I ♥ NYC: Loft-inspired Style


Japanese architect Tadao Ando believes design has the power to change us: “to change the dwelling is to change the city and to reform society”. Our living spaces inspire the way we live our lives.

Being just a little smitten with the Manhattan loft, I’m always looking for ways to justify my move to an uber-chic converted cheese warehouse with polished concrete floors. A quick scan through my fave fictional loft-dwellers reveals that living it loft-style means existing outside the rules. This applies to style as much as philosophy. From Holly Golightly to Don Draper, Carrie Bradshaw and the Beat poets, it’s all about unbridled* self-expression. Bold design invites bold living.

*Disclaimer: budget may bridle you slightly.

Via blog.gessato.com and apartmenttherapy.com


My love affair with the Manhattan loft began whilst reading Lanford Wilson’s Burn This at drama school. The play is set in downtown New York. In the wake of a friend’s death, dancer-choreographer Anna falls into the arms of Pale, a volatile restaurateur with a penchant for the white powder. Joan Allen played opposite a rakish young John Malkovich in its debut production.

Via ew.com

It’s hard to know what I coveted most: Allen’s frail beauty, her fiery affair with Malkovich, or the oversized loft apartment in lower Manhattan where all the reckless action takes place. It’s a converted cast-iron warehouse complete with factory windows, exposed pipes and a huge sloping skylight. There’s a sprawling lounge, open kitchen, dining nook, and, wait for it, an exercise barre down one mirrored wall (I could finally learn pointe!).

To die for.

This kind of space cries out for rustic dining tables and goat hair stools (go on), a studio floor lamp, expansive wall art and sumptuous throws to soften those raw emotions.

From left to right: Stoneleigh & Roberson Mendès Coffee Table, Soundslike HOME Substation Iron Dining Chair, Soundslike HOME Tropica Goat Hair Stool, Stoneleigh & Roberson Jacques Dining Table, Soundslike HOME Substation Square Bar Table, and Soundslike HOME Tropica Shaggy Brown Box Stool

The play’s stark emotional honesty is driven forward on an undercurrent of lust. At its climax the lovers are drawn toward each other almost against their wills. “This isn’t opera, this is life,” Wilson writes. “Why should love always be tragic?” Yes!!!! Bold design = bold living.

Via fashionfoiegras.com

Admittedly not all of us have the luxury of space – it’s so often connected to many $$$. Carrie Bradshaw’s chic one-bed/one-bath brownstone apartment on the Upper East Side is estimated at a mere US$2400 per month, making her single weekly column one sweet job.

However you can inject a loft-inspired vibe into your interiors with statement pieces and décor accents. Clean lines and open frames imbue a spacious aesthetic. From gritty urban to rustic country house, retro-inspired man cave and more, the interpretation is yours.

New new loft

Via lamaisonpoetique.com and retaildesignblog.net


Via junkandking.wordpress.com

In Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly’s apartment leans toward Parisian flea-market glam. Capote’s Holly Golightly is the Carrie Bradshaw of the 1940s. Holly is will incarnate. She’d be an argument for self-definition if she didn’t leave you with such a feeling of tristesse.

While her personal style is flawless, her decor is dependent on thrift shop finds and the charity of others. Holly has no job. She lives off the gifts and good will of her gentleman callers.

In the flush of newly minted love, she restyles her quirky suitcase-furnished apartment. Channeling neo-classic design dressed up with eclectic gems, I see statement sofas, maybe even a  chaise longue, and easy chairs with an emphasis on comfort. This is loft-style living infused with femininity, bright pops of colour and decadent prints. The emphasis is on accents.

From left to right: Cafe Lighting Dakota 2.5 Seater Sofa, Stoneleigh & Roberson Besson Marble Dining Table, Soundslike HOME Cynderela Dining Chair, Stoneleigh & Roberson Valéry Nesting Tables, and Soundslike HOME Iron Lounge Chair


Via litkicks.com

Via litkicks.com

At the other end of the spectrum are the Beat Poets. These boys clutching their opium pipes were veritable starving artists bunking down in their man caves. On my first trip to New York I trawled the streets of Greenwich Village, searching out the brownstone walk-ups where Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs penned their pages:  those “angelheaded hipsters… who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz”. (Allen Ginsberg)

When I picture their apartments I see upcycled furniture, a touch of steampunk, raw artisanal flair, and a fusion of distressed metal and reclaimed timber. Distressed metal coffee tables and dining tables with piped legs, and reclaimed boat timber furniture. Delicious.

From left to right: Soundslike HOME Substation Wooden Box Stool, Soundslike HOME Substation Yellow Console Table, Soundslike HOME Metal Cabinet with Wooden Door, Soundslike HOME Substation Nesting Tables, and Soundslike HOME Substation Super Coffee Table

In conclusion I leave you with one more literary reference that has nothing to do with lofts (I did warn you about the rules) but everything to do with living life to the full. When Reverend Arthur Beebe hears Lucy’s impassioned performance at the piano in A Room with a View he says, “If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting both for us and for her.” Live large. Decorate fearlessly.

– Kay



Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.