11 Inspirational Bonus Room Remodels: Attic Suites and Basement Rec Rooms

Why add on when you can add under...or over? When these homeowners felt crunched for space in their houses, they rolled up their sleeves and converted underused spaces into ideal ones -The Editors of This Old House

Attic Becomes A Suite Retreat Upstairs
Attic suite
Sometimes in the search for more living space there's no place to look but up. When Alan Koch bought this 1933 cottage in Portland, Oregon, he knew he'd be finishing the 600-square-foot attic sooner rather than later. And as a work-at-home educational and marketing consultant, Alan hankered for a light, bright office where he could spread out. By tapping the upstairs, he figured he could carve out just such a space, as well as a comfortable master suite, reserving downstairs bedrooms for guests and TV viewing.

Working with designer Kevin Fischer, he expanded the attic space by 100 square feet with a gabled dormer and, serving as his own general contractor, hired out HVAC and roof work while tackling demo and finish details himself. His airy aerie is now complete, and makes the most of every square inch with smart space-saving details-like the closet pocket door that keeps the passage-way free and clear. Says Alan, "It's such a homey space and, with views of sky and trees, an uplifting one, too."

Click here for more on how this attic was converted into an upstairs suite

An Attic Turned Ultimate Kids' Bedroom Suite
Attic transformed to kids room
Ask kids, and they'll tell you the ideal place to sleep is in a tree house or on a sailboat, like Max in Where the Wild Things Are. Architect Darren Helgesen incorporated that spirit in this attic redo at a century-old house in East Hampton, New York, where he used warm finishes and smart details to turn the dark, sloped-ceilinged space into a shipshape two-bedroom suite. The homeowners, Bill and Cory Laverack, had already renovated the rest of the house. "We used a lot of beadboard and liked it," says Cory, an interior designer, so Helgesen continued it here, calling on general contractor Ronald Gray and carpenter Paul Stisi to fit together beaded boards and built-ins as neatly as jigsaw pieces. The team also rejiggered an existing bath and put down a pine floor. "It was always their favorite place," says Cory, recalling how the couple's four kids would hide out upstairs with friends every chance they got. "And now it's the ultimate sleepover space."

Snug built-ins with below-bed storage, roof windows, pine flooring, and lots of glossy beadboard opened up the space and made it more functional.

Click here for more on how this attic was transformed into the ultimate kids' space.

Tapping Existing Potential to Create an Attic Master Suite
Creating an attic master suite
A small-space remodel can be as exacting as a jigsaw puzzle. That's what Matthew and Darci Haney found while renovating the three-room upstairs space in their Carlton, Oregon, cottage. They installed new windows that actually meet the fire code. Built-in furniture, cabinets, and open shelves-together with a new bath-make use of every square foot.

Click here to see more on this attic transformation

From Attic to Bedroom, with Help from the Web
From attic to bedroom
Claudia and Felipe Menanteau from Piscataway, NJ converted their attic into their master bedroom, bath, and home office.

The small 1950s ranch suited its new owners, except for one thing. They wanted a master suite. But how to get it when the first floor was jammed with the kitchen, living and dining rooms, the home's sole bathroom, and two tiny bedrooms, one soon to be a nursery? Adding on wasn't an option. So Claudia and Felipe Menanteau looked up-to the attic.

A half-wall now encloses the staircase to open up the space and allow sunshine from the new skylights to flood the room. Built-ins keep the space clean and functional. Skylights lend the illusion of height when raising the roof isn't an option.

Click to learn how these homeowners taught themselves how to remodel their attic

A Bright Attic Suite for $2,620

New attic on a budgetNew attic on a budget
In a small house, every bit of space needs to work hard, as homeowners Samantha and Bryan Langdeau soon realized after buying their 1,200-square-foot Cape in Waterbury, Connecticut. Wanting to reserve the two bedrooms on the first floor for guests, they set their sights on the second-floor finished attic for their master suite.

