Planning the Cottage Interior: The Second Floor

Now that we’ve gone over how the layout of the first floor of the cottage is going to change, let’s move on to the second floor (which we toured here!)! I appreciate the feedback on the first floor—even though the basic framing work is more or less complete already, there are still a million and one things to think about before I start really putting things back together. Luckily I have some time since I still have to get all the mechanical stuff (HVAC, plumbing, electric, insulation—oh my!) sorted before I can start beautifying, but hopefully not too much time. I want to move on to the fun stuff!

As with the first floor, the major framing work has more or less been completed at this point on the second, but I still think it’s important to get a sense of this stuff before I dive into the process of how it all actually went down. I’m psyched about the first floor, but I’m really excited about the second floor. I feel like I’ve had a better sense since Day 1 of how I want it to look and feel up there, and it just has so much potential. I think it’s going to be pretty spectacular.

I wanted to get this post up a few days ago, but then I got obsessed with trying to make the SketchUp models more accurate by showing the pitch of the walls and ceilings. I DID IT FOR YOU, SO TRY TO ENJOY IT. It was really hard because I’m bad at computers and it’s not perfect but I have to tear myself away and move on. Playing with SketchUp is a lot like how I played The Sims for hours on end as a kid, except there isn’t a virtual person you can create and then brutally starve at the end of it all. Kids are monsters.


Anyway, the reason the ceilings are so important is that there’s no attic in the house, so the plan is to vault the ceilings! I’m so excited about this, and just how much bigger and brighter the whole space will feel as a result. I’m including this sketch of the exterior (excuse the lack of windows or doors downstairs…you get the idea) to show the basic shape of the roof line. Funny, right? The way it pitches in two different directions?

I’ve mentioned before that I think this house was originally some sort of secondary structure for one of the neighboring houses, like a carriage house or something. The “middle” section, where the roof pitches oppositely from the back and front, is the old, original part of the structure—this is the area that currently houses the dining room and staircase downstairs and will become a bathroom upstairs. The front section of the house appears to be a product of two separate additions, and the back of the house (where the kitchen and smaller bedroom are) are another addition. I think that the original section dates from about the mid-19th century and the additions all seem to be early 20th. I’m trying to get more information about it.

ANYWAY, you might be able to tell on the renderings that the whole roof situation causes some funny quirks with the space, but I don’t mind!


These before/after renderings don’t take into account the pitch of the roof, since I thought it was easier to see what was going on without that. As with before, the bottom of the photo is the front of the house, so let’s start there!

Welcome to the new master bedroom! It’s large and wonderful. The old space was so weird and chopped up, what with the two closets at the front of the house and the only bathroom in the house basically built into the room. The bathroom was the real problem here—the bathroom itself was small, and it made the rest of the room feel cramped and unpleasant.


If you take the front exterior wall of the house away, this is more or less how things look! That bed in the “after” rendering is so ugly. Oh 3D Warehouse…

SO. The two closets in the front flanking the windows get removed entirely, and traded for closets along the back wall of the room, flanking the door. I originally planned to keep the existing closets, but they seemed to take up a lot of space without actually providing very much storage because of the sloped ceiling, and made the whole room feel a little closed in. The new closets are much bigger and have some usable height for shelving and whatnot, and are more out of the way. Obviously they’re going to have doors and stuff…I think I have a plan for this all to look great and not awkward like it does on the plan.

One thing to note is that I didn’t include the collar-ties in the rendering (the horizontal framing pieces that tie the rafters together), but those will be here and will be exposed. I’m planning to just paint them white and I think they’ll be nice! I’d definitely rather see the painted collar ties and have the ceiling go all the way up to the peak of the roof than do a flat ceiling, even though Edwin thinks I’m crazy.

The bedroom door gets shifted over a couple of feet, basically to where the old bathroom door used to be. I’ll reuse the old 5 panel door, of course!


Moving toward the back of the house, this is the area above the dining room. If this house were bigger, it would have been nice to leave this area totally open as a nice reading nook kind of zone, but that would just be a big waste of space here. Instead, I’ve narrowed the hallway somewhat (it’s still 4 feet wide, so the size is still fairly generous), and added a little over 6 feet of closet space that will go from floor to ceiling. The closet is about 18″ deep—perfect for linens and just general storage. I know firsthand how difficult storage can be in a small space, so I’m trying to take any opportunity I can to build it in!

Spoiler: originally I wanted to vault all of the ceilings in the upstairs, but once we gutted and Edwin and I talked (and talked, and talked, and talked), it became clear that vaulting the ceiling in this middle section was not a great option. There were so many crazy angles with the two different roof pitches and a LOT of necessary framing to get everything stabilized and safe…you’ll see. It’s totally fine, though—we were still able to raise the ceiling several inches from what it was, and I think it will be somehow more interesting and dramatic to vault the ceilings just in the bedrooms.


There isn’t really anything to see in the “before” rendering of the bathroom. Essentially the room was a bit narrower (because the old hallway was wider) and was being called a third bedroom, but it was really small and weird as a bedroom. This bathroom is going to be NICE, though. It’s definitely pretty spacious (especially for an old house and one of this size) but not stupidly huge, and I think it’s just going to be all-around really great. The plan is a toilet, tub (I’m picturing something kind of 1920s, with a curved corner preferably!)) and double sinks. These sinks aren’t at all what I’m picturing—they were just the first ones I could get to load in SketchUp. I’d love to do two vintage pedestal sinks or wall-mounted ones or something, although I know people will shit all over me if I don’t build in some storage. I’ll figure it out!

