Converting unfinished cottage 2nd floor to living space

nbptmomto3March 9, 2010

Does anyone have experience here? It's our summer home, a small Cape Cod in Cape Cod. It's about 1200 sq ft and has an unfinished 2nd floor with access through a pull-down stair case. 1 window on either side, no dormers so a fairly steeply slanted ceiling. The kids are getting older and we need more room. We'd like to plumb for a second bath (but not actually build the bath - yet). We'd like to maximize sleeping, add a kid tv area and some built in storage in the knee walls. One room, I think, will be fine for our intended purpose. Has anyone done anything like this?

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I did not do it, but my DH finished the upstairs of his small cape into two bedrooms with a bath in between. The bath upstairs is above the original downstairs bath.

He made two small dormers, one for each bedroom, overlooking the front of the house. If it had been me, I think a shed dormer would work much better. All dormers are not created equal. If you want to keep it traditional looking, that longer dormer could be placed on the back side of the house, not the street side. At the Cape, big bedrooms would not be too important, would they? Just room for a couple of twin beds and make two bedrooms, one for boys one for girls, very useful when they bring dates for the weekend.

DH's cape had steps going down to the basement, and he put in the stairs going up to the bedrooms directly above those, and they are not far from the front door. If you have NO BASEMENT, and thus no stairs to muck up the placement of stairs, I think a metal spiral staircase would be interesting. Just so you have a place to get the furniture upstairs, even if it is through a window with a block and tackle built in to do the honors. They used things like that to offload haywagons into the barns in the past. I've always wanted one. It would have come in handy when our daughter bought a monster TV and had to remove the spiral steps and put in a ramp to do the TV.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 11:25PM
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First of all, you'll have to determine whether the second floor was actually designed and built as living space. The code for attics is much lighter than for habitable rooms.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 5:21PM
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For several years we've rented the same small cottage in Corolla, on the Outer Banks of NC. These show the upstairs "kids loft". It was a perfect play area for our two boys.

In the livingroom picture you can just see the blue staircase on the right hand side.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 10:33PM
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I had almost the exact cottage as tournant but mine was in Maine, since then we bought a larger one. In mine we put one bunks in the tall part and a double coming off the dormer all on one end of the room and a double and twin at the other. It worked well as my grands could sleep with their parents. We made a flimsy divider with plywood for privacy and put lots of hooks on the walls. Ours had a stair case but I see no reason why a sturdy library ladder wouldn't work. We spray painted the entire area a warm white to expand the size a bit.I'd love to see what you finally do, Hey, I'm in Ma. too.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 10:41AM
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Hi yeah I ve done quite a few of these over the years.

The main consideration is access and insulation. As you plan to add an extra bathroom I would look into installing a a full stair up to the room from the floor below. Have it at one side so that the floor space is not interrupted by an intermidiary stair unkess the attic room is particulary long in which a centralised arrangment and landing would be ok.

Full insulation will be needed in the between the rafters a high R-value combination of fibreboarding to the internal side of the ceiling will prevent heat too much heat/air loss.

More information on this can be found at

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 6:46AM
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I am always interested in how someone takes a space and shapes it to their needs. PLEASE let us know what you decide to do! Really like the cape style. Highly adaptable.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 2:11AM
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Here are some pictures of a Cape Cod we're in the process of buying. These are current shots of the upstairs bedrooms. You can get an idea of how the previous owner added closets and storage. We haven't started renovations yet.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 3:33AM
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