When designers talk about older homes, the word “character” is almost always used. What they are often referring to are original elements such as leaded or stained glass windows, hardwood floors, and decorative moldings, tile, or trim. But this term can also be used to describe quirky spaces that reflect earlier lifestyles and architectural trends that can pose challenges to the modern inhabitant.
My new apartment occupies the former attic of a period home. It lacks the gorgeous wood carving and mantles of the lower units but the living room and bedroom boast rich, dark, hardwood floors. And, because it is the attic, almost every wall slopes inward which is tricky for both furniture placement and palette choices.
The last tenants ignored the cardinal rule of painting sloping ceilings (keep it light and bright) and painted a horrendous faux-denim finish in both rooms, making the place look downright dreary. Many people go for white with pops of color, but pale hues work well too. Painting the entire space the same color helps to minimize the angular walls.
(Photo: Gypsy Mind)
Another way to do this, for the truly brave, is to wallpaper from floor to ceiling in a print. With this technique the angles almost completely disappear. You would have to pick a pattern you really love though because the effect is a little overwhelming!
(Photo: Casa Sugar)
Sloping ceilings also present challenges in furniture placement. Everything must be far enough away from the walls so that a normal-sized person can get up from the chair/couch/bed without hitting his or her head. Smaller pieces work especially well in attics and help to balance the space.
(Photo: House to Home)
What to do with the areas where regular furniture won’t fit? Think custom shelving, which is especially helpful in repurposed attics that don’t have closets.
Of course Greentea Design’s step chests would also an excellent choice to provide much-needed storage in the tight corners. Using furniture that mimics the shape of the walls helps to make the room look larger.
(Photo: Greentea Design)
I was a little worried that I wasn’t going be able to hang my art collection but Miya at Design Indulgences proves that you don’t have to save your prints for straight walls, though I do wish she had included hanging instructions.
(Photo: Design Indulgences)
If you have an unused attic, you might want to consider expanding your living space. While it can prove challenging, I guarantee you that visitors will always comment on the room’s character.