In my next life, I want to live in a loft — a real, converted industrial warehouse from the 1800s. I want exposed brick, cement floors, wooden beams, ductwork and pipes, and a long wall of large windows. I want my imaginary loft to be in the heart of a major city -- Manhattan, Chicago, or maybe even Los Angeles. I'll decorate with antiques, thrift-store finds, and junk store treasures. It'll be sleek and retro at the same time with giant prints advertising animated movies hanging on the walls, funky light fixtures handmade by local artists, and maybe a farmhouse dining table that runs the length of the "dining area."
Until then, I enjoy pretend-decorating my pretend-loft. If you have the chance to rent the real thing, loft living isn't for everyone -- but for those who enjoy a funky edge to their living space, surrounded by the energy of downtown living, loft living may be just the answer you've been looking for. So what do you look for in a loft?
First, unless you are more of the upscale, loft-light type who prefers a modern loft look in a more exclusive setting, look for the grittier section of downtown, where there’s a lot of warehouse space. During the 1950s, this is where the bohemian artist types moved illegally to take up residence in abandoned warehouses. That area of town will still have that hip, edgy feel to it.
Exposed beams, cracks in the walls, exposed brick, scuffed floors, giant windows, and bared pipes are all desirable elements in a loft. You don’t want to cover them, but you can paint them – some people will paint their exposed pipes a bright color to draw even more attention to them. Or, be a purist and leave them naturally beautiful.
Once you’ve found the loft of your dreams, how do you decorate it? Lofts are very different from traditional apartments. For one, there are few walls and no defined spaces. Usually, the only interior door will be to the bathroom. Another interesting feature – most lofts have very tall ceilings – we’re talking 14 feet in some cases. Another missing element is closet space. Decorating this vast, open, tall space can be daunting. Use large furniture so it doesn’t get lost. Decorate up – tall bookcases, hanging lights, oversized paintings – to highlight your tall ceilings.
Use throw rugs. You’ll have beautiful wood or cement floors, but throw rugs here and there can help define rooms. Arrange furniture on and around the rug in the living area, bedroom, and dining area. Screens and bookcases can also help separate spaces. And since you won’t have closet space, you’ll need to be creative. Sturdy industrial shelving hidden with an elegant curtain could do the trick, or perhaps an antique wardrobe.
Lofts have become the latest rage – for singles and even for families. If you like the idea of living in the heart of a major city, take a look at some lofts. You may just find your dream space.