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Changing layout of 1930s semi - what works / what doesn't?

(26 Posts)
MarvinKMooney Sat 05-Mar-16 19:25:13

We live in a 1930 semi and we need to make the house work better for us.

Currently, the living room and dining room are knocked into one running from the front to the back of the house, with a french door out onto the garden.

The typically titchy kitchen has a conservatory tacked onto the end of it (about 3m square). The conservatory is freezing in winter and boiling hot in summer and the kitchen itself is very dark.

We have the original 1930s garage down the side, which is currently a store for bikes, half empty pots of paint, and the washing machine (which won't fit into the kitchen!).

We've been in the house several years now, and really need to make it work. We love the area and the schools are great, so we don't really want to move. (Any buying a house already 'done' would be far more expensive that doing it ourselves, I reckon).

Our initial thoughts are to reinstate the wall between the living and dining room with double doors in it. The front room would be the living room. We'd then knock through between the kitchen and garden end of the living room to make a kitchen / diner across the back. We'd like to look into the option of incorporating the garage, with the back 2/3 being absorbed into the kitchen, and the front 1/3 being for bikes (and a lot less clutter!).

Haven't got a clue what to do with the conservatory - perhaps flatten completely, or make it more 'permanent' looking with a tiled roof. It has access out onto the garden, so perhaps it could be used as a playroom while the kids are small.

So, those are our ideas. Extending out the back would be wonderful, but we don't really have the cash for that right now.

Have you done something similar? What did you do that really worked for you? Is there anything you wished you had done differently? Any hints / tips, anything to avoid?? Thanks!

wowfudge Sat 05-Mar-16 19:55:24

Is the garage the full depth of the house or not?

MarvinKMooney Sat 05-Mar-16 20:11:09

It's in line with the original line of the house at the rear, and is about 4 ft short of the house line at the front. It's probably about 15ft long by about 7ft wide.

MarvinKMooney Sat 05-Mar-16 20:13:46

No - more than that. About 20ft long. Sorry!

Karcheer Sat 05-Mar-16 20:31:27

Is the garage on the kitchen side?

RandomMess Sat 05-Mar-16 20:34:53

Yes to reinstate the doors between diner and lounge and then knock through diner to kitchen.

Need to explore garage options more as well though...

Could that be a play room & utility room
Do you have garden space for a shed for bikes?

MuddhaOfSuburbia Sat 05-Mar-16 20:47:20

we live in similar but haven't knocked anything down- just stuck an extension in the loft

I'd do what you're doing- have living room and dining room separate but knock the kitchen through but I can't because I've spent all the money

MuddhaOfSuburbia Sat 05-Mar-16 20:50:36

ooh and a utility room instead of conservatory

that way you can keep the kitchen area smallish so it doesn't encroach too much on dining space

chocolatepudandchocolatesauce Sat 05-Mar-16 20:57:50

We have kept the living and dining room separate. We knocked down the garage and shoved on a massive two storey extension, so now have a full length kitchen/diner and two more bedrooms upstairs. We had a downstairs loo under the stairs amd a larder cupboard which were knocked out to make the new entrance into the kitchen. The miliscule kitchen will be a utility room with loo, and what was the original dining room a man cave to hide all the crap the husband hoards. Would like a conservatory but this would be total overkill!!!

I think for you it would be best to reinstate the wall between the living and dining room and make a kitchen diner. If you could convert the garage that would give good additional living space, a play room is always nice so you arnt tripping over lego all evening.
My neighbours have taken down all the interior wall so the downstairs is totally open plan - do not do this!!!

