Recycle Your Attic - By: Mike Askins

Description : You may have a gold mine of idle living space right in your own home. All you have to do is look up. Depending on your home's design and age, your attic may provide the perfect space you've been wanting for that extra bathroom or kids' playroom.

The first step is to determine whether your attic can be converted into usable living space. Can you walk around in the area, or is the ceiling filled with low hanging triangular trusses?

The next concern is proper ventilation. Typically, an attic provides roof ventilation that keeps it cool in the winter (preventing ice build up), and an escape route for household moisture. Some of this ventilation has to be preserved. If you insulate and seal the entire area, you're asking for trouble. Make sure you enlist the aid of a qualified builder or contractor at this stage of the game.

Since attics are meant to be above and not below our feet, the floors will have to be built up to support the weight of household traffic. Your builder should ensure your floor is beefed up to meet local building code requirements.

Not every attic has windows, so if you don't have natural light or a source of fresh air, you'll have to add it. If adding windows to the sides of the house won't work, try installing opening skylights. Don't forget to include blinds for those days when the sun is too much to bear.

You've determined that all this usable space is at your disposal now what will you do with it? Here are some suggestions to get you thinking:

Have a dual purpose room to satisfy various needs. Combine a sunny reading area with shelves for extra storage space. Paint the walls a light color and add cubed shelving on the end walls.

Perhaps you've always wanted a hobby room where your sewing machine was all set up and ready to go, and all your supplies were perfectly organized in handy bins. Set up your easel and leave it up, or even that telescope that Aunt Frannie bought you last Christmas that you never got around to assembling.

Add a private spa bath just for your own quiet getaways. Accessorize with big fluffy towels, scented soaps, books and a stereo for mood music.

Create a guestroom so the kids don't have to sleep on the couch next time company arrives. Furnish it with stuff you've already got around the house.

Make the playroom you and your kids have always wanted. Set up activity zones where art supplies are readily available and easy to put away. Use bright, non-toxic paint on the walls and easy clean flooring. Have plenty of shelves for books and bins for toy storage.

Create the master bedroom you've only dreamt about. Set aside an area for reading and add an ensuite bath if there is room.

Set up a personal training room with carpeted or laminate flooring, extra big cushions, yoga books, stereo for meditation or work out music, and a TV with DVD player to play fitness videos.

Whatever your vision, renovating the attic may provide the perfect solution to that extra space you've been looking for.

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