A Shaker Heights Renovation Part 2 – The Design | Cleveland East Side Moms

A Shaker Heights Renovation Part 2 – The Design

by | Feb 25, 2019 | Around Town, Home Improvement

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The Existing Layout

From my first post about our Shaker Heights renovation, you learned that we live in a 1920s Georgian colonial that had a water leak.  This entry will go into the REAL motivation for the renovation – our second floor layout.  You can see our existing floor plan below.  The layout has the radiators, doors, and windows, but no furniture.  Our current struggles are similar to may others living in original 1920s construction, with our biggest complaints being the deep, impractical closets and the jack and jill bathrooms.

Cissell Architecture & Design

The bottom right bedroom is our master bedroom.  The closet is probably the least functional closet in the house – deep and dark with no reasonable storage options.  The door you see on the lower right corner of the drawing opens to a porch that we’ve never once used, but adds complications because it limits our feasible furniture layout options.  The bathroom off our master is absolutely tiny – so small, in fact, that the toilet and sink are both wall-mounted (and ORIGINAL), and it has nowhere to hang a towel other than on the back of the doors.  Our older son’s bedroom is on the other side of the door, and yes, he does love to come into our room from the bathroom, thanks for asking.  His closet is more practically laid out because it’s over the stairs – it’s not as deep as the others and has build-in shelves.


Our younger son’s bedroom is across the hall, closest to the stairs.  His bedroom is the most practically laid out of the house.  You get to the bathroom by going through his closet, and his closet is laid out in such a way that it’s useful.  The bathroom, however, is not.  Again, there’s no storage – the sink is a pedestal, the medicine cabinets are original and tiny, and it opens into the 4th bedroom (currently our guest bedroom, soon to be our foster child’s bedroom) in between a radiator and a closet.  Our 4th bedroom has an equally impractical closet and equally difficult layout with all the doors.


Finally, we have the hallway.  There’s an absolutely enormous,deep, dark linen closet with double doors and drawers – where our sheets and towels get lost in the depth.  All of the doors in and out of all our bathrooms are custom, designed specifically for a smaller entryway.  The house has some very odd quirky design elements, like tiny bathroom doors (definitely custom), lack of decorative molding in the bathrooms (a complete break from the rest of the house), and really interesting halfway renovations like bathroom lights with fans on the same circuit.  Our hallway closet also has gorgeous, custom french doors, but that’s about the only thing we like about it.


Our goals: eliminate the impractical closets and create two bathrooms – a master bath and a shared hall bath – and increase our home value as a result of the renovation enough to justify the renovation (we ball-parked about half the cost of the renovation as the goal for our home value increase).


Our Architect

We were thrilled to be one of Richard Cissell’s first clients at Cissell Architecture and Design. Prior to moving to Ohio, I knew zero architects.  Now I know probably 10 personally.  Not sure why, but Cleveland is a destination for architects.  This is the Land, alright, the land of doctors and architects – but I digress.  I feel pretty lucky to have friends in this industry.


We were thrilled to hire Rich.  We met through our kids (yay daycare!) and our families became fast friends.  He knew some of our struggles, even before the dreaded water leak, and was confident that he could come up with some solutions for us that work for everyone & keep as much of the original elements as possible.  He got to work.  We went back & forth quite a bit, so I’ll condense things down to the finer points.



Architecture Option 1

Cissell Architecture & Design

This option was Rich’s rendering of my thoughts on what we should do to move the plan forward.  Knowing our struggles with the current layout in our master bedroom, I really didn’t want to decrease the size of our bedroom if we didn’t have to, but I knew we’d need to take over the closet to make our ‘master’ bath a somewhat normal-sized bathroom (it really is tiny).  This option made our 4th bedroom so small that it was eliminated pretty quickly.



Architecture Option 2

Cissell Architecture & Design

Rich turned my suggestion around a bit and created this option, which builds out a double-closet in our master bedroom.  We weren’t such a fan of this plan initially because it invaded so much of our master bedroom space, but it stayed on the table.



Architecture Option 3

Cissell Architecture & Design

This was one of Rich’s best contributions to our renovation, and we LOVED it.  This layout would eliminate an entire bedroom (and plumbing stack – which is seriously appealing given that we have to replace all the galvanized pipes as a part of this project) and creates a truly magnificent master bathroom that would probably positively impact our home value.  We originally weren’t a huge fan of it because it would require our children to share a bedroom until they were old enough to move to the 3rd floor (we’re not sure what sex we’ll end up with in the foster care adventure, so we need one bedroom for the foster child), but it grew on us when we thought realistically about the goals we were looking to achieve.  Ultimately, this was our favorite option, but it had to be eliminated when estimates came back 20-30K higher than we could afford (or qualify for financing for).


Architecture Option 4

Cissell Architecture & Design

Another Rich contribution, and my personal favorite layout, this option would turn our sun porch off our living room (currently used to store wood) into an office and the porch off our bedroom into a walk-in closet.  This is the only option that would have increased the square footage of our house, probably with the most positive impact to our home value over time.  I thought this was really practical, but the price for something like this (building a small addition) was an absolute veto from my husband.  We never considered or priced this option (sad face).


Architecture Option 5

Cissell Architecture & Design

Rich knew we really didn’t want to intrude on the space in our master bedroom, so he explored a few more options for re-creating a closet off our bedroom that didn’t involve eliminating any footprint in our master.  Ultimately, we concluded that it didn’t make sense to take over so much of the footprint of another bedroom unless we eliminated it entirely.  I work from home, so feasibly we could say the smaller bedroom is an office, but that could have negatively impacted our home value.  Chances aren’t great that future buyers of the house would value such a small 4th bedroom.


Architecture Option 6

Cissell Architecture & Design

This was Rich’s last attempt at finding a practical layout in our bedroom.  We liked this one a lot, but we also know our current layout with a king bed would never fit without completely blocking the door to the porch.  Even though we never use that porch, we didn’t want to block the entry to it, so this option was also eliminated.


Decision Time

Faced with a bit of an oh crap what do we do now situation, I called Lindsey to talk design options.  We knew we couldn’t afford the layout we wanted, and none of the other options seemed reasonable with our current furniture.  We were really stuck on what to do.  We knew realistically that we were going with some variation on Option 2, but nothing seemed great.  Rich and Lindsey also talked, and he produced two renderings to give us an idea of what the closet might look like.  Lindsey assured me that she could help us find a closet organization system as well as new storage furniture for our master bedroom that would make the layout work.

Our Layout

Cissell Architecture & Design

This is the layout we ultimately decided on.  I asked Rich to alter the hall bathroom to mirror the layout we loved so much from Architecture Option 3, and the final rendering also includes the 3rd floor bathroom that is getting renovated along with these two.  Estimates for this layout were more reasonable and, more importantly, able to be financed.  We have a plan!  Now we just have to get it financed …

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