Recent News
Monday, November 12, 2012

Elevation modifications - Part I

Many of you who've posted modifications, additions, etc, no doubt has been a great help.  Adding a bar, french doors to the study, additional basement windows, these are the kind of thing RH doesn't outright discourage, but really doesn't encourage either.  OK, that's fine, I've grown accustomed to their business model.  But. I do recall working with another builder (before settling with Ryan Homes), where I got the impression customizations are welcome, even on the scale of moving rooms around, like creating a guest wing. or dropping in a mud room with a mud tub.

"We'll provide you anything from standard, to Rockefeller..." I was once told!  No, that wasn't a Ryan Homes quote.  The reality is, however, cookie-cutter doesn't always cut it.  Homes are unique, and the way the templates are laid out, don't always fit our unique lifestyles.

One of the characteristics of the Rome I still dislike, is the Study.  Some of you will probably make it into just that, an office of some type, and I'll probably do the same, but the flow of it, the size of it, is in my opinion, an architectural after-thought.  Also, I strongly dislike the HVAC duct that cuts through the kitchen, all the way through the family room.  I'm sure there is a need for it, but it diminishes the refinement of that space.

Today, while working on my Family Room render (updated!), I started to see a possibility that could mask the HVAC duct, at least how it spans deep into the family room.  This idea isn't "Rockefeller" but it does require some level of customization that would turn the family room into something a little less boxy, a little more cozy, and perhaps a little more stately.

When you walk into the house, and just pass the stairwell, you enter the family room on the left, and kitchen on the right (reversed layout).  There is about 3' 3" of drywall, duct-work, consuming a portion of the living room ceiling, and extending the full length of the inner wall.  Rather than take an immediate left past the stairwell to then step into the family room, instead, extend the hallway wall 3' 3" so the duct is hidden from view.  For the 3' 3" of extra hallway, why not add a recessed hall wall, or alcove, with a marble ledge, and all the trimmings to display your finest vase, or that trophy art piece?

But that's not enough to make it worthwhile.  The real benefit of extending the wall, would be to create an additional recessed wall in the Family Room to nestle a home for semi-exposed custom cabinetry, entertainment center, or a combination thereof.

Additionally, this could increase the size of the Study, and make it a Den. or perhaps even a first-floor Guest Room!

All of this, however would be at the cost of Family Room real estate; but the loss of 3' does not seem like much.  Putting the idea to work, I decided to draft it up...

With the plan above, the Family Room is definitely smaller, maybe even too small now.  And, though it isn't shown yet, the fireplace would be a bit cramped against the far wall, especially with the window next to it.  But, the Study gets a bit larger, and also gets a closet!  This extra space also might even make for a new Guest Room!

Thoughts always welcome...



  1. Today I managed to get a fireplace added, with some warmer, comfy pillow sofas, curtains, moldings, chair rail, and a few other enhancements. Also, I went out to the Shady Banks Rome model and took a lot of photos around the HVAC duct, foyer, and how they have their ceiling constructed. When I walked into the Family Room, and sized up that 3' 3" duct in the ceiling, it was quite clear dropping a wall that far into the Familiy Room would turn cozy into cramped, especially with the monolithic custom cabinetry I designed. But, dropping a wall half way in might work! Given this approach, I'd protrude the entertainment center wings out from the recessed wall maybe 8" or so, then the center cabinet out another 8", and with the width of the crown molding, I'd try to make the center cabinet flush with the edge of the duct wall above.

    Sadly, now the alcove might not work with the limited wall space between the Family Room and the stair well. Also the Study loses the closet I created.

    All these changes, wouldn't seem to cost too much, if anything, (custom cabinetry excluded of course), since it's just framing and drywall. I might run the idea past my PM to see what he thinks.

  2. What a great idea for the space. I would only worry about whether or not that is a load bearing wall. But either way it is LOADED with HVAC, plumbing, and electrical. If you would like, I can send you a pre-drywall picture of that wall so you can see what all is in there. As for us, we turned the study into a workroom with a door out to the garage and added stairs. It doesn't leave as much room in the garage, but is great for the hubby who has a lot of tools and makes for easy access. The Victoria Falls model has the space as part of the garage, but the Rome does not and Ryan would not allow us to do this through them. We also added extra insulation in the study so we could have the door open to the garage in the winter without impacting the rest of the house.

  3. My thought is that if it is a load bearing wall, it could still be that way, since the part that is load bearing would still be there. Yes, I'd love the picture! So then are you saying you have two entrances from the garage... if so, that is very cool! Thanks for sharing!

  4. That is a really cool idea but to your point, it would definitely cut into the space for the family room. With the size of our families we need all the space we can get when we have get togethers! Love how you've drawn all this out and added great graphic details!

  5. Here are all the behind the walls pictures (with labels)

    Yes, we now have to doors to the garage - check out for pictures.

  6. Those are great pics! Very thorough, and will be useful in case you need to punch in more doors ;)

    I spoke to my PM and pitched my request. He gave me a 1/10 chance of it getting approved. There were two key points that make it a little more difficult, and to his point of view, would require an engineer to look at. 1) I wanted the wall next to the basement door shaved off (to make space for the niche). 2) I wanted the door to the study moved up into the family room along with the rest of the proposed wall.

    To my first point, I'm not engineer, but the extra two studs in the hallway just before entering the kitchen seem unnecessary. Within a couple inches there are 4 studs bearing load. In my opinion, traffic should flow into the kitchen w/o restriction. This photo partially shows it:

    To my second point, I can see this request getting a little more complicated, but I'm sure something could be arranged w/o compromising the structural integrity of the house. Placing 2jks a couple feet inward along that wall should be adequate, and the overhead support for the door, would still fit beneath the hvac.

    Additionally, I felt some hesitation around asking for the niche. I think that is something RH likes to reserve for their upscale models, and something they'd like to charge for (even though it's really a 1/2 a stud extra, and perhaps a little more in drywall materials). I expressed I'd be willing to trim it all pretty, and just a box in the wall would do.

    Anyway, if I get denied, I'll be seeing what can be done to *assist* should I take up a renovation project aftermarket.


Copyright © 2013 Another Rome All Right Reserved