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Empty Attic? Here’s How to Transform It Into Something Great

Empty Attic? Here’s How to Transform It Into Something Great

Published by Programme B

Attics are generally tired, boring, and unpleasant areas of a home. Most people use the space for storage and clutter. 

To transform an attic into something more functional, most people choose to make an empty attic an extra living space, like a library, media room, or kids’ playroom. 

Some people even turn an empty attic into a home office, which is especially pleasant if the attic has a window. Or even a bedroom if the space has the right dimensions and/or a conversion.

Keep reading to learn how to transform an empty attic into something great with these 5 attic ideas!

What Permits Do You Need to Renovate an Attic in Canada?

Building permits are issued by local governments and give official approval to homeowners to make changes to their properties. Permits are designed to ensure building work is completed safely and suitably.

In Canada, building permits are not necessarily needed to renovate an attic. However, it depends on the changes being made. 

The following alterations to an attic require a building permit in Canada:

  • Constructing an addition (like adding a dormer)
  • Making structural alterations (like adding/removing walls, installing new doors and windows, or relocating/enlarging existing windows and doors)
  • Reconstructing a chimney or fireplace (or installing a new one)
  • Installing or modifying heating and plumbing systems (like installing a new radiator or a bathroom in the attic)

Completing construction work without a permit in Canada can lead to fines being issued. It can also cause problems when selling a property, which can lead to additions needing to be removed or outbuildings taken down.

5 Ideas to Transform an Empty Attic Into a Functional Space

There are so many ways to make an empty attic a fun, functional living space in your home. Changing the attic can even add value to a property. Plus, some changes (especially if your attic is already finished) won’t require significant investment to make it look great!

Here are 5 ideas to transform an empty attic into a functional space.

1. Kid’s Playroom

Turn the attic into a fun, colourful kid’s playroom full of toys and games. Finish the walls, flooring, and ceiling with drywall and insulation. Then, add fun wallpaper or paint to the walls and install vinyl flooring with a playful rug.

2. Library

Transform an attic into a haven away from the chaos downstairs by turning it into a library. Install shelving units for your books, small lamps, and comfortable furniture to make the space feel warm and cozy. Then enjoy your new reading nook!

3. Home Office

Provided your attic is finished (with proper walls, flooring, and insulation) and has one or more windows, it can become the perfect home office! All you need is a desk and some cozy furnishings. Remember, to install new windows in an attic, you’ll likely need a building permit in Canada.

4. Bedroom

Another way to transform an empty attic is to make it another bedroom in your home. Many people make the attic a master bedroom with an ensuite due to the sizable space available. This transformation requires a permit to construct new walls, install windows, connect plumbing and heating, and add new doors.

5. Media/Gaming Room

Are you a musical family? Or a family of gamers? Get soundproofing, insulation, and an electrical supply in the loft, and turn your space into a music lounge or games room. Your kids can play instruments without disturbing the rest of the house, and you can enjoy playing baccarat, watching movies or hanging out with friends.

3 Common Pitfalls When Renovating an Attic (& How to Avoid Them!)

Here are the top 3 pitfalls homeowners make when renovating an attic – and how to avoid them!

  1. Neglecting Permit Applications

The most important thing to do before transforming an attic is to check what permits you need to complete the work. Even small changes, like adding a new wall or moving a doorframe, can require a permit. 

Neglecting to apply for permits can leave homeowners with hefty fines when selling in the future. Seek support from a local builder to learn which permits you need to complete your dream attic renovation.

2. Scrimping on Insulation

Canadian winters can be freezing cold, and the attic is the primary target for the harsh weather! Don’t scrimp on insulation when transforming an empty attic into a new living space. Otherwise, it’ll be unusable when the weather is less than pleasant.

Avoid this issue by adding adequate insulation to your walls, floors, and ceiling. Check with a local building supplier about what the recommended insulation is for the climate in your area. 

3. Overlooking the Importance of Soundproofing

When transforming an attic, particularly into a bedroom, don’t overlook the importance of soundproofing the space. Windy weather can make it sound like the roof is about to blow away, leading to many sleepless nights.

Soundproofing can be added to the roof and walls to make the space more peaceful to sleep in. While this isn’t as essential if the space is to be used as a playroom, it’s very important if the room will be a home office, library, or bedroom.


Don’t leave your attic empty or full of clutter! With small, medium, and large budgets, you can transform an attic into something fun for all the family to enjoy. 

Just remember the more extensive changes you make, the more likely it is you’ll need to apply (and pay) for building permits to your local Canadian government agency.

Photo by Lany-Jade Mondo x