curtains. This makes the eye transition, and brings the energy and or warmth room to room. And...I would not change out the flooring until you decide what you will do long term with removing walls. Buying flooring ONCE for an area is less expensive than changing it out and buying it twice...or trying to go back a few years later and matchy matchy....not a good idea....Been there done that....So before you put out good money...make a Plan...for Long Term. The Carpet you have could be pulled up...but do you know what is underneath it...? If it is already hard wood then that can be re finished....or cleaned and painted for the short term. I do say paint...because if you re finish it in STAIN it is NOT easy to re it time consuming and so dusty you will wish you never did it. That is a forever type of finish...paint is removable...or more easily strippable. Back to the Kitchen....... How much or often do you cook, large family gatherings, Kids ??...Do you like to make jam and jelly..etc...As I see your space, and know it is a Farm House many ideas come into play. But knowing more about you and how you live makes a big difference in suggestions. There is lots of options...Do you have an Attic ? Basement? By your drawing it doesn't seem like you have a basement. Attic space if you have an Attic...then if and when you open up a wall, the attic can be opened up for Loft Space giving a more Open and Larger feel to the area.Drywall and 2x4's aren't very expensive to finish that off, or even when you do open up a wall is inexpensive to finish. When walls are opened up...take into consideration the electrical and outlets, switches you need to tap into and add. That is something to keep in mind. Add enough for the long term... If you do like Canning (Jams n Jellies n Veggies) then when you open up that kitchen wall cabinets and working/storage space. Think long term, not short, as the cost to re-do homes later becomes twice as expensive. Costs of goods only rises, so does any labor you have to pay for. THINK LONG TERM...and Figure out now what you Really want out of that space, and plan for for it. One thing I learned when I had my first Apartment...was to cut out pictures and ideas out of Magazines of what I liked. Indoor and outdoor ideas. Put even the smallest of something in a pile. Get a glue stick and construction paper and make a "I LIKE THIS" Notebook. Take pics of things too and add that. This can be your Plan. What to do now, Yes Heat Resistant Paint is great for the Fireplace/Heater and the Pipe. It is not hard nor that expensive to do. Since the Heater is Staying...then consider doing a Heat proof type of Wall Decor. Such as Brick, or Rock, or even Tile. I think Brick colors are and always will be in style. It is always easy to add other color to the Barn Reds, and Brick. We have 3 Fireplaces in our house. All 3 are Rock. Pot Belly insert is in the Fireplace in the Family Room. Pellet Stove is in the Master Bedroom....and that is my Favorite...hands down....You might consider looking into that by Googling. Not Cheap but much Cleaner, and easier than bringing in Wood to stoke the fire. The third fireplace has only been used 3 times in the 26 years we have had this house. So much for that one...LOL Where is your kitchen storage area...?The kitchen wall with the Built in Cabinet is the one I think you want to remove. I think if it were my House...I would only take Down part of that wall (where the Big Key is hanging) and leave the Cabinet, but Open up the part above the Cabinet and only enlarge the door. Again load bearing walls can be a pain...also that is a deep area of I think there could be possible pipes, there...??? Not a Construction person...just sayin'. One way to find out is to climb around in the Attic space...(IF you Have that) and look around to see what is up there. That space can also be made into a cabinet below, and a counter for work space. Leaving the door/entry the way it is...but giving that opened up feel. I would Paint or strip the Dark color off that China Hutch. Toss some extra wide fabric over the green chairs, to update them. That is easy to do. Tucking and hand sewing is all you need to do after the fabric is on them, to form to the shape of the chairs. That would make that room much more inviting. OOPS...OOPS...I just realized that the Front Porch.."DEN" is Possibly the Front Door Entry to your House from the Front Porch...then that is the Main Entry....Living Room Space...not a Den per se'. You might use the Kitchen as the Everyday entry ....but Guests would normally enter from the Front Porch...?? The Wall behind the Heater is the one I would remove. Opening that space into a "Great Room"...Living space, It is the first place seen when you have guests. You can easily use the open space for many different areas, including the Dining area, TV Area, Reading nook. I would also keep the flooring the same thru out that entire space....from kitchen to the Front Door Entry....Someone mentioned a "bowling alley" PHOOEY on that comment...Selecting the right flooring will have a Grand Impact on the total space and flow from room to room and the individual spaces you can create. Yes to the dining table in that space. If it has leaves, remove them until you have company for dinner, this makes the area easier to move in. NOW Back to the Kitchen area....The Bedroom behind the Kitchen wall is the one to up the you space, and build a Good Sized Pantry, add storage and counter space on the bottom half of the walls. Yes then you can add an Island work space. And a Kitchen Nook area for eating...maybe in the far corner....Also...Add windows on the existing Kitchen door side of the "new expansive kitchen area". this makes the Bathroom accessible from the kitchen....and the Laundry Area. Pantry can go near the laundry area...Or only take Half of that total space to enlarge your kitchen and (you didn't list the size of that room) build concealed Closet Storage Area off the Laundry Area. Add an access door.The 14' x 16 ' room...near the Deck...Master Bedroom for sure...I am greedy and like a large Bedroom...LOL Not only that....gee in several years..maybe add a Spa on that Deck...Quick Access to the Master Bedroom would be really nice.In closing this long post.....Don't be afraid ....but make sure you think it out long term saves so much money and time. Good Luck ......
