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An unfinished attic was given new life during the pandemic when a Raleigh, NC, couple hired interior designer Liz Goldberg of CAROLYNLEONA to turn the space into a staycation retreat. Liz transformed the long and narrow top floor into a fully functional space featuring a guest bedroom, guest bath, home gym, and even a movie theater.

Liz’s clients initially envisioned a “California cool” design scheme for what was once their attic. However, the inclusion of the home theater — a request from the husband — quickly sparked their interest in a different California-related aesthetic: vintage Hollywood. “We liked the idea of weaving the details throughout all of the third floor, from the marquee sign to the guest bedroom’s curated gallery wall, down to the smaller details like the popcorn machine,” Liz says. “It’s all a subtle, playful nod back to old-school Hollywood.”

The exposed wood ceilings are actually not original to the attic; rather, the clients wanted to add the cypress paneling and painted beams. “We were intentional in keeping the wood very natural to highlight the material’s characteristics that will age beautifully,” Liz says.

BEFORE: The framing is started for the bedroom, but there’s still a long way to go! Image: Liz Goldberg

Bedroom in Raleigh home attic

AFTER: The clients wanted to add the cypress paneling and painted beams to open the space up.

Rattan nightstands by Four Hands pop against walls coated in Clare’s warmest of white paints, Whipped, which was used throughout the attic and was paired with a trim in the same brand’s Windy City hue. “This is a fresh space that had no preexisting pieces,” Liz says. “We were tasked with sourcing all new pieces for this project, from the building materials and furniture all the way down to the lighting, bedding, and artwork.”

Liz calls the guest bathroom’s marble vanity “the star of the show.” “Mixing in the vintage mirror and unique tiles all in earthy, textural colors brings it all together,” Liz shares. “Guests have stayed over and fallen in love with the different tiles, asking for sources so they can install them in their own homes.”

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Close-up of attic bed

Rattan nightstands by Four Hands pop against walls coated in Clare Paint’s “Whipped.”

Raleigh home attic bathroom

Liz calls the guest bathroom’s marble vanity “the star of the show,” with its vintage mirror and unique tiles all in earthy colors.

Orange towels hanging in bathroom with white walls

Thoughtful touches abound, all the way down to the dual-purpose toilet paper holder/magazine rack.

Each room is interconnected, too. “The bathroom patterned floor ties back to the artistic, oversized plaid wool carpet. The carpet then takes your eye to the painted cabinets and wall tile of the wet bar, and then finally over to the home gym.”

Speaking of the gym, Liz says the clients are finding it to be the perfect place to pump iron. “We wanted to ensure that the gym had a lot of personality and felt inviting and motivating for a workout,” she explains. “We hung oversized mirrors to provide a ‘gym’ feel while balancing the light and opening up the space. We designed art and created custom built-in benches, which are a great place to put on your Peloton shoes.”

Additional features worthy of mention include the TRX straps hanging from the crossbeam, and the over-sized eight-blade fan ensures that all athletes stay cool!

Home gym in Raleigh home's attic

Oversized mirrors, artwork, and custom built-in benches top off this home gym in high style and function.

"Beast Mode On" print in home gym

Not only is this gym’s beauty inspiring, having a decked-out place to workout right upstairs makes breaking a sweat an easier task.

The home theater is equipped with traditional plush seating and is rooted in neutrals. “We created a retreat that is open and airy for entertaining, bringing natural, organic materials indoors,” Liz says. “Using clean lines and bold, saturated pops of color, each division of space ties together for a unique flow.”

Clare paint’s “Deep Dive” shines on the wet bar. “The wet bar area is very versatile and goes from holding kids’ popcorn by day to adult cocktails by night,” Liz says. She carried deep blues, black, white, and gray throughout all the rooms to tell a cohesive design story, from the blue textured wallpaper in the theater to the custom-painted wet bar cabinetry and back to the shower wall tiles.

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IN PROGRESS: This space eventually became the home theater. Image: Liz Goldberg

Home movie theater

AFTER: The California vibe is carried on through this Hollywood-worthy home movie theater, complete with tiered seating.

Theater room in Raleigh home's attic

Stay-at-home life is the good life in this once attic with a comfortable guest suite, full bath, gym, and a movie theater.

Snack bar in movie theater room in Raleigh, NC, home

The wet bar in the movie theater holds popcorn for the kids by day and adult cocktails by night.

All photography by Dustin Peck unless otherwise noted.

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