When I first saw my attic, I pictured a large loom, spinning wheel(s), and yards of surfaces for crafts and sewing needs. I also pictured rainy days spent with my children in harmony and intuitive, heart-felt respect for one another’s talents, ideas, and ambitions. I envisioned snacks taken seated at a round table; a small wood stove for comfort and perhaps for heating foods (less running up and down stairs while working on projects); and toys, books, games, crafts, and anything else that was part of our lives at the moment, ranged around to show what we’d been doing.
Well, at present, my attic is still a jumble of homeless items, cabinets that need final touches of installation and organization, bags and boxes of craft supplies and fabrics, and dreams. The floor is half-finished, covered in part by corrugated metal roof sheets (color: galvanized) scavenged from some defunct building. However, my craft cabinets, small round table, sewing desk and machine, and dreams are all still there. And the flooring is really a brilliant idea on my husband’s part, since it was simply lying around waiting to be used, and I wanted a floor more badly than I wanted a certain kind of floor. Admittedly, in my dreams, it had been hardwood of unknown sourcing, painted a bright country blue (similar to the color of my front door [link coming eventually]). Maybe someday it will be. I haven’t decided if it’s worth it. That may depend on just which dreams for this space I decide to pursue.
I don’t know why – and until today I never asked myself why – but every time I have envisioned the attic “finished”, I see, not just a crafts and guest-bed space, but a well-furnished apartment, capable of serving a single person or perhaps a couple very well. I don’t yet know why I feel compelled to make sure our home could do double-duty this way. Perhaps it is my long-standing desire to make sure that anyone who needs a home has it. Perhaps it is some plan I don’t have a name for yet.
The guest-quarters idea keeps growing. At the beginning, the room included space for two guest-beds, and a chair or two. Then, I conceived the idea of breakfast nook. Then, a dedicated study or project area, complete with dream board and files. Then, a balcony and container garden…more like an outdoor living room. I’m not sure where my plans will stop, or how many of them will prove to be practical. I’ll just keep taking it one step at a time, waiting for the space to tell me what it needs.
Meanwhile, here are a few of my favorite ideas:
I told you I first envisioned a spinning wheel or wheels, and I must admit, the loneliness of this picture was inspiring as well:
But first, the entrance. I have played with a number of ideas for the stairwell, including murals…
…and keys –
But nothing seemed just right, and definitely went with the rest of the room. So I kept waiting for the answer. Finally, it came, from someone else’s Facebook feed that I just happened to see:
Yes, I thought, this will do. And I can use any papers or prints I want, so long as I varnish over them. Of course, pre-pasted wallpaper scraps would be easiest. But any fabrics, papers, or wallpaper remnants would be just fine.
The next thing that came to mind in a well-formed way was artwork. Here are some selections I like, though I’m not sure of their placement yet:
And of course, all kinds of organizing ideas for crafts and materials:
I don’t know what to do with the curvy single-bed idea, as it really doesn’t fit the rest of the picture, but I like it anyhow.
And shelves – lots of shelves, wherever they fit. A local house provided inspiration for shelves along the stairwell, and low spaces:
And of course, a comfortable place to dream and read:
It’s actually not important to me that the chair is white or wicker…only that it’s comfortable, rocks, and is fade-resistant – since it will be placed in a large west window. Or, I can move my swing rocker from the living room upstairs, and just cover it when not in use. (I will probably want to anyway, as it tends to be dusty in the attic, especially in summer.)
I also felt fascinated by this chair, for its storage capacity (though I don’t think the shape is charming at all):
Next comes an interesting piece of furniture, which at first I could not identify. It is a dentist’s cabinet:
It looks like a fabulous specimen cabinet for all manner of collections made up primarily of small objects. Since my children and I are avid collectors of rocks, insects, plants (pressed), and other natural things, I wouldn’t mind having one.
This next piece…
…has no clearly defined place. I just like it. I had visions in my early days of motherhood of my children being as avid about learning as my siblings and I were. Combined, we must have had 4,006 interests that we were pursuing simultaneously. So I suppose this table represents this hope. As it turned out, my children are interested in many things, but my son, particularly, lacks curiosity for the sake of curiosity. He’d rather learn something only if he believes he can impress someone with it. (Naturally, the rest of us don’t feel impressed by this attitude.) Still, I have hopes. I have always been fascinated by geography, and have loved maps since I can remember. I think it runs in the family. Even my brother – who at first glance loved only planes, trains, and automobiles – learnt the words of our “Sing Around the World” Geography curriculum well enough to change the words to suit his light-hearted, mischievous spirit. (Regarding Greenland: “A land of icy snow, of fishy Eskimos…!”) Obviously, we were not alone in our fascination, since Tolkien and C.S. Lewis both made remarks about maps –
Edmund to Lucy – “That’s the trouble with girls. They never keep maps in their heads.” Lucy to Edmund – “That’s because we have something in them.”
And Merri to Pippin – “You should have spent more time studying maps and less time playing at Rivendell.” [Both quotes paraphrased from memory.]
