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How to Design an Attic Bedroom from Scratch (9 Ideas)

Jennifer Nielsen.
  • This article has been written and researched by Jennifer Nielsen (a professional interior designer) to ensure maximum uniqueness and factual accuracy.

The benefits of an attic bedroom include freeing up extra space in your house, adding value to your home, allowing for a contrasting home decor style, and facilitating additional functions such as a study or home office in the same attic space.

But designing an attic bedroom from scratch can be challenging due to the way in which the roof and ceiling architecture can impact how furniture can be arranged in the room, the type of decor that’s suitable for this awkwardly shaped space, and the potential costs of this project.

So how do you design an attic bedroom from scratch effectively whilst saving money?

To design an attic bedroom from scratch: start by designing a room plan to ensure that the furniture won’t conflict with the shape and dimensions of the attic, then create a mood board to get decor ideas, before finalizing the furniture selection, and calculating costs.

The rest of this article shows you how to design your attic bedroom from scratch in 5 steps by expanding on these points more fully.

And there are 9 attic bedroom design ideas in the second half of this article to give you some inspiration for the decor and to help you construct your mood board.

Related: discover how to design a master bedroom with ensuite in 9 steps here.

How to Design an Attic Bedroom from Scratch

Follow the 5 steps below to design your attic bedroom from scratch:

1: Create a Room Plan to Ground Your Design

Floor Plan
Floor Plans Help to Ground Your Bedroom Design (Custom Image by Jennifer Nielsen Design)

Before you begin designing your attic bedroom, you need to create a floor plan to ensure that the space will be functional, visually appealing, allow for enough space, and fit all of your furniture.

To create a floor plan, take measurements and map them to scale on a piece of paper or use a software tool/app like Floor Planner, Google SketchUp, AutoCAD, AutoDesk Revit, or hire a professional interior designer to help you.

For more information on how to create a floor plan for your attic bedroom, follow step 1 in this guide to arranging bedroom furniture in a square room.

1.1: Account for Unique Architectural Attributes

In addition to the steps in measuring a standard room, make sure to also include information on the sloped ceilings, dormer windows, staircase location, and any other unique attributes that may impact design.

This is crucial information that you will want to have handy for planning in the next steps.

Documenting the existing attic space is quite detailed and may require sketching out elevations and ceiling plans.

Utilize the same approach and techniques for wall and ceiling measurements as you would for floor plans.

For an attic bedroom, it’s particularly important to note that the following elements can significantly impact the design:

  • The slope of the roof/ceiling.
  • Detailed window information such as dormer encasement (height, depth, and width).
  • Roof/ceiling composition.
  • Any junction boxes for lights, exposed studs, and skylights.

1.2: Check That the Room Height and Shape Won’t Conflict With the Furniture

Since the attic environment is heavily influenced by the ceilings/roof, it can be difficult to rely solely on the floor plan for accurate designs.

It is important to start with the floor plan and then verify that the furniture locations will work in elevation view as follows:

  • Critical objects to place in elevation would include dressers with table lamps; beds with or without headboards and hanging lights.
  • The most useful elevation would likely be the view towards the vertical wall, with the angled walls on the side. Does your space require additional elevations, such as a dormer window wall?
  • When looking at the elevations with the existing windows and other architectural features, start brainstorming about possible designs, including unique architectural features.

1.3: Create a Ceiling Plan to Account for Lighting and Skylights

Ceiling plans are an additional tool to further verify the coordination of all the furniture and design elements, such as lighting and skylights, as follows:

  • Transfer the existing elements from the space such as existing junction boxes, exposed beams and structures, and slope details.
  • Critical information to include in this plan would be locating hanging light fixtures to make sure that they do not conflict with the existing exposed structure and also align with any existing junction boxes.

Also, if your attic bedroom has skylights and you need to sleep in a totally dark bedroom, then you may need blackout blinds – see this article that includes 19 ways to make your bedroom pitch black for some inspirational ideas.

1.4: Plan Your Own Unique Architectural Design Ideas

While working on the room plan, think about unique architectural opportunities that you might like to include and how they may impact these plans.