Anyway, I’m excited about the bathroom. I spend too much time thinking about fixtures and materials and endlessly debating whether to put in a tile floor or not. I’m leaning toward yes…I have LOTS of flooring to patch in elsewhere so I could use the old boards, and it would be pretty luxe to do radiant floor heat in here, and it might brighten things up a bit besides. It wouldn’t be very expensive.


The second bedroom (which is smaller but still a nice size and easily fits a full bed) undergoes the fewest changes of any room! The ceiling is getting vaulted in here, too (again, with exposed and painted collar-ties), and you’ll notice that I did decide to lose the closet. I know, scandal! I mentioned this back when we toured the second floor prior to demo and a lot of people gave me virtual stink-eye, but it’s the best thing for in here. I checked with the building department and there is definitely no requirement in Kingston for a bedroom to have a dedicated closet to be called a bedroom, so that isn’t an issue. I don’t think buyers necessarily expect it here, either…old houses typically don’t have closets, and pretty much all the houses here are old! The rendering might help (or not?) show that the closet didn’t actually provide a lot of storage space, but it was really large and sort of took over the room. It feels SO much bigger and nicer without it. There’s still space for a nice freestanding armoire, which will achieve the same thing but just fit the space so much better.

So there it is, the second floor! I’m excited to show pictures of the space all framed out—it’s so exciting for me at least to see it at this stage, when you can really get a sense of how the space is going to pan out.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 12.11.14
    Rachel said:

    OMG I love it to death. I want to live in this house so badly!!! We live in a teeny old 2-bedroom rental house as it is, but I would kill for a larger bedroom and a second bathroom, not to even mention how beautiful I’m sure it will be when it’s all done :)

    If you do pedestal sinks in the bathroom maybe there’s a way you could fit in a cupboard somewhere that wouldn’t look dumb? One of the nice and surprising things about our place is it’s a large bathroom for an old house, but it has a pedestal sink and an overhead cabinet over the toilet (like, a for real overhead kitchen cabinet, not those tacky wooden mini-cabinets you hang on the wall).

    • 12.15.14
      Kelly in MA said:

      Could you do a upper cabinet above the toilet? I fin this space is often wasted and then people bring in those horribly ugly over the toilet cheepo cabinets. If your worried about it protruding too much into the space, I recently saw a tiny home where they recessed the couple of upper cabinets in the kitchen into the space between the studs. It recessed the cabinets just enough that they looked slim line but offered the full depth of a normal cabinet (they used them for glass wear and dishes, a full sized dinner plate fit. That way you have the storage you need and then you can do the double pedestals and not get raked over the coals.

      I know you said that a closet isn’t required in the second bedroom but I can help but think that as you walk into the room in the back right corner you could do a small closet and segment into a window seat or a built in desk (like your office/guest room). I love the idea of curling up with a good book and reading by the window. There may even be enough room to do a window seat and then a small desk on the other side.

      Just tossing some ideas out there. It looks amazing, keep up the good work!!!

  2. 12.11.14
    Adrien said:

    Holy Sketchup skills!

    I eventually gave up on sims characters (aside from making the guys fall in love with eachother. whoot progressive gameplay!) and spent most of the time just designing houses.

  3. 12.11.14
    Mis said:

    Great space planning! This cottage will be spectacular

  4. 12.11.14
    Jill said:

    That definitely makes a lot more sense than the original layout. Did you ever consider adding windows to the back wall (the one you have the bed against) in the smaller bedroom? With the houses being so close on either side, isn’t there a better view out the back? And light always seems to penetrate a room better when the window is on the long wall of a rectangular room. It’d give you a very natural space for a large closet too, which I think buyers, though they may not expect it, would be excited about.

    Something like this:

    • 12.11.14
      Nancy said:

      I like that – a lot!

    • 12.11.14
      Holland VanDieren said:

      That 2nd bedroom solution looks excellent … is there a technical reason I’m missing that it would not work?

    • 12.12.14
      AuntHo said:

      GREAT solution. More windows, better view! And that bed placement might not have been intentional but it was bugging me; it breaks up whatever flow there is in the room. Yours feels much more natural, even with less space.

      Your plan creates that natural closet space, so it’s sort of a no-brainer, but it seems like it could work as a desk or TV space too. No closet makes the room’s function a lot more flexible. Since Daniel’s not the final owner, I’d say let buyers decide.

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      I’ve considered something like that—ultimately it sort of came down to cost/time/labor…but I’ll keep thinking about it! Since the house is set so far back on the property, those existing windows actually look out into the neighbor’s backyard space, not at their houses, so they actually get very nice light and all that. Windows on the other wall definitely feel a little more natural (I don’t know why they weren’t done that way in the first place, honestly…), but yeah…that’s a pretty big additional project to add to the list! As a few other people have brought up, I feel like this room could end up being a few different things for different buyers, like a guest room or an office, so personally I’m not overly concerned about the closet. And even if it is another bedroom, adding a freestanding piece of furniture (or a built-in closet, really) isn’t a big deal.

    • 12.13.14
      Jill said:

      Didn’t you remove an original window from the living room downstairs because it was right where you put a wall? Do you still have that window? I appreciate your not wanting to limit the flexibility of the small bedroom by installing the closet, but not installing a window in the long wall limits the flexibility to install a closet! I think a lot of people who want use the room as a bedroom would be quite hesitant to leave themselves with only one small window on the far end of that room. But a room with a window on all sides would be the ultimate in flexibility and also just be pretty and light even if you never cover one up.

      If you already have the window, then it would be just the cost of labor to install it in the center of that long wall. Tell Edwin I’m batting my eyelashes at him VERY seductively and see if that helps with the price.

  5. 12.11.14
    Nancy said:

    Looks very nice. Amazing that the before bathroom was in the place that it was. Ugh!

