Saturday, August 6, 2011

Attic daydreams

The staircase to the attic could have 14 steps at a 10" run and 8" rise instead of the current 14 steps with a 7.1" run and 8" rise. Since we can’t move the bottom of the staircase, a longer run would take us into the Land of Inadequate Headroom (LIH). But we can solve that by adding a landing 2 steps down, creating a Landing of Adequate Headroom (LAH). So you wind up on the landing, turn around, and go up the last 2 steps into the main space. The main attic space can then go the entire width of the house, interrupted only by a railing around the stairwell and a chimney.

View towards the LIH from hovering over the staircase

View towards the LIH and the existing finished room from the chimney

View towards the chimney from the existing finished room

View towards the LIH from the existing finished room

View towards the existing finished room and the LIH from the turret at the front corner of our house

If you go up the stairs, you reach the LIH over the 2nd floor bathroom. The LIH has an 8-foot peak and the roof slopes down at a 45° angle, so there’s 4 feet of width where the ceiling is at least 6 feet high. And 8 feet of width before you reach 4-foot kneewalls, if we put in kneewalls. I’m tempted to put in extremely short kneewalls, maybe 2 feet high, creating 12 feet of width. The LIH is most useful as a natural light source for a window at the back of the house, with perhaps a small reading nook at that back wall. I’ve always wanted a staircase landing with a window and a reading nook, and we can’t create that on the 2nd floor without removing our only bathroom.

View towards the LIH from the existing finished room

The structural question is how to support the LAH and staircase. The LAH is over our 2nd floor hallway where there’s a lowered ceiling, so it’s the right place to lower the attic floor. But apparently floors don’t support themselves.

While the ultimate dream would be to add a small bathroom up there, there’s no good way to get the plumbing into place.

There’s also questions of wiring and HVAC. We may have to put in a secondary electrical panel in the attic. A/C could be a mini-split and a couple of ceiling fans, and I’m hoping we could divert a heating duct up through a second floor closet, but it’s a sizeable space to try to keep comfortable.

The insulation, drywall, flooring, paint, and windows seem reasonably straightforward. And then we could have a 450 sq ft room in our house (plus LIH, minus stairwell and LAH and chimney), whereas no single room in our house right now is much over 160 sq ft.

View facing towards the back of the house; existing finished room is on the left

View from the LIH, with the staircase down behind the avatar

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