Attic to bonus room conversions improve homes

(BPT)—Open floor plans, mini-mansions, micro homes— some home design styles and elements shift with the currents of consumer tastes; however, others stand the test of time because they are enduringly useful.

Attics or lofts, for example, are a staple of American home design, remaining in demand even as the way we use them has evolved.

In bygone eras, attics served largely as storage space—but those were the days before the growth of the self-storage industry. Modern homeowners can stash their stuff outside their home, opening up a range of other possible uses for their attics, from master suites, extra bedrooms or home office to workout rooms and craft centers.

Homeowners are as eager as ever to convert attics, and the trend is not limited to people buying older homes. Many builders are incorporating attics into new construction to please buyers who want the flexibility of finishing the space as they like later. If you are considering an attic conversion, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

Some attics are constructed with windows, others have none. Whether your attic has a small window or solid walls, skylights and roof windows are the go-to choice for bringing natural light and fresh air into an attic space. The direct access to the roof means it is easy to add no-leak skylights like those made by Velux America. Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered, fresh-air skylights provide ample natural light, privacy (an advantage in bedrooms and bathrooms), and ventilation (also great for bathrooms and kitchens). Programmable remote controls make it simple to open and close fresh-air skylights, and to operate solar-powered blinds that allow you to decide just how much or how little light enters the room.

Skylights are a great aesthetic fit for attics too, and can help large or small attic spaces feel brighter and bigger. JoAnne Haynes, project designer for the O’More College of Design Alumni Show House, utilized skylights for the attic conversion on that project and says that it was an amazing transformation. “It went from a dark, black, unusable space to a wonderful, well-lit multi-purpose room,” she said.

The latest solar-powered skylights, which close automatically in case of rain, along with solar-powered blinds, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit. To learn more, visit www.whyskylights.com.