Some ideas are as follows:

  • Bookcase – Since attics naturally have a humble and calming environment, is there an opportunity to include a built-in bookcase? Ideally located on a vertical wall, shelving with books and accessories will give a warm and cozy feeling to the space. Add a nice lounge chair with a floor lamp and you have a quaint reading nook.
  • Unique ceiling design – Depending on your ideal design aesthetic, is there an opportunity to add in a unique ceiling design? Shiplap and exposed stud structures can really bring out a cozy feel, especially if you decide to include a cool light fixture such as an exposed bulb chandelier or lantern pendant.
  • Reading nook – Is your dormer window large enough to place a seat? While you may want to capitalize on the rare natural light source, dormer windows can often create beautiful nesting spaces for reading, writing, and lounging. Consider building a small seat, possibly with storage beneath and a cushion on top.

2: Get Visual Inspiration With a Mood Board

Mood Board
Mood Boards Visualize Specific Design and Decor Elements (Custom Image by Jennifer Nielsen Design)

A mood board is a collection of images that allows you to visualize elements of your design – such as the color scheme, type of furniture, and room layout – before you take action.

To create a mood board for your attic bedroom, type ‘attic bedroom design ideas’ into Pinterest here and start saving images to your Pinterest boards to give you style ideas that you can refer back to later when it comes to the actual design process.

Also, check out the 9 attic bedroom design photos in the second half of this article for some visual inspiration.

Learn more about creating a mood board here in step 1.

2.1: Look for Similar Architectural Attic Bedroom Designs

A critical point when looking for images for your mood board is to focus on visuals that include architectural features similar to your space.

For example, if your attic bedroom has a specific sloping ceiling then you should look for images that follow this design.

2.2: Consider Contrasting Design Styles to the Rest of Your Home Decor

Because your attic bedroom is on a different floor to the rest of the rooms in your house, this gives you the chance to pick a completely different theme and design if you so choose.

For example, a nice, general design direction may include more humble aesthetics.

Historically, attics have not been a luxury space in the house.

A good reminder when designing this space is to lean into the modest feel of the quarters by utilizing, or even highlighting, some of the elements that make the space humble.

Often in attics, you may find a simple boarded floor or exposed trusses.

These can be truly beautiful features and by maintaining these elements, the space inherently becomes cohesive and nurturing in its authenticity and simple roots.

3: Decide Where the Furniture Will Go

Now that you have your floor plan and mood board, you can decide where the key pieces of furniture will go in your attic bedroom as follows:

3.1: Start With the Bed Placement (Along the Peak Wall Often Works Best)

The bed will likely be the focal point of your attic bedroom so start by considering where you will place it.

Due to the peaks and slopes that you will typically encounter in an attic, the placement of your bed will probably be limited to the following options:

i) Along the Peak Wall

The most logical place to place your bed is along the peak wall where the slopes don’t encroach on the bed.

The success of this bed location (along the peak walls) will be determined by the height of the headboard and the pitch of the peak.

A more vertical the peak with a shorter headboard will be the most ideal situation.

If the headboard is too tall on a more horizontal pitch, the bed creeps more into the center of the space and creates a less ideal space plan.

The more coordination between the headboard and angled side walls, the smaller the gap between the bed and the wall behind.

If you need a new headboard, then have a look at the best headboards to buy online here.

ii) Along the Vertical Wall

Placing the bed on the vertical walls is a great option for efficient space planning, however, this can often be a window wall.

Due to drafts and natural lack of sunlight, placing the bed in front of a window might be a less ideal situation.

Before placing the bed on a vertical wall, try a couple different options.

Alternatively, you might want to consider buying a futon mattress if wall height is an issue because futons are closer to the floor than regular beds – see the best futon beds to buy online here.

3.2: Place the Nightstands and Dressers

Following the bed should include nightstand and dresser placement.

Since attics don’t often follow a square pattern, there might not be a wall or natural location for a dresser to be placed across from the bed.

You might have a wide-open view of the bed, and that is okay!

Placing a desk or dresser on an adjacent wall to the bed is a very nice look for an attic.

If your bed is placed on an angled roof wall, a natural desk or dresser location would be on a vertical wall to create a natural focal point.

3.3: Utilize Empty Space for Specific Functions

Since attics can often span the length of a whole house floor, excess room is very common.

