Asked on Apr 05, 2013

Looking for suggestions for remodel of classic center hall Colonial

MN Fiore
by MN Fiore
Hello! We've just moved into a center hall Colonial and it needs a good bit of updating. We are working on a remodeling plan and would love to hear from people who have successfully remodeled a center hall Colonial to create an open floor plan. Right now the main floor has a closed-in kitchen with a wall separating it from a formal dining room. The plan is to take down that wall and put an island there. On the other side of the stairs there are 2 living rooms, about the same size, with a wall separating them. We are planning to remove part of that wall and close in one of the rooms with pocket doors to make an office; the other area will be opened up to the kitchen and will create a larger entryway. Anyone have any thoughts or ideas or success stories they can share? Thanks!
  4 answers
  • Congrats on the new home! I would suggest a few things on this project. 1st off as much as it needs work I would wait at least one year before you even pull one wall down. Paint and clean for now. Reason being you need to become comfortable with the house and how it currently flows. Your ideas will change several times during this period of time. I know of many people who have spend hundreds and thousands of dollars doing renovations right after moving in only to wish a few months after the project was complete that they did the layout differently. Put a door here rather then there, and so on. 2nd of all. Think from top down. Renovations are expensive. Even if you are the handy type and plan on doing a lot of the work yourself. If you decide to completely remodel the first floor, and most start with kitchens.. they figure they will then tackle that master bath or center hall bath after as they can live with that for the time. What they do not realize is that more times then not walls in the new kitchen will need to be opened up to gain access to the plumbing and electrical work. Nothing like finally finishing that kitchen of your dreams only to have to pull the ceilings and some walls down again. Get the picture? Even if the first floor needs to be done first, you need to carefully think about exactly what it is that you want on the upper levels. Even if you decide to go the first floor first, you need perhaps to rough in future drain systems in the walls and perhaps run some electrical wires and leave them accessible in wall cavities in the rooms above.. You do not want to disturb all the hard work you did when you first moved in. It is much cheaper putting in a drain pipe and not connecting it until the pocketbook recovers then to have to install a new one after everything is sealed up and painted. 3rd, Think about your energy and the costs of heating, cooling and powering the home. I am currently on a project that the home owner is working on. Every time we visit she is adding something. This project that the builder has been working on so far is going into its first year. We have moved the AC and Heat system twice for her. She keeps changing the layout of the home as she sees it coming together. Not a good thing. You do not want to do things twice. With renovations your mechanical systems are often effected in an adverse way. Duct runs are changed, more grills are added, lighting loads are often increased effecting the amount of power needed on the electrical panel. All sorts of new issues begin to crop up. Plan on a completely new HVAC and electrical service system as part of the renovation project. If the house is really old and has Knob and Tube wiring you will need to completely rewire it. I know of no electrical contractor willing to just fix one area of that type of system and leave the rest alone. Lastly plan on overages, at least 20% over your budget. Renovations on older homes and many new ones tend to unearth surprises that are not figured into the project. Hope this helps you out and not discourages you in doing this project. You just need to be prepared.
  • C & K Custom Remodeling C & K Custom Remodeling on Apr 07, 2013
    I would agree with woodbridge, I think it's too early to take on the project. My experience is you need to know all of the thing that you don't like about the space. This waiting period will prevent you form doing the remodel only to discover there are things you don't like but didn't know would bother you. Best of luck Lloyd Martindale
  • Cyndi Moore Tippett Cyndi Moore Tippett on Apr 07, 2013
    Great advice from the two previous comments. My husband and I have renovated four houses and built one over the last 18 years, and we are just finishing up a 14 months renovation on our current house. WAIT...before you do any MAJOR changes to your house. Although it is tempting to do the HUGE changes first, we have found if we do some of the smaller changes like paint and cleaning it WILL save you some heartache in the end. Case in point, I hated the vinyl flooring in my last house, but before replacing my husband wisely said lets at least clean it first....WOW what a difference it made. I actually loved the flooring once it had a GOOD cleaning and found it was in great shape...savings of many hundreds of dollars. You will get a feel for the flow of your house and then you might not need MAJOR changes, just a little tweaking. Good luck to sounds like a fun project.
  • Cyndi Moore Tippett Cyndi Moore Tippett on Apr 07, 2013
    another point I thought of....don't get discouraged if your first plan doesn't work out. We have found that sometimes our second plan worked better in the end. For example, like you, we wanted to open the wall up between our dining room and kitchen to add an island. Our plan was to have the support columns toward the ends of the wall opening and totally opened in the middle, but the span was to long so we had to leave an 18" piece of wall and open the ends. It worked out better because the flow around the island is much better and we put "beefed" up molding around the column and it is a beautiful focal point between the rooms. Be patient with yourself and listen to your hunches about what you like....