Glen Ellyn homeowners renovate attic for much-needed space

Expanding the available space in one's home took on extra importance during the Year of COVID when people were quarantined for months.

Fortunately, one set of Glen Ellyn homeowners had already decided to transform their attic into a loft “getaway” when the 2020 lockdown occurred, said their designer, Joan Kaufman of Interior Planning and Design in Naperville. The couple had identified the attic as a place where a much more personalized space could be created just prior to the virus taking over the world.

Kaufman was consulted by Sharon and Eric Ogden about finishing the attic in their 1928 Tudor home after they watched her renovation of a neighboring house.

“My husband is more of a 'big picture' guy than I am and he wanted to make use of our dark, junk-filled attic. He had been using exercise equipment up there for a while and then he wanted to renovate the space and create a new room,” Sharon Ogden said. “And the timing was particularly good because we had a whole other room and additional bathroom to use when COVID struck.”

Prior to the renovation, the space was simply a large attic where seldom-used items were stored and where Eric Ogden rode his exercise bike.

“I consulted with a structural engineer to make sure the old attic could bear the extra weight of flooring, furniture and people up there,” Kaufman said. “Once we confirmed that, we managed the installation of three dormers to increase the head space in the attic, followed by the interior build out.”

The enlarged attic was designed in a New England cottage style, with a built-in bed with storage. Chip Haines Images & Photography

“Some of the features of the space include a built-in bed with built-in shelving, a built-in window seat, shelving accessible from the stair side, a craft area and an electric fireplace. In order to blend with the traditional Tudor style of the exterior, the final touches included exposed wood beams to give a New England farmhouse feel, making the room chic, yet casual,” she continued. “The floor is low-maintenance wood-look vinyl that adds warmth and dimension yet is lightweight and durable. These elements are in keeping with the traditional Tudor style of the home itself.

“We added a skylight to provide light in the bathroom and made it as open as possible by using half high glass walls, a recessed medicine chest and sconces. The vanity area is stylish yet compact. Every inch of space is designed to incorporate storage space. There is even storage recessed into the wall and a 'secret door' behind the wall shelves near the shower,” Kaufman added.

“I love solving problems and putting together a specialized team for each project,” she said.

“This ended up being one of the least traditional rooms in our Tudor home,” Ogden said. “It is light and airy with fun built-ins like the one behind the bookshelf in the bathroom. It is big enough for kids to hide in.”

When the Ogdens moved into the house in late 2005, they knew it needed a lot of work - so they have been gradually renovating it ever since. One of their earlier renovations included putting in a staircase to the attic so Eric could exercise up there. The original pull-down stairs from the master bedroom closet wouldn't have allowed for easy daily access or the installation of his exercise bicycle. But it took until 2019 for them to decide to actually renovate the entire attic into a usable family room space.

Now Sharon and Eric go up there to watch movies when their two teenagers have friends over or sometimes the teenagers hang out up there themselves.

Sharon has also adopted the room as her home workspace during COVID. It is peaceful and quiet with a beautiful view of the treetops and it has turned out to be a good place to take Zoom calls.

And when the Ogdens have overnight guests, the loft becomes a perfect guest room with the built-in bed and the full bath.

As for all of that stuff that was formerly stashed in the attic, it is now all stored away in beautiful white cabinets installed along the staircase wall and in other hidden door spaces.

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