Master Suite Created from “MasterLaundryBath” & Open Doorway

The addition of a house onto our old house in 2005, essentially gave us space we needed while our girls were at home: bedrooms and baths for them and a library and dining room for us all. But, we neglected the mom and dad’s “greater needs” in the process: a private master suite and a garage (We tackled the latter this summer; a new post about it is upcoming).

Instead of a master bathroom we had a “masterlaundrybath” consisting of a fiberglass tub/shower combo and a washer & dryer behind old folding doors. The room cloyed like a cave–no window–no ambient light. Besides the (oftentimes humorous) annoyance of girls’ knocking on the door in the wee hours looking for their clothes while daddy was showering, the room, like our bedroom, opened up into the living room/kitchen area. I didn’t like it when guests arrived for dinner parties as my husband, Kerry, was still in the shower. Conversations in the kitchen were punctuated by the sound of spraying water. To me, the lack of privacy chafed, though Kerry didn’t seem to mind.

Below are pics of the old bathroom. I’m posting plenty so that you can see just what an unappealing/inefficient space it was.

The door of the bathroom opened out into the living room.
I never could find anything in that dark hole.
One thing to remember if you are putting your laundry room in your master bathroom: when you hang laundry to dry, it won’t be so attractive in your bathroom. This situation drove me nuts every time I air-dryed anything.

So last summer, with a bit of arm twisting, I convinced Kerry that we simply had to do something about our master suite. We had both studied the situation for years, and we knew that adding on wasn’t an option; we didn’t want to lose the view where the bathroom would have to extend. So, with existing square footage in mind, we figured out how to get what we wanted with as little investment as possible.

The first thing to tackle: privacy. We had an opening into a little square area from which the living room, bathroom, bedroom, and a closet opened. We postured that if the builder could make a doorway out of that opening, then we would essentially create a private suite. The builder, our great friend, Tony Beckman, agreed.

Open area becomes doorway

The old windowed door allows light into the new “hallway” with reeded tempered glass (from Lawrenceburg Glass Inc. that also gives privacy.

It is interesting to note the doors we used in our remodel. Years ago before my mother’s family’s home was torn down, my aunt, who owned the house at the time, allowed Kerry and me to go in and remove whatever we wanted. We pulled out windows for a future greenhouse. We removed as many doors as were still viable and stored them in our barn. When the remodel started, I twisted my husband’s arm again to allow us to clean up the doors and use them throughout the master suite. This was not necessarily a cost savings; doors had to be painstakingly cleaned & sanded, some painted, and all adapted with hinges & knobs. As a lover of doors, the process was exciting.

Kerry cleaning doors. Using a power washer on a low setting was not advisable, but it let us get rid of chipping paint
The doors arrayed while drying look like a work of art.
We just couldn’t paint some of the doors. After all, my family’s history is alive in every color of every layer.
Our closet door. I love the colors revealed when we worked on the door. We also discovered that all doors are fir.
The interior door in the master bedroom closet.
This one is my favorite of all. The green in the cracks allowed me to pull my favorite color into the little hallway. It visually separates the white living room, bedroom, and bath. My sister, whom I called before I could saturate the green in the hallway, told me to go for it! She said she loves green too!
The small door from my grandparents’ attic was perfect for the water closet that gave us privacy in the bathroom. Tony designed it as a “stall” that allows more than one person to use the bathroom at the same time.
Sherwin Williams’ Privilege Green is the loveliest of shades of my favorite color.

The bathroom took well over two months to complete. It would have taken less time had we stuck to the original plan. But, after adding sentimental doors and other “slip ins” to the project (like a small closet re-do) and new lighting for the kitchen island, we stretched out the timeline. It was so worth the effort, however. Below are interim stages of the project. They are important because they show what our limitations were. Each issue that popped up ended up in this kind of conversation:

Me: I want a shower too! Can we squeeze it in here?

Tony: No. You only have so many inches of space to deal with. You have to choose. Bathtub or shower with no windows if you can’t move the washer and dryer.

Me: You are really a buzz kill! Do you know that?

Removing the laundry closed opened up the room tremendously!
With the shower gone, we could now open up window space. We used 4″ bead board saved from our kitchen/coffered ceiling remodel on the walls. The 2″ bead board on the ceiling came from my grandparents’ house. We tore it out of closets and the stairwell during a sweltering hot summer.
Our friends, Miles Dooley, Wes Beckman, and Tony Beckman are about to open up the windows!
Let there be ambient light!
Me: I need a medicine cabinet that doesn’t stick out. Tony: where would you like to put it? Me: On this blank wall beside my sink. Can you cut out the studs and wire it for electric toothbrushes? Tony: Your wish is my command.
With very limited space, I had the cabinet designer, Lee Rudy, create a pullout door with rods. He also surprised me with an oversized laundry drawer.
Not an inch of space is wasted in this bathroom/laundry room combo. Pull out drawers allow storage all the way to the back walls on either side of the tub.
The stackable GE washer & dryer (from McMasters Home Gallery fit perfectly in their temporary space. The cabinets are designed to be moved as well. Our next addition will be space added onto our master closet with the washer & dryer and cabinets moved there. Note that the light is not centered over the w/d. It is actually centered over the space where the shower will eventually be located.

And now for the finished product! It’s cozy and warm, light and efficient. It blends elegance and rustic simplicity. It’s not fancy, oh no, or lavish. It suits us perfectly.

Freestanding 66×36 Ariosa tub & fixtures: Tallman Co., | Milforde porcelain semi-recessed sink: Signature Hardware | Paint on walls: Sherwin Williams Alabaster
Curtain hiding the washer & dryer: Ikea
Countertop: Southeastern Salvage | Custom mirror: Lawrenceburg Glass| Fixtures: Tallman Co.
| Lighting: Shoals Lighting
| Cabinet design: Lee Rudy
The ledge was made from a fallen cherry tree on our farm. Tony Beckman designed it as a free floating ledge.
Ah, the view!
The water closet features sketches I found at Old School Antiques in St. Joseph, TN. I loved Barbara Ward’s work so well that I bought most of her collection.
Building with these guys was terrific fun. From left: Wes Beckman, Butch Jackson, and Tony Beckman of Beckman Wood Works. Missing was Miles Dooley, who was gone to Bonnaroo, and Kerry, who was doing his “real” job.

I can’t stress enough that when you work on projects, you must find talented builders who are intuitive, can decipher your ideas and temper those that are impractical, and whose work is always the utmost in quality. We are thrilled with our new master suite. It’s not perfect–I would never choose to have a laundry room in my master bathroom. But, that’s an addition for another day.


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    Suzy Tidwell

    I love reading your stories. Your master bathroom is adorable. I love the old doors! Tony Beckman and crew are the best. Maybe one I can stop by and see the improvement. Love you!

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