attic renovation to master suite design

When we moved into our home in 2016, we renovated the main floor. This gave us 1425 sqft of finished living space. It was a two bedroom, one bathroom home. The attic and basement had 2211 sqft of unfinished space to play with. Originally the basement was dark and dirty, filled with left over materials from the main floor renovation. So naturally we started storing stuff in our attic like the season wardrobes, Christmas decor, Halloween, and random nicknacks in the attic. We thought the basement would be a perfect place for a living room and our home offices, so we spent an arduous amount of time cleaning and clearing out all the junk that found its way down there. At first we hired a design/build firm to draw out plans to renovate the basement. As we got deep into the process and into our pockets, we decided we’d much rather have a bigger bedroom! We made the switch to renovate the attic instead of the basement. Good news was that we had a simple concept drawn up for the attic, bad news was that we had spent the time and money preparing for the basement. Couple of reasons we decided the attic renovation would benefit us more than the basement:

  1. We wanted an on-suite bathroom for our bedroom.
  2. We needed a bigger bedroom and having a master in the basement wasn’t a good option for us.
  3. The basement would be more of a guest space, our offices and family room.
  4. Any living space below grade, is not valued by an appraiser the same way as above ground living space.
  5. We really needed a walk-in closet. 
  6. Adding a bedroom and bathroom would add more value than finishing the basement.

Choosing a General Contractor

Once we had the design, engineering, and build plans, we received an estimate from the design/build firm… it came to $175,000-200,000. We were floored. This was after we had spent around $12,000 to finish our plans. How could the cost to finish an attic cost half the price of the home itself?! It was bonkers. So we set out to get  more estimates. We interviewed 6 contractors total. 2 of the contractors never even got back to us with an estimate. These contractors spent a few hours with us measuring, getting estimates and just never called us back. We were starting to feel like we made a huge mistake. In the end, we debated between two of our best choices and went with the builder who 1) was easy to communicate with and 2) provided the most reasonable bid. We estimated it would cost around $130k to turn the attic into our master suite. Here is what that included:

  • Framing
  • closed cell insulation on walls and ceiling
  • 6 new windows
  • bring electrical up
  • bring plumbing up
  • shower, tub, & double sink
  • hardwood floors and risers/treads for stairs
  • railing system
  • built-in drawers in lieu of a dresser
  • built in cabinets, with pull outs. Utilize knee wall space as much as possible
  • collar ties at vaulted ceiling to add interest
  • 10 lighting fixtures: vanity light, ceiling light in bathroom, sconces each side of tub, ceiling lights at dormers, main chandelier, bedside sconces, closet lights.
  • trim, baseboards, doors, built-in bookcases, door hardware, custom split barn-door.
  • tile, quartz countertop
  • plumbing fixtures: wall mount faucets, tub filler, shower fixtures.
  • New siding on the exterior dormers

The renderings above were our original concepts. Once we started construction, I put together Pinterest boards that would inspire the actual finishes. Throughout the process we made several changes to the design choices. Below were some of the inspiration we chose.

What Style did we choose?

Our main floor is 1930’s vintage. All of the doors, trim, and windows were kept original. We renovated the kitchen and bathroom “new vintage”, but after living in a vintage home for 3 years, we wanted to go for a little more modern. For the upstairs we kept some art deco style, added modern and rustic elements that would keep the timeless fashion and add some personality. The biggest risks we took were in the bathroom. See Tile Style to read more about our style choices in the bathroom. 

This is how we started our attic to master suite renovation. See Attic Renovation Before and After for more inspiration. Thanks for reading! 


1 Comment
  • Rachel Medina
    Posted at 08:41h, 24 January Reply

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