    I would strongly consider some kind of vanity with storage in the bathroom.

    And if this is going to be a rental property, I think it would be a mistake not to put a closet in the 2nd bedroom. Need to consider what size furniture can go up those stairs.

    • 12.11.14
      Niki said:

      This is a really good point. Low ceilings and those stairs might make getting big furniture like armoires a pain to get up there.

  6. 12.11.14
    Ann said:

    Since the walls are open, I urge you to build in medicine cabinets over each sink. I recently put them in my master bathroom and I’m amazed how much storage of bottles, jars, potions and medicines they offer, plus giving me a mirror over each sink. I’m in love with medicine cabinets! Plus two medicine cabinets will keep two people’s stuff separate, a bonus if one person is neat and the other isn’t.

    I quite like this house and look forward to every installment about it.

    • 12.11.14
      beks said:

      I second this! I’m getting ready to do this in my house, its the only place I’ve ever lived that didn’t have cabinets built into the walls and I wonder why?!?
      Even if the room was big enough to have a storage unit, its really nice to have cosmetics / hair stuff close to the sink. And bonus, when you open it you can stand to the side of the sink and get really close to the mirror when plucking your brows.

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Thanks guys! I, too, love a medicine cabinet! I plan to do something like that once I find my sink(s) and know where proper placement will be. Hopefully soon!

  7. 12.11.14

    I looooove everything you are doing with the cottage – especially the vaulted ceiling. Maybe you can add a trapdoor above the middle part for extra storage room (for stuff like x-mas decorations).
    As always: can’t wait to see what you do next!
    Greetings from Germany

    • 12.11.14

      This is a great idea, and it would make not being about to vault the ceilings an advantage. Would this be a possibility?

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      I think this might make more sense when I show pictures of the actual space (not quite as streamlined as the SketchUp models!), but I don’t think that’s an option—that space up there is kind of a jumbled mess of framing…not nearly as open and empty as it looks here! I don’t think it’s really usable for anything, unfortunately!

  8. 12.11.14
    Sterling said:

    I think this is going to turn out really lovely. Radiant heating in the bathroom would be a great feature given how cold y’all get in the winters. And don’t listen to the haters, closets taking up a bunch of space and making the place cramped help no one. Can’t wait to see you get to the finishing stage.

  9. 12.11.14
    Jill said:

    If you haven’t already, you should add blocking in the walls around the bathtub where glass shower door mounting hardware would be screwed in. Even if you don’t intend to install glass doors, your buyer might, and it’s so easy and inexpensive to add that blocking now. Adding blocking in the living room downstairs where a TV might be wall-mounted would also be really nice. Again, very cheap and easy to do now, and SO hard to add later. If you know where your towel bars are going in the bathroom, this is also a good time to add wood where those would screw in too. Wet towels get heavy, and those bars get yanked on a bit, and I’ve had several hooks/bars loosen and pull out.

    >Ann: I quite like this house and look forward to every installment about it.

    Me too!

    • 12.11.14
      Lisa said:

      Yeah, see, I’d buy a house with no storage but not one with no shower upstairs…

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Oh, the tub will double as a shower! I’ll definitely keep the blocking in mind!

    • 12.13.14
      Ann said:

      You can easily add blocking for grab bars in the tub area (check the ADA requirements for height and make the blocking long to accommodate any length bar!), and near the toilets where grab bars might be needed some day. We are all one slip away from disability; ask any orthopedist how many ladder falls or dog leash stumbles come through the office doors in a month!

      I had a broken ankle last year, and for 3 long weeks I couldn’t put any weight on it at all; grab bars gave me independence when I most needed it. And now that the ankle is no longer broken, I find having a grab bar in the shower comes in very handy.

  10. 12.11.14
    Krista said:

    Layout is looking good – you must be excited to get to the next step.
    Boring question: but how does your 2nd floor bathroom plumbing work?
    I’m guessing the ground floor powder room hooks up the existing waste stack, but the 2nd floor washroom seems sort of far away from where I am guessing the existing is – are you adding in a new waste stack or connecting some other way.
    Sorry, architect queries… just curious really…

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Not a boring question at all! I think the plan is to run the plumbing through the wall between the downstairs closet and the dining room. We framed it with 2×6 for this purpose, so hopefully it’ll be fairly simple! My plumber took a look at it and thinks that’s a fine plan…of course I won’t relax about it until everything is roughed in! :)

  11. 12.11.14
    Mary said:

    It looks beautiful, Daniel—good job!
    We gutted our small bathroom and used the area between the studs for a cabinet. Our “Edwin” made a box and got glass for shelving and made a door. Works great and looks good. I wanted pedestal sinks too–and got them!

    • 12.11.14
      Holland VanDieren said:

      In my last house I added a ton of shallow storage between studs of an interior wall just outside my bathroom, stacking two cabinets within the space from door height down to the base. Only the overlay doors stood proud of the wall itself, so nothing was lost from the usable footprint. These cabs held tp rolls, all my potions, lotions, sundries ‘n stuff. If your drywall’s not up yet, perfect time to consider grabbing some space.

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Planning on it! I love shallow built-ins like that! I actually prefer it to deeper shelves…I hate not being able to see everything!

  12. 12.11.14
    Sandy said:

    I know opinions are like assholes; everybody’s got one and they all stink. However, I’m going to throw in my two cents anyway :) Too keep storage/closet space in the second bedroom have you considered a giant built in on the bed wall that would contain closet space, nightstands and a carved in nook for the bed. It could act as the sole focal point in a small room without sacrificing anything.

    Good luck, it looks great!

