Exposed brick, plywood flooring, pared-back furniture and standout textiles give this attic space plenty of character
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Whether designer Karen Knox is working on her own place or a client’s home, the pattern is the same. “You start with ideas about the big things, but by the end you’re discussing plug sockets and radiator pipe covers,” she says. Her latest project – converting her loft into a guest room – proves that a painstaking planning process pays off. An original mix of industrial elements and positively cosy textiles complement pale walls and floors to give the space a Scandi feel that’s made it a favourite place to escape to.
Room at a Glance
Who lives here Karen Knox of Making Spaces, her husband, their four-year-old son and their cat
Location Leeds, West Yorkshire
Property A 1960s semi
Size 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
Room dimensions 5.5m x 3.5m, with 2.2m-high ceilings
Designer Karen Knox of Making Spaces
“I’ve always been quite good at warning clients about the reality of living in a building site, but I did find it hard living with the constant soundtrack of doors banging and the vacuum cleaner on all the time,” says Knox. “Especially as I work from home.” When the designer’s (now gorgeous) loft conversion took 17 weeks instead of the expected eight, she turned to her interiors blog to vent her frustration. “It was quite cathartic to be able to write about it and let out all the angst.” There was, of course, a happy ending and what is now a large, spacious room is also the perfect showcase for Knox’s skills.
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The exposed brick wall was central to Knox’s design. “I fell in love with it when we first looked round the house,” she says.
Kilim Afghan rug, Trend Carpet.
A before photo shows the substantial space in its original state. “I always knew the brick wall would be part of the design,” says Knox. “A lot of people were really surprised that we got it through Building Regulations – I think it’s because it’s not an external wall, so there wasn’t an issue with insulation.”
See how an attic was converted into a whole home
The final design for the loft stayed very true to this mood board designed by Knox. “It’s really interesting designing a room from scratch. I wanted it to be really stripped back and quite Scandinavian, but with warm textures.”
Triple sliding doors in black-stained birch mean that the full space under the eaves can be accessed for storage. “It’s a good two metres in depth,” says Knox.
Evora throw, Maisons du Monde.
“I’ve always loved plywood,” says Knox. “I really didn’t want carpet in the loft and I felt proper floorboards would look too posh, so I thought I’d see if plywood would go down as boards.” Knox used 6mm Poplar plywood, which was laid by Bare Joinery. Old meets new with Ikea pieces sitting alongside a vintage Anglepoise floor lamp. The light, which is on castors, was recovered from a doctor’s surgery and had to be rewired and resprayed.
Windows, Clear View.
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Knox had originally planned to stain the pale chest of drawers to match the sliding doors, but decided to leave it untreated, like the door to the en suite.
Tarva chest of drawers, Ikea. Tripod lamp, Habitat.
Leftover conduit from the light fittings (see below) has been used to make a hanging rail in the eaves. Converting the loft inevitably meant finding space for all manner of evicted items. “Our loft was packed, so we had a lot of downsizing to do,” says Knox. “We were really strict about what we kept and put in the eaves storage, but it’s starting to fill up quite quickly. We might need to do another cull!”
The industrial-style lighting with visible conduits required some very careful measuring by Knox’s husband and the electrician. “The wires and cables needed to be positioned before we had the storage built in and the bed put in place. We had to work out exactly where the bed would sit to within a few centimetres – it was literally that close,” says Knox.
Factorylux Maria Banjo wall light, Urban Cottage Industries.
A sculptural plant, a vintage Artek poster and a clever lighting fixture create a quirky focal point in this monochrome corner of the loft room.
Scorched wood wall hooks, Utology. Light, Urban Cottage Industries. Florian ceramic plant pot, La Redoute. Walls painted in White Dulux Trade Diamond Matt, Light & Space range, Dulux.
Rather than trying to conceal the radiator, Knox has made a feature of it. “This was the only wall where we could have a radiator and I didn’t want to take up the whole space by having a horizontal one, in case I ever wanted to put a desk there. I went for this colour because black was going to feature quite strongly in the bedroom.”
Anthracite vertical radiator, Soak.com. Blinds, Hillarys. Alseda footstool, Ikea.
Intended as a guest room, the converted loft is also the perfect escape for Knox and her family. “Because it’s so high up and we’ve got these mega windows, it gets this really nice light throughout the day,” says Knox. “It’s lovely to come up in the morning with a cup of tea, and we often sit here in the evening and look over our garden watching the solar lights pop on.”
Are you a fan of this room with a view? Tell us in the Comments section.