The Original Floorplan
Last June, Jeremy and I started the process of remodeling the second floor of our home. There were lots of things that bothered me about the original layout, and you can probably discern a lot of them from the “before” pictures, more of which you can see in West Elm’s post here. Originally, the second floor had a master bedroom, tiny master bathroom, and a weird tiny bedroom that could only fit a twin size bed and had a weird area where the eaves of the roof slanted down to the ground making it almost impossible to keep anything there. The master bathroom consisted of a small crappy plastic tube-shaped shower, a vanity, and the toilet. The shower was the bane of my existence, because the way it was built and assembled left all these little gaps in the plastic pieces in it that were impossible to get to with cleaning brush, so mold would just grow between the cracks, and the rubber lining along the shower door where the plastic sheets touched kept coming off. For me, bathrooms have always been a sanctuary where I can have some quiet and privacy (I *love* taking baths in the cold months) but there was no bathtub and the master bathroom was just claustrophobic and kind of gross. There was also a strange small closet off of the tiny bedroom that had a door on each side, one opening to the tiny bedroom and one opening to the master bedroom, so it acted as a kind of weird closet tunnel between the two rooms. Inside the tiny closet, half of the actual closet space was taken up by the house’s original brick chimney that had been drywalled over and came up through the basement to vent our furnace to the roof. Our house was built in 1937, and back then master closets weren’t really a thing, so this miniature half-closet was the only thing we had to store our clothes. As someone who has a lot of clothes, this presented a big problem, so I had to keep most of my clothes split between hanging racks in the tiny bedroom or folded up in an old dresser we had squeezed into the tiny bedroom, which basically invalidated it as any sort of actual bedroom space since we were just using it as a temporary closet. The master bedroom also had an apex ceiling that was drywalled over so it didn’t extend up to the full peak of the roof, and since Jeremy is 6′ 3″ tall, this made the bedroom feel really, really cramped and suffocating. The floors were original Douglas Fir that had been stained a bright shade of orange, and this contrasted with the alternating tan and neon blue painted walls in the master bedroom gave it more of a gymboree-feel than that of a bedroom for adult human beings. Altogether, the second floor was not a place that felt inviting, comfortable, or functional, and that’s what we set out to change.
The New Floorplan
First off, we wanted to have more storage because even though we’d been living in our house for over two years at that point, it still didn’t feel like we’d moved in completely since we didn’t have an organized storage system in place to keep our stuff. Since we had an apex roof in the master bedroom, there was all this unused space along the sides of the eaves, so we had storage cupboards installed along the sides of the bedroom, with every other cupboard alternating between having drawers or a closet rod to hang clothes from. We also had the strange eaves-area in the tiny bedroom turned into a closet accessible from the landing at the top of the stairs. Since we’d have all this new storage in place, we didn’t need the weird tiny closet/tunnel anymore so we had that demolished. I’d originally wanted the drywall removed from the chimney and then to just leave the brick on the chimney exposed, but that didn’t end up being possible because when our contractor got the drywall off, there was concrete spread over the bricks rather than the bricks just being plain and visible. So in the end they got all the drywall off of it and Jeremy ended up building a reclaimed wood enclosure over it to cover the ugly concrete-covered chimney. For the bathroom, we wanted the wall between the tiny bedroom and the master bathroom torn down, the old shower and vanity torn out, and the space that formerly held one tiny bedroom and one tiny bathroom converted into one large master bathroom with a tiled shower, clawfoot bathtub, and double vanity. To make the master bedroom space feel bigger, we wanted to raise the ceilings all the way to the roofline of the apex. I also wanted to create a little vanity area, so we decided to tear out the existing railing along the top of the stairs and put in shelving that would turn into some kind of storage/vanity hybrid. Lastly, we wanted to update the color scheme of the bedroom and bathroom to make it feel brighter and more open. I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m kiiiind of obsessed with plaster, so we decided to use Master of Plaster to plaster the walls of the bedroom and bathroom.
How We Did It
We hired a contractor to do all of the structural work, like tearing down walls, opening the ceilings, drywalling, plumbing, electrical, the cabinet installation, etc. We worked with Renovation Innovations and Bert was extremely helpful at translating my vision for the second floor into an actual functioning physical space. Jeremy also built a lot of custom pieces for the remodel, like the reclaimed wood storage shelving and additional little vanity in the master bedroom at the top of the stairs, little reclaimed wood shelves throughout the bathroom and bedroom, and the reclaimed wood bathroom vanity we based off of this ‘Magic Egg’ Jersey Ice Cream Co bathroom that I fell in love with. I plastered the walls by hand throughout the bedroom and bathroom using Master of Plaster in “Nebulous White” for the bedroom and “Seafoam” for the bathroom. The plastering required using a hand trowel to coat the walls with plaster three separate times with three different plaster blends for each layer, which is what gives plastered walls that beautiful textured sheen. It’s not difficult work, just time consuming, so I enjoyed catching up on all my favorite podcasts for the few days I spent plastering the walls. Jeremy and I also sanded down and refinished the hardwood floors in the master bedroom and stairwell. If you remember the issues we had with refinishing the floors of the living and dining room, you might also remember how we swore we’d never refinish floors ourselves again. Well, never say never! We used this guide to whitewash the original douglas fir floors, since we wanted the beautiful grain of the wood to be visible but wanted it to be more neutral rather than its natural orange-y hue. We followed the guide pretty exactly except for a few things: 1) We did two separate coats of the white wash (following the instructions in the post and letting the floor dry between applications), one coat of matte polyurethane, and then one more coat of white wash over the dried polyurethane. We did the last coat of white wash because the floor looks a bit orange again after the poly application, and we wanted to mute the color a bit more. 2) We didn’t go over it with they grey paint accents, we just left the floor as it naturally looked with just the white washing and poly. I also whitewashed the newly installed cabinets along the length of the bedroom to match the floor.
