Loft Apartment Design

by | Last updated May 16, 2024 | Apartment Renovations, Interior Design, Lofts

In New York City, the term Loft means an apartment in former manufacturing and commercial buildings that have been converted into residential use. These buildings are found all over New York City, mostly in neighborhoods such as SoHo, Tribeca, Chelsea, NoMad, and the Flatiron District. Lofts have unique features and deserve architectural and interior design ideas complementing their inherent architectural character.

I am Jorge Fontan, an architect in NY and owner of Fontan Architecture, a Manhattan-based architecture firm. In this post, I want to look at a few lofts we worked on in New York City and discuss some design ideas for loft renovations. I will review some general tips, from big picture items, such as layout and major architectural elements, to interior design and loft decorating.

Because lofts were originally built for commercial or industrial use, we commonly see certain architectural features in lofts. One should consider these original details when planning a loft renovation. Everyone has their own personal taste, and how you deal with the details of a loft renovation will vary, but these are all items you need to consider when planning your loft design. Don’t worry if it seems like a lot. That’s what architects like us are for.

We have another post if you want to see the most common Architectural Characteristics of Lofts in NYC


Open Plan

This first loft design idea should be the most obvious, but if not, let’s discuss open-plan lofts. An open-plan means having a minimal amount of walls with a wide open space. This type of layout usually results in an open kitchen, dining, and living room that are all one open area, sometimes referred to as a “great room.” The single most awesome aspect of loft apartments is that they can be large open spaces. You should do everything you can to take advantage of a loft’s openness and create a vast and generous space.

Having one large open space as the centerpiece of a loft apartment is excellent for social gatherings or lounging at home. Sitting in a large open space and taking it all in feels incredible. Openness is critical to take advantage of for a loft apartment design when you have the floor area.

Open Plan Loft Apartment Design

Open Plan Loft Apartment Design


Open Kitchen

If you are going to make an open-plan space, you will probably want an open kitchen. In fact, open kitchens are generally standard today. Almost all of our clients want open kitchens in a loft apartment. There are many ways to address an open kitchen in a loft, but start with a few critical decisions. Do you want any of the following:

  • Kitchen Island
  • Peninsula
  • Counter Seating
  • Fully open or semi-open kitchen

A kitchen is an integral part of home design, nowadays, they’re often a bit larger than they used to be, and people prefer to put them on display within the home. Open kitchens make the space feel larger and allow for a more interactive and inclusive means of living.

Loft Open Kitchen Design

Loft Open Kitchen Design


Exposed Brick 

Exposed brick might be the most ubiquitous architectural feature of New York Lofts. Loft buildings were typically built with brick exterior walls at the building perimeter. Some of the walls are likely brick, even if they are covered with drywall or plaster. You can remove these finishes to reveal the brick behind. It is always best to probe the walls first before committing to opening large portions of the walls. Exposed brick is almost synonymous with New York City Loft Design, but some people do not like it. Of course, you also have to consider the condition of the bricks, as in some buildings, the brick may look better than in others.

Exposed Brick Loft NYC

Exposed Brick Loft NYC


Black Metal and Glass

Black Steel and Glass Doors are a great look for a loft. Depending on how you use the space, you may or may not want something like this. In the example below, you can see black steel and glass double doors with sidelights to a home office in a Loft in Chelsea. You can see another post if you want to read more about Adding a Home Office.

Chelsea Loft Black Metal and Glass Doors

Chelsea Loft home office with Black Metal and Glass Doors


Industrial Hardware

Lofts have their origins in industrial buildings. It is fitting to incorporate some industrial features. An industrial feel is, of course, up to personal taste and is not for everyone, but it can bring some nice details for someone looking to have a more Industrial Loft Design.

Industrial Modern Door Hardware

Industrial Modern Door Hardware in a NYC Loft in FiDi


Tall Doors

Tall doors go well with high ceilings. Even if the ceilings aren’t so high, you can still try to put large doors in your loft. The bigger, the better. In the photo below, we installed an orange-stained wood door against a concrete wall finish wall. The tall doors make the space feel grand and are a decisive architectural move in a modern loft apartment.

Tall Modern Loft Door Design

Tall Modern Loft Door Design New York Loft Apartment Design


Wide Plank Floors

A wide plank floor is a great look for a loft. The picture below is of a 10″ rift cut White Oak Floor. A wide plank floor is modern, simple, and elegant. When you have a vast open space like the loft below, you can use a wider plank floor to balance out the scale. The wide plank creates a great visual enhancement to the space.