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    • @Roni Filla No offense taken, at all. I was just pointing out ...,when the entire room is laid PROPERLY , on the diagonal ....and all the rooms are in harmony with looks nice. I know what you mean about the 'different room, different floors ' issue, and its much better to either tile or do wood that is ALL the same , ( except maybe one room, like your kitchen or bath ) that is neutral , and will stand the test of time....and ' fads'. :)
  • Lee Cunningham Green Lee Cunningham Green on Mar 04, 2015
    Well the good news is that 1000 square foot is not really small, and you can and should open it up. I think your mystery middle room would serve nicely as a dining room and you should definately open up the walls that you can. You will feel much less crowded. Color is also a fantastic way to open as space up as Roni states. Rather than thinking of it as all at once try to do it one space at a time, I am renovating a modular home right now and if I thought about doing everything all at once I would go crazy. Stay happy and good luck, remember there is never a problem that has no solution.
  • Pam Mariner Good Pam Mariner Good on Mar 04, 2015
    Since you are thinking of making the middle room a dining room, but not really sure how that would work out, why not move the table and chairs in there now and try it? Move the rest of the current furniture (except the china cabinet and chair beside it) into a different location and make that family photo that slim.5389 commented on a focal point on one wall. Give your new dining room a whirl, and see how that works for you. That will also give you an opportunity to get used to the new open space in the kitchen and see how an island or other elements might work there. It's a great price--FREE--to try out the arrangement, and the change may be just what you need to see it in a whole new light. Then, you will have a better idea of how the space in the two rooms will work, and you can take the next steps of exploring taking down the wall and getting flooring.
  • Tara Tara on Mar 04, 2015
    wow! thanks everyone! :) And, Pam I did move the kitchen table today just for kicks and to see what it looks like. I've already moved it back, but here's a quick picture. Don't judge the terrible layout of pictures, they are in the process of being removed! :) but, what I'm thinking is I'm going to just put down laminate hardwood throughout (my dad can do the installation & I can buy something relatively inexpensive) and move the eating area to the green chair room and add some sort of work surface/counter/storage to the kitchen in place of the table and leave everything else the same for the time being and see how that works out for us before making any structural changes and instead re-do the bath room, and spend some time/money on coming up with an alternate heating solution. I would ultimately like to open up the walls, but for the short term, this may be the best route. And, I'm thinking... that chimney thorn in my side atrocity .... what if I put some sort of huge artwork behind it that makes the chimney part of the art... like a metal geometric type piece... or a print: either abstract with a silver piece through it directly behind the actual pipe, making the pipe 3d? or a photo print, maybe of farm parts or something but the same concept?
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    • Bonnie Paterson Bonnie Paterson on Mar 05, 2015
      @Tara this dining space is not working...
  • Tara Tara on Mar 04, 2015
    oh, and color... as much as I don't love the idea, because I don't "love" the wall color of the kitchen(even though I just painted it!)... I don't not like it, just not my most exciting choice! do you think that I should paint it the same as the kitchen to connect the two rooms? Or something else entirely?
