Last night forecast low was 17F/-8C, but when I went to bed the thermometer read 12.4F/-10.9C, and the power had gone out twice from the high winds. The second time it was out for about a half hour, which was a bit disconcerting. Although we have an oil furnace, the thermostat and ignition are electric. It will be a happy day when we have a masonry heater (Finnish style, rather than one of those Baroque ceramic numbers) and rely primarily on wood.
Today, the National Weather Service was calling for a high of 28F/-2C, but it barely managed to squeeze up to 18F/-8C before I left the house. And I set my mittens down to get something and then walked out of the house without them. Tonight, we're getting single digits. All of it is good incentive to work on the Japanese sweater, which I did for a while last night by candlelight.
Meantime, I am continuing to play around with SketchUp. Look what I've done with the upstairs!
Currently, the rooms on either side are divided up into two smaller rooms, so this plan will necessitate taking out a couple of walls which, IMO, have no good reason to be anymore. I suppose when the Tobey family were raising their eight kids (yes, eight kids, in a 1500 sq. ft. house), it gave them more of a sense of privacy, but for us, it just doesn't work so well. This also moves the east bathroom wall (this is standard N-is-up view) a further foot and a half eastward to allow some rearrangement there. And what is now our TV room/stash storage/retiring room, will, at least theoretically, become a combined office/crafting/retiring room. And the wall dividing off what we're currently using as a giant walk-in closet disappears for a more open bedroom floor plan.
Of course, the plan also requires raising the roofline to create a shed dormer, since the south face currently has only a half-wall and no windows. I hate this for several reasons, but the biggest are that it means we get less light in the winter time and we have poor airflow upstairs in the summer. Also, raising the roofline a bit on that side should open up a bit more attic space, and I really, really think we need to finish the attic to use it for storage. And insulate it a lot better.
Of course, it's much easier to sort it out in a freeware computer program than to come up with the money to execute the plans, but I figure it'll be another 25 years or so before we retire, so there's time. In the meantime, it's a fun exercise to think about how to make the best use of the space we have. David and I are fans of Sarah Susanka and her Not So Big series, and my ideas are largely informed by her ideas, though I'd say that, on some level, it's an aesthetic principle that I already understood intuitively.
In a nutshell, it's about using smaller spaces smartly (intelligent design?) - open floor plans, multi-use spaces, creating spatial divisions with fewer walls, creative approaches to storage, etc. Right now, as I've mentioned, our house suffers from some serious flow issues. Our nominal guest room is cramped and only accessible by navigating through David's very cluttered studio; the studio has no built-in storage; the kitchen is cold, poorly laid out, and only accessible through a very narrow doorway; and because the washer and dryer take up much of our side mud room, which is the main entry we use, the mud room has been essentially shifted into David's studio, which makes it even more cramped. Among other things.
So what I've tried to do is identify changes that will, again theoretically, rectify those problems and leave us with spaces that we actually use, instead of a lot of cluttered, cramped areas that aren't so fun to spend time in. Since it's a very old house that's had a lot done to it over the last 300 years, I'm sure we'll run up against all sorts of unexpected issues, and I'm anticipating needing to consult an engineer at some point to discuss the feasibility of some of our ideas. Still, it's a very intriguing project and one I'm enjoying the hell out of.