Mad About . . .

Industrial Style Loft Conversion

31st August 2015
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This is it! It’s done. Would you like to take a tour of the new loft with me? We don’t have the sofa yet as it’s coming from Italy and was delayed so you’ll have to make do with the bare room for now but you get the idea. Hint: the update is coming at the end…..

loft conversion black bookshelves

The bookshelves are painted in my new favourite colour Railings by Farrow and Ball

We were very clear when we set out on this project that we wanted to create a Loft. By which I mean it need to still look like a loft. Ideally, it was supposed to give the sense that it had always existed at the top of the house and we had just refurbished it. It was crucial that it wasn’t just another room bolted onto the top.

To that end we kept the roof joists exposed and painted the bricks of the original chimney stack rather than boxing them in. I sourced reclaimed floorboards to match the rest of the house and kept the window panes small. This fits with the original Victorian idea that the window panes get smaller the higher up the house you go as basically the top was for the servants and they didn’t need nice big light rooms!

This pink neon sign lights the way down the stairs. It gives out masses of soft pink light, which we weren’t expecting so we don’t need a landing light below as the glow spills down onto the floor below.

industrial office chairs by madaboutthehouse.com

Moving round the room in stages, this will be my office from now on. I can’t wait to be up there sitting at my computer and working although I fear I may spend so long staring at the view I won’t get anything done.

walls painted in wimborne white and steel in railings all by Farrow and Ball

walls painted in wimborne white and steel in railings all by Farrow and Ball

The plan was that the sofa bed would sit in front of this area above but actually I rather like it so I think it will go further back. The stools were made from roof joists – sometimes the builder’s Dad would come and supervise and he made himself a couple little stools to sit on. He very kindly gave them to me when the job was finished.


We deliberately ran the rafters all the way down to the floor rather than building in cupboards at the back so the space would feel bigger and airier. Actually you can stand up to the Velux window so most of the room is usable.

When you come up the stairs you see the bathroom, which has been painted in Hague Blue Gloss by Farrow and Ball with casa tiles from Marrakech Sweden. The sliding door was made from leftover floorboards and put on a runner I found on ebay for £99.

The basin stand was made from leftover roof joists. It still needs siliconing round the base of the bath so it will be tidier than that by the time you read this.

And that, my friends is the loft. I shall be returning to it again but you’ve all been asking and, naturally, it took longer than it was supposed to so I wanted to show it to you before the blog goes on its summer break in August.

The sofa bed has now arrived. It was supposed to come before the windows went in so that it could be carried up the scaffolding… cross your fingers it will bend round the stair walls. As you can see it did!

sofa bedbed

And, now there is also this light, which I wrote about yesterday which will soon have a red flex which should just add a little something to that corner.

vintage industrial light

What do you think?

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  • Ash S 3rd May 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Hi Kate,

    This is a really lovely loft space! Would it be ok if we shared this link in our next newsletter so our readers can get some ideas of chic/modern loft designs? By the way, love the sliding door!!

    Some fantastic images you’ve posted here. I like the office loft conversion with the bookshelf – that’s probably because of my ever growing collection of books! lol.

    Great article!


    • Kate Watson-Smyth 4th May 2016 at 7:10 am

      Yes of course, as long as you link back to The Mad House,thank you.

    • ann 1st October 2016 at 7:19 am

      hi Kate, love the loft, but in particular your wall to wall desk, what type of wood is it made from? so I can do the same, what is the depth of the plank? am going to get my “man about the house” to do the same for me, (I hope) , Ann 🙂

      • Kate Watson-Smyth 4th October 2016 at 7:51 am

        Hi Ann

        My desk came from a salvage place in London called Retrouvious. It’s an old school laboratory worktop. They are all quite worn but you can sand them down if that doesn’t fit with your look. They tend to be 600mm wide and whatever length you want. It’s best to ring them up and talk through what you need. If they ask tell them I sent you – some of them know me.

  • zannah 18th March 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Kate – I love your loft and think it looks fab…. now you are a few months in, can I ask a question about the sliding door concept in operation? I am interested to hear how sound proof bathroom activities are from the loft room outside? Considering using a similar mechanism in a cottage, which in the manner of old cottages has weird room configuration with shower room leading off dining room. Keen to ensure what happens in the bathroom stays in the bathroom… thoughts??

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 18th March 2016 at 4:54 pm

      Hi Zannah

      I love that door but I have to say that it’s probably not sound proof enough for your purposes. We tend to use the loft during the day as a studio so it’s not really an issue as it’s mostly me. Otherwise when it’s a bedroom it’s me and him and we’ve been married for nearly 20 years so that’s not an issue either. For you, where it’s next to the dining room I would suggest a pocket door – they’re more expensive but essentially the door slides between two halves of the wall – you make a thin false wall for this to work – that is a much better fit and will ensure, as you say, that what happens in the bathroom stays in the bathroom. You can buy a kit from here or at least have a look and see what you think. I know it’s not quite the rustic cottage style of mine but then it sounds like you need to think about sound over style in this case

      • zannah 8th April 2016 at 2:29 pm

        Thanks for your insights Kate, much appreciated!

