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How Unused Attic Space Became a Master Suite

Attic conversions face unique challenges, but can be remarkably rewarding.

Built-in bookcases and closets take full advantage of low ceilings.

Be creative when it comes to visualizing changes.

Access every usable inch. The layout claims about 1,000 square feet from the 2,000-square-foot attic. Low clearance overhead makes the rest of the attic unusable.

Upgrade the floor. The original floor structure of the attic was not up to code for a finished space. To reinforce it, 2x10s were inserted between the old 2x6 joists.

Play up windows. The new home office occupies a gable that already existed at the front of the house, which at one time provided the attic's only windows. The new back windows not only add light but also additional safety exits.

A gable added both light and space.

Use gables to expand headroom. The original hipped roof at the back of the house was replaced with a peaked gable, which not only expanded headroom but also created a windowed wall in the master bedroom and gave the room a better backyard view.

Ensure efficient air flow. The home's original heating and air system was not designed to service a second story. Rather than replace those mechanicals, the architect installed a separate system in the attic. The system is tucked behind the bathroom, through the small door in the office. Because of its closer proximity, the system is more effective than it otherwise would have been.

Brightened by a skylight, the bath was configured around two chimneys.

Allow for future use. The bathroom was built with a second door and private toilet in case future owners decide to use the office as a nursery or child's bedroom.

Add enough light. Although dormers could have brought light to the stairs and bath, the architect chose skylights, which bring in more light without disrupting rooflines.

Get creative. To make a stairway to the attic, the architect borrowed a few square feet from a downstairs closet and bath for the first rise, then turned the risers 180 degrees to finish over the basement stairs.

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