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If you like open spaces, you are probably in love with lofts – whether you know it or not. After all, that’s their distinctive characteristic. All structural elements of loft apartments are unique. And the sense of industrial living is enhanced by the right decorative elements too. So in order to get the urban loft feeling in your home, you need to approach the project in a number of perspectives.
First things first…
Loft vs. Soft Loft
A genuine loft is a very large and open space with several exposed structural elements, high ceilings, huge metal-framed windows, brick walls, and wooden or concrete floors. Although the materials vary, they are usually raw. Loft apartments feature mezzanines reachable by staircases.
It’s no wonder why lofts have an industrial style. The idea of residential lofts started when impoverished artists in New York were in search of cheap places to host their studio and fit their oversized paintings. In the 1960s, the area in SoHo was an abandoned and kind of dangerous industrial neighborhood. The art world found the perfect home since the rentals were cheap and the spaces large. And since such spaces were made for industrial purposes and the new tenants too poor to transform them, they were left intact. The artists prospered and the idea of having a loft apartment became a trend. Soon the entire Manhattan region became the perfect place for finding a loft – at least to those who could afford it.
Over the years, the idea was expanded. Today, one cannot only find an industrial loft apartment but also a soft loft. That’s a slightly modified loft. Such apartments have been modified to meet the requirements of modern families. In a typical loft, the bathroom is the only hidden room. In soft lofts, builders put up some semi-walls. People use dividers to keep their bedroom semi-private. Soft lofts still have mezzanines, which serve as a bedroom or home office. They might still have exposed ducts and plumbing pipes and big openings, but not necessarily floor to ceiling windows or high ceilings.
Contemporary apartments are not lofts
Two-storey apartments are not lofts. Apartments with large living rooms and open plan kitchens are not lofts. No matter how contemporary apartments are, they still have a number of rooms. One of the most distinctive features in lofts is the lack of walls. Everything is exposed. One of the essential features in a typical apartment is the existence of walls. So just by exposing the duct for the sake of the loft look won’t make the apartment a loft.
Lofts are not the perfect solution for large families
Each member of every family needs some privacy. That’s why apartments have so many rooms. They have walls and doors. Lofts are not the right solution for families. Given that you have ample space, you can turn an apartment into a soft loft for a family too. But it won’t be functional. Lofts are best for couples or people living alone. They are also the right solution for those who live & work at home.
Should you turn your apartment into a loft?
Even if you have the space to turn a typical apartment into a genuine loft, it will be a hassle. That’s because you will need to make several structural changes. Whether there is a mezzanine or not, you will have to remove walls to create one large open space. This will include removing nearly all walls even if you leave a couple of them standing as dividers. What you also need to do is to use the attic space to open up the ceiling. As for the windows, they will need to be enlarged. Even if you don’t make them floor to ceiling windows, the idea is to have oversized openings. For such structural changes, you will need to take permissions and stick to the building codes of your location. And this is the most hassled part of this home renovation project. It takes time, money, and professional planning. And that’s before you start working internally and focusing on the exposed ceiling beams, decoration etc.
Is there an easy way to convert an apartment into a loft?
As long as your apartment has walls, you will need to bring them down. The good news is that if you have a large living room and two bedrooms, this can become an easier job. You will still need to take permissions and check the stability of the structure no matter what changes you make – that’s for your safety. But in order to get the feeling of living in an urban loft, you don’t have to rebuild your home. After all, the key phrase here is ‘make it feel like’. In a two-bedroom apartment, you can tear down part of the walls and use the areas as a bedroom, gym, or home office. That’s taken that the kitchen, dining room, and living room are all in the same space to start with. In a different case, you will need to bring down a few more walls.
The best ideas to get the feeling of a loft apartment
The distinctive looks of contemporary loft apartments derive from the overall style. It’s the combination of some decorative elements along with the structural characteristics of exposed items that will give the impression of a soft loft.
So, what you can do apart from enlarging windows and bringing down some walls?
- Although you don’t have to have exposed pipelines to create the sense of soft lofts, if you by any chance change them, don’t cover them.
- It’s important to focus on the materials and colors of the walls, ceilings, and floors. What you need are natural elements and neutral colors. It’s best to leave walls unfinished. Brick walls are perfect. Prefer the patina looks and concrete for the bathroom walls and floors. You can also use wooden flooring. But never wood on walls. It will be too heavy. You can install floor to ceiling wainscoting panels but only to cover one particular wall. It’s best to paint it white, gray or black. These should be the main hues of the color palette.
- Speaking of walls and panels, you should also consider their combination to create some storage space. Don’t forget that lofts are kind of ‘empty’. They rather follow the principles of minimalism. But since each home has way too many things, you could install panels that would serve as storage units.
- The minimalism of lofts will also follow you when you will try to decorate. Hmm, the trick here is lose anything heavy, unnecessary, or items that will make the room busy. Keep things simple. If you need to have drapes, keep them simple and white, gray, or black. Furniture must be minimal too. In other words, their line should be strict and simple. Fabrics should be simple too. Materials should range from blond wood and concrete to aluminum. Glass should only feature in the windows. No glass tables. But if you like Plexiglas chairs, go for it.
- Of course, wall-to-wall carpets have no place in lofts. You can use rugs and even more conventional designs, like Persian rugs. But don’t overdo it. One or two will suffice depending on space size.
- The kitchen, bed, closets and all items in the house must follow the same minimalistic line. The idea is to enlarge the open space and let it breathe.
- Lighting options are also vital. Yes, you could hang a chandelier to break the modernity in space. But that’s it. If your soon-to-be soft loft has a high ceiling, use long pendants. Stick with modern but simple lighting fixtures. If the ceiling is not high, you can install recessed lighting.
- If there is a mezzanine, choose contemporary railings. Cable rail systems are ideal. Glass is also an option. Make sure the staircases – spiral or not – are also modern. Keep them wooden if you like. They will bring some balance in the house. But prefer blond wood.
- Although blacks and whites should dominate, a splash of red or yellow will make the space even more contemporary. You can do that by adding a red sofa or even by having yellow tulips.
- A kitchen island is always a nice feature and comes very handy. And although your open plan kitchen should be strict in terms of line and materials, it’s the only place where you can keep some items exposed. So you can hang a pot rack over the island and keep kitchen aids on the counter.
Loft living is actually a lifestyle. It’s not something you can mimic for a day or two. So if you are a real follower, let your instincts guide you. The main idea is to create an open space and keep a balance with minimum furniture and decorative items, but also with neutral colors. Bring in light, add greenery, and find your way to make the loft as industrial as it can be but still livable. That’s the idea!