David and I bought our 864 square foot ranch home in 1998, right after I graduated from college. It was our "starter" home, and we thought we'd be there for 5 years or so before buying something larger that was more "us." A couple years after we moved in, we finished the basement, adding a second bathroom and another bedroom, along with a crafting space and our computer room. A year after that, we added central air. By this time, we had decided we liked life with just the two of us, and since we weren't planning to have kids, we started to rethink the idea of buying a bigger house. Didn't it make more sense to stick with our small mortgage and stay put? After all, the house was just fine for two people.
Then God called us to adoption, and before we knew it, we had added two more people to our little family. Okay, the house seemed a little smaller with two busy boys, but really? We had seen where they came from in Ethiopia, and it just didn't seem fair to think about buying a much bigger house (and going into a lot more debt) when there were so many without.
At the same time, two rooms in particular were really starting to make me feel claustrophobic. Our tiny galley kitchen felt cramped, and as the boys' main in-and-out-constantly access door swung directly into my refrigerator, I found myself losing my temper a few times too many as they came crashing through the door to the garage right as I tried to move something to or from the fridge. There was very little counter space, a wasted soffit area above the minimal cupboards, and I was really starting to regret the fact that we had no dishwasher. Our pocket-sized bathroom had almost no storage, and all of our towels were stored in the base of our bookshelves in our "library" across the hall. All of it was looking very cluttered and dated as well.
In the summer of 2013, I began to sketch out some possible additions to our upstairs. As we started to talk to a contractor, we ruled a couple of things our right away. Some plans were too elaborate and too expensive. Others just didn't fit the rest of our house. After a lot of praying, discussing options, and talking to the bank, we eventually settled on a plan that added 125 sq. feet or so onto the kitchen and upstairs bathroom.
The builders began work on the project in October by digging additional space for our basement in the backyard. They built a temporary wall across what had been my craft space to protect the rest of our finished basement from the mess, and the processes of framing, roofing and pouring cement began. The new kitchen extended about three feet into our garage as well, over what had been a stoop to the old kitchen.
Our temporary wall across the basement.
Smashing out the exterior cement block wall of the basement.
The former stoop in the garage was enclosed to become part of the kitchen.
The enclosed addition onto the back of the house.
By mid November, the old kitchen and bath were ready to be torn out, so we moved our living quarters to the basement. The basement bedroom became our makeshift kitchenette, as well as clothing storage and sleeping space. (Our upstairs bedrooms were closed off and taped shut, to try to keep the dust and dirt to a minimum.) Our computer area became our school room, craft area, eating space, and sleeping space for the boys at night. Our downstairs bathroom was shared with a steady stream of construction guys through the day (and I came to realize how blessed I am to share my home with guys who never put the seat up.) ;-) It was a bit of a fun adventure at first, but then we were in the midst of the holidays, with presents and Christmas cards arriving daily, and no place to cook my offerings of food for family gatherings. Thank goodness for microwaves and crock pots! We used paper products as much as possible, and I drove to my mother-in-law's house to do dishes three times a week. Sintayehu melted down even more than usual, and we spent our evenings looking at appliances and tile samples, and sketching designs for our cabinet maker.
The basement dresser/kitchen counter.
Kitchenette, consisting of the microwave, toaster oven, coffee pot, and crock-pots.
Crafting, eating, schooling, and sleeping area.
The light colored rectangle of subfloor in the middle of this photo is where my kitchen sink used to be.
It seemed like forever, but really, it was only about a month and a half until we were completely moved back upstairs to our new space. The addition to the basement meant that the boys had gained a playroom and a closet for toy storage, so moving all toys to the lower level brought a whole lot less clutter upstairs. My new kitchen has cabinets that go to the ceiling for maximum storage, about three times the counter space, and a DISHWASHER!! The extra space also gives us room for entertaining once in awhile. Our bathroom has a small walk-in shower and a lovely amount of storage for linens and bathroom necessities. (It is such a luxury to have plenty of towels in the bathroom, and a whole drawer to store the stuff I use to get ready every day.)
Basement craft and play area
Yay! My basement school room, returned to normal!
We have our eye on a gorgeous, copper-topped table, but until that fits into our budget, this one opens to comfortable seat 8 people.
After a year, I still love my "new" house. It is the perfect size for the 4 of us, and I marvel that this was accomplished by adding less than a 5 foot width to the back of the house. Sure, my home will never be the show-place that I once dreamed of, but you know what? I'm really okay with that. This is just right for us, and I am so thankful for what I have.