Here are some ideas for making use of the extra space in your attic bedroom:

  • Guest room – consider including a nice living area with a TV console and sectional sofa for lounging to create a truly hospitable place.
  • Kitchenette facility – a kitchenette facility can provide a small utility sink, mini-fridge, small stove, and microwave to increase functionality and even add rental value if that’s what you’re using your attic bedroom for.
  • Home office – if you’re using your attic bedroom as a home office then you can add a desk, bookcase, and lounge furniture as required (try a freestanding Murphy bed with desk if you have enough vertical clearance). Don’t forget to include desk lamps for task lighting, and consider a counter space with a coffee maker, mini-fridge, and microwave for seamless food and beverage access during a productive work session.

4: Finalize the Furniture Selection

The next step is to finalize the furniture selection – ensuring that all items will fit the measurements of your room plan and that they line up with the decor and palette ideas that you collated on your mood boards.

Some further pointers for selecting the right furniture and placing it in the room in a functional and aesthetic way are as follows:

4.1: Align the Furnishing Heights

When selecting furnishings and lighting for your attic, it is crucial to review the heights for proper coordination, functionality, and style:

  • Do you have a table lamp on top of a dresser? Make sure that all heights, when added up, do not conflict with the sloped ceilings.
  • Do you have your eye on a unique pendant fixture? Opt for the lighting that has adjustable cords due to the unique nature of the ceilings. Then, make sure that the minimum and maximum height coordinate with the location. For instance, if you select a hanging fixture that has a longer, minimum height, it may conflict with the nightstand that it’s supposed to float on top of.

4.2: Consider Removing the Headboard to Avoid Wall Gaps

You might want to consider removing the headboard so that the bed may sit as tight to the side walls as possible and remove any unsightly gaps.

You may still be able to create a focal or headboard feel with artwork installed on the angled ceiling above.

4.3: Be Selective With Wall Art

Since there are typically more angled walls in an attic than vertical ones, artwork placement becomes tricky – so you’ll have to be selective in its placement or consider other options as follows:

  • Try a wallpaper accent wall to bring in an artistic layer, or consider utilizing a flexible material – such as fabric – that you can easily attach at an angle.
  • Unique accessories like a vintage camera or unique dried flora placed on top of a dresser can make quite an impression by themselves.
  • A focal piece of artwork can look much bolder than standard framed artwork.

5: Calculate Costs and Save Money

With the design plans, decor, and furniture selected, the final step before taking action and building your attic bedroom from scratch is to calculate how much the entire project will cost, and identify areas where you can save money.

Summing the project total can be as simple as looking online for the items that you’d like to buy and then adding up the costs in a spreadsheet.

To save money when building your attic bedroom, consider up-cycling furniture items or even building items yourself from scratch if DIY is your thing.

Alternatively, you could opt for a minimalist bedroom decor design because the absence of furnishings will also help to reduce costs too.

Check out my guide to designing a minimalist bedroom on a budget for more design and money-saving tips.

9 Inspirational Attic Bedroom Design Ideas

Below are 9 attic bedroom design ideas that you can use to help you create your mood board and get visual inspiration:

1: Very Small Attic Bedroom With Vertical Side Walls

Very Small Attic Bedroom With Vertical Side Walls
Very Small Attic Bedroom With Vertical Side Walls (Getty Images #1)

The bedroom pictured above has a smaller footprint than most but works well as a cozy bedroom.

Instead of the sloped roof connecting with the floor, the home architect, designer, or owner chose to add in vertical walls to create a more standard-looking space.

If you have all sloped walls, you may want to add in the vertical side-walls to create this look and worry less about coordinating lighting and artwork on the angles.

This space also works well with the skylights.

When thinking about adding in vertical walls, make sure to account for the windows.

By adding in the vertical walls, do you have to create a dormer effect?

If so, does this obstruct the amount of light coming into the space, causing low lighting levels?

Depending on your lighting preferences, this might factor into the construction options.  

The designer or owner opted for a unique headboard with a built-in look and sconces installed on the face.

If you add in the vertical wall, you can add in the electrical for built-in lighting, just like this.

It creates a truly unique design with plenty of customizable options.

In this example, the owner opted for a soft flooring, creating a comfortable feel that truly blends standard bedroom with attic.

Also take note of the built-in shelving on the far right side.

By adding in walls, you too may be able to include niches, such as these, which provide unique storage solutions.

2: Attic Bedroom With Slanted Walls

Attic Bedroom With Slanted Walls
Attic Bedroom With Slanted Walls (Victor Zastolskiy #2)

Above is an example of an attic space with drastic sloped side walls/roof.

The pitch of this room led to specific furniture and lighting choices.