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Thanks, Sandy! I think that’s one of those things I’d prefer to leave to a future owner to sort out, honestly…they could end up using the room for any number of things, and may want to customize something like that to their needs, you know? But I’m continuing to think about storage and good solutions!

  13. 12.11.14
    Cair said:

    Wow, this new layout is soooo much better! I can see why you are so excited about it. Count me in on the side that says no closet in the second bedroom is just fine, and while storage in the bathroom is necessary to live there, it isn’t necessary in the renovation (well, maybe a medicine cabinet or something). People can add their own storage touch when they move in. Afterall, there is a heck of a lot of storage on the other side of the wall.

  14. 12.11.14
    threadbndr said:

    Wow, that’s some wonderful changes. That sad little ‘third bedroom’ made NO sense, and the new layout does.

    I’m on the ‘closet in the second bedroom’ team, but only because THE Bungalow has the typical 1920-30s closet situation – ie inadequate (bedrooms) to non-existent (coat, pantry and broom) and I fantasize about closet organizing systems and a place to put the vacuum.

  15. 12.11.14
    Lisa said:

    In my opinion, bathroom storage is overrated. Towels get damp, definitely don’t want to put sheets in there. A set of drawers, and a good counterspace is really plenty for most people. Bathroom luxury, on the other hand is often under-rated, except in horrid California McMansions. I’d tile this bathroom beautifully, in white subway tiles, and use gorgeous chrome fixtures. Maybe even a rain forest shower. I’d do two in-counter sinks with dark green marble counter and chrome legs.

    Then whatever reno-savvy people say to do to increase of the stuff nobody uses, well, I defer to the experts:).

    • 12.11.14
      Lisa said:

      Plus I love everything you are doing in this upstairs. I lived in a house like this in Pennsylvania and the upstairs rabbit warren could have been SO wonderful, redone for serenity and space.

  16. 12.11.14
    Sarah said:

    So excited to see this come to life! Where is the laundry in the house? Will it be in the basement?

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Yes, I should have mentioned! I really didn’t want to put it in the basement, but ultimately the machines take up so much space (plus the area to maneuver around them, store laundry stuff, etc. etc.) that it didn’t make sense to eat up that much room on the two finished floors. I’ll do everything I can to make the basement not creepy! :)

  17. 12.11.14
    Melissa said:

    It’s so much fun to watch your progress, especially the planning stages! Question. I’ve always thought that for a bedroom to “technically” be a bedroom, that it has to have a closet (as well as other features, e.g. a full size window). Does anyone know if that’s accurate? Or does it vary from state to state?

    • 12.11.14
      elmahl said:

      I think it varies from city to city as well. Daniel mentioned in his area it didn’t need one. Although as a buyer I would prefer to have one and not have to buy me a freestanding one myself. It’s one of the things I’ve liked about the US is that you don’t have to worry about buying a wardrobe when moving into a new place as many older places in Europe doesn’t have one.

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Yes—my understanding is that it varies between municipalities, but even then it may be up to the individual agents/buyers to decide. For instance, there are places where bedrooms don’t technically have to have closets, but the popular opinion is that they do, so a bedroom without a closet may not be considered a bedroom on a real estate listing…and vice versa. According to the building department, in Kingston a bedroom pretty much just has to have a DOOR. Haha.

  18. 12.11.14
    Luna said:

    I’m in the throes of planning a renovation (the outbuildings of our house). I’ve planned a good size bathroom for my better-half and myself and guess what I’ve been searching for? – two pedestal sinks and a round cornered ceramic tub!! Radiant floor heating and tiled floors are also on the list :) REMODELISTA gallery is my go to for inspiration. Cottage is looking really good.I really need to get me some of those sketchup skills!

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Girl, you need to get yourself a blog! I want to see these outbuildings!

    • 12.15.14
      Luna said:

      Ha! who’s got time to renovate AND write a blog?….oh, except you of course.

  19. 12.11.14
    elmahl said:

    Love love love the ceiling in the bedrooms. I think it will be awesome looking and much better placement of the closets in the large bedroom. So much more light now and easier to arrange furniture, plus privacy from the bathroom area.

    I can’t remember if you considered doing wardrobes (ala PAX) on each side of the window in the bedroom with a window seat in between. It looks like there would be room, but I’m not there to see it. I just love the look of those.

    Here’s one I’ve saved because I’m considering it for a room with an off center window. Although yours doesn’t look off center. If you go to that site they also show others views of the same one.

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Nice! I guess I’d be more inclined to leave something like that to a buyer, but we’ll see. The walls are actually too low for something like PAX, so it’d really have to be a custom build…and I’m not sure I want to add that to the list! But we’ll see how things pan out…

    • 12.12.14
      elmahl said:

      I think you could do framed closets on the sides with just a door/drywall and then just drawers for the window seat. If you paint it you could probably find a salvage cabinet/drawer base to use for the bench and hide some sins with molding, paint, and caulk.

      Here’s a window seat between drywall closets – (cheaper to do)

      I found lots of images for this using a google search, just picked one to put in here

  20. 12.11.14
    Marta said:

    I have one question, and it ian’t about your floor plans :D
    How does an outside wall section look like, what kind of layers does it have?
    Since I’m from Europe, geographically situated very similar (our latitude is close enough) and always thinking from our building perspective, US houses always seem too fragile and not insulated enough. House as yours is would have (looking from inside out): half inch of plaster, at least 12 inch hollow brick wall, at least 4 inch insulation and about 1.5 inch of thermo plaster or some other type of facade finish. This kind of wall is good enough for B level energy certificate (it goes from A+ to G, depending on how much fuel your house need per cube meter/per year and some other things). Also, with those kind of old windows we would get a level or two lower certficate. Here, no one is trying to save old stuff. We’re buying new ones looking like old ones ;)

    I know your blog is about interior design (and I just love it, as much as your writing style), but forgive me, I’m an architect and completely uneducated about your, american building style, so this question is bothering me for some time :D

    p.s. sorry for lousy english….

