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master bedroom, bathroom, renovation, architect on demand, advice without strings

I am helping my DIY Ally clients Bob and Karol with their master bedroom & bathroom renovation in Rhode Island. Bob is a retired mechanical engineer/naval architect. Karol is a retired software engineer.

Bob downloaded my how-toBOOK DIY Like an Architect months ago. We started communicating recently, as Bob emailed a thorough, well-put-together package of background information. He wrote: “I have tried to accurately document this space as it was built (“as built”). I have been planning a complete renovation of the master bedroom & bathroom space, however, I think it might be worthwhile to take a step back to determine if a few minor changes is all that is needed.”

Bob listed three items at the top of their master bedroom & bathroom renovation wish list:

  • flexible bedroom/living space;
  • safe and accessible bathroom;
  • ample wall storage/closet space.

Bob asked me to look over his drawings and let him know what I think of the existing arrangement.

master bedroom, bathroom, renovation

Actually, the existing layout was just fine. As such, I suggested a few tweaks in order to gain some space in the master bedroom and improve accessibility in the bathroom:

  • Align the bathroom wall (where the sink is now) with the wall of the linen closet;
  • Move the sink/vanity to the exterior wall (under the window);
  • Eliminate the wall with the pocket door.

master bedroom, bathroom, renovation

Bob proceeded to incorporate all three of my suggestions and produced a layout (above). He asked me to take a look and send some additional suggestions on window placement, etc.

Since I was under the impression that they were trying to keep existing windows, I proposed to slant the new bedroom-bathroom wall just a tiny bit (\). Enough so that it misses the window, but ends up exactly at the same point as it is now. Another thought was to decrease the size of the walk-in closet door, move it down, and swing it in.

I thought we were done; all of these changes would be minor!

However… Bob was just warming up! He was inspired to create Option B. All of a sudden, he was rearranging. He was expanding the master bedroom, eliminating the awkward walk-in/linen closets and replacing them with built-in cabinetry.

master bedroom, bathroom, renovation

He wrote: “I may be pushing the envelope in this Option. Please look it over when you have the time and email a few comments/suggestions. I am planning to do most of the carpentry work myself, which should help to keep the costs down. One of the advantages of this option is that most of the existing plumbing can be used which should save some money. The existing windows (2) are starting to show their age, so I think it makes sense to replace them. It would be nice to get some natural light in the bathroom and a couple of new windows in the master bedroom (or perhaps a transom window over the bed).”

I was very happy to hear that Bob and Karol were even creating a Mind Map for the project, truly embracing the process!

And then, the issue of garage conversion comes up …

And then, Bob wrote: “Karol and I have talked about converting our garage into living area with a large open room on the 1st floor that would be used for yoga, spin, tai chi, etc. and a 2nd floor that would be used as a work space and storage. If we decided to do this, it would be nice to have a convenient way to walk from the master bedroom into this new area.”

I responded: “I LOVE the direction you are taking!! Let’s start thinking about a way to enter your remodeled garage. It would not be ideal to do it through the laundry room.”

Bob immediately picked up on it. He emailed: “I am going to spend the this week working on Options A & B and then move on to Option C. I will try to tackle the issue of connecting the master bedroom to the garage and the garage conversion itself. I am going to assume that the entire 12’ X 32’ space (master bedroom, bathroom, laundry, and hallway) can be used.”

master bedroom, bathroom, renovation

However, he feared that this approach “opened up the design space too much.” I, on the other hand, reassured him that it’s never a problem and sent over a sketch of Option C-1 (above).


  1. Master bedroom / closet
  2. Master bath
  3. Laundry
  4. Hallway connecting the converted garage & the laundry room with the master suite.

Bob approved it. He thought it was appropriate for both Option B & C. Bob picked up where I left off. He flipped the location of the bed, which improved the flow (Option C-2 above).

Well, this is work in progress. I love that Bob and Karol are pushing the envelope and entertaining various options before arriving at the best solution for their master bedroom and bathroom renovation.


  • Mia Kazovsky
    March 17, 2017

    Awesome how you inspire your clients’ creative juices to start flowing!

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