Also shown here is a bed placed on the vertical wall to ensure enough head space.

Contemplate if this is an installation that you think would suit you as window walls can often be drafty and your views will not be utilized to their max.

An interesting installation, here, is the shelf along the headboard wall.

Since that is the only vertical wall, this owner took advantage of the storage idea and created a beautiful focal wall, complete with collections of accessories.

Since a traditional headboard could not be used here with the window, the bedside ridge creates a nice clean and horizontal line that draws your eye across and even makes the room look slightly larger.

Notice the floor lamp and center pendant location and make a note that some pieces might not work with a steeply pitched slope.

The height of the lamp and the location of the pendant due to the overall height could be rearranged to maximize their use.

Perhaps think about swagging a cord for a pendant light to better illuminate a lounge area.

3: Attic Bedroom With Cottage Theme

Attic Bedroom With Cottage Theme
Attic Bedroom With Cottage Theme (Getty Images #3)

This cottage-like attic has a quaint, humble aesthetic and a lot of great ideas.

Consider utilizing shiplap – as this attic has done – on the vertical walls, side walls, and ceilings.

The cream color finish provides a seaside feel with the striped bed skirt.

The neutral colors align with the attic’s modest nature, and the grey painted floors actually provide a very clean look.

This simple room design doesn’t include many furnishings, but its uniqueness helps the design stand out.

Consider adding small art pieces with a sculptural nightstand, as shown above, for a truly stand-out look.

Complete the design by adding warm touches such as a fuzzy rug and a variety of throw pillows on the bed.

And don’t forget the drapery if you expect sun exposure to be an issue.

4: Attic Bedroom With Headboard and Slanted Wall

Attic Bedroom With Headboard and Slanted Wall
Attic Bedroom With Headboard and Slanted Wall (Getty Images #4)

Not all attic interiors provide a natural headboard wall.

In fact, finding a great bed location may be the trickiest part of it all.

As explained in the article, there are many great options that can provide a functional layout and unique feel.

The image above shows a coordinated approach to placing the headboard on a side wall.

In the image above, the attic side walls are nothing grandiose.

In fact, judging by the height of the bed and nightstands, these vertical walls are likely no higher than 48”, before they turn into a slant.

Since a lot of headboards are taller than 48”, this owner did their proper documentation and research to find a headboard with nightstands and table lamps that worked with the scale of their vertical walls.

If you are looking to place your bed in a spot similar to this, make sure to review all furniture dimensions and ensure they align with your space.

5: Scandinavian Attic Bedroom

Scandinavian Attic Bedroom
Scandinavian Attic Bedroom (Getty Images #5)

The image above shows a modern spin on an attic interior.

Inspired by Scandinavian design, this attic creates a very serene and calming space with a minimal aesthetic and overall neutral color.

This bedroom incorporates Danish modern furniture, such as the headboard, with a mixture of some vintage elements, like the Windsor side chair.

Paired with greys in the bedding and artwork, mixed with white ceiling and walls, you can create this very sleek and unique design on a budget!

Not a lot of work and money goes into a Scandinavian look, just a great eye for modern design.

Don’t forget to add in some warm touches with a live plant and a focal light fixture.

6: Attic Bedroom With a Hanging Bed

Attic Bedroom With a Hanging Bed
Attic Bedroom With a Hanging Bed (Getty Images #6)

This image showcases a very unique attic design with a hanging bed.

Attic bedrooms can often have spacious areas that are commonly turned into guest bedrooms or other interesting dwellings.

This owner created a truly one-of-a-kind space by taking a common piece of furniture and making it interesting.

Getting creative with furniture and other interior design elements can be another fun way to spice up the attic living space.

If you are thinking about creating a hanging bed situation, make sure to investigate the structural integrity of the ceiling and always make sure to secure attachments securely into the beams.

Research different hanging bed ideas and see which one suits your architecture and aesthetic the best.

Highlight the windows with some nice window treatments and really let the natural light shine in with this layout.

7: Attic Bedroom With Modest Aesthetic and Materials

Attic Bedroom With Modest Aesthetic and Materials
Attic Bedroom With Modest Aesthetic and Materials (Getty Images #7)

As mentioned earlier in the article, attics have modest backgrounds.

Typically a space for controlling temperatures within the house, storage keeping, or living quarters for hired help; these awkward spaces are often not a key functioning space within the house.

