10 Ideas of How to Design an Attic Bedroom from Scratch

Create dream attic bedroom from nothing.
10 Ideas of How to Design an Attic Bedroom from Scratch
Tom Greenspan
December 21, 2022

As a reader-supported website, we're able to keep it free. Buying something through a link on this page might earn us commissions. Thanks for that.

With the economy in turmoil and with no light at the end of the tunnel how can you gain space in your home? Or should you bite the bullet and take a bigger mortgage with the uncertainty of interest rates spiraling out of control? For most of you, there is only one logical conclusion to your dilemma.

Designing an attic conversion from scratch may seem beyond your capabilities but with a little thought and application and some inspiration, you will be surprised at what you can achieve.

In this article, we will guide you through the steps of how to create an attic conversion from scratch regardless of your experiences in technical drawings or construction.

Let's climb on up and learn what's needed and more such as:

  • Getting started.
  • Could there be a reason you can't have an attic?
  • Storage solutions.
  • Should you paint floor boards?

What's needed to create an attic from scratch?

There are some fundamentals that you will need to be aware of but before we jump the gun let's start with how you should first proceed with designing an attic bedroom in your own home.

Do you need any local authority permissions to start an attic conversion? You need not have planning permission to convert your attic for whatever purpose because most property owners do the conversion as 'non-habitable' spaces.

Should I have an architect draw plans for the attic conversion? This is a contentious issue as architects will clearly say you need their services and contractors may tell you the opposite. 

So start with your own ideas and make a sketch as best as possible, you will need some pretty accurate dimensions of the proposed space and where you will want to add windows, opening or otherwise.

When making your sketch take measurements of the beams supporting the roof, and try to measure the angle, there are free apps for your phone that will give you a good enough representation of the angle of the slope of the roof.

If possible measure the beams supporting the proposed floor and count how many you have that will actually be supporting weight, or load bearing.

The second fundamental issue you may have is how are you going to gain safe access to the attic that is suitable for anyone to use. Avoid vertical ladders, they are a recipe for disaster.

Now place your schematic sketch to a contractor and ask him for an estimate, it's best to do this with three or four contractors so you have a good feel for labor costs.

Should you engage an architect or rely on the contractor?

If you want to have a quality conversion of your house, then you need architectural drawings which might sound fancy, but this is the most necessary for making your dream home. To be specific, an attic/loft conversion is now in high demand. They can easily be converted to a bedroom, with spectacular results.

What should be included for your architect? Well, he will need to visit your property and make some calculations to see if your attic can hold weight, say of 10 people plus furnishings before he attempts to make an architect drawing to be given to a building contractor.

As the property owner your concerns should now be natural light and how many windows can be installed, how can you light the attic, with a chandelier or down lighting?  plumbing for an ensuite, power outlets, how to heat the space in the winter, and how to access the attic safely.

If you can add in some architectural features like exposed beams, make it known to your architect from day one.

Are there any deal breakers?

Unfortunately yes for occupied spaces such as an attic bedroom. It may surprise you to know that building codes also regulate the size and shape of spaces. This is often the deal-breaker for an attic renovation- there isn't a lot you can do to change the available attic space.

To satisfy the requirements you must have:

  • A minimum floor space of 70 square feet.
  • A radius of at least 7 feet in any given direction.
  • A ceiling height of 7 feet in 50% (or more) of your floor space

These size regulations ensure that spaces are consistent and not overly difficult to get in and out of in emergencies.

Should you add a dormer

Adding a dormer to your attic conversion is going to increase your floor space dramatically and provide you with conventional-style windows that you may consider a breath of fresh air when compared to roof-mounted Velux-style windows.

However, to add a dormer or dormers into a roof is a skilled undertaking as the structural supports of your roof are going to be cut and adapted to create the dormer. It will add significant costs to the attic but, it will give your home curb appeal increasing its value beyond the costs of creating an attic.

How should you style an attic?

It's a person's choice but you should be aware that your ceiling height is going to be limited and things like wardrobe are going to be challenging to use due to the pitch of the roof. You may not even be able to use a full-size headboard so you will need some inspiration to create a truly exceptional attic.

Let's get into it and see how you might style your attic.

1. Clever use of space

This smart attic conversion is contemporary in design and incorporates dormers and a gable end window which allows light to flood into the attic. The design is clever as the storage has been maximized by creating a handsome bench seat with underdrawers. 

It is essential you maximize the space and to do this you will need to be creative and use the angle pitch of the roof to create store areas, they may look slightly quirky or endearing depending on your perspective on this type of storage

You may enjoy exposed beams and it's the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the structural beams and bring them into your design. However, if you live in a colder climate in the north you may need to add insulation and cover the beams with plasterboard.

How to create this look?

The soft tones of the ceiling in a brown hessian style wallpaper is a marvelous touch which is daring as dark colors are normally lower on the walls, but it does give the feeling that you are in a rood space which is awesome.

Keep the attic bright and light.

How easy is this look to achieve? Working on a simple scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most complex level to accomplish these bedroom shelves is a 6.

