3 Big Takeaways from Our Most Popular Before & After of All Time

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Angie B)

Before and After transformations just never get old, especially when the results are utterly unrecognizable. Case in point: Back in 2013, we posted a project about an empty stairwell space that was transformed into something unexpectedly wonderful. Cut to five years later and it’s been viewed almost four million times. We recently went back to see just what made the project resonate so much with our readers.

(Image credit: Angie B)

This project came courtesy of homeowner Angie, who was looking for some extra space to creatively carve out of her two-bedroom home. Meanwhile, her entryway had an absolutely cavernous ceiling, which, while airy, was a whole mess of wasted square footage. Her solution was to build a loft and create an entirely new area out of thin air. Here’s what it became:

(Image credit: Angie B)

The space is now a combined play and work loft that lives above the staircase. It’s a great area for Angie’s daughter to play, with plenty of room for storage for her books and toys. It’s also got a desk so Angie herself can get work done—while still keeping an eye on her kid if need be. It’s separate from the living room, so Angie can also get away for awhile if she needs to.

Here are three elements that make this makeover oh-so-smart.

#1: It transforms formerly useless dead space

Every home has an area or two (or 10) that isn’t living up to its full potential—whether it’s a poorly organized cabinet, or a kitchen with an awkward layout. By converting this trouble spot, Angie made it infinitely more useful… and satisfying for all of us who witnessed the change.

Related: 9 DIY Ideas for Empty Room Corners & Other Dead Zones

#2: It customizes something builder basic

If you’ve ever lived in a cookie0cutter home, you know the struggle. Builder basic homes aren’t known for their custom details, which makes it difficult to make them your own. Now this house feels like a young family actually lives there and loves it. The new play area is colorful and fun, and it also meets their needs.

#3: It’s done affordably with DIY

Using some basic woodworking skills, Angie’s husband and his father did the work themselves, which made this project an inexpensive upgrade. It’s a fairly simple job: Create a frame that is secured to the walls, then lay down hardwood floor. It’s aspirational to be sure, but also very accessible.

You can see all the installation photos and read about the original project here: Before & After: From Ceiling Space to Playroom