    • 12.12.14
      Luna said:

      Au contraire fellow european. For my renovation I’m searching high and low for old floors, old doors+ windows, old sinks and tubs etc. I’d much rather have a few dents and draughts than ‘brand spanking new’ :)

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Not lousy at all!

      You’re probably about to be horrified…

      Of course, different houses are built differently, and standards have definitely changed quite a bit! This house would be… 1/2″ layer of drywall, 2×4 studs, wood shiplap sheathing, thin layer of felt/ice and water barrier in some places, and wood clapboard. It’s VERY drafty. 2×4 studs on exterior walls are not code anymore, and nobody would build (or renovate) a house nowadays and not add insulation between the studs. The old section of the house doesn’t have sheathing at all—the clapboard is just nailed directly to the studs! By the way, that’s how my house is built, but there is a layer of brick and mortar between the studs (which has almost no R-value, but is how the house was built). My plan is to add closed-cell spray foam insulation to this house while all the walls are open (I still have to price it out, though…), so it should be much, MUCH more efficient moving forward. I can’t imagine trying to heat this house the way it was when I bought it!

    • 12.12.14
      Marta said:

      Thank you on detailed explanation! It seems that standards are very much different. And maybe your heating costs are cheaper than ours (gasoline is cheaper than european).

      @Luna: nothing feels and looks as old floors, doors, windows,….I’m for saving everything you can, but overall trend is to change if it isn’t energy efficient and ‘green’ enough. First thing you’ re suppossed to do after buying an old building, is to put a good, new layer of thermal insulation on outer walls. And in the meantime- to solve thermal bridges around windows, which can mean -changing them completely.

    • 12.12.14
      Lucas said:

      Closed cell spray foam is an excellent idea. It will likely even bring you up to the current energy code, even in 2×4 walls. Also, it has the added benefit of providing a vapor barrier that houses this age never had. It will be expensive but the energy savings over time for the future owner will make it worthwhile.

    • 12.15.14
      Isabelle said:

      I can speak for Germany and Switzerland. You don’t get the building permit or the loan on your house renovation if you don’t reach the necessary current insulation index, which in Switzerland is increasing/ getting tougher every year. This is one of our many pain in the ….. and brain twisters as we can do renovations only step by step for financial but mostly practical reasons and no chance to get all the insulation done at once as we need an inside insulation (half-timber frame house from 1872). And yes, antique building materials are highly sourced and incredibly expensive.

  21. 12.11.14
    gretaclark said:

    I think that it will be so pretty. Come on gas company–get that line fixed!!!!!!

  22. 12.11.14
    mollie said:

    i actually like the fact that the bathroom and hall don’t have vaulted ceilings! i think valued everything – while dramatic and probably still beautiful – would have looked like you converted an attic – which you didn’t!

    • 12.11.14
      CHRIS UEBBING said:

      My second floor with vaulted ceilings was an attic prior to, and is nice & roomy-all Scandinavian white. I love it but I think this plan has merit as well. Didn’t Frank Lloyd whats-his-name have some low connecting ceilings between vaulted rooms??

  23. 12.11.14
    Vicki said:

    So you keep downplaying your SketchUp skills, but for those of us with NONE, would you be willing to make some general suggestions on plug-ins, tutorials you found helpful, tips and tricks, etc.? Or do any of your other readers have any suggestions?


    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      I don’t have a ton of suggestions, but I think video tutorials are the most effective way of learning SketchUp! I don’t find the program at all intuitive, but once you get a basic understanding of what the tools are and how to use them, you can do a lot! Google has put together a collection of videos, and you can always google around for specific things when you get stuck!

  24. 12.11.14
    bean said:

    Your design is beautiful. I wouldn’t worry about the sinks thing–you can do as you like. If I moved in, I’d just take out the pedestal sinks and put in cabinets at some point–it’s an easy change that I don’t think will bother whomever buys it (and if pedestal makes you happier, why not?). It’s unlikely that it will be simple to get an armoire upstairs–but an Ikea solution that puts wardrobes on either side of the bed and storage over the bed should work just fine and leave any more permanent decision up to the buyer (it’s easy to install a closet–it’s just framing, and anyone could make that change, too). If no fixed closet makes you happy, I think you are right to do what makes you happy. It’s an easy change if the buyer doesn’t like it.

    In fact, I think that your choices are leaving more options open for the ultimate buyers while simultaneously allowing you to make the house look finished. I think it’s brilliant. And, if my SketchUp skills were a tiny fraction of yours, I would consider myself lucky.

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      That’s how I feel about a lot of this stuff, Bean—thanks! As much as I want to please a future owner, I figure the best thing I can do for this house is to renovate it as if I was going to live in it. There’s no way that this funny little house is going to be all things to all people, and that’s OK! I hope whoever winds up living here will put their own personal touches on it to make it suit them, but I don’t think it’s possible for me to anticipate (and oblige) every possible combination of needs/wants…and ultimately I fear that trying to do that would result in a much more limiting design!

  25. 12.11.14
    Debbie in toronto said:

    Holy moley that bed really is ugly. LOL

    Love a vaulted ceiling in a bedroom because when you are lying in bed it’s what you look at , so vault on!

  26. 12.11.14
    Darcy said:

    That master bedroom is going to be so luxurious. I LOVE the vaulted ceilings. I really appreciate how much time you spent on the mock-ups. They are really helpful for understanding the space. Also, 2 posts in one week! Love it!