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    • @Tara are so welcome, and thank you for the kind words. i think bead board is a great thing, and you are correct..." its just paint " lol. ...and ' paint is your friend." :)
  • Roni Filla Roni Filla on Mar 04, 2015
    @Pam Mariner Good that is an Excellent way to figure out if that will work for them...
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Mar 04, 2015
    @Tara you have provided some great detail in pics and floor plan. I think the idea of opening up the space the front door is a great goal. To decrease you confusion, I would suggest that you make a wish list for each room you want to update. This would give you a over all goal for your end product.I would suggest you move the dining into the middle room right away - will give you more room to maneuver in the kitchen as well as a vision for what you can do there.I love your built in in the kitchen and would highly recommend you reuse it in your reno. If you check out - she is always restoring and renovating period homes - lots of tips.I would also recommend you save the bead board, it looks great and would be a shame to waste, if you don't reuse in the kitchen maybe in the dining area or the bathroom.You might consider moving the fridge to the opposite wall and put the built in where the fridge is. You will need to figure out the configuration for what works best for you, I think the general rule is that the triangle for the sink,oven and fridge should be within 23-26 feet (the sum of distance of all three sides for the triangle).You will have the opportunity of putting more counter space in and I think your idea of an island is a great one - will also serve to separate the kitchen from the dining area.The idea above of a two sided fire place is a great one - investigate what is available for propane, you may be surprised as to what is available these days. If you could do this it would allow you to open that wall as well and may cut down on heating costs with less walls.If purchasing flooring now, buy enough for all the space you plan to renovate - you can always return later. I think paint colours are personal preferences, I love yellows and blues as well as lilac, but what you choose may depend upon what you do to renovate, if opening all three rooms you will want to coordinate the colours, but what you choose today can be changed tomorrow LOL. Thanks for posting the challenge and please do update us from time to time.
    • Tara Tara on Mar 04, 2015
      @Gail Salminen I am going to make an appointment with our Propane dealer and hope he has some wonderful solution for me! And, I'm a list person, not sure why I never thought to make a list for my rooms! :) Thanks! And, I'll definitely update the post!
  • Rene Scott Schmeltz Rene Scott Schmeltz on Mar 05, 2015
    Tara, I agree make sure the wall isn't load bearing, with the pipe I would paint it black with High Heat paint and with your wood flooring make sure you check out where you buy it, I just watched 60 mins. this past Sunday and the flooring from liquid lumberdator has very high formaldehyde in it. here is the link to that show
  • Country Design Home Country Design Home on Mar 05, 2015
    Hi Tara- I too, live in a small home with a lot of small rooms. It is a challenge to make it all feel like a larger space. If you are standing in the kitchen and looking through to the other room with the stove at then end, then if you do a few things it will help to create one large space. If you can move your fridge to another part of the kitchen, then knock out that part of that wall (all the way across to the built in) to create a much larger opening into the second room. If you need something beside the stove, a small butcher block or cabinet would work as long as it is only as tall as the stove so you don't block the sight line into the second room. Then run the same flooring spanning both spaces. I like the idea of the diagonal wood floor pattern, but myself, I actually like the "bowling lane" look-and the shinier the better-lol! Then paint the walls all one color or complementary colors in both rooms. For the propane stove wall, I would add some texture like planking and flank each side with some bookcases so it is not standing alone. The table and chairs look great in there, just keep that amazing Winchester cabinet or the china cabinet as well on that opposite wall if you have any room to pass by. Good luck! Want to see after pictures!
