There may be a nice chunk of living space going unused in your home. Your attic. Yes, there are challenges in converting a dark, dingy, oddly shaped attic into a bright, beautiful room, but maybe not as impossible as you think.
Attics are often converted into bedrooms for older children or guests, but why not think outside the box? I’d like a writing retreat where I am unlikely to be interrupted and where I am away from the “madding crowd” that is my family. What’s your dream room? An artist’s loft? A home theater, spa, library? A darkroom?
Regardless of what you want to use the space for, you need light. Here are some ways to do that aren’t particularly difficult nor prohibitively expensive.
Attics need as much natural light as possible, not only so we can see but also because natural light is good for our mental and physical well-being. Skylights and roof windows are the best options. They let the sunlight fill up the reclaimed attic during the day and the star-filled sky fill us up with wonder at night.
• Skylights fit into the existing slope of the roof and, typically, do not open and close. They can be plastic or glass and come in a wide range of sizes and styles and with a large selection of additional features. Their most decorative element is the shape. The usual rectangular shapes are available, but imagine round, oval, diamond-shaped, even custom-made skylights as a way to put your personal stamp on the décor.
• Roof windows are larger than skylights and are incorporated into the design of the roof. They open out on side hinges, like any window, or pivot at the center or top, operated manually with a convenient handle, electrically or with solar power. They come in a variety of styles to fit in with the architecture of your home (e.g., classic, contemporary) and can be custom-made, if you prefer. The major advantage over skylights is that they allow in that lovely fresh air as well as the sunlight.
Motorized shades and blinds keep the attic from getting hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
• Shades come in pleats or honeycomb cells. Pleated shades are preferred if you need only light coverage; the honeycomb shades add an extra layer of insulation. Either can be opened electrically from the top or bottom.
• With Venetian blinds, you can maneuver the slats by remote control. Roller blinds, controlled electrically, retract up and down side rails so that you can stop them at any point. They filter the sun’s rays for an ambient glow.
At night, or on gray days when the natural light isn’t working for you, you need to have artificial light, either ambient lighting to light up the whole room or task lighting to illuminate a given space. Also, the lights add a decorative element to the room.
• Pendant lights: Install one large pendant light (or chandelier) or several smaller pendants hanging at different heights for whimsical look.
• LED Spot Lighting: There are near countless designs available in these trendy lights. They light up any given space beautifully while being cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
• Motion Sensor Lighting: The lights turn on automatically when you enter the room and turn off when you leave—the ultimate in convenience and energy efficiency.