Light in the Attic: Queen Anne Remodel

January 14, 2019

Attic spaces have a way of capturing our imaginations and sense of play. Often the subjects of storybooks, they can have quirky shapes, secret windows, mysteries, and magic. Working with owner Mattie Iverson, we sought to highlight the aspects of the attic in her Queen Anne home that made it special in the first place. We uncovered the complex underside of its many-gabled roof, weaving a modern language into the history that was revealed.

Mattie pictured the Attic as a brightly sunlit greenhouse and was inspired by the elegantly simple aesthetic of Scandinavian design. While requiring extra precision in carpentry, whitewashed fir plywood proved to be an ideal material to embrace the character of the space. The resulting effect is tranquil where the sharp angles could have felt “noisy” with a different finish.

Another factor at play was the floorplan. A previous owner had partitioned off rooms and storage areas, but Mattie wanted the space to be both open and functional. The center is for sitting around a fireplace, playing, or reading before bed. There are other areas for storage, a bathroom, and even a place for a guest to spend the night. All of this was achieved with a simple idea – a curving wall of wood studs that encircles the sitting area, leaving spaces on the outside for other purposes. The top of each stud registers the topography of the ceiling, intersecting whatever plane or angle happens to be there. Polycarbonate panels provide additional enclosure, while diffusing the natural light that floods in from the windows and the new skylight.

Possibly the most fun discoveries, whether you are a kid or an adult, are the tiny gaps that allow access from one perimeter space to the next. They offer privacy without doors, allowing you to slip from one world to the next, like magic.