Space is always at a premium in a house, especially as the children grow up or a new one arrives. Living space, playing space, sleeping space, it’s always an interesting juggling problem to fit everyone and everything in. When moving house is impractical, that empty loft area at the top of the property is the ideal space to convert into an extra bedroom. Not only can it be somewhere to sleep - with the right planning it can also become a useful play and storage space.
Lofty ideals
The first thing that has to be done is to check with the relevant local authority if planning permission is needed to convert a loft. In the majority of cases for a loft conversion it isn’t, but it is surprising how easy it is to be caught out by not checking if permission is required before work begins. There are specified limits and conditions on loft conversions, and provided none of these is breached and the property is not in a designated area (for example a national park or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), it is unlikely that planning permission will be required. A local architect will know the regulations that apply when drawing up plans for a conversion.  Irrespective of planning permission the building regulations will have to be strictly complied with.
Designing the space
It may seem a statement of the obvious, but after checking planning regulations the next question is: how much height and space is there to utilise in the loft? The height is the key because an architect needs to design a space that takes into account the slope of the roof from the top to the eaves. If there are supporting upright beams they must be taken into consideration.  If any are removed without studying the supporting role they play the result could be disastrous. Any removal of such supports might mean replacement alternative structural supports will have to be fitted somewhere else in the loft; otherwise the existing ones will have to be worked around.

Putting in a new staircase takes more space than people realise, so it’s important to work out carefully where it will go
and what impact it will have on the floor below. Adding extra space in the loft at the expense of taking away space from a landing or another room has to be factored in to the decision.

Windows and Furnishings
One of the most popular and practical windows for incorporating into a loft conversion is the type set into an opening made in the roof tiles.  These opening Velux type units provide adequate amounts of light and are a cheaper option than creating a dormer window. These windows can be fitted with blinds in a range of colours.  So-called energy blinds look good and will help keep the heat in thanks to the insulating properties of the aluminium used to make them.

If the loft bedroom is to double as a den for a child, from here it comes down to asking for input from the intended occupant. A captain’s bed not only provides comfort but extra space for storage, and if there is room a platform bed will provide an area for imaginative play beneath. A desk and chair for homework, and to house computers or game stations, will probably be required.

Using light colours for fabrics and on the walls, combined with some suitable light fittings, will make a bright, airy space to be enjoyed.

by Aimee Claire