    • 12.11.14
      Darcy said:

      Also, looking at the floor plans again, I like the idea of the 2nd bedroom without closet. If I lived there, I might use that space as a guest bedroom/office/library. Closet wouldn’t be necessary and I would be glad to have the room to add shelves/furniture in its stead.

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      I feel the same way! If somebody wants a closet down the line, they can easily add one in.

  27. 12.11.14
    FuzzyEgg said:

    For the smaller bedroom, have you considered bumping a closet into the interior wall, so that it would be where the bathroom vanities are now? You’d have to reconfigure your bathroom, but it might be worth it.

    • 12.11.14
      Chris said:

      I was just thinking the same thing… I don’t know if it would cost you too much space out of that huge bathroom but it may be worth the extra 18 inches… Or split the difference and bump into the room and the vanity wall…?

      Looking forward to seeing it all come to life!

    • 12.11.14
      Caroline said:

      FuzzyEgg, I thought exactly the same thing. I would put the closet where the vanities are, vanities sliding further into the space, and swap places for the toilet and tub. The hall linen closet would be smaller, but I believe having a built in closet in the second bedroom would be preferable for buyers or renters – and in such a small space a built in closet would leave the room less cluttered. More square footage in the bathroom is less valuable than more square footage in the bedroom.

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      This might make more sense when I get the pictures up, but that’s not really a feasible option because of the way that wall is framed! I did think about it, but for the amount of actual closet space you’d gain and how much of the bathroom you’d have to sacrifice, I don’t think it’s worth it.

  28. 12.11.14

    Love it!! Clean & lean.

  29. 12.11.14
    Erin said:

    You are beyond motivating. After our chat last week, I was going to text to brag about picking paint for the living room, but now my accomplishment has been dwarfed by your greatness…again! So proud of you – that cottage is gonna look great! Love and Hugs!

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Oh, you. I’ve barely done anything yet except draw! I can’t wait to see your house!! xoxo

  30. 12.11.14
    Emily said:

    I can’t wait to see the vaulted ceilings, but is there really not going to be a shower in the house? Did I miss it? That would be a dealbreaker for me as a buyer. Maybe this is more normal on the east coast?

    I love elmahl’s Pax wardrobes / window seat idea for the second bedroom!

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Oh, the tub will double as a shower! There won’t be a walk-in shower, no, which is pretty typical of east coast/older homes. Of course one could be added, but my understanding is that if you only have one full bath, a tub is generally preferable since buyers might have children, pets, etc.

  31. 12.11.14
    FuzzyEgg said:

    Emily, I think the tub will double as a shower.

  32. 12.11.14
    Jannike said:

    Wow, 2 posts in one week. You’re spoiling us. :)
    Love the vaulted ceilings, and lower ceiling in the bathroom. I hate feeling cold after a shower so the lower ceilings helps keep the heat in.

    • 12.12.14
      Kari said:

      Haha I agree on the posts!! I check my Feedly everyday for an update and got excited when a post finally popped up. And very pleasantly surprised with this new one just a few days after :)

  33. 12.11.14
    Diana said:

    This layout is so much better. Makes you wonder what person could make such terrible decisions in the first place. Anyway, about the closet situation in the smaller bedroom… is it possible to bump it out to where the sinks would be? And then maybe turn the sinks toward the window wall? Would this not be possible because it’s an exterior wall? Having a closet would add a lot of value to this home but either way it will be amazing. I can’t wait to see all this when it’s done.

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Thanks, Diana! Take a look at my response to FuzzyEgg (above) about the closet thing!

  34. 12.12.14
    Andrew said:

    I have run into the issue of space in the bathroom floor/first floor ceiling when significantly relocating a bathroom in an old house. Will you need to raise the floor at all to accommodate the pipe drop for the toilet drain? Often we have had to raise the floor at least an inch or so.

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      I sure hope not, haha! My plumber and I walked through the house a few days ago and he seemed to think the bathroom plumbing would be a piece of cake, so I’m trying not to worry about it!

  35. 12.12.14
    Tarynkay said:

    Okay, I must be missing something, but from the “After” floor plan, it looks like the occupant of the second bedroom does not have access to the upstairs bathroom. Does that person have to enter the master bedroom or go all the wall downstairs in order to use the bathroom? Am I missing a door in the hallway or a secret door from the second bedroom closet or something?

    • 12.12.14
      Amanda B. said:

      It looks to me that the only door to the bathroom is in the hallway. It doesn’t connect to the front bedroom through the closets. You can’t see the door opening on the top-down view of the floor plan, but look at the cutaway views of the bathroom for the door placement at the end of the bathtub nearest the sink.

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Yep, Amanda is right! Bathroom access is in the hallway—shared for both of the bedrooms!

  36. 12.12.14
    Joann said:

    I’m wondering if you could finish off some crawl-space storage in the non-vaulted areas?

    • 12.12.14
      Daniel said:

      Joann—a couple of people have brought this up above, but unfortunately the short answer is no! It’s not quite as spacious as the renderings would appear…

  37. 12.12.14
    E said:

    This is going to be so lovely! The reconfiguration makes so much sense. You are making this house so happy.

    I am currently working with a contractor to try and reconfigure our only full bathroom to have a vanity and get rid of our pedestal sink (it’s a very strange layout). The pedestal looks lovely on its own, but since we’ve had to add all kinds of crappy additional storage to make up for lack of space under the sink, the spare and elegant look that a pedestal provides is lost. I love a pedestal in powder rooms or even a guest bathroom, but it’s very hard to not have an invisible place to put cleaning supplies, a makeup bag, lady products, and other things that are too big for a medicine cabinet but sort of need to be in the bathroom, especially when it’s the only full bath in the house.

