How to Design a Loft

A loft is what a lot of city dwellers, also called "urbanites," call home.

People who do not like to be cramped up in a space filled with little rooms because they feel boxed in. People living in lofts love the floor space that doesn't have boundaries. It is free flowing with an open floor plan, and large windows bring in lots of natural light. Some urbanites who are picky even find themselves working closely with architects and interior designers to design a loft they can live in with a style they can live with. With the following tips, you too can design a loft that you can call your own.

Find a location where you will build the loft. This could be an old industrial building that you can convert into a loft or a brand new lot where you can build a loft-style house.

Buy a design or architectural software you can use. You can also do it the old way, by using pen, pencil, ruler and grid paper.

Start putting down your design on a piece of paper. You can actually start scribbling or doodling your vision as ideas come to you on any piece of paper or anything you can write on, like a napkin when you are at a restaurant. Don't let that idea escape you. Then when you get to it, you can transfer it to your computer or grid paper.

Keep it free flowing. A loft is an open floor plan, so do not put too many partitions or rooms in the design. A low wall to hide the bed would be enough for privacy and try a glass block wall to separate or obscure the bathroom.

Design your loft with high ceilings, approximately at least 12 feet high, so that you will enjoy the spacious feeling.

Add lots of windows to your design. One thing an urban loft is known for is the floor to ceiling windows that let in plenty of natural light. The windows also allow you to enjoy the city-scape. Address privacy at night by adding blinds operated by a remote control for ease of operation and then add drapes to add some warmth and texture.

Place your kitchen away from the designated space for your sleeping area so that disturbance will be minimal. Design a kitchen with an island, peninsula or a bar and use plenty of cabinets for storage.

Add an eat-in area that can be adjacent or close to the kitchen. In a loft, a formal dining room is very rare as minimal room designations is key to a successful loft design. An eat-in area that can be used for all meals is sufficient. Design a space where it can hold a dining table for four people when not entertaining but can hold up to a dozen when you are. Flexibility and functionality is a must in urban loft living.

Place your bathroom closer to the sleeping area for ease of getting in and out of, especially at night. Since some city lofts have limited space, you may not be able to add a separate guest or powder room, so that means your guests may very well share your bathroom with you. But for a very small space, you can add that powder room, no matter how small it is, next to the entryway or next to the kitchen so that water pipes would be in that location.

Add plenty of storage spaces, a couple of which can be located in the sleeping area and then some in the entry hallway. You need these storage cabinets for two things: storing items and hiding clutter. You would enjoy living in a loft that is clutter-free if you do yourself a favor in adding those much needed storage cabinets.

Designate a living space where you can put an L-shaped sofa or a couple of long sofas for people to hang out on. A great idea for visiting out-of-towners who may want to stay with you overnight is getting those sofa beds or Murphy beds. Think of your living room as an entertainment room, where you will spend time watching TV or moviesas well as reading and hanging out for a nightcap. If you have the space for it, add a fireplace for both warmth and atmosphere. One idea is to create a design with a double-sided fireplace that may be placed in between the eat-in and living areas.

Design your loft around ductwork. Some old industrial buildings that are being sold to be transformed in to multi-units loft have those exposed duct work, some people are okay with them exposed, while some aren't. If you are the type who isn't to happy looking at exposed beams and ductwork, then you may want to box them up or camouflage them with mouldings.

Add plenty of ceiling lights, such as suspended track lights. that look awesome at night. The kitchen and living areas should be well-lit at night. Add mood lighting anywhere possible, especially in intimate corners like the sleeping area.

Choose only high quality materials requiring low maintenance when building your loft. From floor materials, to cabinetry to kitchen and bathroom counters, light fixtures and all hardware fixtures to be uses.

Finalize the design with a help of a licensed architect that you can collaborate with and help you along the process until the loft is completely built to your specifications. This maybe the right time for you to hire a contractor and sub-contractor as well as interior designer if budget permits. If not, you can be your own sub-contractor and with a few basic design knowledge you can decorate your loft into something that you can be proud of instead of hiring a designer.

Things You Will Need

  • Architectural or floor plan design software
  • Pencil or pen
  • Ruler
  • Paper with grids used by designers or architects
  • Consultantssuch as architects or designers during the final phase (optional for the most part)
  • Ideas notebook
  • Money
  • Fabric swatches
  • Magazines and books

Tips

  • When building a loft-style home on a lot, make sure that you find out first what square footage you are allowed to build before you start designing. There are additional requirements if you are building from the ground up. This is where an architect and builder can be of help. If you want to do the walking yourself to save on money, you can go to the city hall to ask for requirements such as building permits, excavation of septic tanks and adding utilities.
  • Applying for a construction loan is a long process, so make sure you get pre-approval before designing your loft. The amount of money you can afford to pay may dictate the size of loft you will build, the types of materials and appliances you will buy. Design your loft keeping your budget in mind. Make adjustments to meet your budget so you do not go over what you can afford.

Warning

  • Check the background of architects, contractors, builders and designers that will be bidding on your project. Make sure to read the fine print of any contract.

About the Author

Josienita Borlongan is a full-time lead web systems engineer and a writer. She writes for Business.com, OnTarget.com and various other websites. She is a Microsoft-certified systems engineer and a Cisco-certified network associate. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in medical technology from Saint Louis University, Philippines.