before and after

Before & After: Minneapolis Attic Makeover

by Grace Bonney

I am an experienced horror movie watcher. I was hit with a wave of both pride and embarrassment when I logged onto my Netflix account and every single “suggestion” for me was a gory or creepy sci-fi horror film. I’m too scared to investigate why I like those movies so much, but for today, I feel it qualifies me to officially declare this attic “before” the perfect horror movie setting. I can easily imagine a number of terrifying people (and things) occupying this space. Thankfully photo stylist and film maker Matthew Stenerson came along and decided to give this space a new life. Working with his friends, Ryan Fall, Jake Zontelli and Nadia Haddad, Matthew transformed the attic of his 1901 South Minneapolis “farmhouse” duplex into a beautiful bedroom and office. The full details and more photos are after the jump– this is definitely a project that went from scary to stunning. xo, grace

Photographs by TJ Thoraldson

We added spray-foam insulation, a stairwell from the kitchen, (I had to sacrifice my pantry, but that’s okay. I don’t cook) and some extra electrical. We cut 4×8 plywood sheets into panels and white washed them with one light coat of paint. I washed the floors and sealed the floors, but didn’t have to sand or stain. The front end of the attic became the bedroom with a small closet and the back became a living room and office, with the stairs located behind the sofa.

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  • I like the wide, rustic floorboards and especially the way the skis match the coral, dark grey and white motif. A beautiful redo without looking “done-up!”

  • Whoah! This has got to be one of my favorite before and afters! What a dreamy idea to turn a place we all dread going into a space full of light and warmth. I especially like the way you’ve used wide planks over the spray foam insulation. It’s a brilliant design choice. Well done Matthew, Ryan, Jake, and Nadia!

  • This looks gorgeous, but as a Minneapoltian myself, unless there’s magic involved, it’s going to be super chilly in the winter & hot hot hot in the summer. As long as your guests don’t mind. :)

  • What paint (brand/color) did you choose? I’m looking at white grey variations for a bedroom in my 1920s craftsman house in SoCal… This actic is gorgeous! Love the A-Frame

  • That is an amazing transformation! What a beautiful space. I sometimes do my art by the light of horror films.

  • This is gorgeous! I would use this space as a parents retreat, child-free zone!

  • This is beautiful! I love seeing these renos. From hot mess to totally gorgeous. haha.
    xoxo Aimee

  • Thanks for the nice comments! I love horror movies too! To answer a few questions:
    DOTM: West Elm
    KAT & MARY: We hid the pipes and ducts in a thicker wall in the closet. We also hid some along with heating vents between thicker beams that aren’t shown in the photos. The rest are behind the knee-walls, accessible through a “secret door” by the desk.
    JENNI: I mixed all the leftover whites I had in the basement, so I don’t have an exact color for you, sorry.
    SHANNON: The blue stripe rug is from Ikea, a few years back.

  • what a gorgeous space! we’re in the middle of renovating our home and I’ve been wondering what and if I should venture into renoing the attic…and now I think I might have to give it at least a fair shot.

  • Awesome. I have a similar attic situation. I keep fantasizing that it’s huge and spacious with soaring ceilings…and then I poke my head up there and realize it’s not. But yours looks about the same and I LOVE what you’ve done with the space. You’ve restored my faith (and renewed my argument with my husband) that YES! I can do something constructive with that space. Hmmm…a few skylights and it would make a lovely new studio.

  • I can’t believe this before-after… it’s too gruesome to consider! And I am deadly afraid of Horror Movies so you can appreciate my feelings reading the intro. And then my mouth dropped… not a pretty sight!
    And then… I thought that looks exactly like certain ‘projects’ we see now for sale in Switzerland – far too expensive for the work involved, plus ‘DIY’ is not well looked upon because of security issues and insurance problems, plus ‘where do you live while you do this sort of enormous work’ etc etc – so YES I’m totally speechless with the wonderful result you offer us here – and I’m scared to death knowing that the stairs are hiding behind the sofa :) Hope you have a rail holding the sofa on the safe side!
    Thank You so much – this gives me hope.

  • I like the colors you chose — all white — and then the neutral colored furniture with bright blue touches with bright green foliage. Not scary at all! Thanks for the gutsy work and the looksie for us…

  • I love it but am concerned that you may have removed a load-bearing wall somewhere, did you consult a structural engineer or builder?

  • To answer a couple more questions:
    The sofa is by Robert Haussmann, it’s on loan from my dad. My parents bought it in 1969. It was gray, but the fabric has faded to a warmer tone.
    The ottoman is from West Elm.

  • What a huge transformation! And you did what I do all the time… Mix a bunch of leftover paint together for a new project. I love it!

  • Cynthia–You can still buy a poof very similar to the one in the picture. Fab is selling them. It’s one of those flash sites where you have to get there in six days and sign up but they look awesome. http://fab.com/yuhzbe

  • Please tell me where you got that poster?
    I had that poster in college ( I bought it at Agnes B in Boston )
    and have been looking for it ever since .
    Thank you kindly !

  • Hi Angelique,
    Yeah, it’s the Agnes B/Godard poster, but I’m pretty sure I got it at Posteritati in New York. If they don’t have it now, you might be able to request it. I love that poster!!

  • I love this transformation- I have a similarly scary attic, and need to do something with it- were you working with a very big budget? I’m wondering if this is something we can DIY, and would appreciate your insight on this! Thanks.

  • The before picture is very similar to our attic and is so inspirational! I am wondering if this might be possible for us- can you share the budget one would need for this kind of transformation? Also how are you doing heating/air conditioning? Window units or did you install something? Thank you!!