Mississippi River Attic Remodel

Revisiting a Remodel: Turning a barely used attic into a favorite retreat

When Jennifer Parker’s house turned 100, she decided it was finally time to transform her attic into a beautiful, liveable space. 

“What I’ve always loved about my upstairs was the light,” she says. “I knew when I bought the house that I wanted to do something with that space.”

She also knew she’d need the right team for the work. She still had a bad taste from a previous remodel with a different construction firm that involved overruns, mistakes, and a broken vanity in her bathroom. ”It was a less-than-spectacular situation,” she says. 

Jenny had been following White Crane’s work online for a while, and, from what other customers were saying, they seemed to do things differently. 

The difference was immediate.

The first thing Jenny noticed was White Crane’s understanding of older homes. She’d already been told by several remodeling companies it wasn’t possible to install a bathroom in her attic, and it definitely wasn’t possible to remove the wall that was currently cutting the space in half. 

“These guys would say, ‘Oh, no, no, you can’t do that,” says Jenny. “‘No, no. Those are knee walls. And they support the roof.’” Jenny suspected this wasn’t accurate, but when she questioned their logic, she got nowhere.

So when White Crane’s design team reviewed her attic and said everything she wanted to do was a go, she was thrilled. “I was excited, to put it mildly,” says Jenny.

“What I’ve always loved about my upstairs was the light. I knew when I bought the house that I wanted to do something with that space.”

Her favorite parts of the remodel?

No surprises at all. 

For Jenny, one of the most surprising things about her project was how smoothly it went. In under four months, she had a new bedroom, a full bath, a pilates/yoga studio, and, for the first time ever, air conditioning upstairs. And the entire project only went three days over what was promised. 


The light is “spectacular”.
With both east- and west-facing windows, Jenny’s attic has always been filled with light. Now she wakes up to the rising sun, and her yoga studio is bathed in afternoon light.

“I can lay in bed and watch the sunrise and watch the trees swaying in the wind,” she says. “And the light that comes in the afternoon—it’s just spectacular.” 

“She really listened to what I wanted.”

Besides a new bedroom and bathroom, Jenny had a couple major requests for Nicole, her White Crane designer: Her pilates reformer had to fit in the space, and there “absolutely positively” had to be air conditioning.

“The rest of my house is not air conditioned and by the summer, holy buckets, it was 10 to 20 degrees hotter upstairs,” says Jenny. “It was like a sauna. There was no way I was ever going to be able to live up there in the summertime without air conditioning.”

White Crane delivered on all of those requests.

It feels like a 100-year-old house, only better.

Jenny was clear that she didn’t want the upstairs of her home to feel totally different from the rich, historic vibe of the rest of the house, so she asked Nicole to add some touches that already existed on the main level, including built-ins made with beautiful woodwork. 

“I really wanted a space that was kind of spruced up and modern but still kept this house’s feel. I didn’t want people to go upstairs and see a shocking difference.”


“Well that was easy.”

One night after some demo work, Jenny discovered her main level was without electricity. She texted her White Crane project manager, assuming she’d hear back in the morning. Within minutes, she received a reply: “I’m on it.”

“The next morning, the electricians were here and everything was fixed,” says Jenny. “I thought, ‘Well, that was easy.’”

“The next morning, the electricians were here and everything was fixed,” says Jenny. “I thought, ‘Well, that was easy.’”

Valuable Tips

If you’re considering a remodel with White Crane, here are a few tips you can glean from Jenny’s experience:

Trust your designers.

When Nicole suggested an accent wall using wood slats made from the 100-year-old oak tree Jenny had recently had to remove, Jenny was ready to shoot it down.
“I first looked at it and thought, ‘Oh hell no. That’s not me.’ And then I thought, ‘You’re paying this woman a lot of money to design. Let her design!’ Now I look at it and I’m like, ‘Yep, she was right. That’s a great addition.’” 


Splurge wisely, if you can.
With budget in mind, the White Crane design team suggested LVP flooring upstairs, but Jenny had her heart set on wide-plank wood flooring, inspired by her favorite yoga studio. “I said, ‘What would the difference be if I put wood in?’ And they said, ‘It’s going to be more expensive.’ I said, ‘I get that, but I don’t want this other stuff.’ So I upgraded. I didn’t want to go crazy on costs. But I also wanted what I wanted.”

You get what you pay for.
When people ask Jenny about her project, they can hardly believe it only went over schedule by three days. “I tell them how White Crane sets it up, and they get everybody on the calendar before they even start doing anything,” says Jenny. “I’ll say, ‘This is what you’re paying for. You’re paying to not wait on people.’ You know exactly who’s coming in, you know what they’re doing, you know when they’re doing it. There’s so little wasted time. And they procure all the things they need, so you’re not three quarters of the way done and then, ‘Oh, yeah, we can’t get the whatever.’ It’s ready to go.”

She adds, “It was not an inexpensive project but, on the other hand, honestly, it was painless compared to that bathroom. I mean, it was so easy. It was just a lovely experience.”

What I wish I would have done differently

When asked this question, Jenny gave it a lot of thought, and she still came up empty. Her project turned out exactly as she wanted it. As for the bathroom remodel she did with a different company years ago? “I can tell you precisely the things that I would do differently in that one,” she says. 


“Really, and truly, it just was so fun.”

For Jenny, the process of working with White Crane was as positive as the end results. “The design team was so creative, and they listened to what I wanted,” she says. “They listened to my vision, they asked all the right questions, they really found out what I wished for up there, and then they made it happen.”