When it comes to architecture and design, the term “loft” can ultimately hold several different meanings. Sometimes it depends who you ask.
But the most common connotation for many is that of industrial warehouses and commercial structures that have been converted into loft living spaces. They are most often associated with urban living, especially on the East Coast, but in truth loft spaces exist anywhere there are buildings with an industrial past. In truth, lofts can be found in major cities across the country.
Some of the oldest lofts are indeed found in Manhattan, where many of the manufacturing buildings of the industrial age were abandoned when the narrow streets could handle the changes in transportation and the advent of large vehicles. These abandoned spaces became popular during the 1960s when artists needed big spaces and found it in unoccupied industrial buildings.
The loft-style of architecture (as seen here on Pinterest) generally describes large, open spaces with exposed industrial features. Here are some key elements:
Open space. The traditional “hard” lofts feature completely open floor plans and usually have a minimum of 1,600 square feet with few interior walls, creating flexible, utilitarian space.
Exposed features. Traditional lofts leave features such as air conditioning ducts, sprinkler lines, columns and structural beams out in the open, showing their roots as industrial-use buildings.
High ceilings. Most “hard” lofts include ceilings that are 10 feet or higher.
Authentic materials. The use of turn-of-the-century materials – such as concrete or hardwood floors, tin ceilings, wood beams, original timber and brick or thick plaster walls – is common.
Lots of light. Built before the advent of electric light, old industrial buildings and factories utilized huge windows – often floor-to-ceiling – to let in as much daylight as possible.