Attic design Ideas

Photo by Molly Stevens

Update: Are you looking for more space in your home but don’t want to move house altogether or embark on a costly, disruptive addition? Instead of building out, why not build up? Finishing an attic is a great way to utilize existing space in your home without the inconvenience and cost of building an addition. The basics are already there; you just need to finish it to make it habitable. Depending on the dimensions of the space, you can make it into a bedroom with en suite bathroom, a home office or a playroom for the kids. The possibilities are endless! Read on for more attic renovation ideas:

If you find yourself in need of additional space in your home, due to growing pains, or the desire to enhance your family’s lifestyle, consider growing upward. Your attic just might provide the space you need to enhance your home. The attic of your house might be finished to provide for any of a number of needs – a child’s bedroom, a home office, a craft or hobby room, a play area.  How much will it cost to finish your attic?  Find out instantly with an online free cost calculator.

If you think your attic might provide the additional space you need, it will be necessary to check on the adaptability of your attic before your plans become too detailed. There are many variables in the suitability of an attic space for a remodeling project. Here are some things you will need to investigate and evaluate:

  1. Is the floor structurally adequate for your planned use of the space? Is there adequate support for the weight of the items you plan to place in the finished room and for the type of activity that will occur in the room? You might need to engage a professional home inspector to make this determination.
  2. Is there adequate headroom? You probably have a pitched roof that provides adequate space in the center of the attic. But, what about moving out toward the sides of the attic? How far from the center can you move and still stand upright?
  3. After defining headroom, consider ways to utilize additional width for the finished room with built-in details or furniture placement.
  4. Electricity may or may not be connected to the attic space. You will need to determine whether or not there is a connection to the electrical system in your home, whether or not it is adequate for the proposed use of the space, and how you will connect to the system to provide adequate power.
  5. Most attics are not insulated. How will you insulate the proposed space? How will insulation affect the dimensions of your proposed space, the adequacy of connecting to the existing heating and cooling system, etc.
  6. How will you provide light for the finished space? Will you install skylight windows, dormers, or a window in the end of the room?
  7. Do you plan to include a bathroom? If so, is the floor structurally adequate to support the fixtures? Will the proposed space be close enough to existing plumbing? Where will the new pipes, soil stack, etc. be connected?
  8. How will you provide access to the attic? You will probably need some sort of stairway. Where will you put this stairway? How will this affect the space below the attic?

Once you have answered these questions, or had the questions answered by a professional, you will be ready to begin to plan the use of the space. The size of your home and the lines of your roof will essentially determine the amount of useable space available. How many rooms will you make in the space? How will you provide access to each room?

Consider some of the basic essentials that must be part of every attic renovation plan:

  • Insulation
  • Wiring for electricity
  • Structural support
  • Installing an adequate floor
  • Installing duct work for heating and cooling
  • Installing plumbing for a bathroom
  • Constructing walls
  • Installing a vent fan
  • Installing doors, windows and closets
  • Opening or upgrading a stairway

How can you utilize space with inadequate headroom in order to make the room(s) larger and more functional? This will depend upon the use you plan for the finished space. Some ideas include: built-in bookcases or toy and game shelves; built-in desks or work surfaces; constructing dormer windows to provide light, fresh air, and additional headroom.

If you have previously used your attic for storage, and you do not wish to lose all of your storage space, you might consider adapting the “unusable” space beyond the walls for storage. By adding coverage to the rafters, covering the floor, building or installing shelving, and placing an access door in front of the area, you can create a very nice storage area in addition to your new room(s).

Some very popular uses for attic spaces today are for play areas for children, hobby or craft rooms, dens, extra bedrooms, or home theaters. Once you determine the structural adaptability of the space, you can select from a number of design options. For example, you can create square rooms using only the space that provides adequate headroom, framing them with paneling or drywall. You can create a room that appears larger and more spacious by finishing the beams in the attic and leaving the ceiling open to achieve a warm and “rustic” feeling. The space can be perfect for a child’s bedroom or even for a guest bedroom. Using the space, assuming adequate floor supports, for a home theater or a game or billiards room is another popular idea.

The purpose of the room(s) will probably help you determine how to decorate the space. You may want the warmth of paneling with an open-beamed ceiling. You may want to cover the walls of a home theater with a sound absorbent material. If you plan to include a small kitchenette to provide for snack preparation in your home theater, you might want to experiment with tile or hardwood floors.

Is this a do-it-yourself project? That depends upon the structure of the attic, your skill set and local building codes. You will also probably want to ensure that your finished attic space adds value to your home upon resale.

To be sure, there are tools to help you assess the structural soundness of your attic space for the renovations you propose. But a mistake about structure can jeopardize both the soundness of the new space and the safety and soundness of other parts of the home. Unless you are a professional, it is probably wise to have a professional inspector assess the structural suitability of the area and indicate modifications that will be necessary to stabilize the structure before you start your renovation. You will also need to check local building codes to determine space and other requirements for the new room. You will also need to check with State or local offices to obtain the appropriate permits for the work and to learn about any requirements that certain types of work be performed only by licensed professionals.

Careful attention to the structural basics, a little imagination and creativity, and some hard work can make your attic a very functional space for your family at a relatively low cost. Then claim your attic for the living space you need, and enjoy.