Every place I've ever lived has been designed for that "average American family," with lots of bedrooms, living room, dining room, family room, etc. The problem was that I was a single person, not an average family. I needed space, but for hobbies, not people. And because I'm over 6'2", bending over to use sinks designed for children was a constant frustration. Over the years, I collected a list of things I would change if I could have my dream house. As I approached retirement, I realized time was running out for that house; it was now or never.

Dreams are not always perfect, however. I could never afford my dream house, a spacious Southern California home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But I could afford a modest ranch house, with a 20-mile drive to the beach. It was a very long way from perfect, but it had potential.

This blog documents the process of turning that small average house into something that matches my lifestyle. It will be as close to my dream house as I can make it. I'm doing all the work myself to stretch my resources. By not hiring contractors, I can afford high quality materials, and I'll know the job is always done right. The remodeling will be my primary avocation for a few years, even as I try to fit in my writing and other hobbies.

It promises to be an interesting journey, and a challenging one!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Master Bedroom — Part 1

I’m now working on the new master bedroom, master bathroom, and new water supply system (mostly in the attic), all concurrently.  For the sake of clarity, I’m going to do separate posts on each of those over the next few months (more than one post each).  Since I’m starting to focus mostly on the bathroom and water supply lines, this post will be about work to date on the bedroom, and the complications associated with its expansion.

The master bedroom that came with the house, as you may recall, is now the home theater.  I’m turning one of the other smaller bedrooms (12’ x 9’) into the new master bedroom, by connecting the original adjacent communal bathroom directly with the new master bedroom (with a pocket door), and by moving one of the bedroom’s walls by two feet (into the garage), making the bedroom large enough to accommodate my California queen size waterbed (longer than a standard queen).  The expanded bedroom will be 12’ deep by 11’ wide. 

Here is the original floorplan, and the new plan:

Working on the new bedroom, and considering the incursion into the garage, I had to make some decisions (now) about the future of the garage.  Here is a photo of the area in the garage that will be annexed by the bedroom.  Note the old water heater that will be removed when the new water heater takes over (the wall therefore can’t be relocated until the new water system is done).  When I said I planned to take over two feet of space, that is actually between 20” and 25”, depending on how I deal with the constraints, and when. 

I could move the wall 20” as soon as the water heater is gone.  I could move the wall 22” if I also add some structure in the attic and move the bracket that holds up the back of the garage door rail.  To gain more than 22” width in the bedroom, I would need to move the garage door railing; in other words, move the garage door.  That is not practical, of course, if the garage stays fundamentally the same. 

The garage was originally much deeper.  One of the earlier owners added a four-inch concrete slab to the back of the garage, and a partition wall, to gain another bedroom (my workshop/music room-to-be).  (The previous owner actually put down carpeting in the front of the garage and was using that as yet another bedroom.)  But as a result, my Honda CR-V will only fit in the garage if the rear bumper is touching the back wall, and then the garage door will just barely close.  Not a good situation, as I need to open the garage door to gain access to the other side of the garage. 

So I had been considering adding to the front of the garage, but thought I could deal with that at some point in the future (thinking I may buy a Tesla Model 3 electric car in 2018, and not yet knowing whether that EV will be longer than the CR-V).  As the short garage bay in any case is a constant aggravation, I have made the decision to add six feet to the front of the garage, and to replace the wide 2-car door with a 9’-wide one-car door, and a window.  I could then move the wall 25".  The plan above reflects the addition on the front of the garage. 

Timing is still up in the air.  To go wider than a 22” bedroom expansion requires that I do the garage addition before the bedroom expansion.  Or I can do 20” or 22” soon and the garage addition later.  Still thinking, but no decision required before the bathroom and new water system are done.    

Back to the bedroom work already accomplished. 

I had mentioned that I removed the short partition wall, started here:

This shows the scars left from that operation.

This next photo shows the result after patching, and adding a new light switch and receptacle, and paint.  I also patched the ceiling where the ceiling fan had been, and added three recessed lights (each with a 10.5 watt LED flood light—very bright; I will need to add a dimmer before moving in the bedroom). 

The north wall of the bedroom also needs work, a complete restructuring to remove the old single-glazed sliding window, and add two high-efficiency Andersen casement windows.  The next two photos show the wall before and after removing the drywall.

No more immediate work on that wall until we get a bit of warmer weather (which could be mid-January; never know around here), because the wall must be removed and a new one built, leaving a very large hole in the house for a day.

Next post will be about the master bathroom; I’ve installed the pre-fab shower pan and will start putting cement backerboard up on the shower walls. 

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