STORAGE SOLUTIONS for Unfinished Attics

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A large unfinished attic can be developed as usable living space — an extra bedroom, an office, or a child’s play room. As you plan, think about potential storage spaces. Because of the many odd angles in attics, it’s a lot easier to build storage units as you remodel the attic, rather than after the fact.

You’ll want to take advantage of the floor space in the center of the room for living space, so concentrate storage space along the outside walls and gable ends, Many times these areas become wasted space. For example, it’s easy to nail up some 2x4s and drywall to create vertical knee walls. But in doing so, you’ve lost that potential storage space in the eaves behind the knee wall. If you plan ahead, you could build finished, recessed shelves or drawer units into these under-utilized spaces.


In remodeling this attic, the homeowners took advantage of the storage potential along a knee wall, above and gable end, below.


Cabinets and bookshelves fit well in both areas.

An alternative to building knee walls is to finish the inside of the roof right down to the attic floor, then install standard cabinetry in the eaves, essentially creating a knee wall with the cabinets. You’ll lose some of the countertop depth on top of the cabinets because of the slanted roofline, but it will be deep enough to serve as a shelf.

Gable ends in attic and half-stories also harbor prime storage space. These are ideal areas for shelving, entertainment centers, or standard kitchen cabinets.

A large dormer is big enough to create a walk-in closet if you are remodeling the main space as a bedroom. A small dormer usually contains enough space for a built-in desk, creating a small office with good natural light.

You may decide to finish only a portion of the attic, leaving the remainder for storage. In this case, install a door between the two areas so you have easy access to the unfinished portion. If this access is in a knee wall, you may have to cut down a door. Walled-off, unfinished areas also present opportunities for children’s secret play rooms, where they can also store toys. If you do this, be safety conscious. Don’t leave the area in a bare- bones mode; sheath or drywall the rafters and studs and make sure the flooring is secure.


Attics make great offices if customers and clients rarely visit. An attic location has a sense of separation so work is conveniently accessible—yet readily escapable.


BUILDING AN UNDER-THE-EAVES CLOSET: A good way to take advantage of under-the-eaves space when remodeling an attic is to build a closet. The necessary materials for this project vary with each job, depending on the closet’s size, shape, and the slope of the roofline. Whatever space you have to work with, make the front of the closet as tall as you can.

Start by insulating the spaces between the rafters. Frame the closet with 2x4 studs, then finish the inside of the roof and closet walls with drywall or paneling to match the rest of the room. You can use drywall or paneling inside the closet, too, or line it with aromatic cedar.

To divide the space into useful cubicles, you could use any of the closet organizing systems outlined earlier in the Bedrooms and Closets section.


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