Tips for Converting Attic to Living Space in DC, MD & VA
living room with lit fireplace

Tips on How to Convert Your Attic to Living Space


A New Stairway in the Chippendale
Style Adds Architectural Interest
to this Attic Conversion

Do you need more room in your home? Interested in expanding living space without building an addition? This can often be achieved with space reconfiguration and conversion. In many houses, the attic has untapped potential—and it can easily be converted to living space!

Whether you need more space to accommodate a growing family or you need an extra room for in-laws to stay with you but can’t build an addition, attic renovation is a great solution. In fact, there are situations when regulations and restrictions can actually prevent you from building the addition you want, and in these cases, converting existing space is the best option.

Convert Attic to Living Space

You’ll talk to your remodeling company about the specifics of your attic conversion. In general, however, these are some good tips to keep in mind when it comes to converting your attic to living space:


The most efficient way to install a staircase is to place the new stair over the top of the existing stair. If placing the stair over the top of the existing stair does not fit in your home, find a location that minimizes the amount of space it takes from existing rooms. A typical house requires about ten linear feet of space for a stair. Also:

  • Figure out the floor-to-floor dimensions along with proper risers and treads so it’s safe and meets code.
  • If you can, avoid pie shaped treads (winders) because they may not meet local building codes.


Make sure the ceiling meets the legal minimum; this prevents problems with current building codes—and also prevents you from bumping your head! If you have a low roof, alterations may be necessary. Trusses can be removed and conventional rafter framing inserted to free up attic space.


By Replacing Roof Trusses
with Standard Roof Joists,
This Attic Conversion Created
New and Livable Den Space

Heating & Cooling

Many heating and cooling systems don’t have the capacity to keep all of your home and the attic comfortable—the ideal new attic space has its own heating and cooling system. Due to its location right under the roof, an attic demands more cooling to keep the space comfortable in the summer months, but a more modest approach can be taken with heating. Gas fired forced air, electric heat pumps, and radiator heating all work well in attic conversions.


There is no right kind of lighting. Recessed lights are often used and if your ceilings are lower and you have limited space, they can be more convenient than pendant lights that hang down. Sometimes skylights can even be used. Much of this decision is driven by your preference!

For converting an attic to livable space, you also need:

  • Insulation
  • Drywall
  • Electrical outlets
  • Paint

Of course, you’ll need to talk to your design-build team about all this! They’ll be able to guide you and help you make the best decisions in terms of both your budget and the aesthetic of your home.

Attic Renovation in DC, MD & VA

If you have an attic you want to transform, Wentworth has experience with this type of remodeling project. We have converted many attics in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and can help you with your remodel. View our past space reconfiguration projects and contact us today to learn more about our services!

“ Wentworth Studios turned our boring box into a beautiful, functional living space. They listened to our needs and ideas and gave us graceful solutions that far exceeded our expectations. Wentworth's cost was told to me upfront and there was never a deviation from that cost. It is a joy every day to live within the practical and elegant spaces Wentworth designed and built for us. I would strongly recommend Wentworth. ”

Mary D., Alexandria, VA