What is Usually in an Attic?

What is Usually in an Attic?

We often think of these parts of our house as empty spaces or, at most, the place where old boxes and dusty heirlooms are kept.

But that’s only for traditional attics. A growing number of residences are now converting theirs into areas that their families can use as extra dens or bedrooms.

In this post, we’ll discuss what most people can expect to find in a traditional attic and a converted attic.

What’s Inside a Traditional Attic?

The traditional attic has open spaces with sloping walls that match the roof’s shape. At first glance, many first notice the most significant feature of traditional attics – the exposed house frame. Some homes even have joists or rafters holding up the roof.

Insulation covers the flooring of most attic floors. As for the walls, traditional attics usually don’t have windows but if they do, they are usually small and only exist for the purpose of air circulation.

Other things that are typically seen in a traditional attic include:

  • Rarely used items: Rarely used items such as camping gear and luggage bags are often kept in the attic. Sometimes excess ceramics, utensils, kitchen appliances, and electronics can be found here as well.
  • Seasonal decorations: Holiday décor, particularly Christmas decorations, are usually stored inside traditional attics. You might also find decorative lanterns, menorahs, Halloween props, and other decorations here.
  • Off-season clothing: Another common find in attics is clothing that is used only a few times each year. Maternity clothes, old kids’ outfits, and the like are often kept in the attic along with a few mothballs here and there.
  • Books and toys: Toys and recently read books are usually kept in the attic. This is especially the case for households with avid readers and/or children. Similarly, some families keep bulky nursery essentials such as rocking horses and cribs if they anticipate using them down the road.

What Should I Expect In a Converted Attic?

Rather than leaving their attic as-is, many homeowners these days opt to convert their attic. It provides an affordable alternative to those looking to add more space to their residence than extending their homes.

Some of the most common materials that you can expect to be used in an attic conversion include carpeting, drywall, and insulation.

Based on the size of the attic, it can usually hold at least two more additional bedrooms, which is great for growing families or guests.

For some homes it’s used as an office, and for good reason. Since attics are above the living area on the main floor, it’s usually much quieter in there.

Before you’re able to convert an attic, though, there are a few things you need to look into:

  • 7-foot ceiling: To meet building codes, your attic floor-to-ceiling height must be 7 feet. If it’s not, you’ll need to have your roof raised
  • Ceiling panels: You may want to add panels so the space feels more finished
  • Insulation: If you don’t have insulation, it’s a good idea to add this since the space may get too cold or too warm compared to the rest of the house. This is also the case if your insulation is old or insufficient
  • Staircase or ladder: Most homes have pull-down staircases, which is fine for traditional attics, but a hassle for converted attics. You may want to consider having a permanent staircase installed. To save space, you could also opt for a ladder or a narrow spiral staircase

What Shouldn’t Be In the Attic?

Given that most attics aren’t climate controlled, these areas are often not insulated well, resulting in significantly varying temperatures during different times of the year.

That’s why it’s important for people not to store the following items in their attics:

  • Flammables: This could be lighter fluid, paint thinner, or firewood. Any item that could catch fire easily would be difficult to notice in the attic.
  • Photographs: Storing old photos in the attic isn’t a great idea as the shifting temperatures could ruin them.
  • Antiques and important documents: Anything sentimental and priceless shouldn’t be stored in the attic where humidity and the risk of pests are common.
  • Food: Food items, even when canned, can be eventually be accessed by rodents and pests like squirrels and mice.
  • Animals: This probably goes without saying, but if there’s an animal in your attic that isn’t your pet, it shouldn’t be there. If you notice this, call a professional immediately.


The attic is one of the most unique areas of the house. Although many people would easily think of it as a musty, dusty, and dark place where things are usually stored, it can also be used as an added location in a home.

Many attics have been converted into extra bedrooms, studios, offices, and entertainment areas for households that need the extra space.

Just to be safe, though, you’ll want to keep flammables, photographs, antiques, important documents, and food away from the attic to avoid problems.