Emily and Kai's home is a little over 1600 square feet, and there isn’t a lot of space to spare upstairs, so originally, they had considered bumping the roofline out to accommodate a bathroom. They spent a lot of time meeting with engineers, architects and contractors over the course of a couple of years to discuss every design option. However, in the end, it made more sense to work with the square footage they already had. Pushing the roofline out was just going to be much more complicated, and a tight budget was definitely considered.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
How would you describe the look and feel of these rooms?
Bathroom: We wanted the new bathroom to flow with the style of the rest of the house, which is mostly vintage-inspired, with a touch of rustic appeal. I envisioned the bathroom to look fresh and clean, with a touch of vintage charm. Our house was built in 1903, but despite the fact that it's well over a century old, it has maintained its character and beauty. We are also fortunate, because this house came with very high ceilings. The ceilings on the second floor are close to nine feet tall, which creates the illusion that the rooms upstairs are much larger than they really are. We took advantage of this and designed a big, tall window for the bathroom, using extra pieces of the original window frames that were just being stored in the basement. The original farmhouse-style frames on the windows and doors throughout the house are really gorgeous, and we wanted to keep those consistent with the new bathroom. We covered the floor with the same hexagon mosaic tile that we have in our bathrooms downstairs and installed a heated floor to keep those little feet warm on cold Seattle mornings.
I envisioned this bathroom to feel clean and bright, so we chose a budget-friendly, white subway tile for the bottom half of the walls. The entomology shower curtain I found at Anthropologie was one of the first things I purchased during the remodel, and I loved its colors and patterns so much that it became a source of inspiration in choosing other decorative items. Comprised of leaves, bugs, and other nature-inspired art, it was perfect for the kids. It is a pretty busy pattern, so I chose to paint the walls a fresh, crisp white so the beautiful colors on the fabric would pop more. I also knew that I wanted to use a bright, electric blue to paint the Brockway Kohler sink (it is a kids’ bathroom, after all), and I knew that the particular shade I chose was going to look best against a white backdrop. The sink adds color in an unexpected way. I also took advantage of the fact that the walls and floor were white by adding fun pops of color elsewhere, like the footstool and wall cubbies.
You’ll notice that we chose a variety of finishes for the bathroom hardware; that was on purpose. The sink hardware is chrome, the shower and tub hardware is brass, the shower rod is steel, the Anthro wall-mounted cubby rack and the Restoration Hardware light fixture above the sink are made of iron, and the Harmon pendant ceiling light from Restoration Hardware is an antique brass. I’ve always felt that light fixtures can really define a room so we chose to spend more money on lighting. We splurged on lighting, hardware, the sink and the shower/tub fixtures, but saved money with the tile, tub, and toilet.
I found the schoolhouse door at Ballard Reuse, a store that sells reused, refurbished, and donated items. I saw a picture of a similar half-glass bathroom door once and just loved the look. The glass was clear so we placed a frosted film over it for privacy. I love the shiny brass egg-shaped doorknob against the white door. Other decorative details include antique pieces I’ve collected (like the towel hooks) and other items featuring different creatures of the sea (hooks, bathmat).
Finley's Room: Finley’s room is vintage-inspired, just like the rest of the house, but it’s also romantic and shabby-chic. We knew that Fin’s room was about to undergo a major transformation, but we wanted to maintain the look and feel of Fin’s room as it was before the remodel.
The space created for the bathroom addition was going to be taken almost exclusively from Fin’s room, so the room itself was downsized significantly with the remodel. We also had to move her door to the other side of the room, and as a result, the original brick chimney that I loved so much had to come down. Finley’s room is now a lot smaller, but it doesn’t feel like we lost too much square footage because of the bunk loft we built for her. This design concept actually didn’t come to me until after construction had already commenced. I remember staring at what was left of her room when the walls came down one day and wondering where the hell I was going to put all of her furniture after the remodel. And then I had an epiphany. A bunk loft!! It would fit perfectly into the awkward space along the back wall of her room that her new closet was originally going to be built. It was the perfect way to maximize space, which we desperately needed.
Designing this tiny space proved to be the most challenging aspect of the entire remodel, mainly because I had never (and still haven’t) seen a bunk loft quite like the one we wanted to build. It was as “custom” as a custom job could be, because the measurements had to fit within the parameters of the cubby space remaining after the bathroom takeover. We had to go back to the drawing board over and over with our builders in order to come up with a solid plan. It took weeks just to design the bunk, rail, and ladder. We had to make sure every measurement was exact, making sure the height proportions worked for the space above the bunk as well as underneath. Of course, everything had to be up to code and as safe as possible. We also needed a closet to be built underneath the bed, and we loved the concept of a sliding barn door (the door we used is actually an original from the house). The sliding door would be designed for her closet, but it could also double as a door for the space next to her closet when slid open, if she ever wanted some privacy in that area when she’s older. We wanted to make sure this space would grow with her, so although she uses it as a play and costume dress-up area right now, we made sure it was big enough for a desk when she needs one in the future. We also designed some custom shelves underneath the bunk along the back wall for storage.