Working nights and weekends for about two months while sleeping in a guest bedroom downstairs, the couple gutted much of the space, tore out closet walls, and added insulation throughout.

Click to see how this couple gutted and rebuilt their attic in Connecticut

From Raw Basement to Family Room
From raw basement to finished room
In the quest for extra square footage, a dry, unfinished basement is a holy grail. For the cost of some finish work and mechanicals upgrades, you can get a whole new room, sometimes two or three.

For years kitchen designer Karen Berkemeyer used her below-grade space as a laundry room. But the desire for what her home lacked-an informal space for family lounging and TV viewing-caused her to take a second look. "We never had one space where we could all gather and watch a movie," says Berkemeyer. So the basement was transformed into just that, and during the process upgrades were made to the laundry room and storage closet, and a full bath was added, allowing the space to double as a guest suite.

Click here to see more of this completely transformed basement

An Unfinished Basement Gets a Masculine Makeover
Masculine basement makeover
Even the most die-hard family guy needs some alone time. Take Kirker Butler. The Los Angeles-based writer longed for a quiet retreat where he could craft his TV scripts while still being close to his wife and young daughter. "I wanted some bells and whistles, too," admits Kirker, who hoped a big flat-screen TV, a leather recliner, and shelves for his sports memorabilia and collectibles would make the room just as much man cave as office. The designer cleverly incorporated the footings as the bases for mahogany bookcases and a raised reading nook.

Click here to read more about this renovated man-cave

Basement Bonus Rooms

Basement bonus room
The rustic-looking family room is now a gathering spot for 16-year-old Catherine and her friends. Support posts were replaced with ceiling beams, and soft furnishings, including a sofa that opens up for overnight guests, replaced cobwebs and cardboard boxes. Soffits finished with tongue-and-groove planks hide ducts, vents, and support beams.

To see more of this comfy, remodeled basement, click here.

Bonus Basement Redos
Creative thinking turned these five basements into high-functioning bonus rooms as nice as the ones upstairs.
Children's homework area redo
Four kids-and their backpacks-were cluttering up the kitchen after school. So these homeowners created a secluded and studious atmosphere for schoolwork. The upper cabinets hold school and art supplies, and also hide ductwork.

Click here to see more basement redo problems and great DIY solutions

Basement Theater Redo

Basement home theater
When Cathy and Bob Cerone decided to expand their 1912 Wilmette, Illinois, home with an addition to ­accommodate visits from their four grown kids, their ­design-build team saw potential in the damp basement. By building it out and finishing it, they could gain space for a media/game room big enough for family get-togethers.

Orren Pickell Designers & Builders dug a foundation and basement for the addition, then took down part of the wall between the old and new below-grade spaces. The new basement level added 915 square feet of living area and solved the moisture problem with perimeter drains and sump pumps. The space holds a projection screen TV and pool table under a 9-foot ceiling. "When those ­Chicago Bears are on-holy cow-the whole family's here," Cathy says. The whole-house renovation took 10 months and cost about $150,000, including finishing the existing lower level and adding a bathroom.

Click here to see the before and after pictures of this basement redo

Lofty Attic Office Redo

Lofty Attic Office
When the lease on Beth Krauklis's office expired last year (she runs her own branding agency in Orlando, Florida), she cast an eye up to the attic apartment in her Queen Anne house. At 700 square feet, it could be a seven-person ­office, she figured, but "I wanted it to feel open, like a loft, with lots of light," says Beth. Her husband, John, who was already planning to replace the roof and siding, took up the challenge.

John gutted the apartment, cut holes for three new windows, stripped the plaster off the walls, and finished the ­exposed lath inside with a dark stain and polyurethane. He ­refinished the heart-pine floors and gave the exposed rafters five coats of white paint. Then, to complete the loft look, John hung an AC duct nearly the length of the attic, track lighting-and a vintage wooden airplane propeller.

To read more about this project and see the before photos, click here

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