We got the phone call that a long-time customer was getting married. Combining two households into her small, but beloved early 1900’s four-square house would be quite a challenge. Could we help design and build a master bedroom in the attic?
I began the calculations. The steep roof of the small house had plenty of height at the peak of it’s pyramid roof, but the 12/12 pitch and required extra flooring structure meant that an eight foot ceiling height in the attic space wouldn’t be achieved until 10’ in from the existing exterior walls. The 900 square foot attic would produce only a 100 square foot room! Plus at least 30 more square feet of attic space would be taken up by a new stairwell. Then there would be the 30 or more square feet lost from the first floor area for the stairs. A net gain of only 5’ X 8’ space.
Sure large dormers or/and a roof reconfiguration could have yielded more usable space in the attic, but the neighborhood’s historical mandates and the homeowner’s desire to keep the house original nullified this option.
Thirty per-cent of the basement space was dedicated to a small student apartment which the home-owner desired to keep. The rest of the basement was a essentially a rough dirty utility room, with a filthy dirt floored coal bin of rough limestone blocks in one corner. It had been used as the basic storage area for the last 80 or more years. While it had one full length window, the only other window on the other side of the house was a high standard hopper type basement window. The stairway was off the kitchen and while rough had a nice location and plenty of head room.
I immediately fell in love with the space and suggested that it might be converted to a master bedroom. Though initially disbelieving, the home-owner graciously indulged my vision and I worked up a bid for the project. Because we were staying within the foot print of the existing house, had most of a floor, walls and a roof, the costs were well below what an addition on that site might have been.
The first thing we needed to do would be to move the furnace from its center location to the corner of the basement and create a laundry/utility room space. This opened up an area for a pleasant sitting area in the master bedroom suite.
The 6X10 coal bin would be converted to a master bath leaving the beautiful rough hewn stones exposed both inside and out. The rest of the walls and ceiling in the basement would be insulated and drywalled.
We wanted the bathroom and its fixtures to be as unique as the space it was in. The home-owner found a beautiful old dresser that we converted into the sink vanity. A custom built shelf holds towels at the end of the shower. At the home-owner’s request, I carved a small whimsical man in the moon to be mounted on the original well-aged coal bin door.
The small high hopper window would be framed out as though it were as tall as its corresponding window but the bottom half of the frame would hold a stained-glass panel with a light behind it giving the impression of a full sized window. It also provided a beautiful accent light at night.
The upgrade to a new efficient furnace meant that the existing chimney for the old furnace would no longer be needed. It provided the ideal location for a natural gas wood stove making for a very cozy master bedroom suite.