Meredith and Michael are busy medical professionals who live with their young daughter in a beautiful 1920s home in the heart of the city. They are considering expanding their family, but when that happens they will lose one of the rooms in their three-bedroom house, which means no spare room for out-of-town guests.
Their third-floor attic seemed the perfect place for new guest quarters, but the cramped space — used as TV room, playroom and home office — was in critical condition and needed a style injection, stat. So I called in my design team and set out to heal this pained space by turning it into a comfortable and stylish retreat for the whole family.
I had two big challenges before me. The first problem was the attic's angled walls and quirky nooks, which made the space feel confined. I started by painting all of the walls in a warm charcoal gray, which made the angles almost melt away. Then, because gravity didn't allow for hanging much artwork, I put up an entire wall graphic of inspirational and whimsical metallic script.
The second challenge was designing the space to be all things to all people. To this end, I divided the room into four main zones: a TV area, an office, a playroom and a guest alcove.
For the TV area, I installed a wall of dark wooden cabinetry that integrates the couple's large-screen TV and other media components. I also put in a new luxurious gray sectional sofa that is big enough for the whole family to lounge on.
I then designated a corner nook as the room's home office and brought in a sleek and functional new desk. To keep work and play separate, I put up an open, airy shelving unit between the office area and the lounging space.
The room had a small kitchenette that was just taking up space, so I ripped it out and made it into the attic's playroom. I put up a series of gray laminate shelves to store toys, books and other kid stuff and added a curtain in front to keep it all out of view when needed.
Lastly, I designated the window area as the new guest retreat. By day the space functions as a cozy lounger, but by night it flips open to reveal a double bed for sleeping.
After all of the restructuring, it was time to spice things up a little bit. I purposely kept the color contrast down on the walls, ceilings and furniture to help unite all of the room's unusual angles. So the interest in this space was to come from smatterings of color and tactile, textured fabrics.
I installed creamy carpeting on the floors, used light-colored linen on the day/guest bed, put up some shimmering drapes, and then punched things up with rich plum tones in the pillows and other accessories.
To brighten up the whole space, I ripped out the existing track lighting, which made the room look too long and narrow, and installed individual fixtures that help put the room in better proportion. I also installed a lovely pendant in the guest retreat and put some lamps in the office area.
After a few accents here and there, this attic retreat was complete. By unifying the nooks and crannies, creating different zones for various functions and adding a few unusual touches, this once-hurting attic was cured--and well worth the climb to the top of the stairs.
(Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of Home & Garden Television's Divine Design.)