The sky is the limit with home renovations, and you may be looking towards the sky for your next home addition idea…

The attic; often paired with words like ‘dark’, ‘cramped’, ‘dusty’, dare I say ‘haunted’… The list goes on. The good news is that your attic doesn’t have to follow suit with the typical perception. Finishing your attic can open you up to new space for organized storage or for living. Beyond how useful attics can be, there is something about how cozy and secretive they are that has widespread appeal. Today, we’re sharing ideas for your finished attic, and what to consider before building one.

Check out this great blog post from HGTV for a look at how a Toronto couple opened up their attic as an alternative to moving into a bigger home for their growing family.


Can you make it liveable?

According to This Old House, there are four things you need to take into consideration before even beginning to think about what you’re going to put up in that cozy attic of yours.

1) A way to get in, and a way to get out… To comply with building code, you need to have a full size staircase with an appropriate amount of clearance above it in order to use your attic as liveable space. You will also need either a 2nd staircase or a window and safety ladder in case of emergencies.

2) Headroom & space… You need 7ft of headroom and 7ft of spaces in all directions. You can build a dormer section of the attic to help achieve this (more on this below).

3) Floor reinforcement… As you can imagine, the existing floor of an unfinished attic isn’t much up to par to support furniture, finishing, and people since they often are not built with a full set of joists and subfloor like a 2nd floor would. Have a professional builder assess how to reinforce the strength of the attic floor.

4) Air quality & temperature… Hot air rises as does moisture, which makes the attic the perfect place for both of these to build up. If you have enough headroom, consider installing a fan to keep the room cool. A low cost option to regulate the temperature is to use ductless air conditioning. Finally, make sure your ventilation is good with openable windows.




What is a dormer? A dormer is a structural element of a building that bumps out from the existing slope of a roof. Its a great way to add headroom to the attic in order to meet the 7ft requirement, and is a way to add windows to the attic that are not flushed to the sloped roof (which makes them hard to cover). Check out some dormer styles below.



Making the Most of Low Clearance Areas

The roof on an attic does not allow full headroom clearance in all areas of the floor, but this does not mean those spaces are completely wasteful. Many homeowners use this space for storage by installing drawers and shelves. You could even get custom storage units to look “build-in” to the nook created by the roof and the low wall. Another use for this space is a seated area since the full standing room won’t be needed. Place a desk or reading nook in these areas.



Ways to Use the Attic

You can customize the use of your attic any way you want, but we thought we would share some of our favourites:

The Playroom… Kids love cozy spaces that they can call their own. The additional benefit is that you can put a TV up there as well, and you probably won’t hear it much from the main living space of the home.

The Home Studio… Similar to how a sunroom can give your mind space to roam creatively, an attic offers a feeling of a secretive “getaway” that could be good for stretching your creative muscles.

The Office… Attics are a good place for an office since you mostly sit in an office (which makes the low clearance a non-issue), and its usually a very quiet space. The image below shows an office space that is actually home to a home business. Smart!

The Guest Bedroom… Offering your guest their own space when they come to visit is greatly appreciated. You can also have fun decorating a guest bedroom by experimenting with themes, and designs that you love but would never want long-term in your own bedroom.



Interior Design Tips

Here are a few tips to apply to your interior design of the attic. Use light colours on the walls and floors to make the space feel bigger and more airy. They also will reflect all the natural light that shines into the attic, making it brighter. Installing panelling on the roof and walls helps to elongate the room, and also adds some charm to the space. Finally, statement pendant lamps can be hung at the peak of the roof to be a focal point of the space.




What would we find in your dream finished attic?

The Greater Toronto Builders team has a network of professionals to take care of your project from concept to completion. Contact us today hear more about how our project design consultants can help you or to book a free consultation contact us at 647 35 BUILD or email us at

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Can you make it liveable?


Making the Most of Low Clearance Areas

Ways to Use the Attic

Interior Design Tips

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