How to recover square footabe from the living room

8 Replies

This is a question about how to get the most square footage from the layout. I've been looking at townhomes with between 800-1200 sq ft. Usually the front door opens into the living room and the stairs. The living room functions essentially as a hallway for traffic up/down and in/out, rendering the living room useless as a place to hang out, unless you want people passing through all the time. Some rehabbers deal with this by opening up the entire space and turning the living room/kitchen/dining room into one space. That works for some people, but it has drawbacks. One alternative I've seen is putting the front door in the kitchen. 

Anyway, my question is how people have dealt with this problem. Is the living room dead space? Is the kitchen a better focal point for the house? Has anybody tried reversing the stairs to land in the kitchen and not in the living room?

I recently bought a duplex in which the stairs to the basement are accessed from the kitchen, which is already a bit small. This layout is very inefficient and inconvenient. I plan to reverse the stairs so that the basement is accessed from a door in the living room / hall way. This will allow me to increase the useable space in the kitchen and improve the access to the basement. 

My situation and house layout may be very different than yours, but in general I would not sacrifice kitchen space or functionality by setting stairs there.

How about moving the kitchen to the front door? Then the front door/stairs dump right into the kitchen, and then "in the back" there's a family room that's functionally separate from the front door/kitchen/stairs. Also, because there's a door/driveway in the back, plus a utility room/potential bathroom area in the back, a suite could be made out of the back area with it's own door. Anybody tried this? How much would it cost to move a kitchen to the front of a 1000 ft townhouse? thanks 

@Dan Nad You should probably talk to your local building dept and HOA before planning anything. Townhouses are a different animal from SFH and you may be very limited in what you can change.

In general though, it would be very difficult and expensive to make some of the changes you're wondering about i.e. relocating a kitchen, and stairs, etc. I would think it better to find a home who's floorplan better suits you. 

Yeah, you're correct. Thanks for responding

Originally posted by @Ron Averill :

I recently bought a duplex in which the stairs to the basement are accessed from the kitchen, which is already a bit small. This layout is very inefficient and inconvenient. I plan to reverse the stairs so that the basement is accessed from a door in the living room / hall way. This will allow me to increase the useable space in the kitchen and improve the access to the basement. 

My situation and house layout may be very different than yours, but in general I would not sacrifice kitchen space or functionality by setting stairs there.

I moved my stairs in my Madison Heights property.  I added about 36 sq ft to the kitchen.  Its awesome now.  It was a lot of work.  I was planning on living in it but now I don't

Originally posted by @Dan Nad :

How about moving the kitchen to the front door? Then the front door/stairs dump right into the kitchen, and then "in the back" there's a family room that's functionally separate from the front door/kitchen/stairs. Also, because there's a door/driveway in the back, plus a utility room/potential bathroom area in the back, a suite could be made out of the back area with it's own door. Anybody tried this? How much would it cost to move a kitchen to the front of a 1000 ft townhouse? thanks 

I would avoid this if possible.  The expense is going to be huge.  You are talking about moving all the plumbing.  Running 3 20amp electrical and also the window heights will be different.

Also I don't think they will let you do this 

Well, it wouldn't necessarily be moving the existing kitchen, so the window heights don't matter. It would be ripping out the old kitchen and putting in a brand new kitchen in a different location. The expense wouldn't be that bad because the kitchen has to be redone anyway. But you're still 100% correct, it's a dumb idea. 

Generally the preference is to have open areas in a house - especially on the main floor.  I think in smaller homes that is even more important.  So I think that is why that combined living room/dining room is so common.  I think you best bet in that size is going to be a kitchen with eat-in space and a combined room with the rest of the space.

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