Before & After: Our Victorian Attic Renovation

before and after - attic renovation - hey eleanor

When we bought this turn of the century Victorian duplex in 2012, the attic captured our imagination.

First of all, it was just so creepy. Second, because there were two bedrooms up there (but no heat or bathroom, so whyyyy? We later found out that they were probably maids quarters back in the day!). And third, because it was roughly 1,000-square-feet of untapped potential.

We took a few engagement photos in the unfinished attach in 2013. Feel the romance!

Photo: Jonny Edwin

We talked about turning it into an apartment. But there were so many hoops to jump through in order to make it legal. I’d brought up this crazy idea of turning it into a big master bedroom and bath. Maybe with an office for me, and a living room that’s not filled with Legos and dolls. OMG and we could put laundry up there, too! Not hauling baskets down three flights of stairs sounded like a great idea.

When we learned baby number two was on his way, we had to make a decision. Either we cram two adults, a toddler, baby, dog and cat into a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment; finish the attic; or move. The first did not sound appealing, and honestly, we just weren’t ready to move. I have nothing against living in the ‘burbs, and an attached garage sure sounds great! But we love our house and neighborhood. So renovate we did.

Five companies bid on the job, with prices ranging from $50,000 to over $200,000. Um… that’s certainly a spread. Ultimately, we ended up going with a super talented family friend whose bid was somewhere in the middle and understood our desire to maintain some of the house’s charm.

I’m breaking the reno down into three posts, starting with the main living space.

Before:

before and after attic renovation

Clearly, there is so much potential! Clearly, it’s also haunted. Just kidding, probably.

We wanted to save the floors, but they were in rough shape. Also, they sagged a few inches from the brick chimney (which we left exposed). We also wanted to leave the original beams exposed, and keep the ceiling height as high as possible.

After:

When you didn’t think you’d be in the photos, so you’re wearing yoga clothes and haven’t showered. Oops!

Can you effing believe that is the same space?!

This picture faces the back of our house. Those windows used to be at the front, but we were able to save them and reinstall them at the back. It was a pain in the ass to do… or at least that’s what I hear because I obviously did nothing to help.

The shelf I’m standing next to is actually a secret door that gives us access to our HVAC, as well as some storage– perfect for hiding all your crap when someone comes over to take photos!

attic renovation - before and after - hey eleanor
Plants I haven’t fully killed yet.
attic renovation - before and after
The most expensive dog brush in the world is this couch.

The cabinets behind the couch hide our washer and dryer (!!!!), plus provide some extra storage.

The blue velvet couch is exactly what I wanted for the space. Turns out, I hate this couch with all of my heart because it gets covered in dog hair. What I actually want is a leather couch with a chaise on one side. I’m searching Facebook Marketplace constantly. I haven’t mentioned this to my husband Josh yet.

attic renovation - before and after
Hello, gorgeous!

This chair used to be my grandma’s. My cats destroyed the original upholstery (assholes). Josh got it reupholstered by my friend Carter Averbeck for me as a Christmas gift. Couldn’t love it more!

More angles of the stupid blue couch.
attic renovation - before and after - hey eleanor
This is, like, my office, man.

My new office is in one of the original dormers. It’s bright and simple. I love it as much as The Dude loves white Russians. I used to work at our kitchen island, which was really annoying for everyone, including me, who was always moving my laptop and papers out of the way so we wouldn’t spill food on it.

attic renovation - before and after
The view from our bedroom. My office nook is to the left.

I’m going to focus on our bedroom in the next post, but here’s a teaser:

attic renovation - before and after - hey eleanor

In total, the renovation took almost 9 months, but everything was done to perfection. We were able to live on our main level for the entirety of the project, and could keep the mess contained as there was a door that separated the attic.

We’ve been living in this space for a little over a year and love it! It’s still a work in progress, but isn’t everything?

PS More pics of our renovation here!

Any questions you have about this renovation? That’s what the comments are for!

Details:

Renovation by Eric Lundquist of Lakeland Construction.

Secret door: Home Depot

Black and white rug: Rugs USA

Stupid blue couch: Room & Board (the outlet)

Floor lamp: Target

Orange chair: Vintage; makeover by Omforme

Stickley chair/pink runner/desk/round mirror: Vintage

Willie Nelson/Jeff Bridges art: Etsy

Patsy Cline print: Etsy

Photos by Jane Veitenheimer

Before & After: Our Victorian Attic Renovation

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Comments (5)

  • Becki 1 month ago Reply

    This is so gorgeous! I would love some tips on how you found / purchased this home. The market is so crazy right now and this is exactly the kind of property my husband and I are looking for. Any tips you have on how to find something similar would be greatly appreciated!

    Molly Mogren 4 weeks ago Reply

    Well, it’s a long story, but I looked and looked and looked. When I saw this house (probably after touring 50-60 houses!), I knew exactly what we wanted and had a good idea of what to offer. I keep saying “I” because Josh (my then-boyfriend, now husband) lived in Mexico for work at the time and had to wire me half of the downpayment for a house he’d never seen before!

    I guess the main things are to get acquainted with what you really need/want in a place, your budget, and look obsessively. We also wrote a letter with our offer which helped! An investor had outbid us by $1,500 or something, but the former owners gave us a chance to match their bid and get the place, all because of our letter. Good luck with your search!

  • Katie 1 month ago Reply

    This is so gorgeous. I am also looking for a leather lounge on marketplace, hoping for a chesterfield. Ha ha
    It must be so great to have it finished

  • April 4 weeks ago Reply

    Love that you Reno’d but wanted to honor the character and history of the home. We have nothing historic in Dallas, my current house was built in 55 and that’s about as old as it gets. We are looking for something bigger and I want to stay in a 60s/70s built home, that’s updated but not ‘sterilized’ as I call it. I love old homes with character and the chance to carry on life in the footsteps of those who came before us. We must preserve it as all the history is precious! In Dallas everything old is destroyed, it’s terribly sad.

    Molly Mogren 4 weeks ago Reply

    It is so sad! I love all the quirks of this place. 🙂

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