A loft conversion is a cost-effective way to create extra living space without building an extension and losing garden ground. Lofts can offer space for a top floor master suite, a home office, a teenage area, or a guest bedroom.
There are lots of ways to create a stunning loft conversion, depending on how you want to use the space, and of course, you’ll be adding value to your property. We look at what to think about before starting and have put together 10 great loft conversion ideas to inspire you to create the perfect space for your home.
Work out what you want from the roof space and create a floor plan. Remember you will probably be dealing with sloping ceilings that will restrict the furniture you can use. You don’t have to attempt to make the loft conversion blend seamlessly with your house: modern designs can work well with an older house if done with flair.
Designing your loft conversion
Lofts present interesting design opportunities despite the lack of headroom, awkward dimensions, and sloping ceilings. The sloped roofs may mean an open plan layout works best, with careful zoning to create multi-use areas. Planning is key to a successful loft conversion: work out furniture placement and where you want plug sockets and light fittings as this will save costs later. An architect can create a design to meet your requirements and budget.
As explained in the Planning Portal there are 4 main types of loft conversion:
- Roof lights: these don’t involve structural alterations, but there must be sufficient height in the loft space. The least costly option is a Velux roof light which doesn’t affect the roof slope.
- Mansard conversion: this is a four-sided roof with a double slope on each side that meets to form a low-pitched roof. With their 72-degree sloping frontage, they appear less harsh than a dormer extension but they’re more expensive and require planning permission.
- Dormer extensions: these extend out from the roof creating extra height and floor space.
- Hip-to-gable extensions: these extend from the sloped roof out to an external wall.
Loft conversions and planning permission
A loft conversion will often come under permitted development (PD rights) but you need to check with your local council to clarify what you can do and you’ll need a Lawful Development Certificate from them. Their building control inspector will need to check that the scheme meets the standards for fire safety, ventilation, staircase design, floor strength, roof structure, and height. You may need planning permission if you want to extend your existing roof and your plans exceed specified limits.
If you have a terraced house or a semi-detached house you will have to comply with Party Wall requirements and inform neighbours of your plans. It may be harder to get consent if your property is listed or in a conservation area. Check on the government’s Planning Portal website for more information.
What to consider:
Your loft should have a minimum ceiling height of 2.2m according to Building Regulations, and there’s a minimum room height for staircases and access. Sometimes a solution is to lower the ceiling in the room below. Consider any features in the loft such as a chimney stack or water tank that may have to be moved. Look at the roof pitch: if it’s very steep there may not be enough headroom in the loft which might mean installing a dormer window. The roof itself needs to be in good condition, rafters may need to be reinforced, good insulation will be needed and an extraction fan if you are planning a bathroom.
10 great loft conversion ideas
1. Skylights are a great way to create a sense of space where there’s a low roof and are a good option if a dormer is too expensive or goes against planning restrictions. These roof windows demonstrate how light can be brought into a big loft space without any structural alterations. Retaining the plain brick wall on the end wall above and incorporating bookshelves creates a striking rustic feature.
2. Fitting a new staircase to access the loft room needs to be a key part of your design plans. Here are two practical solutions: a spiral staircase saves a lot of space, while sometimes a half-landing is needed to make a stairway work. A new staircase must comply with Building Regulations including fire rules and have sufficient headroom. While there may be only one way for stairs to serve the loft conversion, it may be possible to consider other ways to route a staircase.
3. Mansard roof extensions increase the usable space as they raise the pitched roof, but they are more costly than a dormer loft conversion. While the slope across the face of the mansard conversion creates a softer appearance than a dormer extension, it means sacrificing some head height. We love this stunning room with its white-painted wood, tall skylights that maximise natural light, and freestanding bath, all creating an airy New England vibe.
4. Loft conversions make great places for a home office, being bright, airy, and well away from the rest of the house. These beautiful examples show how warm wood and neutral tones can work just as well as modernist glass and white walls in a loft conversion. It’s important to think about efficient storage, and this may need to be specially fitted to avoid wasted space.
5. While a loft bathroom doesn’t need much space, it will need headroom. A shower room with a WC and washbasin can be built in around 1 x 2.6m according to Homebuilding.co.uk. In this lovely example of a loft conversion, there’s plenty of headroom and the circular bath makes the most of the space.
6. The extravagant beams and timbers take centre stage in this beautiful and striking rustic loft conversion. The cavernous entertaining space is decorated in neutral tones, allowing the orange dining table to be the stylish feature focal point. The living space is zoned to provide an area with comfortable soft furnishings, and the whole area is lit by skylights.
7. White-painted wood panelling brilliantly sets off the dark wood floor and warm orange chairs in this luxurious loft space that even has its own fireplace and beautifully fitted shelving. If you want to create a games room in your loft conversion, it may need special requirements such as soundproofing or an extra strong floor for a home gym, especially if heavy weights are to be stored there. Specialist lighting requirements may also need to be factored in.
8. Consider bespoke built-in storage made to fit the contours of the loft. This great example shows how awkward dimensions can be dealt with by made-to-measure fitted wardrobes and shelving beneath the sloping eaves, opening up huge potential for low-level storage.
9. Creating a loft conversion that leads to an outdoor area is a great opportunity to create one cohesive space. This is usually best considered where the existing house has a roof that can be built on. While this example has a solid boundary wall, glass balustrades can make the most of great views.
10. Full-height glazing will maximise the view and this stunning example demonstrates how it can create a dramatic picture window. Remember that highly efficient glass must be used to keep the room warm. In this spectacular loft conversion, waxed floorboards are a stylish feature and white soft furnishings create an uncluttered yet relaxed look.
Create your own space
These examples of loft conversions will hopefully have provided lots of ideas from tips to maximise space to clever furniture placement. Whether you want to create a dedicated space for a master bedroom or a home office, there are lots of factors that you need to consider, but with careful planning, you will be able to design a loft conversion that achieves the perfect space for you.