How to Make the Most of Tall Spaces for Lofty Living

Words by
Bob de Wit
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Overheight loft condos can be stunning but often create interior design challenges. The GVHBA’s Bob de Wit shares some tips from an expert

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Loft spaces are often semi-finished with overheight ceilings, large open spaces and huge glass walls. Taking advantage of these unique features – typically not found in standard condos – creates some design challenges to make the environment livable.

I reached out to award-winning design-build Intermind Design Inc. owner Mila Duras for loft design tips. According to Duras, living in a loft is all about loving the feeling created by the character of the space. He suggests we draw inspiration from the architecture and the culture of the neighbourhood.

More often than not, lofts are built in historic, industrial or urban neighbourhoods. Lofts located in historic areas, such as New Westminster or Yaletown, will most likely feature brick and wood. If your loft is located in a more urban area like the former Olympic Village, concrete and glass walls may make up the foundation. Wire mesh is another material used for a more industrial modern look, perfect for the Railtown District, for example.

Design Tricks of the Trade

No matter the neighbourhood, size or formation of the loft, there are common design-build tricks to create livable spaces, without compromising on character. Here are Duras’s top design tips:

  • Strategically placed platforms and columns can be added to define space. If located in a historic area, brick and wood posts can bring the “streetscape” into the décor, while visually separating spaces within.
  • Adding built-in cabinetry is a great way to solve the lack of storage typical in lofts. Choosing pony walls and opened back shelving will define space, while adding storage, without compromising the overall look and function of the room.
  • Use ceiling height to your advantage. Dropped beam ceiling dividers create a natural sense of room separation, without obstructing the flow in the room.
  • If you’re in a completely open space with very high ceilings but no mezzanine level, create a loft space. If you have the means, adding a loft space will take advantage the available height and create a sense of privacy, while increasing your square footage.
  • Oversized pendant lighting celebrates the sense of space and light. Hang lighting at lower levels over eating, reading or sitting areas to create more intimate spaces.
  • Area rugs are a quick fix to define use of space. Scale is the trick here. Make sure the rugs are large enough to hold the furniture used in the area. If too small, the furniture placement will appear random, outside the carpet versus “in the room.” The size of the carpet defines the area.
  • Still with scale, just because the space is open and large, does not require all art and furniture pieces to be grand in size. Collections and groupings can be used to fill a wall or create a nook, adding interest to the room.
  • Rolling barn walls, islands on casters, and adaptable furniture are examples of movable options and character pieces perfect for open-concept design.
  • Consider your colour schemes, art work, and furniture. With an open-room concept, the eye scans the entire loft, as if one pallet. Harmonious colour schemes will connect the spaces within, creating a well-designed space.

Reach out to GVHBA at for a design-build team in your neighbourhood.


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