The loft space is located above the master bedroom and is the highest point in the house. It is an area that most people would have probably just discarded as attic or storage space, but Amy and I were determined to make this an additional living space.
The photo below shows the relative location of this space above our bedroom.
The first step to renovating this loft space was to add sister joists to the loft floor (and master bedroom ceiling) that would help support the added weight and hopefully prevent cracks in the plaster ceiling of the master bedroom below. Before we could add the new joists we needed to clean out the loft space from all the debris that was created when they added a new roof several years ago. In addition, there was some old insulation that was in the way. It all had to go. This was not a fun job, but I was thankful that I waited to do this until winter. It would have been unbearably hot in the summer.
And after the cleaning…
In the process of cleaning out the loft we did find some interesting artifacts. This can was one of our more exciting treasures that we found. In included a lot of old coins from the 20s and 30s and some hand written notes.
The oldest coin was from 1892!
Once everything was cleared out we were able to have the sister joists installed, plywood floors, and a 16″ knee-wall. This picture is facing the back of the house.
This is towards the front of the house.
A late decision and addition to the house was a new window in the loft space. It made such a huge difference in the space. It no longer felt like a cave.
We decided not to bother with any overhead light since the ceiling is low and angled. We did include 4 outlets in the loft and one of these outlets is wired to switch at the bottom of the ladder. The ceiling was insulated with closed-cell spray foam. This spray foam was more expensive, but it has kept the upstairs nice and cool. Without it, the loft space would have been unusable.
Finally, about one year after we bought the house, the new rooms we created upstairs received drywall.
The loft space remained like this (with a coat of primer) until a few weeks ago. The common area was also primed and somewhat finished with trim and baseboards salvaged from woodwork removed from the old kitchen, bathroom, and pantry.
We were finally motivated by Thanksgiving guests to finish the loft space. The first addition included a built-in bed and shelving.
We also added bookshelves to the open end of the loft.
The baseboards and door casing that we used upstairs were all originally downstairs in the old pantry and bathroom that we were able to salvage and cut to fit upstairs. We had JUST enough to make it all work. It looks great after a little TLC and a fresh coat of paint. We settled on “white linen” paint color for the walls. The paint job was intense! It covered the loft, commons area, laundry area, stairway, and included 15ft tall ceilings, difficult angles, and a pretty sore neck. [Edit from Amy: The most comical part of this job was standing on a ladder with a paint brush taped to the end of a pole in order to cut in. A marathon of a paint job.] But it is finally done!
Here is a look at the finished product:
We do still need to clean up the ladder we got at a salvage shop and also find a way to get the ladder more snug against the wall. We forgot to take the width of the wheels into consideration! I like the idea of cutting a hole in the shape of a mouse door (like in a cartoon) into the baseboard/drywall that would allow the wheel to go into the wall. Not sure about that yet, still thinking.
Lucy climbs up and down the ladder just fine. It’s new, so we supervise her when she does it, but it won’t be long until we can trust her to do it without us.
And notice in the photo below….. CARPET! I underestimated how transformed the space would feel with a soft floor. [Edit from Amy: After years of having only hardwood, the carpet was an exciting prospect for us and the kids were happily making carpet angels with me the day it was installed. ]
One of our top priorities for the space was to alleviate some overcrowding of books and Lego’s. These new bookshelves definitely helped!
We also wanted to use this space as a guest room or slumber party area. Two mattresses fit just right, but we will probably keep one mattress under the bed most of the time to free up the floor space for play. Here is what it looks like with both mattresses out and ready for our Thanksgiving guests.
Amy and I have fallen into a comfortable rhythm with the home rehab. Some things will wait for a long time, but that is usually because we don’t have a firm vision for it yet. We have found that when we wait a little while we always come up with better ideas and are glad we didn’t rush into it. The loft space is a perfect example. We didn’t originally intend to put a bed up there and we always thought we would have a railing at the open end. Turns out we were right to wait a while and let the creative process simmer a little longer.
The other end of the loft serves as storage for most of the Lego’s in our house.
Here is one last reminder of the original condition of the space.
The loft is now one of our favorite spaces in the house. Lucy requests to be up there constantly. It’s comfortable, intimate, and as I have mentioned a couple times already… cozy.
[Edit from Amy: The loft has been a very versatile and usable space. Lucy and I had her first “slumber party” together the night we finally brought the mattresses up. It has been a great place for traveling guests (as long as they are not afraid of heights) and will be a place our kids will use and enjoy everyday. We are looking forward to many family game nights and friend sleep overs. I have my own plans of disappearing there with some coffee and a book.]
Here are some last pictures of the loft being used: