Hard Lofts, Soft Lofts – What’s the Difference?

Today, Loft apartments have become a trendy style of living. The term loft is used to describe a large open concept living space with high ceilings and large windows. Lofts were originally popular amongst artists and bohemians because of their affordability and versatility. Now that they have become so popular, loft living is anything but affordable. Builders are now developing new condo buildings with a loft essence allowing the owner to live in a healthy urban area, unlike the areas of many loft conversions. Overtime, the idea of Loft living has constantly been evolving. The question is what is the difference between a hard, soft and new hard lofts?

Industrial lofts, also known as Hard Lofts, are generally a manufacturing warehouse that has been converted into apartments style living. A lot of the time, industrial loft conversions are a part of an overall neighbourhood revival project where old industrial buildings are converted into a combination of apartments, art galleries or studio spaces. These Hard Lofts have a lot of character as they take on the features of the old, and sometimes heritage warehouses. Concrete ceilings and floors, exposed brick walls, large windows, exposed duct work, electrical and plumbing are all features you will find in a “hard” space. Many times if a building is zoned for it, industrial lofts are used as a live/work space. Just as the name states this is a space where owner lives and works. This allows the owner to cut costs which is why the live work loft is such a popular option for artists.

Developers have noticed this trend towards loft living and are now trying to re-create this type of space in the hard loft style with large windows, exposed building material, high ceilings and open concept living. Since these buildings are new, developers are able to take the drawbacks of living in a True Hard Loft building and convert them into positive features. For example, authentic Hard Lofts tend to not be energy efficient as the building is very old. They also tend to be located in parts of the city that are in transition as the area was or still is an industrial neighborhood. Builders have taken this idea and have developed these “New Hard Lofts” in trendy and expensive areas of the city and they construct them to be energy efficient. Generally speaking a true Hard Loft does not offer its residents much in terms of building amenities. The New Hard Lofts on the other hand are being built with all the amenities of a regular condo apartment such as a pool, gym, party room etc. It’s the best of both worlds.

Soft Lofts are similar to New Hard Lofts in that they are newly constructed but unlike Hard, Soft Lofts are just that, softer. Instead of concrete floors, they may have broadloom or hardwood. Instead of exposed duct work and piping, these areas are encased in drywall. Generally speaking, Soft Lofts still offer an open concept living space with huge windows but in a more traditional condo style.

Lofts have become a popular style of living because of the open space and the versatility that a loft offers. Once a style of home used by artists as a cost effective way to live and do business, lofts now have become a fashionable style of living, and an expensive one at that.