It’s easy to fall in love with a loft space – the historic charm, the soaring ceilings, the massive windows, the exposed pipes and concrete floors – but once the lease is signed, trying to figure out what to do with all of that wide-open space may leave you stymied.
First, you want to define the living spaces. Because lofts typically only have one interior door (to the bathroom), creating distinct spaces will be a challenge. Start with area rugs – large ones will anchor your living room furniture and create that definition. Privacy screens will help break your loft into living spaces, as well. Furniture can also act as room dividers. A few strategically-placed bookcases can partially enclose a space and make it cozy. Japanese shoji screens around the “bedroom” will give a sense of privacy without blocking the light. You can also mount an antique door or a wood panel on a track – this will give you the ability to "open up" the space when you are entertaining and "close off" the space when you want privacy.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to decorate your loft with sleek, modern furnishings – unless you want to. Sure, modern décor does work well with industrial loft spaces – but if you love French country or shabby chic, you can make it work in a loft space. Don't try to "hide" your loft's charms by attempting to disguise it as a French cottage, however – instead, play up the contrasts and use the industrial elements to your advantage. That exposed brick in the kitchen below a steel pipe is the perfect spot for your antique ceramic rooster collection – and the red of the brick fits nicely into a farm-country feel.
Those high ceilings were a huge selling point – but now you don't know what to do with them. Also, the tiny couch and scaled-down furniture you purchased when living in a traditional apartment suddenly look like they came out of a dollhouse – way too small for a soaring, wide-open loft space. You might want to replace your small-scale apartment furniture with some larger pieces. Also, think vertically – tall bookcases will look amazing against those high, brick walls. Don't hang artwork too high – yes, the ceilings are 15', but you still want your artwork eye-level. If you have a lot of artwork, go ahead and take it up – but make sure to keep several of your paintings and pictures where you can easily see and enjoy them.
During the day those giant windows let in terrific natural light – so much so that you might not have considered lighting when you looked at the loft. A tiny tabletop lamp will get swallowed up by a cavernous loft, so don't just add a couple of lamps on end tables and call it done. Instead, add a wide variety of lighting – track lights, pendants, chandeliers, floor lamps, etc. Be sure to hang your pendants and chandeliers at a natural level (you don't want the chandelier disappearing 16 feet up). You may need to buy extra chain to make up for the extended length, but it will be worth it.
Storage will be a major challenge in a loft – there typically is very little (if any) closet space. Consider creating an "open" closet by hanging a long shelf and pole along one wall. Baskets placed on the floor beneath the pole are perfect for storing shoes, while the shelf can hold more storage baskets. If you don't want your items exposed, hang curtains in front of the "closet" area or create a closet using a free-standing armoire. Be sure to add plenty of shelving and bookcases for additional storage space. For privacy, create a closet by utilizing the space behind a tall cabinet placed behind the bed (cover or paint the back of the cabinet to use as the headboard of your bed, with the shelves and drawers facing out) but away from the wall. Use screens to add more privacy on the sides, if necessary. Utilize the wall in the back of the space to hang a pole for clothing and extra shelves for storage.
A loft is a wonderful – if somewhat challenging – space. By using creative solutions and to-scale design elements, your loft will be an inviting place to call home.