The Master Suite: Old House Renovation Story

As we pick up our ongoing Old House Renovation Story, we’re once again standing in the Living Room near the front door. Renaissance Man’s Study is to your right. Across the room, to the left of the stairs, is the Master Bedroom.

Old house02

The Master Bedroom

Even in these poor excuses for pictures, you can tell: This room was a mess! I’m not exactly sure the original function of the space, but it contains the house’s only existing fireplace – and it’s still coal-burning. We don’t use it. The (too) dark wood fireplace surround with its stained glass doors would not have been added in 1907 when the house was built, but it is quite old.


The floral wallpapered ceiling, 1970s paneling, and cheap “Tiffany” lamp left a lot to be desired for a couple wanting a downstairs Master Suite… and so the renovation began.


The paneling? OUTTA THERE!



Then, with a blank slate to work with, we took inspiration from the original plate rail in the Dining Room – the one we removed and turned into crown moulding for the bookcase in the Study – and designed Craftsman-style paneled walls. Our die-hard worker and I measured and calculated (and measured and calculated) to get exactly the right proportions. Then, to check ourselves one more time before purchasing materials, we laid out the design directly on the wall… then took pictures so we wouldn’t forget!


I absolutely love the way this paneling, the wallpaper, and a painted fireplace surround bring sophistication and visual appeal to the room! We’ll step through that doorway – onto what was once the original back porch – in a minute. That’s the way to the closets and the Master Bathroom…


But first, how’s this for a quick transformation?



In case you ever do this yourself – and in case you don’t already know – I should tell you… Coal-burning fireplaces are messy. The original wallpapered-then-painted concrete walls we found behind the old paneling felt oily. So did all of the woodwork in this room. If you’re going to paint the wood, you must clean it really well first THEN use a high-quality primer THEN use a high-quality oil-based paint. Otherwise, the paint tends to “slide off” rather than adhere properly. Yes, that’s the Voice of Experience you just heard…


So what do you think? Master Bedroom… Before and After

bedroom collage

The Master Bathroom

This renovation will look familiar to some of you, but I’ll re-share for those who have never seen it – and to keep it all together on this trip down Memory Lane… before we put the house on the market.


For starters, you should know that sometime probably in the 1930s or ’40s our 1907 house’s original back porch was enclosed and a small “wing” added on one side. At the time of the addition, the room on the left was a tiny bathroom, and the room on the right was a small kitchen. It seems that the original homeowners added this on as an “apartment” which they rented out. The “apartment” consisted of this enclosed porch/kitchen/bath …



… and an adjoining bedroom accessible through the door on the left wall; it’s barely visible. By the time we came into the picture, the kitchen (right door) had become a laundry room, and a brick wall divided it from the bathroom (left). The entire space was hor.ri.ble … except for the beautiful light that filtered through the dirty windows.


OK… Position yourself back in the Master Bedroom and look out toward the old porch.


His and Hers closets were built into the once open space on the porch.


Now notice the original concrete threshold when you step down from the bedroom into the bathroom area …


There’s an original concrete lintel, too.


Do you remember HERE and HERE when we had to “play with jacks” to repair the cracked lintel over the kitchen window?


The entrance to the bathroom is the same one used originally to access the tiny bathroom …


… but the brick wall between the two spaces was removed.


Now the space runs the length of the two old rooms, although it’s still only 9′ wide. There was exactly the perfect amount of space for a soaking tub.


As your eye continues around the room to the right, you’ll see that we had space to open up the old kitchen-turned-laundry room doorway and add a shower. We also added a floor-to-ceiling built-in for storage.


Keep turning around, and you’ll come full-circle. The entry door is in front of you.


I wanted a pedestal sink, but I also wanted countertop space and storage. These little cabinets are only 13″ wide and 15″ deep, but they are perfect!


See how we had to build the wall out a little to accommodate the plumbing? The solid surface countertops were cut to slide right up to the wall.


Although it’s not a large bathroom, it’s definitely a big bathroom for an old house … and it has a wonderful spa feel! And did I mention the great light?


When I look at the details, I always see Diamonds and Swirls. See what I mean?


One more look at the Master Bathroom … Before and After


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If you missed previous chapters, you can find them here:

The Front Porch

The Living Room

The Study

The Dining Room

The Kitchen


I’ll be sharing this at:

Amaze Me Monday @ Dwellings – The Heart of Your Home

Mosaic Monday @ Little Red House

Metamorphosis Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch



  1. Wow! What transfomations. It just all looks so good, and a lot of work. I really like your new wallpaper! And the bathroom!

  2. Amazing transformation. Looks fresh and modern. Valerie

  3. Vicki Daugherty says:

    A wonderful job! Love the bathroom. As the owner of a 1903 house, I can empathize with all you endured. Looks amazing……why are you selling? Vicki in Louisville KY

  4. I would love to have that bathroom and the big soaking tub. Lovely makeovers. Thanks for sharing, enjoy your new week!

  5. WOW absolutely gorgeous! 🙂

  6. Beautiful renovation! Love your mosaic!
    Rainey @ The Project Table

  7. Susan, Susan, Susan….this is just…unbelievable!!! I mean, gosh…the work you guys have put into this house!!! It’s enough to boggle the mind several times over!!!

    I love how you transformed that mess into this masterpiece!!! All that fabulous natural light in the bathroom is to die for! No makeup mirror necessary! I’m a huge natural light lover (don’t have window treatments on any windows…although the little Mr. is lobbying to change that soon!), and it seems to me that this would be a huge draw.

    Even if you have no desire to use the coal fireplace in the way it was originally intended (coal? really?!??!), it’s still a great feature in the room with its new surround. Candles are always a neat option in a fireplace for effect!

    This is really, really something. Kudos to you guys!!!

    • Thanks, Alycia! I love the idea of candles in a non-working fireplace – they’re always so elegant – but that isn’t feasible in ours. I guess I should have showed a close-up of the fantastic old cast iron cover that the fireplace sports…

  8. So beautiful, Susan. The next owners will be lucky ones, and you will make a beautiful home wherever you go, I’m sure.

  9. I am so in love with your house! Gorgeous and your remodeling is perfect, love your old lintels and thresholds…so much charm! Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY…

  10. Susan, it would be close to impossible, but if I had to choose, this would be my favorite. Your master suite is gorgeous. Love, love, love the wallpaper. And, the transformation in the bathroom is awesome.

  11. I just changed my mind. THIS is my favorite space in the house. I love every inch of it, old and new. I love how you had a vision for this old place and brought it to reality. You kept the integrity of the home at every step too. That, in my opinion, is the true test of an old home lover.

  12. Great renovation on the bathroom! Such a huge difference.