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Kevin and Rosemarie's Attic

Sometimes it's the unusual spaces in our homes that offer the most challenges and the potential. Unused closets can be converted into open display shelves, the space under the stairs can be assigned a new purpose, and old attics can be made into useful, liveable rooms. Rosemarie and Kevin called me in to tackle just such a space and help transform it into a play room for their two pre-teen boys. To say that this room had challenges was an understatement!

The house itself was over 100 years old and the previous owners had converted the attic into a quasi-family room. But the job was done several years earlier, and the "do-it-yourself" charm of the space had worn thin. The walls were all rough white stucco, and the floor was covered in grey industrial carpet. On the plus side, the room had lots of great windows which were a real bonus in an attic space. My job was to give it function and form!

First things first, I pulled up the old carpet and put in a neutral, wheat-coloured Berber. It's soft on the feet, and the varied texture helps hide minor accidents as well. Lighting is one of the most important elements when designing a room; in this case I chose metallic halogen fixtures, which filled the space with light and looked really cool! We painted the walls a rich caramel colour, and I chose dark wood, denim and leather as my accent tones in the room. I really wanted this to be a guy-friendly space the boys could comfortably grow into.

I divided up the space into three areas. One was centred around a foosball table, which the boys told me they loved to play. To one side, I built in a snack area, complete with a fridge and a great window bench with comfy cushions where friends could lounge. And of course, we also needed an area where they could watch TV. Floor cushions and beanbag chairs added extra seating, and classic club chairs added style without stuffiness.

Now that I'd addressed all the boys' requests, it was time I paid heed to mom's. Rosemarie had requested a proper space where the boys could spread out their books and laptops and do their homework. An awkward space right under one of the windows was perfect for the job. Keeping budget in mind, we built in simple maple storage shelves and a two-tiered computer desk. We gave the woodwork some dimension and interest by using two tones of stains: a natural tone and a dark walnut colour. This is a great tip to get a quality, high-cost look without spending a lot of money.

They say that the details are what "close the deal," and I agree. I made sure there was space for the boys' hockey trophies so they could be proudly displayed in the room. I also covered the windows with simple denim valances -- no fussy curtains for these guys! A few strategically placed mirrors reflect light in the room making it feel even more open. The final result is a clean flow between the homework desk, the multi-media area and the foosball "arena." The boys -- and mom and dad -- loved the look of their new space.


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