Q: We are in the dreaming stage of remodeling our house. It has an unfinished attic we want to convert into a new master suite. With only two bedrooms and one bath on the main level, this will be a big improvement to our house and our growing family. But because of an old furnace chimney, we can't quite figure out where the bathroom should go.
A: I love this idea. Your house will be so much more livable, not to mention valuable when you are ready to sell. Attic bedrooms are so cozy and tranquil.
Consider hiring a designer or architect for some help with your initial brainstorming. Also, even in this early stage, talk with some licensed contractors familiar with your local codes. You'll want to know about budgets, and potential structural or code limitations so your dreams are kept realistic.
For example, if your house's framing isn't planned properly, you might not be able to install a gigantic, custom-tile soaking tub.
Many unglamorous considerations will make the difference between your project's being a proper bedroom rather than a bonus room. Closet space, placement and number of outlets, space between the floor and the ceiling, stair spacing and location, and insulation are all features to consider. Adding dormers also could enhance your new bedroom's appearance and function, as well as improve the exterior look of your house.
As to the bathroom location itself, I usually first consider a place over or near other wet areas on the floors below, such as over another bathroom, kitchen, or perhaps a laundry room. If the pipes go straight up, the remodeling may be a less-disruptive project overall.
Have you thought about demolishing the old chimney? Many older houses have chimneys left over from a furnace or boiler that is no longer in use. Though the chimney may take up just four to nine square feet of floor space, it's usually right in the middle of the attic. This sure makes planning harder. Good luck, and let me know how it goes.
Jennifer Adams is a designer, author, and TV personality.
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