Part 2 – Biloski Residence, Upper Floor

Completed Concept Design – Biloski Residence – Upper Floor (PDF)

Completed Concept Design – Biloski Residence Upper Floor (JPEG)

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    I like the simplicy of the changes you made. Outside of James, the rest of us seem to be getting carried away.

  • Grace

    Yes, it’s a simple and elegant solution.

  • Grace

    P.S. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s segment!

  • John Brown

    I am afraid you are going to have to wait a week or so for the classic house case study exercise that I promised you. I had everything set to go for tomorrow to do one of Pierre Koning’s case study houses. Yesterday I found out that I am able to tour one of them next week when I am in California so I decided to wait until I could give the exercise the benefit of having actually been in the space.

    However, I do think you will enjoy the which house should I buy? exercise. I am also going to give more info on the LA trip on this week’s slow home report.

  • James Scott

    Is this a class trip? I don’t remember getting the permission slip for my parents to sign.

  • Brad W

    I asked this question yesterday and nobody gave an answer. I will ask again today – Is the middle bedroom too small? We talked about this in a room by room segment.

    I have included a plan more in keeping with the client’s desire to add closet space to the master and repurpose the open study space. I expanded the size of the middle bedroom into the open study space, moved the master bath into the remaining space there and added closet space.

    And Jim part of the fun is to imagine what is possible. With all due respect the minimual changes required here are really quite simple.

    And credit to Terri, I like where she located the master bath in her plan yesterday and I used a version of it here.


  • Brad W

    And here is an option which completes Jim’s plan from yesterday.


  • John Brown

    I think that the middle bedroom is too small to be a good bedroom. However, at this point it is also the bedroom that the Biloski’s have in their house. I think it might have been a reason not to buy this particular property but now that they have we have to work with it.

    I agree with you about the value in seeing a range of solutions. I think it is also important to discuss the level of intervention that each implies so that people with less experience in design that are watching can see the differences in approach.

  • John Brown


    HA HA. I wish everybody could come. However, if you are in the LA area this weekend and have some time, however, watch the slow home report !

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    Booking my flight now ;)

    I only wish.

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    One of the issues with my design and your latest is getting furnature in. I’d hate to move into either design.

  • Grace

    John–the koenig will be well worth the wait. Jim–a class trip! haha–a great idea. let’s look for a sponsor and write a grant.

  • Paul C

    Not sure if this is ultimately imperative for these exercises, but can you confirm the upper floor is in line with the lower floor? I am overlaying the two and find the upper to be considerably longer. Is the front “bay” outline on the upper floor plan, the main floor walls below or an outline of maybe a porch? The portion of the upper floor plan at the rear which is narrower also seems to be longer then the corresponding narrower portion on the main floor. Again, maybe not imperative for these exercises.

  • Brad W

    Jim, we can just hoist the stuff up onto the front deck – no problem!

    John – I see your point.

    When I saw that demo plan I knew that you were going to keep the middle bedroom basically intact. I also realized, like most others, that it was small. So before committing to that, are there any options in which the bedroom size can be improved?

    Looking at the plan, by simply moving the door of the back bedroom forward of the family bathroom and using the middle bedroom as a closet a master bedroom is created for minimal cost. The open space is big enough for a family bath and since the kitchen is located below this the plumbing should be convenient. Finally, fitting two bedrooms into the front of the house was left. Initially, I incorporated the front deck and added a bump out to gain space. This would be very costly but solved the space problem. Because of the costs involved in renovating the second floor as described, I thought about adding a third floor. This gives the parents and kids their own level and each enough private space in a otherwise public or open home. So with minimal changes on the second floor, each kid gets an ensuite bath and a good sized bedroom. This frees up the budget to construct a third floor master bedroom and roof deck for the parents. As was pointed out both options are larger scale expensive renos which maybe out of scope. And that brings you full circle back to simply using the open space to add value to the middle bedroom and the existing master. And here I think Terri had the best idea to move the master bath into part of this space. In Jim’s case, I saw his plan last night and since he had located the two kids bedrooms within the existing footprint of the house I thought I could tweak that a little and see if it worked to solve the bedroom size issue.