MuddhaOfSuburbia Sat 05-Mar-16 21:05:56

My neighbours have taken down all the interior wall so the downstairs is totally open plan

this looks lovely imo BUT it makes for difficult family living

it's ok at centerparcs for a weekend but I really don't want to listen to anime soundtracks, big band theory repeats and instagram idiocy all day long- you need some space to get away (we've been stuck indoors today- can't you tell grin- I'm in the dining room with the dogs)

MuddhaOfSuburbia Sat 05-Mar-16 21:06:41

big bang


actually big band theory sounds like an improvement

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Sat 05-Mar-16 21:07:11

I have a kitchen diner across the back and the front sitting room seperate and I like that layout. Works for us.

Bobcat15 Sat 05-Mar-16 21:23:52

Sounds exactly like our 1930s house. Almost every one on our street has knocked through to the dining room from the lounge yet still kept their tiny kitchen. Instead we kept our lounge as it is and knocked through the galley kitchen and dining room. We blocked up back door and dining room door and just have the one door going into kitchen and original dining room patio doors to get outside. It's a now gorgeous family kitchen with room for loads of worktop space, American fridge freezer, dining table and chairs and an armchair. Absolutely love it and makes so much more sense layout wise. We're not entirely sure what to do with the garage yet but to make it more attractive in the garden we painted it all white and attached lots of colourful wall pots with geraniums in. Google images of sail shades in conservatories - might be cheap way to keep it cooler in summer rather than investing in bespoke blinds.

copperpipes Sat 05-Mar-16 21:28:36

i think some 1930s houses are just a bit too small (well, ours was) to have totally open plan. i know so many people with 1930s semi homes and if youre not adding a large extension on the back, the best way is to keep the dining and living room separate. i love having a "front" room to escape to.

just my opinion on converting the garage, round here, houses are more in demand if they have the garage as a garage but i suppose it depends on how long you are planning to stay. maybe ask an estate agent if your town has helpful ones (we brass necked asked when we made alterations/extended and they were happy to advise).

copperpipes Sat 05-Mar-16 21:32:19

we still have our tiny galley kitchen and are thinking to extend it just enough for a few extra cabinets and a breakfast bar or small eating area - desperate to have even one room downstairs that isnt joined on to the party wall.

FingerOFudge Sat 05-Mar-16 21:32:30

we replaced our old crappy conservatory. Rather than having doors we opened the whole opening up, extended the wall along one side for the entire length of the new conservatory and half way up the other side - so it's more of a large L shaped window at the end of a proper room than a conservatory really. This meant we could have a radiator in that room too. The roof is glass but of some cover material that lets in light but regulates the heat and UV coming through. It's made the kitchen much much lighter and is now a proper kitchen diner with an area for a sofa and plants at the end. It seems very spacious now, but the footprint is only a couple of feet longer than it was before. The old conservatory was very draughty and cold in the winter, whereas now it's lovely. I definitely recommend it!

Itscurtainsforyou Sat 05-Mar-16 21:34:28

We built a single storey extension on the back which is a big kitchen diner. Kept front/back living rooms separate, have glass doors between back room and kitchen. Old small kitchen is now utility ( also with door into new kitchen). Also fitted a downstairs loo.

We also built over the drive to get an extra bedroom.

skippy67 Sun 06-Mar-16 09:41:17

We reinstated the wall between the front room and dining room. We have a large kitchen diner which runs across the back of the house and leads into the dining room. We split the garage, so the front of it is used for storage of bikes etc, the back of it now houses a study and downstairs loo. We also have done a loft conn.

wowfudge Sun 06-Mar-16 11:04:25

I would reinstate the wall between the living and dining rooms then look at reconfiguring the back of the house.

With a garage on the side there is the space, should you or a future owner need it, to extend above the garage. Personally I wouldn't convert the garage to living space, I think you lose valuable storage unless you have cellars instead.

You could extend at the back to wrap around the back corner of the house on the ground floor with a pitched roof, giving you a much better sized kitchen diner and space for things like a separate utility room and study area. You can still have the under stairs cupboard for a loo or coat storage.

