Why Own a Loft?

By: Brian Enright

From Montreal to Minneapolis, lofts are a the hottest thing in city housing right now. What makes them so great? Well, for starters, not everyone thinks there great. There are definitely pros and cons to loft living, and you should be aware of this to decide what type of home is right for you.

One of the things people love about lofts is the open space. The large windows offer amazing views and soul-fulfilling natural light. You could never get claustrophobic in a loft, as the ceilings are high and the space is open. You can work in one part of the house and not feel cut off from any of the other areas.

Also, they have an artsy feel to them. The walls can easily fit huge paintings. The large space begs you have an art studio in one corner, or maybe a small dance floor. They are great for parties as none of that cliquing away in another room can happen. You can see and enjoy all your guests at once, and the music in one corner reaches the entire party.

However that open space can have its drawbacks, especially if you like privacy. While room dividers create affective visual privacy, sound can travel easily in such open spaces. If you have children, or often have house guests, you might want to look for a loft with a separate bedroom. Some people have chosen to hang things from their ceilings to create baffling, a way to disperse sound and prevent it from echoing across the house. Rugs on the floors have a similar sound-calming affect, and can also help to add warmth, which brings me to another downfall of the loft concept.

In colder climates, the open space can be a bit hard to keep warm. Because heat rises and the ceilings are so high, this can be a challenge for loft-dwellers. space heaters help, directing heat exactly where you want it, instead of baseboard heaters where the heat just goes up the wall. I recently saw an innovative and arty way to keep warm if the form of stone sculptures that fit a small tea-light candle within them. The candle warmed up the stone, which could then be placed at ones feet under a desk, or on a low shelf near a chair. I think this is a classy way to add extra warmth where you need it. Also, as I mentioned, having area rugs keeps your feet from getting cold in a home that typically has wood or cement flooring.

One more way to keep the cold from bother you is to look for a loft with a mezzanine, a sort of loft within a loft. Usually, a mezzanine is a way of having a private bedroom in a loft, offering a second floor to your open space. Because it is higher up and therefore closer to the ceiling, heat won't be lost as easily as it will on the lower floor. If you live in a really cold city, perhaps your mezzanine could be your living room and bedroom in the winter months. Convenient, maybe not, but there's lots of reasons a loft is worth it, if you value them.

One loft resident says he still feels great after a whole day spent inside, because he's got the high ceiling and floor to ceiling windows to help get that outside feel. Another bonus is the passive solar heating created by the large windows. Look for a loft facing south to maximize this. Warning, you'll need blinds for the summer months, but in winter the sun's warmth will be lovely. And all the sun's light means you're turning electric lights on less. That could well make up for any extra heating costs.

Also, consider this: getting a projector and watching your favorite movies on the ultimate big screen, your huge white wall.

The opportunities for doing custom interior decorating abound in a loft, because they are usually sold with very little finishing detail. So you have the chance to finish the place just how you want it, or leaving it raw to appreciate the true lofty-ness about it. Either way, if loft living is something you think you'd enjoy, there are a lot to choose from in any city in the world.

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