Finding Space for a Master Bath

An underused bedroom finds new life as an expanded master bathroom.

What do you do when your clients' dreams of a master bath far exceed the space in their existing bathroom, which is down the hall from the master bedroom? To make things more difficult, their dreams far exceed their budget, which just can't stretch enough to cover an addition. As a remodeler, you have to come up with a creative solution to the space and checkbook limitations.

When Tim Sweeney, a construction company owner, faced just that problem during a project on a home in Madison, Wis., he proposed turning an underused extra bedroom into a spectacular master bath. Tim's company already was involved in modernizing the plumbing and electrical in the 1950s house to accommodate the new kitchen and other demands of 21st-century lifestyles. "With all of this work already under way," Tim says, "we proposed that we tackle the bath question as well."

Tim's suggestion was to open a wall between an existing bath and a little-used bedroom and turn the entire space into a master bath. The result would be a true luxury spa with whirlpool bath, walk-in closet and huge glass-enclosed shower.

Tim's creative solution delighted the homeowners. He was able to turn problems into opportunities. For example, his design allowed for a bench under a dormer with a very low ceiling.

The challenges didn't stop with an elegant design, though. Tim couldn't use conventional plywood in the subfloor, because of the possibility of formaldehyde emissions that might cause a serious allergic reaction for the man of the house. So Tim used limestone tile with marble for the countertops and sealed all of the cabinet. "We even had to look at the type of paint we used," Tim says.

The loss of a bedroom from the home's floor plan was a nonissue, Tim says. "The homeowner still has two bedrooms on the second floor and an office on the first floor can serve as a third bedroom. They felt that was sufficient to their needs."

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