If you are interested in reading more about floors we have another post on White Oak Floors.

Loft Flooring Ideas - Wide Plank Floor

Loft Flooring Ideas – White Oak Wide Plank Floor in SoHo Loft


Large Loft Wall Art

Lofts have large spaces with high ceilings, giving you large bare walls to play with. These are great for hanging art. Many NYC lofts were originally JLWQA which means Joint Live & Working Quarters for Artists. These are often in SoHo and Tribeca. It is great to reference the history and origins of lofts while decorating your home.

Loft Wall Art

Loft Wall Art


Keep It Simple

You can choose to keep it simple when designing your loft. Sometimes people try too hard when putting together their interior design, don’t overdo it. The bedroom below has a simple, clean white feel with long curtains accentuating the high loft ceilings.

Simple Loft Bedroom Design

Simple Loft Bedroom Design (SoHo Loft)


Minimal Furniture Loft Décor

It may be better not to clutter up your loft. The furniture can be relatively minimal, and there should be plenty of open space. The great thing about lofts is the openness. You don’t need to fill it so much with furniture that it loses the open feel. You should have plenty of breathing room. 

Furnishing a Loft in SoHo

Furnishing a Loft in SoHo


Cozy Moments

A great contrast to an open plan loft is to have some small cozy moments or intimate spaces within the apartment. These can come in many forms, such as a breakfast nook or, as in the picture below, a small sitting/reading nook. Playing with the size of spaces relative to their use in this manner will add an extra layer to the overall design. Changing the scale will allow you to function on different levels within the space of your home. These areas create a closer experience as a relief from the overall openness of a large loft apartment.

White Loft Sitting Nook

White Loft Sitting Nook in a Tribeca Loft


Add Texture 

Texture and material can add character to a space, but this is very subjective. Material selection is a personal choice, as everyone has a different vision for their home. Individual preference is why I work closely with my clients as an architect to understand what will make them happy. I had a client who made her entire 4,000 square foot loft white, as you can also see in this post. Whereas in the image below, my client bought an all-white loft apartment and said, “It feels like I’m living in a hospital.” We transformed the entire apartment into a concrete loft incorporating concrete finishes into almost every room. Additionally, we used black steel and wood to add texture and play against the concrete. Of course, I am not telling everyone to build themselves a concrete apartment, but I want you to understand there are many options when it comes to materials.

Concrete Loft NYC

Concrete Loft in the NYC Financial District.


All White Interiors

An all-white apartment is not for everyone, but some people love white interiors. The image below is of a loft apartment painted in all white and off whites. It has a clean and straightforward look that provides an elegant feel in this 4,000-square-foot luxury Tribeca Loft.

White Tribeca Loft Design

White Tribeca Loft Design


Dark Paint Colors

We saw an all-white loft apartment design, but here is an alternative with a darker-colored bedroom in a SoHo loft. The grey walls set a mood and provide a completely different feel. The bed is black and white to compliment the grey bedroom design.

Modern Loft Bedroom Design

Modern Loft Bedroom Design in SoHo


Accent Lights

Lighting can set the mood, and lofts are apartments that can handle quite a bit of mood. Adding accent lighting can be a great way to add a bit of drama to a space.

Under Cabinet Lighting

Under Cabinet Lighting


Modern Bathroom Fixtures & Accessories

Lofts generally are a more luxurious and modern type of apartment. It is very appropriate to go with high-end modern fixtures and accessories throughout your loft, especially in the bathroom.

Custom Ceiling Mounted Industrial Towel Bar

Custom Ceiling Mounted Industrial Towel Bar


Modern Wall Niche Detail

There are many ways to add a little detail to a loft apartment. One example is the wall niche shown in the image below. In this apartment, the wall niches are used for plants which bring life and vibrancy to an otherwise all-white loft. Small details and moments such as these can add to the overall design and enhance a space with a subtle extra touch of design.

Modern Wall Niche

Modern Wall Niche in a Tribeca Loft


Loft Apartment Design

Lofts have their natural character, but you must make it your own. Take your needs and wants as the first step to design and then move on to the aesthetic decisions. These choices will come from personal taste, project goals, budget, and your attitude to the loft’s architectural features. I study design and construction as an architect, but these are complicated and quite involved issues. Every project is different and must be assessed on its own unique characteristics. 


Thank You for Reading Our Blog Post on Loft Apartment Design Ideas

I hope this was helpful. You can contact us directly at Fontan Architecture if you would like to speak with an architect about a potential project.


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Jorge Fontan

Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.