Making the most out of small spaces

Old homes were not always built with the modern conveniences that today’s families expect.  Many homes, no matter how large, only had bathrooms on the upper floors.   When Amy purchased her house, it had no bathroom on the first floor.  As we have shared in a previous blog post, it is important to define the goals and priorities in any home renovation, and in this case, a first floor bathroom was definitely a priority.

“Old Home, Modern Living” (Click here to view)

Once these goals are identified, it’s the interior designer’s job to figure out how to maximize some very small spaces to accommodate a modern lifestyle.

The first interior design project that Amy took on in her own home was to address the lack of a 1st floor powder room. Amy had already potty trained one kid without a first floor bathroom in her former West Philadelphia rowhome, and was not looking forward to doing that again. Down to earth principles were applied to create a green, low-maintenance and family-friendly environment. Amy was able to create this powder room by using the former coat closet. This under stairs storage area was transformed into a small but functional powder room, just off the family room.

In order to maximize head height, the underside of stairs is exposed.   This is also a green design move since it decreased how much drywall was needed.   Shelving behind toilet was installed in an otherwise inaccessible space, and this shelf is used for storage and display. And finally, a tiny sink was installed to maximize floor space.

One way to make a powder room design “green” is to keep resource consumption to a minimum. For example:

A low flow toilet minimizes water consumption:

An Energy star lighting fixture and compact fluorescents bulbs minimize electrical consumption.

The existing coat closet door was also reused, the existing door moldings were reapplied when construction was complete, a mirror from Amy’s childhood bedroom was reused in the space, and tiles that were used in the bathroom are leftovers and were reused from a previous job.

Functionality is always a main focus of any project by Down2Earth Interior Design.  Since this room would primarily be used by two young children, Amy selected low-maintenance finishes, including brushed nickel finishes on the faucet and accessories, which show fewer water marks.  

Amy was also strategic about lowering the height of the sink, light switch and towel ring in order to make those more accessible to kids (and yet still accessible to adults).  See diagram below:

The result, a compact but family-friendly powder room.   This functional space was a true transformation from a storage area to one that is an integral part of family living.  Were you surprised when you toured an old house only to find no first floor bathroom?   What kinds of interior design challenges have you had when modernizing your old home?  Tell us in the comments below!

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