    On the other hand, if there’s room in the bathroom for a freestanding cabinet, that would solve these issues and let the sinks shine. I can’t tell from the rendering if the room is big enough for that.

    No matter what you do, can’t wait to see how it actually looks!

  38. 12.12.14
    Cait said:

    I think it looks fantastic, but I have to say I am not a fan of double sinks– this post from Remodelista says it better than I can:

  39. 12.12.14
    Rebekah S said:

    I love love love the direction this house is going. It will make the perfect first house for the trillions of 20-somethings like me who like their friends but not enough to give them their own closet. ;)) YES to the radiant heat and maybe think about little Tribecca Grey Hexagons for the floor and 6×12 Carrera subways for the walls?

  40. 12.12.14
    elmahl said:

    Just thought of something. You probably want to check on what constitutes a bedroom for appraisal purposes in your area. You wouldn’t want the house to appraise as a 1 bedroom house and thus be worth less and force you to lower the price.

  41. 12.12.14
    qs777 said:

    I’m loving the second floor! We want to vault our bedroom ceilings also. We vaulted our living/kitchen ceilings ourselves which was a huge job. Kind of don’t want to do it again and can’t afford to have someone else do it so I will have to live vicariously through you. ;)

    Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this, but I am kind of seeing 1 long sink with 2 faucets. My friends think I am nuts, but, of course, they have no vision. Can’t wait to see how this progresses.

  42. 12.12.14
    Megan said:

    I’ve been a reader for a long time and you announced your cottage project at the same time I started my own undertaking. I’m currently in the middle of a big renovating a 1913 traditional foursquare. I found the bathrooms to be the hardest part! Your layout looks so spacious. The first thing I noticed was your double sinks! Jealous! I also hate to say it but my contractor’s only sticking point was that I had to update the cast iron, round corner tub. It was an excruciating decision to make. This post gave me a little bit of tub remorse. I hope you find one!

  43. 12.12.14
    Lisa and Tate said:


  44. 12.12.14
    Claudia said:

    This is such a great project and I’m loving the vision you have for the place!

    But I do have a quick question: Instead of having double sinks in the bathroom, would it be possible to replace one of the sinks with a stacking washer/dryer? As someone who hates going to the laundromat, this would totally take priority over a second sink!

    • 12.14.14
      CHRIS UEBBING said:

      I’d vote against this one. My neighbors have a pretty pricey nicely tiled upstairs bathroom with the stackable washer/dryer. It feels wrong/wrong/wrong. I guess I’m older than most of you & used to seeing laundry out of sight, but I don’t see what’s wrong with using the basement for laundry. (and piles of reusable wood)

    • 12.14.14
      Claudia said:

      Ha ha, Chris, I guess I don’t find the sight of a washer/dryer offensive. (Probably because I spent part of my childhood in Europe, where washing machines are often found in the bathroom or kitchen.) On the other hand, I find having to go up and down several flights of stairs to do laundry — or, worse, go to a laundromat — is a real drag!

      Besides, I’m not a big fan of side-by-side sinks. No one needs to see me spit out toothpaste, thank you very much ;-)

    • 12.19.14
      Drasa said:

      I also like the idea of the washer dryer on the second floor – close to the laundry generating areas! You only need a 30″ by 30″ space for a stackable. Perhaps locate it in the hallway closet?

  45. 12.12.14
    Christa said:

    I feel like on the lower floor, you might want to swap the door opening to the other side of the living room, to the base of the stairs? That way your 2 bathrooms line up one over the other which is much more economical plumbing. Plus it would give you more space at the base of the stairs which is a bit more practical?

    And, I vote for 2 faucet, one sink in the upstairs bath because look at the cute!

  46. 12.13.14
    Carole said:

    It is looking so good. It’s so amazing to see a wreck trun in to a dream. So fun…..

    The only suggestion I’d make – get a laundry space on the second floor. A stacking washer and dryer in the closet of the hallway would be excellent.(There are also some micro units available.)

    Since there are no dimensions on the drawings, I am not sure of the space there, but since the bathroom is so roomy, it would be sad to have so much space up there and not get laundry facilities…

    If you needed to reallocate space to accomodate the washer/dryer, could you move the tub to the wall where the toilet is, put the toilet on the wall where the tub is, allowing you to perhaps use a tub without so much length, and pulling the closet wall more into the bathroom, making it large enough to for a washer?

  47. 12.13.14
    Jill said:

    Hi Daniel,
    We did a similar bedroom renovation last year and the results are very dramatic. We too didn’t have an attic, but a 3′ crawl space. We opened up all the walls and ceiling and spray foam insulated the entire room. We added old reclaimed wood beams where the pitch is and removed the tiny useless closet. We added a huge wall to wall closet using reclaimed large factory windows as sliding glass doors. Our bedroom looks so much larger and open. It doesn’t look like the same space. Opening up the ceiling was totally worth it. I can’t wait to see what it’s going to look like.

  48. 12.13.14
    Debora said:

    Not that there is anything AT ALL “wrong” with what you have done, but out of curiosity’s sake (and a fatal obsession with floor plans) I’m wondering if you could have put a closet in the 2nd bedroom by shifting the sinks forward so that the back wall of the bath room is in line with the front of the bricks…but then, it looks like upon opening the bathroom door, one would walk into a sink or hit the end of the tub. Plus, then there’s a loss of hall storage…

    Anyway, the brick in the bathroom is lovely, as is having the toilet hidden from direct view (super huge pet peeve of mine. I know what a bathroom is for, but to all those new-building-constructors out there, how hard is it to swap the sink and the toilet so you have a little privacy and discretion????)

