Instead of building out, a California family reconfigures the floor plan to make the garden part of the living space.
Andrew and Amy Faulkner had spent some time and effort on plans to extend their master bedroom and add a bathroom to their family’s 1961 home in Mill Valley, California. “But the local planning department didn’t approve our proposal,” says Andrew, a graphic designer and artist. Architect Erika Shern helped them change gears and keep the same footprint but reconfigure their existing space, a choice that in the long run saved them time and money.
Instead of knocking out the back wall and extending the house, the couple solved their problem by working from within. “My office got smaller to accommodate a powder room and a master bath beside the master bedroom,” Andrew says. “The bedroom was changed around and we added French doors that open up onto the back deck.” The doors give an indoor-outdoor feel to the bedroom. “We have so much more light and the garden is now part of our living space,” Andrew says.
The entrance to the additional bathroom is off the master bedroom. The stand for the television was designed by Andrew’s late father, Winthrop Faulkner, who was an architect and furniture designer in Washington, D.C. Ringo takes catnaps in the afternoon sun.
The desk nook was created when the shower stall in the master bathroom was pushed into the office space. Lily the cat likes to use the office window as a door.
The pocket door between the master bedroom and bath was a great space saver.
The new master bathroom has a large walk-in shower and lots of storage.
“We both loved the house the way it was,” Andrew says, “but we only had one bathroom upstairs that we shared with overnight guests and visitors. We wanted to have a master bathroom and separate powder room, so we started to make plans to move things around.” The original bathroom was divided to create a powder room and part of the new master bath.
The master bedroom opens onto the newly designed back deck, which is now used for entertaining and as a place for the family to hang out.
On the recommendation of their contractor, the Faulkners turned a low retaining wall into a bench for more seating.
The succulents were removed from the garden during construction and replanted into the back of the built-in bench seats. Metal flashing and waterproofing were added inside the planter boxes for better drainage.
Lily the cat has found a shady place to sleep outside.
The hot tub is easily accessible from the bedroom.
The hanging lights are solar-powered.
“We both love midcentury furniture and thought the house fit our aesthetic,” says Amy, an elementary school teacher. “Our furniture fit in here perfectly, as well as our art.” The coffee table was custom-designed by Andrew’s late mother, Jeanne Hawes Faulkner, who was an interior designer.
The Faulkners replaced the working fireplace with a gas unit. “We lose a lot of heat through the large, single-paned front windows,” Andrew says. “The gas fireplace heats up the whole room and it’s better for the environment.”
A tube amplifier and speakers sit on top of a blanket chest that has been in Amy’s family for many years.
No changes were made to the front room or the kitchen. “The kitchen was one of the selling points of this house,” Amy says.
“The things we liked about the kitchen include the bamboo floors, the bamboo cabinets and all of the updated appliances,” she says. “The island is the gathering point in our kitchen when friends come over.”
The entrance to the house was originally at the back. “We added stairs to the existing front deck to make a more logical entry,” Andrew says.
The small powder room in the main hall off the living room is perfect for guests.
The house was originally confined to one floor, but the previous owner opened up the basement by adding steps and turned the lower floor into a bedroom, bathroom, TV room and laundry room.
Nineteen-year-old daughter Izzy personalized her bedroom downstairs with photos and other mementos.
A piece of wire mesh above the bathroom shelves is used by Izzy to hang her earrings.
Izzy has always loved languages and design, so she combined the two by using the pages from a German tourist guide and a Russian psychology book to decorate her walls. The framed print is from a book of Russian typography.
Andrew was convinced that the new plan to rearrange the bedroom, bathroom and office would satisfy their original expansion plans. “Just trust me,” he said to Amy. They both took their chances and are thrilled with the results.
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