Converting your loft or extending into the basement of the house can make a huge difference to the space in your home. Once the building work has been done, take note of some design tips to convert the functional into fabulous.
With stamp duty, moving fees and legal bills to pay, the cost of moving house is often prohibitive. More householders than ever before are deciding to stay put and improve their homes by making use of their existing spaces. Building into the loft is one way to add value and give more room in a home. While a basement conversion can be trickier, but is often a transformative way to extend the your living area.
Whatever space you choose to convert, the first port of call is to contact the experts – such as Anglia Property Preservation Ltd, a Cambridgeshire company which specialises in basement conversions. “If your home has a cellar or basement that is dark, uninviting and damp, your first step should be a call to us,” says the company. “Our specialist design and installation team can transform these unusable spaces into welcoming rooms or for imaginative spaces to use for gyms, home cinemas, utility rooms or wine cellars.”
Colour is an important consideration as many conversions, whether they are at the top or the bottom of the house, may have odd angles or dark corners. “Loft and basement rooms are not always the easiest rooms to decorate. To maximise the space you have, use fresh whites or neutrals to allow natural light to bounce around the room,” says Kasia Wiktorowicz, marketing communications manager at Valspar Paint.
Neptune’s muted shades – such as Grey Oak and Honed Slate – will give character and definition in loft spaces which are flooded with light. And equally, for darker spaces, says Charlotte Cosby, head of creative at Farrow & Ball, “it can be really effective to embrace the darkness of the nooks and crannies by using a bold colour, such as Down Pipe or Inchyra Blue, to create a really dramatic feel. It’s best to use only one colour in the room – taking it onto the ceiling to minimise any sharp lines of contrast between walls and ceiling colour. This will help to make the room feel bigger.”
Touches of brighter colour can also be added in with well-thought out fixtures, such as Castrad’s period-style radiators, which come in a host of hues and metallic finishes, and window dressings, such as the chic shutters from California Shutters, or the pretty printed blinds at iLiv.
HOW TO USE COLOUR
Jayson Branch, creative director at Castrads, gives his top tips
- Blue is a perfect choice for bedrooms and bathrooms due to its soothing and revitalising quality.
- Yellow, as the brightest colour on the spectrum, is a welcoming shade, and works well in basements.
- Rooms with natural light will give off a warm tone so a cool shade of white with a blue or grey base can balance the hues.
The new collection of furniture and accessories at interiors specialist Mood Collections, is based around the power of light. “Pale colour schemes reflect and emphasise natural light for a bright and airy space you can enjoy,” says the brand. “Muted colours and pops of pastel have become a new, modern neutral in the home. What’s more, your choice of lighting, particularly in loft or basement rooms, can ensure that the space will feel cosy and inviting. Opt for stylish bedside table lamps that create a feature with a soft, subtle glow and consider introducing floor lamps to the bedroom for the ultimate cosy reading corner.”
Of course, the right lighting can transform the look and feel of a room. Martin Waller, founder of Andrew Martin Interiors, gives his advice: “Layer lighting and use multiple light sources to make a room versatile. Opt for dramatic pendants as your main source of light and pair with statement table lamps to create an atmospheric mood. Wall lights work well as accent lighting to highlight interesting features in the room. Choose bold pieces featuring structural shapes, interesting texture or coloured glass to make a style statement, even if the lighting is switched off.”
As well as adding atmosphere and clarity, lighting – such as the quirky table lamps at Pooky and the elegant lamps at Arteriors – can give a pop of colour in an otherwise neutral scheme.
At Original BTC, lighting is kept small and interesting, with hanging pendant lamps, modern spotlights and mini globe wall lights adding a touch of glamour.
Søren Ravn Christensen, creative director of Vita Copenhagen, on lighting
- A key consideration for lighting is to ensure it looks beautiful even when not switched on.
- Ensure there are plenty of secondary lights in corners and along walls, as well as one or two pendants above the centre of the desired area where you would like to focus the most attention.
- Lights have the function of making things visible when it is dark, but also making the interiors look inviting.
Use the unusual wall heights and odd angles found in loft rooms and basements to your advantage by adding in quirky touches with bold wallpapers, such as those at Galerie Wallcoverings, unusual art – seek out the neon pieces at Andrew Martin – and home accessories at Audenza.
CELEBRATE YOUR INTERESTING SPACES
Jacqui Brooks, co-founder of online boutique, Audenza, gives her top three tips
- Use mirrors to reflect light and give a sense of space and indulgence.
- Plants, whether real or faux, give an element of calm. Use different heights to create a visually interesting setting.
- Go for wall art in 3D form for a visual feast.
Finally, with angled walls and alcoves the norm in conversions, fitted storage is the best idea to make the most of your space. The iconic Scandi String Shelving System – which was launched in 1949 – features wire panels and shelves of various depths and colours which can be built to fit any area.
While Neville Johnson’s bespoke furniture is perfect for maximising every inch. “A loft conversion often comes hand in hand with awkward architectural features, such as sloping ceilings and wooden beams, says Karen Conn, furniture designer at Neville Johnson. “Fitted furniture can be built directly into the apex to ensure no space is wasted, creating floor to ceiling storage which truly maximises your room’s potential.”
Location is key when it comes to getting the most from your storage, says Wane Borg, a partner at The Heritage Wardrobe Company: “A bespoke fitted wardrobe solution will ensure you are utilising the full height and depth of the space, in particular if there are awkward or difficult angles to work with. In loft bedrooms, a tailored fitted wardrobe solution is a must to maximise the space and provide an aesthetically pleasing design.”
From using your basement to house a new kitchen to reimagining your loft as a new working space, one or two choice pieces of standalone furniture – such as an elegant chest of drawers or an interesting cabinet – will make it a space you want to escape to whether it is up in the sky or down in the earth.
UP AND DOWN
MY PICK OF CHIC ACCESSORIES TO ADD A TOUCH OF STYLE TO YOUR CONVERSION
Herbalist Chest, £995, shimu.co.uk
Golden Angel Wings, £89, audenza.com
Prosecco Neon Light, £64, audenza.com
Finna Suspension Lamp, £540, christopherwray.com
Array Fusion Cabinet, £339, johnlewis.com
Seasonal Old Rose Paint, £38 for 2.5lr, neptune.com
Pirouette Table Lamp, from £170, pooky.com
Babington Marble-Effect Bedside Table, £45, tesco.com
Palm House Gold Embroidered Velvet Cushion, £14, sainsburys.co.uk
Hexagonal Shelf Mirror, £149, marksandspencer.co.uk
This article is also published in the June 2018 issue of The Cambridge Edition Magazine