Introducing Faith & Mike's Master Bathroom Project

Renovation Diary: Faith & Mike's Master Bathroom

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Name: Faith and Mike
Type of Project: Master Bathroom Creation
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Type of building: 1920s, multi-level, single family home

The Renovation Diaries are a new collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style. See all of our Reno Diaries here.

All of our Renovation Diary projects so far have been kitchens, but this time we're bringing you something a little different — a bathroom renovation, or rather, a bathroom creation, completely from scratch. Faith Durand, who you probably know as the editor of our sister site The Kitchn, is here to share with us the joys and trials of turning a sleeping porch in her 1920s home into a brand-new bathroom. 

From Faith:

I usually speak to you from The Kitchn, but I'm hopping over here to share my master bathroom project for Apartment Therapy's new Renovation Diary series. The creation of an en-suite master bathroom was just one part of the gut renovation of an entire house that consumed my husband and myself for most of 2012. We dragged an old, slumping, poorly-maintained home into the 21st century, and while my favorite part of our renovation may be the kitchen (which I'm sharing at The Kitchn), our master bathroom project occupies a special place in my heart.

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The Home

My husband Mike and I had been saving and plotting for our first home purchase for some time. We were renting in a pleasant neighborhood near the university campus. I work from home, managing The Kitchn and writing cookbooks. We were looking for a long-term home where we could live for 20 years, one where we could invest, start a family, and — let's be honest — build my dream kitchen. We knew we wanted to stay in our neighborhood and put down roots.

Like many older neighborhoods, ours has a mix of homes that have been fully renovated and modernized, with little things like modern insulation, windows that keep out drafts, and something other than knob and tube wiring. There is a small stock, too, of homes that have never been renovated and so go for as little as half the price of the updated homes. This was what I set my eye on (and trawled Realtor.com and Zillow.com for daily, obsessively, for over a year).

There's a lot of charm in old houses, and we wanted a place with character, but we were also prepared for a renovation project. Our tastes run much more modern than the prevailing trends in our rather traditional city, so we knew that we would be better off buying a house that needed some work and creating what we wanted in the process, instead of paying a lot of money for a house that had been renovated with finishes we didn't care for.

So, last spring, after some flurried and failed bids on foreclosed homes, we went into contract on a home on one of the nicest streets in our neighborhood (we never thought we would be able to afford something here!). This was our very own diamond in the rough, and we knew immediately that it needed a mind-boggling amount of work.

To the point of today's post, like most unrenovated homes in the area, it had just one bathroom, and certainly no master suite. (A master suite in Clintonville, our neighborhood, is like the mythical Holy Grail, much-rumored and sought-for but rarely seen.) There were drop ceilings in almost every room (the nasty panels found in old offices) and veneered paneling glued to the walls. All of this was, of course, to hide the cracked plaster, which was failing very badly due to some foundation issues with the house.

Since I'm just sharing the details of our bathroom here, not the entire home, I'll spare you some of the shock and awe of our first explorations (an entire third of the house lacking foundation? Oh my, oh my.). But, as we reminded ourselves daily, in a chanted mantra, with backup harmonies from our realtor and contractor, we got ourselves a great deal.

I'll go more into the budget and financing of our whole project in the budget post, since I have a lot to say on the subject, especially on some resources that I had no idea existed before we embarked on this quixotic quest.

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The Project

All right, back to the bathroom! The upstairs had three bedrooms, plus an enclosed sleeping porch with a vertigo-inducing sloped floor. These porches are very common in our neighborhood, and many homeowners, like the ones previous to us, enclosed them as proper little rooms. Proper as in having walls and windows — no insulation or anything (let's not get crazy now!). (See the floorplan above of the upstairs.)

Our plan was to take one of the bedrooms adjacent to the sleeping porch and open it up, combining the two rooms into a modest master suite with its own bathroom.

Our initial plan was to use the west bedroom, since it already opened into the sleeping porch, but for various reasons, we changed our minds.

It was surprisingly tricky to figure out the right configuration. It seems obvious in hindsight, but we worked through a lot of iterations with our architect. Here's the final drawing:

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It involves tearing out the original closets and building in a new master closet, as well as stealing back a bit of the sleeping porch for a closet in the west bedroom.

Thanks, Faith and Mike!

Join us next week to see Faith and Mike's inspiration for their new master bathroom.

(Images & Diary Text: Faith Durand)

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Renovation Diary: Faith & Mike's Master Bathroom