What is a loft apartment?
A loft apartment is a real estate and design term for open-plan living spaces that were originally converted from disused industrial buildings.
Originally converted from disused industrial buildings, today developers have capitalized on the trend with new builds that attempt to appropriate the coveted industrial style. While loft apartments are similar to studio apartments, they tend to be larger in size and volume.
History of Loft Apartments
The history of loft apartments can be traced to cities like New York, where in the 1960s in lower Manhattan, artists turned former industrial buildings into live-work spaces, paying no or low rent in exchange for a place to create in the days when living in New York City was still affordable for artists.
Over the years, many of the artists were pushed out by developers looking to capitalize on the bohemian aura of those days by creating luxury versions of artists lofts that now sell for millions of dollars.
Today loft apartments can be found primarily but not exclusively in cities around the country and the world. The popularity of loft apartment living has fed the ongoing popularity of stylized industrial-style architecture and interior design that has spread to the suburbs and even rural areas, where you can find all manner of residential, office or co-working spaces, as well as hotels, restaurants, cafes, retail and events spaces built in warehouse conversions or simply built to look like they are.
Key Characteristics of Loft Apartments
- Loft apartments highlight raw materials and industrial elements such as original brick walls, exposed piping and ductwork, concrete flooring, metal, glass, and distressed wood
- They generally feature open floor plans and are typically devoid of walls
- Large volumes include generous floor plans and high ceilings
- Often feature large floor-to-ceiling windows
- Depending on the size inhabitants may divide up space with room dividers, partitions, temporary walls, or by building self-contained bathrooms, bedrooms, or home offices within the existing space that offer privacy and sound mitigation
- Some lofts capitalize on vertical space and high ceilings by building mezzanines for sleeping, lounging, or working
- Because they repurpose existing buildings, loft apartments are considered a form of sustainable architecture
Pros and Cons of Loft Apartments
- Open plan living creates flexible floor plans that can be adapted over time to address changing lifestyles
- Loft apartments with original features offer a sense of character and history
- Raw spaces offer a blank canvas effect for creative space planning and décor
- Integrated living spaces where everything is on the same level can work for those with reduced mobility and seniors who want to age in place
- Can be challenging for families, roommates, or couples working from home
- Large, raw, open spaces can create noise and light control issues
- Spaces built for industry can feel less than homey and inviting without thoughtful interior design
- Require a lot of energy to heat and cool
Additional Loft Definitions
The original use of the term “loft'' referred to the top floor of a structure, such as the attic space under the eaves of a house.
These days, the term “loft” gets bandied about quite a bit and can mean different things. Because lofts have become trendy in recent decades, real estate listing may be branded as lofts for marketing purposes, sometimes to comic effect. Just comb the real estate listings of any major city with an industrial past and all manner of raw spaces masquerading as a loft may appear, from a windowless unfinished basement to a one-room apartment. A contemporary studio apartment without a separate bedroom is often rebranded as a “mini loft.”
Attic apartments, whether they are granny flats inside a single family home, short term rentals, guest rooms, or home offices, are often referred to as “lofts.”
The term “loft” can also refer to the raised mezzanine sleeping platforms accessible by ladder or open staircase that are sometimes installed in lofts with high enough ceilings to increase the footprint by utilizing vertical space.
In real estate terms, a loft may refer to an apartment, a work-live studio, or even a warehouse conversion turned office.