    At the end of the day, for the Biloski’s I would pick the design which incorporates Terri’s master bath and my enlarged middle bedroom I have included here for clarity.

    If the home has a decent basement height, I would suggest developing a space down there for the kids to hang out.

    PS. I still like the third floor with the solar panels on the roof the best:)


  • Terri


    I like your latest plan. Having the larger third bedroom is a nice feature. Yet I’m still kind of attached to an upstairs laundry (kind of like your attachment to your third floor?). But for practicality’s sake, I also thought that the plumbing running up from the (new) kitchen shouldn’t be too difficult to incorporate.

    Your completion of Jim’s plan puts the main bath quite a distance from those bedrooms. I imagine you already tried to have the door facing north instead of facing the top of the stairs…
    Now I’m almost expecting to see another version from you sometime today! ;)

    Your proficiency with Paint gives me something to aspire towards. I must admit that it’s getting a little easier every time, but 10 to 15 minutes…I wish.

  • Terri


    I like your plan’s approach to defining the master bedroom space with millwork and the fireplace. I think that finishing the space in that way will help give the feeling of a retreat. I thought of a fireplace but decided that if there isn’t one downstairs, maybe it wasn’t quite egalitarian for there to be one upstairs (a political decision instead of a design decision on my part).

  • Brad W

    Terri, I hadn’t tried the north facing bathroom door on the Jim plan. It is a good idea but I’ll let you do that one.

  • John Brown


    I agree with your egalitarian reasoning.

    The fireplace is one way to detail a bigger design intention which was to extend the millwork of the closet all along that wall so that you didn’t feel like you were walking through the closet before going into the room. Shelving or a counter would also work if the fireplace was not wanted or too expensive.

  • John Brown

    The drawings might have been posted at different scales somehow but the reality is that the main floor is slightly larger because the master bedroom deck is overtop a portion of the living area.

  • John Brown

    This is the completed concept design for the Biloski Residence Upper Floor.


  • Louis Pereira

    John – Re:The completed plan. So simple yet so resourceful and clever!…

    Due to a busy schedule I won’t be able to contribute this time but i’m still lurking about and enjoying the discussion and ideas.

    Looking forward to the Koenig presentation…can you tell us which one or will that spoil the surprise?..*whispering in my prayer voice*…please be case study #22

  • Sean McAlister

    My only quibble with the suggested plan is that the 3rd bedroom is extremely small. Moving its north wall to the north would add some extra space. The main bedroom closet would still be large.

  • John Brown

    I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag but you do have the right cat!

    Thanks again for all of your tireless help on the site.

  • John Brown

    I agree totally about the third floor and if this was a new house I would have adjusted it as you suggested. In a reno, however, it can be quite expensive to move the bedroom walls. For that reason I left it alone, however, if it was a big issue for the Biloski’s then expanding slightly into the master closet would be the reasonable option.

  • James Scott

    I admire the final plan and the privacy afforded the parents, but whom ever occupies that third bedroom will never truly be comfortable.

    What I would like to suggest is that we look at specific parameters regarding bedroom storage. Factors such as what we need to satisfy day-to-day and long term clothing needs, personal storage, etc. Also this needs to go head-to-head with concepts of clearing out what isn’t worn any longer.

    Lately a lot of attention has been placed on storage for the master bedroom, but what is really needed? I’m definitely not an expert on attire and such trends but looking at some of the closets featured I see luxury, not necessity. This somewhat relates to my cost analysis during the Houston condo discussion.

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    Louis you gave me enough clues to find the house.

  • Paul C

    A lot of comments relative to the third bedroom. In my opinion the challenge with the third bedroom is related to how circulation is handled, specifically the stairwell. An L shaped stair is maybe not the best suited for this narrow footprint. In last week’s exercise I proposed removal of the winders for the basement stairs (no one really like winders anyways) and straighten out the stair run. I followed through with that approach for the upper floor. The additional width is put into the bedroom.

