-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

cottage: lounge & entry

Here's the email conversation with Dad about the entry and lounge areas of the cottage plans.

Dad's commentary (Feb 26):

Look at proposed extension plan. Enter house at front door. Door to lounge has been replaced with a wall and you enter the open plan of kitchen, passage, lounge area by just going forward and turning right and go past the open bookshelves that are part of the stud network supporting the roof.

Stand beside these shelves and look towards the dam. You will look through the "new" old window which I bought at Healesville. To the right of this window you see an offset portion like a box. This is actually the floor to ceiling housing for the little stove, with the mantlepiece in front.This offset from the wall allows the distance from wooden burnable objects which are needed by the stove and flue. The flue exits the house thru the roof and can be seen in elevation on the plan just above this plan. The idea of the lounge is to allow a twoseater against the wall where the old entry door was and the telly in the corner opposite. The large front window that exist there now remains proudly in place, but restored to its former grandueur. Curtains to draw to either side.

My reply (Feb 26):

I ummed and ahhed about moving the doorway as you propose, started out saying leave it where it was, but then talked myself around to your version! I like how there is a feeling of a mini-hallway when you enter the house before you reach the open entrance to lounge.

As we're moving the door, if there is room I would err on the side of allowing space for a 2.5 seater sofa, just so that there is no risk of it being crammed.

I still think I'd like to have some kind of thing to divide the space between lounge and kitchen, with the bottom part (eg to hip height) as an enclosed cupboard with doors opening onto the kitchen side to provide space for putting the dinner set, etc. Maybe this could also have shallow shelves for CD's / DVD's etc too on the lounge side From hip height up to door height it could just be open (useful extra benchspace for the kitchen if cooking a big meal), or tall spaced shelves without back, so we could display ornaments, etc. And maybe also there could be a divide up high, eg: solid wall from say 20cm above door height up to the tall roof so that we have place to hang pictures and also to reinforce the sense of divide. I really dislike open plan living arrangements, I hate the idea of sitting on the sofa trying to relax and still seeing dishes in the sink!

What if instead of using up extra space in the lounge to make the housing for the woodstove, it instead jutted out onto the verandah, kind of like an old fashioned chimney? This would give us a little extra space inside and it's not like there won't be plenty of verandah... Or, would this mean we lost some heat? I'm not convinced whether I would want this even if it was a possibility, it might ruin the look, and there's something appealing about it jutting out, gives a different shape to the room. But curious to know what you think about it.

Dad's reply (Feb 27):

Will move the door to allow a large lounge to fit on that wall. This wall is supporting the hot water storage tank above it so I will be having larger beams above the present ceiling. I must buy a new tank as the plumber was not happy to use the old one. This tank will also be for the solar heater.( and the gas heater as well if you get one.) The other place where you bought the stove from had LP gas heater outside on the wall to be used when the hot weather precluded the use of the wood stove.

Love your idea of the divide. Will have as you described it. Why not put the divider for the lounge where the old wall was and so avoid the flooring repairs that are needed otherwise? I will be planning to have the lovely baltic pine floors polished (by myself or both of us if it is done when you are here) Obviously I cannot have the divider where the new window goes,but that place is also flexible at present. So get out the scale ruler and make some pieces of paper to represent some furniture you want in the two spaces on each side of the divider and get back to me when you have decided where the divider must go to accommodate your furniture ideas.

I had originally drawn the stove to have the little box outside on the veranda, but the reason you suggested is precisely why I brought in back inside. With the box inside, and no ceiling on the box and it going only about 7 ft high, the air around the flue will be naturally convected up to the ceiling and around the room. Since the woodfire is small, and designed to go into a brick fireplace, it has convection pipes for this very purpose, but which have a little vent above the stove under the mantle to direct heat back into the room. Some of these pipes need replacing, but that is not a huge job. But we can eliminate the little vent, and let the air just go up the box and out the top to the ceiling. As you will have the TV in the corner there shouldn't be a loss of efficiency. You can still arrange the lounge chairs and couchs to back on the divider and face the large front window, and consequently the TV and firestove. The bulkhead over may not be a good idea as it will close the space even more. But that is up to you.

