Design a Loft Conversion for Maximum Light


Loft extensions are one of the best ways to add value to a home, provided that they are carried out on the basis of thoughtful design and quality construction. A recent study found that putting an extra bedroom and en-suite bathroom in the loft adds an average of 21% to the capital value, 24.5% in London.


But attics can be awkward and hard-to-access spaces, and the process of turning them into desirable habitable areas filled with light and space takes vision and design expertise. Ask any designer or their clients and you'll find that maximum light is the Holy Grail of good loft design. Let's take a look at some of the best ways this can be achieved.

How to Put Light at the Centre of the Design

Design a Loft Conversion for Maximum Light

Every loft conversion design starts with a client brief, including a clear idea of what the room will be used for and the type and size of furniture that will be needed in it. Lighting requirements should be considered at the very start of the project, whether it's task lighting for desk areas, soft downlights for bedtime or the amount of natural daylight coming through the windows - which may well determine the position of the windows.


Many loft spaces also have niches and recesses created by eaves and supporting walls and beams as part of the architectural design. While these are quirky features to be worked with, it's important not to neglect potentially dark corners and place plenty of artificial lighting here to improve the overall level of illumination in the room.


Attic en-suite bathrooms will need a flexible combination of lighting. Natural light is always preferable but not always possible, however daylight lamps are a good alternative for putting on make-up, shaving and general personal grooming. Soft glow lighting will also be required for relaxing bath time rituals.

How to Maximise Natural Light

Design a Loft Conversion for Maximum Light

Getting the maximum amount of natural daylight into the roof space will be a key consideration for every architectural designer, alongside ceiling height, access and services, as well as planning permission and building regulations compliance. Windows are a key factor in any loft conversion design, and there are various choices available ranging from simple rooflight conversions to complex projects involving mansard or hip-to-gable constructions. The building itself, the available budget for the project and planning restrictions will largely determine which type of loft extension can be built.


Here are some popular loft window solutions:

  • Rooflight windows or skylights from companies such as Velux are fitted to the sloping roof area of the loft conversion, literally opening up the space to let natural light flood in. This type of loft conversion is the most budget-friendly option but rooflight windows can take up valuable space in the room. Top-hung roof lights can be a good compromise in terms of providing extra headroom as well as good light.
  • Full length fenestration can add a contemporary feel and a wow factor to any loft extension and really help flood the space with light. Floor-to-ceiling rooflight windows, French doors or balcony windows (with or without a balcony) are a good design option, where permitted.
  • A dormer loft extension provides more usable space and light than a Velux conversion. It's a bigger project but the dormer construction adds useful headroom and floor space that not only makes the room feel bigger, but provides a larger useable area.
  • Where a hip to gable loft conversion is being planned, placing windows into the gable end can dramatically transform the interior space and provide a wealth of natural light. Installed as full-length windows and extending into the roof apex, they are a major architectural feature.
  • Sky lanterns are a very attractive solution for bringing additional light to dark or low-ceilinged spaces, but they are costly. The vaulted construction can be used on flat and pitched roofs while additional building regulations may apply.

How to Design for Artificial Light

Design a Loft Conversion for Maximum Light

Natural and artificial light go hand in hand with any good loft conversion design. The windows and light fixtures you choose will depend on the roof space and the building's aspect, and the position of walls and eaves. Supplementation with artificial lighting solutions can be achieved as follows:

  • Wall lighting can ensure loft spaces are illuminated without impinging on headroom, which may be at a premium. Uplighter fittings can lift low ceilings and add a sense of space, while downlighters can make high ceilinged lofts feel more cosy.
  • Ceiling lights including pendant light fittings with uplighter shades, and flush ceiling fittings can provide a focal point in the room as well as a good level of general illumination.
  • Spot lights and recessed downlighters are a popular lighting solution for low ceilings. No headroom is lost and with the aid of a dimmer switch, multiple needs can be met - from playing, working or reading to night-time calm.
  • Floor lamps add a decorative touch and have the advantage of being relocatable to wherever they may be needed in the room. Where floor space is an issue, table lamps may be a better solution.
  • Specific safety lighting delivers clear, unobstructed lighting for safe access such as on stairways in case of a fire. This type of lighting may also be needed to meet planning regulations, e.g. for fire exits.

How to Add Decorative Touches

Design a Loft Conversion for Maximum Light

In addition to specifying the location and type of light fixtures and fittings, there's much more that can be achieved in the way of good lighting once everything is installed. It's surprising how much the quality of the light in the room can be altered simply by changing light bulbs or even lampshades. Use warm LEDs to add a soft glow and a cosy feel to the room, or cool LEDs or crisp daylight bulbs to increase the feeling of natural daylight in task-driven areas such as home offices.


Interior designers have many tricks up their sleeves when it comes to maximising light and space. Cleverly positioned mirrors, the use of reflective surfaces including gloss paint, and a light and airy colour scheme are all effective techniques to help bounce light around the room.


Finally, don't forget the importance of mood lighting to switch up the ambience of the room. From romantic candlelight to picture lights that showcase a favoured painting, and through the cunning use of decorative light features such as lava lamps or contemporary neon light sculptures, there are hundreds of ways to achieve ambient lighting for loft spaces in which to linger.  

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