Oh, the attic. Home of childhood, forgotten things and Christmas. Attics are typically used for storage, particularly items that don’t get used but once a year, or things of sentimental value that can’t be parted with yet. But why not put that extra space to good use? If you’ve had it cleared and proofed for rodents and other pests, it’s an extra space just waiting to be used. While it may not be at the top of the list for home renovations (really, how much function do you need to increase in a room strictly for stuff?) converting your attic into something more useful can add major value to your home. Here are a few ideas you can try, as well as some tips before you begin your foray into the conversion of attic space.
Cozy Reading Corner
For the simplest of pleasures, create your own reading nook complete with built in bookcases chock full of your favorite books. Add a fluffy carpet and comfy chaise, small couch, or window seat for the perfect reading area. Build a Tea station complete with a single-burner stove or hot plate, kettle, and jars and jars of loose leaf tea with your favorite mugs hung on the wall so you’re always prepared. A rainy day will never go wasted in this space.
If you’ve got some younger ones running around the house, but there isn’t really a designated play area, craft one in your attic. A window seat with hinged bench can store all sorts of toys and games underneath. A pop-up tee-pee in one of your attic’s eaves is the perfect little spot for reading, hiding, and playing games. A table and easel with shelves for art supplies and you’ve got a room ripe for creativity and imagination. Best of all, no one will ever stumble upon the room if it happens to be less than immaculate.
Depending on the size, you can opt for a quaint, bed and breakfast style guest bedroom. Whether it’s two twin beds side by side or head to head, or a queen sized bed that dominates the room under the eaves, you can offer guests (or older siblings that want their own room) the perfect little getaway. For this room, maximize storage without sacrificing floor space by building recessed knee-wall drawers for clothing. An antique armoire for hanging items will stand out in a room of warmer white tones like ivory, cream, and bright white. Really bump up the storage with drawers under the bed frame.
For some solitude, and a chance to get some work done, designate this space to be your personal, in home office. A desk positioned right in front of a window offers natural lighting and a lovely view when you need to take a break. In smaller spaces, hanging shelves for storage and organization is ideal.
Before you begin, you need to cover your bases. An engineer will need to check the integrity of your attic’s structure and determine what reinforcements will need to be made to ensure maximum safety. It’s common for the floor joists of an attic to be spread farther out in the attic because they tend to bear less weight than the rest of the house. You’ll also need to be cleared for having enough space. Seven feet up, seven feet across and 70 square feet is the minimum requirement for attic conversions.
Once you know you’re up to code, consider heat and air, plumbing, and electrics. LED lighting that recesses into the ceiling opens the room without adding extra heat. Rugs on your floors will help reduce the noise from the attic reaching the rest of the house. A thermostat specifically for the attic and ceiling fan are essential for temperature control. Don’t skimp on the insulation. Since it’s going to be a room for dwelling, you want the temperature to be as moderated as the rest of the house.
You’ll also want to consider accessibility to your new room. Your contractor will be able to help you figure out the best and easiest way to get to your new room. Lastly, don’t skimp on the design details. It’s not as big a space as your kitchen or bathroom (most likely) so you won’t need as many materials once the structural elements are squared away. But take this time to be as creative decoratively as you can. Skylights add more natural, inviting lighting. Beadboard panels, wainscotting, or wall frames on the ceiling (particularly in the eaves) provide texture and interesting spectacle. This room has no rules or boundaries. It can be whatever you want. Make it count.