My reply (Feb 27):

I'm not sure what you mean by "open fabric stud walls" We're not planning to have totally open walls between the passage and the lounge, it will still be divided. Remember, the plan is to have something like this:
Existing house plan - shelving unit

ie: cupboards down below to say about hip height, then shelves above. So it won't feel totally open-plan but you will be able to see through into the hallway, in the gaps in the shelves. This is partly for light purposes, and partly so the hallway itself can become more of a usable place, not only a passing through area. eg: I would envisage that the phone would live on one of those shelves, with a little chair in the hallway. So you could answer it on the lounge side, or the hallway side depending on where you were when it rang. I don't like totally open-plan, but that doesn't mean it has to be entirely closed up.

In principle, I'm happy to have the divider where the old wall was. But it's hard for me to say for certain because I don't know what the measurements are for those rooms, and I've never been able to stand inside them and get a sense of the space as every time I've visited they've been full of stuff and dark! That is why I'm so sad I never got to see it properly when it was first bought.

What I want is for there to be enough space in the lounge area for there to be an armchair next to the fire, forming a kind of circle with the sofa, and for you to be able to walk BEHIND the armchair comfortably to get to the opening to the kitchen.

I'm happy to leave the fireplace bulkhead as you envisaged, ie: with it being open above. I would like to be able to have a mantlepiece though, so can this be strong enough to support eg: hanging a mirror above it and a small shelf?

I like the idea of the polished floors too.

Dad's reply (Feb 27):

Of course you will have the mantle and shelf and mirror. Why else to use this little stove? And absolutely must have chair to form cosy circle about the fire.
When bought the place the lounge area was 6ft high with lathe debris. You would never have stood anywhere in the room. The room will have the fabric studs as always planned, and there was never a problem with this idea. Alan has drawn as faithfully as he could to your intentions, and my explanations.

My reply (Feb 28):

I had a play around with floorplans in lounge/kitchen, this time overlaying furniture, and came up with an alternative that I like a lot better. See what you think.

new idea for dividers and layout

I've still got the same kind of wall in the hallways, just playing around with where the openings in it are. Now it is two symmetrical halves, either side of an open area that leads to either the kitchen, if you turn diagonally left, or the lounge, if you turn diagonally right. This seems to work to me as it is similar to our London house in allowing for diagonal entrances to lounge / kitchen areas which thus take up less room. It also might make that little central part, sort of like a hub, into a more usable space as a bit more open.

The window in lounge on fireplace wall has moved up closer to the fireplace. The patio doors have moved down closer to the fridge. (We are not going to be able to put anything in front of fridge area where door needs to open, so may as well have them for the patio door area. That way the patio doors are not obstructed by the table.

The divider between lounge and kitchen is a little higher perhaps than I envisaged before.. maybe it can be inbetween hip and shoulder height, so that it hides the sink a little better from view. I'm seeing it as having shallow shelves for CDs/DVDs etc on the lounge side, and shelves with doors (or rolling covers kind of like rollerblinds but more solid?) deep enough to comfortably fit a dinner plate on the kitchen side. After talking to some friends at work, I'm seriously considering that this could be a freestanding unit, on lockable low castor wheels, so we could shunt it around on the odd occasion we needed (eg: to move big furniture in and out). If that's the case then obviously it doesn't need to go in the plan to council as it'll be a piece of furniture EXCEPT it is important to mark where it will live so as to get the positions of the windows and door openings right.

I am thinking that it might be OK, now the room divider is slightly higher, to forget the idea of a ceiling divider strip (ie; the bit I talked about that would give me places to hang pictures). It would also give us more flexibility in terms of positioning the rolling divider, as it would look odd for that to be out of line with the ceiling divider strip.

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