When your Style Ambitions are Lofty

From the factories of Manhattan’s East Side, where artists and their bohemian acolytes took residence in the 1960s, to the warehouse conversions inscribed in the popular consciousness by 1990s sitcoms, New York lofts have long ranked among the coolest and most covetable spaces to call home. Characterised by vaulted ceilings, lashings of natural light, weathered floorboards and exposed brick walls, the classic loft still carries a certain creative cachet and is an appealing backdrop for eclectic art and design pieces. Australia’s love affair with the loft is enduring, with inner-city denizens from Brisbane’s Teneriffe to Sydney’s Chippendale all drawn to their ample space, light and authentic, time-worn texture.

The Old Clare Hotel in Sydney’s Chippendale embodies the cool, utilitarian appeal of loft living.

Whether your home is newly built or heritage, freestanding or within a multi-dwelling block, there are many ways to achieve the look and feel of New York loft-style living. Stripping back the walls to reveal their natural texture or utilising the new San Selmo Reclaimed collection, featuring a beautiful tactile surface inspired by recycled bricks. These bricks offer a warmth that will enhance the integrity of the space, which can then be juxtaposed with clean-lined furniture and striking contemporary art. Whether finished in crisp white for a downtown gallery look or left completely exposed, loft-style wall finishes will anchor the interior scheme with a sense of history and textural interest. Arranging art of mixed provenance and scale in a tessellated ‘salon’ style will add to the sense that the interior has existed forever, constantly evolving to reflect your travels and unique personal style.

Sydney home by Baker Kavanagh Architects. Photgraphed by Nicholas Watt

From there, the loft promises a very open brief in terms of decorating. From treasured antiques to cutting-edge design objects, the loft is a versatile canvas for expressing your own aesthetic. However, it is important to get the space right. While open-plan living may be an essential part of the loft’s appeal, it can also potentially feel cavernous and uninviting. Without forgoing space or obstructing sight lines with solid walls, the deployment of large-scale rugs can help to subtly articulate distinct living zones within an open-plan area and introduce a more intimate, human scale.

Similarly, using bookshelves to delineate spaces still permits views through the room, while providing a perch for literature, design objects and sculpture to further emphasise the loft’s cultural cred.. These stand-alone units will also free up wall space so as not to squander the loft’s utilitarian features. It is important to select furniture that looks fantastic from all angles, especially in a loft where pieces should ‘float’ nearer to the centre of the room, rather than being pushed to the perimeter. Contained within a living zone defined by the rug, soft furniture should offer a cocooning sensibility, even when placed within a larger, open-plan context.

Sydney home by Stephen Collins. Photographed by Tom Ferguson

Large, sun-spilling windows are another outstanding feature of the traditional New York loft. Suspending dramatic linen curtains from the ceiling to the floor will help mitigate the potential glare while adding to the loft’s mood of cinematic grandeur. These can also help soften the harder-edged quality of exposed brick, offering an appealing contrast between the loft’s rugged and romantic elements. When formerly industrial sites are repurposed as residential dwellings, they often lack a provision for outdoor areas, so it’s essential to emphasise windows, while perhaps also adding oversize indoor plants here and there, to cultivate a healthy connection to the outside.

Introducing industrial touches can bring character and integrity to a newly built home, too, including zinc metal door and window frames, reclaimed timber flooring, commercial-grade kitchen fittings and sparingly deployed furniture with a somewhat rustic bent.These design features will lend an eclectic and layered New York vibe to any room, imbuing it with the qualities that make lofts so desirable: history, texture and an air of artistic panache.

The San Selmo Reclaimed bricks are available in three styles, solid, facing and corner-facing. The new range, part of the San Selmo Italian bricks from Austral Bricks enhance any project, whether modern or traditional. Manufactured in Italy using traditional kiln-firing techniques, these high-quality clay bricks combine carefully curated colour palette with an elegant selection of textures and finishes.

For more information visit www.australbricks.com.au

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