If we focus on the decor element it's a difficult look to achieve, why? It's the wallpaper on all of the angles and wallpaper on a ceiling is never easy. Choose a wallpaper without a repaint pattern for the best results.

2. Add color

You will see so many examples of attic renovations that are crying out for color, white is awesome and it does make the space appear brighter and a little larger but adding color will remove that clinical vibe from the attic.

The smart storage solutions in this attic painted a beautiful shade of gray with matching roof light blinds is a warm cozy look for your attic and when combined with a luscious carpet your toes sink into the room becomes comfortable and frankly, hard to leave.

Some attics have spacious layouts so make the most of your attic bedroom adding warm tones and super soft bed linen.

How to create this look?

Many roof windows such as Velux can be purchased with a wide range of blind color options so work out your color palette early on in your design process.

Dove gray storage units are always a popular choice for a good reason they look awesome.

How easy is this look to achieve? Working on a simple scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most complex level to accomplish these bedroom shelves is a 4.

Adding color is essential to make a homely attic vibe that is contemporary, should you use bold colors? It depends on the amount of space you have if it's cozy stick with lighter tones for a warm feeling that is not overwhelming.

3. Don't forget the shower

If you have the length of the attic where you can incorporate an en-suite, you should do it. Making an ensuite in an attic conversion will add a lot of value to your home when the housing market rebounds. Des rezes are always in high demand, in the interim enjoy a shower in your new attic conversion.

It's a simple thing to do if you planned for plumbing from the start of the project, so don't forget the shower.

Clearly, you will need height, normally 6 feet 6 inches is the recommended height the same as a door frame. Place a window in the shower for good ventilation to prevent molds from growing in this small place.

Most glass companies who specialize in shower glass will make a custom piece of glass as your shower screen, it's a cool and expensive look.

How to create this look?

It's about pre planning at the architect stage, as an afterthought you may have drainage pipes running down the external wall and the water pressure may be low so planning is the key when you add a shower.

How easy is this look to achieve? Working on a simple scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most complex level to accomplish these bedroom shelves is a 5.

Work this one out with your architect and builder for a seamless shower experience in your attic.

4. Use space wisely

Attic spaces with dormers can be incredible spaces to have as your bedroom but if the space is on the bijou side it's important that you consider your space and be innovative with your design ideas, Ok, you may not consider a bed in the dormer innovative but, it is a clever use of what is normally a place for a chair that hardly gets used.

A full-size single mattress flanked by storage units is smart thinking in anyone's book and with a window looking into the treetops it's going to be a scramble of who's going to sleep in this bed first.

The dark wood floor is an interesting concept and a beige rug big enough to create a traditional border is a great design for an attic.

How to create this look?

You will need a talented carpenter to create this bed and storage solution but when it's done it's an excellent design that frees space in the main area of the bedroom for other furnishings.

How easy is this look to achieve? Working on a simple scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most complex level to accomplish these bedroom shelves is an 8.

Precise measurements and lots of wood cutting are called for to make this beautiful bed. It's an 8 for a skilled carpenter and not a DIY undertaking.

5. Enjoy the space

The word attic conjures up old and dingy spaces that are full of cobwebs and somewhat eerie but the image couldn't be further from the truth and with a little thought, you can make an enviable contemporary bedroom.

Most of you may feel that a raised floor is wasting headroom but for a bed, it's an awesome look that changes the ambiance of the attic bedroom completely. Combined with a white ceiling with white beams and a neutral wood floor with a hint of a white wood wash give an incredible feeling of excitement.

With white furniture and natural wood tones, it's a glorious bedroom in an attic.

How to create this look?

Don't raise the floor as an afterthought, it may have some structural implications like not supporting the weight of the bed and two people!

A low slug bed and low bedside furniture is incredible as a design with a limited headspace. Keep it white and introduce natural wood into the bedroom for some color contrasts.

How easy is this look to achieve? Working on a simple scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most complex level to accomplish these bedroom shelves is an 8.

It remains an 8 because raising the floor is a major undertaking in an attic. The decor is perfect for a loft bedroom and the room has a great vibe.

6. Attics and headboards!

If you opt for a full-size bed with a normal bed base for your attic you will possibly need to discard the headboard, the slope of the roof will cut off the height so your headboard will not fit.

However, if you choose a bed frame that is low you may be able to squeeze a custom headboard into the bedroom. Where do you get a custom headboard? If it's wood it's easy, take a saw and chop it to the correct dimensions.

There are many challenges in attics and this is just one that you will be faced with.

How to create this look?

If you find the angle of the roof cutting off your headboard you may need to customize it, but only if it makes sense. It's a common problem in attic bedrooms and sometimes you just have to live with it the way it is.

White paint a cute dog and you have created the image perfectly.

How easy is this look to achieve? Working on a simple scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most complex level to accomplish these bedroom shelves is a 4.

You can or you can’t, don't sweat about it, your bedroom will still look awesome.

