Think of a loft apartment like a one-bedroom unit, but without all those pesky walls in the way. Or, a studio on steroids. Whichever you prefer.
Lofts are excellent dwellings if you know what to expect and have the budget for them. Before you move into a loft apartment it's helpful to what is a loft, as well as the pros, cons and in-betweens.
You're probably very familiar with standard apartment floor plans. Most comparable to lofts are studio apartments, which have a living area, sleeping space and kitchen, all contained in one room. That is, except for the much-appreciated bathroom door, of course. In short, loft apartments are similar to studios in concept, but not so much in size, scope and price.
Loft apartments came about as living spaces in 1960s New York City. Artists discovered that abandoned buildings, often with floor-to-ceiling windows, thus excellent light, make great studios. Eventually, others caught onto the charms of these awesome live/work/play spaces and now they're a super trendy place to call home. Many such lofts are also historically significant, so be sure to find out what the space used to manufacture or house so that you can wow guests with all kinds of anecdotes.
Wondering about the good, bad and ugly of loft life? Here are some of the things that make these living spaces unique.
The most authentic lofts are in spaces that used to be industrial or commercial buildings but have since been abandoned or sold. Such units are called “hard lofts." In recent years, this has become a popular way to repurpose such a space, leaving empty buildings to languish no longer.
That said, the popularity of loft living has inspired the construction of “soft lofts." These are new spaces made in the loft-style, with lots of the same charming features and an open-concept floor plan. For the purpose of this article, we'll focus on hard lofts.
Back in the old days, industrial and commercial buildings were built primarily in cities close to railroads and such. As a result, lofts are almost exclusively found in or very near to urban areas. In fact, it's a pretty common practice to convert old, run-down buildings into lofts as part of the gentrification process.
Studio apartments almost always have standard ceiling heights of nine or so feet. Lofts, however, usually go much higher than that, because of the original building format. As a result, a loft apartment feels twice the size (at least) of an otherwise similarly laid out studio.
Although high ceilings and enormous windows in one expansive room look pretty amazing, it can be a real beast to heat and cool. This is because there's a lot of unused air space to handle, and also because older buildings are not very energy efficient unless they've been totally gutted. Expect higher utility rates, not to mention the occasional draft, thanks to windows that often don't insulate well from the outside elements.
Lofts are less about efficiency and more about appearance. Because of this, they're almost always larger than studio apartments. Of course, the square footage is also affected by the original footprint of the building. Loft apartments average anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet, which is obviously much larger than the typical 500- or 600-square-foot studio.
Because lofts are usually in old buildings, they have all kinds of extra features like exposed ductwork, pipes, beams, brick and concrete floors. These industrial bells and whistles pair well with almost any style, making it easy and extremely fun to decorate. They're so popular, in fact, that more and more new construction buildings incorporate the look, loft-style, or not.
Lofts are noisier than regular apartments unless the renovation company took extra measures to enhance privacy. That's because new construction is better insulated. Lofts also lack sound-absorbing carpeting. So, if your upstairs neighbor is an avid tap-dancer, this can spell trouble.
The sheer lack of closets and other storage is another reason that lofts are less practical. In such a space, where you can literally see every square foot with one glance, it's necessary to furnish it with creative storage options. That is unless you want all of your business on display all the time.
This is one peril of an apartment that's basically one giant room. If any section of it is a disaster area, you can't simply close the door and pretend it doesn't exist. So, it's best to set a regular clutter pick-up and cleaning schedule before things get out of control.
If apartment amenities are what you're after, keep on shopping. Hard lofts rarely have the amenity portfolio that modern apartment communities boast like a 24-hour gym, swimming pool or community grilling area.
If you're charmed by the look, feel and general vibe of loft living, it's easy to find a loft apartment that's perfect for you. Especially now that you know how high to set those “lofty" expectations.