Design tips for adding a loft conversion

Renovation expert Michael Holmes

If you live in a house with an unused loft, a conversion could be the most cost-effective way to add extra space. Loft rooms are suitable for almost any purpose, from bedrooms and bathrooms to a home office or playroom, gym or home cinema. If done well, with a full staircase, a loft conversion can provide a light-filled space with plenty of character so consider these design tips below when you’re planning your project.

Space-saving solutions

  • Use eaves space for storage.
  • A dormer window or rooflight can create valuable headroom for a staircase or WC.
  • Try to avoid losing too much space from existing rooms to accommodate the stairs. Try and fit a full staircase, at least 600mm wide.
  • Where possible, the most space efficient place for the stairs is above the flight below.
  • Narrow winding stairs are a space efficient choice – a spiral stair is one of the most effective options.
  • If space is really tight a one-room conversion can use a space saver stair, with alternating treads, half the length of a conventional flight.

Controlling light

  • Combine several rooflights together to make a feature window.
  • Think about adding windows in gable walls, as well as dormers and rooflights.
  • Balcony rooflights make a great feature, as does a dormer doorway with French doors and glass balustrade.
  • Conservation style rooflights look much nicer on period properties.

Extra details

  • Acoustic insulation is worth adding to prevent sound transfer into the room below.
  • If your stairs end in an open plan room you can still do a loft conversion by adding a sprinkler system.
  • Upgrade existing character doors to fire doors to meet the building regulations using fire resistant paint and varnishes.

Loft conversion case study

With an existing extension to the rear of the property and a roof in need of repair, the homeowners decided that a loft conversion would be a more cost-effective option

Hip to gable conversion – Replacing the hipped roof with a gabled one has resulted in far more useable loft space with full headroom. The homeowners used design and build specialist Room Maker for the whole project, which took six weeks and cost £43,000 plus VAT. Planning and regulation fees added around £2,000.