Treehouse

Winnetka Colonial Chronicles, Part 6

Happy New Year, friends! We mentioned the under-utilized attic back in Winnetka Colonial Chronicles Part 3, and now it's ready.

One planning principle we try to apply to our work is making better use of a space as we find it; if we can take advantage of existing square feet, then the argument for demolishing the entire home or adding square feet is less compelling. We've seen a range of homes on the North Shore that have existing space ready to be re-purposed, and it's very rewarding to improve them.       

This unfinished attic had a couple advantages before we began working on it. First, it had a full staircase for access, not one of those pull-down step ladders that fold up into the ceiling. Second, we had room to improve it because it ran the full length of the house. Third, it had good ceiling height. We tore off a section of the roof to create a large picture window over the stairwell and solved the ceiling height requirement for stairs.

Framing the attic, formerly used only for storage. We increased the depth of the studs to accept eight inches of closed-cell spray foam insulation. This helps an old house stay warm in the cold months and adds some structural support. We used the stairwell as a natural divider between bedroom or office and flex-space.

Framing the attic, formerly used only for storage. We increased the depth of the studs to accept eight inches of closed-cell spray foam insulation. This helps an old house stay warm in the cold months and adds some structural support. We used the stairwell as a natural divider between bedroom or office and flex-space.

The air-handler is now running efficiently in an enclosed space behind the two short doors, and the stairs are behind the half-wall under the lantern light. The view of the locust tree from the new picture window gives you the feeling of floating among the trees, so we named this attic space "the treehouse." One of our daughters decided it most closely resembles a "fairy castle." Despite my limited experience with fairy castles, I'm okay running with that, too.  

A view from the stairwell. Structural beams in the ceiling gave us the opportunity to dress them with clear cedar. New windows allow plenty of light into "the treehouse" and a long bench makes for a convenient perch. 

Installing a window seat in the dormer just seemed like the right thing to do. Also approved by the Fairy Castle Building Authority.

The adjacent bedroom with closet and new windows. This room is flooded with light for most of the day and has its own reading bench in the dormer.

The treehouse is complete. It's a good example of "recapturing" existing square feet in a house without the need for a major addition or a major investment in new construction. We will move downstairs in the next update.

We hope you'll find a window seat of your own and let your mind wander in 2017. Cheers!

Remodeling and Home Design