Over the last year, my partner and I have gone the full gamut of considerations re: where we want to live as a couple. We started last year with buying land and working with an architect on designing a new home, only to discover that housing materials costs were rising so quickly that it made building impossibly expensive.
After a pause, we decided to scale back, instead looking for an existing home to purchase. To my surprise, we found the perfect one! Plenty of room, plenty of land, all of the extras we wanted (I’m talking every single thing), and at a price point we could afford. It seemed like a done deal, until insurance companies began to leave Louisiana, and insurance prices rocketed. Suddenly, we were looking at nearly $1500 a month in insurance costs alone. Suffice it to say, we did not buy that new house. That really hurt, because I had fallen deeply in love with the property. It’s taken some time for me to recover; I really thought I’d be getting married in that backyard.
So a few weeks ago, my partner and I revisited an idea I’d had before we ever started this journey. Instead of moving to a new property, why not renovate our current house? My partner owns it outright, so there’s no mortgage or ongoing payment situation. We already need roof repairs, new gutters, and a new section of fence after getting storm damage in Hurricane Ida, and we also need to clear out the attic and redo the insulation, for which we’ll need to take out a home improvement loan. Originally, the thought was to make the changes and quickly sell the house. Instead, why not just expand the renovations, then pay down the loan together?
Though ideally, I’d prefer to have a house with larger bathrooms, more closet space, a fourth bedroom, and a much larger primary bedroom, for now all of that will have to wait. Instead, we’ll focus on the most difficult space in the house: our tiny kitchen. The kitchen is just big enough for two people to stand in, but we can’t really cook together, and there’s no space for other people to hang out if we’re having a party. There’s almost no counter space. It’s a special kind of torture for two people who love cooking and connecting over food.
The house is your typical 1960s brick ranch-style home, with a covered carport that connects to the mudroom (which, in turn, opens to the kitchen). We don’t use the carport at all, so the plan is to enclose that space, knock out the living room wall that now looks out over the carport, move the washer/dryer from the mudroom into a new pantry space at the back of the kitchen, and thus drastically increase the available footprint.
The resulting living room/dining room/kitchen space will look something like this (forgive my shitty drafting skills – this was done on a free drafting program, as a preliminary sketch to get my thoughts across to my partner). We’re most likely going to need some structural columns in here somewhere, but since I didn’t know where they would be, I didn’t bother adding them for this first attempt. Also, pay no attention to front door (at the bottom right side of the image) – I couldn’t figure out how to get the drafting program to change the direction, and it really opens up to the left instead of the right.
I don’t love it, but it’s a good enough start. I’m still hopeful that in the end, we’ll have improved this place enough to get some interested buyers, and then find a house that has more room. But if that can’t happen, if we live here until we’re old(er) and gray(er), we’ll still be OK because we’re together.