Jackson's Reading Nook/Loft Area: We weren’t planning on changing anything about Jackson’s room originally, at least structurally, so the conversion of Jackson’s closet into a loft/nook was also an after-thought. It’s so much easier envisioning changes when you have a blank slate (Jackson’s room also needed to be cleared out for the remodel). I’m sure our general contractor loved all of our add-ons (haha). Jackson’s room hadn’t undergone any major changes since it served as his nursery, and since he started kindergarten this year, we figured now was the perfect time to give it a makeover. The upstairs was a construction zone already anyway, and we were definitely not planning on remodeling again.
The original closets in the kids’ rooms had always been challenging to work with. Like many closets in homes built in the early 1900s, they were narrow and deep, so it was difficult to use the space efficiently. However, when we cleared everything out of Jackson’s closet for the demo process, we realized that the space was actually relatively large and had potential for change. Kai and I looked at this little space and together, we came up with a design for a reading nook and loft for Jackson.
I mentioned earlier, we have high ceilings upstairs (about nine feet), which is fortunate because this is mainly what made Fin’s bunk loft work out so well. Since Jackson’s ceilings are obviously the same height, we thought it would be a fun surprise to create a little loft for him, too! We added an 18” platform and designed a trap door that opens up for storage below, as well as two big drawers that open up in the front for toys.
My favorite feature of Jackson’s loft area is probably the porthole window we built. It’s literally a window that he can open and close, and it looks out onto the stairway and landing. I found the reclaimed ship portholes at an antique store in Port Townsend and immediately thought of this idea. The light fixtures we purchased for his nook and his ceiling are nautical-themed, as is the antique rope-pulley we installed next to the porthole (just for fun), so the ship porthole ties some of that together.
Lastly, I added a cubby-shelf and book ledge for Jackson to keep his special things on and to make the space feel more like a real room. Jackson decorated his personal loft area by taping his favorite drawings and photos up on the walls!
Open-Concept Industrial Pipe Shelves: Jackson’s room also came with a brick chimney, which is still one of my favorite characteristics of his room, but the placement of the chimney created limitations on what we could do with the space surrounding it. It was built in the middle of the wall, so there weren’t a lot of options as to what we could do with the wall space on either side of it. This was the perfect place for an open-concept closet. I have always loved the concept of industrial pipe shelves, and I thought it would be perfect for Jackson’s new “big-boy room.” A perfect blend of two of my favorite more masculine styles: rustic and industrial. I spent a lot of time with our carpenter, Reed Johnson, choosing materials and coming up with the right measurements for a design that would be both practical and aesthetically-pleasing. Reed also replaced the existing shelves that had been used since Jackson’s room was a nursery with the new industrial shelves, and we also designed new curtain rods with the pipes. It really doesn’t feel like the closet took up any extra space because the space we used to build it was never used before anyway.
What was the biggest challenge decorating this room?
Bathroom: I knew I wanted this bathroom to feel very open, which is why I decided not to build cabinets and drawers. I personally think that the storage areas typically underneath bathroom counters are bulky and can sometimes be a waste of space. The challenge then, becomes a lack of storage space. Luckily, kids don’t tend to need as much “stuff” as adults do for the bathroom (besides bath toys), so we found a recessed medicine cabinet from Restoration Hardware for the things they do need to store, like lotions and medicine, and installed it behind the door. It works perfectly. It also has a features a full-length mirror, which is handy for Finley because she’s not quite tall enough to see herself in the other mirror yet!
Another challenge we had: The shower curtain rod was installed much too high, and since it was installed into the subway tile, it was going to be a pain to fix. I resolved the problem by creating little loops with small brass ball-chains and then I hung the shower curtain so that it falls about 6 inches lower. It was a cheap and easy fix, and I actually kind of like the rustic look that it creates!
Do you have any advice for parents creating a room for their child?
We always make sure we maximize space as much as possible. We try to ensure that every little space is being used as efficiently as it can be used. Now that my kids are growing older, I’ve realized the importance of thinking ahead. I pay attention to what they like to do in their rooms now and I try to think ahead when I’m changing things around. How can their rooms grow with them?