The secret living space in British homes
In recent years new builds in the UK have started to take advantage of a most underused space– the loft. Flat packed or Ready To Assemble furniture can easily be taken into an attic or loft so it’s easier to transform and integrate that kind of area to living space. In conventional, older style homes many people intentionally raise one floor higher, accommodating extra bedrooms in areas that were once insulation filled voids.
Better construction and building methods mean that a UK home can now stay warm even without the loft space and so the opportunity to make use of these ideas and build taller, more functional homes has arisen.
The habit of the English family to hoard means a large part of the space in our houses is effectively dead space; lofts filled with stored magazines and old coats can be a hard habit to break. If you have an attic and the funds to convert it you will soon realise there are plenty of options to use your home making skills.
There are practical considerations such as planning permission, building regulations, weight bearing issues and ensuring the water system can accommodate a lack of roof space but guidance is easily found from architects and builders. Other considerations might be adequate light, easy access and head space. If it will be used as a playroom, consider the stairs and access arrangement carefully.
Once you have your new conversion, using it well and making it a flexible part of your home comes down to planning and furniture. Since most homes need some space for clutter and occasional use items like Christmas decorations, building storage cubbyholes into the low areas of the eaves can be useful.
Your loft may be an office or a bolt hole for teenagers, a craft room or even a bedroom. Try to ensure that it can fulfil a number of roles by having flexible furniture that can adapt for changing usage. It may even be that the original intention for the space ends up not being its main function, so take time to furnish it thoughtfully. 2 seat sofa beds and futons that arrive flat packed can be easily assembled in these spaces.
A futon sofa bed with integral storage that can accommodate occasional bedding is always useful and a carefully dressed futon with removable covers and plenty of cushions will make the perfect day bed for lolling teens, hiding mums or a dad who wants to indulge in watching the football.
A fold down table may offer more opportunities to use the room differently than an orthodox one and can be pushed out of the way when not in use. Consider a wall mounted television to save on floor space and wall mounted shelves on any straight walls for books or baskets of small items. If the room needs to be an office, make sure your planning includes plenty of electrical sockets and make them easily accessible to switch off when not in use.
Most importantly, be disciplined about not reverting to using the loft as a dumping area for clutter; a loft conversion makes for a very expensive storage space!