The owners of this 1923 home in Washington DC wanted a master suite, and originally considered combining two rooms on the second floor to serve this purpose. However, they showed our team the home’s attic and expressed an interest in seeing a design option for a master suite in that space. Our designer was immediately inspired. Creating a master suite in the attic offered an opportunity to create a unique space that was larger and had more design options than combining two bedrooms.
Our designer was immediately inspired. The appeal of moving the master suite to the attic was that it offered an opportunity to create a unique space that was larger and had more design options than combining two bedrooms. It was also easily accessible by a standard set of stairs from the 2nd floor.
The original attic had wood paneling on the walls and ceiling and was mostly used for storage and as a retreat for the cats. The 7-foot walls did not capture the volume of the roof line, nor did it take advantage of the square footage.
We removed the existing paneling and pushed the existing walls back so they had a lower height around the perimeter. This provides a dramatic contrast to the new high ceiling and dramatic angles of the roofline. We maintained an open floor plan and used glass panels and doors for privacy and separation of different functions. The finished square footage is 650 sq.ft. There is about 350 sq.ft. of unfinished the storage area.
The room has two dormers with windows and we discovered a skylight when we removed the paneling. Our designer brought in more natural light by replacing the skylight with a larger unit.
We also installed larger windows in the front dormer. The new windows are casement windows for egress purposes, which are required by code in a bedroom. The front dormer was also reframed in a shape that follows the original frame, which adds more volume. We installed two long steps inside the dormer to hide the ducts underneath and provide seating and storage.
The space needed some detailing to balance the large volume. The open plan also required a visual delineation of the different areas. Our designer added three beams across the ceiling over the bed to define the master bedroom. The beams were finished with the same dark stain used to refinish the attic’s original pine flooring. Dimmable recessed lights in the ceiling are placed in accordance with the beams location.
The reason for the open plan was to maintain natural light throughout the attic. However, the bathroom was a challenge because it has privacy walls. Our designer opted to use continuous clerestory glass panels that wrap around the corner of the bathroom enclosure. These custom glass pieces allow light to flow from the dormers and skylight into the bathroom. The bathroom door is frosted to maintain privacy but also let in natural light.
There are two good-size closets for the owners in the eaves, and additional storage, as well as the HVAC system is also located in the eaves and access through two doors—one next to the bed and one in the bathroom.
March 14, 2016
Attics & Basements