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Transforming an Attic into a Home Office

Our Designer Dad, Stephen Saint-Onge, turns an unfinished attic into a cozy home office.

By Stephen Saint-Onge

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Home office
Stephen Saint-Onge
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Many people say to me when I see their house for the first time: "We are living here now, but someday we'll have our dream home" or "Excuse the mess, our house is not ideal for our busy family, so we aren't very organized." The other thing I hear is: "Once the economy improves, we'll be building the house we really want, but for now we're staying put."

In this recession, I've started to see people get creative with their present homes. Instead of living in limbo waiting for their dream house to become a reality, they're making improvements to their current places so they can enjoy them again.

This makeover is a great example of homeowners doing just that. Attics and basements are often forgotten spaces. However, once you realize they could be usable extensions of your living space, you'll see that they have much to offer. This family did, and transformed a cluttered, unfinished attic into a warm, inviting home office with touches of the American southwest, Tuscany and the south of France—the style of their dream home.

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Many attics and basements are catch-all spaces for excess possessions. This family's attic was no different.

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Once the clutter was removed—donated, sold, recycled or thrown away—the raw shell of the unfinished attic proved to be a solid starting point for a home office.

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New windows replaced air circulation vents, allowing natural light to stream into the once-dark space.

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Insulation and drywall gave the room its new shape.

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An eco-friendly clay wall finish adorned the room with a richness reminiscent of a farmhouse in Provence.

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Wood flooring added more depth to the space.

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The finished attic has a desk, a seating area, a central work island and a drafting area with a view of the outdoors.

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The homeowners often enjoy standing up as they work, so a drafting table suits them better than a typical flat desk.

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The reading nook is an inviting corner for reading a book, working on a laptop or simply relaxing.

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The desk area for the computers, phone and other office equipment lies along one wall.

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Decorating with everyday items that are functional but enjoyable to look at is especially important in home offices—you want to enjoy going into that space every day.

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A faux fireplace—the final addition—heats the attic during winter months and provides a soothing visual detail.

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With the fireplace as the focal point, the room comes to life—it's as if the old attic full of stuff never existed.

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Designer Dad Stephen Saint-Onge is the author of the book No Place Like Home: Tips and Techniques for Real Family-Friendly Home Design.

Read Designer Dad's Momster blog postings here, as well as his own daily lifestyle blog No Place Like Home Blog.

Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.

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