In the midst of all of the chaos going on in our lives between resolving all of the structural issues at our new (old) Philly row and getting our New York apartment ready to sell, there are the moments spent daydreaming about how fabulous our new home will eventually be. After spending countless hours pinning images on Pinterest, I thought it would be fun to post about my inspirations for our house. Previously in Part 1, I posted about the outdoor spaces both front and back, then in Part 2 I did a tour of the first floor. In my third and final installment, I wanted to take you upstairs to the rest of the house and share my current ideas. It will be fun to look back in a year or two to see how much of this translated into what we actually do. As with my previous post in this series, for the sake of brevity, I am going to keep the inspiration images to a minimum to convey my thoughts and ideas, but trust me…. I have LOTS of ideas and these images only scratch the surface.
OK, so let’s start with the second floor in the rear. The second floor is broken up into two distinct zones. The rear zone is accessed via a single door on the landing 2/3 of the way up the stairs (shaded area on floor plan). Because this area is separate from the rest of the house, we immediately thought it would make an ideal guest room with en suite bath. The room has low 7’ 9” ceilings (like the dining room and kitchen below) and as best as I can determine, it was originally quarters for the live in staff. I will delve into that in future posts, but it was clearly not intended to be a part of the rest of the house.
The guest room itself is decent sized at about eleven by fifteen feet. And the en suite bath is fairly large as well at about eleven by eight feet. I’ll get to the guest bath in a moment, but for the guest room, my plans for the guest room are to keep it it light and bright. This corner of the house gets a lot of sunshine and I want our guests to feel at home. But of course that does not mean there won’t be some bold color.
I am thinking of doing a simple board and batten wainscoting on the walls, keeping it white, but then adding a bold color to the upper wall and ceiling. Perhaps not hot pink, but a bold color nonetheless. Since there is little original detail in this space, we have some freedom to do what we want. I also want to pull the heinous asphalt tile floor. Given how little has been done to the house overall for the past 165 years, I fully expect the original wood floor to be under the tile. I don’t expect it will be in very nice condition and will use a time tested finish…. Paint. Painted floors were very common in the 19th century, and something tells me that painting it will be the best option.
The guest bath is currently the only full bath in the house (there is the half bath on the first floor). Wow is it frightful!…. I am guessing it was it was last renovated in the style of slumlord chic sometime in the 80s. Then, to add to to the butt ugly, we discovered that water inconveniently drips through the ceiling in the kitchen below when you shower, necessitating the addition of a sheet of plastic around the tub walls to keep the water in the tub.
Even more wacky….. From the very first time that indoor plumbing was introduced to the house in the late 19th century, everyone on the second and third floors of the main house has had to schlepp down at least a half flight of stairs to the far rear of the house at night to answer the call of nature. Yikes!
There is absolutely nothing of any merit or value in the current bathroom aside from the original door. We plan to replace all of the existing fixtures with no plans to rearrange any of them, even though having the toilet in the corner like it is seems strange and odd. As with the guest room, I want to do the same board and batten treatment, keeping it simple. We will add a tile floor, update the lighting, and instead of a tub, I want to install a walk-in shower for when my parents visit. Hopefully, it will be a straight forward update without any drama.
This view of the second floor front bedroom is from the listing photo. At thirteen by fifteen, this is the largest bedroom in the house, even though the bedroom above it in the third floor is exactly the same size. The difference? Ceiling height. The second floor ceilings are nine foot whereas they are a foot lower on the third floor. Given the higher ceilings, the 200 square foot room is the largest bedroom by volume so it makes the most sense to use as our master bedroom. Beyond the the addition of a corner closet sometime in the 60s and the removal of the original coal burning fireplace, the room is mostly unchanged for the past 165 years. It retains the original floors, millwork, and very impractical 12 inch deep closet in the corner.
