Quirky Bath in Wellesley Gets Design Tweaks

                               Before                                                                                     After

From time to time we encounter a remodeling project that begins with a more head scratching than usual. We don’t have any choice but to find a solution when we are invited to help….. we are the professionals after all! This is a story about a bath renovation in Wellesley we completed recently that went from a bit too tight, to a wide open space with a series of minor tweaks that made for one major difference because of the synergy of 4 changes.

  1. We moved the wall: In the existing plan above, the toilet is placed on a sloping wall… this is always a great place to put a toilet because the user either stands back from the toilet, or while sitting lowers their body (sorry for the visual) and the slope does not affect the use. In this case we were able to push the knee wall back a bit more without affecting the use of the toilet, and that provided more room in front of the tub for bathing the young children.

  2. We moved the door: Another small change we made was moving the door into the hall entering the bath- you can see that this removes the need to enter the bath and close the door before the bathing begins, which sounds like less of a hassle until you have to go in and out of the bath or have the door swallowing more valuable floor space.

  3. We enlarged the tub and the vanity: Moving the knee wall created an opportunity for more vanity space and a larger tub as well.

  4. We saved the dormer and heat: The small, unconventional area between the tub and the window allowed the heat to remain undisturbed and provides a great hideaway for the kids’ bath toys.

Check out our gallery of the “after” photos below!

 

Trends in Home Additions

 

In the 90’s I filled much of our company’s schedule with family room additions. Everyone rushed to attach a room to the back of the home that was bigger than the living room and would be more casual and have a stronger connection to the back yard. That family room extension has morphed over time in towns like Newton and Wellesley, where there is a large stock of housing dating between the 1920’s and 1940’s. These smaller homes with good architecture, but fewer amenities, popularized the family room, kitchen renovation and master suite boom- known in Wellesley, Massachusetts remodeling as “The Wellesley Special”. That trend in home additions continues but it seems that homes without these rooms are targeted by builders looking for teardown opportunities for neo-classic new homes. (There is an official definition for this I found on the web, so funny- but true)

Mc·Man·sion məkˈmanSH(ə)n/ noun: a large modern house that is considered ostentatious and lacking in architectural integrity.

In the last few years, we have spent more design effort on existing space in large and small homes. Often we may add on just enough space to enhance an existing space to accommodate the perfect kitchen, family room or bath. People want their home to work and want it to work for their lifestyle, not necessarily a trend like the family rooms presented in the 90’s. This is seen with clients that share similar demographics with different needs and desires. I am not saying that larger homes are out, we are certainly seeing the economy return to normality and that means we will all have more choices. But I do think that many people have shifted their thinking to “what do I really want”.

A small addition in Newton, just large enough to add a mudroom and get it out of the family room :)

 

 

A Child’s Perspective on Remodeling

Most of the renovations we do are to help families with their growing pains (from a space point of view), along with updating. I encounter many children in my business and always want to know what the kids think. I have 5, from 6 to 25 years old, and that helps me understand the phases families will go through, but not the real desires of the family unit. I have witnessed the extremes of complete lack of care (insert stereo type of high school male here) to children who have their own idea book on http://www.houzz.com/. The important things I think that parents can benefit from are tools on how to address the desire for a hot pink room, and how to know what is in it for their children so the during process is easier to navigate.

I asked my daughter Rachel to write a blog on what remodeling is like from her perspective. I read through it, and started editing the content, but then I thought- let me just put it out there and read between the lines for you after you read the unabridged version. Keep in mind; a typical project of this size (I took a 1,000SF ranch and turned it into a 2,000SF contemporary) would take 2-3 months to design and 5-6 months to construct.

I’m Rachel Wiese and the past year my dad has bought a house and it was very small. I was super excited because I couldn’t wait for it to get out of the small red house that was behind the office. When he showed me and my family the plans on renovating the house we were all so happy. I couldn’t wait for it to be done! After about a month or two through the renovation both the first and second floor were built and the kitchen cabinets were being put in, by this time it was January or February. By April and May, me and my step sister’s rooms were painted and the closets were installed. The kitchen and the lighting were almost done. By this time I was so anxious to move in because everything seemed perfect! Then finally in June we moved in. But some things still needed to be done like sanding the deck and painting the outside of the house.

