Creating a Master Suite
Fewer walls, a bigger bathroom, and lots of light turn a confining second floor into a spacious master suite.
Synopsis: An architect explains how removing walls, changing the floor plan, and adding windows during the renovation of the upper floor of an Albuquerque home created a master suite with better lighting and more functional space.
Albuquerque, New Mexico, is justifiably famous for its clear mountain light. It’s also known for its beguiling combination of stunning desert vistas, adobe pueblos, and funky Route 66 road culture. But there’s another side: that of established neighborhoods filled with modest, sturdy houses built in the first half of the century. The Ridgecrest neighborhood is such an area. Its quiet streets lined with mature elm and cottonwood trees belie its proximity to downtown. And the light there is just as clear.
A generously proportioned though undistinguished 1950s builder’s home in this neighborhood caught our clients’ attention. But before they committed to buying it, we discussed its possibilities. The house was large enough to accommodate their growing art collection, and the site provided views of the nearby Sandia Mountains. However, we all agreed that the house—especially the second floor—had a dark, confined feeling and failed to take advantage of Albuquerque’s abundant natural light.
Making better use of the upstairs space
The existing second-floor plan was a conventional arrangement of small bath, bedroom, study, and sitting room, all opening off a central hall. The area was constricted and dark. With no plans to expand their household, our clients imagined the upstairs as a suite of interconnected spaces.
We achieved the desired result by creating three spacious rooms from the original floor plan. Out of the darkness came a comfortable master bedroom; a large, open bath area; and a sizable home office. We also added built-ins to increase storage throughout the master suite.
Opening up the entry sends light where it’s needed