Dream project, plan B

June 11, 2014

I’m back with an update on our dream plan I wrote about a few weeks back. We had big dreams people. Dreams of extending the back of our house, moving some things around and creating more space where we want it – in the family room and kitchen.

And then we got quotes. First, I need to send out a double chest thump to the contractors who actually called me back. Guess what? It’s rare that a contractor calls you back. Who would’ve thought?

I called about ten businesses, two I talked on the phone and they were great. Most never called back. I only had two actually come out and to give us a firm quote, and of those two only one gave us a true, hard quote on a piece of paper. I’m already discouraged by this process. :)

I understand many charge for the estimate process and I totally understand that and was willing to pay – but out of ten I got one real quote. Thing is, they were all high. Like, CRAZY, you-are-freakin-kidding-me high. As I mentioned, we’ve had friends locally who have added on similar square footage and the price was much more manageable. Of course the contractors they used are no longer doing it. :)

We did have a few different roof lines to work into the plan, which increased the price. And running HVAC gets expensive too but our friends did that as well, so who knows.

ANYWAY. We could have done it – but at the prices we were quoted it just wasn’t a good use of our money. I’m willing to put some money into this, especially since we plan on being here so long. But it just wouldn’t have made sense to spend that much on this house.

So, plan B. :) I told you I wouldn’t give up.

Here’s the family room and kitchen plan I’ve shown you before:

To see our original plan go to this post. It involved pushing out the kitchen and family room quite a bit.

A couple of you mentioned an alternative in the comments and it has crossed my mind briefly over the years – I just didn’t think it would work. The idea was to take down the wall between my office and the family room. The wall to the right: board and batten walls

At first I discarded the idea because I truly do use my office, every day. I do want a space. But a reader suggested the loft and duh, that would work just fine. It would take some getting used to and I like being our main level – but by the time I finished putting things on paper I realized I’d probably have room for a desk in the new family room plan.

The thing is, I took down the doors to my office years ago – so it’s already open to the family room. When I really started thinking about it I realized how the two spaces are practically one anyway. I watch the TV in the family room from my desk:

TV above dresser

Hello Charles. :)

And honestly, the more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea. And I think I would keep the board and batten look throughout the space, because taking all that down would just make me cry a little. I have a plan to just change it up a tad.

I contacted two realtor friends of mine and asked them if it was a good idea. I didn’t know if losing the office would be a bad thing -- I wasn’t going to consider anything that would hurt the value of our home. I sent them photos and both were totally excited about it and said it looked like a great idea.

Whew! So now, I have a new plan. Here’s the current look, as a refresher:

floor plan

The family room and kitchen table area are the ones that are tightest for us.

Because sometimes I just like to look at things on paper, here’s my rough sketch on graph paper, with the office included on the left:

It’s not totally to scale (but close!) and I forgot to add in a couple current windows, but you get the idea. The triangle in the corner of the family room is our fireplace and the open area on the right is the kitchen that will mostly stay put. 

Here’s the new plan:

Now there’s still an extension, but it’s much smaller and it’s just the kitchen. The bay window would be knocked out about six more feet. Eventually there would be a banquet there with the table.

I’d work with the windows that we already have in the family room and make those into French doors with access to the deck. Minimal messing with the current wall should cut down costs significantly.

Here’s an idea of the floor plan with furniture:

That table area in the kitchen is not final by any means – I’m still considering where I’d put the door, the table set up, etc. I need to make sure we’d have room to move around there. The space would be about 90 square feet, 60 of that new.

The fireplace would move to the back wall of the house. It’s a direct vent and I don’t even think we’d have to move the vent on the back of the house. My thought is to add another window in the corner to make that a double window to balance out the French doors.

