If you're looking to add value to your home, or simply wish to increase the amount of living space you currently have, remodeling your attic may be a great way to go. Not all attic spaces lend themselves to refurbishment, but if you have your heart set on a new bedroom or special, private hideaway in the sky, your attic very well may fit the bill. Before you begin, you'll need to dust out the cobwebs, take a look around and create a working plan for success.
First Thing's First
Before you get ready to roll up your sleeves, you will have to assess your attic to determine if renovation is possible and can be achieved within your established budget.
- Check out your attic's rafters. If the trusses holding up your roof are W-shaped webbing, your attic may not lend itself to renovation affordably, if at all. If, however, the rafters are A-shaped, with continuous framing from top to bottom, you may have a space that can be worked with economically and easily.
- There's no room for guess work when it comes to flooring. Make sure it's strong enough to accommodate a living space which includes foot traffic and furniture, plus meets local building codes. If the floor needs to be fortified, additional joists can typically be added.
- Of course, you must be able to access your new bedroom easily. If you are planning on adding a staircase, or expanding an existing one, make sure to determine how that will affect your existing living arrangement. Spiral staircases may provide an adequate option, as they take up about half the amount of footage that straight-run staircases do, or you may be able to construct a new staircase in an existing closet. In some cases, an exterior staircase may prove sufficient, if building codes allow for them. You will also need to accommodate an additional emergency exit, typically through a window.
- Local building codes vary but usually require head room of 7.5 feet over at least half of the area being utilized. Keep in mind that the space needs to be insulated, which will cut down on the amount of head room.
- Heating and air conditioning requirements will need to be thought out. A professional contractor can help determine if air ducts need to be moved or added and if your current electrical panel can accommodate the increased load created by the new room.
- If you plan on adding a bathroom, plumbing will up the expense of your project. Plumbing needs can be curtailed somewhat, if the bathroom is built near to the large pipes being used to dump out your wastewater.
- If hiring a contractor, make sure they have a solid track record in attic renovations and don't hesitate to ask for references. If this is a DIY project, you must do your homework first, become completely knowledgeable about your local building codes and know the space to be renovated inside and out. This will save you time, money and lots of aspirin.
Plan Out the Space
Everyone loves the idea of a secret hideaway, and attics seem to spark our imagination and sense of whimsy more than other rooms often do. Before you start decorating however, map out the space on paper, utilizing visual aids such as pictures cut out of magazines. Don't forget square footage and the amount of real estate you have to work with, plus window and door placement, once your renovation is complete.
- Determine what this new room will be used for and picture where everything will go, from the bed to the desk as well as closet space, wall space and lighting needs.
- Natural light enhances any room, and attics lend themselves to skylights beautifully. You may wish to add a dormer and windows to provide extra light, either in addition to skylights or in lieu of them.
Once you plan out the space, you are ready to turn your current, dingy attic into a beautiful addition to your home.
Create Your Perfect Room
Now comes the fun part! Choose the colors, fabrics, knick knacks and furniture that will enhance your new living space and make the room uniquely yours.
- Attics are full of interesting angles and shapes. Emphasizing these nuances will give your room a unique personality and undeniable pizzazz.
- Exposing burnished wood beams and warmly toned brick walls can give your room a rustic flair. You can also use color or print combinations to accentuate interesting angles and intimate corners, rather than painting the whole room one color.
- Even a small space can accommodate gracious and cozy seating arrangements. Consider building box seats under airy windows to create lovely nooks for reading or relaxing. These can also hide extra storage space underneath.
- Low A-frame ceilings can be used to nestle beds or desks, separating them slightly from the rest of the room and fashioning a feeling of multiple, harmonious environments and intimacy.
- Built-in bookcases and end tables can expand the space, plus provide storage and decorating surfaces.
If your attic lends itself to renovation, it will provide a unique canvas for your imagination to fill. Utilizing the space efficiently will enable you to also increase your home's value and usability as well as provide a warm, inviting hideaway and intimate surroundings for you to enjoy.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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