August 8, 2008

Use Furniture to Divide Loft into Functional Areas

By Jeanna Freeman

Lofts are spacious, uncluttered spaces for today's contemporary lifestyles. Challenge these wide-open spaces to work for you, using these design tips:

First, evaluate how the loft space must function to meet your needs. Create a floor map to indicate the layout of the following areas: Private, entertaining and workspace.

Preserve your loft's character by incorporating industrial elements, such as large wooden planks or concrete floors, rustic timbers or metal beams, exposed vents and pipes, as well as brick and rough plastered walls.

Concrete floors can be given the look of stone with a staining technique. Or, opt to color-wash wooden floors in soft creams, grays, blue or white for a shabby-chic style. For a modern- contemporary feel, paint floors in bold blues, grays, black or reds and apply a layer of epoxy for a mirrored-shine.

Create divisions of space with the use of sectional sofas, built- in cabinets and open wall-units. Also, use low console tables or storage units as dividers between living and bedroom spaces and to display a swivel TV to be viewed from both areas.

Lofts require oversized accessories, such as artwork, metal structures, large planters and vases filled with exotic greenery. Use freestanding statues, candleholders and columns for display. Highlight these pieces with spotlights.

Build elevated platforms for private sleeping areas or office spaces to enhance and increase seating space.

Area rugs in unusual shapes and geometric patterns make for striking focal points, while anchoring and defining the space. Rugs can also be hung as art, adding texture and color to walls.

Kitchens are usually open to the living and private spaces of a loft. Today's trendy bold colors, and stainless steel appliances make these areas eye-catching focal points.

Get creative with countertops, using not only stronger patterns in granite, but also brushed stainless steel or poured concrete (often with recycled materials embedded).

Contemporary-style furnishings with clean uncluttered design work well in urban loft spaces. Add a touch of the past with glass and chrome coffee tables and leather-covered benches. Try plastic chairs from the '50s. And remember, blond furniture is back.

Loft living isn't only for the city-dweller. You can find lofts in unexpected places, including restored barns, above quaint town- square businesses and even in your own backyard tree house.

Jeanna Freeman of Collierville is a designer with 38 years of experience. She has taught classes in design and has done commercial and residential design locally and internationally. To read more from her or chat with her online, go to and click on "Mom talk."

Originally published by Jeanna Freeman .

(c) 2008 Commercial Appeal, The. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.