The furniture layout would change significantly – and to do this I’d have to move our TV above the fireplace, which I’ve never wanted to do. But it may be the best/only option. I’d love to do some kind of small built ins next the fireplace to hold TV components. The placement of things is a little hard still because the office is only about ten feet deep – so I need to make sure we could place things well and still have plenty of space to walk around: 

It kills me that we shopped forever for a smaller sectional and that thing is still a beast! :)

I’m going to tape off shapes on the floor to see how it will work for sure. I have to say, I’m TOTALLY excited about how this could work. It would make our family room so much bigger and completely change the feel of it. And my office gets GREAT natural light so the thought of all of that in the family room makes me giddy.

The wall that would come down is not load bearing and I actually am considering taking that down on my own. :) I’m STOKED at the thought of that. The gas for the fireplace is in that wall so I’d need to have that moved. I’ve contacted our flooring guy and he says he can patch the floors just fine.

I think I could act as the contractor for that part of this job like I did for the basement. I’d need to coordinate the gas line, the fireplace rebuilding, some electrical work, adding the doors and windows, flooring fixes and a LOT of drywall.

So. That’s the new plan. I’ve already contacted the contractor who actually responded to me, so I’m hoping to get a new quote soon. And I’m going to call a couple more one more time – if you are in the Indy area let me know if you’ve used anyone you liked!

Do you have a TV above the fireplace? Have you ever taken down a wall in your home? Is it as thrilling as I imagine it? ;)

Email subscription form header
Your email:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide


  1. This looks like a really workable plan. Is there any reason why the TV can't stay on the wall it is on now. Just flip the sectional over to where the chairs are now and it should still allow you to see the tv no problem.

    1. I'm considering that but the fireplace and TV would on opposite sides of the room. I'd like to have them both in the same general area, unlike we have now! But I'm thinking about it!

  2. Wow Sarah! I think this is going to be amazing when finished. I hear you on the not returning calls for bids. Frustrating. Having the same issue here with a few things with our house. Never taken down a wall. We did contemplate taking part of our living room wall down in our old house to open it up more as it was built in the 70's. But we sold it and moved instead. No fireplace here, yet. :) I did buy an electric one just to help heat the basement for when we are down there.. working on getting that finished. I am not sure if we are going to put the TV above it or on an adjacent wall. We better hurry up and decide as we would have to redo the wiring before it gets sheetrocked.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. looks great! we built a similar house to your new plan, but my office is off the kitchen and i took my family room all the way to the end with the fireplace on the far left wall. it kinda feels a little bowling alleyish...but it works. i have 4 extended windows on the wall where you want your fireplace. i REALLY hate having the tv above my fireplace but its an open floor plan and i don't have any walls! so my plan is to get a TV cover for when i entertain and don't want to look at it. i've seen people use canvas prints or lean big mirrors against it (just make sure your fireplace mantel is wide enough...mine is too narrow!). what i really want to do is put a wall up on the opposite wall to your fireplace (right now that is open to formal living room) and put one of those giant ikea "built in" billy bookcases...3 with the middle being the biggest....lots of great crown molding and have the TV in the middle...closed door cabinets on the bottom. then i get back my fireplace! hubby says no but im not giving up on that! :) good luck!

  5. Hi Sarah! Just wanted you to check out my space that we just recently took out a wall between my kitchen and dining room! http://www.thedailynest.com/2014/06/lightened-up-home-reveal.html
    and yes it is VERY exciting and freeing in a way! I think your plan sounds fabulous and of course with you heading it up it will be nothing short of amazing! Can't wait to see! Kathy@The Daily Nest

  6. This is an AWESOME idea! So much more resourceful and makes sense. We have our tv over the fireplace, I like it because it just makes sense, helps the flow of the room, and makes one really nice focal point. I was against it also, for the first ten years of my marriage we were against putting the tv as the "focal point" but now that things are slimmer and flat, and you can hide cords, it's really not that big of a deal. Once we gave in, it was so much better :)

  7. Have you tried to call Jacoby & Associates in the Indy area? They do work like this and I went to college with someone that works there and from the looks of their website they do really great work. Sorry I don't have the number but you can google their name and you should be able to pull them up.

