Design: Desia Graybill, Atomic * Design
Goal: To transform the empty, unfinished attic of an 1893 Victorian house in Portland into a serene master suite for a busy twenty-something first-time homebuyer. Desia Graybill of Atomic * Design helped convert the room, making necessary structural changes and cleaning up neglected finishes. One important aspect of the project was leaving enough room for yoga sessions—the homeowner is a frequent practitioner.
Inspiration: The theme of the space is "Yoga-Zen," and the post-and-beam arch (a necessary structural addition) in front of the bed alcove was inspired by the Duogong wooden bracket architecture of the Chinese Song Dynasty. Elsewhere, existing rafters were replaced and stained dark to match the new flooring.
Breakdown: When they started the project, the formerly neglected attic was divided by walls and had old oil lamp pipes that indicated it was originally used as upstairs bedrooms. Graybill reimagined the space as an open master suite with a new bathroom and walk-in closet. “In order to open up the space, we had to engineer the post-and-beam system,” the designer says. “Part of that was ensuring that the posts landed on top of load-bearing walls and footings all the way down to the basement. The recessed cabinets in the knee walls were also engineered with new headers to support the weight of the roof.” Sean Fields of SageFields Construction added insulation and hardwoods for heat and sound absorption, and all windows were replaced with new, historically appropriate energy-efficient ones. Dark-stained wood throughout is a rich contrast to the light surroundings, creating a sophisticated look and steering the room away from “nursery pink” territory.
The client’s mother took the lead with the décor, using a dusty pink paint to create a serene backdrop for furniture. A Malm bed from Ikea is tucked into a shallow cove with windows; its PRI Luxe headboard in Sterling Oyster is from Wayfair. A ladylike Nathan Modern bench from One Kings Lane and airy Ava block print bedding from Ballard Designs are elegant additions. Across the room, a small corner holds a streamlined desk from Paul Schatz Furniture, while a nailhead-studded chair from Homegoods adds a bit of edge to an otherwise feminine space.
Get the Look: If you have an older home, Graybill suggests hiring professionals who have worked with historic structures before. “Be sure they are familiar with old homes or your home construction style,” she says. “You want them to honor the era of your house, be familiar with city building codes, and have good-standing work relationships with quality contractors who share the same values.”
Images courtesy of Mhari Scott Photography.