This is the second instalment in our new Closet Space series, which looks at a trio of traditional storage spaces – attic, closet, garden shed – transformed into livable rooms. Here, an attic gives a growing family some breathing room.
When it comes to hacking spaces, designers Alana and Tristan of Boychuk Fuller are the masters. You’ll find their firm’s offices in the basement of their Parkdale home alongside a small mechanical room and bathroom – part of a larger plan, they tell us, to wring every last drop of usable space from the house.
Not surprisingly, their newly renovated attic is far more than a storage room for Christmas lights, photo albums and board games; though, you’ll find plenty of these family standards squirreled away in custom-built drawers and cabinets. It’s a brightly lit family room for their kids (an 8-month old and a 4-year old) and a tranquil landing pad for visiting friends and relatives.
But life in the attic wasn’t always this good. Poorly finished, it could be frigid in winter and stifling in summer, with wall-to-wall carpeting and sagging floor joists further discouraging visits. A Dutch staircase forced you to descend it backwards, like a ladder – cute, if the attic were up a tree. Luckily, Boychuk Fuller saw past the dysfunction and came up with another inspired plan.
The first step was to re-frame the entire loft, adding a few inches of headroom and floor space. Next, they installed solid Baltic Birch plywood flooring (with biscuit joints and adhesive to avoid cupping) and wall panels, millwork and staircase in the same cost-effective material. Insulation, two extra operable roof windows and an air return and supply solved the inhospitable temperature problem.
Even with 7.6 cm thick insulation padding the walls, the couple still managed to grow the space from 15 to 19 square metres. Granted, they chopped off a bit of height from a second-floor closet, allowing them to decrease the pitch of the new staircase. So far, however, there have been no complaints.
High up in the canopy, it “feels like you are sitting in a treehouse surrounded by the sounds of the city and birdsong,” says Boychuk. Only now you don’t need to climb a ladder to get there.
Read how designer Mary Ratcliffe created a soaring bedroom in a closet in the first chapter of our Closet Space series.