  • Bonnie Paterson Bonnie Paterson on Mar 05, 2015
    Looking at your floor plan, it seems this middle room has no window. Who wants a dining room with out a window? Besides the stove is an issue with the table space. I would play it up as the library. The little chairs are nice in the space, or even a small love seat to lounge on. As there are so many door openings, it is a transitional "walk through" space can the door come off by the gun case? It is infringing on wall space. Line the walls with bookshelves. Get rid of any china cabinets into another space, or at least take out the china and fill it with books, If you have no other place for the gun thing then decorate around it. Get rid of all the little wall ornaments, On the wall behind the stove pipe hang some large pieces, maybe an antique map of your county, antique family photos or even that on modern one on top of the cabinet. It would be nice in black and white. Play up a library feel with rich colours and accessories. Can you not make the "den" off this middle room into your dining room? It is a good size and has a nice window. I find "home office" is just another term for "dumping ground" so turn the front den into a real living room with the tv there. Carve out a niche for the "office" where it does not take over a lot of valuable space in a small house. Clutter is magnified in a small home. Eliminate whatever you can!! Play up the county side but in a classy way. Think French or English country for inspiration! It would be beautiful!!
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    • Bonnie Paterson Bonnie Paterson on Mar 06, 2015
      @Tara Well, then switch gears and make the "stove room" an office. Put the desk on where the china cabinet sits. Roll top or drop front to hide the clutter, or even one of those office in an amoire. Still add the shelving beside the den wall. Make it a Ikea Billy with doors on the lower half, skip a sitting area. You can then leave the gun case there, that way it doesn't clutter another space. .... Change up the front den to your dining room. Get outside the box of how the rooms have been used and view them with new purpose!
  • Priscilla G Priscilla G on Mar 05, 2015
    I think you have two small bedrooms on one side of the house and a large second den/office on the opposite. Make that den/office (14x16) a master suite and add a full bath. A more open concept from front door to kitchen, knock out the wall between the kitchen and middle room or part of it, to have eat in breakfast/ dining area. You would still have the heater in the middle but a walk through on either side, have to check for load bearing walls also...
  • Bonnie Paterson Bonnie Paterson on Mar 05, 2015
    . More thoughts; Move your kitchen table into the new "dining room", It is perfect for French Country. If you need more seating, add a bench or miss-matched chairs can be delightful. Take the china cabinet from the middle room and stage it, no more stuff on top! Take that stuff and put it on a buffet or side table. (get this from a thrift or antique shop) The room is large enough for all of this. Only beautiful things on display! If you keep the green chairs in the library, add some touches of blue to carry into the space. maybe a throw over a chair and some small ceramics. I see you have a black leather sofa, this will be a great starting point for a gorgeous front room. Look for beiges and tans or even burlap, create some distressed pieces from what you own already. Light and airy. Can you squeeze a space for the office? I know it is not a big room but with some creativity you can pare down the clutter. Or maybe the office, goes into the "library". Back to the kitchen, if you need a table pick up a small bistro style or an old sewing machine base with a butcher block top and some stools. Hang a big poster of Paris behind it or a large chalk board. (get the frame from the thrift shop) You need more hidden storage, so while you are at the thrift shop and pickup a large tv armoire: they are a dime a dozen these days. Be sure the dimensions work in your space. Fill the big hole with shelving and paint it out if necessary. You will have created a pantry. There is also an amazing space over the door way into the "library" for a great shelf. Make it pretty, so if you have to create some boxes or baskets to disguse seldom used items, then perfect. Also paint out the back of the built in cupboard the same colour as your cabinets. There are some lovely pieces in that cabinet that will work beautifully with the theme. Edit, edit, edit! Think blue and yellow and rich prints. check pinterest or houzz for inspiration. I think you can create the most delightful home with out any renovations. These days, people are looking to live in smaller and more affordable homes, this is a perfect space for a family. I wish I could come and help you!!!
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    • @RH ..Awwww. You are so kind, if we both lived near her, we could get her house done , and for less than it might cost her ! Thanks so much for the reply, nice to hear from an ' Iowa neighbor "...! God bless .
