Although the well-known adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” could be considered as another way of saying looks don’t matter, when it’s your neighbours and the planning office who will be beholding the dormer window of your loft conversion, the look is absolutely everything.
The bottom line with planning is that the window will have to ‘fit in’ aesthetically with the house itself and the wider area. This is particularly true for cases where planning permission is required or the property is a listed building or falls within a designated conservation area. So, what are the design solutions which can help ensure that your dream dormer design is also a public and planning eye-pleaser?
Looking out, without looking out of place
A dormer window has a key role in loft conversion design: to create a window which offers additional height and headroom to the space by being built out from the roof. The original large box-style design of a dormer still exists, but there are plenty of ways in which modern design has ditched the dated dormer look to create more pleasing planning and personal space options:
- Chocolate box cottage dormers
A scaled down version of the dated dormer, the chocolate box cottage dormer is reduced in overall size but still adds height and space to the loft. The regular design usually includes two of these dormers side by side, under a pitched roof section. This can often create the same internal space that a traditional dormer would do, but with a much more aesthetically pleasing exterior finish, particularly suited to areas where properties are older and the house style would be undermined by the traditional dormer. Decorative tiles and mouldings can also be incorporated, to help retain a sense of a certain era nestling in the roof space, rather than a modern add-on.
- Smaller dormer windows
Similarly, small dormers may offer a compromise where a large dormer will not pass planning or does not ‘fit’ the aesthetics of the property. Small dormers can allow a surprising amount of light into the loft, but may mean that some of the headroom that a traditional dormer offers is sacrificed.
However, in loft conversions with a good central height but darker corners, small dormers could be the ideal compromise and may still offer just enough head height to incorporate a window seat or viable, usable space below.
- Wooden cladding
Dormers which feature wooden cladding are a modern twist on the traditional dormer. Additional design features can include a choice of colour for the cladding, to create a pleasing feature which can be updated with trending cladding colours such as the current grey, white or cream which is popularly featured on more recently built homes.
- Curved dormers
The square shape of the traditional dormer has also been redesigned into a sophisticated curved configuration. A great feature of curved dormers is that they can blend seamlessly into an older property by being tiled to match the existing roof tiles. Alternatively, with their unique appearance, curved dormers can make a feature of a modern house to give it personality and bring a more bespoke look to one of a crowd of similar properties.
- Floor to ceiling dormer
One of the latest dormer concept designs incorporates a completely glass look to the wall as well as the window aspects of the dormer. This can add a wow-factor inside and out and can help to make an older property fit in with any more contemporary builds in the surrounding neighbourhood. Other design features, such as a Juliet Balcony, can also be added – for aesthetics or to maximise the use of the room and access to fresh air and any views.
- L-shaped dormers
This extended dormer window shape is proving popular in planning for loft conversions on Victorian style houses, as it is the optimum size and shape for adding to the existing rear extension that many of these properties already have.
Another windows aspect to consider for creating an aesthetically acceptable feature to the exterior of the loft conversion is within the materials used. Staying close to the original tiling may be beneficial in achieving a minimal ‘add-on’ look, whilst complementing the era of the property, for example by installing double glazed wooden frames on an older property rather than modern uPVC, will certainly offer an extra element of ‘best fit’ to the design.
Finally, and particularly where there are no overt planning, neighbour or conservation issues which influence the type of dormer, it’s worth remembering that although many households decide on a loft conversion so that they do not have to move home in a hurry, consideration should also be given to when the property may eventually be sold. Aesthetics, including that exterior look, can be paramount when it comes to achieving a sale, so even if your loft is a staying home solution, there is still every reason to ensure its look adds to the appeal of the property.