Defining Space, Not Dividing Space – Design Tips for Lofts

Lofts, lofts LOFTS! If you know me, you know I love those wonderful urban spaces, with their feeling of spaciousness and unique architectural interest. They have become popular with people who are looking for creative, open, multi- purpose spaces. However, they do have their special challenges, and require the ultimate in creative thinking. Concrete floors/walls/ceilings look cool but feel colder and bounce sound around — no walls can mean no privacy with neighboring high-rise building’s views looking straight into your entire home — windows all on one end are common — little to zero storage — these are just some of the issues facing people in lofts and even very open plan homes.

I’ll be blogging about many of these issues in this series. This first posting is on the topic of:

Defining the Space … Not Dividing the Space.

Although these wide open spaces feel great, and even the smallest lofts feel large due to the lack of walls, but they can leave you with a real dilemma in terms of furniture placement. How do you make things feel cozy and warm? How do you give yourself some privacy without blocking light and views and without reducing the feeling of spaciousness you loved in the first place? If your office is in your home, how can you separate work and private life with no walls? Below are some photos with tips for these situations.

Groupings of furniture:

Create groupings of furniture according to activity – living – dining – sleeping – working.

Area rugs serve to visually pull together a space so that it feels more like a cohesive “room” whether that is a living area, sleeping area or dining area.They can be mixed or matched as long as they all look good in the same room.

When you create a living room seating area, keep the furniture away from the walls if possible, and arrange it in a tight enough group that conversation is comfortable when everyone is seated. Look for furniture that is attractive from the back as well as the front because it will be seen from all sides. Consider using swivel chairs so that you can turn one way to enjoy conversation and another to enjoy the view, or the TV, or a fireplace.

Placing your dining table nearer the kitchen makes practical sense, but it can be positioned nearer a nice view. In the interest of multi-purpose use and saving space for smaller lofts, sometimes it is more useful to get a counter height table and use it as a kitchen island/dining area. It doubles as a great spot for people to gather during parties. At all times, think “multi-purpose”.

In this first group of photos, notice the use of area rugs to define separate groupings mostly away from the wall, seating placement close enough to each other to encourage comfortable conversation, furniture that looks good from the back, and counter-height tables in the kitchen area.

View of furniture groupings from the mezzanine, H45 Lofts

View of furniture groupings from the mezzanine, H45 Lofts

Counter height kitchen table for eating and workspace

Counter height kitchen table for eating and workspace

Seating area with furniture away from walls.

Seating area with furniture away from walls.

Back of sofa is attractive. View to dining & office.

Back of sofa is attractive. View to dining & office.

Division of Spaces

Whether you want a bit of privacy from time to time for your sleeping area, or would like an office area to be something you don’t have to look at all the time, consider using these methods instead of walls:

This office area is visually separated from the entry and from the living area by a massive, yet low, glass, free standing room divider. It serves as a sculpture in its own right, and is translucent enough to let light through, while preventing the feeling of looking straight into the office as you enter the loft.

Office area with glass room divider on left.

Office area with glass room divider on left.

Glass room divider provides beautiful focal point and screens office from view.

Glass room divider provides beautiful focal point and screens office from view.

This next office is on a rather large landing at the top of the spiral staircase, around the corner from the sleeping area. Although no room dividers are used, making use of this corner and the direction it faces keeps it from feeling like it is in the bedroom, and it also has a great view out the windows across the living area.

Office area created on large upper landing.

Office area created on large upper landing.

View of bedroom area around the corner from the office area.

View of bedroom area around the corner from the office area.

PRIVACY

Sometimes my clients feel like in an open loft, their guests are walking straight into their bedroom … and that would be because, well … their guests ARE walking straight into their bedroom! So various room dividers can really make a difference. I find that three things help a lot in the use of room dividers to keep them from taking away your feeling of spaciousness.

One is that light can still transmit through the divider.

The second is that the divider be movable.

The third is that the divider not go all the way to the ceiling.

Here are some photographic examples. In this first bedroom area, the curtain at the right pulls across to provide privacy. It is a combination of opaque and translucent bands. When you don’t need it, it pulls completely back. The Shoji screen at the back would hide clothing in the open closet, or another curtain could be used here. You could even create a curtain that is opaque up to about 6 feet tall and the top portion of the curtain could be sheer to let in light.

Studio bedroom with curtain for privacy and screen to hide close items.

Studio bedroom with curtain for privacy and screen to hide close items.

These beautiful translucent sliding doors by Constructavision offer privacy for the bedroom area while allowing light to pass through. They can slide back to open the space. This particular loft is not my design, but I do work with Constructavision to build my custom designs.

Translucent Sliding Room Partition by Constructavision

Translucent Sliding Room Partition by Constructavision

Storage room dividers like the spectacular River Room Divider, shown in the next photo, from Spacify, visually divide the space by giving your eye a stopping place. Used between a sleeping area, and the rest of the open space, it would keep a bed from feeling “front-and-center”, while also providing great display space.

River Display Shelving Room Divider from Spacify

River Display Shelving Room Divider from Spacify

Thanks for reading. I hope these tips help you!

Pangaea Interior Design

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