we use a program called chief architect to play around with layouts. we didn't hire a general contractor for the project: klaas (my father-in-law) and ben are knowledgeable on these types of things, and klaas's advice was invaluable. he's built houses for a living and knows what works and what doesn't. he thought of plenty of things that we didn't and we are so thankful for his help.
here's what the first level of the house was like when we bought it (a little fuzzy):
the garage is to the right, next to the living room and former dining room. BUT, as you'll notice, when we bought the home there was no door from the garage entering into the house. you'd park your car in the attached garage, and then walk back out the garage door and go to the front or the back of the house to get inside. that was one of the first things we fixed! a lot of houses in bloomington have detached garages, so we wanted to make the most of our attached one.
so we cut a door from the house to the garage. :) in the after layout, there is a proper mudroom as an entry into the house from the garage. we were so happy we made this decision—it is so convenient.
we had to decide if we wanted to try to squeeze our washer and dryer into the mudroom (they are in the basement) but we decided not to. instead, we put in a small half bath and a pretty substantial closet. (a few project entries here and here.) the decision to put in a half bath was partially influenced by the decision to create a proper master suite on the first floor—and thus tie the full bath that already existed into the suite. we added the half bath so that guests wouldn't have to use our master bath or go upstairs—there would be a guest bath on the first floor.
i was concerned about the fact that we were stopping the "flow" of the first level by blocking off the living room. the living spaces on the first level used to be a full circle, but the living room is now closed off by itself. it has turned out great, though, because the living room has more wall space for furniture, etc. it hasn't been a problem so far.
so i think that's pretty much it! oh yeah, you might notice that we did away with the closets that used to exist as part of the eat-in area/bedroom #2. this expanded the kitchen by about two feet. every bit counts! bedroom #2 is now without a closet, but that's okay. it's going to be part of the master suite. more details on that later.
thanks everyone for the encouraging facebook messages and emails! i'm glad to see people are interested in what we've been doing. we are thankful for the opportunity, the means, and the physical ability to tackle this project.
well, both REAL SIMPLE and this old house came in the mail today, so i'm going to put on my jams and hop into bed for some reading. goodnight!