Third Floor Bath Renovation and Addition in Historic Mt. Pleasant Washington, DC
Project Overview: We first worked for this client in 2011 when we gutted and remodeled his basement. He was thrilled with the design and construction of the project and promised to be in touch in the future with new projects. Located in the historic Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington DC, the house had largely been upgraded, but there were areas that were original to when the home was built. One such area was the third floor bathroom and in 2013 we began the design phase for the renovation and expansion of this space.
Design and Layout: The end goal was to increase the size of the bathroom and create a large walk-in closet. This was accomplished by converting an existing adjoining closet to bathroom space, and enclosing an open balcony to create the new walk-in closet. Because this addition required exterior work, it was necessary to gain approval from historic review. Part of the motivation to expand the footprint of the bathroom, was to upgrade to a walk-in shower and freestanding tub as well as adding storage by way of built-in cabinetry. Increasing natural light was also a priority, which was accomplished by strategically placing a skylight over the tub. The combination of this skylight and the tub’s placement on axis with the window allows for a unique experience while relaxing in the bath.
Style and Finishes: Our goal was to create a modern, spa-like bathroom. Our designers recommended sleek fixtures in bright white and chrome. Paint colors and tile where kept in the gray scale, with the one “pop” being the matching walnut vanity and storage cabinetry. The textured tile in the shower runs the full length of the wall so as to unify the shower area and vanity. The bulky radiator was replaced with a low profile, hydronic model (which doubles as a towel warmer), and a radiant floor mat was installed beneath the floor tile as a supplemental heat source for cold winter days. For the exterior, we located salvaged slate to match the weathered, existing siding, and rebuilt the rear soffit and fascia board to match the original detailing of the home more closely.
Construction and Final Product: The bathroom was located on the third floor which is always challenging from a logistical perspective: hauling materials and waste up and down the stairs, setting up pump jacks for the exterior work etc. As is often the case when remodeling older homes, our crew discovered some unexpected conditions once demolition was complete. We opened up the attic for the purpose of insulation and framing the new skylight, and discovered that the original roof framing was framed unconventionally. This required substantial structural work to reach code compliance, and added several days to the project. The plumbing risers feeding the bathroom were the original galvanized pipes so these were replaced with copper from the basement to the third floor. Additionally, the home owner asked us to add a few items to the project such as replacing a window in an adjoining office (to match the new ones in the bathroom) and some light electrical work on the second floor. Despite the add-ons and extra framing work, we wrapped the project up on schedule, and the homeowner remains thrilled with the final outcome.
What the Customer Said: I’m writing again – I am fortunate to be a repeat customer. They say that galvanized piping from before the 60’s is on its last legs. So I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that my third floor bath of my centenarian DC row house sprung a leak under the old cast iron claw foot tub. With all the improvements made to the old house, the third floor bath attained ugliest-spot status and was the bane of my existence. Cracked tiles haphazardly repaired, original details replaced or removed over the last hundred years, and old plaster walls that left the room colder than my refrigerator made it the least pleasant space. But it worked. I had visions of maybe just replacing some tiles – a cosmetic fix to make it just barely bearable. So I actually felt relieved when the leak came and the pipe had to be dug out of the concrete and capped. No longer a usable bathroom, and with no decision in my mind as to which team would assist me, it was just a matter of how to design my new space. With an adjoining balcony that I never use (they were for sleeping before AC was invented or so I’m told) and a poorly configured adjoining hall closet, we had a great space to work with. The end result was a beautiful modern bath space (with heated floors and a skylight!), custom built in cabinetry, and an adjoining walk-in-closet. But what remains unseen are the new sister joists, the spray foam insulation, the reinforcements to the roof structure, and all the other details underneath the beautiful exterior that will keep the occupants happy for the next hundred years. The Four Brothers came through from design to finish.