Designing The Upstairs

Big changes will be happening in our neck of the woods!!

Last fall we hired one of Charlottesville’s most renowned architects, Russell Skinner (from Abbott Skinner), to come take a look at our upstairs and help us come up with a long-term plan.

The issues with the status quo upstairs were many.  We hadn’t touched the master bathroom except to put a doorway in from the master bedroom, but it was still serving as the bathroom for Evie’s room as well.   Additionally, there was a huge room for the washer and dryer with lots of wasted space… space that I wanted to utilize for a master bedroom closet somehow.  The layout was weird with random tiny linen closets scattered throughout.  Here’s how it is now:


My wish list was as follows:

1) Help us create a master bathroom off of the master bedroom
2) Help us make a master bedroom walk-in-closet
3) Help us create a bathroom for Evie’s bedroom
4) Help us figure out a place for the washer and dryer
5) Help us plan a way to access the back porch from upstairs… because one day we want to turn the back porch into a balcony (best view of the mountains is from there!)

Quite a wish list, right?  We had some lofty goals.  We hired Russell with the goal of coming up with a plan that we would act on in maybe 5 years or so.  I’m such a planner, and I kept seeing ideas for bathrooms, etc. on Pinterest and in magazines and was getting frustrated I didn’t have a plan to dream about.  I’d rather know what I’m looking for (ie, I wonder if we could fit a double sink?  A claw foot bathtub?)  than have abstract ideas floating in my head about what might look nice one day.

We worked with Russell a lot, sharing our ideas of what we liked and didn’t like, as well as some off-the-wall ideas that turned out to be not so off-the-wall according to him.  For example, we knew there was an old chimney covered up by a wall in the upstairs hallway.  The chimney went into the attic but it was so old that it stopped well below the roofline, and the bricks were crumbling.  We asked Russell if it was possible to remove the chimney and use that space for a walk-in closet… crazy, right?… and he nodded and said “of course it’s possible.”

Russell turned out to be a valuable resource for us as we talked through some high-level thinking (do we want more of a simple country farmhouse vibe or an old brick Southern-plantation vibe?) and some more detailed thinking (is it weird to open a bathroom door and look right at a toilet?).  He’s an extremely patient person; by the way, I highly recommend him for anyone in the Charlottesville area looking for an architect.  He knows the ins and outs of all of it, having been a contractor himself before turning to the design world.

Anyway, after lots of back-and-forth (and a few comprises on my “dream” bathrooms in order to make everything fit in the space we have), we arrived on a set of plans we love.  Here they are:Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 8.16.24 PM

Pretty exciting, isn’t it?

The plans incorporate taking out the chimney behind the wall in the hallway (more on that later) to make a walk-in-closet.  Probably my favorite part will be the new stairs and hallway created from going straight up the stairway so that as you’re walking upstairs, you’ll be able to see straight through a window to the Blue Ridge mountains.  (And one day… in the even more distant future, when we have to worry about how we’re going to afford college tuition for our kids, we’ll hopefully turn that into a door that opens onto a stargazing balcony.)

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 8.18.12 PM

I love that Evie’s bedroom will have access to the bathroom, but I’m also glad it’s not an en suite bathroom.  That way, when we’re entertaining on our future balcony and someone needs to use the restroom, they don’t have to go through our or the kids’ rooms.

And… in a faraway land, depending on how large our family becomes, we may need to do an addition to the house and add an extra bedroom upstairs.  If that happens, it would be a two-story addition.  The first story would be off the kitchen and consist of a mud room and storage (old houses aren’t exactly known for their closet space), and the second story would be another bedroom.  We would turn that window in the hallway between Evie’s bedroom and the future bathroom into a door leading to the bedroom.  Russell Skinner was beyond helpful when thinking through everything with us and enabled us to design a space that works for our family now as well as what our family might one day become.

Goodness gracious what a novel I’ve written!  Time to tend to some working mom activities… aka folding laundry and creeping-into-my-sleeping-toddler’s-room-to-put-away-her-clothes on a Fridaynight.  Woop woop!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top