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An Attic Turned Ultimate Kids' Bedroom Suite

Clever built-ins tap every square inch of an attic hideaway with so much charm that kids beg for bedtime.

Ask kids, and they’ll tell you the ideal place to sleep is in a tree house or on a sailboat, like Max in Where the Wild Things Are. Architect Darren Helgesen incorporated that spirit in this attic redo at a century-old house in East Hampton, New York, where he used warm finishes and smart details to turn the dark, sloped-ceilinged space into a shipshape two-bedroom suite.

All Tucked In

Photo by Julian Wass

The homeowners, Bill and Cory Laverack, had already renovated the rest of the house. "We used a lot of beadboard and liked it," says Cory, an interior designer, so Helgesen continued it here, calling on general contractor Ronald Gray and carpenter Paul Stisi to fit together beaded boards and built-ins as neatly as jigsaw pieces.

The team also rejiggered an existing bath and put down a pine floor. "It was always their favorite place," says Cory, recalling how the couple's four kids would hide out upstairs with friends every chance they got. "And now it's the ultimate sleepover space."

Shown: Snug built-ins with below-bed storage, roof windows, pine flooring, and lots of glossy beadboard opened up the space and made it more functional.

Before: Hodgepodge Hideaway

Freestanding furniture, little light, and shabby, not chic, finishes made the attic bedrooms feel smaller.

Smart Storage

Photo by Julian Wass

Deep drawers with soft-close glides hold clothes and linens, and the built-in bedside table hides ductwork. A mirror-image bedroom occupies the space at the other end of the hall.

Safety First

Photo by Julian Wass

A sash stop prevents kids from opening the window more than 6 inches.

Open Door Policy

Photo by Julian Wass

The hallway's vaulted ceiling extends to the door frames; when closed, the wall-height doors have triangles of space above them to channel air and light.

Material-Minded

Photo by Julian Wass

The bath alcove's window trim and shutters are made of vinyl to resist water damage.

Shutters: Summit Hill

Low-Key Lighting

Photo by Julian Wass

Wall-mount sconces with streamlined porcelain bases frame the medicine cabinet and reinforce the period look.

Sconces: Rejuvenation

Clean and Kid-Friendly

Photo by Julian Wass

Shaker-style pegs take the place of towel bars. The room's beadboard walls and trim were finished with moisture-resistant oil-based paint.

Paint: Benjamin Moore's Ivory White

Period Details

Photo by Julian Wass

The pedestal sink, porcelain-lever faucet, and framed-mirror cabinet hark back to the 1920s, not long after the house was built.

Sink: Porcher. Faucet: Waterworks. Custom medicine cabinet: Graystone Builders

Floor Plan

Illustration by Ian Worpole

Adding roof windows, rebuilding the bath, and lining the space with built-ins and glossy beadboard made the space feel bigger.

  1. Raised the peak of the ceiling (including the hall and door frames) to about 6 feet 10 inches.
  2. Built in bedside tables and twin beds with deep drawers that replace dressers.
  3. Moved the tub to take advantage of the light brought in by a pair of double-hung windows.
  4. Added roof windows, which bring in light and double as emergency exits.
  5. Replaced the panes in existing windows with safety glass.