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Need More Space? Move Into the Attic

After the last few months of living in our homes, we are discovering how crowded it is.  Both parents are working from home; kids attending classes online instead of in school; children getting too big to share a room; teenagers want a hang-out room for themselves. What ever the reason, many are deciding that it might be time to expand into the attic.

This untapped territory could be transformed into anything you need.  But attic spaces do come with some issues.  Like basements, attics often turn into catchalls for all sorts of odds and ends. They become an easy and convenient space in which to store the furniture, old clothes, and other items. But an attic can become added living space for your home.

Most have low ceilings, awkward angles, are dark and dingy, and may only be suited for holiday décor and unwanted items.  But with a little planning and elbow grease, attics can be transformed into bright and efficient rooms, adding value and space to your home. All you need is a vision and a design/builder to create it.

Take advantage of the angles of the ceilings.  An attic design is always an exercise in space maximization. The designer needs to play with the space to make sure to get the most out of the space at hand. Every nook and cranny needs to be used.  Sloped ceilings can cause some height issues, so be sure you can access built-ins without bumping your head. Prebuilt or ready-made closet systems are difficult to use in adapting to the odd-shaped and angled attic spaces.  It is best to use custom made shelving.  If your space is tight, use open shelving or drawers instead of swinging doors that may end up getting in the way.  

Energy efficiency is important for attic spaces.  The temperature of your space should be comfortable for you and for proper storage of various items.  Consulting with your design/build company with heat and cooling plans before beginning the renovations is critical. Proper insulation is the key. Energy-efficient ideas could alter other plans and be costly down the road if not done correctly.

How to brighten up the attic

Paint.  Use of white paint and furnishings will help maximize space and lighten up the room. Even if you ordinarily shy away from using pure white on the ceiling, walls and floors in an attic, it can be just the thing to open up the space. White or light painted floors can be a smart choice in the attic as it reflects more light than expensive wood floors.

Light Fixtures.  The placement of light fixtures is key in the attic to brighten up the dark and gloomy attic.  LED lights installed on the ceiling can provide a warm glow.  Lights will also highlight the unusual nooks and crannies.

Skylights.  A skylight in each room lets in plenty of natural light. Even a small skylight added between the rafters will add a dramatic amount of natural daylight to the space.  Since a skylight can affect the temperature in the attic, it is important to have a heating and air system to keep the space cool in the summer and comfortable in the winter. 

Windows positioned on a slanted wall are especially tricky to cover.  Motorized shades can be added to open from the top or bottom, allowing you to easily control the light even on high, slanted windows.

Windows: Because of the unusual angles in the attic, your designer can choose some special windows that fit into the space.  The photo above shows an eyebrow window which was cut into the roofline to allow more daylight into the space, as well as adding a visual element to the bedroom. There are also round and triangular windows which will also fit into the attic’s angles.  Depending on the attic space, you may even have room for French doors leading to a balcony.  Up so high, the views can be amazing.

Rooms in the Attic.  So, what types of rooms can be put up in the attic?  You can turn that attic into a great new place for guests, work, or kids. Depending on the size of the space, it could be one room or multiple rooms.  What does your home need the most?

A Family Room. A second family room can allow your family to spread out and find a cozy area to relax.  Bring up comfortable furnishings and a television for movies and say hello to lots of relaxing weekend afternoons.

A home office.  With the whole family using the home all the time, it is easy to be distracted by household goings-on while you are trying to work. Fix this by turning your attic into the office. You will likely have more storage space, and the quiet on the top floor will help you concentrate.  If a child’s bedroom is in the attic, a built-in desk under the eaves can provide dedicated space for work.

A bedroom or guest room.  Maybe you are looking for a larger master bedroom suite with closets and a bathroom.  Or you have two children who need more space or separate bedrooms.  It is also helpful to have extra places for guests to sleep.  Add a bed or two to the attic and you’ve created a comfy spot for visitors or family to turn in. 

A Bathroom.  Installing plumbing in an attic floor can be challenging. Attics often are not built to accommodate it.  A design/build remodeler can work with a plumber to ensure that a shower or tub along with sinks can fit into the awkward space and work correctly.

Pass it off to the kids. Turn an attic into a play or game room. To a grownup, it is an awkward space, but to a child or teenager, it is their own hideaway or clubhouse.

Hobby Room.  Most crafts/hobbies come with loads of supplies that need to be organized.  Storage shelves or drawers are a must.  When designing a custom workstation, be sure to include plenty of desk/table space. A corner workstation will maximize space in smaller attic rooms. In addition, a cork wall surface works great as an inspiration board.

A cozy reading nook.  A reading nook in the attic provides a small private relaxing area. The special window allows for natural light to read by.  But lighting is also needed for those times when reading at night. Shelves for books and extra storage drawers below the nook mattress allow space for books and games.  

Carving out extra living space in an attic can be a wonderful way to make the most of your home's square footage. But to get the most out of your newfound space, you will need to address a few challenges particular to attics — from steeply sloped ceilings and awkward layouts to low light. A design/build remodeler, such as Creative Spaces Remodeling, can assist with designing the attic of your dreams.


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