    I believe it is in the building code…
    ”when TWO teenagers reside in the same home, bedrooms shall be equitable in size.” :-0


  • Brad W

    Nice plan Paul…I like straightening the stairs. I do think a couple more windows might be needed :).

    James – I agree with your comments.

    Sean – As you know, I believe the middle or third bedroom is completely unacceptable. I think the basement would be a better place and I also think that the renovation should have responded to it.

    Having said that, I will defend John’s design as a simple response to the client’s criteria.

    It can be expensive to move walls because the floor, ceiling and adjacent walls are directly affected. Electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems are likely to be involved. And, not to mention, the structural integrity of the building. So the only way many of the designs shown here, including mine, will work is if the space is gutted. Then structural engineering can be done, walls can be moved, systems reconfigured, insulation and drywalled installed and finishes completed.

    The only criticism I would have for John regarding cost is that he moved the toilet which usually means moving the plumbing stack or changing structure to properly accommodate the new drain and that is expensive.

    The location of the master bathroom does raise questions about plumbing noise in the living space below.

  • Cat

    I thought I had posted comments earlier, but maybe I forgot to hit submit?

    I like Paul’s plan with both bathrooms on the other side of the house, but realize that might be expensive.

    In John’s plan, it looks like the wall between the small bedroom and the master closet/dressing area could slide closer to the master. This would not eliminate very much closet space, but a little dressing space, and could be a big improvement in the small bedroom. That wall originally had the door on it so we’re going to have to be messing with it anyway. There is still that flue to contend with, but maybe add a decent sized closet there in the corner?

  • Belle, Toronto

    John you have explained why you left the small bedroom well SMALL and that if the Biloskis really wanted to, they could expland slightly into the master closet. However, can you tell me why you left the windows/walkout to the deck from the master untouched. On the floor plan the angle looked a bit odd. Does the actual room look balanced? Its hard for me to tell because I have never actually seen anything like this.

  • Volker

    Brad – nice plan. I worked on something similar but found out that it would take a lot of reconfiguration of windows – and usually that causes a lot of impact on the house and facade. Since we do not know anything about the facade or roof construction I decided to stop at that point – good to see you walked the way – still a nice straight clean layout.

  • John Brown

    Good question. I agree that the angled wall in the mater bedroom looks odd.

    However, it is also a question of deciding where to stop. In the same way that there is always a scar somewhere with a facelift and the goal is to try and hide it in an unobtrusive place like the hair line, there will always be a place where the renovation stops. The decision of where that might be is dependent on a variety of factors including cost, value, and client priority.

    My sense was to leave the bedroom small as discussed above. I also reasoned that changing the front window would involve a lot of technical work (including the re-waterproofing of the upper deck over the main living space)for a relatively small “return”.

    On the other hand, if the Biloski’s said that they really didn’t like it, I would be more than happy to add it to the scope of work.

  • Doug Roberts

    Brad — you make a good point regarding locating the master bathroom above a living space. My own view is that to the extent possible second floor bathrooms should be placed above main floor bathrooms, laundry rooms, mud rooms, or other utility spaces. This makes sense from a plumbing perspective, but for other reasons as well, including the noise factor that you mentioned. Another reason is to try to limit the consequences of any leaks or toilet overflows that may occur. We once had a major toilet overflow in a kids bathroom that was located directly above our kitchen, and I have to say that it was pretty nasty to have to empty and sterilize the cupboards and their contents, and to replace the dry goods and other contents that could not be sterilized. In that same house our dining room ceiling was damaged when the master bathroom shower directly above it developed a leak, and repairing the ceiling to the point that the patch was no longer visible (not even shadowing) was a real challenge for the contractor. As a result of these events I am now a BIG fan of putting bathrooms over bathrooms or other utility areas whenever possible.