There’s no easier way to increase the living area of your home than by remodeling the attic. By getting rid of all the stuff you’ve been saving up there but will never use, and then following a few renovation principles, you’ll have a useable (and beautiful) attic in no time.
Your upstairs real estate doesn’t have to be the dark and scary section of your home, used only when the kids play hide and seek. With a bit of elbow grease, you can give your attic a contemporary and modernistic feel. Let’s take it from the top:
The biggest hurdle you’re going to face are low ceilings due to the rafters that frame the top of the house. Unless you have, say, a Dutch layout, this is unavoidable… but it doesn’t have to hamstring you. There are still specific design principles and remodeling strategies you can use to maximize the headroom you do have.
First, consider adding in shelves or nooks to be used as storage. This will get the junk off the floor and out of the way. The BEST way to maximize your space is to convert the trusses into storage space. The truss is the generally unused area between the interior wall framing and the end of the rafters.
Our next concern is where to lay out our furniture. This isn’t rocket science, but the take time to consider what space would generally be unusable (due to head clearance) and plan accordingly. For instance, it makes sense to put dressers and the head of the bed in the lowest section of the ceiling. Likewise, any sitting furniture (coaches, love seats, etc.) can be positioned closer to low lying areas than, say, a pool table.
After considering furniture layout, you might want to install a dormer or two. Installing a dormer requires ripping the roof off, adding some head area and possibly installing a skylight. Now, to be certain, these are not cheap things to install. But the touch of warm light and extra useable area they add can justify the expense.
ON the topic of skylights, I personally favor adding as many as possible. Natural light is very important in a section like the attic, and skylights aren’t incredibly expensive to install. They’re also fun to have on starry nights if you’re area isn’t blotted out with smog. Beyond that, skylights tend to give the illusion of more space than there is; usually a good thing given the generally small area we have as an attic.
You might also consider adding good, old fashion windows. They help with air circulation, and make the attic feel like and actual room.
With all this natural light we’re adding to our attic, you should give thought to the color scheme of the walls. Certain colors (like white) reflect light while others (darker colors) absorb them. Ditto for the flooring; carpet absorbs while hardwood flooring reflects. Reflection is a good thing since it gives a more open feel to the area… but absorption can be good if you want the tone of the attic to be more “relaxed”.
One final note: Don’t forget about adding insulation when putting in the walls. If you want the attic included as part of the livable area when you get re-appraised, they only include insulated areas. Something to keep in mind.
We’ll be digging into attic renovations deeper in the future; I just wanted to give you a little taste of the frame of mind that goes behind a successful remodel in the land above the living room. If you have specific topics you want covered in future posts, drop them in the comments below.