Often created in decommissioned industrial buildings, lofts offer an immense open space to decorate, a single room whose dimensions are around 500 square metres, with ceilings of up to three metres and more.
Few doors, few walls, often nothing at all. A wave of natural light from the long vertical windows along the wall floods the central space. Added to these windows you sometimes find a windowed façade, skylights or windows on the ceiling.
Wood or steel beams, concrete, brick and metal surfaces are everywhere. And the abandoned vestiges of the building’s past: pulleys, wooden cases, platforms, giant washbasins, air conditioning conduits, steel tables, oversized chimney.
What do you do with this unrefined decor? Make it your home.
Once the cleaning work is done, the real work starts. Most owners keep traces of the building’s former vocation for decorative purposes. That’s what makes a loft a loft. That’s what separates it from a penthouse.
If partitions are needed for a certain intimacy, they should be as discreet as possible in order to maintain the continuity of the space and let the light flood in. That is why complete walls are rare. Or areas are combined, such as the living room and dining room. Or low walls, mobile screens, opaque or trans lucid panels are added.
A loft is a paradise for colour. Owners often use colour to divide the space into areas: one dominant colour per area, or one dominant colour on the ground floor and a second on the upper floor, which is usually a mezzanine.
It could even be a single dominant colour for the entire loft. Most owners opt for a more neutral colour, such as white or grey. However, some people embrace the opportunity to let their imaginations run wild. Why deprive yourself when you have such large surfaces to work with? Do you like purple? Go all out and paint one wall purple from one end to the other. Or bubble gum pink or lavender.
Maybe you prefer black? Black is the ideal colour for lofts, as the natural light and volume of space reduce the effect of the black. Lofts are ideal for this colour, which tends to confine and obscure, because the natural light and volume of space reduces the effect of the black, especially if it is associated with white, which offsets and highlights the colour.
However, hard-core loft dwellers don’t want anything to affect the industrial spirit. They tend to choose colours like silver, brown and dark prune. They go wild for industrial materials like copper, brass, iron, stainless steel.
The loft is the paradise of lighting, which is another way to better define each area’s space, often by using projectors hanging from the beams or mounted on rails. Others have fun by creating a theatrical effect all over: lighting effects on the brick or behind semi-transparent coloured panels.
The loft is also the paradise of contrasts. It’s another way to divide the space. The possibilities are endless: impeccable finishes versus the roughness of the original materials, the hyper decadent contemporary style, cold colour versus warm colour.
Lofts are boundless. Of course you can decorate your loft any way you like. The important thing is that you like what you’ve done.
Transformer l’espace, Nonie Niesewand, Gründ, 1999, 219 pages
The big book of Lofts, Antonio Corcuera and Aitana Lleonart, Collins Design, 2007, 383 pages
Lofts minimalistes, Aurora Cuito, éditions Proxima 2003, 213 pages
Loft Design, solutions for creating a livable space, Katherine Stone, Quarry Books, 2005, 159 pages