  8. Very exciting! We have a very similar set-up with the family room, kitchen, fireplace and had to find a desk area too. We had it set up with the back of the sofa towards the area where you have your desk, and the desk sort of worked as a sofa table. That way, the desk was kind of out of sight behind the back of the sofa/sectional, and it really opened up the family room/kitchen space. It seemed like the area was twice as big!. We have a TV above the fireplace and actually quite like it. If you do a nice mantel and built-ins you could make cupboard doors or something to cover it, if that is the issue, maybe?

  9. We just took down a wall in our home and I don't think we will ever look back. It meant loosing a bedroom, but it works for us. If this is your long term home, I say go for it! You will love the extra space.

  10. Didn't you convert your dining room into a library? Couldn't you use that area for your office? That would be on the first floor. Just a thought :-)

  11. I like the dining room = library = your office idea. Also, wanted to pipe up to say that I took out half a wall in our house recently. I made sure it was not load-bearing and I knew it didn't have any plumbing in it. I was 99% sure it didn't have any wiring in it either, and fortunately, I was right (though wiring is comparatively easy to move). But do small hammer blows first, so you can peek in and make sure. You do NOT want to find out the hard way. I've seen on DIY shows where they rip out drywall, and it seems to me like the best method is to take it out in the largest possible sheets. (I would probably remove the woodwork - trim in your office - BEFORE you start ripping out drywall.) The wall I removed was lathe and plaster, with honest-to-God horsehair in it. It was very cool to see, but it was right up there with refinishing the wood floors myself for filthiest job I have ever done. (Fixing the toilet didn't even come close.) So my thoughts would be...the reciprocating saw, a crowbar, and a really heavy hammer are your best friends. And do not do a thing without your dust mask on. I was only PRETTY careful, and I had black snot for days. I know it's TMI, but you'll thank me later :).

  12. Just curious - why not go ahead with everything except the addition? Using the new French doors to access the deck would allow you to have more space around the table by no longer using the existing back door. ;-)

  13. Great plan. My thoughts: Could you move your office to the bay window as it exists now and place a dining table looking through the french doors and move the sectional towards your existing office space.

  14. I love recreating thrifty items! Your blog is very inspiring! I am very excited to dig through your posts and look at all you interior decorating ideas.

  15. Yes, I have a tv above the fireplace and I like it! I don't find it uncomfortable for viewing. I just posted about it yesterday, you can see it here: http://thehoneycombhome.com/1-car-garage-turned-family-room/ Tomorrow I'm posting how we hid the wires & cable box if you're interested. As far as sectionals, we bought one 10 years ago that was a monstrosity, never again! I can't wait to see what you end up doing with this space.

  16. I am glad you found a solution. When you posted your original quandary I was thinking that you might be able to rethink your house layout and knock down a wall or too. It's good to think in terms of reconfiguring things rather than always adding square footage to the part of the house you use most and then having other space that is simply not used at all. Looking forward to seeing the whole process. My husband and I are huge remodelers, doing much ourselves and acting as general contractors. We are finally getting to the end of our remodel journey after seven years!

  17. i love plan b. i think you might like plan b a lot more the plan a.

  18. We have a fireplace with a built-in niche for the TV, and I hated it so much that I don't even have the TV up there anymore. It is not optimal viewing height at all, and I hated having the TV and all its components on display over the mantel. But I know lots of people don't have a problem with it, so you know, different strokes!

  19. My TV is above my fireplace, only because I have a really small living room and that was the best option. I don't hate it, but it's a tad bit high since it's not at eye level. Also - cords! It's really hard to hide the cords (although, I'm thinking to build a wood mantel and I might be able to figure out a way to the hide the cords that way). Anyways, this all sounds like a great back up plan - good luck!

