Before & After: From Attic to Boys' Bedroom

A dark and seldom-used attic space is remodeled as a bright multipurpose boys' bedroom packed with style and substance.
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May 06, 2015

The Finished Room

After a two-week remodel, what was a dark, contractor-grade finished attic is now a shiny, happy spot for playing games, experimenting with crafts and hosting sleepovers. Rather than choosing popular or trendy palettes and/or themes, a fresh, transitional approach was taken by mixing sea-foam green with a grassy shade of green, then combining traditional and modern design styles for something unique and up to date.


Unsure how to best use the 26' X 14' attic space of their new-construction home, the homeowners of this traditional Tennessee two-story Colonial simply filled it with leftover college furniture until deciding to remodel it as a shared spot for their sons to sleep and play. To ensure the space felt light and bright, they'd replace the wall-to-wall carpet with white laminate, paint the walls a cheery shade of sea-foam green, and add custom sleeping and storage solutions.

Architectural Bunk Beds

The biggest splurge and most involved element of the attic's remodel was its custom architectural bunk bed. Created to look more like a permanent structure than a freestanding piece of furniture, the modern masterpiece was made from basic lumber and decorative pine planks. Overall, the bed took four full days to cut, assemble, sand and paint. To ensure longevity, it was painted ultra-white in a semigloss finish using an HVLP paint sprayer. Should the palette eventually change as the boys grow, the ultra-white will work well with any new color combination.

Integrated Cubby Steps

Keeping in mind how important storage is for young boys with massive amounts of toys, steps leading up to the top bunk were installed along the edge of the bed in the form of stacked, open-front cubbies.

Pullout Trundle

As the boys grow, their interest in activities is sure to change. And in the future, when one is heading off to college, the other will still have three years left in the room by himself. To add additional hangout space should the bottom bunk become no longer needed, the mattress of the lower bunk sits on a trundle which rolls out completely, creating an additional private space for lounging, gathering or doing homework.

Graphic, Preppy Patterns

To dress the beds in classic boy style with a fresh, modern spin, blue-and-white gingham pillows were mixed with a green-and-white trellis pattern and a duvet featuring green and white pinstripes.

Integrated Windows

The multipurpose room was designed to feel open and airy. To ensure that the boys don't feel closed off when lying in bed, windows were integrated along the front as well as the sides. Should Mom or Dad need their attention, the boys can see and chat with them through the integrated windows. Additionally, the ledges of the windows were made chunky enough to hold the boys' favorite Matchbox cars and action figures.

Privacy Drapes

The multipurpose room has an abundance of natural light streaming in through its three windows. To help control the early morning rays and also give each brother privacy while sleeping, custom draperies made from army-green linen were sewn, then installed on hospital tracks mounted along the tops of the frontal window openings.

Dutch Door

On afternoons and weekends, the multipurpose room is occupied by both boys and their playmates. Since young boys are known for rambunctiousness and running around endlessly, they're kept at bay safely thanks to a Dutch door installed at the room's entry. To keep the kids contained inside, the bottom half of the door usually remains closed while the top half remains open, allowing parents to keep an eye on the kids from a distance.

Repurposed Toy Hardware

For a touch of the unexpected, the existing hardware of the dresser was replaced with custom pulls made by sawing rubber action figures in half, then attaching them to the existing holes with screws.

Entry Area

Upon entry to the multipurpose room, the boys are greeted by a grassy-green dresser (picked up at a flea market, sanded and repainted) which holds their day-to-day school, playground and gym clothes. Although it may seem insignificant at first, proper placement of storage furniture can have a huge impact on keeping a kid's room neat and tidy. With everyday clothes kept right near the entrance, the boys can seamlessly get dressed, then make their way out of the room and off to school. While the dresser keeps their casual clothes neatly stored and out of sight, a pair of wall hooks was installed alongside the architectural bunk bed to keep backpacks off the floor and within arm's reach.

White Laminate Flooring

Wall-to-wall carpet, while soft, isn't necessarily the best flooring option for spaces occupied by active boys. Since the space is used for creative crafting projects as well as playtime activities, the existing wall-to-wall carpet was replaced with a cost-effective ultra-white laminate floating floor. Once the existing carpet and padding were removed, a foam underlay was unrolled before the tongue-and-groove planks were attached to one another, cut to size, then staggered. Should anything spill on the floor, it can simply be wiped up with a sponge.

