Overcoming The Challenges of Decorating A Loft Apartment or Condo



Decorating a loft

Loft-style homes are unique living spaces. Here in the greater Boston area you can rent or buy a loft in Lowell, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lynn, Boston, Malden…. Or any city that has old converted commercial or mill buildings. Decorating a loft provides some unique challenges.

Lofts are generally located in older industrial buildings from manufacturing districts where certain industries have seen better days.  In Lowell Massachusetts, you would see many lofts converted from old textile mills or in Haverhill MA old shoe manufacturing spaces converted to modern living spaces.

But loft conversions aren’t limited to the greater Boston area cities that were old manufacturing hubs like St.Louis and of course New York City

What Is A Loft?

A loft is defined as a modern living space that has been converted from old manufacturing or commercial buildings typically built between the mid-1800s to the 1920s.  Often they are found in urban areas where a manufacturing sector saw its peak in the past and have long disappeared.

Often they feature high ceilings and large windows with many showing exposed bricks and wooden beams with large open spaces that have few interior walls. 

They are often located in very urban regentrified neighborhoods that offer a variety of shops and activities right out your front door.

Lowell loft with kitchen and living room

The Challenges of Decorating A Loft Apartment

Lofts can be very stylish, and you can certainly bring your unique, personal style to a loft space.  But a loft can present a few decorating challenges.

Height and scale-  the ceiling is often very high and there is a lot of vertical wall space.  Because of the lack of interior walls it can feel big.

No defined spaces or zones- Often lofts have wide-open spaces with no areas that are well defined.  This can also lead to lack of privacy if one or more persons

Lighting-  While lofts can have extremely large windows often are limited to one side and the light can fall off quickly when you get to the other side of the loft.

Storage-  Often loft-style apartments or condos lack a ton of storage.

vertical height in a loft presnets challenges
Use big furniture to fit the scale of a loft and fill your vertical spaces

Tips For Decorating Your Loft

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your loft and have a cool place to live!

Think In Zones

With the lack of interior walls separating individual areas, break your space into zones…. Dining, living, bedroom etc…  While the open space is nice you still want it to be functional.  Think of the functional areas you want and visually separate them, even though you may not have interior walls to work with.

Areas like the sleeping area may require a little privacy think of tall bookshelves to create a little privacy and define the bedroom area.

Large area rugs can help you define your zones and create those areas you need to function on a daily basis.

Leave plenty of room to navigate around your zones, you still need to create visual hallways for moving around.

Bedroom in Rennaisance on the River Lowell MA
Hanging sheer curtains helps define the bedroom space and separates from the front entry

Choose Your Colors Carefully

Because you may lack interior walls your color scheme needs to flow from the front entrance to the farthest wall.   Everything must work together that is in your line of sight.  Neutral colors make a great starting point for paint colors and furniture choices.

But you don’t need to be afraid of color, just make sure there is a continuity to the base so one area visually flows into another.  You can add colorful accents as needed and create different focal points in your zones through your use of color.

Think BIG!!

Go big.  If you think the piece is too big… go bigger!  Big furniture, large pieces of artwork and décor will help you fill that space.  While you want to retain that open feel you don’t want your furniture and décor to feel diminutive in your open, tall space.

This is one time when you don’t need to worry about size with your décor.  Artwork and wall décor should be thought of in feet not inches.  You have a lot of wall space to fill.  If you have high ceilings, the height of your furniture will not be a problem.

Think Vertical

Many lofts have ceilings that are 9-14 feet or even more.  Don’t be afraid to go large and vertical.  You want to bring your eye up and fill some of that vertical space.  

For example:  The top of your kitchen cabinets will only go so high but that is a great spot to add decorative boxes to help fill the vertical space and add storage.

I have seen custom built sleeping lofts in space with higher ceilings.  A bed platform is accessed by a ladder and the underneath is used as a closet or an office area.  Be creative!!

Find Storage In Your Furniture

While a loft may lack storage, it does allow you to bring in large pieces of furniture that can add storage.  A bed with storage underneath, a bank of bookcases, large entertainment systems with plenty of shelves and drawers, large armoires, etc… 

Consider other furniture that can be used for storage as well.  A large ottoman with storage can make for extra seating or use trays to make it a coffee table.  The great part is the top can open up to store rarely used items.

A bed with drawers and shelves underneath can increase much needed storage space.

Consider The Lighting

Don’t hide your tall windows with drapes.  They are going to be an important source of light for your space.  Small tabletop lamps and floor lamps can make some nice accent lighting but will be inadequate at providing some serious light.

Adding some large, cool industrial style lighting from overhead can help decorate the vertical space in your loft and be a conversation piece as well as providing some much-needed light.

Large wall mirrors opposite windows can help fill your vertical space but also help some of the natural light bounce around.

Guest Bedroom When Decorating a Loft

Everybody wants some extra space to invite a guest overnight.  A dual-purpose murphy bed can be ideal.  One of the more common ones are an office area that can convert to a bed when needed.

You can have a fully functioning office area, but on the rare occasion where a guest stays over it can be quickly converted to a queen size bed.

A loft apartment or condo can let your individuality shine.  Each space can be so unique and can be a blank palette for your personality to shine through.  The sky is the limit when it comes time to decorate a loft.

Decorating a loft-style apartment

Other Decorating Resources

  • Decorating a home doesn’t need to break your budget.  Sharon Paxson shares some tips on decorating without breaking the bank.
  • Your bedroom should be a place to unwind and relax but often one of the last areas to decorate in a home.  Bill Gassett shares some tips on decorating a bedroom.
  • Are you having trouble finding your decorating style?  Anita Clark gives some clarity on how to find the right style for you and your new home.
Kevin Vitali About Kevin Vitali

About Kevin: Kevin has been a full time agent for almost 18 years. Kevin works the Tewksbury MA Real Estate market as well as Essex and Northern Middlesex Counties in Massachusetts. Kevin is a regular blogger who enjoys educating consumers about how to make the most of their next home purchase or sale. Kevin can be reached at 978-360-0422.