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  • Writer's pictureWestring Construction

Create An Open Concept In An Older Home

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

A classic bungle renovation opens up the space for an active family.

Two, three or four decades ago the “open concept” for home design was a radical idea. Walls and separate rooms for everything were the accepted style. The Madison WI area has a wealth of homes built in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, making it ideal for older home remodel plans to expand indoor horizons.

Modern design includes opening sightlines and taking down walls. Cape Cod, Craftsman and contemporary styles in local neighborhoods are ideal candidates to in interior makeover.

If your home has too many walls, too many nooks and hallways, consider the most popular alternative:

  • Open Living – open up your space with one room for all reasons. Blend your kitchen, dining, entertaining and relaxing spaces into one productive space. Remove walls, add windows and create an entirely new world within a period framework.

Make The Open Concept Work Before you decide to knock out walls, a detailed plan of your existing home is critical. Obtain a floor plan and a builder’s blueprint if you can. Why? Some walls hold up the ceiling or second floor. You cannot take them out without major consequences – and expense. Here are steps to consider:

  • Visualize the space – look at the plan and “erase” walls that open up the scenic value of the interior. Consider where new windows and doors bring in natural light and the outdoor atmosphere. How will people move from one living space to another? With hallways removed in an older home remodel, traffic patterns change.

  • Plan amenities – make an inventory of the furniture you have and ideal additions. Art work and some furnishings won’t work without a wall behind it.

  • Get technical – consult a remodeling professional with experience with period renovations. Initiating and open concept in an older home means relocating heat and AC vents and ducts, changing and adding outlets and light fixtures. A new ceiling configuration changes hot and cold air circulation. Changing the appearance of your home requires a technical upgrade, too.

Make The Most Of An Older Home Remodel A new ceiling, new windows, lighting and improved sightlines all testify to the benefits of an older home remodel. Bringing your older home into the 21st century with an interior makeover makes a classic even better. Opening up the living space provides immediate benefits, including:

  • New, exciting decorating options

  • More living space without changing the building’s footprint

  • New, better lighting – from modern fixtures and new windows

  • More efficient traffic patterns

  • Easier interaction with family and guests

  • Take advantage of the latest style and technology trends

There are four basic methods of gaining additional usable space within the frame work of your existing home. The most obvious is removing walls. That’s the basis for the entire open concept – fewer walls. In addition, ceilings are a priority for not only expanding space but making a personal design statement. Staircases are also prime targets for an older home remodel project. Capping a renovation is a plan to bring in more natural light – new windows, more windows or skylights. Open Concept Begins With Walls Taking out a wall or two immediately opens up the space. However, there’s more to wielding a sledge hammer. Walls often hide plumbing and electrical systems. It takes a professional to do it right. The process includes:

  • Marking mechanical details – plumbing, HVAC, electrical lines, etc.

  • Taking down drywall and studs.

  • Rerouting the mechanicals and duct work.

  • Patch the floor and ceiling where the wall once stood.

You don’t have to take out an entire wall to achieve an open feeling. A half or knee wall opens the sightlines while continuing to define areas. They provide ideal locations for built-in snack bar, extra storage and mechanical systems. A dropped ceiling often caps the walls in older homes. Removing a dropped ceiling can provide anywhere from 6 inches to a couple feet of additional space. If your budget and home’s architecture allows you can adjust ceiling joists and rafters creating a vaulted, coffered or tray ceiling. Your professional contractor knows what it takes and will determine if this major older home remodel idea is possible. Raising the ceiling may not be possible and it will be a major expense – but combined with an updated HVAC system it’s worth it. Open Sightlines And Natural Light

Many of the older homes in the Madison area feature two stories or “a story and a half.” That means stairways. Decades ago stairways were considered unsightly and designers went out of their way to hide them. Today, in keeping with an overall open concept, they have come out of hiding. Renovating older stairways usually includes:

  • Removing the walls that hide the passage and making stairways visiable.

  • Adding free-standing rails.

  • Replacing heavy banisters with modern materials including metal, glass and cables.

  • Depending upon the location, stair risers are removed to make the stairway open and lighter.

Again, changing a stairway is a major structural challenge that requires an expert evaluation and plan. In addition, it is also costly. Let There Be Light When the walls are gone adding daylight makes your new room appear bigger. Modern windows, doors and skylights make it brighter, too. How do you make the most of natural lighting? Consider:

  • Adding larger windows – replace small, inefficient old windows with wider, taller windows boasting high-energy efficiency.

  • Access to outdoors – add French doors or sliding patio doors. These specialty creations make getting to your outdoor living areas easier while bringing in more light than standard doors. Modern versions feature energy-efficient glass and weather seals.

  • Look up – modern skylights and solar tubes bring daylight into spaces where windows aren’t practical. Some have built-in light fixtures, too.

  • Window treatments – make the most of bigger windows with lighter drapes and blinds.

Pros Understand The Open Concept

Westring Construction LLC has the expertise and experience to review all the options for any home remodeling project anywhere in Dane County. It specializes in bringing classic period homes into the 1st century with the latest design and construction technology.

Call Westring Construction LLC at 608-441-5435 or email us to discuss an older home remodel and to see how we make the open concept a reality in Madison WI homes.

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