A century-old, two-story duplex in New Orleans was subdivided into a four-plex, and the outdoor porch of the ground floor became the sole bathroom to serve directly what became the bedroom of the apartment. The bathroom spanned the length of the northwest wall of the bedroom, eliminating any opportunity for natural light to enter the bedroom. The building was constructed in the shotgun typology of adjoining rooms with no dedicated circulation.
The property was being renovated into a single residence, and this particular bath and adjacent bedroom were to become a guest suite. The intent was to have the window currently relegated to the bath alone to be accessible directly to the bedroom while maintaining a full bath suite.
The result is a sustainable guest suite with a rich interplay of light, views and materials. This guest suite is part of a renovation pursuing LEED certification, and as such there are many sustainable components to the design – with light and views being the primary conceptual drivers.
The design of the bath suite is the resultant of three programmatic and functional moves:
Extrude: An aperture was extruded from the existing bathroom window to provide natural light and views to the guest bedroom.
Extend: The bottom of the aperture was extended down to make it programmatic as well as functional as a window seat, reading nook, linen ‘trunk’ and luggage stand.
Pinch: As the initial bathroom had been bifurcated, the base of the aperture had to be pinched to accommodate the bathtub in the wet room of the guest suite. The opposite side of the aperture is the powder room.
The result is a sustainable guest suite with an interplay of light, views and materials. Where the existing tub was has now become a wet room dedicated solely to the guest suite. The south end of the existing bath has become a powder room to complete the bath suite for the guest room and serves the formal dining room as well. The door to the powder room is concealed to provide more focus to the aperture, and a single pendant hangs in the center of the aperture for reading.
Not only is the guest room now afforded natural light and views, but both the wet and powder rooms have smaller windows focused back to the initial window. Particularly in the late afternoon, the wet room is bathed in southwesterly light. In addition to the indirect reflection over the aperture wall, light shines directly through the small window and into the wet room, glowing against the marble tile. Even the polished marble ‘sill’ of the small window is reflected onto the wall above the showerhead. The polished surface of the marble allows the profile of the window to reflect again to the opposite wall – the original wall from where it came – its terminus highlighting perfectly the point of ‘pinch.’
The powder room also negotiates the aperture to maximize spatial efficiency. The tank of the dual-flush commode is recessed beneath it with access to its plumbing through the linen trunk. Even the medicine cabinet is recessed to allow more space at the sink. While at the sink, a window is strategically placed to allow a rich view of the taller trees in the center of the neighborhood block.
Natural northern light also filters in through this window and is reflected over the aperture wall to reduce the need for power-generated lighting. In this same vein, the upper panels of the existing powder room doors were replaced with translucent acrylic to mine still more natural light from the adjacent window in the dining room. This complements what is already received from the existing transom.
The recessed panel doors were existing and were heat stripped and sanded.
The concealed solid core door was purchased from a material salvage store.
The aperture is clad in lath reclaimed from the renovation itself.
The baseboard detail is an aluminum reveal: no repainting required.
The floors were existing and were refinished.
All paint contains low VOCs.
Architect(s) of Record: Andrew Liles AIA LEED AP BD+C; General Contractor: Paul Baudean, Paul Baudean Construction LLC; Photography: David Armentor and Andrew Liles AIA LEED AP BD+C
– By Andrew Liles AIA LEED AP BD+C