How to max out living space.

2018 Idea House in Austin, Texas Front Exterior Curb Appeal
Credit: Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

There's a lot to be learned from our 2018 Idea House renovation. We hired architect Chris Sanders to turn an outdated, four-bedroom, three-bath house from the 1980s into a spacious four bedroom, four and a half bath, updated family home without any additions. Learn his reasoning behind how he draws a floor plan for today's living and then, buy his exact plan, The Ridge Number 1973!

2018 Idea House First Floor Plan
Credit: Southern Living

Create a Central Hub

Before, the main rooms were located in the middle of the house and were closed off to each other. To create a more livable, light-filled floor plan, Chris shifted the kitchen to the middle of the home and opened it up to a family room, which neighbors the sunroom that leads outside to the porch.

Redefine the Master Suite

Previously, the entry to the master suite was to the left of the fireplace in the family room. To provide more privacy and add a window in the bedroom, Chris created a sitting area on the porch side of the room and placed the door there. These changes also made space for a roomier closet and bath.

Fit in a Half Bath

One of the most expensive and dramatic changes revolved around adding the half bath. Like a puzzle piece, the powder room fits into the same block of wall that the pantry occupies between the mudroom and sunroom. This addition was costly because the contractors had to cut into the slab foundation to install the plumbing, but the expense should be recouped in the resale value.

2018 Idea House Second Floor Plan
Credit: Southern Living

Enlarge the Upstairs Bedrooms

The home's original builder had not pushed the walls in the children's bedrooms as far back as they could go. So this team reframed the walls out to the eaves, capturing an extra 75 square feet for each room.

Eke Out Two Full Baths

Jack-and-Jill baths are ideal for young siblings but may not work as well when kids get older. Chris divided the shared shower-and-toilet area into two separate showers and toilets. Space was tight, so he placed the sinks in alcoves located in each of the bedrooms.