Attics might be small and cramped, but they also offer usable living space when the rest of your home starts to fill up. Finishing an attic bedroom takes time and patience, but you can turn it into a cozy sleeping space by following these essential tips.
1. Protect and Lighten the Ceiling
To give an attic bedroom the illusion of spaciousness, lighten the ceiling by painting it a light color, such as white, gray, or beige. This is because pale colors are more reflective than their darker counterparts, so they move light around a room and make it feel bigger.
Since attic ceilings are low, consider covering yours with beadboard, paneling, or tongue-and-groove planks. You won't damage the ceilings while you're moving in your tall highboy dresser or bed frame.
Other ways to improve the ceilings might include:
- Installing recessed lights to improve visibility and mood
- Hanging a ceiling fan for better air circulation
- Applying molding around dormers and windows
2. Install Plate Glass Windows
Since attic spaces often feature few windows, make the most of what you've got by avoiding windows with multiple panes. A plate glass window lets in more light and provides an unobstructed view of the scenery beyond.
Meet with a custom glass manufacturer to create the perfect windows for your attic space. If the space also includes a bathroom, you might want frosted or etched glass to give you privacy, while clear glass works best for the bedroom itself.
Alternatively, order custom glass windows that mesh with the architectural style of your home, such as:
- Stained glass for a Victorian or arts and crafts home
- Arched windows for a French country or Mediterranean home
- Sash windows for a colonial home
3. Meet Code Requirements for Egress
The International Residential Code, or IRC, requires "sleeping rooms" to offer at least one form of access and egress (entering and exiting). A window in your attic bedroom counts as a second form of egress in the event of a fire or other disaster.
However, it must meet the size requirements set forth by the IRC in order to pass inspection. Additionally, some states require that attic bedrooms include a staircase with clearance of at least 6'8", so you'll want to make sure you have a full-size stairwell.
4. Lay Carpets
Since attic floors aren't as insulated as the floors between other stories in a home, footfalls and other noises are much louder in the space below. To combat this, lay carpets over the floor to muffle footsteps.
If you prefer the look of hardwood flooring, use temporary carpets that don't cover every inch of wood. This strategy also benefits people with allergies or asthma because you can clean temporary rugs more easily. A few of your options might include:
- Interlocking carpet tiles
- Area rugs
- Layered or "runner" rugs that cover pathways between furniture
5. Add a Separate Thermostat
As you learned in high school science class, heat rises, which means that attic rooms are often hotter than other areas of the home. To keep your finished attic bedroom as comfortable as possible, give the space its own thermostat in your HVAC system.
Since you're increasing the living space in your home, you might need a new air conditioner or furnace. Ask a professional to rate your set-up so you know whether your existing HVAC system is powerful enough to do the job.
Finishing an attic bedroom might take time, but you'll appreciate the beauty and convenience of the additional space when you complete the project. To protect yourself and your home, consult professionals for every stage of the process, from ordering custom glass windows to designing the HVAC system.