Sloped ceilings: an opportunity for serenity and charm in interior design
AT DISNEY Animated film “Cinderella” from 1950, the eponymous heroine is condemned to sleep in an ostensibly punitive attic room. Despite dreary stone walls and rough floors, however, her tiny single bed tucked under the beams of a roof right there looks quite cozy. “Low ceilings create immediate privacy,” said Brett Phillips, of High Street Homes in Fort Worth, Texas. And while some may find sloped ceilings a decorating challenge, Mr. Phillips sticks to them. They “should be embraced and celebrated, especially in second-floor spaces where rooflines create interesting angles,” he said. Here, six ways to save random spaces under the eaves of a house from disrepute.
Insert a desktop
“A great way to take advantage of the space under a pitched roof is to incorporate a low piece of furniture, like a desk,” said Marco Angelucci, design director at Marguerite Rodgers Interior Design in Philadelphia. “It allows you to use the space without banging your head.” In a room designed at the start of the pandemic for adult children fleeing New York, Carey Karlan of Darien, Connecticut, design firm Last Detail slipped a work surface under the eaves. “This small, compact desk is just enough for a computer,” she said.
Sleep in the attic
“When you try to combat sloped ceilings, you end up with a piece that doesn’t fit the space, like a square peg in a round hole,” said Washington, DC, interior designer Cameron Ruppert, who shortened an upholstered headboard so the headboard fits under the step of a third-floor bedroom. Nearby built-in shelving and the use of the same pattern for textiles and wallpaper helped the odd work of the space. Sliding a bed frame lengthwise under a sloped ceiling makes sleeping even more cocooned, while maximizing central standing space in a sloped room, noted Katie Glaister, co-founder of K&H Design in London.
Designer Jason Oliver Nixon and his partner John Loecke (who together run the Madcap Cottage brand in Thomasville, NC) transformed the upstairs room of their 1840s schoolhouse in Hobart, NY, into a quaint bedroom complete with built-in storage . “The area under the sloping roof was wasted, so we decided to layer cabinets and shelves, and that gave us just the amount of storage we needed for clothes and books,” Mr Nixon said. . They painted the shelves, cabinets and drawer fronts “a bright Farrow & Ball yellow to add a bit of fun” to a room that featured white bead-paneled ceilings and purple floral wallpaper. The result, according to Mr. Nixon, “packed a lot of punch in a very small footprint and allowed us to keep clothes, shoes and books in pristine condition.”
Slot in a seat
Mally Skok suggests that every work-from-home office incorporate a daybed or lounge chair to “retreat to…when the emails are flooding in.” The interior designer took her own advice and reminisced about her youth, when she created a ‘little nest right in the eaves’ at her Lincoln, Massachusetts home, pictured left. “When my sister and I were kids, we made little houses in nooks under the stairs or in broom cupboards,” she said of her South African childhood. In her corner of Lincoln, every wall was lined with a floral pattern inspired by 19th-century calico. While you can imagine the effect would be oppressive or busy, Ms Skok said “the pattern quickly becomes quite soothing to the eyes”.
Susan Taylor of David Taylor Design in Los Angeles champions under-eave reading niches with built-in bookcases and a daybed. “It can be such a comfortable place if you have headroom when you’re sitting or standing.”
Give it to the kids
“Sloped ceilings create perfectly sized play spaces for a child,” Ms. Karlan said. For a family’s summer home in Siasconset, Massachusetts, Mia Jung took advantage of that quality, turning the remaining space behind the tub in the three children’s bathroom into a playroom the size of children. a pint, pictured left. Ms. Jung, director of interiors at Ike Kligerman Barkley in New York, installed carpet tiles on the floor and simple appliqués on the wall. Beanbags and chairs light enough for children to move around finished the corner of a room. The space’s new nickname validated her strategy, she said, “I heard that room was called Fairy Den.”
Decorate the heck out of it
In the attic of a 19th-century house in Gloucestershire, England, pictured left, designers David Gibson and Jorge Perez Martin of Brownrigg Interiors have fashioned a wrap-around bathroom. A restored zinc tub basks beneath a window flanked by eaves with exposed beams, and a tufted armchair upholstered in mustard-yellow velvet welcomes a companion to chat with a bather while she soaks. Gaston y Daniela’s Amazonia wallpaper, with its enormous papayas and tropical butterflies, offers the “brave and daring that would bring the bathroom to life”, said Mr Perez Martin.
Jill Steinberg, chief operating officer of Toronto-based wallpaper supplier Fine & Dandy Co., said of the creation of a “jewel box” garret: “The result is an intimate, immersive space that feels very special. and that actually looks bigger, especially if you’re working with an oversized pattern.
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