An Attic Remodel Adds Livable Space(page 1 of 2)

When Susan Chancey's father moved in, the need for more space turned into a 1,100 square-foot, nature-inspired attic renovation.

MR_Chancey-Family-Portrait_s4x3 Susan, Ella and Guy load up on the couch with dogs Rusty, Clyde and Jelly Bean.

Susan and Guy Chancey's attic renovation was inspired by love – love between a husband and wife, between a father and daughter, and love for a house. It began in 2009, when, after her mother's death, Susan invited her dad to live with her in Asheville, N.C. In order to accommodate Dr. Brannon and his faithful pup Heidi, Susan and Guy would need to create more living space. The choice was either to move out or to renovate the attic. They chose the latter and eventually moved up when dad moved in.

Browse Images of This Amazing Attic Transformation

The Scope of the Attic Renovation

  • Created 1,100 square feet of living space
  • Increased energy efficiency
  • Added a master bedroom with a mountain view
  • Designed a funky bedroom for Ella
  • Created a dedicated office space for Susan
  • Incorporated a cozy TV nook
  • Designed a full bath with views, ventilation and a washer/dryer
  • Added closet space and extra storage behind knee walls
  • Improved privacy for all family members

"We always thought about fixing the upstairs," said the Chanceys, who had been living comfortably on the two-bedroom, one-bath first floor since moving in 2007. The attic was an unused and disregarded space, visible only through a 12x12 inch hole. Susan poked her head through once; Guy, on the other hand, had actually snaked his way up there to secure the heavy living room light fixture. They heard rumors that the previous owner planned to finish the attic, but after gutting the first floor and building it back, they ran out of money.

In order to rationalize the expense of a renovation, Susan and Guy would have to gain a full-service second floor with two bedrooms (a master and one for Guy's daughter, Ella), a full bath and space that could translate into a den and/or office. Susan envisioned an enclosed tree house of sorts, filled with natural light, eco-friendly materials and comfortable furnishings. As a stylist who works in both the wholesale market and antique world, Susan has an eclectic mix of products at her fingertips. A renovation would offer the perfect canvas to integrate her latest likes.

The Process

The Chanceys lured one architect, several structural engineers and five contractors to their 1913 cedar-shake bungalow for consultations. As Susan and Guy shared their vision, they were met with skepticism and remarks such as, "if you've got enough money, anything is possible." And then, along came Bruce Childress, a general contractor who Guy describes as "open and willing to collaborate." The Chanceys disclosed their all-inclusive ballpark $90,000 budget to Bruce and also warned him that they were both picky, especially Susan. Bruce put in a bid, and the eager couple accepted.

The renovation took less than three months, and the Chanceys lived and Susan worked in the construction zone. From the crawl space to the 109" peaked roof, the first phase was spent fortifying the entire house. The crew erected posts and poured concrete in the unfinished basement. They blew open the attic, and installed double and triple LVL beams. Susan explains, "It was just so hard to know how things were going to work until we got up there."

Though she wasn't sure about it at first, the convergence of beams outside the bathroom ended up being one of Susan's favorite parts of the renovation.

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