Loft conversions are an excellent, cost-effective and smart way to make the most out of an often-unused space without building outside of the property’s footprint. They make great additions to compact homes where space to extend is limited, and the additional usable storey means boosting your property’s value, too.
Loft conversions can present a whole host of design opportunities, as seen in these clever examples. They’ll invite the use of rooflights or even glazed doors with small balconies, which help to create a light-filled room and a spacious feeling. Work with a qualified architect or designer to ensure the loft conversion design will meet your needs and work with your home’s structure.
Before diving into a loft conversion project, there are several important factors to consider. Although most projects will fall under permitted development (PD rights), you should still aim to consult your local planning authority to check what you can and can’t do in your area. The staircase design, roof structure and height should also be noted prior to planning as these will contribute towards your project meeting Building Regs – consult a builder or structural engineer to ensure you’re getting the right information.
From ultra-modern designs that stand out against the main build to more modest, seamless additions, take a look at this collection of inspiring loft conversion ideas and designs.
When gathering loft conversion ideas, think carefully about how you can make the most of whatever space you have. The owners of this Victorian property in Stoke Newington decided to entirely redesign and extend their terraced house to upgrade its structural fabric, improve natural brightness and allow for seamless navigation between rooms.
The architectural team at Yellow Cloud Studio masterminded a stylish modern extension that leads out onto a built-in pergola with sunken concrete seating – blurring the boundaries between inside and out while maximising views.
As part of these works, the top storey of the home was converted to allow a spacious dressing room. This striking, angular new addition has been clad in dark cement board to create a seamless transition between itself and the rest of the rear extension. Its interior features a wow factor pink vaulted ceiling, which is illuminated by two large windows.
Looking for reliable architect and design services for your loft conversion project? Browse Build It’s Company Directory
Developing loft conversion ideas shouldn’t just be limited to the interior. If you have the space, incorporate a balcony or roof seating area into you loft conversion ideas to maximise space and create a quiet area for relaxing outdoors. Paul Archer Design transformed this Victorian terraced house with a new outdoor area on the homes previously cramped top storey.
The family were after a home in an urban location to avoid long commutes and help with balancing family-work life. As expected, this resulted in a purchasing a smaller property but with potential to reconfigure the layout for maximum light and usability.
The loft conversion takes lead over the flat roof, with a large glazed sliding door that opens out onto a stepped terrace, featuring planters to connect the above-ground zone to the garden. A seamless glass balustrade wraps around the exterior to avoid disrupting any surrounding views. Inside, the master suite provides a tranquil escape for the parents within a busy city setting.
Frank and Paloma Gilks viewed around 30 properties before they found the perfect fit for their next renovation project; this dilapidated Victorian house in west London.
Due to structural issues, caused by the attic water tank exploding, it was considered unmortgageable, “Parts of the roof had rotted and caved in,” Frank explains. Despite this, the property had heaps of potential and the couple were confident that they could improve the structure and transform the home.
As a result of the pandemic, the couple faced financial setbacks and needed to save money, which meant they chose to complete the loft work as a shell that could be kitted out later.
The newly formed attic space is now an elegant office, complete with an exposed brick chimney breast and white ceiling beams. There’s also a cellar that Frank and Paloma can renovate at a later date.
More Inspiration: Open Plan Living Ideas: Kitchen, Living & Dining Rooms
Studio Hagen Hall has applied its eye for spatial planning to this compact terraced home in an urban city location, adding a contemporary loft conversion.
Clever planning and storage features were key to the success of this new loft conversion. The space holds a master bedroom that enjoys two large windows in the vaulted ceiling to maximise light while providing uninterrupted city views. The interior contains built-in invisible timber storage systems throughout, which blend seamlessly with the clay render walls for a minimal, yet spacious interior.
The loft conversion’s bathroom boasts a luxurious sea-green quartzite surface, with a large inset window and mirrored vanity units that bring a light, open feeling to the narrow space. Following the bathroom around a curved wall, the shower is illuminated by a semi-circular rooflight above for sky views and abundant natural light.
Design Considerations for a Loft Conversion
Louis Hagen Hall, founder of Studio Hagen Hall takes a look at the key design considerations for when developing your loft conversion ideas
What planning restrictions are there on the design of a loft conversion?
Typically, you will only be allowed to raise the roof height to form a loft at the rear of your house. This is required to maintain the existing ‘ridge line’ as viewed from the street. If the ridge line of your property is too low (you have a shallow pitched roof), then you may not be able to extend into the loft.
If your property is listed, or in a conservation area, then you may find it harder to gain permission for a loft conversion.
How can you design a loft conversion to blend with the rest of your house’s architecture?
If you have a lot of period detailing and character on the floors below, sometimes it’s best to not to try and replicate it in a new loft, especially where you might have sloping roofs, lower ceilings, and modern windows incongruous with period properties.
I would suggest squeezing the most out of the new loft space first through extensive planning, rather than focusing on aesthetics. After then, see what characteristics you want to, and are able to, bring up from the floors below. This could be window treatments, joinery, colour schemes, or materials.
What are the best design ideas for making a loft conversion feel light and spacious?
Adding dormer windows and mansard extensions are popular methods for bringing in extra light while providing great views. Mansard extensions will also increase the usable square footage of your loft extension – as they’ll raise the pitched roof – but will be more expensive than a dormer window.
