We have completed our first ‘work weekend’ at the coastal cottage and we are feeling a lot better about the plans we have moving forward. The cottage is tiny and the original floor plan was very basic and for the most part, worked. The bigger challenge was what to do in the newer addition on the back. What felt like a large space, turned out to be awkward and small for all we had hoped to fit. After a lot of thought, trial and error in figuring out the floor plan, we are feeling confident we are ready to start pushing forward and I thought I’d share with you what we’ve come up with.
Before I get into the new floor plan and share the challenges we’ve been working around, I thought I’d start by sharing with you what the original floor plan looked like.
The original coastal cottage floor plan
When we purchased the cottage, it had already been mostly demoed and the new addition framed. The main cottage was very simple and for the most part, we are keeping it mostly the way it was originally.
From the screened in porch on the front, you walk through the front door of the cottage and into the main room. This room would be what you’d call the living room. It spans the full width of the cottage and front to back is just under 12’. All in all, the almost 12’x20’ room is a decent size minus the stairs to the second floor.
The stairs currently greet you as you walk in the door and they really feel like they close off the back size of the cottage; something we plan to change a little.
Walking through the living room you step into the kitchen and dining area. The kitchen is on the right and the dining area is on the left. Straight ahead is the original back door of the cottage and you can see the small windows that used to overlook the back yard still remain.
Through the original back door of the cottage, you enter the addition. The addition is nice in that it gives us enough square footage to add a proper bathroom and squeeze in a guest bedroom, perfect for our parents when they stay. The issue with the way it was framed was that there was a ton of wasted space in the walkway to the back / side door and not enough room for an actual bedroom. The closet for the so-called bedroom also seemed to be much larger than would be necessary for a vacation home.
Our ideas for the new floor plan
Now that you know what we started with, I’ll share with you what our goals are. To be clear, we are coming at this project knowing that this isn’t going to be our permanent home, at least not in the near future. We want the final cottage to be livable but know that with only 900 sq ft. we are going to have to be creative and scale back compared to what we are used to.
As I shared in my first post, aside from the original drive by before it was for sale and another drive by and walk around the yard, B didn’t see the cottage until after we owned it. Even without seeing it in person, B and I knew that the primary goal with the future floor plan was moving the back door from the side of the house to the back of the house to easily access the backyard.
Moving the door also meant that we’ve had to completely rework the floor plan in the addition. Initially we thought it would be super easy to fit a small bedroom, full bathroom and a space for laundry. The addition almost feels too big compared to the scale of the rest of the cottage so we never thought our goal would be so challenging.
In the rest of the cottage, we want to find a balance between honoring the original cottage while making it feel more modern. While most people may just take down the center wall and open the whole thing up, we prefer to keep some definition between the spaces while making them feel more connected.
Our ideas were to move the stairs from the middle of the cottage to the left side of the front room. This will not only help open things up between the front room and the kitchen / dining but also take up less usable space on the second floor where we hope to eventually add a dormer and fit the master bedroom and possibly a second bath. The way the stairs come up right now, chops everything up way too much.
With the stairs moved, the idea was to then widen the doorway between the kitchen and living room, create an “l’ shaped kitchen with a movable island in the middle for a couple of stools and then do a built-in bench on the dining room side to create some storage and create a cozy dining space. Keeping the door to the addition where it was.
The challenges we didn’t expect.
When working on the new floor plan, moving the stairs was easy. Opening the doorway between the kitchen and living room worked just like we planned but the kitchen plan didn’t play out. To fit a frig, oven range and a sink in the “L” shape we’d be left with almost no counter space. The tiny island we pictured would either be too close to the cabinets or stick way out into the walk through to the back of the cottage. Neither of those things made sense.
B suggested trying to lay out a peninsula that filled in some of the opening to the living room. This wasn’t the look I had wanted but after trying several other options, this honestly makes the most sense.
The only concession was moving the frig to the opposite side of the door. B doesn’t love this idea but the more I look at this plan, the more I’m on board because it allows us to add additional cabinets on the dining room side for storage, something we will be lacking in other areas of the cottage as you will see.
In the back addition, I expected things to lay out without issue. Our goal was to create a wide center hallway from the kitchen to the back door. This hallway would allow room for a small bench and hooks for towels and other gear and be wide enough so that it doesn’t feel like a tunnel. The guest bedroom would be on the left side and a bathroom would be on the right size large enough to also house the laundry and storage closet.
In reality, we don’t have as much space as we thought. Yes, the addition is big in comparison to the main cottage but it’s still not a large space.
After a lot of back and forth, measuring, redesinging and some creative solutions, we have finalized the basic floor plan.
The center hallway wont be wide enough for a bench but it will be wider than a normal hallway which will still allow us to put hooks along one wall for towels and gear.
When leaving the kitchen the guest bedroom door will be immediately on the left. This will be a rolling barn door so there is no door swing. This will also add some character to the long hallway.
The guest bedroom will not have a traditional closet. Instead we will build two built-in closet cabinets on either side of a day bed that will open up to a queen size bed when in use. The room isn’t wide enough to comfortably fit a queen size bed so this option means it’s only tight when in use by visiting guests. (More on this plan later.)
On the other side of the hallway directly across from the guest bedroom door is another small hallway which will house the stacked laundry. This hallway will also allow us to keep the hatch in the floor to access the utility room in the basement.
By making this hallway, we also gained the needed wall space to fit a vanity, shower and toilet in the bathroom. The one thing we wont have is a true closet for linens but I have some ideas for in the bathroom and since this is just a vacation house, I don’t anticipate needed as much storage as I would want / need at home.
The bathroom door will be a pocket door. The one we saved from the framed in bathroom that was there. Like the barn door we plan to put on the guest bedroom door, this will save space by not having a door swing.
In the kitchen, we added a penninsula, B’s idea, so that there is seating on the living room side to hang out. This also gave us some additional counterspace.
We will try to reuse the sink that was in the cottage, one of the only original things that was left. The frig will have to go on the other side of the door but this will gain us some additional cabinetry for storage and for dining, we’ll build a bench and find a pedestal table to eat at.
In the living area, the only real change from our original vision is the stair configuration. We originally wanted to rotate the stairs to the outside wall but after our last trip down to work, I hated to mess up the window and preferred how it felt to have the stairs turn part way up so they still allow more room upstairs for the next phase of the project but don’t take away the window on the first floor.
Figuring out the floor plan took several days and several attempts at fitting everything in but in the end, we are pleased with how it turned out. With the floor plan finalized, we are finally ready to start moving forward.