  • Caroline 7th January 2016 at 9:13 am

    Hi Kate,
    Would you mind sharing where you sourced your windows from? We are in the throws of some building work and struggling with the window choices.

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 7th January 2016 at 3:25 pm

      Hi Caroline

      They just came from a local window maker which our builder had used before. We told them what we wanted – how many panes across and down etc. They are just wooden but we wanted to sort of copy the crittal effect.

      • Caroline 7th January 2016 at 5:05 pm

        Great, thanks so much.

  • susie 12th November 2015 at 7:31 pm

    Love your loft conversion – especially the attention to detail with the black matching up. Can I ask where you got the black sockets from? Have seen some on a very expensive site for £70 – obv bit out there for a mere socket!!

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 15th January 2016 at 5:52 pm

      Hi Susie

      Sorry to take so long to reply – the sockets came from the socket store and were very reasonable.

  • Alex 24th September 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Your loft looks fabulous. Where did you get the desk and brackets for it as well as the great desk lights?

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 25th September 2015 at 9:54 am

      Thank you Alex. So the desk is a long length of laboratory worktop from Retrouvius held up with chimney support brackets from the builder – mine are small about £50 plus VAT, and the desk lights are the loft lights by Jielde Hope that helps XK

  • Felicity 12th September 2015 at 3:12 pm

    It looks wonderful – so envious! Have you tested the sofa bed comfort factor yet – both as sofa and bed?

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 13th September 2015 at 7:49 pm

      Thank you! The in-laws are coming to stay in a couple of weeks…. the bed will be tested then (by us not them) and, as a sofa, it’s pretty fabulous!

      • Felicity 14th November 2015 at 6:01 pm

        Hi Kate, so how was the sofa bed to sleep on?

  • Heather 10th September 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Such an inspiring conversion – love the motivation behind it and it has turned out perfectly. A real loft feel – that is going to be some workspace for you! #jel


  • Robyn 3rd September 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Great space Kate. love the windows in railings but my husband would love to know where you got your tan/metal legged desk chairs? Thank you


    • Kate Watson-Smyth 11th October 2015 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Robyn, the chairs came from Peppermill Antiques. They are currently out of stock but you can either ring and see if they are getting more or they have lots of other lovely things there. I didn’t reply sooner because I was waiting to see if it came back of its own accord….

  • Lianne 31st August 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Wonderful! Thank you for sharing your super inspiring loft! I think you did an amazing job at keeping it a loft yet creating a really special place. 10 out of 10!

  • Fiona Duke 31st August 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Hi Kate

    Just back from a few weeks away and I’m loving the update and the sofa bed. Worth all the time spent researching it for sure – looks great .

    Now that the weather appears to be telling us that summer is ‘over’ it’s back to work and focus and what a lovely spot you have for it.

    Enjoy 🙂

  • Corinne 31st August 2015 at 10:49 am

    I love your ideas and colours – will have to find a way to adapt ‘English Loft’ to look right in our new home office in Cyprus. And everyone should have a couple of builders’ stools like that – definitely will be asking himself to make some!

  • Hannah gee 31st August 2015 at 10:19 am

    I love it, what an amazing room to work from. I love the en-suite. Especially the door and sink.

  • Jo 31st August 2015 at 9:40 am

    Love it. Well done for making it happen. Just think of the happy hours you are going to have loading up those shelves. Love the bathroom – those tiles ?

  • Dani H 31st August 2015 at 7:26 am

    L.O.V.E. it all! Every last little detail taken into consideration… and executed superbly! Just stunning.

  • Millie 4th August 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Wow Kate. A really lovely loft space. Perfect for working, but will double up as a lovely spare room once the sofa bed is in situ. It looks as though it has been there for years… your intention I know. The bathroom tiles are divine.

  • Chi Wong 2nd August 2015 at 12:14 am

    Hi your loft looks amazing!!!!!! Super modern and chic!

    Can you tell me where on eBay you got the runners for the sliding door… I can’t seem to find it on there.


