Tired of the Paneling? Me too.

The first thing I/we did was pull a few sheets of the paneling down. When I was interviewing contractors (more on that later) a few plaster repair guys came over to assess the situation. After checking a few random walls, it was determined they weren’t in terrible shape. Once I closed on the house, I went to work on all the paneling in the dining room. That is when I made the first, old house, discovery and simultaneously had my “uh oh, the plan isn’t going to work anymore” realization.


My brother recommended I call Robyn Thomas with Robyn Thomas Architecture here in Norfolk to get a recommendation for a contractor. On top of a few names, Robyn came over, took measurements and helped me formulate a plan to re-do the bathroom downstairs and the entire second floor. We thought this wall had been added with the full bath downstairs. Wrong!


It was original (see where the trim used to be?) and only the opening had been framed in to allow more room for the bathroom fixtures. This changed my whole thought process! Mind blown. The original plan had been to modify the full bath to a half bath and enter from the kitchen. As shown in the plan below.

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But isn’t the sight line from the front windows, through the living room, to the back of the dining room lovely? I definitely want to keep the original symmetry and forgo the awkward jog that the new bath would have created.


So where does the new bathroom go? How to make it fit?


This is when having a brother that is patient and kind and also an architect becomes very useful :) I can make crazy drawings and call him and talk his ear off and point to things in photos and he will help.


To be fair, this (very rough) sketch was done before I had my beautiful drawings from Robyn. I’m still playing around with possibilities but I think I’m getting close to a final decision. I love this tiny bath that I found on Houzz. I think it will work within the space along the back wall. Now you’ll enter off the dining room rather than the kitchen. But hopefully the wall will provide a sense of separation and make it feel like you aren’t walking straight from the dining room table to the bathroom. Right?

Tiny but functional for a powder room. The folks from JL Interior Design were awesome and answered my question with super speed the other night about the door swing. It swings out in their case because they modified a closet. Perfect. Now to check with the professionals to make sure it will work. Stay tuned.


  • EB

    First of all, well done, you! Now on to the question at hand; bathroom entrance off the dining room. As long as you are okay with people excusing themselves from the table and going upstairs to use the bathroom when you have a formal dinner, venture forth with your plan to keep the bathroom entrance off the dining room, but having it off the kitchen may be more comfortable for your guests when entertaining. Also, when you type “bathroom off dining room” into Google, the results are not encouraging. In your defense, you are rotating the door position by 90 degrees so the sight line you love won’t involve an interior bathroom view, but it looks like the positioning of your dining table might give some of your diners a glimpse of a certain bathroom fixture which may not be appetizing. Also if you put the bathroom door on the kitchen side, it could allow for you to put a sideboard, credenza, buffet, or whatever half-way height piece of furniture you want on the wall, under the window, which would be great for entertaining. Think Thanksgiving!

    What a wonderful project!

    • Meg Fro

      Thank you! This has been the hardest decision but yes, after much debate, it was decided that it will be better to have the door off the dining room rather than the kitchen. There will be two doors separating the dining room table from the toilet rather than just the one separating the toilet from the stove. Hopefully, during Thanksgiving, people will excuse themselves from the table and go to the hall bathroom at the top of the stairs. One can hope!

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