Genuine Loft Apartments Explained: Why the Long Corridors?

February 15, 2017 | Apartment Living

When it comes to loft apartments, there are basically two kinds: the kind that are called ‘lofts’ for no reason other than that they’re downtown, and the kind that are genuine loft apartments. As in, the kind that were originally industrial or commercial space built above the street level, and were converted to apartments after their original use had run its course. The first kind — the normal apartments that are simply called lofts — need not apply here; this article is about legit lofts. And the question we want to answer his: why are most genuine loft apartments the kind where you open the front door and find yourself staring down a long hallway?

That’s not really great feng shui, after all.

Let’s Talk about Bedrooms
Before we get to the long corridors, we have to start by talking about how the folks who adapted industrial spaces into apartments in the first place dealt with the question of bedrooms. See, genuine lofts are near-universally graced with two defining features: an external wall that is almost entirely windows, and a very high — as in, 15′ or higher — ceiling. (That high ceiling is why they’re called ‘loft’ apartments, by the way.)

That left designers with a quandary, because clearly it’s not really wise to have a bedroom on that huge window-wall. Not when chances were quite good that you had apartments on the building opposite that looked straight into yours. But if you pull the bedroom back away from that wall of glass, there’s only two choices: either you put it in between the living room (which was, after all, the room that benefited most from that glass) and the front door, or you had to tuck it in above some other room and still away from the neighbor’s sight-lines.

And That’s the Answer to the Hallway Question
Because of the ‘where’s the bedroom’ question, we ended up with the three classic loft designs:

  • The one with a super-sized living room and an open staircase leading up to the bedroom, which sits above 1/3 to 1/2 of the living room (or in some cases above the kitchen),
  • The one with a smaller living room, the bedrooms wedged in between the living room and the front door, and — of necessity — a long hallway that leads from the front door alongside the bedroom(s) and out to the living room, and
  • The one that has one main-floor bedroom and one loft bedroom, still with a long hallway, and also with the open staircase.

Obviously, if your ceilings aren’t quite 15 feet, you’re not going to be able to pull off the ‘loft bedroom’ idea, so you’re going to end up with the ‘long hallway’ concept instead. And while the feng shui of a long straight hallway might not be great, there are advantages. Consider:

  • Hanging a big, amazing painting at the end of the hallway as a focal point,
  • Creating a mural that stretches the length of the hallway,
  • Leaving the walls alone and instead putting down a long, visually complex runner that will guide guests eyes and feet along to the living room, and/or
  • If the hall is wide enough (many aren’t), putting bookshelves on one or both walls, creating a massive amount of storage space that might also impress your guests.

Long hallways with little going on are one of the few drawbacks of genuine loft apartments, along with the windowless bedrooms that come with them. But all it takes is a little creativity to turn that drawback into an opportunity — and either way, the drama of stepping out of that confined space into the epic openness of the living room is a feeling that has its own benefits.

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