  • Cat 26th July 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Looks amazing! We are doing our loft this summer and also wanted to expose the chimney breast and paint it with the steel also being expose. Our builder told us this was not allowed due to ‘fire regualtions’. Did you have this problem and how did you solve it? Many thanks

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 27th July 2015 at 2:08 pm

      Hi, I have had a long chat with the guys at astroflame.com and I am going to basically tell you what they told me and you can decide what you want to do. So firstly, you have to paint the steel in intumescent paint – this is white and goes on top of the red oxide primer, which is already on the steel when it arrives. This stuff swells up when it comes into contact with fire and deprives the flames of oxygen. Then you must paint over it with SFR paint (smoke and fire retardant paint) which can be mixed in any RAL colour you want so you don’t have to worry about colours. Although steel won’t technically burn these paints will prevent it from buckling and collapsing in the event of fire.
      Now, when it comes to exposed bricks, according to these chaps (who know all the regulations), you don’t have to paint exposed bricks in intumescent paint in a private dwelling. You do, for example in a school corridor or place of assembly in a public building) but not in a house. Having said that a)the rules may be about to change and b) if it makes your builder happy you can do the same as you did with the steel anyway. You need to ring this company to give them the dimensions of the steel so they can calculate how much paint you will need.
      Finally, although the bricks technically don’t need to be covered in this paint, some building inspectors and control will insist on this. This, said my paint expert, is more about covering themselves in the case of any later problems. He told me that in public buildings, while you have to use SFR paint on the walls, the door frames and skirting boards are exempt but again many building controllers will insist you do them. So basically it’s up to you. I would suggest that you, or your builder, perhaps talk again to this company to make sure of the details. He told me to look up BS476 parts six and seven for the spread of fire and parts 20 onwards for the resistance to fire. You can stick that into google and it will come up.
      But, to cut a long story short, yes you can have your steel and your bricks. Good luck with your loft conversion! Kate.

  • Victoria 24th July 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Thank you for sharing! Really love the bookshelves and the feel you have given the room. not a fan of this sink. Maybe in a plain bathroom but it detracts from the tile for my liking. I’m so surprised I like the tile but that bathroom looks gorgeous and rich. Adore the windows. Definitely a crittal feel. Well done.

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 27th July 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Hi Victoria, I’m so glad you like it. Interesting point re the basin – I have had it sitting in a cupboard for about three years and it needed to be used. I was also a little nervous about it with the blue tiles for exactly the reasons you said but I have made my peace with it because a) I think it’s a cool basin and b) it needed using and that was the only place it could go! I’m really pleased with the windows too!

  • Caroline Hett Peel 22nd July 2015 at 12:43 pm

    I particularly love the half wall at the top of the staircase, the windows, the wall lights, the long simple workbench, the tiles… in fact, I love it all. Happy working in your beautiful loft.

  • Eva 22nd July 2015 at 11:08 am

    Wow, Kate – it looks amazing! What a fantastic working space!

  • Julie Searles 22nd July 2015 at 9:41 am

    Fabulous love it, want a loft now and those bathroom tiles.

  • Margarita Alves 22nd July 2015 at 9:31 am

    Love it !
    We got sofas for a similar space with v restricted access from Nabru. Sofa comes in pieces to be assembled in situ so allows something much bigger.

  • poppy 22nd July 2015 at 8:46 am

    it’s fabulous!

  • Natasha 22nd July 2015 at 8:12 am

    So great to see the big reveal. I love everything about it but as someone who’s favourite colour is also Railings (and had bookshelves in that colour) I feel a complete draw to the room. Well done – you did an amazing job.

  • Kate lovejoy 22nd July 2015 at 8:07 am

    You’ve certainly achieved your goal but it’s got a great contemporary twist too! I want one!!!

  • Kate Shaw 22nd July 2015 at 7:59 am

    Kate, fantastic space! Love the bookshelves, love the bathroom tiles, love the windows but really really love that very clever sliding door. Definitely going to use that idea! Thanks for sharing and inspiring! x

  • Fiona Duke 22nd July 2015 at 7:52 am

    It looks amazing Kate, absolutely stunning – well done for all your hard work.
    I am literally green with envy at numerous design elements you’ve managed to get in. Your stroke of genius for me isn’t even in the pictures (although I would love to see it) where you said you have put a sliding door on the stairs entering into the loft as this has allowed you to have so many fantastic elements such as the exposed brick, sliding door…. etc. I have been working on a loft for a client for about 2-3 months now and been told ‘no’ on so many occasions due to fire regulations so I have seriously learned a lot from how you’ve done yours so thank you. Will take on board for the next one!
    What an amazing abode for work……… 🙂

  • Andrea 22nd July 2015 at 7:39 am

    This is so lovely! May I be your lodger??!

  • Debra 22nd July 2015 at 7:12 am

    It’s more than gorgeous Kate well done. It’s such a wonderful space. I particularly love the bathroom too. V jealous.

  • sam 22nd July 2015 at 7:11 am

    girl you have nailed it. sterling work – love love love it xx

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