Blues Clues

July 19, 2013   //  Posted in: Dainty Details   //  By: Emily   //  11 responses

10 property blueprints were left for display on the day we first viewed the home in early April. It told us a few things immediately that we soon confirmed: The sellers were the ones who built the house, the home was very much a custom build, the sellers loved their house enough to preserve these mementos, and it was designed and constructed in 1951. We love them, one or two or more might actually get framed for architecture appreciation, and for the rich, rich blue.

Blueprint of our 1951 Ranch.

The prints stayed with the house, thankfully. Because what use would they have been to the sellers? They’re a bit tattered around the edges, natural wear and tear from the original construction process no doubt, and one of the most cherished little items that we could have ever received.

Rochester, NY architect, 1951.

During the various walk-throughs and our home inspection, the blueprints were helpful in a practical way; they told us things about the basement, about the architect, about the location of the septic tanks (yes, at one point there were two which informed us a lot about the plumbing!). Looking through them now tells us even more, because as we’ve explored and lived in every inch of the house, we’ve been able to identify nuances in the floorplan that have changed from the original design.

Blueprints mapping the septic tanks in the yard.

We poured over the details in these prints for hours one day (not the most productive use of a sunny afternoon) and discovered a lot. Decidedly, until we track down and see evidence of the final building plans–something we suspect we could get from the city in a historical file upon request–we’re left to make assumptions about when architectural changes took place. Coulda been during construction, or in remodels done over the decades.

It shows us the footprint of the old back porch, which was only about 2/3 the size of the current one and, from what we can tell, not screened in but featuring a flagstone wall surround. I already found in public records that the screened in porch addition was added in the early 60’s (roofline changes, added cement footings)

Changes in the 1951 floorplan.

For one thing, the closets in the bedrooms are different in the blueprint than they are in real life. At present, our master has two closets with doors, but in the blueprint, one large closet with sliding doors occupies a whole wall in the room. In Julia’s room, the closet spans a whole wall too. Many doors are shown opening in different directions.

The front foyer was designed originally to have a closet too; maybe they realized, like us, that they had no use for the front door storage if they always entered the house through the garage. The second closet in the entryway, currently the one with the double doors, was much smaller and a single door.

The original design also featured several rounded corner details which you can see in the next photo, how mid-century charming! I couldn’t begin to guess when the plan was nixed, or if the rounded corners was something they changed years down the line. How cool it would have been to have those in our bedrooms and living room? It might be fun to implement or bring back that aesthetic someday.

Blueprint of the rounded corners and closets in our original floorplan.

The blueprints tell us nothing about the reasoning of having two doors entering the kitchen from the dining room–one opening appears to be a swinging door and the other appears to be a straight walk-through–but it does allow us to see that they had once planned on there being a second front entryway, with a second flagstone landing that led into the house on the right side of the garage door. The plan, which details a 5’6″ wide foyer leading straight back into the kitchen that would have added about 200 extra sq. ft. of space would have given us two additional closets (a killer mud room!) by reducing our garage size (we are so happy to have our two-car garage!).

A detailed floor plan of our 1951 home.

On only one blueprint is it noted in red pencil “OMITTED, garage wall to butt against house.” You can’t read it so well in the below photo, but like that, it’s the house that we have now. No second front door, no extra space as a mudroom/foyer, and a wider garage.

Cancelled design in our 1951 ranch.

I noticed more and more looking through the photographs that I snapped. And If you stare at them yourselves for awhile (click them to make them larger) you’ll probably even notice things that we haven’t. Amazing stuff, right?

  • Cait @ Hernando House
    5 years ago - Reply

    Those are amazing! I was so glad to see you say you want to frame one of them! And those curved walls are so charming! I love the idea of adding them/adding them back one day. Do you read Manhattan Nest? Daniel recently ripped down a poorly constructed wall in his house (it was added to make the space into two units) and uncovered some more curved walls. And Growing Up Gillian has a curved turret room that they use as a nursery.

    The second entrance/mudroom would have been epic, but I agree about the garage space.

    We sadly haven’t found any blueprints of our house, but I have considered having the survey drawing from our inspections/etc enlarged to frame.

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      I’m-a-gonna have to go look at Daniel’s latest posts! Curved walls are dreamy. It’s really impossible to determine whether or not they ever existed in the house… nothing looks patchy, which isn’t to say that it wasn’t something that they removed back in the 70’s or 80’s; maybe it will be more telling when we look at the subflooring beneath the carpet.

  • Katharine
    5 years ago - Reply

    These are great! And all that hand-lettering, especially in the info block with the architect’s name — is awesome!

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      AMAZING, right? I love the handwritten details. Pre-computer love!

  • Cait @ Hernando House
    5 years ago - Reply

    (it wouldn’t let me reply above, because I’m on a fickle work PC, shhhhh)

    Daniel & Max’s house house is totally dreamy! It makes me all swoony, in a completely different way than your house, but similar to how your last house/rental makes me swoony. Does that make sense? I think I’m a real estate junkie.

    Yes, definitely should be interesting to see if you can recreate/create them when the carpet comes up!

  • Sarah
    5 years ago - Reply

    Those are great! It would be interesting to research the architect and see if he’s done any other houses in your area.

    If you decide to frame and hang those, be careful where you place them. Direct sunlight will fade blue prints super fast!

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      Brillant idea to search the architect for other homes! And I hadn’t considered the fading – thank you for the tip!

  • Harper
    4 years ago - Reply

    Ahh…what I wouldn’t give to have a set of blueprints from our new to us (just closed last Tuesday) house.

    • Emily
      4 years ago -

      Congrats on closing!!

  • Karen
    4 years ago - Reply

    When we bought our house, we were given an original plot plan from 1917. I framed it and I love love love the history of it. I’d totally recommend framing at least one page, what a great find!

    • Emily
      4 years ago -

      Beautiful! No issues with fading? I’m nervous about framing and hanging now if fading is a concern.

Leave a Comment