Moving on to the breakfast nook idea. I’ve been through a lot of versions of this one, but one picture that caught my eye was this one:
Also this one:
[Pic coming soon – Pic from House Dream Files – Trellis-and-Yellow arrangement]
Maybe I’ll combine the two: black seats (Black Satin Lacquer), and a trellis framework to set it off, yet still allow light to diffuse from the south window to the rest of the room. I’ll work on it.
Then too, here’s another idea that appeals, though it needs to be worked out for adult use:
I love rabbits, and I love light. But the whole idea needs to simmer more. I don’t really want an all-white space, such as this – it is diffucult to maintain, and difficult to appreciate in the winter, which we have up to eight months out of the year. The floor in this picture is fun; I like the indication of pattern without the stuffiness of actually having one. I like the trellis-work on the ceiling (more about this in a moment). I love the plants, and the daybed. The glass-topped table is wonderful (except for cleaning).
The ceiling in the attic has been a problem. I would have liked, originally, to leave the trusses exposed, and all the natural wood still natural, except perhaps for a clear finish. (It’s been unfinished since 1928, but the room also has not really been used. I think some protection of the wood would be wise – especially if I install a woodstove. Which, by the way, would probably mean that I took the little stove out of my bedroom, and re-installed it up here. Since we installed an efficient, large stove in the dining room, we haven’t really needed it in the bedroom.)
Back to the ceiling. After studying the problem, I decided that, yes, I would probably go to the extra trouble and expense to install insulation over the roof itself, so that the trusses could stay exposed. But this presented weight problems, as well as the trial of stripping the roof of layers of asphalt shingles and some metal sheets. (Having married a sheet metal worker and having spent our first seven years together on jobsites, I am familiar with this problem.) Finally, I found a solution. I intend to insulate between trusses and put on sheet-rock, as usual. Then I plan to install trellis-work panels over everything. This means I can paint any color I like underneath, and have the trellis-work more natural colored. It will be beautiful, garden-ey, springlike, and not claustrophobic feeling. Since the trusses are rough and I have to vacuum or brush them to clean them, nothing will have changed about the maintenance required.
Here was my original inspiration:
Below are two further inspirations for the feel I keep coming back to, for the sunroom or balcony area (haven’t made up my mind).
I’m not sure why I always come back to white for private-type spaces. Maybe it’s my innate desire for cleanliness and order, which is hard to achieve in this land of dust and drout (sp.) At any rate, I doubt the final results will be white, as I also like loud bursts of color. Most of my house explodes with it like a woods in springtime.
Here are inspirations for the deck/sunroom idea:
They, too, need to simmer. Of course, since it will go on over the top of the back porch (which needs to be removed and re-built), the results may depend on what I decide the most crucial needs are there.
I am forever working out storage problems. One that appeals but that I do not see as being practical in this application is here:
I also would like to build fabric (and maybe more) storage between the studs along the east eaves. I haven’t measured yet, but am thinking file cabinets may just fit between them, in which I can file fabrics in a mouse-proof way. Mouse-proofing is always the biggest challenge. Herbs, traps, poisons and deterrents only go so far. The mice lived here unmolested for 20 years, and just aren’t ready to surrender. If file cabinets do not fit, I plan on building custom drawers of a similar nature, and covering the faces (whether file cabinets or drawers) with cupboard doors. Here were my inspirations for this:
And lastly, back to the maps again:
These are wallpaper borders that I might put atop the shelves running along the stairwell. It looks fun. Whatever I do, I want to keep the whole attic space a balance of culture…
…and wildness, like my life.
Update – February 2016 –
Shortly after I wrote this post, I had a lovely dream, in which I dreamed that my attic had a ventilated ridge, not louvred, but set with decorative glass which opened in panels (windows), similar to what has been done in these images:
I don’t know what to make of the dream, beside that it showed me a potential way to integrate my obsession with dishes into something beautiful and useful. I need to think about whether adding a ventilated ridge would be a good idea, or just a pain, and talk to myself hard about how much effort I am willing to invest in this sort of craft. I have a little experience with glass projects (stained glass), but perhaps the dream was just a fancy. I’ll let the idea ferment, and get back with you.
Update June 2, 2016 –
I’ve made another change, this time to the under-eaves storage cabinets. I’ve decided that I’d be better off with a different sort of fabric storage system (not entirely determined yet), and that the under-eaves space would be put to better advantage by installing glass-fronted, lighted cabinets for pretty things – dishes, quilts, old toys, and the like.
Also, I’ve decided that for the most part, I want pendant-style lighting (I’ll add pics if I think of them), and also, something a little more playful, along these lines:
I’ve also developed a list of Purposes for the Attic space, as well as some ideals for the emotional tone of the room.
Key Words: Creativity, Relaxation
Key Emotion: Bliss, Calm
Key Color(s): Wood Tones (red honey), black (black lacquer cabinets with detail painting)
Reading and relaxing
Formal school sometimes
Crafts and sewing
Thinking and dreaming, planning
?Pets – birds, fish
Wool processing (except dying)
Dyes (in jars, on shelves on north wall – yet to be built)
Spinning Wheel (yet to attain)
Table for crafts
(?)Art materials (papers – construction, finger painting, drawing, newsprint, butchers, etc.), pencils, pens, magic markers, crayons, pastels, finger paints, water color paints – adult and child, acrylic paints, oil paints)