Making the most of space: Loft conversions part 2

It’s part 2 of our Loft conversion blog.  If you’ve decided to take the plunge and are converting that attic space this  one’s for you. Having got the dreary planning (if needed), finance and building regs paperwork sorted – this is where the fun starts. Because that space you are about to convert is a blank canvas, and you’re Picasso. Actually not Picasso – base a room on his art and you might need to contort yourself to get in – so perhaps we should say Escher (after all, he had a clever eye for perspective…)

Dimensions. They’re tricky in the loft. Which means that when it comes to converting an attic it’s rare that two jobs are ever the same. The constraints of a roofline can lead to headroom that diminishes the closer you get to the wall, whilst those awkward corners can result in the weird and seemingly useless triangular voids at floor level. But if you’re committed to a loft conversion, there are plenty of alcove adaptations and fitted furniture transformations that will make the best possible use of all the available space.

Here’s our mini guide to the best approach:

Design – start with software: These days there’s an app for everything- whether on Desktop or mobile – there are plenty of programs to enable you to make a virtual room to test your ideas. Be sure to look for the ones that support the more complicated room layouts and wall shapes that you are likely to find in a loft.

On desktop one of the most popular is Sweet Home 3D. It’s free and available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux – there’s even a browser based version, so you don’t have to install any software if you don’t want to. On mobile (iOS and Android) you might try Homestyler, it’s another free app and the iOS version was one of Macworld’s best products 2013.

Plan the room layout before the decor: Design software is not just about choosing colours for walls, bed linen and curtains. It’s easy to get carried away on the fun stuff but before that use the tools to determine the layout and infrastructure, such as partition walls, windows and doors. So if your conversion involves some fairly major interior building work they can be really helpful.

Natural lighting: Lighting is a really important aspect that can get overlooked – so if you’re not sure what size Velux window would work best, or have a choice of locations in which to install? Use the software to see how it would work –  the software will allow you to resize and move it. Likewise you can set up and move partition walls to any location within the boundary of your available space and test layouts.  

Awkward space: You’ll also have an opportunity to identify the tricky spaces. If you’ve got a ceiling that slopes down to floor level you’ll find those awkward triangular areas where nothing really fits at floor level. One practical solution is to install a small partition wall further into the room and create floor-level cupboards. Include some sliding doors and they’re perfect to store things that can be pushed into such a space – such as soft furnishings including cushions, duvets and linen. They’re also just right for gear you don’t need all year round – such as ski and snowboarding kit.

Furniture: Finding the right furniture to fit awkward spaces can be challenging. One solution is to adapt some of the great value swedish flat-pack to fit the space. Regular readers will recall our admiration for Ikeahackers.net, it’s a great place to find inspiration and have a conversation and full of great ideas from ingenious people. As a starter for 10 how about this Attic Room storage and room divider.

Decor: of course, the decor you choose is entirely up to you, everyone has their own taste. If you’re fashion conscious then the experts are saying that 2014 will be the year of turquoise (though 2013 was to some degree), fluffy fabrics over leather or leather-look vinyls and honey-tone woods which (turquoise excepted) is all a bit North American hunting lodge if you ask us

Of course, if all you really need is some extra safe and secure space to store things in we’ll be here with our top-notch self storage for Londoners.

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