  • Evl1272912 Evl1272912 on Mar 05, 2015
    Check out a gizmo called something like.a light tower which is a foil tube that takes light from.the roof into a dark room such as yours with no windows You end up with a porthole type glass window in the ceiling which floods the room with daylight
    • RH RH on Mar 09, 2015
      @Evleenmulloyharvey Solar Tubes. One brand is SolaTube ( and others can be found at your local home improvement store (look in the windows section, they're generally called "Tubular Skylights" by the store sites)
  • Margaret Margaret on Mar 05, 2015
    I have been remodeling houses all of my life. I too would find out if the walls can be taken down and open it all up. That will help the light and heating problems. You can paint stove pipes and stoves with heat resistant paint. Having grown up in an old farmhouse, I must say the best place in the house was the two recliners next to the stove. Very cozy place to spend time together. If the open part behind the stove think of a way to cover it. I would use open shelving with some decorative pieces. I have onion skin in my house. Its tan with a tiny bit orange. Light and neutral color seems to be working out here. I am not a brown or tan person so I wasnt sold on it. I have remodeled, redecorated many houses. They always sell fast and family calls my house cozy and warm. I have nothing expensive or nice I aways take old stuff and paint it, add fabric curtains and pillows and plants. Embrace your beautiful farmhouse there is so much charm and its an opportunity to learn new skills
  • Ruth M Ruth M on Mar 05, 2015
    It really wouldn't be that hard to at least widen the doorway openings between the rooms to at least 6 feet to give a more open look. Then you could put the floor down all through the area.
    • Tara Tara on Mar 05, 2015
      @Ruth M That is the direction that I'm leaning now. My husband thinks it's all fine like it is, so I'm faced with the challenge of convincing him to make changes in addition to the actual challenge of the changes I wish to make! But, I'm thinking if I could just take down parts of it, it would help.
  • Buster Evans Buster Evans on Mar 05, 2015
    I was thinking move the two chairs into one of the dens, along with the big safe... bring the kitchen table and chairs into the "middle room and make it your dining area, that would open the Kitchen up more for food prep, and cooking. Im not sure what all is currently in the "dens" but having space in a busy room like the kitchen is ALWAYS a big help.. If the middle room is the MOST occupied during cold weather I understand the chairs in there...If not it would be a very nice dining area to where you dont feel you have to eat in the Kitchen all the time... You could possibly add another set of cabinets on the wall where the Kitchen table is now to double as storage and work space food prep area... or else just a very small table enough to have coffee in the morning or for someone to sit and talk. The heater issue I remember my grandfather had an OIL heater in His living room which made it crowded and difficult to arrange furniture. the Kitchen color is great very nice complimenting colors, the floors you plan will be a big help too... You are on the right track, just go with your gut feelings and try different things, move things around and if it doesnt work well try something different... Dont be afraid to try,,, Its your home so make it the way you want it, a little change here a little change there as you can... but enjoy it
  • Carol Carol on Mar 05, 2015
    I agree that you need to embrace the farmhouse coziness and charm? I think there are several options you could consider both short term and longer term. I like the idea of making the middle room a dining room. First, because I prefer having the dining near the kitchen and not have to carry hot food through other rooms to get to it. Second, because if I have to choose I would prefer to have windows in a relaxing space than in a dining space. How often do you actually sit at your dining table while eating and gaze out the window? This was the choice we had to make too and do not regret it. When you move the table from the kitchen to the dining room then you would have room in the kitchen for a nice island that could also serve as more storage for the items on the little shef. What I think your new dining space is lacking is some softness. It needs fabric. "Windows" can be created by hanging some pretty floor length curtains along one wall. Hang them around a doorway and you have an instant "window". You could do the wall leading to the kitchen and/or the one to the side den. They can hang behind the china cabinet to soften it too. As stated above stage your china cabinet with only light, beautiful objects. Move some of the glass to the top if you like something there for the added height. Choose a lightweight printed fabric that you love. Not a heavy fabric like velvet. Then choose a color from this fabric for the walls. Paint the bottom wainscoting a slighter darker shade of the same color the top of the wall is painted. You can also tie all your rooms together by painting the rooms with colors from the fabric. They wouldn't necessarily have to be the exact same color in each room but by having all of them in the fabric in the center room they would be tied together. Play up stove. It might not be beautiful but you can make it better. Have you thought about removing the wall the stove is on? If /when you can afford it you could buy a pretty 2-sided stove,or a round potbelly style that would then be visible from both the front living room and dining room. Removing this wall would also then give light to the dining area. Alternatively, add some interest around the stove you have now. You can buy thin brick or stone facing that is easy to apply. Cover a large rectangular area behind the stove. preferably a 6-12 inches past either side of the stove and all the way to the ceiling Then paint the stove pipe black so it doesn't pop out so much. Or see if the stove could be moved toward the corner more and brick around the corner. The stovepipe would not necessarily have to be moved if an angle could be added to it. That would also add an interesting detail. And add an area around the stove on the floor for the decoration and also for safety. Definitely see if there is a wood floor under the kitchen flooring and carpet. It would be best to have the same flooring running all the way through from front to back of house. Area rugs could be used in living and dining spaces if desired. Move the gun cabinet to the side den/office space. Put the table more in the center of the room and use a pretty tablecloth. Some greenery could also be added even without windows. You can get very real looking silk plants or use small grow lights. Having uplights shining through the foliage adds a lot of "mood". Perhaps the ceiling fan could even be changed out for a lovely chandelier. Or if you need the fan then paint it the same color as the ceiling and maybe get a prettier globe or try adding some dangling crystals. Also painting the china cabinet a lighter color would also lighten the room. Don't paint it though if it is a precious antique. I hate seeing beautiful antique furniture painted over. If it is painted then background could be a pretty color to highlight the glassware.Keep the room light & bright and you won't notice the absence of windows. Tie in the living area and it will all seem larger. Hope you get some good ideas from these suggestions. If you get samples and still want help choosing don't hesitate to ask again.
