Up in the Air: An Attic Bath Addition

Up in the Air: An Attic Bath Addition

Ronee Saroff
Mar 31, 2010

At some point, most Bostonians have or will inhabit a multi-family dwelling. Some of these were originally designed as condos, but many were converted from single family homes. And the result is often a haphazard collection of rooms with an awkward, unintuitive layout. Such was the case with my former Roslindale condo.

Built in 1910, the home had undergone several reconfigurations, the last of which created an upper floor duplex with five (yes, five) small bedrooms and one tiny bathroom. The (slightly) larger bedrooms were located in the former attic, accessible by a long, steep staircase, while the bathroom was on the main floor below. If you've ever been pregnant or had a stomach flu, you can imagine how unpleasant this was.

After years of measuring, sketching, and head-scratching, we finally decided to carve out another bathroom in the one remaining corner of unfinished attic space. To fit the narrow footprint, I designed a custom floating vanity built from solid walnut by Jamaica Plain woodworker Kevin Cradock. The vessel sinks and Toscana faucets were found online. The beach glass mosaic and porcelain floor tile came from Tile Showcase in Watertown. To save money, I used the beach glass only on the tub surround and in a narrow strip above the sink. Inexpensive white subway tiles were used on the shower walls.

After looking through dozens of catalogs, I found a deep soaking tub that fit perfectly in the corner. Adding a skylight above the tub prevented claustrophobia and created the feeling of an outdoor shower. Unfortunately, the cost of a custom glass shower enclosure was prohibitive, so we used an adjustable curtain wire from Ikea as an interim fix. Recessed lighting over the vanity and tub maintained the sleek profile. On the opposite side (not shown) is the toilet and a compact washer/dryer.

The overall cost for this bathroom addition was around $27,000. Most of the money went toward construction since the space was completely unfinished. We saved a little on plumbing by locating the new bath directly above the existing bath. We also saved by drawing detailed plans and managing the job ourselves. It was a great learning experience, but I don't plan on carrying 15 boxes of tile up four flights of stairs again any time soon!

Images: Ronee Saroff

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