Dale and Amy's Key West Reno: Upstairs Master and Guest Suites

The foreshadowing is hard to miss in an episode titled "Always Read the Instructions". Dale Jr. and Amy Earnhardt move from ground floor to second floor as they reconfigure spaces to create two full bedroom suites in their Key West renovation. The combination of Amy's keen and understated aesthetic and Dale's energy and enthusiasm results in two charming and tastefully re-created spaces.

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Rocky Gonet/ AP Images

Photo By: Microsoft Windows Photo Viewer 6.1.7600.16385

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Rocky Gonet/ AP Images

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Rocky Gonet/ AP Images

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Rocky Gonet/ AP Images

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Rocky Gonet/ AP Images

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Rocky Gonet/ AP Images

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Rocky Gonet/ AP Images

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Rocky Gonet/ AP Images

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Onward and Upward

Amy and Dale Jr. pose for a pic in the completed foyer of their renovated home in Key West's historic Old Town. After completing the downstairs bedroom, kitchen, dining and living rooms, the next major phase of the project is restoration of the front stairs and transformation of the second floor to create master and guest suites.

Everything Must Go

Dale Jr. makes use of an open window to eliminate one of the non-functional ceiling fans. The upstairs tub and toilet were removed using the same technique.

Tee Shirt Poetics

Amy Earnhardt arrives with crystal elements for a new light fixture — while wearing a tee shirt that references another upcoming delivery.

Tile Master

Dale Jr. exhibits his acquired mastery of the wet saw as he custom cuts tile for one of the upstairs baths.

Fancy Footwork

Amy helps with the installation of the sculpted claw feet for the vintage tub in the new upstairs guest bath. 

Foyer and Stair, Before

The original staircase featured decorative wood spindles, rail and newel post, but the 32-inch height of the railing was too low to pass current codes. In order to meet code, the railing would need to be 36 inches in height.

Foyer and Stair, Before

The wall boards below the stairs and foyer flooring, like much of the original wood throughout the home, suffered from rot and termite damage.

Foyer and Stair, In Progress

The plan for the new staircase is to widen the steps, add taller spindles and raise the height of the bannister to 36 inches in order to meet code.

Foyer and Stair, In Progress

To replace the old tongue-and-groove wall boards, wainscoting is installed both below and beside the stairs. The new treatment will add a richer and more formal look to the home's entry.

Foyer and Stair, After

The chair rail treatment adds dimension and texture to the walls while the original newel post — salvaged, restored and given a rustic finish — pays homage to the home's history. 

Upstairs Landing, Before

The second floor landing, with doors accessing the two upstairs bedrooms and bathroom, prior to the renovation

Upstairs Landing, In Progress

Access to one of the upstairs bedrooms was odd, with only a half-width door for entry from the upstairs landing. Otherwise accessing the bedroom would require entering through the bathroom.

Upstairs Landing, After

The renovated landing has a new railing, new hardwood floors and reworked access to the two bedroom suites.

Upstairs Bedrooms, Before

Prior to the renovation, the two upstairs bedrooms were strictly bare-bones, without closets or en suite baths. 

Upstairs Bedrooms, In Progress

The upstairs floor plan was substantially reconfigured, with walls pushed back to allow for integration of new closets in both bedrooms and a full private bath for the guest room.

Upstairs Guest Bedroom, Before

The upstairs bedroom at the front of the house would become the guest suite, with a new private bath and access to the front balcony.

Guest Bedroom, After

My purpose going into the design of this room, and really all of the spaces in this house, was to lighten it up, clean it up and make a cozy environment you'd want to hang out in.
—Amy Earnhardt

Guest Bedroom, Before

Guest Bedroom, After

This is definitely my favorite bedroom in the house, and we were lucky enough to be able to add a bathroom. And not just any bathroom; this thing has an incredible tub in it, and great tile and in my favorite color!
—Dale Jr.

Guest Bedroom, Before

Guest Bedroom, After

Guest Bath, After

When it came to color palette, Dale's influence is in evidence in the guest bath. While Amy was going for vibrant blue and green hues to tie in with the beach motif and tropical surroundings, Dale was pushing for something retro or'70s — and most especially for orange. Amy gave in and surprised Dale with orange and white checkerboard tile.

Master Bedroom, Before

The vintage window casings and wall boards would be removed in an effort to salvage as much original material as possible. The tongue-and-groove boards were ultimately replaced with drywall.

Master Bedroom, After

Amy kept the master bedroom decor sleek, simple and cozy — with a neutral palette, floor-to-ceiling linen window treatments, a rustic wood bed frame and headboard with white shiplap wall behind.

Master Bedroom, Before

Master Bedroom, After

The sliding door on the master bathroom was one of the home's original interior wood doors, now repurposed using sliding-door hardware and left in unpainted wood finish.

Master Bedroom, After

Since the original wood walls could not be salvaged because of termite damage, the new shiplap walls, painted fresh white, pay tribute to the rustic style of the original space.

Master Bedroom, After

Master Bath, Before

The existing upstairs bath was dark and gloomy, with dark wood paneling. The space had been partially renovated, but the update had been left unfinished.

Master Bath, After

A door opening onto the upstairs landing was walled up in the master bath, creating lots of room for a large vanity and storage cabinets. The frameless glass shower allows plenty of natural light to flow through the space and makes it feel larger.

Master Bath, After

Other highlights in the master bath include a large round mirror above the vanity and blue and white handmade Cuban tile for the floor.

Behind the Scenes

Always Hire the Best. Dale and Amy discuss plans for the staircase and upstairs renovation with foreman Ron Michaud. "I'd say that Ron is the Richard Petty of house-building," says Dale. "He has a lot of experience and just knows everything...I'm learning from one of the best."

Behind the Scenes.

...And Always Read the Instructions. Dale, Amy and lead contractor Steve Krieger work on installation of the claw-feet on the tub for the upstairs guest room. It was during this project that it became apparent how beneficial it can be to read the manufacturer's instructions — before starting the job.

Behind the Scenes

Steve and Amy measure to determine the height of the raised railing in the upstairs landing.

Behind the Scenes

Dale pitches in installing the shiplap in the master bedroom.

Behind the Scenes

"I think I'm a quick learner," says Dale. "I'm willing to jump in ... What I don't bring in experience, I bring in effort and enthusiasm."

Approaching the Finish Line

With the stairway and upstairs rooms complete, the final phase of the project is about to get underway, and it's Dale's favorite space in the project. Check back here to see the completion of Dale and Amy's backyard oasis.

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