NEED more space? The loft is often the simplest and least disruptive space to convert, and it’s certainly less expensive and stressful than moving house.
According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) the cost of the average loft conversion equates to one third of the cost of moving to a property with an extra room — and the addition of a loft room can increase the value of your home by up to 25 per cent.
Here are a few tips if you are considering converting loft space into extra accommodation.
1. Make room for the stairs
One of the key considerations when designing a loft conversion is making sure as little space as possible is sacrificed for the staircase, both in the loft and on the storey below.
Where possible, stacking the new flight over the main existing staircase is usually the best option.
Where space is especially tight, a spiral staircase can sometimes be a better choice.
2. Decorate effectively
If you have sloping walls, paint them the same colour as the ceiling. Where the sloping element is extensive, paint the whole room the same colour or, for a modern look, use close tints of the same colour to exaggerate the architectural form. Paler shades are best to enhance the feeling of light.
3. Retain your privacy
Velux windows can be fitted with sliding blinds built in for a neat look. For dormer windows, consider using plantation shutters or pull-down blinds. Roof lanterns may well not need blinds, as there is no privacy issue.
4. Create storage options
Use the eaves space to form cupboards, rather than simply boarding it over. Use any unusual niches or spaces for more storage; bespoke shelves and units are usually the best option to maximise the use of these spaces.
5. Use lighting to create an atmosphere
Layer your lighting to create different effects. Use recessed low-energy spotlights in the flat part of the ceiling below the ridge, as shown in the bedroom above, and fit wall sconces on gable-end walls. If you have exposed beams, you can also fit directional spots to these, but try to conceal the light source to prevent glare. Add bedside wall lights or 2-amp sockets with a separate switch and, finally, fit dimmer switches for atmosphere.
6. Make the space multifunctional
Design your loft to double up as an occasional guest bedroom, with flexible furniture such as a sofa-bed or a fold-down design.
7. Soundproof the floors
Avoid wooden floors, or cushion them, to avoid causing problems for those below. Always add plenty of insulation into the new floor and, if the use of the new room means that noise could be a big issue, try sound-deadening materials, too.
8. Bring in natural light
Include as many windows as possible to maximise natural daylight. A bank of standard rooflights can make a spectacular feature window. You could have fixed double-glazed units fitted between a section of the roof’s rafters to form one large expanse of glazing.
9. Add an extra bathroom
The attic is an ideal place for a master bedroom, providing you can find room for an ensuite bathroom. And if you can, squeeze in a dressing area, too. If your budget is too tight for now, try to put in the plumbing ready for a future addition.
10. Board the ceiling with wood
You don’t have to plaster the ceiling — a boarded finish can create a rustic, Scandinavian or New England style, depending on how it is finished.
Tongue-and-groove softwood boards are widely available and are an inexpensive choice.