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Creating Spaces: Vacation home gets update and amenities


A vacation home, by definition, is an occasionally used home, not set up for full time
living. They usually have some type of exterior draw such as a lake or mountain view.

Vacation homes are used by families, hunters or fishermen, or as a get-away or change of pace for the owners. The structure may not always be oriented towards the view.

A house like this is often handed down through generations and may have been modified through the years depending on the use of the current owners.  Many times, a complete winterization makes it a year-round home for retirees.


21638 BEFORE

This basic ranch was built for the purpose of vacation living. The view is of a river behind the house — somewhat distant — with some railroad tracks separating home and river. Although there are windows toward the back, I wouldn’t say that the view was paramount.

A house-long porch (A) was the maximum amount of architectural interest to this very simple house.

The detached garage (B) was inconvenient to use since it was quite a distance from the house level — requiring many steps. Because of its location, the main family entry (C) is through the side of the house, with a zig-zag hallway path to the kitchen (D). The front door (E) enters the living room (F) with a view of the cozy conversation area (G).

The kitchen (D) is spacious with adjacent dining space (H). The sliding glass door (I) just has steps and no established backyard entertaining space.

There are two bedrooms (J & K) plus a three-quarter bathroom (L) and a half bath (M).

The basement stairs (N) lead to more living and sleeping space. When the homeowners have family and guests staying over, every inch is utilized.

They wanted an attached garage without lots of stairs to the house. They also asked for a main floor laundry room. Finally, if they could improve their main living space for entertaining, they would be happy.


21638 AFTER

The answer to the garage was to attach a new one (O) on the same level and on the other side of the house. By laying it out on a 30-degree angle, added space is gained in the back corner where it joins the house. We gained a spacious family entry (P) and a pleasant laundry room (Q).

Since the former side entry (C) was no longer needed, the space transformed into a compartmentalized bathroom (R) for both bedrooms.

The only change in the kitchen was to enlarge the island for an eat-at function.

Since the view was toward the back,
I offered the option to add a sunroom type addition (S) which would double the living space. Alternatively, this could be simply a screened in porch.

A deck (T) added beyond this new area provides a great place for grilling and entertaining outdoors.

The conversation area (G) is moved to the front of the house, which makes it slightly more private and larger.

Marcia Lyon is a professional remodeling designer and freelance writer, producing projects in Western New York and across the U.S. and Canada. Reach her by email: or call 515-991-1300. For information about her consulting service, visit:

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