The New England Cape is a popular style of home found abundantly in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, oftentimes characterized by a steep roof, gabled windows, and a simplistic exterior. Although the Cape has adapted architecturally to support modern day conveniences, many homes still retain some of the same characteristics as those first built many years ago. As a result, the Cape structure can pose some remodeling and design considerations for the modern household.
Dormers, for example, are a common feature of many modern-day Capes, typically found on the second-story of the structure. While dormers can add more light and ventilation to an otherwise high-sloped roof, they can pose some design challenges, particularly when the dormer shelters a small upstairs bathroom, which is common to many Cape homes. Check out our 4 tips for approaching your next bathroom remodeling project when dealing with dormers:
- Behold the power of paint. Use paint colors to your advantage. As a general rule, you should use lighter colors for small spaces and for the dormer, since dark or bright dormer paint can look eerie from the outside of your home at night. If the window creates a lot of light, make sure you opt for a flat or eggshell finish, rather than a satin or high-gloss finish. To make the room feel more open, keep the paint color consistent between the bathroom and the dormer.
- Optimize lighting with windows and fixtures. Take advantage of the light coming through the dormer window. If you have big plans for your bathroom, work with a contractor to discuss potentially expanding the size of the window to optimize the flow of light. If your budget is smaller, think about using window treatments to highlight the window and the light. Even if your bathroom gets a lot of natural light, small bathrooms with dormers generate many small shadows, so make sure your bathroom lighting fixtures are bright enough to flood light throughout the bathroom. Soft light can make the room feel smaller. Use mirrors to help create reflections of light which will brighten the room even more.
- Be deliberate with your design choices. There are some great options for optimizing a small, dormered bathroom. You can use the dormer to encapsulate your shower or tub and find great fixtures and materials to meet the demands of the space. For example, if your shower is under the dormer and features slanted walls, you can find a special shower head fixture to best suit the space. Also, opt for a glass shower door and enclosure to keep the room open (standard shower curtains add too much weight to the room and can make it feel smaller). You can also opt to use the space under the dormer for your tub. Claw foot tubs work great in small nooks and can help create a cozy space to take a bath. This approach also preserves precious space in the remaining bathroom.
- Install a built-in below the dormer. Depending on your space and budget, you may not be able to find a useful function for the area under the dormer. Rather than struggle with your design plans, consider optimizing the space below the dormer by installing built-in storage. You can create built-in shelves to hold bathroom supplies like towels, soap and toilet paper. Built-in cabinets take a bit more work, but can create a nice storage solution, as well as creating interest as you can decorate the natural shelf on top of the drawers.