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How to Get the Loft Look without Moving

Give Your Existing Home a Loft-Like Makeover


Though loft living started as cheap work/live space for artists, those former factories and warehouses command high prices in most major cities today. If you long for urban loft living, but moving to one isn't possible, you can get the loft look by adding a few vintage industrial touches to your existing house or apartment. And, you can do it without spending a fortune. Here's how:


  • Exposed Brick: Apply brick veneer, brick printed wallpaper, or a faux painted finish to an accent wall.
  • Metal: Try stainless steel panels, complete with rivets, or cover a wall with corrugated tin. For something warmer, try a faux painted copper finish.


  • Dark Wood: Hardwoods are perfect for loft living, but if yours are light, consider staining them dark.
  • Concrete: For other floors, strip them down to the concrete. Leave them bare, or stain them before sealing. You can even rent equipment to score concrete to look like oversized tile.


  • Paint: To give your windows that industrial feel, paint the inside frames and mullions black, deep gray, or black-brown.
  • Appropriate Window Treatments: Ideally, you'd leave them uncovered. But, if privacy is an issue, use woven bamboo or matchstick shades, plain roman shades, or simple fabric panels hanging from curtain wire or tracks.


  • Wood: Wooden ceilings are perfect for loft décor. Go all out and add stained beadboard to your ceiling, or try an inexpensive faux woodgrain painted finish.
  • Metal: Faux paint ceilings to look like steel or copper. Or, install tin ceiling tiles, and paint them black, grey, distressed white, or metallic.
  • Beams: You'll find wooden beams in lots of lofts. If your ceiling is high enough, install inexpensive, lightweight faux beams made of foam or polyurethane. Paint them, or order them in a distressed wood finish. If you prefer natural materials, consider reclaiming wood from an old barn or tear-down building.


  • Paint: Traditional doors won't look nearly so traditional if you paint them black, deep gray, or black-brown.
  • Change the Hardware: Whether or not you paint, get rid of that shiny brass hardware. Go with something vintage or industrial.
  • Replace Them: Try replacing a few doors with sliding steel panels or light-filtering, Japanese shoji screens on a track. Or, install sleek modern doors with opaque glass or Plexiglass panels.


  • Industrial Fixtures: True industrial fixtures, especially vintage ones, are always appropriate for loft living.
  • Track Lighting: Track lighting looks modern, and you can position the spots to highlight your room's best features.
  • Suspended Lighting: Pendants and other suspended fixtures are perfect for the loft look. The cables and chains echo other industrial elements.
  • Vintage Fixtures: Art Deco, Art Nouveau, or Craftsman fixtures complement loft decor, and add another layer of interest. Think of the types of fixtures you'd see in an old movie house or department store. Shop flea markets, antique malls, and architectural salvage stores, and browse until something strikes your fancy.

Kitchen and Bathroom Cabinetry

  • Replace the Hardware: If your cabinets have clean lines, you might just replace the hardware. Choose something sleek and industrial, or go hand-forged and artsy.
  • Remove Upper Doors: Open shelving on top is sleek and stylish.
  • Replace Panels: If your cabinet doors have clean-lined panels, consider popping out of few of the panels. Replace the wood panels with wire screen, chicken wire, sheet copper, or Plexiglass.
  • Replace Doors: If your cabinet doors have curvy panels, replace them with something sleek. Try simple frames with opaque panels, or sliding steel or corrugated tin panels on a track.
  • Paint: If the finish is more cottage than contemporary, paint them. Glossy black always works, but bold colors are striking too.
  • Mix Finishes: If you like your existing wood finish, consider painting just some of the cabinets. Go natural on the top, and paint just the lower cabinets. Or, try it the other way around.


  • Replace Spindles and Banisters: Replace turned spindles and curvy banisters with something clean-lined and simple. If you want to go all the way, consider metal and cable on open staircases.
  • Paint: Whites and creams tend to look traditional. Modernize with black, deep gray, or black-brown paint.
  • Go Spiral: If you have the space for a second staircase, consider a metal spiral staircase. It's industrial and sculptural. Look for them at architectural salvage shops.
  • Get Rid of the Carpet: You won't get the loft look with fluffy, traditional carpet on your stairs. Go with the bare wood, or use a runner. Try flat sisal, jute, or seagrass. If you prefer some pattern, use a kilim runner from the flea market.
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