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What Is a Loft in a House?

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Lofts are elevated spaces within a home that can serve a multitude of purposes, whether you choose to use one as a bedroom, storage space, or for another activity entirely.

Below, you will find plenty of information regarding where lofts are most commonly found, how they are primarily used, and what differentiates lofts from finished attic spaces.

Meet the Expert

  • Rachael Grochowski is the principal architect and designer at RHG A+D, which is based in Montclair, NJ.
  • Patty Cassidy is the director of interiors at Ike Baker Velten, an architecture and design firm which is based in Oakland, CA.

What Is a Loft?

A loft is an elevated area inside of a home that is accessible via a flight of stairs. Lofts will generally overlook a main living area, such as a living room or kitchen, and function as an additional room within a home that can be used for relaxing, working, or sleeping.

Similar to an outdoor balcony’s design, a loft has railings but does not feature four standard plaster walls like a traditional room would.

Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Where Are Lofts Found?

Lofts are most commonly found in contemporary or industrial-style homes. They are also common in smaller city apartments, given that they allow vertical space to be repurposed into an additional new room even when square footage is limited.

A home’s architectural style will influence a loft’s specific appearance. In industrial-style homes, for example, lofts are usually accessible up a black metal staircase and feature black metal railings. They may be accompanied by exposed brick walls as well as exposed beams or ductwork as well.

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What Are Lofts Used For?

Because lofts are located up a flight of stairs and not on the main level of a home, they are often used as offices and lounge spaces. When a loft is used as an office, it’s easy for an adult to be working in this space while still keeping an eye on the family downstairs, explains Rachael Grochowski, principal architect and designer at RHG A+D.

“Lofts are great areas for a library or just an overlook,” she says. Sometimes, lofts that serve as offices are enclosed with glass, Grochowski adds.

A loft can also function as a bedroom. However, given its lack of standard walls, this type of setup is most often the case in a single-occupancy apartment, or one belonging to a couple, in which case privacy is not as much of a concern.

Additionally, there is sometimes an en-suite bathroom in a lofted bedroom, but other times, this is not the case, and the sole bathroom is located downstairs on the main living level.

Some people may simply choose to use a lofted space as storage in lieu of a traditional attic. In this instance, lofts make for easily accessible spaces in which to store items such as off-season clothing, holiday and seasonal decorations, entertaining supplies, crafting gear, and more.

A small loft, such as the one shown here, can even be converted into a walk-in closet and used to house several clothing racks, and shoe holders which will make getting ready for the day more enjoyable.

Vasyl Cheipesh / Getty Images

Finished Attic vs. Loft

A finished attic is more secluded than a loft, given that it features standard walls. Attics also maintain a different design aesthetic and are usually more rustic in nature, whereas many lofts lean modern and industrial.

As Patty Cassidy, director of interiors at Ike Baker Velten states, “lofts prioritize open space with an emphasis on aesthetics and functionality.”

Many lofts are furnished with neutral pieces, plenty of plants, and sleek accent pieces. Choose an overall theme or color palette to ensure your loft blends in with the rest of your home.

Since lofts can be seen from the room or rooms below them, this will need to be taken into account during the design process—you will want to select items that appear cohesive with the rest of your space and ensure that the area does not look too cluttered or otherwise visually distracting.

The lack of full walls in a loft means that sound can carry; as a benefit, those upstairs can easily converse with those downstairs in the main living spaces if they wish.

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