We’re back in the boy’s room upstairs again! This time we’re going to be knocking a hole in the wall, into the attic to add a closet and playroom.
Technically, my house is listed as a 2-bedroom because the huge room upstairs that my boys live in doesn’t have a closet. My grandad used that room as his art studio and not as a living space. So, besides adding some space for extra clothes, I am going to increase the value of our home by turning this area into a code-compliant bedroom.
- Scout Out a Space for Expansion
- Frame in Extra Walls
- Insulate, Insulate, Insulate
- Smash a Hole in the Wall!
- Add Drywall and Flooring
- Make a Clothing Rod
My boys’ room is upstairs and the roofs are angled inward. The space behind the pitched roofs is all attic space. This empty space allows us to build into it so we can add the new closet. If you remember the bunk beds we built earlier in this year, you’d see that the wall we are building into also supports the top bunk of one of the beds. Having this as a design constraint, we are going to knock out the rest of that wall leaving the opening for the closet. Excitingly enough, the attic space behind the bunk bed is usable and will connect to the new closet giving the kids an extra playroom.
You can currently access this attic space from the attached bathroom. This pre-existing door will be closed off and we may build in some bathroom shelves later in its place. But for now, this entrance is what we have, so its time to bring up our building materials and get started!
Because this extra attic space is triangular, I wanted to bring some definition to the new closet. I framed out a small knee wall that would become the back of the closet. So that I didn’t entirely block off the rest of the attic, I also framed in an access doorway in the pitched rafters.
My grandad added a light in the space a long time ago and I wanted to keep it. Unfortunately, the wiring for the light ran right where the closet opening would be, so I had to reroute it. This meant ripping up a section of floor, drilling new holes in the floor joists, and running the wires up another stud. Be sure that you turn the power off at the breaker so you don’t accidentally hurt yourself. Of course it will go crazy dark, so ensure that you have a good flashlight or headlamp like the one that Energizer sent me, the Vision HD+ Focus.
To create a space for the closet opening, I had to remove a row of wall studs. Because this wall supported the rafters above it, I had to add a header above the space to support the weight. I laminated some boards together, wedged them at the top of the planned opening, and supported it with two jack studs. all of these new supports were nailed into place. Now, instead of looking at the back of a framed wall, we were now left with a big square of unsupported drywall.
It may not be obvious to everyone, but this attic space is hot. Like super hot. There is no insulation from the roof in this area, so the rising heat from the house mixes with the radiant heat from the sun hitting the roof shingles to create a disgusting soup of hot death. I had to take frequent breaks to cool down and change sweaty shirts. If you are doing any work in an attic in the summertime, be careful not to overheat.
Now then, to block a lot of this heat from getting into the closet space and affecting he temperature of the room, I had to add a bunch of insulation. I used R13 pink fiberglass insulation stapled between the studs and the rafters. Where the fiberglass wouldn’t work, I sprayed in some high-expansion foam to seal up all of the remaining gaps from the rest of the attic.
I also cut a plywood sheet for the access door. It was attached to the attic rafters with some hinges and I added some insulation to the back side of this door to block additional heat.
This step seems pretty self-explanatory. But I was waiting to open up the space until we had semi-safe area. I didn’t want to open up a potentially-dangerous job site to my boys’ room for them to wander into when I wasn’t around. Before we smashed the wall down, I scored the area around the opening with a utility knife so that the drywall would blowout and ruin the parts that would remain.
But now is the time! I gathered the kids and we smashed through the wall together! It was pretty fun. Scoring the wall really helped the drywall break into manageable chucks for easy disposal and there wasn’t a huge mess to clean up.
If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I detest drywall, more than painting if you can believe that. For this project, I tried to avoid it at all costs but the reality of a finished closet/playroom without drywall wouldn’t have worked. In the video, I didn’t go into detail about putting up drywall, there are plenty of resources to help with that terrible process. I did eventually finish the drywall and my wife gave it a few coats of paint.
To add continuity to the space, I used some left over flooring from the boys’ room to finish the floor. I rolled out an underlayment and got some help from my daughter laying out the snap-together boards. We also cut and installed some trim around the opening, the access door, and the baseboards.
Now that the closet/playroom space was cleaned up, painted, and pretty, it was time to add the clothing rod. In a regular closet, you can attach little cups to either parallel wall to hold a long rod. In our case, the bracket would have to attach the the pitched ceiling and hold a rod down from it. The easiest solution we found was to get two simple 90-degree metal brackets, attach them to the angled ceiling, and add a large wooden dowel to the hanging ends. This solution worked really well and by cutting a slot into the dowel and inserting the metal bracket, it kept the kids from hitting their heads on an exposed metal corner.
The Space Looks Seamless
We added all of the boys’ hanging clothes and there was room to spare. The additional space beside the closet was decked out with a rug, some pillows, and some cool toy play sets. I am super happy with how this space turned out. I wanted the end result to look like the closet had been in the house the entire time.
This project was a big one. It had a lot of challenges and a lot project considerations. We had to do a lot of planning to determine the order of operations so that we could work from the attic into the room. It was really tempting to just knock a hole in the wall and start building, but that would have added more problems than it would solve. If you have a big construction project like this, you have to consider all of the hard parts and the tedious pieces before you can smash things and pick paint colors. Also, I am making some bi-fold doors for the closet, so look out for those as well.
I hope this project helped you see a big undertaking like this can be broken up into manageable tasks and you have to tackle them one bite at a time. I would love to see some transformation pictures of some renovation projects you’ve done!
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- Skil circular saw
- Dewalt 20v drill driver combo
- Bostitch Coil Framing Nailer
- Dewalt Miter Saw
- Orbital Sander
- Pancake compressor/nail gun combo
- Shop Fox Hanging Air Filter
- 2HP Dust Collector
- 1 Micron bag
- Speed square
- Digital Angle Gauge