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How to convert your attic into a beautiful living space

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Puertas y ventanas modernas de studio lenzi e associati Moderno
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Need more space in your home? Look up at the attic! Converting an attic into a living room is the most budget friendly way of expanding your house. The most common use for an attic is to convert it to an extra bedroom for guests. You could also use this space as a home office, a den, a cosy reading room or play room for your children. A part of the attic can even be converted into a bathroom. The main challenge of decorating an attic room is the limited space available, but this is no reason for the space not to look beautiful!

Renovating an attic is an expensive affair and hence, it is important to plan the space properly. It is always ideal to consult a local contractor or architect to help plan out the space and renovation project. As with any other room, ensure that the plan for the attic has enough clear and wide walking paths. Though your plumbing requirements will depend on how you want to use the attic, electrical connections are not negotiable. Here are a few other points to keep in mind before renovating an attic.

Is your attic high enough?

Most attics have sloping roofs so the height of the room will vary. According to most codes, a minimum 7’ height is required for at least 50% of the usable area. If your attic ceiling is lower than this you could consider installing a dormer. A dormer is a protruding extension built on a sloping roof to raise the height of the ceiling. 

There are many types of dormers, amongst which the doghouse style dormer or gable dormer and shed dormer are the most common. When choosing a dormer style for your attic ensure that it matches the overall style of your house. In an attic bedroom, a dormer is a good way of sectioning off an area for a window seat or desk.

This arrangement has been visualised by Roas 3D Visual Art in Manisa.

Check the local laws and rules

No matter where you are, follow the rule of seven to assess your attic. According to this rule, 7’ is the minimum height and 70 square feet is the minimum area required to make your attic space usable. Apart from this, you will need to ask your building inspector for a list of local codes to follow when designing a room in the attic. 

Look closely at the rafters and attic floor joists to see if they can support the additional weight of the space once it has been remodeled. Now that you plan on using your attic as more than just a storage space, give the entrance to the attic a little attention. In addition to a staircase, most codes specify that a habitable attic must have at least one escape and rescue opening. Renovating an attic itself may also require a permit, depending on the local code.

Light the attic

A habitable attic should have at least one window that allows natural light in. This also helps ventilate the room. If your attic does not have a window, add a dormer. A feature common to all styles of dormer is a window that allows natural light into the room. 

You will also need to install electrical lighting to complement the natural light. Since an attic has limited doors and windows, opt for LED lights that do not generate heat instead of incandescent or fluorescent lighting. Recessed lights are also preferable to pendant lights since these will occupy less space. A ceiling fan is another essential element required to convert an attic from a storage unit to a habitable space.

Insulate the attic to make it cozy

Being placed just below the roof makes the attic feel cooler or warmer – depending on the season – than the rest of the house. To ensure that your attic does not get too warm in the summer, it must be well insulated. 

If you want to take a DIY approach to insulating the attic, you choose between loose fill insulation or blanket insulation. Pay attention to the areas around windows, pipes, chimneys and ducts to seal air leaks. Having a well-insulated attic will also help lower your electricity and heating bills.

Think of power lines and water pipes

To use an attic as a guest suite, you will need a bedroom with an attached bathroom. Consult a licensed electrician to check if your electric panel can take the load of additional electrical connections. 

Plumbing is an exercise best left to the professionals. A plumber will be able to give you the best position for a sink commode etc so that it is aligned with the rest of your house’s water and sewage pipes. To design an attic bedroom within a budget, try positioning plumbing features directly above an existing bathroom. This will simplify your drains and pipe installations and will ensure that you use minimal pipe length.

Don't forget sound insulation

Since a habitable attic is usually directly above a bedroom or study, it is important to ‘deaden’ or reduce the sound between floors. If your attic is insulated, the insulation material will help trap sound to a large extent. Additionally, you should also install a carpet with a thick foam pad below it. The foam serves to soundproof the room and gives your carpet a longer life as well. Alternatively, you could install vinyl or recycled rubber sheets under your flooring.

Since attics are generally not very large spaces, pick furniture that is light and fuss free. Avoid filling the space up with curios and follow the less is more rule to make the attic feel more spacious. A light color palette and a mirror will also go a long way in making your attic look and feel cosy.

For an attic bathroom read Convert your attic into a lovely bathroom!

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