A sloped ceiling can be a design feature, not a decorating challenge.

How to Use the Sloped Space in an Attic

by Benna Crawford

The sloped ceiling in the attic has a whimsical, offbeat charm that adapts easily to multipurpose room use. Transform the space into a private clubhouse, a light-filled launching pad for dreams, a fitness loft or a family room with a spare bed for drop-in guests. Treat the slopes as extra walls to decorate, and use your imagination to exploit any oddly sized wall area beneath them.

1. Book It

An attic room is found space -- real estate gold if you know what to do with it. Transform a sloped-ceiling attic into a cozy bedroom or study with custom shelving on the odd-height walls to hold books and media. An end wall gets shelves all the way up, narrowing as the slope increases. Long walls get bookcases to the point where the slanted ceiling meets the wall. Leave room for a flat screen and put doors on some of the lower shelves to create cabinets where equipment, wires, chargers and DVDs or other media can be neatly stored. If the space seems cramped, paint ceiling, walls, shelves and floors in shiny white enamel to bounce plenty of light around and make the walls disappear. A low purple or rust velvet daybed against one of the low walls works for seating and sleeping.

2. Map It

Park your kids in the attic but give them the world with giant, colorful wall maps decoupaged to the slanted ceilings. Hang school-style white pendant lamps in a row down the highest point of the ceiling and tuck a twin bed on a storage platform along each of the longer walls. Built-in clothes cabinets on the odd-shaped walls at the ends of the room are handy stand-ins for closets. A desk positioned at the foot of each bed is a private chart table for plotting daring feats of navigation and exploration. Use craft wooden letters over beds to spell each child's favorite geographic location. An ocean-blue carpet on the floor is a fitting habitat for a whale- or starfish-shaped area rug next to the bed.

3. Boho Mom Cave

Claim the attic as your private hideaway and then make it a place you love to visit. Cover the old sofa and pillows in sari silks and bright woven textiles. Hunt for squishy painted leather and Indian mirror-cloth poufs to use as foot rests or extra seating for your book group. Slap a worn and shabby second-hand Tabriz or kilim rug on the floor and fasten panels of sari fabric and strings of fairy lights to the slanted ceilings for a touch of mystery and magic. A salvaged construction pallet, fitted with casters, painted your favorite color and stamped with an all-over calligraphy, flower or Indian design becomes a low table for magazines and a tea tray. Tuck a sewing center at the far end of the space, hidden behind an Art Deco-style painted screen from a flea market, and you can dream, entertain and create in peace.

4. Accent Art and Yoga Mats

Celebrate the angled, geometric shape of a sloped ceiling by using it as a frame. To-die-for, high-end vintage or designer wallpaper is affordable art-to-flaunt when it covers just one odd-angled wall from floor to ceiling. Paint the other walls white and use the richly decorated wall as the headboard for a bed or the backdrop for a desk. Match a solid-color chenille spread or a desk lamp to one shade in the wallpaper so it harmonizes without competing. Fit bookshelves to the walls along the length of the sloped ceiling to maximize storage space, and display sculptures or collectibles on the top shelf. Dormer or angled windows often punctuate slanted ceilings on one side or the other. Attach a large mirror to the sloped ceiling opposite the windows and use the open space in the room for an elegant exercise or yoga studio.

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