How this loft *almost* hit the goldmine

Furniture Mar 1, 2021

Image source: Loft for sale in San Francisco, CA

Upon first glance while scrolling through Redfin, this loft had my curiosity. It instantly struck a "wow" chord but something about it felt off. After revolving through the photos for the umpteenth time, I think I have realized the reasons why. This loft has a few pretty unusual elements in its core construction that give it the bones to be quite a fantastic spot, but there are some elements of the interior design execution that hold it back from truly shining. Let's start with the wow factors.

⭐️ Standout factor #1 - Sawtooth roof

The most attractive part of this unit to me is the sawtooth roof. It creates two levels of depth in the clerestory windows which both elongates the mezzanine area and lets in double the light! I flip through many a listings and have rarely come across residential units with this feature, especially in the city.

SF Loft Apartment with Sawtooth Roof - Mezzanine
SF Loft Apartment with Sawtooth Roof - Exterior

⭐️ Standout factor #2 - Sky high ceilings

The soaring ceilings!!! It was hard to not make this my #1 as it really is a big reason I'm drawn to this apartment. If you can't tell from my tweets and blog post about the Lofthouse, I really really love lofts. I love that from the first floor the space is big and airy and you can't see the roof until you craned your head up! And from the lofted floor you have a wonderful view across the exposed space anytime you look up from your work or craft.

⭐️ Standout factor #3 - Throwback styles

Entertainment centers and velvet furniture - things that I feel have been lost in a lot of modern minimalist trends, make a bold appearance in this loft. And I totally respect that choice. The ability to hide the TV by closing the panel is really great and a perfect application of out of sight out of mind. Hopefully this gives the homeowners more time to enjoy the space rather than a 60" screen! The color symmetry between the entertainment center and kitchen cabinetry's wood finishes and the sandblasted wooden ceiling panels does a superb job in tightening this very open space.

SF Loft Apartment with Sawtooth Roof - Mezzanine
SF Loft Apartment with Sawtooth Roof - Lofted work space
The view from this workspace is divine 😍

⭐️ Standout factor #4 - The art selection

On brand with the previous point, the curated art selection here gives any guest so much to look at. It's a very energetic and artistic method of decorating the walls. I really enjoy wall decorations that cause a passerby to double take, or walk back and pause in front of it. That's my favorite :)

SF Loft Apartment with Sawtooth Roof - Art Selection
SF Loft Apartment with Sawtooth Roof - Art Selection

Now, on to some design details that I think could be improved to really enhance the space, and how I would do it.

👷🏻‍♀ Consideration #1 - No eye-level windows

Okay, this is more of a personal gripe than just a suggestion. Thanks to the clerestory windows there is hopefully still a lot of natural light that can flood in on a good day, but the problem is the it relies on light from a single direction, and in San Francisco with the average foggy day, this may be a light ambient light.

Aside from natural light exposure, having windows at eye level make a space feel less enclosing or claustrophobic. That's part of the reason why having "a view" feels so good and refreshing, regardless of whether you're looking at rolling hills, infinites seas, or just rooftops. Based on the concrete walls and building structure, unfortunately it seems impossible for most units, and quite the undertaking for others to add windows. I already have a propensity to feel claustrophobic so this would sadly be a deal breaker for me.

However, for those where this is not a deal breaker but would like some sneaky workarounds, here's one. Rather than having that living green wall (which I think feels out of place here anyways), you could put a multi-piece or single horizontal mirror there instead! By reflecting the interior, the mirror will create the illusion of a larger space, and help bounce some light around as well. Like one of these!

👷🏻‍♀️ Consideration #2 - The all-wood all-white clash

As detailed in one of the Standout items above, the beautiful wooden textures throughout in the main room define a very particular style and expectation for the space. That's why it felt so jarring to open the Wardrobe-to-Narnia in the entertainment center, step cautiously into the secret nook, and find yourself in a... glossy all white room 😳. The same goes for the all white, glossy tiled, glass topped bathroom in the back too. Take a look at the comparisons below - it feels as though these are two different apartments!

Sub-style #1

SF Loft Apartment with Sawtooth Roof - Mezzanine
SF Loft Apartment with Sawtooth Roof - Mezzanine Spiral Staircase

Sub-style #2

SF Loft Apartment with Sawtooth Roof - Secret Nook
SF Loft Apartment with Sawtooth Roof - Bathroom

Side gripe... the back to back single sinks is a very interesting choice. I would have put in one double sink (that has more counter space) and less unnerving symmetry. The existing layout would not really allow that though less you move the toilet right next to the door, but, alas.

👷🏻‍♀️ Consideration #3 - Too much visual distraction

As with all other things in life, everything in moderation - including the use of varying colors, textures, and patterns. If one were to do an eye tracking experiment on a photo of the main room, my guess is the output would have dots bouncing every which way all over the photo. There are too many competing features all saying "me, me, me!". The big rug is red and velvety, the window is bright, the island is sponge patterned, the coffee table is a checkerboard, the green wall protrudes from one side, the couch is shiny, and so on. We can decrease the low-grade stress without losing the character and vibrance. Some ideas...

  • Pick 3 colors for the living room. Perhaps just black, red, and the light blue as an accent. Remove the straggler green chair.
  • Replace the living wall with another, flatter wall decoration. Use floor plants or countertop plants for foliage instead.
  • Consolidate pattern styles. The island could take a tiled approach to match the coffee table, or the table can take a simple wooden surface to match the cabinets.

👷🏻‍♀️ Consideration #4 - Square peg, round hole?

The curved fixtures like the island, entertainment center side entrance, and wrap around sloped island wall are very different from the furnishings that lie within it and make them feel out of place. Almost like a place with an old heart but young spirit and they're clashing. If a few more prominent pieces of furniture were round, that would improve the cohesion. You can go with a rounded couch (maybe velvet?!), large round art pieces or mirrors on the wall, rounded corner dining table and chairs, or a few large curvy art pieces on the large console lining the wall to reflect.

Here are some pieces I may have tried out when staging this main space instead:

If you like this style... I’ve helped you find some options to replicate it in your own home.


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