When we purchased The Manse, we knew that if we were going to tackle a renovation, it made sense to add a 4th bedroom, both for resale and for the fact we needed a guest room. We planned to take full advantage of the incredible backyard view by adding onto the back of the house.
There was an existing boxy addition from the 60s that was freezing in the winter and hot in the summer. This was due to the fact that the addition was built on a slab, which here in New Jersey means challenges with temperature control year round, so a beefier foundation was needed. We wanted to square off the lower level and add a second story for the master suite.
The old boxy add-on needed to come off. In its place, a new foundation with a 3′ crawl space was added (note we didn’t want to disturb the old foundation much since it’s very thick stone).
The addition gave space for a much needed mud room and extra living space (about 150 sq ft) on the first floor and over 300 sq feet on the second floor.
The renovation also addressed the cobbled bathrooms and opened up the hallway area. We planned a closet in the hallway and a large master closet for yours truly (hey, I designed it, what can I say?!).
To take full advantage of the view we added four windows across. Three in the bedroom space and one in the master bath. There were days I’d come to the house and just stare out these window frames.
The Master Bath
The old master bath was nothing to write home about. It was probably done in the early 80s and hadn’t been touched since. For the new bath, I wanted it to feel like it might have been original to the house.
I chose a marble mosaic tile for the floor. We got a Carrera marble look-a-like for about half the price (see the Source Book below for details). Marble in a bath just reminds me of Parisian hotels with baths that have stood the test of time.
When installing a stone floor, I highly recommended doing a heated floor.
With the bathroom on two outer walls, the heated floor makes a huge difference. We chose the electric version. It’s relatively inexpensive. The mat goes in before the mud and tile. It has a thermostat as well, so you can set a schedule. We had this in our previous home and it was lovely. Some think the more expensive water type system is better, but we’ve never had an issue with the electric, and it’s much less expensive.
Bead board and subway tile add more of a vintage feel to the room.
I used a gray grout for aesthetic and practical reasons. Less of an issue with staining and it adds a little more dimension to the plain white (and super inexpensive) subway tile.
For the vanity, we used the same cabinetry as the kitchen. The advantage here is getting it in a custom length and doing the vanity at counter height.
I splurged a little on the large medicine cabinet in a beautiful antique nickel. The vanity is extra large for storage. While the space was enough to have a double vanity, we elected to go with a single sink to have more counter space. My husband and I are rarely using the bathroom at the same time. Plus, a future owner could easily re-work it if they prefer double sinks.
While it’s always a good idea to think about resale, it’s also important to consider how you want to live in the place. Notice we didn’t install a tub. Remember I talked about doing this on a budget? This is an item that we didn’t use much in our previous home. The hall bath has a nice sized tub, so we didn’t feel it was worth the extra $. I’m all for it if you really take a lot of baths, but I was more interested in having a larger closet area. A large soaking tub with jets or bubbles can run several thousand for install (you need an electrician AND the plumber). These are the items that can quickly blow the budget.
What we did instead is a beautiful spacious shower with a bench.
We even had space left over for a linen closet. If you own an old home, you know how challenging it can be to have adequate storage. We re-purposed an old door and created a space that accommodates a hamper and shelving for towels and sheets.
His and Hers Closet Space
When we designed the master suite, we wanted to create a space where either me or the husband could get ready for the day or for bed without disturbing the other. This was achieved by putting both dressers and closet spaces outside the bedroom.
Mine is a full dressing room with make up table. Eventually I would love to get a more custom looking closet or have these Ikea units get a little upgrade on the moldings, but for now they work just fine. Maybe after our youngest finishes college in a year!
The husband’s closet is located in the hallway to the master. He doesn’t let me live this down. Yes dear, mine is bigger than yours. Don’t guys know that size doesn’t matter?! Both have access to the bathroom without going into the bedroom. We used another old door as a pocket door going from my closet to the bath.
With all of the dressers in closet areas, this space becomes more open, where the view is the focal point. Have I mentioned that view?!
Seriously, this view is what made it so worth going through this renovation. I just kept reminding myself, THIS is what I’d wake up to everyday.
Carpet is a soft wool. I love wool carpets because they last and last.
We wanted a little texture in the room and went for some DIY shiplap on the wall. We just used thin plywood cut into 6” strips. I sanded the sides and voila, shiplap at a fraction of the cost. Eventually I want to find a vintage mantel and surround to create a faux fireplace here. Still hunting! Added sconces and a metal medallion.
The Window Treatment
With the windows so close together, I didn’t want individual pairs for each one since who wants to close 3 windows every night? Instead, I bought 2 pairs of Ikea curtains and sewed each pair together (4 panels made into 2). Then, we bought a plumbing pipe (yes, real plumbing pipe) cut to size that runs the whole length which is about 14’. This way there’s no danger of it ever sagging. Plus they add a little touch of the industrial or rustic to the space.
Sunset from these windows is magnificent some nights, even in winter.
And in case you’re curious, here’s the exterior before and after. I will get more into the exterior transformation in a future post.
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