Attic conversions are a cost-effective way of increasing space and adding value to your property.
Loft, or attic conversions comprise a room in the attic with either a dormer window construction or use of skylights (Velux being the de facto brand). A dormer construction gives greater headroom and generally feels more spacious. A skylight arrangement lets in good light, but the headroom can be restrictive. Larger attic conversions can also incorporate an en-suite.
We’ve designed a few attic conversions for our clients as part of our principal service of home renovation. We are not an attic conversion company per se, but our processes encompass these. Like any other space, attic conversions need to be planned properly not only in terms of the steels, shape and location of staircase, but also the heating, decoration, flooring and, very importantly, lighting.
Most people who want an attic conversion will go straight to a loft conversion company. Such companies carry out the building side of the work, but you are left to do the rest. What we offer is a complete service.
It may surprise you to hear that we’ve seen several attic conversions that could have been so much better with a bit more care and attention. These were carried out by loft conversion companies; so apparently specialists. In one conversion, the clients couldn’t enjoy the view through the windows because the builders had set them too high. In another, the builders had set the staircase so that the room each side of the landing was unusable; they could have set the stairs in one corner, still with sufficient headroom. We know this because we converted an attic further down the road in the same shaped house and they have much more usable space. In another, they hadn’t fitted any lighting in the eaves. In another they hadn’t installed any heating, yet it was bitterly cold in winter. In another, the lighting was simply attrocious.
Most attic conversion companies will be fine, but their focus is converting the attic, not making it habitable. You’ll no doubt get references before you engage one, and make sure they pay attention to all the details.
Staircases take up a surprising amount of space in a loft conversion. It may mean that you lose a small corner of an adjacent bedroom to make best use of the stairs. This is usually caused by the regulation for head height. This is not uncommon, but test your designer to see if there is any alternative. Remember that strategically placed skylights can increase head clearance by just enough to meet regulations.
With a bit more effort your builder could use a skylight above the attic stairs light the original hallway and landing. In the image below, ordinarily the sttic stairway would have been blocked off, but here our builder fitted these spindles allowing natural and artificial light to flood through from above.
Many attic conversions try to squeeze in an en suite. It certainly makes living more convenient. In the project below, we adapted the space to create a shower room.
If you are fitting an en suite into a space without a window, consider a solar tube. When we fitted our first solar tube we were amazed at how efficient it was. You need to site it with the collector dome away from shadow forming structure such as a chimney stack. In the image below, the larger disc is a sun tube; I put the recessed downlighters on for comparison. You can see how bright is the sun tube.
For attic conversions with a half landing, see if you can fit the en suite at half landing level. Remember that you will have more headroom there so can perhaps work sideways and create more space. You need to consider this early in the design phase so that you don’t find a steel in the way!
Make as much use of the eaves as you can. You are about to lose one of the biggest storage areas of your house. Make sure the hatches are big enough for you to crawl through – perhaps fit a couple of hatches. And fit some lights in there too!
Give the design for your attic conversion as much attention as for any other room. People tend to forget about heating and lighting until the end, so plan for these early. With sloping ceilings, use gimbal lighting to avoid dark spots. And use the lower areas for your radiators – you’ll find that you need as many high walls as you can for furniture and taller fittings.
We have been designing interiors for clients in Bath and Bristol for the past 12 years. An attic room is no different to any other. We manage everything for you from initial concepts through to delivery of the fully furnished space. If you think we may be able to help, please read about our interior design and renovation services.