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Before and After

How to Modernize a Dated Home Interior

Natural light brings out the details of this double loft renovation.

Black Eames chair under a skylight in a white wood clad room with built-in bookshelves and a geometric print rug

Sarah Dorsey, the interior designer, DIYer and blogger behind Dorsey Designs, chose to transform her loft bonus room as part of the Spring 2020 One Room Challenge. With help from her husband, Dorsey has transformed their 1979 post and beam home from a dated relic to a modern show home of her interior design work.

The original loft, like the rest of the home, featured a hallmark of late 20th century design: light reddish-brown wood paneling. However, while the wood tone is typically reserved for kitchen cabinetry and furniture, the post and beam style allowed the theme to continue from the floors and walls up to the ceiling for an overall dated look.

Loft natural wood skylight before renovation

Update the color palette

Sarah brought new life to the interior while preserving and enhancing the good bones of the house by painting the walls white, re-staining the hardwood floors and getting creative with the use of space, creating a double loft in the process.

They tackled the color issues first, painting the reddish-brown and white walls and sloped ceiling a crisp, pure white. While the wood paneled ceilings felt dated before, they take on the appearance of the ultra-trendy shiplap look that many seek to replicate in their homes when simply painted white.

While sloped ceilings add character to the room, they may also limit how much of the room actually feels functional. Dorsey solves this problem creatively by installing built-in shelving that descends alongside the sloped wall. The white shelves fit naturally with the wall and overhead beams while presenting ample space for storage, décor and pops of color.

Skylight built in bookshelves white wood finish

Replace an old skylight and add a new one

Natural light and fresh air can help oddly-shaped, small spaces like attic bonus rooms or lofts feel bigger and more open. The original loft featured a circa-1980 VELUX Skylight, but, after 40 years of leak-free service, Dorsey decided it was time to upgrade to a VELUX Solar Powered "Fresh Air" Skylight with solar powered blinds. Because this space is a loft, the natural light and fresh air that pours in overflows to the lower-level living space, too.

In redesigning the loft, Dorsey also saw an opportunity to lower the ceiling and a new HVAC system over the adjoining primary bathroom. They enclosed the bathroom and removed the loft-facing entrance to create a second upper loft, reading nook and perfect home for the HVAC above it.

Loft before photos design plan by dorsey designs

With the additional loft, Dorsey took the opportunity to add an additional skylight, which also has a solar powered light-diffusing blind, bringing ample light and functional comfort to the tiny new room.

Skylight cost breakdown for the loft renovation

The cost to replace the existing skylight in the lower loft and install a new skylight in the upper loft totaled $10,923 for product and labor. Here's the itemized cost list:

  • Skylight product cost - Two VELUX No Leak Solar Powered Fresh Air skylights (one size 2246 and one size 4646) with solar powered shades and flashing kits - $4,133
  • Installation labor cost - The labor cost, which included the exterior and interior finishing (drywall installation, taping, mudding and sanding) - $6,790

Skylight installation costs vary by location, roof pitch and ceiling type. Find a VELUX-certified installer in your area to get a quote for your next skylight project.

Add visual interest with geometric patterns and plants

To finish the spaces, Dorsey incorporated her signature modern style, bringing in pops of color, a modern lounge chair, patterned area rug and plants to the lower loft. For the upper loft, she incorporated custom DIY tiles to add an interesting pattern and subtle color without overwhelming the small space. Pillows and shelving complete the space as a cute hideaway reading nook.

Loft view out of an open skylight

While lofts can be challenging to design well, Dorsey delivered a high-design and highly functional space that perfectly suits her family’s needs.

Do you have a nook, loft or other oddly shaped space in need of natural light? Schedule a virtual consultation with a VELUX daylight designer to get all of your skylight questions answered.

Next: 10 must-see Sun Tunnel transformations

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