Having a loft conversion is all about adding value to your home, not just fiscally, but also in terms of making the most of the space so you get what you want from your new room. But making the most of the space can lead to a few design dilemmas as most of us just keep everything in the attic - so the loft room isn’t about creating space for its new use, but also about compensating for losing some storage space from the attic.
Before the designs even start to be drawn up, it makes sense to start an attic declutter, to get rid of non-essentials, so that the space can be accurately measured and so that you can start to visualise the space you’ll have – and how to make the most of it.
Once the declutter has taken place, thinking about using the space is essential, particularly in the context of the purpose of the room – if it’s going to be a bedroom, then storage space for clothes and personal items will be essential, whilst space to move around without bumping your head is also a consideration, particularly if the room is going to be an office, games room or work studio. Once you’ve considered the space you’ll have, then it’s time to think about taking it to the max …
Fitting things in
Having items of furniture fitted in whilst all the carpentry and plastering is taking place makes sense as both a space and money saving activity. Fitted cupboards and shelving can be incorporated into your loft room design by your loft specialist, whilst bespoke storage, to make the most of awkward spaces such as eaves storage offers a practical solution for spaces which would otherwise be redundant or hard to access:
- Furniture fittings – a standard wardrobe may be too tall for a dropped loft ceiling or area close to the eaves, but a built-in wardrobe or cupboard with hanging rail will make the most of the height that is available. Where floor space is limited or a minimalist look is required to keep the space ‘open’ rather than cluttered consider built-in bunks or Murphy beds to make a difference for a bedroom, or a built-in desk to make the most of nook space in a loft office.
- Slanted ceilings – often ignored as too low, slanted ceilings of the eaves can provide natural frame for beds and make the most of limited headroom, but do carefully check the head height at the design stage.
- Dormer window – dormers are great for maximising space by expanding the headroom, so think carefully before deciding to just fit a radiator below it, that’s fine if you want to stand there in winter looking at the view but it pays to consider the dormer area as a newly created space in its own right and how you might want to use it. If you don’t want to commit to a built-in window seat, try a free-standing ottoman seat instead, useful for both seating and storage whilst you become accustomed to what this new space is offering you. There are plenty of ideas for this on Pinterest.
- Consider corners – the current trend for corner sofas has made custom corners very popular and a loft conversion usually provides plenty of quirky corners, ideal for bespoke features, fitted furnishings and for creating space within the room’s new shape.
Leaving things out
One of the alternative space saving ideas is that you don’t actually have to fit all the space out in order to get the most from it. Depending on the design and shape of the loft and its features, it can sometimes be useful to leave a gap without furniture or fitments, to leave space for movement or just for an aesthetic sense of spaciousness.
Another thing to leave out is the idea that furniture has to go in its traditionally intended room. For example:
- A coffee table can provide a useful low-height surface instead of a bedside table;
- A standard double desk for a loft office could be tricky to fit in but if a large desk surface is needed and the roof slant allows, a worktop or table-top can be installed as a run along a wall, to provide plenty of working space without dominating the room – whilst the eaves space underneath can also be utilitsed for storage, either from bespoke, free-standing or even basket storage.
- Alternatively, lift-top tables, coffee tables and ‘old-school’ desks provide excellent office desk features which avoid space swallowing desks in loft offices or studios.
Taking things up
Up in the roof, the ceiling offers different possibilities to any other part of the house, so it’s worth considering at the design stage whether you can maximise space by heading upwards, for example with a mezzanine level. If the ceiling height allows it, a mezzanine can offer a great solution for fitting in beds or designating different areas within a loft space, such as for separating a sleeping area from a studying, gaming or social area in a teenager’s room.
If a full mezzanine is not possible, but there is a little extra scope to take the design up a notch, a real feature can be made of the bed in a master suite by raising it onto a platform. This platform can be built to incorporate storage cupboards, drawers or shelves below to both create valuable storage space and to make the most of height in the room which might otherwise be wasted.
If a platform isn’t possible, it’s worth considering the type of bed to be used and adding a storage bed where the base lifts to provide hidden, space-saving storage below.
Another way to come up with space saving ideas is to think about doubled-up designs, where items are multipurpose. Ideas could include:
- A wet room en-suite can feel much more spacious than squashing a shower cubicle into a small space and can also open up the possibility of showering under the stars with a velux window.
- Mirrors can double with lighting, ideal for en-suites or for creating a dressing area in a dark nook of the loft.
- Headboards can also be bespoke fitments which can double up to include shelving into awkward eaves space. These also add a streamlined, uncluttered feel to spaces which should be relaxing and can also double as bedsides for housing lamps, alarm clocks, reading books and photos.
- In a multipurpose room where space is limited, daybeds or sofa beds with storage can provide space saving furnishings for a bedroom and children’s playroom, whilst built-in workstations with doors to match other fitments can be added to the design to create home office within a master bedroom suite.
Step on it
Finally, the newly added stairway to your loft conversion will bring you your access to the space, but can also provide so much more. There are stair designs which can include storage space within the risers or can be positioned to create a hallway or designated landing space with its own additional space or storage for the loft room. Always take advice from your loft specialist about the options available so that the stairs take up the minimum of space but offer maximum options for saving and creating space in your new loft conversion.