How To Furnish a Loft

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Urban chic is taking Sacramento by storm. Here’s how to get the look (even if you don’t live in a loft).

In case you haven’t gotten the word, lofts are in.

Just look around downtown Sacramento, where loft buildings are popping up like mushrooms after a spring rain.

If certain local developers had their way, we’d all live in lofts: wide-open, industrial-looking spaces with exposed ductwork and floor-to-ceiling windows, filled with sleek Italian-modern furniture and outfitted with severe Bulthaup kitchens.

Chances are, you don’t live in a loft. Still, it’s fun to fantasize. So we asked local experts for pointers on how to furnish a loft. Who knows? Maybe some of their ideas will work in your own home, whatever it might be.

Be flexible. Lofts have few if any walls and lots of undefined space. “The wonderful thing about a loft is that it’s a blank canvas,” says local interior designer Curtis Popp. “You can do whatever you want. Your options are limitless.” Who says the bed has to be up against a wall? In a loft, you can float it in the center of the room. A kitchen island also can serve as a dining table and an office workspace.

Go minimal. “People make a mistake by overloading the space,” says Joyce Wolfe, manager of Limn, a North Sacramento store that specializes in modern design. A loft should be spare and simple, and so should its furnishings. “I don’t like clutter,” says Jon Dennis, who lives in a loft and co-owns Blank Blank, a modern design firm that specializes in furniture and interiors. “I like a very limited amount of furniture in a loft space.”

Mix it up. Don’t stay within one style or period, says Popp. He likes to juxtapose vintage with new, modern with classic, clean-lined with baroque. “Don’t be limited to a particular style,” he says. “That’s what’s so neat about modernism: It works with everything.” Notes Mark Fahey, co-owner of Time Bandits, a vintage furniture store in Oak Park, “People in lofts tend to mix new furnishings from places like Design Within Reach and Ikea with true vintage midcentury modern pieces.” For instance, try pairing a 1950s molded fiberglass swivel chair with a sexy DellaRobbia sofa.

Invest in iconic pieces. Choose a time-tested midcentury classic, like a Le Corbusier Chaise Longue, Eames La Chaise or Mies van der Rohe Barcelona leather daybed. “People’s tastes change a lot,” says Kirk Chase, “studio proprietor” of the new Design Within Reach store on 16th Street. “Classics will never go out of style.” Look for future classics, too: investment-grade pieces such as the exquisite, handmade wood furniture from BDDW. “They’re built to last,” says Dennis.

 


Play with scale.

Because lofts typically have big windows and high ceilings, “you want things that are substantial, not dinky,” says Limn’s Wolfe. Long sectional sofas that can provide plenty of seating for a party are ideal. So are oversized light fixtures. Take the Pallucco Fortuny Ornaments floor lamp, which resembles a massive photographer’s light. Or Philippe Starck’s amusing Superarchimoon floor lamp, which looks like a desk lamp on steroids.

Don’t block the view. Lofts have lots of big windows that provide unobstructed views of the outdoors. As a result, furnishings tend to be low-slung and horizontal, rather than vertical. “We direct people to low pieces,” says Fahey, particularly sofas, chairs and end tables.

Choose pieces that multitask. Newly built lofts tend to be smaller than the converted warehouses of yore, and space is at a premium. “Each piece must serve multiple functions,” says Mark Friedman, a developer of several loft projects in Sacramento and West Sacramento. Take de Sede’s DS-450 sofa, for instance, available at Limn. With a few quick Rubik’s Cubelike moves, the sleek leather settee turns into side-by-side chaises, perfect for lounging or watching television.

Look for storage solutions.
Generally, lofts have few, if any, closets, and storage is virtually nonexistent. Search for pieces such as long, low dressers and credenzas where you can stash kitchenware and entertainment equipment.