Design Confidently, Live Comfortably

On the second floor, our moves to modernize meant reclaiming wasted space, increasing light, and adding amenities we wouldn't think of living without today. The second floor originally had just one bathroom, outfitted with a claw-foot tub that was charming but not very functional. We opted to remove this vestige of Victoriana and cantilever the roof on that side of the house, creating enough headroom to accommodate two full baths.

We added skylights to the baths and hall, a welcome addition, since our house, like many in San Francisco, abuts its neighbors and has no side windows. In the master bedroom, we followed the cues of the family room below, with large windows and lots of light.

We replaced all of the windows with double-paned, UV-protected Marvin windows, in some cases using ones larger than the originals. Deviating from the original window configurations wasn't something we took lightly. When debating whether to replace the arched window in the front with a bank of new rectangular windows, we first taped the outline of the new window shape on the wall to make sure the proportions were right.

In the front bedroom, as in the entryway, we found dead space behind the walls, which enabled us to widen the room. We used some of that dead space for a closet, freeing up another closet for our washer and dryer.

There was one room upstairs that I wouldn't change–a charming middle bedroom we call "the grandmas' room" because it's where our grandmothers stay when they visit. Its intriguing shape and its ceiling, which slopes in eight directions, made it strictly off limits, in my mind. But in a remodel, even doing nothing has its challenges: Because of its location, my beloved little room was the most sensible one to break through to bring new heat ducts upstairs. Installing heat upstairs had been a priority of our renovation, but if it meant destroying this room, I told our architect I'd rather not have heat.

Fortunately, we discovered we could route the ducts through the downstairs hall closet, through the front bedroom, which was being remodeled anyway, and into the attic where it could fan out to all the rooms. The grandmas' room, along with the front parlor, would remain virtually intact.

NEXT: Given the Choice, Who Wouldn't Go Modern?

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