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Slanting rooflines allow useful rooms in attics

January 31, 2009|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT / Creators Syndicate

Q: My husband's son from his first marriage is coming to live with us for a few months. The only spare bedroom is in the attic, which has slanted walls and not much headroom. In fact, the only place to put the bed is in the middle of the room. Will that be OK?

A: As you have no other choice, yes, of course, it's OK. Center the bed in the tallest part of the attic, and anchor it with nightstands or tables with lamps on both sides. An area rug under the bed and a chest at its foot also will focus the space and take the onus off the low, slanting walls.

Those down-slanting walls are traditional architectural devices. They are the undersides of slanting rooflines and are designed to allow ample standing room in attics, if only in the very center of the spaces.

The comfortable bedroom we show here sits in the upper story of an antique house, Dutch in design, that features the slanted roof typically associated with traditional gambrel roofs. You can see how the slanted section evolved to offer more headroom than one might expect in an attic. This and other origins of traditional American home architecture are explained in the splendid new book from which we borrowed this photograph, "The Roots of Home," by award-winning architect Russell Versaci.

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Versaci has spent more than 30 years designing new houses that look like old houses. So he's conversant with the many influences that have melded into today's American home, whether it's in New England, the Deep South or the western part of the country. To read his book is to tour both the architectural history of an earlier America and the story of how we live today - and why.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas.

Copyright 2009 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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