    • Tara Tara on Mar 05, 2015
      @Carol Thank you for taking the time to comment! Forgot to mention that the ceiling fan is definitely OUT! I think it's possibly the first one ever made! ;)
  • Shirley Kalinosky Shirley Kalinosky on Mar 05, 2015
    I always take 1/4 in graph paper and draw out the floor plans and measure and cut out the pieces of furniture and move them around in the rooms to see what fits where. There are probably sites where you can print these out. The other thing I would suggest is paint that black cabinet something bright when you do decide where you will put it. I happen to notice all the knick-knacks around. They are distracting to the overall look of neatness. I don't want this to sound mean, but take and store some of these and see how much more space you have and when you have done all your re-modeling, bring them out and use only what works with your new furnishings. For instance, that little black metal stand with things on it standing under that key on the wall. Isn't it annoying to walk around it all the time? Put somethings in under-the-bed containers and declutter. Trust me on this. It really helps to see your rooms. Best of luck and keep us updated.
  • Gretchen Mercer Gretchen Mercer on Mar 05, 2015
    @Tara, I love your farmhouse! I totally get where all of this is driving you nuts. My husband and I have a family home that needed work before we could advertise it for rent. The BEST thing that happened was when a local designer saw work going on in the house and stopped out of curiosity to see what was being done. In about 10 minutes she had suggested to our worker an easy way to move things around in the teensy-weensy kitchen that totally transformed its function and look. And, on the way out, she made suggestions on the front of the home where we had removed the walls and roof of a screened in porch. Hire a designer who loves old houses to do a consultation. It may cost you (our friend did not charge because she happened in) but save you tons of angst and open your eyes to seeing your home in a different way. Once you begin to "see it" you can take it from there to put your own touches on it. I do hope you retain the farmhouse look...too many old places lose their character when people do their renovations.
    • Tara Tara on Mar 05, 2015
      @Gretchen Mercer Thanks! I was considering hiring someone! And, it's a farmhouse, on a farm, so not trying to make it something it's not! :) Thanks for the encouragement
  • Kathy Heimann Kathy Heimann on Mar 05, 2015
    I also live in a small space with an even smaller budget. Here are my cost effective suggestions. Take the largest room off the kitchen 14 x 16 and make it a dining/gathering room. It has a window for light and leads out to the deck for seasonal entertaining. The gun safe is distracting. It is the largest thing in your home and would be great if you could move it to the front room closet. After all gun safes aren't really welcoming. Plus if it were in a closet the guns would even be more safe. I then would open the wall between the middle room and the front room and use that for TV family seating ect. Since you don't like the propane stove why don't you just confront it, paint it farm red, to include the stove pipe and decorate around it with rustic browns, reds, rusts, gold and greens and really make it a part of the decor. In other words, address (or redress ) the elephant in the room. I would put an island with a couple of stools in the kitchen as a breakfast table/food prep area. Get rid of a lot of the small stuff and replace with rustic color and charm from yard sales, thrift stores, ect. Think out of the box and repurpose. Trust me when I say I am the queen of recycle, repurpose, reuse. It is a great deal of fun and you save a ton of money. Good luck!
