How to Improve a House with a Bad Addition


Metamodern Architecture: How to Improve a House with a Bad Addition

“While reviewing a house for improvement, I often get the question “What were they thinking when they did this?”

By Marcia Lyon
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While reviewing a house for improvement, I often get the question “What were they thinking when they did this?”.  The quick answer is “They weren’t thinking”. To refine that answer, people hungry for more space while living in a cramped location typically add a big (wrong proportion for the house) room that further complicates an already dysfunctional floor plan.  Houses have all sorts of problems and one, big addition doesn’t heal the whole house.

Metamodern Architecture. Bad Additions

This ranch home had been modified through the years, resulting in a mish-mosh with one bad addition after another.  I have no idea why, but what must have been the living room was taken over by a full bath addition (A), a half bath (B) and a closet for a water heater (C).  What became the entry (D) doubled as a place for laundry, with a stack washer/dryer in the corner?

The path travels through a ‘stupid wide hall’ (E) to a very narrow dining space (F) the same width as the hall, and a good-sized kitchen (G), which was probably not original to the house.

Three mediocre bedrooms (H, I, J) fill the balance of the original home.

As you can plainly see, there was no place to “live” (unless they put a couch in the hall) until someone added a room (K) to function at the living space.  The addition location was awkward and felt dis-jointed. It was clearly out of proportion with the rest of the spaces.

An outdoor living space added was a deck (L), but the access for cooking and eating out was contrived. The homeowners (not the former remodelers) were out of ideas on how to improve this house and was at a point of remaking the home or moving.  They were hoping that the living/family room addition (K) would not have to be destroyed in the effort to fix this house.

Metamodern Architecture. Bad Additions

Starting at the entry (D), we shortened the un-necessarily long hallway, and created an actual laundry room (M) where the laundry was anyway.  An attractive porch (N) makes visitors feel welcomed. The full bath (A) was left intact and the half bath (B) was enlarged, consuming some of that stupid wide hall (E).

We embraced the living/family room (K) and made it feel like it was intentional, accessed off the entry and the new kitchen (O), which required a 15’ X 15’ addition (P).

Beyond that is a very desirable screened porch (Q), with direct access from the new kitchen.

The space where the old kitchen was, is [ML1] used partially for a generous dining room (R) with four French doors – two operable and two fixed.  Beyond that is a deck (S), inviting people to use and enjoy the backyard.

The balance of that kitchen space is perfect for a new master bathroom (T).  We needed more room to make the master bedroom (H) the right proportion, so we extended out three feet (U).  Now, with more space, we could add more closets.

This home now has all of the features that anyone would want – master suite; two and a half bathrooms; modern kitchen and outdoor living spaces. Given this potential, the homeowners decided that this could be their ideal home and planned to remodel and stay.

Metamodern Designs. Creating Spaces by Marcia Lyon.MARCIA LYON is a professional remodeling designer and freelance writer, producing projects locally and several other areas across the US and Canada. Like Creating Spaces on Facebook! Reach Marcia at; or phone 515-991-1300.   Her website is

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