  49. 12.14.14
    C said:

    I was about to post the same question/suggestion as Debora.

    Even in a holiday house I’d sacrifice a second sink or a bath tub for a closet in the second bedroom. The vanity could then be shorter and the door moved a little to the left. Or the tub could become a shower and space be gained that way. Or the tub could run alongthe wall where the toilet is and the toilet go under the window or the tub along the exterior wall and the toilet on the same wall it’s on, but shifted across a bit.

    • 12.14.14
      CHRIS UEBBING said:

      Actually, I think you nailed it with the plan as outlined. Keep that 2nd “bedroom” as is. Can’t presume that it will be used as bedroom. Peeps that plan to have > 1 kid (if any) will not be looking @ this house. More likely that it will be used as office/guest room/whatever. If they want to use it as a bedroom & they want to hang stuff up they can always install hooks on the wall (see Max’s old bedroom in his parent’s house). Keeping it simple is the way to go. As is.

  50. 12.14.14
    Kelly said:

    I love what you are planning to do! My 2 cents on the lack of a closet in the second bedroom (oh no!): I live in a very small 2 bed 1 bath home. If I were looking to buy a house again, the fact that there are 2 bathrooms (even if one isn’t a full bath) would definitely outweigh the lack of a closet in one of the bedrooms. I would just go with one of IKEA’s wardrobes. I also want to do like Holland VanDieren and add storage between the studs in my existing tiny bath. Can’t wait to do this!
    Your re-working of the cottage has inspired me to look into finding ways of squeezing an extra bath into my home by rearranging the space a bit. It might be doable… I just need to win the lottery! Oh and SketchUp – I tried it years ago and it’s NOT intuitive at all! I’m impressed with your mad skillz. :)

  51. 12.14.14
    kathyg said:

    I’d leave it just the way it is! All this talk of bathrooms and closets and laundry made me wonder how you came out on the investigation of the laundry chute? Or was it a dumb waiter? just curious.

    • 12.15.14
      Missnicoleo said:

      a million votes for a laundry chute, its been a dream of mine to have one since I was a child. I despise laundry in the bathroom as well, something about toilets and clean clothing gives me the creeps.

    • 12.17.14
      Mom said:

      At some point in time most municipalities disallowed the use of laundry chutes as a huge fire hazard. Not that they start a fire, but that they provide a “smokestack” for fire to move quickly up and through an entire house. I’m sure there are some still functioning around but I don’t think new ones will ever pass an inspection.

  52. 12.14.14
    j said:


    Having them offset by inches looks terrible. Also center the master bedroom door in that wall section.

  53. 12.14.14
    Suzy from CA said:

    Daniel, I’ve been a follower of your blog and a fan of your design aesthetic since 2010 when I Googled “DIY desk” and your “A Desk with a View” post came up. Reading your Dec 12, 2014 response to the comment from Krista [“…of course I won’t relax about it until everything is roughed in! :) ], I was struck by how much you’ve learned, grown, explored, attempted, and accomplished since that creative but much simpler desk project. You are amazing and honest and funny. Keep on being you! (and thanks to your Mom & Dad for giving you to the world!)

  54. 12.15.14
    Kristin said:

    This is looking too cute. Quick question about the vaulted ceilings. Will you be putting a vapor barrier or some form of insulation covered with drywall up there? Or leaving the boards you see exposed (as they are now in the attic) like the collar ties? We have a vaulted ceiling in our family room that has constant moisture unless we run the ceiling fan. I am trying to convince my husband we should just rip out the drywall and leave the wood planks exposed and painted. He says no way due to heat loss. A friend of ours had same issue, ripped out the drywall but is having spray foam insulation put against the framing followed by beadboard. She says contractor now says you should seal up these types of ceiling versus leaving air flow. What does poor Edwin say?

  55. 12.16.14
    Susan in England said:

    I wouldn’t put medicine cabinets or cupboards over the sink in the bathroom. I knocked a glass bottle of my husband’s after shave lotion out of the cabinet into the sink. The bottle survived, the sink didn’t. It cracked right through. I had to buy another sink in a hurry, couldn’t get one nearly as nice as the lovely style of the previous one, nor one which sat neatly on top of the pedestal. No more cabinets or cupboards over the sink for me! Just a mirror and lights.

  56. 12.16.14
    jill danyelle said:

    It all looks great Daniel. I am sure you have given a lot of thought to all of the details. I agree with you about leaving the second bedroom open for options. I do find that some people have difficulty space planning and visualizing though. Maybe you could discuss it with your broker and see if he/she thinks it would be a good idea to include a couple of renderings of options (office/nursery/guest room) for potential buyers, maybe even with quotes from Edwin if they wanted him to build something custom.

    Good luck getting your gas line run soon. My little upstate project is currently being held up by mandatory asbestos evaluations ($$$). I am trying to be patient, because I know this is likely not going to be the last unexpected delay before I cross the finish line. But hey, I bought two kayaks today – no house, but at least I can pitch a tent and enjoy the creek ; )

  57. 1.26.15

    I can totally picture this now. Thank you so much for spending the time to make these! And I’m totally team anti-closet for that second room. Leaving it without creates a ton more flexibility for a buyer. It’s not like it’s a huge deal to add it if need be, but if a single person or a couple without kids is the buyer, a closet in that room is a giant waste of space and frankly not very attractive. Now more windows in that room I can totally get behind, but again, that can be left to the next owner.

    It’s such a delight to follow along with you on your progress in both of your spaces. Thanks for all you do to share this with those of us who dream of demo & newly created spaces.