Foray: "An initial attempt outside usual areas of competence."
You may have noticed that I haven't advanced many projects in this forum within the past year or so. I got busy. This thread is to explain what I've been up to...
In March of 2010 I purchased the home I grew up in located in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. I loved the memories there and the 1.28 acres of dense forest also known as "the yard," but I wasn't crazy about the original floor plan. The house was dark, the living areas were cut-up, and the interior inconsistent with an open floor plan 1954-era "Atomic Ranch."
This is the original floor plan of the living room, den, kitchen and porch showing walls between the kitchen, den and living room. The den is quite small. There is also a small formal dining area which was part of the living room divided by a useless brick planter.
The house faces north. The southern windows in the den and kitchen were very small, the kitchen unorganized, and the breakfast nook kitchen dining area cut up by appliances and a pantry. The washing machine was also located in the kitchen.
The cook wall ran between the den and kitchen making the den very small. Checkout that Tappan Fabulous 400 stove.
This was the sink wall. Two small windows face south, one above the sink and one in the small breakfast nook.
The breakfast nook also contained a pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. There is an exterior door to the screened-in porch.
Adding light, space and energy
I had to find a way to get light to enter and flow through the house. This required adding windows to the south and opening up the wall into the living room to permit light flow-through from the north picture window to the den. A book case, two side closets and a load-bearing wall were in the way.
1954 construction photos make me think my Dad may have thought of the same thing.
My Dad designed this house in 1954 and had it contracted by my uncle, Nolan Raye. The house was stick-built in under 6 months. The plans are dated February, and by August, my family had moved in. My Dad took a few pictures of it being built.
The house was built in wilderness.
I found the 1954 photos after I started planning. One photo stood out: It was the only image my father took from the inside and it was looking through the house. This picture's vantage point is from the living room looking through the den wall and unfinished opening for the fireplace chimney to the outside. My Dad saw something there that day and was apparently inspired enough by what he saw to take that shot.
In the next photo my brother Vic (as a five-year-old) stands in the front yard. Vic recalls what it was like to stand on the sub floor before the house framed and - without walls - look at the woods. He mentioned that to me as he looked out the new picture window into the woods.
My mother and two brothers, Byron and Vic, stand in the front yard. In the last photo my Dad looks at some aircraft blueprints or an approach plate. Checkout that long T-square laying on the floor in the background.
To allow light and traffic flow, we took out the book cases and cut an opening into the living room. A large header was added due to the wall carrying ridge and ceiling joist load.
Energy and light could once again flow through the house 56 years after that April, 1954 photograph.
We also took out the wall between the den and the kitchen. It was not load-bearing. This is viewed from the kitchen looking into the den after removal of the wall.
Mike Ramirez, his brother Joe and Oscar deserve a lot of credit for their craftsmanship and advice. I could not have done this without them.
A corridor/galley kitchen was built in what used to be the breakfast nook. The screen porch was enclosed and a sliding glass door to the exterior was added.
This next photo is looking from the living room into the den. The new fireplace veneer was built with hand-cut Austin stone scored to look like stack stone. A large picture window was added where the original sink window was. Virtually all lighting in the house is LED. Retrofitting the existing residential infrastructure for LED lighting is the subject of this thread.
Making the opening work
One of the practical concerns I had in opening up the wall between the living room and the den was privacy. I needed light to flow through the house during the day, but needed privacy at night to block the view from the street, about 120 feet away. I wanted to avoid having to have blinds or curtains on the large front picture window. I decided to use partition doors with diffusion glass. The doors were custom made (thanks CP) to match the strong horizontal lines of the house. Without those doors the opening would not have been practical.
The proscenium on the den side of the wall is original from the 1954 "media center" and contains cove lighting. The doors are not pocketed and reveal on the den side of the wall when open. Two sets of LED wall-washers illuminate the door. One set for when the door is open (and revealed) and the second to provide gentle back lighting when closed.
This is the backyard view from the kitchen sink. There's about another 300 feet of dense woods to the creek.
The rear elevation with new enclosed porch and southern picture window.
Street view July 2012.
We still have a bunch of work to do, build a deck, remodel a bathroom etc.
And I have that LED lighting thread to start... Then, back to electronics.