The Loft Apartment; one of the keys ways that cities in North America have reclaimed industrial buildings, and former light commercial spaces. We’ve seen them in the movies and on TV, but what’s it like to live in one?
Exclusive to the BuildDirect Blog, home improvement and design blogger from Hammer & Gumption Edward Granger interviewed a friend, Danielle, who lives in a loft apartment in Charlotte, North Carolina to find out the real deal where loft apartment living is concerned. Here’s what she said.
Lofts are an often misunderstood living space. Most people think of lofts as either glamorous getaways that they could never afford or stripped out studios that require too many sacrifices. To try and dispel some rumors we interview Danielle, a young professional living in a small suburb of Charlotte, NC. Danielle is in her mid-20’s and is the Accounts Manager for a small business dealing in Web Design.
When did you move in? From where? How long have you lived there?
I moved in to my apartment in January 2011. I moved from a town house about 15 minutes away (by car). I have lived in my loft for a year and a half now.
Do you know the history of the building?
I know that the building is a converted retail space. I’m not sure what kind as stores changed a lot on Main Street. It was only recently converted to a loft after years of not being used for anything.
Is loft apartment living any more expensive than a regular apartment? How much more?
The price is about $150 – $200 more than an apartment in a complex. In my area that prices the loft around 40% more expensive than a comparable apartment in terms of square footage.
Were there any costs that you did not anticipate? More expensive to heat/cool?
I have a lot of natural light in my space, so in the summer it’s hard to keep cool. My ceilings are very tall; it’s hard to keep the place warm as well. Neither causes a large enough spike in my expenses to notice. Sometimes it gets hot in my upstairs sleeping area but by the time I lie down at night it’s all cool again.
(Edward interjects…) One reason you may not see problems with cooling your loft is that your windows face North/South so you do not have to deal with direct sunlight very much. Most “soft lofts”(lofts that are built brand new) this will not be a problem since most developers are smart enough to not have their buildings face direct sunlight with huge windows. But converted lofts may not always have as ideal a placement.
Do you feel a certain charm when it comes to living in your loft apartment? Is the extra expense worth it?
The extra expense is absolutely worth it. There is such a huge difference between an apartment in a complex compared to a renovated work / live space. The exposed brick, the natural light that floods my apartment, the tall ceilings and the historic charm, all add so much to my lifestyle. I live within 100 yards of my workspace but I feel I’m in an entirely different part of the world when I’m in my loft.
What features do you like best about the apartment (you can list more than one)? The least?
I love the exposed brick and loft style. There are small hollows at the very top of the brick wall where huge wooden beams were once placed into them. The little things like that really make me fall in love with this place. I’m not a fan of my kitchen (needs more upgraded appliances), they don’t match the feel of the rest of my apartment. When I see the plasticky stove, that romantic loft feeling dwindles some.
Do you ever have guests over? What about entertaining?
I can say that lofts aren’t built for entertaining but I do have folks over every now and then. Besides, that’s what the pub down the street is for!
Do you feel like the apartment can only grow so much with you? What life events would make you want a different place?
I couldn’t live there with another person, so essentially most of the typical life events that cause a person to have to upgrade. If I were married (especially with children); I’d have to move out for more space.
H&G: Does the location help at all?
I absolutely love that I’m downtown near restaurants, bars, and my work. I think it definitely helps to live right on main street. I would probably not live in a loft if it was more than a 15 min walk from the heart of town.
H&G: What kind of person do you think would enjoy a loft apartment?
D: A single, in your ’20s, young professional. You’re usually not tied down with a family and you don’t have a ton of possessions to take up space. I wouldn’t recommend it for a college student who is paying their way; any extra expense should be shaved off during college.
I make much more compared to my side jobs during college so it’s affordable. I also wouldn’t recommend it past your early 30’s because the functionality is not ideal for entertaining or for guests. Lofts have a certain whimsical feel that seem to fade on my older friends/parents. However, it is a perfect private get away for me.
We hope this interview was able to give a firsthand view of what it’s like to own and live in a loft apartment. It’s important to recognize that a choice to live in a loft is one based on aesthetics and form. If you’re a utilitarian kind of person then a traditional apartment or even a studio would be a more efficient use of space.
Lofts are for people who need their living space to reflect their own tastes and style. Lofts are for those who those who may work somewhere that satisfies expenses, but not the soul. If you need an escape vs. extra wall space for an entertainment center, then a loft may be for you.
Edward Granger is junior at Winthrop University where he majors in Digital Information Design. He is an avid home improvement blogger, the editor of the home improvement blog Hammer and Gumption. H&G is a blog dedicated to helping make home improvement a more accessible hobby.
The name comes from the desire to help people find the right tools(Hammer), but to also to tackle their own projects with spirited initiative and resourcefulness(Gumption). Edward believes that you need more gumption than anything to improve your living space.