During the 1960s, artists began illegally utilizing empty warehouses in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood as living space. In what would become a trend for the future of urban living, New York legalized the residential use of space in SoHo in 1971. Soon, industrial buildings in other New York neighborhoods, such as Chelsea, TriBeCa, and Greenwich Village, were being converted into living spaces.
A true loft, often called a “hard loft,” is a former industrial building or warehouse, often historic, that has been converted into residential or a combined live/work space. A loft-style building, or “soft loft,” is a newly-built residential building with the look of a loft. The latter is becoming common because of the popularity of the former, but soft lofts can be built in neighborhoods that aren’t necessarily in urban areas.
The traits of a loft also include certain structural features, such as high ceilings, tall windows, a wide-open floor plan, and exposed brick. They may also retain certain features from their days as a warehouse, including cement floors, exposed pipes and wires, and interior pillars.
Now that you know a little more about lofts, is it the right choice for you? Consider the following:
* Lofts are typically located in converted industrial, downtown areas of a major city. While convenient to museums, shops, theaters, restaurants, bars, and art galleries, it is also congested and often noisy.
* Because of the open floor plan and design elements, lofts are typically decorated in a minimalist or modern style; if you prefer traditional decor and separate rooms, you may not appreciate loft living.
* While those who live in lofts love the exposed brick, the concrete, the exposed pipes, large windows, and the freight elevators so common in many lofts, it isn’t for everyone. If you consider yourself an artistic free spirit looking for a funky, interesting living space, a loft might be ideal. If, on the other hand, you are a traditionalist who wants a warm, cozy space, you probably wouldn’t enjoy loft living.
* Since lofts typically don’t have separate rooms, privacy in a loft is limited. While this may not be a problem for a single person or a couple, it does pose a problem for those who want to have a roommate or if you have children.
* Do you like to entertain? If you are the type of person who enjoys throwing a party, lofts are ideal – the wide-open space is perfect for hosting get-togethers. On the other hand, if you don’t like to entertain, the vastness of a loft could be overwhelming.
*It may cost more in heating and cooling, due to the high and often exposed ceilings and the large number of windows.
For those who want to live in the heart of the city surrounded by the art and culture that comes along with it, lofts offer a unique living option. The amazing view from those tall windows is spectacular; the convenience of being able to walk to the corner market or café can’t be beat. The vast, open walls are perfect for all of those paintings you’ll purchase at the local art galleries and art shows; the money you’ll save by walking to work – or getting rid of your car completely in favor of mass transit – is worth the higher cost of city living.
If you’ve decided that a loft is your ideal dream home, get started on finding the perfect place for you – your new loft is waiting.