We have all heard the phrase, “think outside the box.” When remodeling, sometimes it is more cost effective to think inside the box. It may be possible to rearrange the space you have within your home to gain what you want, instead of adding on to the house.
We recently completed a project for a couple in Alta Sierra who had a nicely appointed home with spacious living areas, but a very small master bedroom. Typical to many homes of the ’70s and ’80s, the master bedroom was only slightly larger than the secondary bedrooms. The ensuite bath was also a convoluted maze of tiny corridors serving a several closets and bath. The headroom was limited by 8-foot ceilings making the space seem even smaller.
We explored the concept of an addition, but after looking at the expense to benefit ratio we took a second look at what could be done within the existing space. We could gain 2 feet by taking over the closet in the adjacent guest bedroom. This would expand the width from a minimal 12 feet to a more reasonable 14 feet. We considered adding a bay window for even more visual space, but that idea did not get included in the final design.
Eight-foot, flat ceilings; or as we say in the trades, 8-foot lids do not create much drama. They can squash the apparent space within the room, making a room feel smaller than it really is. I addressed this by using engineered lumber to install a new ridge beam, which structurally allowed us to remove the existing ceiling joists and create a new vaulted ceiling.
The result is now a bedroom that is both wider and taller than original space. The impact is significant. By the numbers, the volume of the room has been increased almost 50 percent and the vault is nearly 12 feet tall.
Most important is the sense of the room when you walk into it. It feels roomy and spacious. Another reason I am excited about this technique is the structural work can be done from within, leaving the roof undisturbed. It is often possible to vault specific rooms in either truss framed homes or traditional rafter framed homes by using this technique.
The new master suite is sweet. Forgive the pun, but when you walk into the vaulted bedroom with built-in gas fireplace and arched opening revealing a beautiful bathroom, it is stunning. The bedroom is finished with solid oak floors to match the rest of the house and the bath has travertine marble floors and shower walls.
Travertine continues to be a very popular choice. It has a warm, organic feel with neutral colors that work with many different palettes. The shower floor and the countertop backsplash are shiny, ebony black pebbles with black grout, which adds contrast and texture.
Working with a very artistic owner can open opportunities to break tradition and create exciting looks. The plumbing fixtures and light fixtures are old world styling with black finish. The cabinetry is a rich burgundy with raised panel doors. There is an abundance of drawers, set three deep, which allows for deep drawer boxes. We built in plug strips into several drawers to for extra convenience and to streamline the looks.
The walk in shower has freestanding thick glass panels with radiused corners, which soften the look. The type of glass is called starlight, which projects a pale blue tint, instead of showing a deep green color on the edges. Oval mirrors were used at the double vanities to continue the traditional look of the cabinets and fixtures.
The closet was reconfigured as a walk-in with built-in shelves and organizers in a dark mahogany finish. We used a small pair of doors so they can swing open without taking too much space. The owner selected an obscure glass and after looking at both sides, chose to put the textured side facing out which looks much better than the reflective surface of the smooth glass.
The owners are very happy with the end result. It is so different from where they started, yet was achieved without going outside the footprint of the house. This saved them money and shortened the duration of the project.
Their original assumption that they needed to add on was replaced by a successful expansion within the home. The master suite has been upgraded to match the rest of their home without building outside the box.