  20. Sarah this sounds so much better financially and I agree with another person who commented about not doing the additional footage for the table extension area. Is it really needed? Connie

  21. Hi Sarah, Thought I would chime in. I have a TV over a vent free fireplace so no clearance issues to worry about, but it does limit what decorating I can do with the mantel. You will need to check the owner's manual for your fireplace to see what kind of clearance is safe for your TV. If you don't have it, let me know. I work for a company that manufactures direct vent fireplaces and I could probably help you out. :)

  22. I love the idea of opening your family room up and making bigger! I do wonder though if you thought about just moving that wall back a few feet and having a smaller type office. Alot of new build homes have "media centers", where it is a smaller room with counters running along the walls instead of a big desk. I mention this because looking from your kitchen to a beautiful family room, then seeing a desk just kind out there and behind it would be odd (to me at least). It would seem more like loft living, which obviously is not what your house is designed or built like. It also would scream (to me anyways) "lack of space". Again, just my opinion.

  23. I'm not a fan of the TV over the fireplace.... I think it takes away from the fireplace. But, that's just my opinion ~ and to each their own. ;)

  24. I have a gas fireplace in our family room and I hate it - we never use it. I'd prefer a real one! So for me, putting the TV above the fireplace wasn't a big deal and we really like it. My kitchen and family room are one giant room so the TV can be seen from anywhere. The cords are hidden in the wall and in the fireplace mantle ... my husband is rather handy in that way. We have 2 side cabinets that sit on either side of the fireplace, one for the DirecTV box/DVD player and the other holds some movies, ipod cords, etc. Built-ins would probably look nicer but I also have 2 windows on the fireplace wall and A/C vents under the windows ... it's never easy, is it?!

  25. And to add, if I were you in that space? I think I'd remove the fireplace all together and hang the TV on the end wall (where you have the desk shown) and slide everything down. If you did that, you wouldn't need to do that 6ft extension off the kitchen. You could add a large table or put in a very nice-sized island :)

  26. Isn't it amazing how hard it is to find a good contractor? I'm guessing the few quotes you got were high simply because of supply and demand! But it seems that good sub-contractors abound, so I think you're smart to think of acting as your own general contractor for this job. Adding that bump-out to your kitchen shouldn't be horrifyingly expensive, and I imagine it'll make a big difference in your kitchen! And I think that taking down that interior wall is a great idea. You'll gain a large, light-filled family room and get rid of your nemesis corner fireplace in one fell swoop!

    Two suggestions I'd make.

    1. Consider just taking the kitchen straight back rather than indenting. That would make the additional space wide enough to do a table with chairs or benches rather than a banquette. My experience is that people love the way banquettes LOOK, but they're a little less happy with living with them. Turns out that they're not particularly comfortable seating and while it seems easy for people to pile onto the benches, it's actually hard to scoot around and especially hard if someone needs to get up from the table. Of course, you may be looking at a design that would in fact be comfortable seating, but I'd suggest asking people who actually own banquettes whether they like them.
    2. It's fine to have the TV over the fireplace if and ONLY if you have the screen mounted in a way that tilts it downward. The position over the fireplace is too high for comfortable viewing from a seated position. Of course, if you're playing around with windows and doors anyway, you could always design built-ins for either side of the fireplace and use some of those for the TV and components. Flat-screen TV's have eliminated the need for extra-deep built-ins!

    Good luck, Sarah! Have fun with your sledge hammer! :)

  27. I love the plan, seems way more cost efficient than doing an addition. Sometimes moving makes more sense than spending the money to put on an addition. If you would like some help, I would love to put together a 3d sketchup model for you of the space, to better help you visualize the room and how it will look with removing the existing wall. Email me at(jstdesign.jill@gmail.com) if you would like me to draw up a plan for you, I would love to help you out, after all you have shared so much wisdon and inspiration with me over the past few months. I have even started my very own blog, whcih is still a work in progress but it has been a lot of fun having an outlet for my very busy creative mind! :)

  28. First, thanks for a great blog - you are so talented! Second, we cut WAY back on our expansion plans and couldn't be happier - simpler and smaller is better! Some quick thoughts: I agree with others that maybe you don't even need to expand the bay window - make it a gorgeous deep window seat and spend the money you save to lengthen your island; put the table behind the island next to the French doors out to deck. Then put the desk where the TV is now and push sectional, etc into the old office space with fireplace on the far wall; big window to look out; TV above fireplace cleverly hidden - so many great ways to do this, see this post: http://theinspiredroom.net/2012/07/10/hiding-and-disguising-a-tv/ Good luck, it's going to be great - thanks for taking us along with you!!


