If you own a home with an attic or your rental home comes with a bonus attic space, there’s a chance the room has gone unused. Whether it’s completely empty or it’s the current home for your boxes of seasonal decorations, sporting gear, or home improvement tools, there are plenty of ways you can spruce up your attic space to create a great escape.
From comfy furnishings to welcoming wallpaper, there are so many attic design ideas to help you create a cozy space perfect for any use. To give you a little inspiration, we’ve consulted with design experts for their best attic design tips. Whether you’re living in Seattle, WA, or just moved to Chicago, IL, read on to find out how you can design your perfect attic getaway.
Consider how your attic will function
Before designing your attic space, you’ll need to figure out how the space will work. What is the room going to serve as? Is it going to be an office? A reading nook? Or a spare bedroom?
Brandi Oldham of Vancouver, WA’s Brandiwine Interior Design suggests, “When designing an attic, function needs to be at the forefront of the design. Attics are extra spaces that should complement your living space and provide you with solutions to problems you may have in other areas of the home. Need a guest room for the holidays? Be sure you add space for a blow-up mattress, murphy bed, or other sleeping accommodations. Need a space to work away from the rest of the house? Good lighting, cool paint colors, and a usable workspace will be key. And most importantly, if your attic currently functions as storage space, don’t forget to add storage back into the design so you aren’t losing that functionality.”
“With attics often being one-room layouts with multiple functions, you want to work from the inside out by considering how you plan to use it and who will use it most,” comments Kellee Kroll, owner of Charm & Grit, a vintage furniture refinisher in the Midwest. “For example, a guestroom for grandparents might mean arranging furniture for a wide walking space, while a play area for littles requires decorating at both floor and eye level. Consider repurposing furniture found in the attic – what a perfect spot to re-love a vintage item with history and character.”
For Lauren Covino-Smith of The Styled Ivy, “The versatility of an attic space allows homeowners limitless possibilities. Whether this space will become your guest bedroom, home office, or artistic nook, the attic should reflect a cozy but not cramped vibe. Achieve this with elements that will maximize the typically small space, including mirrors that create reflective angles, streamlined furniture pieces that don’t overpower the space, and simplistic lighting choices that complement, not compete with your design.”
Envision the ultimate cozy attic space
Now that fall is in full swing, you can also consider transitioning your attic to represent the cozy seasons ahead. Astek Home says, “Your space can fully welcome the autumn season by focusing simply on the color palette and patterns that exist around your everyday furniture. Try swapping out bright florals and summery tones for cozy throws or hues of beige. Consider small changes like placing candles or gourds around the home, to bigger statements like peel-and-stick wallpaper in autumn-friendly colors or welcoming textures.”
And Rachel from Approaching Home comments, “Attics are some of the coziest and casual spaces in the house. Design it with soft, comfortable furniture that invites conversation and resting. Include bookshelves, ample places to set down glasses or snacks, a desk, and even a few games to make it the perfect lounging or studying retreat.”
Jenna Morrow of The Morrow Home Interior Design & Holiday Decorating shares “two approaches [they] love for attic designs – embrace an attic’s natural aesthetic or diverge from it with a contrasting design. For the rustic, cozy route, consider adding natural elements such as leather seating, marble accents, and distressed wood furniture. If you want to create a contrasting look, try painting the attic a lighter color, then add lush elements such as boucle chairs, velvet accents, and brass finishes.”
Wallpaper easily spruces up a dull attic design
The image of an attic is often a dark, cramped space, but when you’re designing your attic for everyday use, there are countless ways to brighten up the room, one of which is wallpaper. Meg Wheeler of Austin, TX’s MW Home Goods comments, “For an attic space, I love the idea of utilizing wallpaper. Wallpaper gives you an endless option of colors and patterns to play with and creates a cozy, unique space.”
“If you want to cozy up your attic with decorative walls, whether it be to cover damaged walls, make your attic a children’s play area, or just personalize it with a unique theme, you’ll find lots of wallpaper designs to suit your style,” says Jeffrey Crawford of J Crawford Design Studio.
Jardell Hill of Jardell Hill Design says you can “Create your own private retreat and decorate using wallpaper that features nature or animals and let your mind escape. Maximize impact in a small space by choosing a free-flowing pattern to contrast the rigid lines and awkward angles.” And to bring softness to the attic, Hill advises you can “Soften the space further by choosing one or two colors out from the wallpaper design and adding soft furnishings such as fluffy blankets and plump cushions in these colors.”
“Attic spaces can often be small or low-ceilinged, dark, and separated both physically and aesthetically from the rest of the house. But rather than seeing these characteristics as a minus, why not embrace them to create a special and unique space that doesn’t necessarily need to match the rest of your house? One of the easiest ways to do this is through the use of patterned wallpaper, which can add more excitement and interest than a simple coat of paint. And there is a wallpaper out there for every possible taste: try an Art Deco-inspired geometric for an elegant glam look, something more retro for a mid-century vibe, a bright tropical to bring in some fun and warmth, a traditional floral for coziness, or a cute and colorful pattern that kids will love,” says Jackie Tahara.
“If you’re not sure how “all in” you want to go with wallpaper, you could opt to paper just one “feature” wall, leaving the other walls painted with a coordinating color,” the artist behind UnBlink Studio by Jackie Tahara continues. “Or you could choose a peel-and-stick or pre-pasted removable wallpaper that is designed to be temporary and removable (a good choice for renters). Go ahead, make your attic a unique space with wallpaper.”
The right furnishings complete any attic design
Just like the rest of your home, your furniture choices can make or break a room. And when designing your attic space, furnishings are equally as important.
Dalkis Salcedo, owner of Best Custom Curtains, advises, “For those who frequently use their attic as a functional office, playroom, or bedroom, having optimal light control is crucial. Choosing the right curtains using beautiful fabric and style will add that final touch that not only will finish the room but will also allow you to control the amount of light and temperature in the room.”
Salcedo continues, “For this case, we recommend a double rod – one for sheer panels and one for triple-layered curtains: 1: Face fabric, 2: Noise-temperature control interlining and 3: Blackout. This is the perfect combination of style and versatile functionality that will keep you in control and makes it super easy to adapt to your needs.”
You can also brighten up a dark attic as advised by Ahna Fulmer from Hammers N Hugs, “An easy way to update an attic is to rent a large paint sprayer and spray the open ceiling rafters a bright white in a satin or semi-gloss finish. The added sheen will brighten up the space and make it appear larger due to the increased light reflection while elevating the aesthetic appeal.”
Leena Kewlani, Managing Director at Artezaar.com, comments, “Attics are often ignored spaces in homes, but they can be transformed into cozy areas that you’ll love spending time in. The first step towards making your attic cozy is choosing the right furniture. If you want to use it as an office space, then try adding a sofa bed and some tables with drawers. You can also add in some storage solutions such as shelving units and cabinets to keep your files and other important documents organized.”
Final touches to your attic space
Whether you’re looking for the perfect office space in your attic or creating a cozy nook perfect for a good movie night or afternoon reading, there are plenty of ways to complete the space. From brightening up the room to choosing fun wallpaper and soft furnishings you can make the space whatever you want.