Basement Renovation for All Ages

We recently wrapped up a basement renovation that was designed to cater to different age groups in the family, a part of which are young children who use the dedicated art space we described in May.

The kids also enjoy a reading nook we built under the basement stairs,

Half doors are good for under-stair uses, among others

and for the adults, a 90-bottle wine storage closet makes efficient use of the space under the stairs.

Remember all that stuff I said about creating more living space in the basement? There are some important storage exceptions :)

Like the wine closet, most of the basement storage and mechanicals are primarily dedicated to specific closets and rooms that are closed off from the main living areas,  

Mechanicals are concealed in their own room, behind a 2-hour fire door, sprinkler, and special louvers that automatically shut under combustion to deprive any fire of oxygen.    

and open storage in the kids' playroom displays a fun pattern.  

A plush carpet keeps it soft and warm in the playroom. Elsewhere in the basement, we used porcelain tile that looks like wood planks for durability and ease of cleaning.  

After upgrading the water service to the house, we installed an ejector pit and new bathroom for the adjacent bedroom.

We've seen a few basement showers that are drab and tiny. Not this one.

The Kohler Tresham toilet complements the wainscot and the vanity with a Grafton faucet and Chalet knobs. 

The basement bedroom closets are accessed by custom barn doors made in Utah. 

A close-up view of the quarter sawn wood grain and barn door pull, a 10" steel beauty. We adore them.

All of these details culminated in a highly functional and livable basement. It was a thrill working on this basement for a beautiful family!

Grout love, one sample board at a time

Have you ever tried to pick paint from a 1 inch color sample? It's not always easy to envision how a whole room will look, whether the lighting helps or hurts, and if the old couch now finally needs to go to your brother-in-law. To complicate things, there can be a big difference between the sample you see and the actual paint on the wall. So, multiple samples usually get applied to the wall in an effort to narrow down the choices. Picking the right color in the room is a great feeling after a sometimes lengthy effort.

Something similar happens when picking the right grout for your tiles. The sample pictures you see are not often very accurate representations of the real color, grout manufacturers provide 3 millimeter slivers of their products to drive you mad, and unlike your ability to repaint a room that did not turn out the way you wanted, grout mistakes are not easily corrected. Paints come and go. Let's just say that you and your grout are in a long-term relationship.

We like to use an actual grout board for our clients to show which grout options are best for a particular tile choice. Lay it on the floor, open the shades, and turn on the lights. Pick from the menu or start over. Many a bathroom have been insulted by leaving this decision to others, so take some time and just feel the grout love. We do.  

Grout. Contain your excitement. 


Small Bathrooms, Part II

After our recent posts on renovating small bathrooms, we received a question about critically limited bathrooms--the kind of bathroom that is so fundamentally challenging, you just have to make the best of the circumstances. Below is a description of how we tried to crack one of these tough puzzles by renovating the only full bath in the house. Let's start by taking a look at the "before" pictures below:

The first thing you'll notice is that this bathroom is tricky because the roof line cuts into the space dramatically, and the bath placement does not allow an adult of average height to stand upright without suffering a head injury. Second, notice how the old radiator crams the 36" vanity between it and the toilet. Finally, you can see how drab the bathroom appears since the last update 30 or 40 years ago.  A linen closet behind the plumbing wall of the bathtub further shrinks the space. This was a bathroom in desperate need of new life, especially because it was the only full bath in this three bedroom home!

Re-working the roof line was out of the question. Stealing space from the adjacent bedroom was also out of the question because the bedroom was already compact. What to do?

The only way to gain a few extra valuable square feet was to demo the linen closet and reposition the tub to the window wall so that the new owners could wash their hair without getting a concussion. We installed a 60" double vanity where the tub once sat. The radiator disappeared when we upgraded the HVAC system on the second floor. We installed new ventilation, lighting, tile, toilet, and fixtures to complete renovation. Below is the "after" picture:

We like to "go big" in a small bathroom; we like the outcome best when we stretch for maximum utility and memorable form. This bathroom was true to our approach with a blend of classic materials such as hex marble floor tile and chrome Grohe fixtures to modernize the space. 

Finally, some property therapy for everybody considering a bathroom renovation: remember you purchased this particular home for good reason, this bathroom has been on your to-do list for some time, and now this important part of your home is going to sparkle. It's a big deal, a frog-to-prince transformation, something to look forward to. Getting rid of all the frustration, disappointment, and other negative feelings is healthy. That's all the head-shrinking we can manage today ;) Back to demolition . . .    

Make no small plans, even in small bathrooms

There is something exciting about the challenge of a small bathroom. Limited square footage demands precision and an economy of form and function that is sometimes lost in the scale of large bathrooms. A small bathroom distills your plans. 

A nice overview of bathroom priorities was recently set out by Becky Harris at Houzz, and there is no shortage of good ideas there. 

Below are pictures of a recently completed small bathroom (6' x 8') attached to a bedroom. We think it contains the necessities: a vanity with storage, recessed medicine cabinet, toilet, and shower. The marble floor adds dimension and complements other features seen in the next photo.

Remodeling and Home Design