Catherine’s Living Space Problem – Part 1

Catherine from Squamish, BC writes to John and Matthew with her design problem.

“Hi John and Matthew.

After attending your seminar a few years back and working through the Slow Home problems online I’ve finally got my own Slow Home issues to play with!

My husband and I purchased a home in Squamish, BC – what we plan to make our retirement home. It’s got all the Slow Home appeal – walking and cycling distance to shops, services and the weekend farmers market. It’s a home built in the 80′s that has never been remodelled in an established neighbourhood. The other thing it has is angles, angles and more angles.

The design seems to be centered around a huge fireplace in the middle of the living space which creates angle chaos through the rest of the house. Any thoughts? I’ve got the tracing paper you sent and have been straightening out walls. I’m attaching some snaps and my first design idea. I’m just not certain how it will affect the flow to straighten everything out.

Hope to hear from you! Take Care in Calgary.
Catherine and Greg (formerly of Bridgeland)”

  • Srdan Nagy

    HiThanks Catherine and Greg for sharing this interesting project with us! :)
    So, at the beginning I would like to share some thoughts with you all… It seams to me that despite reasonable size of this house it is in fact only a one bedroom house because “spare room” is a bit small to call it a second bedroom. In fact “mud room” is larger then it. Despite numerous strange angles the house has some great features, from lovely exterior and garden that J&M mentioned to interesting open attic…
    Trough my design work I didn’t managed to redo the whole floor plan within its current limits and add decent second bedroom, it just doesn’t work… so I just extended the house to fill out those odd cutouts in front of family room and on one side of the kitchen (not sure if this wall can be moved… ), I also extended the second bedroom (ex mudroom) to the garage by some 4′, so it will need to be extended (or just buy smaller car)… :-)


  • Philmi7

    I agree with Srdan, this house looks big but the very challenging.

    I tried to keep the same foot print, and made some sacrifices; no closet at garage entry, only 1 bathroom, closed the window in kitchen for more counter space.

    excuse the rough drawing

    good luck,


  • Srdan Nagy

    Mike, an interesting option, good work…. 
    Just one thing, bathroom is facing the entrance…. hmmm some screen or smart planting will be needed… still great option…. :)

  • MidAmericaMom

    Hi just trying to figure out what they are looking for- if possible.

    Any idea where the support beams/walls are?  
    Are they in the budget for total interior gut and moving of utility lines or?
    What rooms do you want in the end?  Right now you have: 
    2 bed, family, kitchen, formal room, 2 bath and mud.

    How often and how long do you have visitors? 
    Any future considerations (having kids or returning ones – wheelchair
    access if you plan on staying in the house etc)?


  • Srdan Nagy

    Hi,So as I promised here is my second option. But first few remarks regarding the design:
    _ I looked really hard at the images you posted and concluded that roof line has a simple rectangular outline, so those two cutouts are in fact only the cutouts that are subtracted from the overall roof outline. 
    That helps because we can now eliminate those cutouts. One in the current family room, we just move the wall to line up with the rest of facade. In the kitchen, we add new wall with proper foundation, and then remove the existing kitchen wall…. Simple…
    _I insist on this for two reason: It eliminates numerous unnecessary angles that do nothing good to the space… and second, it makes space “cleaner” and more functional. It seams that house requires removal of all internal walls so this intervention to remove the cutouts is small part of total work.
    _Discussion regarding the roof supports was really helpful, I included all that information in my design, so it takes into account those supports. You can see in my drawing (with existing condition underlayed and new design in green), I made a sketch of possible roof lines and according to that, position of  the supports. As in new design wall that sits in the middle of the house is removed, I added a necessary supports (marked in red).
    _On that drawing you can see that bedroom portion and kitchen portion of the same facade don’t line up… I think that is just a mistake in floor plan…. I didn’t extend the bedroom…. 

    And regarding the design:
    _Mudroom remained the same as in the first design (it is a good solution)
    _Garage wall remained in the same position as in existing condition
    _You have an office/guest room with murphy bed.
    _Master bedroom has large walk in closet and en suite bathroom. I know that it is a bit on a small size, at least regarding the storage, so I propose to build a custom medicine cabinet (gray rectangle in floor plan) that is 8″ deep (instead of standard 3-4″) so all your stuff can fit.   
    _I added a fireplace, house needs one…. :)
    _This design can be done without intervention to resolve those cutouts… but it will be tight in few spots…

    Hope you like it