  29. This is a very usable plan and makes great use of your space. We do not have our TV over the fireplace, I don't mind, hubby hates it, so... We have taken down walls, lots of them. We have been renovating and reselling homes in the Indianapolis area since 2008. Our current project is our personal home which has undergone major wall moves, changing the location of the furnace and AC, tripling the size of the kitchen and more. The next big project will be completely changing the configurations of the master and hall baths to accommodate a sauna.I have been reading you for a long time, and have used so many of your creative touches. You are a constant source of inspiration! Best of wishes on this project :)

  30. I am SO excited about this turn of events, Sarah! I think this may just all have been part of The Grand Plan. ;-) I can't wait to see how it all comes out!

  31. I knocked down (well, not I, really) the wall between the kitchen and a bedroom to make the bedroom a dining-room open on the kitchen and it's one of the best decision I made so far about the cottage. Good luck with your project... and expect some dust ;)

  32. Can I just say that I have always thought your office was upstairs? Obviously I need to pay more attention...

  33. I just put my TV over our fireplace last year and I love love love it!! Go for it I stressed way too much over that!

  34. Yay! I was thinking this would be a great idea (and less expensive) when I saw your initial plans. It's going to look amazing! I haven't taken down a wall, but I've added walls when I turned our formal living room into an office. I'm thinking taking down a wall should be cheaper. Should is the key word!

  35. Hi,
    I am one of those that feel like it may be better to put a kitchen table in front of the french doors and push your family room far left into the old office. It's hard for us to imagine this, but it looks great! Congrats and good luck!!

  36. Hope it works out for you! I hate how no one will call back. I feel like yelling, "I'm trying to give you money!" I'll take your mirror over the fireplace! ;) I redid my corner fireplace like yours and I am still in search for a mirror as beautiful as yours!

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. Go with Plan B! We recently took out a bank of cupboards over the peninsula in our kitchen -- WORLD of difference!! We're in the hearth business, so I will echo Denise's comment earlier ... just be sure you know about your fireplace's clearances, and especially for your mantel height and depth. You can probably look up your model online, many manufacturers have their owners manuals available on their websites. Good luck!

  39. I just pinned this from Pinterest that I think it a great way to have the TV above the fireplace, yet have it out of sight when not being used. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/268879040228197978/
    We have our TV above the fireplace. I fought it for a long time….hubs wanted it there. We have a very large room and our furniture is pretty far back from the TV, so it works, comfortable for viewing. May not work if your furniture arrangement is up close to the fireplace. We had our contractor install wiring behind the wall and all the equipment sits on the build-ins beside the mantel. Wish I could hide all that….but alas, we have to change the channel with the remote! :) Here is the link to my blog showing how we changed our fireplace/built-ins into a media wall.

  40. Wow, so exciting to be planning such a big project. You may want to consult a designer before you pull the trigger. I don't doubt your killer skills but there is no substitute for their knowledge base and experience that will save you headaches and money down the line (and no I'm not one).

    As for the TV over the fireplace- think long and hard on this one. I do not understand WHY this has become popular. Do you like to sit on the front row at the movie theater? We are currently looking at houses and if the only place for the TV is above the fireplace it is a complete deal breaker for me.

  41. I also have a TV over the fireplace because it was the only choice at the time. I too wish we had made our family room a few feet deeper but live and learn! Our components are in a built-in cabinet in the corner of the room. 2 HDMI cables are run through the walls between the components and TV. I wish we had installed conduit to make running new cables easier!

  42. I love the paneling on your walls. I would love to have that in my living room.


If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here!

You can find our paint colors and links to items at the "Our Home" tab at the top of my site.

THANKS so much for reading!