A Trip to the Top

stairsLet’s take a little trip up to the top of my house, to where I (might) need help.

I’ve mentioned before that if my house doesn’t sell (though of course I’m still hoping fervently that it does…and does so in time for me to get the “new” one I want), I’ve two projects left here I could tackle.

One is the kitchen, for which I’ve a fairly solid idea of what I’d do (see here). The other is my third floor (atop which sits a gabled roof so there are all kinds of crazy wall/ceiling issues), for which I’ve but a vague plan … not really a plan at all. Just a collection of disparate possibilities, all of which seem pricey and not DIY-type stuff. I mean…I’m good, but not THAT good. And I hate plumbing and am scared of major electric work.

bathRight now, the third floor is broken up into three rooms that are accessed off a small landing, plus a full bath…sort of. The toilet and tub are tucked into the front of the house under the eaves of the front window. The sink, however, is around the corner in what I call “the room where things go to die.” So the sink sinkaccessplumbing backs up to all the other plumbing, and I can’t figure out even to where I would move it if I felt like getting out the pipe wrench.

And anyway, there’s no room in the bathroom proper to add a sink. I’d also like to add a shower – which won’t work with the tub tucked under the window. But, the walls between the two could come down with little trouble…other than the plumbing

guestOne of the other rooms is the guest room our company intern is renting for the summer (she apologizes for the mess). The walls in that room are load bearing, so they’re not moving anywhere (I have neither the energy, expertise or money for that). Plus, the single air vent on the third floor is in that room, so it’s the only one up there that can be billed as a bedroom. Any work therein will be purely cosmetic…like rethinking the Venetian plaster effect I applied 10 years ago (ditto on the closet wall treatment below).

landingThe return for the bedroom air vent is in on the landing (so not very effective), and crosses partially in front of the bathroom door, which means that space is off limits…unless I move the return – which would, I think, be the easiest way to slightly enlarge the bath enough to make room for a sink and shower.

Anyway, the ducts in this old house really aren’t sufficient for heating and cooling four floors above the furnace and blower. To make the entire third-floor space comfortably livable, I’d need to investigate HVAC wall units; they’re pricey, but effective, efficient and quiet.

closetAlongside the guest room is my crazy-big walk-in closet (and no, you needn’t comment on the fact that I’ve too many clothes, thanks). The front of the closet is divided from the “sink room” (a.k.a. where things go to die) by simple slats – those could easily be removed to make the front room larger, which could then possibly be reconfigured into a bedroom while also carving out a little extra space for the bath.

landingSo here are my thoughts – keeping in mind that I don’t know how to do some of this stuff. Looking again at the landing (left). I’m thinking I can remove the return (and install three of these nifty wall HVAC units instead, one in each room), then move the bathroom wall out to where the right edge of the closet door is now, and push the bathroom door as far to the right as possible. That would give me 40″ square in which to install a small shower alongside the toilet, and a sink could go just inside the door. Of course, to do that, I’d have to rip up the floor to run the plumbing, but I wouldn’t miss the peel-n-stick vinyl. I’d also have to learn how to reroute plumbing. Then there’s the backer board, drywall and a lot of tiling. (I actually like installing tile; what I hate is grouting.)

The wall between the front room (where things go to die) would be pushed back into the closet, and the closet door would become the access to that room (which would be done up as a guest room, thereby forcing me to get rid of all the crap therein…and thereby providing another comfortable room to “rent” to WIA visitors). The slightly smaller closet would be accessed through the front room.

So to all of you who said a kitchen remodel was a major pain in the tuckus, I give you my third floor. I’m betting the kitchen is the easier of the two potential projects.

But let’s say I stay here and have both of these projects to keep me entertained (and increase my usable space, home value, etc.) – I still won’t have a proper shop. And no, Christopher Schwarz, I do not wish to give up my dining room…though it may come to that.

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About fitz

Editor & content director for Popular Woodworking, ABD PhD focused on early modern drama, freelance content and copy editor/writer, ailurophile
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17 Responses to A Trip to the Top

  1. Kerry Blue says:

    Are you serious??? Putting one’s home on the market gives one permission to completely overlook the less-than-perfect aspects of the house that one has learned to live with, allows one to “burn” the long-held but “put-off” plans for improvements and frees one to eat endless takeaway meals in order to keep the kitchen looking its best… Plus is public blogging of the perceived short-comings of your current residence a good idea when it’s listed for sale???? Give yourself a break, take some deep breaths and focus on all the things you love about the house. Someone else will walk into your home and either love it as is or will have their own “vision” for it. In the meantime, take up a new interest like belt sander racing to keep your mind – and hands – busy!

    • fitz says:

      I don’t see them as shortcomings, but opportunities IF my house doesn’t sell. And I feel confident it’s priced right, so yeah, someone will come in and love it as it is (and i do think there’s a lot to love). If I made those changes, it would cost a great deal more were I to then list it. Take out meals…hmmm…good idea.

  2. lostartpress says:

    My recommendation: A fifth of Rip Van Winkle bourbon.

    Or maybe you should send me to the place where things die.

  3. John Wolf says:

    What’s the problem with a shop in the dining room? I built a nice bench, ran lag bolts into the legs from the basement and put my tool chest in a convenient corner. If I’m feeding company I take the vises off the bench, cover the tool well and put a cloth on it. Since I always clean the shop at the end of the day, it’s always the consistently clean room in the house. What’s not to like?

  4. Frank says:

    Well good luck on what you want to do, as for those a/c units you talk about, remember you need to figure out the placement on those carefully, remember you still need supply and return refrigerant lines for each one and condensate lines also, then the placement of the condenser for them. You can run three units off of one, but the run of the lines cannot be more than 80 feet or it will not work then power for it. …. Good luck frank

    • fitz says:

      That’s good to know – thanks! (I’ve not really begun to dig into learning about these; if I have to do that, I’ll be begging for all the instruction you can provide)

      • Frank says:

        No problem at all, I used to do Hvac for a living, will be more than happy to help out. I will say this those units are expensive, if you have the space you may think about central air also. First find out changes in floor plan and we go from there. Just drop a line and we go from there… Good luck. Frank

  5. Gerald Jones says:

    If you are really considering this, it would be to your advantage to get yourself an architect to do the ground work. You can do some of the work but you can’t do it all. It still will be worth the cost to you. If your going to do it, do it right. Good Luck!!!

    • fitz says:

      IF I do it – and again, that’s only if I don’t sell this house – I’ll certainly be hiring my architect neighbor as a consultant. While I may not always pay heed to my limitations, I do know them 😉

      • Bill Alexander says:

        Megan, please, your neighbor may be your friend and may be giving you a break on costs. I would highly recommend hiring an independent architect whom has no ties with you ! You won’t regret it and you will be pleased with yourself ! Trust me ! I’m just a person who loves what you have done for Popular Woodworking and woodworking in general Thank you !

  6. jonathanszczepanski says:

    “The walls in that room are load bearing, so they’re not moving anywhere…”
    That sounds like quitter talk to me.

  7. p mcnulty says:

    3rd floor shop!
    P

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