When it comes to creating a home you love, some home just need some superficial help — paint, window coverings — while some need some more character from wainscoting or built-ins (my favorite!) — and then there are those that really just need a wall or two taken down. Our lovely guest today lives in a charming 1920’s cottage style home which has, unfortunately, been through a rather tragic 1950’s remodel. But Heidi and her husband are restoring its charm, room by room — and the first room they tackled was their master bathroom addition. They started out with NO bathroom, and they and their team created this beautiful luxurious master bathroom:
from this cramped room, which started out as a closet and was renovated into a half bath.
Isn’t it amazing? Read below for the full story from Heidi, and browse these other beautiful master baths for some inspiration:
click on each photo to go to the post
Give Heidi a warm Remodelaholic welcome!
Before and After: 1920’s Cottage Master Bathroom Addition
by Heidi from My Sweet Cottage
Hello, Remodelaholic readers. My name is Heidi and my blog is My Sweet Cottage. My 1927 English cottage-style house is the inspiration and backdrop for my remodeling, decorating, and gardening posts. And my cottage is very sweet – it’s just far from perfect. Our living here is the result of what I can only attribute to temporary insanity. My husband Chris and I were not even thinking about moving when we impulsively decided to buy this house. And we are not impulsive people. In fact, we were in the process of planning a remodel for the house we lived in at the time. But all that flew out the window when this house came on the market. Emotion took over and though we could see that the house was far from perfect, we fell in love with it anyway.
But how did a sweet 1920s charmer get so imperfect? Three words: Unfortunate 1950s remodel. And sure, mid-century anything can be pretty wonderful – unless it involves stripping out a home’s original charm and forcing a character upon the home that is not authentic. Now while I can’t blame all of the house’s flaws on this poorly conceived 1950s remodel, I can blame most of them on it. The kitchen was the main victim. It was reduced to half its original size, with a strange wide hallway taking up the other half. So one of my favorite projects was our kitchen remodel where we restored the room to its original size. At the same time, we brought back the 1920s arched doorways that had been squared off in the 1950s remodel. These were fun and interesting projects and we learned so much about our house in the process.
Our Master Bath Remodel
Today Remodelaholic has asked me to talk about our master bath remodel. This project was also about reworking part of that 1950s remodel.
But to fully explain it, we will have to go back farther in time, back to when the house was built. The upstairs bedroom, the largest bedroom in the house, had a walk-in closet. The long and narrow closet was tucked under the sloping roofline, as closets often were in older homes.
Along comes the 1950s remodel. By simply adding some fixtures and plumbing, the closet is converted into a half bath. Not a horrible idea, really, just not easy to use because it is so narrow and the roofline cuts into the wall. And it’s nothing much to look at.
Then Chris and I come along. I am keen to remodel the kitchen as our first big project, but Chris cannot stand the master half bath. Actually he can’t stand in it because he is tall and the roof slopes. And I am already a little burned out on having to go downstairs to our main bathroom to shower.
So we decided to create a master bathroom by adding a dormer to the half bath to gain some space.
Planning the Project
Since this project meant cutting a huge hole in the roof, we really wanted to get it right.
So we took our time with the most important part: The planning process.
Of course a dormer would change the exterior appearance of the house. And since this dormer would be on the front side of the house, it had to look original. We started by researching the different types of dormers and taking photographs of 1920s houses that had dormers we liked. The type of dormer would also impact the amount of space we would have to work with.
We decided on a gabled dormer to match the dormer above our front porch and also to allow for a cathedral ceiling in the new bathroom.
After Chris crawled into the attic space to take measurements, he drew up a graph paper template of the entire upstairs area – the finished rooms and the unfinished, sloping attic space.
We made a bunch of copies and we used the copies to sketch potential master bath configurations, tweaking and redrawing whenever one of us had a new idea. Just deciding on the scale of the project took time.
But when we could stand in the doorway of the little half bath and actually visualize the finished remodel, we knew it was time to hire an architect to draw up our plans.
My number one rule on big remodel projects is that I must be able to “see” the finished project in my mind before any work starts. If I can’t see it yet, it’s still too early.
This project would require many different skill sets. We knew we would be in over our heads if we attempted this as a DIY project so we interviewed several contractors and found one we liked.
Getting the Look We Wanted
It was easy for us to agree on the look we wanted for the new bathroom: It shouldn’t look new. It should blend with the original features of our old house. So no fads – nothing that would not stand the test of time.
We decided on:
- Window and door moldings milled to match the moldings already in the house;
- Beadboard wainscoting to balance the height of the cathedral ceiling;
- Carrara marble flooring and countertops;
- Nickel plated, vintage inspired fixtures (most came from Restoration Hardware);
- Subway tile in the shower stall to echo the subway tile in the downstairs main bathroom;
- Vintage-look lighting, including a crystal chandelier;
- Custom built-in cabinets for two awkward little spaces under the roofline: 1) A makeup desk and 2) A small linen closet (drawers are inset to match the house’s original built-in cabinetry);
- Glass knobs on cabinets and doors to match those already in the home;
- Leaded glass for the windows in the new dormer to match the small original leaded glass pocket window and the other windows in the house;
- A clawfoot tub;
- Heated floors; and
- Real stucco for the dormer exterior to match the original stucco siding.
Cost Saving Measures
If all of this sounds expensive, that is because it was. Our contractor’s labor and materials came to around $50,000. But his crew did a wonderful job.
It could have been even more expensive, but we came up with a few little ways of saving money without compromising quality.
- Chris did the demo work himself, saving us almost $1,000.
- We hired our own electrician, one we had used before and who charged very reasonable rates.
- We did the interior painting ourselves. (The blue is “Pale Sky” interior satin from Valspar’s American Tradition.)
- We hunted down a vintage clawfoot tub at a salvage shop for a very reasonable price. The new clawfoot tubs we found, besides not really looking right, were much more expensive than vintage tubs.
- We did not change the toilet location, eliminating some potential plumbing and drain work.
- We had a local glass artist add the leading to the new windows after we received them Milgard. Ordering real leaded windows from Milgard or anywhere else would have cost a fortune. So strictly speaking our new windows are not leaded glass windows. They are windows with the leading placed over the glass. But they still convey the look we want.
- We found a vanity at Pottery Barn that already had a sink and a Carrara marble countertop. It was on closeout for under $800.
- We decorated using items we already had: An antique washstand (from Chris’s mother) and wash basin (from his grandmother), and blue leaded glass windows that I’d had in storage for years.
I would stay in this bathroom all day if I could. We didn’t have a usable east facing window upstairs before this remodel, so the window is actually my favorite feature. I love the natural light and the sunrises.
Thank you, Remodelaholic, for having me share this project!
- Hardware and fixtures: most came from Restoration Hardware.
- Curtains: World Market. Sorry that I don’t recall the pattern name.
- Chandelier: Spanish made, special ordered from Lowe’s.
- Woven stool: actually a basket turned upside-down. I got it from Ross for about $12!
- Vanity with marble top: Pottery Barn clearance
- Paint color: “Pale Sky” interior satin from Valspar’s American Tradition
Heidi, your bathroom and your home are beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing with us!