Growing for Family

Here's how Southern Living Executive Editor Derick Belden transformed his 900-square-foot cottage into a comfortable home.
Derick Belden

Renovation and construction can be trying, especially if your wife is six months pregnant and you live in the house while it's going on. I should have known better, but in the end it all worked out.

When my wife, Aimee, and I found out that we were having a baby, our two-bedroom, one-bath house suddenly felt a whole lot smaller. Since purchasing our home in the spring of 1997, we had talked about adding on many times, but we never followed through because of financial concerns or a general lack of need. During the three years we had been in the house, however, I had never stopped coming up with new schemes to enlarge our living space, so much so that I feared Aimee had grown tired of hearing about all my different ideas.

Like many families, the imminent arrival of a baby changed our needs. Suddenly, what to do with the house became a top priority. We had two options: Add on or move. After looking at other houses, we found that our price range really didn't buy a larger house, or if it did, we didn't like the location. So we stepped back, thought about it, and decided to stay put and enlarge what we had.


Design Process
I pulled out my old sketches and ideas from the past three years. We knew that we needed a master bedroom and second bath and that we didn't want to alter the recently renovated kitchen. That left going out one side of the house or going up. I played with both ideas but determined we wouldn't be able to live in the house through the construction if we went up.

Many of my early sketches showed a gazebo-type structure on the back corner of the lot connected to the main house via a long hall. To save money, I tried to work the master bedroom onto the house in some way, but Aimee didn't want to step from the living room directly into a bedroom. As the plan evolved, we decided to add a family room. It provided a nice buffer between the existing living room and proposed master. Including the family room was more expensive, but it offers space for our family to grow and will give us additional years in the house.

My main design concern was to ensure the new structure fit with the original house. Many additions are simply tacked on, ruining the house and rendering the original rooms obsolete. I wanted to enhance and update the space we had, but I knew the new rooms should flow with the existing house and fit the neighborhood.

To achieve our goals, Aimee and I planned carefully and made our selections wisely. We studied books and magazines for inspiration, then researched how we could get the desired look without going over budget. Now, more than a year and a baby later, we have a home that's perfect for our growing family.