When SHAKE was contacted by a young couple to remodel the top floor of their 2-floor unit in Jamaica Plain, the program was pretty clear: they wanted to add laundry and a master suite to the attic bedroom floor in anticipation of their family growing. By the time we had finished the project, after months of design, permitting and construction, we were days away from their becoming a family of three.
One of the key decision points in this project was the removal of 2 separate non-compliant staircases (the attic had been converted into an illegal rental unit at some point). Although it expanded the scope of the project, we all opted to replace the two stairs with a new, code-compliant stair that would be safe to navigate while holding a baby. While the decision also gave valuable space to make their program work, we’ve been told that the stair is particularly comfortable for them given their newborn.
This was also the first renovation project for these homeowners, so needless to say it was an eye-opening experience for them. We were adhering to a tight budget and tackling an ambitious amount of work. The entire floor was brought back to the studs with most interior partitions removed, relocated or demolished. We added a new mechanical system for both the 3rd floor and the 2nd floor below while adding a new insulation and window package to greatly improve the unit’s energy performance. It was important that we tied the new project into the existing colors/materials of the rest of the unit, so we saved all the flooring we took up and re-used it. Rafter ties we left exposed under a new plastered ceiling. Even the master bath vanity was crafted out of wood we pulled up from the subfloor. Interior doors were meticulously stripped and restored.
After the staircase, perhaps the project’s defining moment is the central skylight. As shown in initial and progress design drawings, we utilized a second plane of glazing between the master bath and the hallways to spread the daylight from a single new skylight. It draws light into the central hallway above the laundry space as well as to the master bath where it sits above a soaking tub. Natural slate and a paired-down color palette through tile and wood completes a calming oasis in the new bath. The closet millwork in the master bedroom is tucked into the eaves to provide a functional connection to the bathroom.
Photography: Sabrina Cole Quinn Photography