Ranch main floor_3D_transparent

Exactly a month ago, Slav and I became owners of the ranch. She’s not fancy by any means – in fact, she was one outdated grumpy. But she is STRONG, and has good bones. Since move-in, we have been chipping away the dated and trimming away the dead. We are making this old granny a classy lady on the block.

To better illustrate our intention for the ranch, I want to give you an overview of the property and the layout. Consider today’s pictures as the “before” tour to the ranch, because we have not done any upgrade yet. All we did was demo, pulling out carpet on the main floorcleaning out the yard, leaving a simpler and cleaner state for future renovations.

And I get to try SketchUp for the first time! Warning: it is addictive, just like the Sims.

The Site Plan of Our Property

Our intention on how to use the interior space is closely tied to the orientation of the house and how it sits on the lot. So it makes sense to take a look at the whole property first.

Ranch Site Plan

Our ranch is west facing, with a front yard on the west of the house and the backyard on the east side. The side yards sits on the northern side and the southern side of the house/driveway. A concrete path wraps around the garage, connecting the front drive way to the backyard porch.

There are also two porches outside of the two exterior doors. Both of them are in good shape, except both porches sunk quite a few inches and towards the house, which could direct rain water to the foundation. It is not a big deal for now, since both porches are protected by metal porch covers. But we plan to correct the sloping issue soon.

Porch cover in front


Porch cover at the back


A pine tree (the small circle) covers the front porch, providing much-needed shade to the living room window in the afternoons. A big apple tree (the big circle) is in the middle of the backyard. The rest of the yard are all sod (and weed). The landscaping option is wide open here.

The Main Floor Layout

If you narrow down to the match box in the site plan above, you can see the floor plan of the main floor. I am only gonna talk about the main floor today, since we intent to keep 95% of our activities to this floor.

Ranch main floorplan_dimensions

The main floor consists of two bedrooms on the northern end (left), a bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen. The two-car garage occupies the southern end of the house (right). During summer days, the house stays relatively cool compared to the garage, which is a big plus. And we will see how it plays out in the winter. Slav will be spending lots of time in the garage, so we plan to insulate it well to prevent it from getting too hot/cold.

The whole main floor is merely 850 sqft, putting on strict restrictions on furniture size and placement. It prevents us from buying any “filler” furniture, and what we get will be multi-functional and well-thought. We aimed for small house on purpose in order to force ourselves to live simple. George Carlin really drilled the “stuff” theory into our heads!

The living space

Ranch main floor_3D

1. Living room; 2. Kitchen; 3. Bedroom; 4. Office. 5. Bath. 6. Stairs to the basement. 7. Two-car garage.

When you walk into the front door, you walk directly into the living room (1), with a picture window and the living space to your right.


The living window faces west, making it a great spot for late dinners. We use our dining table throughout the day – this is where I work on my laptop, open mails, doing small crafts, and have my afternoon tea with some music.

This is the view of the kitchen from living room. The white door leads to the backyard. And the wooden door on the right goes to the garage. With a doorway, two doors and one set of stairs (6 in the floor plan), the current kitchen layout is pretty choppy.


Ranch House - 6


Kitchen is the one room we do not have any clear vision yet – Slav wants the wall between the kitchen and the living room to come down, but we are pretty sure that it is weight bearing. We will also lose precious wall space (which means cabinet space) if we knock down this wall. Kitchen is not on our plans this year, so there is plenty of time to think over. For now, we just want to clean it up, live in it, and slowly get a feel how we want to use it.

The bedrooms

Ranch main floor_3D

In the layout above, both 3 and 4 were used as bedrooms by the previous owner (they have 5 kids!). There are two closets between them, each opens to one bedroom. We chose the smaller bedroom (3) as our bedroom for three reasons: first, it faces the backyard, whereas room 4 faces the street, so it is more private. Second, it faces east. Morning light fills the room and really helps us to wake up naturally. Last, this room shares a wall with the only bathroom (5) on the main floor. We can potentially put in a doorway on the shared wall and create a master suite if we are so inclined.


The other bedroom (room 4) will be converted into an office for Slav (we plan to host guests only in the basement). Slav has been writing grants for living for almost three years now. He always worked from a desk at the corner of our living room, which was rather noisy and distracting. It is a long overdue to give him a space which he can close off from rest of the house. This room also have a west facing window which harvests the last straw of light of the day. Slav is a night person and usually runs on 10 AM to 2 AM schedule. The lighting in this room will help his productivity in late afternoon/early evenings.

Slav’s desk in North Carolina


Slav’s desk in our Evergreen Rental

04 living-desk

New office in the ranch!



Since this room will be an office, we plan to reverse the closet to face the bedroom. It not only gives us a bigger closet for the master bedroom, but also provide a much needed wall for built-in bookshelves. All of our books (20 boxes to be precise) are still sitting inside of the garage. Inside the garage! What a crime.


Fence, fence, and more fence


Coming out of the backdoor from the kitchen, you can find a fully-fenced backyard. That is >300 linear feet of fencing, so we are really grateful that it came with the house. It could have looked better though – the wooden fence at the back is worn and in two different color, and the fencing on the right side and facing the front yard are all 4-ft chain links. We will be replacing them with 6-ft  dog eared wooden fencing, and the tentative plan is to include the side yards on each side of the house. It is mostly for matching where the neighbors’ fence sits, but it will also give us some space that is out of public view. It could be perfect for things that are not easy on the eyes, like a compost bin or outdoor clothing lines.

The fencing situation is a bit complicated on the left side of the backyard, as we have two layer of fencing: our neighbor’s 6-ft wooden fence, and our 4 ft chain link fencing, with trees sandwiched in between.


The neighbor’s wooden fence is in a bad shape, partially due to the tree roots. We plan to repair it from their side, then take down the chain link fencing from our side. It will make trimming the trees and cleaning along the fence much easier. We are talking to our neighbors and getting estimate for the fence work. So stay toned! The fence upgrade is happening!

That is it! The main floor and the site plan. We have a long list of things to take care of in July before I start working full time again (starting August 1st). So there will be lots of things popping up on the blog. I hope you guys like reading our progress so far. I am trying to make this blog less of a laundry list, but it is hard! House renovation IS literally going down a list!