A Light in the Attic – Finally!

On Friday I referenced the fact that C did – finally – get around to decking and shelving out our attic earlier this year. While this isn’t really news-news as this all took place last January-February, it’s really not been until recently when I needed to go up to find some items for resale and some other holiday items that I’ve been able to stop and appreciate all of the hard work that C put into this project.

I don’t want to go up in the attic… please don’t make me go! Oh, wait, maybe I do want to go check it out now that C has it all fixed up!

Seriously, I am not exaggerating when I say this: Finishing out the attic has been one of C’s best accomplishments to date on our house. As much as I was once sick of the very thought of going up to and trying to find, well, pretty much anything that might be up in our crammed, crap-filled attic space, I am pretty certain C was just as sick (if not more so) of hearing my whining about said attic. So just like a man would, C identified and resolved the problems one complaint and challenge at a time.

Before: A lot of junk, piled all together, defined our attic space.

Before: The floor of our attic was an exposed mess of insulation and instability. This is after C cleared an area of all its junk but well before the new floor went in. You can also see some of the random insulation materials between the rafters and off to the sides.

First, the space was just unnavigable. There was no real floor to speak of; the rafters were covered with a patchwork of plywood and other random remnant materials that could buckle at any second under the pressure of a pile of stuff, not to mention any person walking across it. Also, insulation (or the insulation that remained) was freely flying up from the floor. Not a great use of space, and not to mention not safe at all really for anyone to be up there moving or even breathing!

After: C decked out the attic floor with OSB board to create a stable and level foundation where he could build-in shelves. This also allows for easier navigability through the attic in whole. That stuff to the right in the photo was one of the piles “out-of-the-way” as C put down a phase of the flooring.

Solution: C cleared the crap one section at a time and decked out the entire space with OSB in about three phases. This meant that we didn’t have to unpack the entire attic after all and store it in the garage for a month as previously thought, making the job that much more physically acceptable. It not only broke the job into nice, easy-to-do chunks so C wasn’t overwhelmed into completing that entire step of the job at once, but he and I also didn’t have to exert the energy to move things up and down from the attic either!

Next there was the issue of organizing the space. Before, things were just piled atop a set of sturdy rafters where ever space could be found. But because there was no rhyme or reason to the storage organization, there was hardly any space to get around and/or get to anything at all!

The framework of the shelving to come lines the west side of the attic.

The shelves as they started to go up!

A wider view of the shelving as it winds its way around the west, north, and east sides of the main attic space.

Solution: To make best use of the space for getting around and for storage, C mapped out a perimeter, two-tiered shelving plan so that those standard storage tubs would fit on both shelves height-wise no matter what width. He took existing bins already up there to measure for his standard shelf height, and C also counted the number of bins to do his best to accommodate the bins we already had. I also made sure that any new bins I went out to buy for loose items would fit those same measurements.

After: The special built-in area in the attic for larger items, such as bikes and old bed frames. The crib used to be stored here, too, but it’s long gone (sniff… eh, not really). The extra space will be used for some folding tables and chairs after we use them at Thanksgiving.

After: The new holiday storage area in our attic! The open area in front can be used as a “staging area” also for items we want to get put up into the attic but don’t have time to find a spot for it at that exact moment (see black trash bag that’s holding a camping mattress that the boys used a few months ago).

C also decked out special areas of the attic for the crib, larger items (like old mattresses and bed frames), and holiday items. Constructing these areas meant that even if we were to part with any existing oversized items (like the crib, which we did a few months ago) that we’d always have a spot for special occasion and oversized items that might not otherwise fit in the shelves. Good thing he did this, as since losing the crib, we’ve inherited a few folding tables and chairs that now have a perfect place to wait it out until Thanksgiving (when they’ll be used every year).

Finally, the crap, I mean stuff. Yeah, there was a lot of it, but amongst the stuff, there were dozens of empty boxes for things we don’t even own anymore (!), things that we didn’t even realize we still had (and no longer needed), and of course, baby stuff.

After: Everything old is moved back into its new place in our newly redone attic. That little “island” of bins and other items is a more recent haul-up that I have yet to find a permanent home for, but I will sometime after next year’s Spring cleaning! Those are also the tables we recently acquired for use at Thanksgiving (to be moved to the larger storage area after the holiday, no sense in putting them up now!).

Solution: We broke down and tossed the boxes and made some easy (and not-so) decisions to part with many of the unused items, including saying bye-bye to a lot of things baby-related. Though much of the baby stuff still remains (of course, I can’t get rid of all of it, I am a sentimental fool of a mom after all!), it’s now at least neatly packed away for another time down the road when we might need more space for other more useful things.

What lurks inside our attic? Nothing but clean walkways and nicely organized shelves. This is the new view from the top of our attic stairs. What a difference a year makes!

Now, our attic is a place where everything has a space of its own. I no longer fear this part of our house, and C no longer has to deal with my needing him to do anything attic-related for me either. I happily go up there regularly to look for, find, and bring down anything that I need, be it holiday decorations or a batch of old stuff I’m finally ready to donate or sell when the mood strikes. We even let T go up there with us now, too, because it’s safe to do so. And PS – attics are fun for kids.

My sincere if not terribly overdue thanks to C for a job extremely well done. And this just goes to show that there is a light at the end of every tunnel… I mean, attic!

So, what recent home project are you especially proud of, RMT’ers?