Ruth Sleightholme, Decoration Editor
Be careful about shower heights! The best option for a loft conversion shower head will almost certainly be an integrated shower fitting with a vertical shower head that comes down from the ceiling. My personal taste is much more for the exposed shower and in my main bathroom I have an exposed, thermostatic traditional shower set from Lefroy Brooks, and it is honestly one of the most lovely things I ever bought myself. However, when I tried to mimic this (admittedly with a cheaper model) in the loft shower, I realised, after install, that the installers could not install this type of shower head without leaving a clearance of about 10cm from the ceiling. With a ceiling height of only 2m in the little loft shower, this left me with a shower that does not do for even an average-heighted man, let alone a tall one. My scalp skims the shower head! To be honest, I am living with it!, but I wish someone had taken me in hand and just told me to get over myself, and buy a shower which falls from the ceiling rather than projecting from the wall. Besides, if you are building a loft extension, you are probably going to be building the wall and the ceiling in which the shower will be integrated, so it is not technically any more difficult.
I wish I knew how great the pleated-paper integrated blinds from Velux are. I wasted a lot of time trying to find a non-naff window dressing solution for my Velux windows, because I have a more decorative aesthetic, and felt I needed something curtain-y. I was pretty pleased when I discovered Velux's 'energy pleated' paper blinds. The colours are nice, the material paper-y so it doesn't feel too synthetic, and they are designed in a honeycomb pleated design to be insulating; they are simple to install and lovely and tactile to use when hand-operated (I have a real bug bear about electronically operated things; they always seem designed to frustrate!). To my surprise, I'm sold. We went for Petrol which was more like a bottle green, to go with a colour in my wallpaper; and Light Blue, which worked with a tile scheme in my bathroom.
Alice Palmer, designer
We are just about to begin another project having recently exchanged on a new home. At our last property, we made the decision to plan the extended space as a master bedroom, but received some mixed feedback on that idea – people don’t necessarily see the loft as a master bedroom, but it worked so well for us. It meant we had a whole floor to ourselves and offered space that just is not possible elsewhere, plus a lovely view into the garden…
Heat of course rises and the loft can get quite hot as the day goes on. We had underfloor heating installed in the bathroom and did not turn it on once in the six years we spent there. Unless you are a particularly cold person I would advise against that expense, and it is also a nightmare if it breaks and has been tiled over.
Light makes such a huge difference to the way a space feels and to have it flooding through makes it feel really fresh. A skylight in the stairwell running up to the loft is a great way of encouraging that flow of light down through the house and I would definitely recommend it wherever possible.
I did a sliding door and a Juliet balcony on the loft conversion in my first flat and always regretted it… it was clunky and plasticky, the rails of the Juliet were unattractive and I rarely had it fully open. So in our previous loft conversion we decided to do a loft-style wooden, crittal large glass window with two casement window openings and fixed glass panels and painted a pretty green/grey. I loved the chic, classic look it gave.
Polly Ashman, interior designer
Excel is your friend, in fact your best friend during a build. List out everything down to the number, cost and type of light bulbs you need. Your multiple rows, columns and tabs will not only act as a 'shopping list', but also help you stay on budget and keep timings in check.
It's also useful to track deliveries. Fixtures and fittings on building sites tend to disappear in a puff of smoke and it's useful to know when they were actually delivered and who signed for them. We re-bought the bathroom wall lights, only to find one of the well meaning builders had tucked the original set away in a 'safe place'.
Sarah Chambers, interior designer
When it comes to loft extensions, I would recommend being very diligent on your building control research, particularly fire regulations. Since our house is already three storeys tall, the loft conversion was considered more as an additional floor than a loft conversion and this meant that it required a demister/sprinkler system installed in all habitable rooms in order to comply with regulations. This was very disruptive and very expensive and I wish I'd known it would be the case before we started.