An attic is often one of the most-overlooked parts of a home. Maybe you use your attic to store stuff that you just don’t use anymore. You might not even remember what you’ve put in your attic or where the stuff in your attic came from. If you live in a home that belonged to your family member(s) before you, your attic could be full of heirlooms and hidden treasures.
No matter what type of attic you have or what you’re keeping up there, you can use this space to create extra storage space in your home, or you can even transform it into a bedroom, playroom or hideaway. Improving your attic is as easy as coming up with an idea, making a plan and getting to work.
Step One: Get Organized
Before you can begin an attic makeover, you’ll need to get organized and do some cleaning. One of the first things you’ll need to do is decide how you’ll store the possessions you want to keep. You might buy moving boxes or large plastic containers for your belongings. If you know that you’ll have a lot of clothing and household linens to store, space-saving vacuum bags might be a good choice. Once you’ve got the supplies you need, you’re ready to start going through your possessions.
The organizing gurus at Real Simple magazine say that everything starts with sorting. “Start by creating three categories: keep, donate, and toss. As you work your way through the items in the attic, assign each one to a category.” If you’re having trouble deciding whether to toss or donate items, think about how much you use them. If you haven’t used an item during the last year and it’s not an important heirloom, you should probably get rid of it to make space for attic improvement.
Step Two: Put Your Plan in Motion
Once you’ve cleared out some space in your attic, you can decide how you’re going to make the area over. Do you want to transform your attic into a well-organized storage zone? Do you want to create a man cave or a lady’s hideaway? Choosing an attic makeover project that you’re excited about will help you stay on task. Before you begin any significant construction or renovation, check with a contractor and your county building department to make sure that the changes you’re planning won’t affect your home’s structural integrity.
You might find that it’s helpful to write down your plan. As you’re thinking through attic improvements, remember that all of the following can make your attic seem larger and livelier:
- Light-colored walls and ceilings
- Wall decor and posters on slanted ceilings
- Hutches, bookcases and display cases
- Ceiling lighting and floor lamps
- Curtains and draperies
- Plants and flowers
Do-it-yourself expert Jacquelyn McGilvray also stresses the importance of keeping your attic comfortable. She says, “If you have enough headroom, include a ceiling fan to keep the place cool in warmer weather.” If you don’t have the headroom, make sure that you have fans to ventilate the area in the summer. You may need to use compact heaters during the winter. If you’re planning to make your attic into a bedroom or playroom, you might want to talk with a heating and air conditioning contractor about extending your home’s heating and cooling systems into your attic.
Step Three: Add the Finishing Touches
No attic makeover is complete without finishing touches. If you’re going to use the area for storage, consider placing shelving on the walls. You might also want to think about how you’ll finish the ceiling so that it doesn’t look bare, dark and boring. Josh Garskoff from This Old House magazine suggests using beadboard panels or other prefabricated panels for the attic ceiling. Such panels are “easy to install and will protect the low ceiling from dings and dents.” Remember that you can also hang wallpaper on your attic’s ceiling and walls to lighten the room. Consider hanging mirrors to make the space look larger. Simple touches, like baseboard trim, can also make a big difference in your attic.
As you clean and organize your attic, you might run across treasured possessions that you don’t want to get rid of but don’t have space for at home. If you have several items that fall into this category, you might want to store them. You can find a storage unit near you by searching online. You’ll be able to narrow your search so that you can find a climate-controlled or humidity-controlled unit to store family heirlooms and other important items. Remember to carefully sort through, clean and organize your possessions before putting them into storage. Label boxes and plastic bins clearly so that you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for when you need to visit your storage unit.