Choosing the design is the most important and exciting element of your loft conversion project and one in which your imagination can run wild.
The great thing about a loft conversion is that it presents the homeowner with a blank canvas.
That black hole above the landing can become your favourite room in the house – and it really does have the potential to become anything.
Getting your loft design right will not only mean a wonderful new room, it will also add many thousands of pounds onto the value of your home. So its worth doing right.
Loft conversions can be built fairly quickly and with the minimum of disruption so your new room can rapidly make the transition from paper to reality.
Once you have established that your roof space is suitable for conversion you will want to begin drawing out (mentally if not actually on paper!) your project outline.
Most specialist loft conversion companies will be able to interpret your design ideas or you can employ an architect to do the drawings for you.
It goes without saying of course but – make sure the design you opt for is absolutely to your specification – and don’t change your mind once the job is half done!
When you are considering your ideas remember you are only looking for a concept.
Don’t worry about the nuts and bolts – leave that to the professionals.
And, if you are a professional, then you really don’t need me to tell you what to do.
If you do work with an architect or specialist loft conversion company make sure you are consulted every step of the way in the design process and don’t commit yourself to a design until you are absolutely certain that it ticks all your boxes.
Remember. Converting your loft is not like painting the kitchen – if you don’t like the end result you can’t just start again!
There are so many loft conversion design ideas to choose from that the most difficult thing to decide when you convert the loft will be to agree with your partner and the rest of the family on how you will use the new room(s).
I guarantee that as soon as you say "shall we do a loft conversion" every member of the family will be laying claim to the space.
Of course if you are on your own or the children have left than problem over but most of use consider loft conversions when the family is still together. So what options do you have?
Well, let's look at some of the more popular as well as some of the more innovative design ideas that are out there. Let's start with the most popular.
New bedrooms, either for the parents or the children, are by far the most most popular of all the loft conversions built in the UK. This is unsurprising as the most common reason for converting the loft is the need to accommodate a growing family.
When you are thinking about the design of a new bedroom you ideally want to include an en-suite bathroom. You really don't don't want to traipsing down stairs and back if nature calls in the middle of the night so having a bathroom next to the bedroom really is a 'must have'.
For adults a new bedroom in the roof space can be an amazing place.
The biggest challenge will be storage but there are plenty of innovative storage solutions that can ensure even the tightest space will have plenty of room for clothes. In fact, a popular option when thinking about loft conversion design ideas is to include a walk in wardrobe, or dressing room, as part of the design.
In larger lofts a great design idea is to have a suite of three rooms; master bedroom, dressing room and en-suite bathroom. Stick a telly up there as well and you would hardly leave the place!
In the bedroom itself the best design ideas I have seen always include large windows or skylight windows with electrically operated blinds.
During the day the large windows let in floods of natural light but at night they allow you to gaze out of the window looking at the stars. Fabulous. And, when its time to turn in, a press of a button closes the blinds and blacks out the room for a great nights sleep. What could be better than that?
For children of course a new bedroom in the roof will be a great adventure. They will love being at the very top of the house and younger kids in particular seem to really enjoy the sloping ceilings of a loft conversion and, for older children or teenagers, those same sloping ceilings are considered very cool.
Using the loft as a living area is becoming much more popular especially among couples whose children have left home or who took the sensible decision early on not to have children!
Some may think it strange to even bother converting the loft for an extra living room but there lots of compelling reasons to do so.
Escaping to the very top of the house really does seem much more relaxing than being on the ground floor. The extra space between you and the world outside really does seem to make a difference after a day at work and makes it very easy to forget about the day job.
There has also been some fantastically innovative advances in technology that now makes a living room in the room even more desirable. Companies such as Velux are now producing balcony systems that really does bring a new dimension to loft conversions.
It is now quite easy to incorporate a balcony when converting the loft and on a summers day you can throw up the windows and enjoy the peace and tranquility whilst the rest of the world gets on with its business far below.
Another advantage of a new living space is that you are starting from scratch and can incorporate all the features you wish. For example, speakers can be easily inserted in the new ceiling to give you the ultimate surround sound experience and spotlights and mood lighting can all be housed in the ceiling.
The sloping ceilings of the loft will instantly give a contemporary feel to the new room and brings the feel of New York loft living to suburban UK. Furnish with white sofas and chrome fittings for the ultimate in modern style.
I have seen lots of bathrooms in loft conversions. Many feature a smaller en-suite bathroom to master bedrooms but where there is more space I have seen some wonderfully creative rooms.
With loft conversion plumbing becoming easier to install and the designs of showers more sophisticated it is possibly to create a stunning bathroom in the roof.
A popular option is to include a shower but some take it further by incorporating into their loft conversion design ideas a full wet room.
A wet room is a relatively new concept but one that is unsurprisingly appealing to many of us.