7. Don't forget the kids

If there was ever a bedroom in the house where kids would want to sleep it's the attic bedroom, attics are cozy and full of unexpected nooks and crannies that kids love to explore, and being at the highest point of the house adds even more adventure.

The decor for a kid's room is very simple, with some gender-related colors depending on age the room can look like a bedroom from Narnia. 

Soft furnishings and neutral tones will make sure the children sleep soundly at the top of the house.

How to create this look?

Small attics are the perfect bedroom for kids so make the most of the space and use the gable end wall (the pointy end wall) to place the beds again, if it's a young kid's bedroom the article is likely to have smaller dimensions so placing the beds in this way will create more space.

Pinks, blues, lilacs, or just cream walls will work perfectly.

How easy is this look to achieve? Working on a simple scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most complex level to accomplish these bedroom shelves is a 3.

It's an easy solution for a kid’s bedroom, make it gender-specific and the kids will be happy!

8. The elephant in the room!

There is always one part of the project that seems to be an afterthought and that is how are you going to access the attic?

If you are middle aged and spritely you may decide on a pull-down ladder, but is that the best solution for anyone or just a get out of jail afterthought because it was never designed in the early stages?

There are many solutions, some are conventional and others like this slim spiral stairway are convenient if you lack space. But it depends on your mobility if you can use the stairs, if the attic is your granny's bedroom you may get her in but not out!

Consider access solutions early on and budget adequately because bespoke staircase can be expensive.

How to create this look?

Spiral stairways are not normally off-the-shelf items at your local DIY store so you will need to have the stairway made, you could use steel that is painted for a juxtaposed vibe or go with wood as in the image.

How easy is this look to achieve? Working on a simple scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most complex level to accomplish these bedroom shelves is a 9.

If you are short of space and the staircase is not possible your back is going to be against the wall. There are solutions but the solution may limit who uses the bedroom, if it's a pull down the ladder will you let youngsters use the bedroom?

9. Jefferson has a lot to answer for!

This Jefferson staircase has an awesome design which makes the staircase leading to the attic seem contemporary bringing your expectations for the attic to a level of expectations of something similar.

Although the Jefferson staircase is awesome in its simple design it can be a little mesmerizing and confuse the eyes a little so add a handrail if this is your choice of stair leading to the attic.

You will need to have a wood color to the stairs, painted in a brighter tone like white could become a hazard with almost snow blindness conditions.

How to create this look?

Awesome stairs but somewhat helter-skelter and could make your footing less firm and steady if you are of a certain generation. Try a conventional tread for stairs, it's less dazzling on the eyes.

How easy is this look to achieve? Working on a simple scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most complex level to accomplish these bedroom shelves is a 9.

The complexity remains high, fitting a staircase is a skilled job and requires lots of supporting frames to make the staircase firm.

10. Should you paint your attic floor?

In all probability, your attic is going to have some pretty good floor boards so advise your contractor to keep them that way because you intend to take advantage of the aesthetic. If your attic was floorboards before your renovation the boards will be in good condition subject to no woodworm and dampness.

It's the ideal time to sand the floorboards back and hit them with a lick of gorgeous paint like the beautiful gray floor in the image. Gray is classy, so are the light shades of blue and then you have the washed-style floorboards that look like you are on the boardwalk at the beach.

To enhance the classy vibe add a great rug with a good dimension, there are lots of great contemporary patterns, or take a walk on the wild side and introduce an Indian rug with traditional patterns for that chic juxtaposition.

How to create this look?

Sand your floorboards and hammer home any crikey boards and make sure the nail heads are recessed into the floorboards, if you have a particularly creaky board use screw fixings for a tighter fix.

Once the boards are prepared and dust-free roller on the paint color you like, you will need to cut in the edges for a neat finish.

How easy is this look to achieve? Working on a simple scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most complex level to accomplish these bedroom shelves is a 6.

Sanding the floorboards is easy, hire a sander from a specialist store to speed up the process, and be sure to attach the vacuum hose to gather most of the wood dust which you will need to keep.

Wood dust, when mixed with PVA glue, creates an awesome filler for cracks and when sanded you can't see the repair.

Apply the paint in coats, until you have the desired effect, it may take two to three coats for a good finish but bear with it, it's worth the effort.

Is creating an attic from scratch worth the effort?

Making modifications to your home is always an exciting time and designing an attic from inception allows you to use your creative flare from the start of the project. It's rare that you get to sketch your ideas and sit and discuss them with a professional architect and contractor, you are in the driving seat all the way.

Once you have decided on the space you would like then turn your attention to are you going to add value to your home with this modification, Google house prices with dormers before you dispel the notion. 

They will certainly add a significant amount to the cost of the attic but you will gain space and awesome architecture in your home. Not to mention the multiples in the increased value of your home.

Add a shower if you have space and make the attic almost self-contained with an ensuite, it's perfect for guests or older teens wanting to spread their wings a little.

The stairs are always going to be a contentious issue and you should do the best with your budget to incorporate a decent staircase be it spiral or otherwise.

Consider store solutions, it's going to be more of a challenge than you first realize, you may need custom build storage such as wardrobes.