Design Dilemma: Furnishing A Loft
Seems like everybody these days is living in (or wants to live in) a loft.
Lofts connote big open spaces, a sense of liberty, the unexpected. They’re youthful, artsy and fun. But furnishing a huge open and undefined industrial space can be a challenge for even the most adept decorator. So what’s the best way to attack this design problem?
Don’t try to replicate a suburban home. We’ve seen some beautiful loft spaces marred by an attempt to make the loft something it is not — a regular house. People have closed up spaces and built a warren of small rooms, then stuffed their spaces with heavy conventional furniture befitting a suburban McMansion. There’s something wrong with that. If you’ve got a loft,Â celebrate it by keeping spaces open and uncluttered. The whole point of the loft is the SPACE ITSELF.
Be flexible in furniture arrangement. The great thing about lofts is that without walls they can be whatever you want them to be. That means there’s no reason to live by the rules that govern the furnishing of most homes and apartments. Furniture can float in the center of the room, including pieces like beds, that most people picture against a wall. Furniture can also constantly shift, and the bestÂ arrangements allude to the fact that the whole thing could changeÂ in an hour or two for a loft dance party or a photo shoot of top models.
Be bold. A dramatic loft space calls for dramatic furnishings. This means bold, usually largeÂ pieces that make a statement that would be difficult to pull off in a smaller space. Go for big art and furnishings with strong sculptural lines. Dainty and overly â€œsafeâ€ furnishings have a tendency to get lost in lofts. Add large bold pendant lamps and consider a long, low-slung sectional. And while lofts seem to naturally lend themselves to modern furnishings, don’t feel limited to choosing exclusively contemporary pieces. Modern iconic pieces paired with one-of-a-kind antique pieces (an antique chest or armoire, for example) can make a bold and personal statement that will immediately warm up a space that might otherwise feel a bit cold.
Choose multi-functional pieces. When you don’t have walls, you usually don’t have closets, built-in shelves or cabinets, either. That means that the furniture you choose will have to perform several duties, including, storage and room definition. So when choosing loft furniture,Â opt forÂ bookcases and long, low credenzas that can act as room dividers while also hiding away books and tableware. Look for coffee tables that can hold a coffee mug, but an extra set of linens or board games as well.Â Hunt down kitchen islands that can serve as a work space,Â a storage cabinet for appliances and utensils and a dining table.
Err on the side of emptiness. If you’re not sure what to do with your loft, you’ve got one thing going for you: lofts tend to appear even MORE stylish and authentic when they incorporate very little furniture. So if you’re unsure what direction to take, choose just a few necessary furniture pieces.
Don’t rush it. Lofts develop over time. They retain a clean, minimal look that edges toward funky. But the only way to achieve this look is to go slow. Since you won’t want to clutter up your space, you’ll want to choose the perfect iconic larger pieces with original, one-of-a-kind art and decorative pieces. This means a lot of visits to funky thrift shops and stores and a lot of catalog browsing for those iconic pieces that will withstand the test of time. In other words, the perfect look won’t happen overnight.
Images: At Casa