With a wet room the whole of the new bathroom effectively becomes a walk in shower. A wet room is very luxurious and can look stunning. They are also surprisingly affordable and, with some advanced planning and design in regards to the floor, they can be accommodated within a loft conversion.
The most important and costly part of the exercise is to get the 'tanking' right. Tanking means the sealing off and the waterproofing of the room.
Away from wet rooms a luxurious enclosed shower should be high on your agenda and some of the latest models have to be seen to be believed.
Converting the loft into a playroom for the kids or a chill out room for teenagers is always a fun project. With small children proper access to the loft and safety whilst up there is the most important thing to get right but apart from that - anything goes really!
There are so many options here from themed rooms to electronic hideaways that is easy to create a kids paradise up in the rafters.
When it comes to loft conversion design ideas a home office project is often high on the list of possibilities.
With more of us either working from home or running our own home businesses turning to the loft as somewhere to work is an obvious move. Instead of making do with the kitchen table or corner of the bedroom the loft can be converted into a fantastic workspace.
With Wi-Fi there really aren't any obstacles whatsoever and the loft can not only provide a great place to work but it acts as a real barrier between work and 'home'.
It is so easy to get distracted when working amongst the family but by mounting the stairs to a new office in the roof the door can be shut and you are 'at work'.
Other Design Ideas
The loft is absolutely ideal as a hobby room. No matter what activity you like to pursue in your leisure time (with certain exceptions such as stock car racing!) a new room in the roof could provide an ideal base.
I have seen lofts converted into all sorts of leisure rooms. My sister converted her loft into a sewing room (bit of a waste if you ask me but each to their own)whilst I have also seen model railways, slot cars, artist studios and a home cinema in lofts. One guy even built his own computerised 'flight simulator'!
An essential part of any loft conversion design is how the planner will incorporate storage.
Although there are of course exceptions, most finished loft conversions will be on the small side with the height of the shorter side walls only likely to be about four feet.
Because of this it is important to use all available space and to make maximum use of that space.
The central areas of the loft will allow greater flexibility but the lower side walls still offer plenty of scope for loft conversion design ideas.
The lower side walls are absolutely ideal for installing built-in storage units the full length of the wall.
Although there won’t be any great height to the units the triangular voids behind the new walls will allow plenty of storage space.
And don’t forget higher up either as the eaves of the roof can also be boxed out and used for storage.
A great tip here is to get hold of a caravaning or motorhome magazine and look at how even the tightest space can be utilised for storage.
Even better – if you live near to a caravan park have a look around the show home and see how you can adapt the built-in units and furniture for use in your design.
Some lofts will have high cable end walls which will make the top storage units inaccessible but one solution I have seen is have a ‘rolling ladder’ in place to help ease of access.
Not quite sure of that myself but there may be instances were it can be used.
In place of fixed cupboard doors access to the lower storage units can be made easier by installing pull out boxes rather similar to the storage units in divan beds.
Placed on casters they can be easily moved into the centre of the room to avoid having to bend and rummage in fixed position cupboards.
Not as ‘sexy’ as interior design nevertheless external loft conversion designs are hugely important.
Even though most styles and sizes are now OK because of the new permitted development laws a tasteful exterior that blends with the surrounding environment will not only look good but it will easily increase the value of the property.
One style that won’t be permitted, and we should all be thankful for it, is the huge, squat and ugly dormer designs that were flung up during the 1980s.
These blots on the landscape are truly awful and no way will a householder be allowed to build one today.
In October 2008 new permitted development regulations were adopted by the government which allowed homeowners greater freedom in designing and building extensions including loft conversions.
Basically, the new regulations mean that a loft conversion is a permitted development and does not need planning permission as long as certain criteria are fulfilled.
This makes it very much easier for the homeowner when considering external loft conversion designs as most projects, even those involving the building of a new gable end, do not have to go through the planning process.
One caveat here though; remember that all loft conversions need to comply with the building regulations.
The building regulations impose a standard of acceptable work on a project and are separate from the planning laws.
Unlike inside the roof space the options for external design is quite narrow.
If the size of the available internal roof space is already substantial than skylight windows fitted flush to the existing roof slopes will be the best choice.
These kind of loft windows are very easy to install and are very cost effective; your design considerations will probably be limited to deciding how many skylights to have, their size and how to position them so that the new loft room benefits from the maximum amount of natural light.
If, however, the internal space is not very large than some sort of dormer on the reverse side of the roof will be the answer.
Again, the only real considerations will be the size and how to blend the dormer into the existing building.
As can be seen there really are very few limits when it comes to loft conversion design ideas and just about anything can be achieved given a fair wind, a good builder and a smart architect.
For more info see the related pages below
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The old loft water tank will need to be moved if the roof space is being converted into a habitable room
Structural calculations for loft conversions are of course hugely important to ensure safety and that the proposed plans meet building regulations