Living Room Design

click to magnify The current disappointing state of the living room (2 photos).

We spent a little time discussing plans for the living room early in the planning phase of our house renovation, however we really haven't done much to the space apart from incidental work resulting from other re-building projects (and it shows). The plan we settled on isn't anything spectacular, although the result should be a simple, open space that's functional and comfortable. With the removal of the funky old floor-to-ceiling windows in the Southeast corner and entry door from the Southwest corner, the South wall will be occupied by a built-in media center and shelving units. We also decided to completely remove the partition wall between the living room and bedroom, since it's not a bearing wall and really makes the house feel a bit chopped-up. That wall will be replaced with four fusuma doors, and allow us to open the entire interior of the house. In order to create an area to store the sliding doors when they're open, we'll build a sort of "pocket door" wall section in the Southeast corner, which will also serve as the back wall of a tokonoma display alcove for the living room.

The homesote ceiling will be removed and replaced with a framed wood panel ceiling. The existing ceiling joists are quite out-of-level, dropping nearly 4 inches along their length from North to South. As was done in the kitchen, we'll add furring strips to the joists to create a level ceiling plane for the new wood panels, with a finished ceiling height of about 7 feet. Ideally we'd install a ceiling of wide Cedar planks to re-create a proper Sukiya style room, however the cost of the Cedar we'd need to do that is pretty steep. We'll try the wood panels first too see how that looks (I'm thinking light-stained 1/4" Birch plywood with a dark Spruce trim). If we decide to change it at a later date, it shouldn't be a huge project if the ceiling's already level.

click to magnify The basic plan for the new living room.

The existing linoleum tile floor will be removed, along with the first layer of 1/2" plywood subfloor. We'll lay down a new layer of 1/2" OSB sheathing, then finish the floor with "click-lock" laminate wood flooring. We've kicked around the idea of installing a kotatsu in the center of the room, which is a small table that has the floor cut out underneath it so you have a place to put your legs when seated at the table. I really like the idea of building one, since we don't have a dining room and it would provide a decent place to have a meal. In order to get a kotatsu built into the space, I'd need to form and pour a concrete box under the house to support the floor joists and provide a waterproof shell under the table. I'd also need to splice into the existing radiant heat tubing in the floor so I could heat the box area - that would be a pretty serious undertaking, so it's not high on the list of priorities. We'll see...

Building the Living Room

Other than picking at parts of the room while working on other projects (installing the windows, stripping the paneling to use for the genkan ceiling, etc.), I doubt we'll spend much time working on the space this summer. I try to work on exterior projects when the weather is mild, and I'd like to finish the exterior paint and trim work this Summer. We'll likely go after the living room and bedroom this Fall, since we're both tired of living in the mess of a room that exists today.

More photos and updates to follow as work progresses...