You could combine a mansard extension with a Juliet Balcony, or use large skylights in sloping roofs. I would also suggest sticking to light paint/material colours that bounce the natural light around!
What do you need to consider when designing a staircase for a loft conversion?
Firstly, consider the spatial and circulatory relationship between the existing top floor and new loft. Sometimes there may only be one way of continuing the stair upwards, but it can be worth investigating other ways of routing your stairs to create a better or more exciting use of space.
Secondly, there is an aesthetic decision to be made. If you are extending a Victorian property, for example, then you may want to carry the period styling from the lower floors up to the new loft. Finding what will complement the style of your home is important before taking any aesthetic risks or trying to switch from the style of the existing stories.
A Bedfordshire house, built around 2016 with a trussed rafters, had its entire roof reinstated from the inside out with timber and steelwork to create a large loft. The addition didn’t need a dormer and surprised the owners by providing enough space for a double bedroom, ensuite with a bath and shower, dressing room and home office.
DJ Moore Lofts was also able to fit in the new staircase with minimal changes to the first floor and designed a bespoke walk-in wardrobe.
Gresford Architects was behind this multi-storey extension of a Victorian terraced property. The existing awkward layout was replaced by smooth-flowing spaces via a wraparound rear addition and roof extension.
The striking loft conversion and addition is finished with blackened timber, which makes a dramatic statement against the original building’s brickwork.
When John and Susan Yates were looking to move from the west coast of Scotland to Edinburgh, their initial plan was to find a flat in the centre. However, they became inspired by a bungalow that was under renovation works in the coastal town of Portobello.
With the help of Chambers McMillan architects, the couple completely transformed this traditional single-storey build with a modern, light-filled zinc clad extension, expansive glazing and a contemporary interior scheme.
They decided to convert the roof into livable space as they felt they could benefit more from the solar gain in a living zone instead of a bedroom. “Although the space is small, it opens out onto fabulous sea views over the Firth of Forth, which really lifts the soul,” says John.
Some locals were concerned that the loft conversion’s dormer window would overlook them, but the extension model demonstrated this wouldn’t be the case. The local council were on board with the project and the planning process took just eight weeks.
Andrew Overin turned this loft into a bright and spacious bedroom with ensuite, but he hadn’t realised how much floor-to-ceiling height would be lost after insulation was added. With this in mind, one of his top priorities was to maximise every inch of space, so he managed to convince Build Team that having a long wetroom, rather than an L-shaped bedroom with a larger ensuite, would work better.
This means that the master suite is a regular rectangular shape with no awkward corners; while the ensuite features a walk-in shower and WC.
Copious amounts of light filter into the top storey through floor-to-ceiling bifolds on one side and rooflights opposite. “I love how the evening sun pours into the bedroom,” says Andrew.
More Inspiration: 11 Characterful Urban Renovation Projects
This semi-detached London home dates back to the 1930s, and so the owners decided it was time for an upgrade.
The design, by Selencky Parsons architects, called for a complete internal remodelling of the home. This came in the form of a ground floor extension featuring a three-panel set of IDSystem’s ultra-slim sliding door system, along with a loft conversion to increase usable space for the family.
The loft conversion not only increases the number of bedrooms in the house but allows the home, built on the side of a hill in West Norwood, to enjoy a stunning panoramic view over the skyline of Central London from the master bedroom.
Think about how you can retain the character of your home when collecting different loft conversion ideas. Sara Hamilton and Steve McMahon joined their households together under one roof and undertook a major renovation to rework this striking Edwardian villa in Muswell Hill.
As part of this process, the couple appointed London based architect Edward McCann. “Ed pushed the boundaries but was very sensitive to the history of the house,” says Sara.
The family initially proposed to remove the stairwell and introduce a new flight that spiralled up through the core of the house. However, these plans didn’t quite materialise. “Early into the building contract a number of large unforeseen works blew the contingency and forced a major revision of the scheme,” says Ed.
The team had an open conversation about doing things differently whilst maintaining the character of the house and subsequently rethought the top of the building, which had been a cramped loft conversion.
Rather than introducing a brand new stairwell, the original ones were retained and now reaches the top floor master suite, which has been opened up completely with light pouring in from all directions.
A Victorian terrace in south London had a maximum permitted development allowance of 40m³ to convert the loft, which was achieved with two dormers and a 2m head height, completed by Design and Build company Plus Rooms.
A rear dormer over the main frame of the house created a bedroom with a roof window at the front. Due to the L-shape of the roof, the space steps down to the ensuite with an overhead rooflight.
Here, a second dormer over the rear wing benefits from a large, glazed window. Plus Rooms applied for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) to give the homeowners assurance their extension followed PD rules.
Life Size Architecture, a Brighton-based team of architectural designers and technologists, designed this stunning rear and side extension and loft conversion to this home located in a conservation area.
The architects commissioned Attic Conversions Ltd to carry out the works of the mansard roof addition, which features bifold door openings and a metal balustrade. The loft conversion has helped to maximise the home within the confines of its plot, all while protecting the original charm of the property with a sleek finish.
With the main goal to maximise space and light in this 3-storey mid-terrace urban property, The Simply Construction Group designed and built this front and rear mansard loft conversion.
Their clients were after additional space for relaxing that could include a office space and bright, open terrace. The main living area can be used as a meditation space, artist’s studio, reading room or perfect entertaining area on those warm summer nights in London.
More Inspiration: Kitchen Diner Extensions: Inspiring Projects and Expert Top Tips