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    • Brenda De Lair Brenda De Lair on Apr 15, 2015
      @Tara I would be a little afraid to paint the heater red. If you painted it black it may look more like a wood stove, or if you do the wainscotting idea as in the kitchen, you could paint it the same colour as the bottom wainscotting to make it blend in and become less visible.
  • Sherry Fram Sherry Fram on Mar 05, 2015
    If you can, open up the two walls between the front door and the kitchen to make it all open space. I would talk to someone about moving the propane stove to a better spot. After than walls are gone then you can arrange your cabinetry in a better configuration with an island and have the dining and living spaces all open to each other.
  • Judy Parkey Judy Parkey on Mar 05, 2015
    I once had a wood burning stove like yours...I think it's an Ashley? We had a brick "fire wall" behind it for a safety feature. The stoves get really hot and that wall, I'm thinking, could be a fire hazard. When you mentioned embracing the chimney, sheet metal art work popped into my head. I've seen on hometalk an idea involving sheet metal...they left it out over night to age it so it wasn't so shiny.
  • Judy Parkey Judy Parkey on Mar 05, 2015
    This is NOT the idea I was referring to but I found this when I search "sheet metal wall". I don't think you should embrace your chimney by having a wall of magnets on flashing...but I think this idea that could build into a great idea while making your home safer. You could insulate behind the flashing, too.
    • Judy Parkey Judy Parkey on Mar 05, 2015
      Amazing ideas with sheet metal, old and new, on Pinterest. Search "sheet metal wall". I want one now!!! @
  • Judy Parkey Judy Parkey on Mar 05, 2015
    Here is a link showing a mantle of sorts behind a stove. You can use "paintable texture wallpaper" (from Lowes for $20) in a beadboard pattern that looks amazing. Trim with molding.
  • Starla Green Starla Green on Mar 06, 2015
    The quickest and least expensive projects to take on is changing the color scheme to light neutrals. Change the flooring to a light weathered grey, paint all wooden furniture and cabinetry in a cream chalk paint with pale grey "aging" and slipcover your furniture in a cream colored linen or canvas, you can use canvas dropcloths from your hardware store. This will work wonders on making the space seem airier and fresher. The second step would be to take down walls and widen entries. Also, paint your iron stove in a light colored heat proof paint, white, if available. Hope this helps.
  • Margaret Margaret on Mar 07, 2015
    I saw this today. I like it for your house to open it up with style As I browsed through your pics this am I put myself in your place. Knowing I needed to do somethings but knowing hubby isnt on board yet. So here is an idea to start hopefully he will note changes and get in for more. You need a color scheme to start. Paint is inexpensive way to make very visible difference. I think reduce clutter ie put some shelving by the table put your baskets and and some decorative things there. Declutter the little cupboard and paint the inside a pretty contrasting color. I think the same thing about the black cabinet too. If you start dressing it up in small ways you will see big difference. With colors in mind you can begin to change the things that will still fit in after bigger remodeling projects. I call that medicine for the soul.......Its winter here a couple ladies and I were in Wal Mart looking at throw rugs and pillows yesterday, laughing about how at this stage in winter we have to brighten and change something.
  • Brenda De Lair Brenda De Lair on Apr 15, 2015
    When you get your floor done, make sure you buy some extra flooring so that when you do move the heater, you can put down the matching materials where the heater was.
  • Tela.waggoner Tela.waggoner on Nov 16, 2016
    I would remove the walls between the kitchen, middle room and the den. FIRST check that they are not load bearing- If they are you will need to add some columns for support. Paint it all one color. Doing both these things will make your house feel much larger. Make your floor covering go from one end of the house to the other. Eventually make your flu and fireplace the focal point of the room by upgrading and surrounding the pipe with rock or brick- make it look like a fireplace. Add an island between the kitchen and the 'middle' room to give more storage and a place to eat. Be sure to put down fireproffing under your heater. If using tile or wood you can have 'radient heat' added under the flooring to help keep you warm. Good Luck