For the bathroom, we had Bert’s team install Rejuvenation Fords Mill Single sconces in aged brass with the 7-1/2 inch clear dome shade for updated lighting fixtures. They also installed Rejuvenation Connor Wall Mount Faucets and Linfield Single Hooks for the custom reclaimed wood vanity Jeremy built, as well as this AMAZING NativeStone trough sink in “Ash” from Native Trails. I love this sink because it’s a special blend of concrete and jute fiber that makes it lightweight for concrete but incredibly durable. We also hung this beautiful Penarth Oval Walnut Mirror from Crate & Barrel over the sink to round out the bathroom vanity. For the bathroom floor, we used Lowe’s Natural Timber Ash Porcelain tile, which is basically tile that is made to look like reclaimed hardwood flooring. It is pretty incredible and realistic looking, I’ve had people standing on it thinking it was reclaimed wood until I had them tap on it to feel that it was tile. I love the floor in the bathroom so much because it gives it that warm and rugged look that hardwood flooring has, but with the sanitation and durability elements of a tile floor. I love the color combination of brass, white, and pale green, so we used brass fixtures throughout the bathroom in the shower and bathtub as well. For the clawfoot tub, I ended up purchasing a new acrylic one due to weight safety precautions. The acrylic one weighs about 100 pounds, compared to the cast iron ones which are about 1,000 pounds, and as much as I wanted an awesome old vintage cast iron tub, I didn’t want it falling through the floor into my kitchen below. For the shower, we went with white subway tile because it was cost-effective and looked clean and simple. I wanted to keep the bathroom feeling big, so instead of installing a door on the shower which would make it feel closed off, we left it completely open in the back to go in and out of the shower, and had a pane of glass installed along the side to keep the water from splashing out.
Once all the heavy-lifting was done in the bedroom and we were able to start furnishing it, Jeremy built a floating master bed for us and we covered it in beautiful white linen bedding from Rough Linen. For a little extra storage, we brought in a 3-drawer Stria dresser from West Elm, and we also used their tree stump side tables as end tables for the bed, their brass curtain rods and Belgian flax linen curtains for the window coverings, and their glass jar pendants for the lighting fixtures. I filled the rest of the space with fun bits and bobs collected from my travels, and (of course) lots and lots of plants. There’s a big fiddle leaf fig in the bathroom, as well as a creeping fig vine and hanging philodendron. And the bedroom has an assortment of ferns, another philodendron, and a sweetheart vine. Visually, I wanted the space to have a lot of bright white, wood, and green, to stay in line with the natural surroundings here in the Pacific Northwest. The skies are usually overcast and greyish white, there’s a wonderful amount of trees everywhere, and the forests are very lush and green. Tying in the outdoor colors and textures with the indoor ones created a space that felt really tranquil and calm, and made me feel like I was really at home there. Once everything was all said and done, the remodel cost about $65,000. It was the most expensive one we’ve done in the house so far, but it also went the most smoothly and is the space in our home that we probably spend the most time, so for us it was worth it. I love being up there now, the space feels so big and bright and peaceful. Like we’re floating in a cloud in the treetops around our home. Every little part of the house we remodel makes it feel more and more like our own space, and now all we have left to fix up are the basement and the garage, which we’ll be tackling soon. Stay tuned, friends!!
What We Used
Bathroom Walls – Master of Plaster in “Seafoam”
Bathroom Lighting Fixtures – Rejuvenation Fords Mill Single sconces in aged brass with the 7-1/2 inch clear dome shade
Bathroom Vanity – Rejuvenation Connor Wall Mount Faucets + Linfield Single Hooks
Bathroom Vanity – NativeStone trough sink in “Ash” from Native Trails
Bathroom Vanity – Penarth Oval Walnut Mirror from Crate & Barrel
Bathroom Flooring – Lowe’s Natural Timber Ash Porcelain tile
Bedroom Walls – Master of Plaster in “Nebulous White”
Bedroom Bedding – Rough Linen Queen Bed Makeover White Linen Bedding
Bedroom Dresser – West Elm 3-drawer Stria dresser from West Elm
Bedroom End Tables – West Elm tree stump side tables
Bedroom Window Dressings – West Elm brass curtain rods + Belgian flax linen curtains