Sunday, 31 May 2015

5 things no one tells you about a loft conversion

Lamp: £50, BHS

The builders have left but you haven't seen anything of our loft, and you might be waiting a little while longer. 

In a project that started last January (!), the loft has become a much bigger project than we anticipated and we have spent a lot of money on the way. A complete roof replacement has set us back financially so we are simply lacking the energy and resources to continue right now...but I'm sure we'll soon be back on form with DIY and finding ingenius ways to furnish it on a budget. Meanwhile I thought I'd put together a few pointers for anyone else thinking of having the same thing done - things you could only know with hindsight!

1. THE DUST. Oh my, the dust. I stupidly thought that, because all the action was happening upstairs, that it wouldn't affect our day to day lives. I felt dirty and dusty for at least 7 weeks, never felt clean - I was breathing it in, treading it through the flat...when they knocked through the ceiling, there was actual rubble inside our house, like being outside.

2. THE COST. We thought we got a good deal, as ours was around £8,000 cheaper than most we researched but with the new roof (which we desperately needed), a new boiler and fuse box etc - and then the little things I wanted like the black aluminium windows and the black Alcova radiator - things add up! I wouldn't change our decisions but maybe should've requested a bit more money from the bank before we went ahead - we're now slowly paying back into my savings account.

3. THE REFURB. The dust and rubble across our whole flat means that not only do we have a whole loft to decorate, we also now have to refurbish our entire flat. Our carpets have plaster ground into them and all white walls have dust and plaster over them. It has been something we've been wanting to do for a while but means we're in full refurb mode.

4. GENERALLY, BUILDERS DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN BY 'NEW YORK LOFT STYLE APARTMENT'.  This was a problem I found with my wedding, too. Our builders just did generic lofts, anything slightly different to average was not understood - anything other than white PVC windows or basic shower cubicles were looked at with complete confusion. Especially my description of the Cowshed bathroom 'shelf' (and this was essential!).

The Cowshed 'shelf' - from Soho House Istanbul

5. MICRO MANAGEMENT. We'd usually come home and find switches put behind the door nowhere near reach, sockets in the most unusual places and doors fitted the complete wrong way round. My poor husband spent most of the last 5 months putting together PDFs of photos, finishes and snagging lists for the team.

That said, we are thrilled with how it is shaping up and wouldn't change a thing. We could've gone more expensive, but we would still have needed a new boiler and roof on top of the cost. And the freedom it has given us, to be able to stay in our lovely flat, rather than move out, is priceless.


1. Marble top side table, £149, West Elm

2. Velvet cushion cover, £6.99, H&M

3. Shower towel, £12.99, H&M

4. 'Erik' table lamp, £45, John Lewis

5. 'Gisele' lantern, £76, BHS

6. Rug, £20.95, Joss & Main

7. Copper wire pendant, £34, Oliver Bonas

8. Copper dustbin, £65, Holly's House

9. 2 seater sofa, £395, Habitat

10. Aveda warmth and light soy wax candle, £30, Aveda

11. Copper soap dish, £10, Marks & Spencer

12. Hammam towels, from £8, The White Company


  1. Oh Alex, I feel your pain having done our kitchen recently. Our next big project is the attic conversion and I'm reminded now to be patient. Hearing how yours has impacted the rest of your house (which we've just finished and don't want to do again for a while), I'm happy to wait now. Keep with the interiors inspiration in the meantime. Ax

    1. Thanks Avril - hope yours goes well! The day they knocked through for the staircase was a low point....I assumed it would just be so straight forward! Just dreaming of the end result - hopefully we will start to sand down the floors next week!

  2. I am feeling your pain. We have done a couple of extensions in our home and the dust is unbelievable, especially when you are taking down or knocking through old sandstone walls. You clean it up and then 2 minutes later it looks like you haven't touched it for weeks. And then even once the building work has finished, the dust takes weeks to properly settle. It's awful. I feel the same way about getting plastering done - it's a dirty job as well. It will be worth it in the end but it's hell when it's going on. Just found your blog so am enjoying reading your posts. Lorraine x

    1. I finally deep cleaned our bathroom today - we've been just dusting bits here and there but you just need to get that bleach out! Hopefully in the next few weeks we can start the refub and I know it will be worth it! Thanks for reading xx

  3. We had our loft done (in our old house) and the company were fab! I guess ours was just a pretty standard (boring) conversion though!

    The dust though .. oh god, the dust!

    1. You're so lucky!!! Our company were good but I suppose you pay more for attention to details - it doesn't help that I'm a total control freak! x

  4. Well done, it will be worth it in the end. I felt exactly the same when I was doing up my place, it is really another full time job. And I can absolutely tell the same stories about the builders (and architects I might add in my case) where light switches and sockets were I nonsensical places, and not agreed to the plan. Well done!!!!!

  5. We're 1 week into our loft conversion and now I'm feeling nervous! Our doors will be sealed when they do the 'big knock through'...hoping this will limit the amount of dust?!?! Can't wait to decorate though!

  6. Looks like once youve finished and added your magical touch it will be a fabulous space alex. Looking forward to the transformation :-) xx

  7. Great writing.

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