When it comes to open-plan living, no space does it better than lofts. Often warehouse / factory conversion style, lofts are large apartments where the dining and living areas all sit within one room.
Having lived in a loft myself, I've seen how people can get creative with zoning and creating distinctive areas all within the same room; a book case can act as a room divider when placed in the middle of the room, rather than against the walls. Sofas, too, can be placed in the middle of the room, thus dividing up the seating area from the space behind it. Rugs are a great way of determining what's what – see this cool New York loft (opens in new tab) as an example.
But loft style living brings so much more with it. Lofts can be a playground for wilder, more creative ideas. With larger rooms and taller ceilings than normal, it could be fun to hang a hammock or swing as part of the living room furniture. With rustic or industrial style details, like exposed brick or stone walls and exposed piping, it's the perfect setting to play with contrasts too. Refined furniture, impressive art collections, even a grand piano will all look uber chic when contrasted against rougher textures. Yet a graffiti wall or wild paint splashes wouldn't look out of place either.
I spent some years living in a former bank building that my father had decorated with antique furniture, oil paintings, sculptures and grand pianos. The stark contrast felt elegant yet edgy at the same time, and the unique building (all the bank's safes were still intact, some so big they were rooms themselves!), was also the perfect backdrop for large parties or group games at the weekends like mini golf and capture the flag.
But the absolute king of loft interiors has got to be architect Ricardo Boffil, who lives in converted cement factory La Fabrica (opens in new tab). His place plays with proportions, with huge curtains draped down from the double height ceilings, softening the brickwork. The living room is so big that you don't even notice the indoor trees as they look more like potted plants. Modern staircases and sleek furniture provide a stark contrast to the rough textures and exposed piping, and a mezzanine level within the living room still offers large proportions for the raised dining area.
Across the pond in New York, loft style living proves a popular way of life, and there are many old red brick conversion properties for residents to have their pick. Here are three oversized loft-style apartments listed on onefinestay (opens in new tab) that are each brimming with ideas worth noting.
1. OUTSIDE THE BOX
The entrance to Manhattan'sNoho Loft II (opens in new tab) is via this lift, which appears to have a giant paint splatter strewn across it. The effect is refreshing.
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2. SWING SEAT
The same loft apartment offers other quirky touches too, like swing seating suspended on long thin ropes from the ceiling, accentuating the height even more.
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3. HYPER CONTRAST
Refined furniture and a mostly white palette contrasts against the warm, rough texture of the walls.
Brick walls are left bare and are made a feature in themselves.
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Mounting wall lights onto the brick is also a clever way of drawing attention to the building's original brickwork.
When you have proportion to play with, you can up-size everything; over-sized furniture and over-sized plants, but also more space for sculptures and sculptural lighting displays.
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5. EACH SPACE HAS ITS OWN STYLE
The white living room and black kitchen look like polar opposites, but they fit within the same room, along with the dining room. In this way, the different areas have been zoned by giving them each a different look and style.
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6. INDUSTRIAL ACCENTS
Meanwhile the kitchen embraces the warehouse style building and opts for black marble, Crittall-style partition doors and industrial chic cabinetry and lighting.
Cabinetry stretches right up to ceiling height, accentuating the space.
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A dark marble splash back suits the dark scheme, with the dramatic veins looking almost like a painting.
7. DIVISIVE SEATING
Meanwhile, in Jane Street Townhouse II (opens in new tab) in Manhattan's West Village, a living room is broken up by a large marble console table in the middle of the space, that houses ottoman seating which can be pulled out on either side for additional seating. The black gloss screen in the background camouflages old walls, and would be a clever solution too for tired rental properties.
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8. SCREEN DIVIDE
This same loft apartment also features a screen in one of its bedrooms, used to divide the sleeping space from a dressing area.
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9. OPPOSITES ATTRACT
Just as in the previous property, this loft also contrasts light and dark, as a way of zoning spaces. The study is cocooned in black, creating a cosy, man-cave (opens in new tab) vibe...
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... while the bedroom is light, white and airy.
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10. SKY LIGHT
The bedroom is housed in the roof, wherethe sloped ceiling was replaced entirely with glass, flooding the room with natural light. Usually these attic rooms can feel dark and cramped, and have a lack of natural daylight, but here the room feels like it could extend outward, and the glass sloped ceiling makes it feel larger and taller.
The glass partition along the stairwell also helps keep the stairway light.
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11. CURTAIN CALL
Finally, in the third property, Wythe Avenue (opens in new tab), white walls, clean lines and an open, laid-back layout create a light and airy space.
A track circles the living area ceiling so that curtains can be drawn around it, blocking out the light for when the owners want to watch TV or create a cosier space.
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12. DIFFERENT LEVELS
The tall apartment is also broken up by creating different levels. The dining area, for example, is down one step, but that's enough to achieve a sense of separation.
Meanwhile the staircase wraps along the walls of the room, framing it, and creating different mezzanine levels and balcony areas.
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