A Bright Attic Suite for $2,620
A dingy, makeshift bedroom and bath becomes a cheery retreat with custom built-ins—for less than the cost of a new set of furniture
In a small house, every bit of space needs to work hard, as homeowners Samantha and Bryan Langdeau soon realized after buying their 1,200-square-foot Cape in Waterbury, Connecticut. Wanting to reserve the two bedrooms on the first floor for guests, they set their sights on the second-floor finished attic for their master suite.
Working nights and weekends for about two months while sleeping in a guest bedroom downstairs, the couple gutted much of the space, tore out closet walls, and added insulation throughout.
Raising the ceiling about a foot in the bedroom half of the area allowed for a ceiling fan, and adding a partition wall created a nook for a built-to-fit desk. With both windows unobstructed, natural light now flows from one end to the other, enhanced by pale neutral walls and fabrics. "We wanted to make it as light and bright as possible," says Bryan. With the transformation complete, the couple love waking up in their new, sun-filled master suite.
While a bath was already in place and indents in the carpet suggested there'd been a bed up there too, the space was far from restful. Dark wood paneling and space-hogging closets had turned it into a dim, depressing maze. "The hall was 20 inches wide. I don't know how anyone could have gotten a mattress up there," says Bryan.
Shown: Dark wood paneling, too many closets, and worn carpeting made the small space feel dated and claustrophobic.
A half-wall behind the bedroom bench, plus a balustrade, replaced full walls that used to enclose the staircase. Now, end-to-end sight lines allow lots of sunlight to enter the space.
The built-in bench provides extra storage for linens. The painted base blends in with the walls, while the beadboard-lined interior ties in with the nearby bathroom.
"Reuse materials wherever possible. I used 2x4s salvaged from the walls I demolished to frame the bench and covered it with leftover drywall." —Bryan Langdeau, Waterbury, Conn.
The updated bath was freshened up with paint and a new, space-saving vanity. A custom door built by the homeowner replaced a curtain. Its translucent, film-topped glass panels bring light into the small, windowless space while still maintaining privacy.
Gutted the space of paneling, drywall, and carpet, $0
Added insulation and raised half of the dropped ceiling, $200
Updated the electrical and installed new light fixtures, $325
Put up new drywall and added baseboard, window, and doorway trim, $400
Replaced one stairwell wall with a balustrade, $165
Laid an oak floating floor, $800
Built a glass-panel pine door for the bath's narrow doorway, $120
Installed a new bath vanity, $110
Made an oak-topped half-wall and built-in storage bench, $250
Brightened walls with 2 gallons of primer and 5 gallons of paint, $250