Midcentury-Modern Globe Pendants

During the day the multipurpose room remains bright and cheery due to the light streaming in from its three windows. At night the space is kept lit by a trio of oversized midcentury-modern pendants which cast a flattering, diffused glow on the room. When considering midcentury globes for your own home, keep in mind that most are available in glass and plastic versions. For use in rooms where roughhousing is likely to occur, it's best to choose plastic styles rather than glass.

Three Zones

The space plan of the multipurpose room is made up of three zones: sleeping, activity and storage.

Felt Activity Wall

Space planning played a big role in the success of the remodeled attic. To put an eight-foot-wide area of dead space to good use, it was transformed into a felt activity wall. In order to make this, batting was cut to size, then attached with spray adhesive before being covered by white felt secured to the wall with hot glue. Colored felt was then cut to size with scissors to create an assortment of objects, characters and landscapes.

Closet Reading Nook

It's uncommon for most attics to include closets. Since the remodeled space was meant for use as a bedroom as well as a playspace, proper closets were needed to store dress shirts, pants and jackets. To add closet space and offer the boys an additional spot to read books, the wall along the front of the room was framed with 2 X 4 lumber, hinged for two doors, then clad with beadboard before a central window seat was added and all surfaces were sprayed with ultra-white semigloss latex paint. When friends come over, the entire center of the room can be left widen open for ample space to lay out games and participate in activities.

Wooden Taxidermy

For a classic, masculine spin, wooden taxidermy was made for the boys' room by tracing shapes to two-inch-thick cedar planks with a pencil, then cutting them out with a jigsaw, sanding and then adding a whitewashed finish for a clean look. Picture hanging wire is attached to the back for easy, level installation.

Concealed Closet Doors

For a seamless look, the closet doors are covered in the same beadboard which wraps the walls of the custom closets. When the doors are closed, each of the two closets take on the appearance of architectural focal points. The ultra-white coloring of the closets helps reflect light onto the bold-painted sea-foam walls, resulting in a diffused look which softens the intensity of wall color. When using minty tones on walls, keep in mind that they can actually alter the colors of other objects within the room. Contrasting minty colors with bright white and natural light will aid in a more balanced look.

Open Closet Doors

Once opened, the closets reveal two hanging rods as well as an interior painted the same shade of sea-foam green as the walls and ceiling. Many designers suggest painting the interiors of closets the same color as a room's walls to make the closet feel like an extension of the space. Another idea involves painting the interiors of closets a bold contrasting color, or giving them a separate identity with wallpaper.

Double-Hang Rods

To maximize the interior of the two closets, two rods were hung spaced three feet apart. This allows plenty of hanging space for shirts and pants now, with any extra room eventually being used when the boys become teenagers and their clothes increase in size. To help keep the structural integrity of dress shirts and pants intact, wooden hangers were used rather than plastic styles. By switching plastic or wire hangers out for wooden or aluminum styles, the overall look of a closet can instantly be given high-end appeal.

Window Seat

The small window seat between the two closets was made with 2X4 lumber, paint-grade plywood and beadboard. In order to make the seat practical for kids and parents, it has a depth of 20”, which is ideal for adult-sized and kid-sized legs to reach the floor when seated.

Canvas Window Shades

To help with light control, the three windows of the multipurpose space are dressed with green-and-white striped Roman shades made from canvas. Since rooms occupied by active boys require extra durability, the canvas will hold up to any harsh pulls or messy fingers since it's wipeable and resilient.


In its original state, the inset areas around the dormers were a waste of space. To give these areas a true purpose, they were transformed into two separate homework nooks complete with custom floating desks. To create the custom desks, first 2X4 lumber and paint-grade plywood were both cut to size, mitered, attached with a nail gun, then sanded and painted.

Homework Nooks

Each of the two homework nook's floating desks were configured with enough depth to accommodate books and games as well as laptop and desktop computers once the boys are old enough to use them for school. Instead of pairing the desks with themed children's chairs, midcentury-modern Bertoia chairs were added.

Repurposed Play Table

For a designated place to work on crafts, draw and color with crayons, a custom play table was made from an old coffee table cut down to size with a saw, sanded, then painted white and green. The child-sized chairs were picked up at a flea market, sanded, painted and decoupaged with vintage maps.

Integrated Art Supply Storage

Keeping storage in mind, the table was designed with an integrated bowl for keeping crayons, markers and pencils stored neatly and within arm's reach. To add the bowl, a jigsaw was used to cut out a hole from the center of the tabletop, and then a mixing bowl with a lip around the top edge was dropped in. The key to doing this successfully is choosing a bowl with a deep enough lip to keep the bowl from slipping through the hole.

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