As if renovating and opening a new restaurant wasn’t a big enough challenge, Brian and I decided to add a second major project to the pile – a total renovation of the attic pictured above. Makes sense, right?

Fortunately, fixing these sloped floors, slanted walls, droopy ceilings and other structural challenges place this project squarely beyond our pay grade. We did the initial demolition ourselves, then hired Glenn, an expert contractor, to turn this raw attic space into a home.

The plumber came by in the middle of demolition to check out the project. As he left he exclaimed, “you’re brave!”

Most people on this island think we’re a little crazy.

But we’re also one month in and showing great progress. Scroll down through the photos (apologies for the blurry photos – the lighting is pretty bad) to see how it’s shaping up!

Stairwell at the entrance to the restaurant leads up a flight of stairs to the second floor attic that will soon be our apartment.

At the very top of the stairs were three doors. The one on the left was a closet, the center leads to a larger raw attic space, and the one on the right was a sleeping quarters for restaurant employees.

Sleeping quarters. That large wooden structure houses the hood for the restaurant’s ventilation system (luckily, the hood itself takes up very little room and will be the floor of a large closet in the finished apartment).

Through the middle door is the larger, unfinished attic. There is a non load-bearing half wall that divides the center of the room and beams hand about 6 feet from the floor.

Attic space, pre-demolition

This is why. The view from the windows at the end of the attic.

Brian and I did 90% of the demolition ourselves. It was pretty fun – breaking stuff is the easy part.

Our task was to take down all of the walls, so we were left with one big room.

End of day 1 – most of the sheetrock and framing are gone.

We’ve opened up the stairwell and will add a door at the bottom of the stairs for privacy.

End of day 2, demolition

Brian is removing the wooden frame around the top of the hood. We were delighted to discover that the hood only takes up a fraction of this huge box. It will make a magnificent closet floor. One other interesting challenge – the hood has been suspended from chains bolted to a beam in the ceiling above.

A few days later, Glenn and team raised the rafters and reframed the roof. This old building slumps and slants so much, he’s basically reframing a new house inside of this very old attic.

Next step for Glenn’s team, pull up the floor boards (which I was really hoping to repurpose as the new floor, until we saw what terrible shape they are in) to reframe the floor (there’s a 10 inch difference between the floor height in the rear of the attic vs the front), which we will insulate, then install radiant heat and new flooring. Here Glenn discovers that the floors are filled with peanut shells + one squirrel skeleton.

a snow shovel was required to clean out the shit between the boards.

Frame for the new floor, which gradually slopes upward to meet the floor level at the front of the building.

Prep for new windows on the sunniest side of the building

Just before Chad cut holes for the new windows…eeeeeeeeee!