We have to admit that we have a few advantages in this process as an Architect and a “Maker”. But space planning is an intimidating part of any renovation and even as a designer, I went through about twenty different options for how to arrange rooms. This is a pretty small house from a modern lifestyle perspective (1100 sf)- the original didn’t have a bathroom, laundry room or what we think of as a kitchen. So it took a lot of finesse to fit everything we wanted without creating awkward circumstances of having to walk through a bedroom to get to another bedroom, which is a pretty typical condition in a lot of New Orleans homes – creole cottages as well as shotguns.
So here is the original house layout, pretty much open rooms without set uses.
And here is our design, adding a stair to make the attic accessible as the master suite (ceiling height is 11′-0″ at the center and around 6′-0″ at the top and bottom wall).
We kept the existing walls as much as possible, both to keep costs down and to preserve the historic creole cottage layout. When you take out walls, more often than not you have to do structural modifications to the framing. Even if the wall is not a load bearing wall (i.e. the ceiling joists sit right on top of the wall), it is still might serve a function by preventing the house from racking. The back two rooms on the ground floor are labeled as bedrooms and could function that way since they are private from a circulation stand point. We plan to use the one on the right as a guest bedroom and the one on the left as an office and TV room since it is the most direct way to the back yard. 9′-0″ in width is small for a bedroom, but it can fit a full sized bed with two nightstands and that is all you really need. Another thing I should mention – the bathroom walls are all totally new and stack directly from ground floor to second floor. This solves a lot of issues by keeping the plumbing off the existing walls and using shared piping between the bathrooms for efficiency.
Let us know your thoughts and happy to answer any questions!