New York Loft Living

By Oliver Burns

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June 9, 2017|Luxury Design

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  • n New York City, the most iconic type of home is by far the loft apartment. In a city where every square foot is to be treasured, the open plan layout of a light and expansive loft is highly coveted. Considered to be luxury prestige homes, what makes these spaces so special is the combination of industrial heritage features combined with a light and airy aesthetic. We trace the evolution of this unique space, from its commercial days, to a bohemian bolthole and finally it’s status today as a trophy home.
Image via Home Designing

Loft apartments are typically characterised by their high vaulted ceilings, industrial-sized freight elevators, exposed pipes, support beams and poles as well as wooden or concrete floors. Often measuring 3,000 square feet and up, the interior structure of lofts is supported by internal columns as opposed to traditional walls, creating an open-plan layout. This coupled with oversized windows, which flood the space with natural light, creates a highly desirable place to live in a city where space comes at a premium. The unique grandeur that these high ceilings and large windows add, as well as its position at the highest point of a building, has seen this once overlooked space gain increasing popularity within the market.

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These industrial spaces were designed as part of the architectural renaissance of 18th century Soho, when the world’s largest collection of cast iron commercial buildings was built in the area. Considered to be pioneering at the time, cast iron caught on in wider architectural circles in the late 19th century due to its fire-resistant properties and strength, both of which helped with the creation of large building façades. The area quickly became home to light industry and manufacturing including the crafting of fashion accessories and household items.

Image via Architectural Digest

By the 1960s and 1970s, Soho has fallen on hard times as manufacturing moved out to larger premises. The lofts were left empty and artists began to move in, paying a pittance in rent and using them as illegal premises to live and work due to the incredible light that flooded the spaces. Many of the original lofts have floor to ceilings windows or beautifully arched windows, all of which let in the light. The double height ceilings and spacious rooms created the perfect surroundings for artists to live, work and partake in some of the famous parties of the 60s and 70s. The area quickly blossomed into one of the most eclectic areas in the city.

Image via HomeDSGN

Today loft apartments in Soho (South–of–Houston) as well as Tribeca prove to be the most sought-after locations in New York followed by the more affordable districts of Chelsea and Flatiron.  Developers are recognising the commercial value of these spaces, with ‘soft lofts’ (new builds which incorporate classic loft features such as open kitchens and distressed finishes) a way to meet this growing demand.

Image via HomeDSGN

The biggest challenge of the space is to not let it overwhelm the home owner. It is important to delineate different area of the home, whether it be with rugs, oversized furniture, rolling walls, sliding doors or different blocks of colour. Many lofts also feature a mezzanine level which can be accessed by ladders or spiral staircases offering additional space and creating more of a traditional home layout with multiple floors. Another advantage of living in a loft is the endless potential that the vast brick walls presents, forming the ideal backdrop for statement art works.

Image via Chaos Group

The character and interest that they provide are to be complimented with a light touch when it comes to their interior design. The uninterrupted square footage lends itself well to a minimalist aesthetic, using simple pieces which will allow the original features to speak for themselves.


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