MiaowTheCat Sun 06-Mar-16 11:41:27

Our house is late 1920s. We've got the living room and dining room knocked through as have most houses in this area to be honest - and I love the light that that allows through and think it would be quite pokey without that.

We've just knocked through partially the kitchen into the dining room area so the ground floor flows like an L shape - the hall and stairs are separate (our under stairs cupboards still open outside in these houses as the old coal stores) and then the kitchen fits in at the bottom of the L. I quite like that - but our kitchen has been previously extended before we bought the house (again pretty much all of them have been around here) as the original kitchens were shoebox sized. We've got a really good new conservatory on the back and resited the radiator we lost from taking the wall down into it - and it's definitely useable all year around as a result. I quite like how it's worked out now we're getting finished with it, the kitchen is still really part of the house as I used to hate feeling exiled while washing dishes, but doesn't quite dominate the way it would if it was fully open plan. Two things I'd do if we had the money and I had more tolerance for building mess (after the last year I haven't at the moment) would be to take the chimney breasts out as that means we get really limited in space in terms of how we can arrange furniture, and put a porch on the front of the house to avoid the endless mountain of wellies and coats and pushchairs dumped in our tiny hall.

The conservatory is my "piss off kids I want a cup of tea in peace" escape room!

MarvinKMooney Sun 06-Mar-16 17:59:29

Thanks for your replies! Really interesting reading.

I definitely want to have a 'front room' that can be closed off in the evenings, and to knock through across the back. As a PP said, whoever is cooking / washing up always feels isolated from everyone else, but I wouldn't go completely open plan.

To answer a couple of questions: yes, the garage is on the kitchen side of the house. Our house is the left hand semi as you look at the front of the house from the street, with the kitchen on the left at the back of the house. We don't have any cellars, and we are looking to convert the loft into another bedroom.

Good point about checking whether getting rid of the garage is a good move. We live in a cul de sac and we have off-road parking for two cars. Our garage is too narrow for a modern car, so we've never used it for that purpose, and many houses round here are the same. Unfortunately, we can't build sideways to make a wider garage, as we're already up against our boundary on that side.

We don't have any other access round to the rear of our house (currently we have to go through the garage), so our bikes would need to be accessible from the front of the house.

I just don't know what to do with the garage. If we put a door into it from the kitchen, we lose valuable wall space for units etc. If we open the whole thing up, we have to access the garden through the kitchen - including pulling green bins through, etc etc.

Miaow - when you say you've partially knocked through, how does that work? Have you left some wall in place? And is your conservatory at the back of the kitchen, or in line with the dining room at the rear?

Madelinehatter Sun 06-Mar-16 18:57:52

Any plans we can see?

I too have a 30s semi and thinking of knocking dining room into kitchen.

RandomMess Sun 06-Mar-16 19:29:02

The garage.

You make it longer - front half storage for bikes & wheelie bins - can even keep the garage door if you prefer

Back half is your kitchen extension with French doors etc.

yomellamoHelly Sun 06-Mar-16 19:50:57

Friends of ours have similar footprint, but no garage. The conservatory has been replaced with a small extension covering that area and the wall between the original kitchen and dining room knocked down. Kitchen in whole of original kitchen / extension area with a peninsula over some of the opening. Front room is separate. Is a really nice space.
When looking for a house we saw a couple where they'd knocked the kitchen through into the back of the garage (and then had a utility / WC in the middle space) with nothing on the back.
Our garage doesn't come far enough back to be accessed from the back of the house (would mean a 5 foot high door) so not an option.

MiaowTheCat Sun 06-Mar-16 19:52:46

We've kind of left the top wall and a bit of the side wall in place so it's like a squared off C shape onto the side of the dining room. Conservatory is on the back of the dining room but I kind of wish we'd done across the whole back now (but our kitchen was already extended and had one of the longest old extensions in the street so the space gain would have been minimal). Our house is a bloody arkward layout to do much with basically - but the community is what kept us here (we rented in the street originally)

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