Like a lot of homeowners, Colleen and Pete dreamed of transforming their underused attic into a space that they would use everyday. Their aim was to turn it into a bright, sunny, master bedroom suite where they would have enough room for their king-sized bed, clothing, and a bathroom, as well as for a cozy nook to read nighttime stories to their two children, Mac and Quin.
The rest of their 1920’s Pennsylvania stone and cedar house was in great shape, but all that was needed was a bedroom/bathroom suite that the parents could love. The couple decided to take the plunge and hired architect Jeremy Avellino of Bright Common for his green approach to design.
The plan for the new space.
In Jeremy's words:
We designed the tight spaces around how they would be used and identified: fairly strict areas for sleeping, dressing, bathing, and reading. We likened this project to designing a ship’s cabin. Every square inch of space, especially height, mattered.
The attic was accessed through an awkwardly small office on the second floor. We did a bit of selective demolition at the office ceiling to open up that entire room into a double-height dressing area, complete with his and hers wardrobes, which in turn beckons you upstairs into the open-concept bedroom.
The existing attic was only seven feet at the ridge, with a steeply pitched roof making it very challenging to use as a bedroom. To accommodate the bed, operable skylights were added for headroom.
The compact, fully-tiled bathroom tucks neatly under an existing low-shed dormer. Due to tight budget constraints, the low roof height needed to remain unchanged — however, the low point at the vanity was only five feet tall! To accommodate this, we had operable skylights installed above the sink and shower. On the approach to the sink, you simply duck your head a bit and it fits squarely in the skylight (it actually works quite nicely).
We constructed custom reclaimed wood built-ins in the lower knee walls to house clothes, books, and collections which add character and warmth to the space.
A private reading nook with an adjustable light hides neatly in the corner for storytime with the kids. To complete the renovation, the attic was super-insulated and air-sealed, which insures a very comfortable space to begin and end each day.
- Custom reclaimed redwood + maple built-ins
- Refinished heart pine flooring
- White marble tile
- Salvaged white marble shower bench
- Velux skylights
Four months including design and construction
Thank you, Colleen and Pete!
(Image credits: Bright Common; Bright Common; Robert Hornak; Robert Hornak)