Attics are usually cluttered with holiday decorations and dusty chests filled with old memorabilia, but in a young family’s home in Kasterlee, Belgium, it’s a much different scene. Once used strictly for storage, the top floor now serves as part play area, part guest room, thanks to local firm Van Staeyen Interieur Architecten. There are no dark and gloomy corners, but rather bright white walls. Instead of pointy, angular beams, there are smooth arches.
“Curved lines generate a more relaxed feeling than straight lines,” says the studio’s founder, Johan Van Staeyen. “They enlarge and softens the space and gives it a more welcoming feeling.” Many of the archways act like thresholds or portals into different zones, while others mark recessed storage nooks. The designer lined the insides of the arches in a hue called Traffic Yellow, a shade he says stands for optimism and energy. The pop of color shines a spotlight on the architecture, proving a little paint can go a long way.
To construct the arches, Van Staeyen used MDF (medium-density fibreboard). The material is basically sawdust and glue, fused together under pressure and heat, so it’s fairly inexpensive and durable. More important, it doesn’t warm in humid weather and the chemicals within it repel termites—two pluses for an attic space.
Another plus: MDF is malleable, making it easier to carve out rounded edges. The designer took full advantage of this while constructing the built-in bed, which features indents on either side so guests can jump in. To keep the motif going, he had a custom round sofa made and covered with Kvadrat fabric. The kid-friendly piece can be taken apart and broken into two semicircular cushions and a small ottoman.
Because arches and sloped ceilings don’t exactly go hand in hand, Van Staeyen flipped the orientation of the shape in some spots. One of these inverse arches marks a series of open shelves, which boast slanted dividers to make book stacking easier and cubbyholes for barware. Closed cabinets below offer additional storage for toys and typical attic-y things (party supplies, crafts, duffel bags). The space is as practical as any other attic, just a whole lot more pleasant to be in.
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