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Making a worthless room valued.

Nuke's picture

I was sitting in my family/great room last night thinking, again, about how worthless I found the room. IMO, its a really poor design in every aspect one can imagine. Description:

Rectanglue box shape measuing 16' x 18'. Along the long axis of the room is a dividing ceiling-aspect in which on one side its flat at 18', and the other its about 13' minimum and traverses up a 45º roof pitch to meet the flat section at 18'.

One corner that adjoins a long and short wall is clipped by a 45º disgonal that's about 4' long. Of these two adjoining walls, the long wall has 4' space dedicated to returns, and the short wall has a +10' opening into the nook/kitchen.

The other long wall has two sets of double-windows pushing to the very edge near the adjoining corner (b!tch to hang drapes) with a drop-in token fireplace. The HVAC registers are directly beneath the windows.

This leaves one of four walls with no windows, doors, or HVAC registers or returns, but one corner is a loss due to the adjoining wall's HVAC and window.

Acousticly, the room is a mess because of the volume and shape of the room. The long wall with the windows/fireplace faces the southwest and get's a ton of sunlight. Summertime TV-watching is impossible even with dark purple drapes on the windows. Way too bright.

Because of the locations for the HVAC registers/returns, trying to place furniture to not block forced-air flow is difficult. I wanted a high-elevation great room and got it. Only problem is that aside everything else was bad. How would you save this room?

(post #175862, reply #1 of 12)

Do you have any photos you could post?

Off hand I'd say you can salvage the room--depends on how much money you are willing to spend as to how much change you can make.

Things that spring to mind from your message are: Removing some of the windows, especially at the corners where they interfere. Perhaps using accordian-fold panels to cover windows when you are viewing TV. Perhaps framing a sloped ceiling where the flat one is so the space is more balanced and looks like the ceiling is a cathedral ceiling following the slope of a roof with the peak above the center of the room.

I'd try to move the fireplace, if at all possible, or re-do it so it is one of the focal points of the room. (I would place it, if at all possible, centered as much as possible on a short wall with the mantel having some nice decorative surface and extending up to the peak of the ceiling. (Draw the eye away from the windows, especially in winter.) Some people incorporate the fireplace with an entertainment center that conceals a TV when it's not in use.

You may also be able to do something with the opening to the kitchen--flank the opening with columns or some other treatment or have louvered doors to at least partially close it off, etc..

These are just off the cuff ideas. Photos would help. I'm sure though that it can be made more attractive and more useful. Even things like wainscoting, or nitches or cabinets or furniture placement, carpet or rugs in part of the space and so on will change it quite a bit. Oh, as far as drapes--maybe even hang them from the ceiling and perhaps leave the corner windows covered by the drapes even when the drapes are open--a cheap way to eliminate those windows.


Edited 12/9/2005 7:50 am ET by Danno

(post #175862, reply #2 of 12)

I thought I had more pics stored online than I actually found. Here are a couple of exterior shots I did happen to find stored online for linking ...

I took these for online quotes when I had the house painted this past Spring. The second photo can give you an idea of the interior space. Simply trace a vertical line, starting a little less than half way from the rear wall. Trace the line upwards until it intersects with a ceiling line the window above the garage is located. Notice there will be a flat and angled roof resulting.

In the first photo, you can see how tight those windows are, and the relative locality of the fireplace. I really wasn't looking into re-framing a home--its just not worth it.

Edited 12/12/2005 6:30 am ET by Nuke

(post #175862, reply #3 of 12)

I see what you're talking about. Looks like the fireplace would be hard to change too. One thing I thought of was bumping the windows out that flank the fireplace--make them like bay windows or windows with window seats. The guy I work with frowns on that because it's hard to insulate the bottom part of them. I think that could add some interest and then you could have decorative maybe pierced wood or metal screens with fabric and insulation towards the outside that you could close over the bumped out windows--held in place with Velcro or toggles. That would accentuate the fireplace.

The other framing I talked about with the ceiling wouldn't be that bad, but would involve adding drywall, which not everyone likes to do.

But, like I said, things like wainscoting, chair rail and niches are pretty easy to do and can add some interest. Even a (fireproof) throw rug in front of the fireplace, or a big rug to act as an island to anchor a furniture arrangement might help. Lighting , like wall sconces, can help too.

I think if you took care of the windows and made some sort of opaque panels to cover them, you could at least watch TV. Window treatments could really change the way the room looks.

(post #175862, reply #4 of 12)

Sounds like you should burn the place down...

Seriously, you can get window shades that have metal foil inside the honeycombs, and they let zero light in. When my daugther was young, she had a west-facing room with a big (5x8) window, and we bought these show she could go to sleep at 8pm in the summer.

Also, can you punch a couple of windows in that blank end-wall of the house?

Good luck.


(post #175862, reply #5 of 12)

I have thought one more than one occasion to burn this cookie-cutter house down. It would be easier doing that, going to jail for arson, serving my time, etc. than trying to sell it. BTW, average resale time in this neighborhood is two years. I got this from 6-7 homes having been on the resale market for 4-5 years and two that got sold in one year.

I do chalk this all up to first-time buyer mistakes, ignorances, etc. and lack of consumer protections by the building inspector, etc., etc., etc. and I consider myself much more laerned, experienced, and wise for the revelations and discoveries over the past five years.

(post #175862, reply #6 of 12)

You have a  good take on it.

I think of hte first house I bought in two ways - where I added some skills (electrical, plumbing, cabnetry) and a very clear picture of what I would not buy again!

Best of luck.



(post #175862, reply #7 of 12)

Nuke, I can't open your photos, so I can't see what you have.  I have a long narrow awkward room and can't figure out what the heck the builder/architect was thinking.  Unless you are going with structural changes, or torching, decorating might be the solution. 

The concept would be to divide the room with furniture placement (I know the vents...) area rugs, and fabric.  It's usually better to float furniture than place it against the wall as a rule.  There is probably accoustical paint out there as well.  I have many problems with my room and still struggle with some issues myself.  I'm still working on them after many years myself.

In my case, treating the room as two spaces has been helpful, using an area rug to define each area.  Rugs and/or carpet can help the accoustics as can fabric window treatments and good sized upholstered furniture.  The TV issue is best if it can be on the light facing outdoor wall.  And, if so inclined and the space is compatible, you could resource the room to another function.  For example, maybe other living areas would be conducive to an every day living situation, whereas this area could be converted to the unused formal areas many of us have.  If so, be mindful that sunlight is fading to many fabric colors, particularly blue.  There is also accoustical wall covering out there - just make sure it meets your local fire code.

Don't know that this helps diddly-squat without being able to see photos, but just provided as food for your imagination.  Maybe you'll get a little idea here or not.   Good luck to you and I sincerely hope you can enjoy your great room as the room you want in the end.

(post #175862, reply #8 of 12)

Sorry, I forgot those online photos were located on a server I was getting ready to close. Let me take some new photos today and I'll post them. In order for them to not be big in file size, I'll use compression. On the exterior shot(s), I'll use Microsoft Paint to give an idea where interior walls/ceiling are. Please stand by ...

(post #175862, reply #10 of 12)

How would you save this room?

I'd put a pool table into it.

(post #175862, reply #11 of 12)

I don't play pool, but thanks for the idea. Currently the room also has a 65" widescreen RPTV that also serves to dminate what little wall/floor space there is.

(post #175862, reply #12 of 12)

Go to the nearest Design, Architecture School and offer a rewarded contest  to  starving design students to redesign the interior.  You could probably get amazing results on modern CAD systems for a semi-generous monetary reward.