Carving Out a Master Suite in a Post-WWII Brick Rambler

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A New Bath & French Doors to a New Patio Create a light-Filled Master Suite
A New Bath & French Doors to a New Patio Create a light-Filled Master Suite

 

The post-WWII brick rambler is ubiquitous in the older suburbs of eastern cities.  The first floor has 3 small bedroom, a hall bath, a living room, a small kitchen and a small dining room co-located either with the kitchen or the living room. They also usually have a full basement.  I grew up in one — as did many of my friends  — who then raised families in a different 1950’s home because they are affordable and close to urban jobs.

My client raised her family in just such a house in the Forest Glenn neighborhood of Silver spring, MD. The kids were grown and out of the house and she was configuring the home for the next phase of her life. She had a limited budget and a long-list of wants including the desire for a master suite.  She expressed a desire for more daylight, generally, so we suggested we also replace an existing wide bedroom window with french doors onto an extended back patio. She jumped at the idea.

The tub was converted to a shower with bench at one end
The tub was converted to a shower with bench at one end

 

We gutted the existing hall bath switched openings and turned this bath into an in-suite bath for the master bedroom.  To save money, we left the toilet in place — except for turning it 90 degrees.  While the new shower and sink drains and supply lines needed to be re-run, keeping the toilet in place substantially reduced the price of the required plumbing.

Other ways we made the budget go further included using

  • Formica laminate for the counters,
  • Concrete-look porcelain floor tile that’s less than $5/sf,
  • A Pre-formed shower pan,
  • Limiting the amount of tile used, and
  • Using a Personal Shower Head on a Bar to also double as the main shower head

One splurge was the use of glass tile in the shower and for the backsplash.

For storage we used a 4-drawer alder base cabinet — the same type of cabinetry used in the kitchen — with a banjo counter that extends over the toilet for additional counter space.

A 4-drawer base cabinet provides lots of storage and the banjo counter extends over the toilet
A 4-drawer base cabinet provides lots of storage and the banjo counter extends over the toilet

Grab bars were installed near the toilet and in the shower stall.   The personal shower head installed on a sliding bar allows people of varying heights to enjoy the shower and also allows someone to easily take a shower while keeping her hair dry.  And, of course, makes it easier to clean the shower stall.

A personal shower head on a sliding bar doubles as the main shower head
A personal shower head on a sliding bar doubles as the main shower head

A vessel sink is both an aesthetic choice and allows for a wheelchair accessible sink area.  The size and dimensions of the bath are wheelchair compliant but we did not install a zero-threshold shower to keep costs down.  A towel bar installed under the counter puts a towel within easy reach.

A vessel sink is both a functional & aesthetic choice
A vessel sink is both a functional & aesthetic choice

 

The Formica counters helped keep costs within budget and provide a surface that’s easy to keep clean.  We also used the Formica on the side of the drawer cabinet to repel water and for a clean transition between counter heights.

We also used the Formica on the side of the drawer cabinet to repel water and for looks.
We also used the Formica on the side of the drawer cabinet to repel water and for looks.

See below for the old and new floor plans — The old galley kitchen became a new hall bath with wheelchair access for when her her mother visits.  The old Dining room became a new eat-in kitchen.

Floor Plan - AFTER
Floor Plan – AFTER

 

Floor Plan - BEFORE
Floor Plan – BEFORE

 

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2 thoughts on “Carving Out a Master Suite in a Post-WWII Brick Rambler”

  1. I have been looking everywhere for a shower pan like this. (if it not acrylic). It is described as a “Preformed shower pan.” What is it made of & where can I get it?

  2. Donna – It’s a solid surface pan (similar to Corian). I usually use a matte white but you can get a myriad of colors in both gloss and matte. I have an account with the Onyx Collection. You can get both “standard” sizes and custom pans. You could contact them and find a dealer in your areas. As an aside, I also quite like the acrylic pans from Americh. Only white and the sizes are quite limited but if one of the standard ones work they have a wonderful look and feel — are are almost as heavy as the solid surface pans.

    Good luck with your project – Jackie

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