If you love urban architecture with history…

If you want to live in a trendy part of town…

If you desire the life of an 1800s Parisian artist…

…then loft living could just be for you.

If you want help finding a small loft apartment of your own, contact AptAmigo. We know how and where to find them, and we’ll set you up in one for free.

What Is a Loft Apartment?

In home architecture, a loft consists of an upper-story space built directly under the roof—essentially an attic. But, when we talk about lofts as apartments, we get a completely different definition. 

A loft apartment is generally a single, open space with high ceilings, big windows, and exposed elements, such as brick, ducting, or pipes. Historically, these features, actually relics of the building’s past, result from the repurposing of industrial spaces into apartments. 

Loft apartments come in all shapes and sizes. Because each developer or management company may change or retain different features of the original building, the exact characteristics of a loft apartment can vary. Some lofts will be narrow with an open staircase, leading to a platform usually used as a bedroom. Other lofts will be sprawling flats of just one story. Common features include large windows, usually found high up on the walls, concrete or wood flooring, exposed brick walls, pillars or supports, and various pipes and ducts crossing below a high ceiling. 

However, not every loft apartment represents an actual conversion these days. New constructions with loft-like spaces are popping up due to the high demand for this style of apartment. While you do miss the charm of knowing your building has a unique history, pre-planned loft buildings often offer better amenities because the designer could account for them in their original plans rather than sticking them into an existing space. 

Loft Vs. Studio

Lofts and studios are two different types of apartments. Soaring ceilings and huge windows characterize lofts, but standard ceilings and windows define the interior space of studio apartments. While lofts display exposed bricks and duct work, studio apartments hide those signs of construction with drywall. Large and airy lofts contrast as well with small and efficient studios. The only characteristic they really share is the fact that a single room contains the entire apartment unit.

A Loft(y) History

Although loft apartments can vary in some respects, they all share a common history. In the mid-1800s in Paris, space was tight and the arts were on the rise. Painters and other designers and artisans set up their ateliers (studios/shops) in warehouses and abandoned industrial buildings. 

These large spaces provided space to work with clients and to house materials and finished works. The high ceilings and large windows would let in ample light, critical to any artistic pursuit. And, the artist could set up a bed or cot and sleep in the studio when they worked late.

By the time the 1960s rolled around in SoHo, New York, the idea had taken over and artists flocked to the area to take advantage of the largely abandoned buildings. After a decade of fighting for zoning rights, the 1970s saw the official conversion of these buildings into housing structures, and the trend took off from there.

Related: Download Our Touring Checklist for Luxury Apartments

Pros & Cons of Loft Living

For many people, the loft life offers convenience and excitement. Some pros of loft living include:

  • Versatility — You decide how you want to partition and set up your space rather than working with predetermined rooms.
  • Open Space — Living in a single space allows you to monitor kids or pets, or generally to view your domain at all times.
  • Life/Work Balance — Many creatives use loft spaces as workspaces and artist studios in addition to calling the apartment home.
  • Light — Perhaps one of its best features, loft apartments are great for people who love natural light… and lots of it.
  • History — Living in a building with a unique past gives you a fun story to tell to guests.
  • Convenience — Converted industrial buildings are often in or adjacent to popular neighborhoods with entertainment and dining nearby.

For some renters, loft living might not work as well. Some cons of loft living include:

  • Open Space — While a pro for some, one large open space can mean a lack of privacy from others cohabitating with you.
  • Exposed bathrooms — Some lofts will contain minimal to no partitioning around the toilet and tub (not as common nowadays).
  • Industrial Style — If you don’t love this style of architecture, then loft living will not likely sound attractive to you. 
  • Increased Utilities — All that ceiling height and natural light can add up to some hefty costs for cooling and heating the space.
  • Lack of Storage — Since loft apartments are built for sparsity, they often offer minimal built-in storage and closets.

Decorating a Loft

Decorating a loft apartment is much different than adorning a standard apartment. First, you’ll want to decide where your furniture will go. Some people like to leave everything open, but many people will use curtains or screens to partition sections off from each other. Rugs are also a great way to define areas within your big space.

Storage is another consideration when decorating a loft. Many lofts lack extensive cabinetry and pantries. You might consider a freestanding island or separate cabinet for kitchen and dining items. Same goes for clothes and closets. Some lofts will feature a large closet, while other lofts may require a garment rack and dresser. 

Adding color and artwork to your space also requires some pre-planning. Since the apartment consists of one open space, it can be difficult (or ugly) to style each section differently. Choose harmonious patterns and colors that complement each other. Artwork should also be the right size for the space. Large, uninterrupted walls provide a great space for large murals or oversized paintings. 

Do I Actually Want to Live in One?

The popular aesthetic of an open-space loft apartment can add to the convenience of living. But do you actually want to live in a loft? For many people, it’s appealing. Here are some questions to help determine your suitability for loft living.

  1. Do you like the open-concept living style?
  2. Do you live a minimalist lifestyle?
  3. Is the modern-industrial look part of your personal aesthetic?
  4. Do you love natural light?
  5. Do you need space for an artistic or business venture?
  6. Is it important that where you live is a part of the history of the neighborhood?
  7. Are you comfortable sharing an open space with anyone living with you?
  8. Do you like to move your furniture around and change your space at will?
  9. Do you want your home to feel modern and on-trend?
  10. Do you like the convenience of living near city nightlife and dining?

If you answered YES to the majority of these questions, then we’re pretty sure you’d love a small loft apartment of your own. If you answered NO to the majority, you might consider a more traditional apartment.

Interested in a condo instead? Learn about how condos compare to apartments for renters.

Looking for a Loft?

The best (and possibly only) way to know if loft living is for you is to start visiting these unique spaces. Now that you know what a loft apartment is, reach out to AptAmigo and let us help. 

Since “loft” can mean a lot of things, our seasoned apartment locators will dive deep into your personal style and unique home needs. We’ll find the exact buildings that fit your criteria and help you set up tours (in-person or virtual) at the ones that spark your interest.

Start your loft journey with AptAmigo’s award-winning service! We’re here for you every step of the way.

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About the Author
Jeanette Smith

Jeanette Smith is a writer, editor, and freelancer based in Dallas, Texas. Find out more at JeanettetheWriter.com.