All in the Details-Small Home Renovation with Big Results

By Eliza Koshland

It happens to most parents: the kids grow up, move out of the house, get jobs, and start families of their own. And when they come home to visit for a few days or weeks, they don’t always fit in their old childhood bedrooms—especially once they start bringing their own children.

Recently, Kuth Ranieri had a chance to help out my cousins with this very challenge. When David and Paulette purchased the house 37 years ago, they had most of it renovated. But two small bedrooms on the second floor, along with the adjacent bathroom, remained untouched. Each room was big enough just for a twin bed. (Image – existing bedroom) Only a third upstairs bedroom was large enough for a double bed. This arrangement was fine when the three kids were growing up, but once they started visiting as adults, that third, larger bedroom was a hot ticket. The smaller bedrooms—not so much.

So, my cousins asked Kuth Ranieri to see what could be done. Inspired by her travels, Paulette asked us if there was a way to recreate the feeling of the perfect hotel suite. We figured out a way to renovate the two smaller bedrooms and associated bathroom into a two-room suite. The suite consists of a bedroom spacious enough for a queen-sized bed with an en-suite bathroom and a living room that doubles as a TV room when guests aren’t visiting. We accomplished this without adding any square footage to the house. The secret was in the details.

To transform the two rooms into a suite required a careful study of doors, selecting just the right location and type. We added a new “entry” door to the suite in the hallway, removed the door to the second bedroom (now TV room), and turned the bathroom door into a pocket door. All these small shifts created the feel of a much larger space with maximum flexibility. We also moved the bathroom door off axis from the hallway—this move allowed direct access to the bathroom from the bedroom and created an art-wall entry to the suite. (before and after plans)

Creating space for a double bed was challenging. We proposed sacrificing a small under-stair closet in one of the small bedrooms to gain enough space. Further space constraints arose when we discovered that an existing flue could not be removed, requiring the bed to be offset from center. Knowing that Paulette has a great eye for detail and appreciates symmetry, we suggested building out a piece of casework with shelving to provide visual balance and storage. (Image – bed) Because space was tight, there wasn’t room for much in the way of bedside tables, so we integrated custom ones. On one side, a slide-out shelf creates a side table that can be moved out of the way to make the bed. (Image – side table a) On the other side, a small box shelf serves as a nightstand and has a little slot so guests can charge a phone without the cord falling under the bed. (Image – side table b)

In the bathroom, the locations and heights of the existing windows limited the options we had to lay out the space. We relocated the shower and toilet from one side of the bathroom to the other to maximize the length of the vanity creating room for a double sink and enough remaining countertop to change a baby. The double sink is carefully sized, so two people can comfortably brush their teeth side by side. In its new position, the double sink is under an existing off-center window, so to incorporate it seamlessly, we took the same framing approach as in the bedroom. We installed a mirror next to the window and enclosed both in the same frame. (Image – sketch and sink) We concealed electrical outlets in the medicine cabinets to  provide convenient charging for toothbrushes, etc., and keep the counter clear of clutter.

Throughout, we made sure that the new finishes, molding, paneling, and casework matched those of the original house, which was built in 1908. We custom-designed casework to house a 60-inch television. (Image – tv) For the heating registers and bath fan cover, we worked with a local designer, Annie Kantor, who creates custom metal grilles inspired by Bay Area bridges. The idea to create a tile wainscoting at the bathroom was inspired by the wainscoting at the house’s main entry and stair. (Images – bath 1 & 2) With each design decision, we strove to create a space that felt like it had always been part of the house, with traditional detail and craftsmanship, but a modern feeling in the flow of spaces and amenities.

Paulette got her undergraduate degree in interior design, so she was very involved in selecting and approving finishes and colors. It was wonderful to collaborate with her. She thought of everything, like asking us to create a bench so when guests arrived they could set their luggage down—this became the window seat serving multiple roles: luggage rack, storage, and a comfortable  space to sit and work on laptops.  It is really like a hotel suite in the way that it functions. A hotel suite at home—the best of both worlds for a visit from the kids.


Builders are Redhorse Constructors, Inc.

Photography by Art Gray


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