What Is ‘Urban Loft’?
Put simply, urban loft is a decorating style that creates the mood and sensation of living in a city. This does not necessarily mean recreating the hustle and bustle, heat and smog of the city, as quite simply this just would not be very nice in your home. The busyness is left behind the front door, as a home can be a tranquil escape form urban realities. However, as you look out of the window, away from the noise, the images that a city can create are wonderful. Whether it is the multi-colour tapestry created by street lamps and car lights at night or the sun reflecting from the harsh concrete buildings creating an intrigue of shapes and tones at daybreak.
As with all interior design, the concept of urban living is subjective and means different things to different people and the images created can vary depending on the city in which you live, but the basic concepts remain constant. This style is about embracing metropolitan life and the energies that are created by the urban surroundings. Originating in re-used spaces, such as old warehouses, offices, shops and even steelworks and mills, it is now common for urban dwellers to imitate this look in their more modern homes, typically apartments or ‘lofts’. Think open plan, techy, stainless steel bachelor pad and you are almost there.
10 tips to help you create the urban loft style in your home:
1. Open Space:
Ironic really as cities are not know for their open spaces, one of the primary principles for creating a loft style space is to embrace open plan living. On the lower level of the home especially, there should be limited solid walls, with rooms being separated by furniture at differing heights, different flooring and wall coverings and even lighting. Each ‘room’ should flow into one, creating the illusion of space and intrigue that draws the eye and makes you want to explore the depth.
Like the skyline of a city, your urban loft home should be multi-layered and the sky is literally your limit. High ceilings create at atmosphere like walking along a street of tall buildings; you are surrounded by furniture but are aware of the empty void imitating the sky above. Skylight windows are not always possible, but of they can be included in your design then they should definitely be considered as they will flood your home with natural light and create an endless ceiling that will add energy to the space as well as making it appear larger than it is. Adding layers to the open plan home helps to ad a city appeal and can easily be achieved by adding a mezzanine floor, or more simply the illusion of a floating floor through slats of a banister. As well as going up you may consider a step down to a seating area or steps up to a bathtub. All of these solutions add strong, angled lines to the city-line of your home.
3. Exposed features:
Wherever possible, using the natural features of the building will create a genuine urban feel. Exposed brick walls, not only bring an eco-friendly appeal, textured and a taste of the outdoors, but they can also add a splash of natural colours from blacks, browns and reds to creams and yellows. Likewise, exposed floors have the same effect, form concrete to wooden floorboards. You will need to treat natural floors to prevent dirt and dust, but try to maintain the natural beauty, using clear or earthy finishes.
In more modern homes and new builds, exposing natural features may not be possible, but the desired effect can still be achieved by leaving ventilation ducts, heating systems and pipes on display, ensuring they are clean and/or covered in urban wear materials such as bright grey metals, stainless steels and so forth.
4. Colours and Shapes:
As well as the colours from the exposed features in your urban space, you need to continue the neutral colour pallet throughout the home. Earthy colours such as browns, blacks, whites, greys and distressed silvers should form the majority base colours, but don’t be afraid to add small splashes of contemporary colour to create a modern, slightly warmer feel. Think graffiti, billboards, and other items that add colour to otherwise fairly dull city streets and create small accents of bright colours through carefully chosen accessories.
As well as the colours, elements from a contemporary design style are also used when considering the shapes in your room. Try to create squared corners and straight lines as much as possible, imitate the blocks of skyscrapers and though furniture and fittings create a clean sleek home that the most modern interior designer would envy.
5. Minimalist Furniture:
As with contemporary design, when furnishing your urban loft, less is most definitely more. Clutter is a big no when trying to create this design style as it softens the image and draws to the attention to particular items rather than the overall room. Although this concept mimics contemporary style, you can still add personality and bring other design statements into your home to create an eclectic mix of urban. After all, cities are not uniform and built in one particular style. Take inspiration from the architecture around you and consider period furniture, art deco and other design eras as well as modern.
Due to the nature of the urban loft design style, it is not unusual to see reclaimed or recycled, eco-friendly furniture in the home. Coasters made from old tobacco tins, chandeliers from glass beer bottles, this all adds to the texture, history and story behind your home. In a similar vain you should choose fabrics made from natural materials such as cotton, wool or even hessian and hemp.
Natural light is wonderful for creating an urban dwelling, it brings a sense of the outdoors coming inside and is ever changing with the time of day and weather conditions. A sense of nature and a limitless existence is created by natural light, as well as the feeling of wellbeing that it can generate.
Window dressings should be kept to a minimum and if you are not overlooked or trying to sleep in the area, leaving a window completely free form curtains, blinds or coverings would really help with the design style you are trying to achieve, almost like a nakedness, striped back to origins. If window coverings are required then opt for cotton drapes or wooden blinds so as to maintain the environmentally friendly, natural impression.
If possible add a window balcony, so that doors can be left open and some of the city live outside can filter into your home. This also means that you can stand and admire the metropolitan world in which you are part of.
Whether you have plenty of natural light or not, the artificial lights used in your home are an important decorative feature as well as producing the desired ambience from the radiating rays. Reflect on the types of lighting used through the city and how they create a warm, raw glow in the evening. From streetlights and car headlights to urban pubs and bars and further to industrial style sheet lighting and movie lamps. There are a huge range of uplighters, free standing and table lamps designed in stainless steel or metallic finishes that create a Hollywood appeal as well as providing a warm and cosy glow.
There are so many pictures and impressions that depict urban scenes and it is down to personality to help you find one that works for you. Ranging from the New York skyline through to mod or punk culture, the art in your home is subject to your personal tastes and experiences.
Aside from conventional artwork, try using items from the city itself to cerate your own art. Bottle top art, old street signs and recycled materials make terrific wall art. Think too about sculptures and free standing items such as heavy duty, antique or old fashioned warehouse fans, items that are industrial but make wonderful urban ornaments.
Mirrors can be used as art, as well as their obvious functional value, mirrors now come in an array of frames that can be artwork in their own right. From rolled paper surrounds, to distressed frames, wall mirrors will also help to reflect natural light through your home and assist with the illusion of space and depth.
Much like the stereotypical bachelor pad, the urban loft style encourages the display and use of gadgets. Representing the cutting edge, forefront of technology that the city can produce, the urban home is a great setting for the display of sleek electronics. Don’t hide them away, unless they are dated and have seen better days, instead embrace new ideas and inventions and let them become a way of life.
10. Bring the outside in:
We have already touched upon bringing your urban surroundings into your home through the use of exposed features, eco-friendly materials, natural light and even artwork all of which create a collective urban space. Couple this with house plants, seedlings and food items on display such as fruit bowls or herbs and you will have the entire package.
The urban loft style of decorating is exciting as it recreates the energies of the city and it needn’t cost a fortune either as recycling, eco-friendly materials and exposed natural features are key. Although not for everyone, this design style can take on different images depending on a persons taste and life experiences and these styles of homes can tell a story about the person who lives there. An eclectic mix of design styles and eras that come together to create a home filled with personality and vibrancy and not only for young urbanites or bachelors either, this design style has not age limits or set requirements.