Plans for the room itself are fairly simple. Remove the awkward corner closet which doesn’t belong, refinish the floors, and paint it Drawing Room Blue (Farrow & Ball, No 253). Yes, I know…. Another dark room, but given that the primary purpose of a bedroom is sleeping, it makes complete sense to have the space be dark… So long as it is also cozy. I have literally spent hours searching for an inspiration image which matches my vision of our bedroom. This one is the closest I could find. The look I am going for is what I would describe as elegant gentleman’s lounge with modern flair. Probably not a leather headboard (but perhaps a leather club chair or bench), instead I would really like to find a vintage Eastlake bed frame, or maybe a four poster? I also have an amazing vintage 1910 crystal chandelier (purchased for our bedroom in NYC, but never installed) which I can’t wait to share.
As previously noted above, for the past 125 or so years, people sleeping on the second and third floors of the main house had to schlepp down at least a half flight of stairs to go pee at three am. Well… No more. The floor plan is the future state of what we want to do. We are going to convert the small bedroom adjacent to our master bedroom into a master bath and walk-in closet. We plan to close off the hallway door, re-open a previous doorway between the two bedrooms (like the door between the bedrooms above on the third floor), and create a nice little oasis just for the two of us.
I have many ideas for the bathroom as far as style goes, but there are a few items which are an absolute for me. Primarily, I want the shower to have a bench to sit on, a rain shower head in the ceiling, and car-wash spray heads to maximize the showering experience. I also want a washlet toilet for the “oh so fresh” feeling after a good sit-down (yes, I went there). I had originally planned to create a large windowed walk-in shower in front of the window in the back of the room, but after dealing with the structural issues on the rear wall, I am hesitant to put up tile walls in an area that could possibly have future movement. Instead, we will put a freestanding tub in front of the window (clawfoot perhaps?). For a shower, I will recess the area where we plan to put the closet, resulting in a long skinny space with a closet tucked behind the shower. This is of course subject to change, but the floor-plan conveys my initial idea.
One of the huge and very exciting things for me when we were looking at houses was the realization that we could very easily obtain a house which had a third floor I could utilize as studio space for myself. I have long had an artistic side, and although I have been creative over the years, I have mostly had to “back burner” my creative talent in the name of establishing a career and building a comfortable life. One of the plans for our new life in Philly is to be able to pull back a bit and spend more time on what we love. For me that is art.
How I am going to put my talent to work, I have yet to determine, but the one thing I have never had is any space beyond the corner of a living room to create. Now I will have the entire 400 square foot third floor as my own creative space (which will be separate from my wood-shop in the basement).
My plans are fairly simple. I have no plans to alter the spaces, but instead will use the two rooms for different purposes. In the front room, I plan to set up my studio space starting with putting a desk between the two windows overlooking the park. I also want to build a large work table on wheels to use for project work, and set up a comfortable seating area for chilling. At the moment, I am thinking I should paint the walls and ceiling bright white. The floor is original, but not in great shape. Rather than try to refinish it and be constantly stressed about getting paint or other permanent crap on it, I am going to use the same time tested finish as the guest room…. Paint. The big benefit of painting the floor is that it can be painted again and again.
In the rear room, I will take advantage of our new master bath below and add the plumbing for a utility sink to wash up and clean brushes, etc. (I am also going to bring a waste pipe up from below to accommodate a future toilet so we can create a third fill bath should we ever need to sell). I’m really liking this stainless steel restaurant sink with built in drainboard. Along with the sink, I want to build out shelving to store supplies and such.
In the interior area of the rear room, I want to carve out a meditation space where I can shut the world off for a while and let go of the outside world… The photo below is a bit much, but there is something quite cozy about this space.
Well…. That about sums up the whole house! OK, I didn’t talk about the basement beyond a wood-shop, but I am still figuring that one out. All of these ideas will be refined as we begin work on them, but I am confident that a lot of what I envision will come to pass…. Even if it takes a few years. I do hope you have enjoyed my daydreams for our house, and I do hope you will stick around and watch the transformation.