The timeline went like this: June 4, 2014 – make offer. August 4, close on house, design and go through town approvals (this takes longer when you are the cobbler). October 2014- begin construction… framing done and weather tight in December. I probably don’t need to remind you about the winter of 2015… but our company was busy helping with our clients disasters… so we move in in June.

The important part of my children’s experience was that as a family, we went through the plans and discussed the changes as well as their hopes (including some additional space!), we toured the construction site regularly so they understood the progress since a year to an 11 year old might as well be a decade, and when it was time to move back, my 6 year old step daughter had already become familiar with our new home, certainly removing any anxiety about the move.

As for color decisions- when you hear “I want a pink room”, have a choice of 3 pinks that will work and be OK with saying that hot pink is not an option- your children would never go to sleep with a color that bright. Happy renovating!

 

Specialty Rooms

Specialty rooms are on the rise with more of us wanting to have more “off time” without being able to find the time.  This trend is strong and looks like it will continue to be on our clients list of changes they want to make in their home, and thus, their lives. Specialty rooms aren’t about picking a theme, it is more about making a space is where you would go if you had the time to leave your home for some R&R.  Featured this month (because we are in full swing of summer) is one of our favorite projects this year; an indoor/outdoor bar in Dover.  This mini snack and beverage room has all the features you would expect from your favorite poolside (or fireside) bar… and this one is family friendly.  Built out of an idea the Owners had to enhance the experience of the pool, they soon realized that this space would also elevate the once less adorned basement playroom, and add value as the perfect slumber party pizza station, or a short walk from the theatre room for popcorn and a soda.

Most of us can relate to wanting to exercise, but exercising loses some of the luster when you are in your unfinished basement looking for spiders before you mount the elliptical machine.  Even an unused bedroom is no substitution for the experience of the local athletic club, strong with all the gymnasium connotations of “getting a work out”.  A couple of years back we actually brought the professional gym experience to a basement renovation in Wayland complete with a steam shower for 8 (large family), a spa like towel and water station as well as a glass door to the equipment room.  When the owner enters this space, it most definitely feels like a trip to the gym… if only a trip downstairs.

         

 

Indoor/Outdoor Kitchen in Wellesley

 

Of course we all think about our outdoor spaces more when the weather is at its best and we find ourselves outside. Because we live in New England, it is easy to frame our outside time into 3 short months. The good news is that we actually have 3 great seasons to enjoy in our beautiful part of the country and when it is time to renovate the outdoors… think about stretching that a bit with inside/outside space that can offer protection from the bugs in the mid-summer and work when temperatures start with warm Fall days, and slowly ease into crisp fall nights.

This client in Wellesley was frustrated by having inadequate ventilation to grill inside during the winter… that is difficult to do even with the most powerful fans.  Because he already had been planning a major back yard project, he asked about using an existing covered porch for a 3-4 season kitchen/lounge that could make grilling convenient all year round; rain or shine.

Having recently purchased the home, one of the additional places that needed attention was the “too small” master bath and closet. We leveraged the work on the first floor to help make more space on the second floor to enlarge the master. This second floor worked well to provide some relief to the rear of the home, as well as provide some sense of sheltered court to the patio area.

Some things to consider in a similar project include:

  1. Make sure the floor surface and finishes feel good when the space is open to the outside and to the inside.

  2. If you are going to have refrigeration to keep the food items close by and do prep- make sure you have a sink handy so you can keep on working.

  3. Think about a possible heat source if you think you would enjoy hanging out on a winter day. We have used Infratech heaters when the application is right, and they work fast and only need to be on while you are in the space.

  4. Plan the indoor and outdoor spaces together…. The synergy of the project shows in the architectural backdrop to the patio seating

Before- Exterior Shot