They are often being abandoned due to their uncomfortable nature, so attics have a humble history with exposed rafters, creaking wood floors, and revealed building materials.

The image above showcases materials and designs that may relate to this space’s past.

Exposed brick vertical wall, pine flooring, and exposed ceiling studs take the typical attic look and create a warm and cozy bedroom atmosphere.

To go along with this humble look, contemplate adding in some DIY furniture, such as this palette bed, or unique pieces with unconventional purposes, such as the stacked trunks for nightstands.

This feature wall art, composed of a collection of antiques, sits in the ‘A’ frame perfectly and adds a lovely character touch to create a charming focal wall.

8: Attic Bedroom With an Urban and Eclectic Aesthetic

Attic Bedroom With an Urban and Eclectic Aesthetic
Attic Bedroom With an Urban and Eclectic Aesthetic (Getty Images #8)

Not all attic bedrooms are located in a countryside cottage.

In fact, you may be reading this article from a larger city where you are renting out your lofted attic space in a building with other apartments.

All attic spaces may look different, and the image above shows that incorporating urban elements into the interior design works great, too!

This tenet, designer, or client decided to create a lovely focal light fixture that really embraces city vibes.

This exposed, six- bulb light surely makes this space feel warm and hip.

The chandelier is placed above a lovely wood, platform bed that brings in all of the urban characteristics.

A city attic wouldn’t be complete without a metal bookcase to display your literature and thrift store artifacts.

Add in an eccentric nightstand design to bring variety to the space.

And if the lighting allows, make sure to bring in a lot of plants as shown above.

Living in a city has limited green space, so potted plants are sure to lift your spirits!

9: Attic Bedroom for Teenagers or Guests

Attic Bedroom for Teenagers or Guests
Attic Bedroom for Teenagers or Guests (Getty Images #9)

In typical fashion, an attic might be an ideal place to create a sanctuary for your teenager or guest.

In the above image, there are many ideas to create a functional and warm atmosphere.

This designer or client opted for a modern aesthetic with a sputnik-type light fixture and coordinating wood tones throughout for a clean aesthetic.

There is plenty of space to place a bed, and a workspace with a desk and wall shelving to add in character and storage.

The colorful striped blanket adds in a perfect amount of pop, creating a versatile room for either younger kids or visitors.

The most interesting and creative idea for this space is the built-in storage in the side wall.

This utilizes a previously awkward space in the most ideal way possible.

Conclusion: Plan Before You Act

The secret to designing an attic bedroom from scratch effectively is to plan out the design, the decor, and the furniture; then calculate the costs, and identify where you can save money.

To create a great attic bedroom design, you must understand your existing attic environment and prepare to get creative with the designs.

Not every attic is designed the same and the best designs will come from developing great mood boards that have ideas for designs that could work with your space.

Gather inspirational images ahead of time and focus on designs that best utilize your existing architecture.

By planning ahead with measuring and drafting up critical areas of the space, you can save time and money by ensuring that furniture will fit in the truly unique architecture of an attic.

In the late stages of designing, try to select furniture that reflects the attic’s authentic character and consider building simple furniture on your own to reflect the modest aesthetic and save money.

Up next: discover 8 ways to decorate a small bedroom with a high ceiling here.


Image Attribution and Licencing

Images marked with the ‘Jennifer Nielsen Design’ caption were provided by Jennifer Nielsen and used with permission.

All other images used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.

Individual attribution is as follows:

Main image: ‘Attic Loft Bedroom Concept’ by nurulanga (Getty Images Signature).

Image #1: ‘Attics Bedroom’ huseyintuncer (Getty Images Signature).

Image #2: ‘Modern Attic Bedroom Design’ by victorzastolskiy.

Image #3: ‘Wide Bedroom in the Attic’ by photosphobos (Getty Images).

Image #4: ‘Bedroom in the Attic’ by Katarzyna Bialasiewicz (Getty Images).

Image #5: ‘Scandinavian Style Attic Bedroom Interior’ by imaginima (Getty Images Signature).

Image #6: ‘Loft Attic Bedroom Concept’ by nurulanga (Getty Images Signature).

Image #7: ‘Bedroom in the Attic’ by archideaphoto (Getty Images).

Image #8: ‘Bedroom in Attic’ by asbe (Getty Images Signature).

Image #9: ‘Modern and Warm Teenager Attic Bedroom’ by MattSchia_ (Getty Images Pro).

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