We started the renovation on our 100 year old house 3 years ago, and the attic renovation was an amazing transformation! It was transformed from a basically unusable space to this charming vaulted ceiling, exposed brick chimney family room. Here’s what we did…
When we first started the attic renovation, we had the original maid’s room up on the third level, but the rest of the space was unfinished.
We began by having the insulation company spray foam insulation on all the walls and ceiling. This type of ‘closed cell’ foam insulation has a very high ‘R’ value, (in fact, I think it’s the highest r-value of all the insulation options) which we needed in order to leave the ceiling beams exposed so that we could sheetrock the vault.
Some of the windows needed to be replaced… Like this one on the stairway… the top half of the window wasn’t a window at all, it was a louvered vent. Now that we were transforming this 3rd level into heated livable space, a vent would be a bit chilly here in NW Wisconsin in the winter!
What was a closed off, old icky stairway when we bought the house, is now a stairway with this reproduction vintage carpeting, featuring a fun ‘whimsical library, (you can read that post here). (if you’d like to see some great choices for ‘book themed’ wallpaper, here are 3 great ‘books’ wallpaper options… (even better than the book border I used!!)
This bank of 3 windows were only 2 windows with the third having an attic fan in the window’s place. Therefore we replaced the fan with a window, and installed this beautiful stained glass panel (I found here). All the rest of the windows are the old original ones, which I love the look of… wavy glass and all… but they were only single pane, and really close to the floor. My answer was to install interior storms with tempered glass. It solved the issue of the single pane. It also resolved the worry I had of the safety issue of old glass so close to the floor with grandchildren playing, tempered glass is much stronger and safer.
Looking towards the stairway you can see how the exposed brick chimney is a huge feature in this space. (details on how I re-did the retro cart are here)
Another nice feature of this attic are the steeply angled walls that lend themselves nicely for cubbies for toys, storage and my husband’s car display. (For the car display, I installed Plexiglas panels across the front to keep little fingers away from the cars, and keep the display dust free.)
Oh, and the original maid’s room?
Here’s a peek into the maid’s room. It had all the original trim, plaster, floor… just really dirty… I really wanted to maintain this room in it’s originality, therefore we carefully worked around it. We managed to have the exterior wall insulated and only had a few holes in the plaster to patch. For re-wiring the room, and installing the baseboard heaters, the carpenters carefully removed the trim to get a little easier access to the space inside the walls, then replaced the trim right back.
Once all that was finished I scrubbed, sealed, primed it and painted it, (the floor is the original finish, just scrubbed and clear coated a couple of coats! Isn’t it cool how the knots in the old wood turned so dark over the last 100 years?!) The trim in this original maid’s room, now my sewing/craft room, was this fun mint green… you can see on the floor at the threshold the green it originally was. That one floor board I wanted to keep for it’s original-ness, so I scrubbed and sealed it with the floor… but for the rest of the trim, after I cleaned it, I primed and re-painted it for a fresh finish.
This 3rd level attic space is a treasure for the house now.
Such a fun place for kids and adults! When we sell our house, (yes, we just put it on the market!) I think I will miss this original maid’s room the most.
Be sure to check out this page to see many of these renovation projects ‘in action’: Our 100 Year Old House
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- Best source I’ve found for buying new, vintage and antique stained glass windows!
- Here are several fun choices of library book wallpapers!
Here are more before and after projects:
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