perfectly imperfect

A Perfectly Imperfect Chicago Loft

Old brick and timber lofts in Chicago are a dream to design because they are loaded with possibilities. Tall ceilings, exposed duct work and brick walls, oversized windows, and more create the ideal setting to realize a new vision. 

Although there are very few limits to what can be done to the interior of a home, one challenge with loft design is delineating the living space (lofts are open floor plan on steroids in most cases) and getting the scale right (large multi-purpose rooms and tall ceilings are typical). This property is a good reminder of the changes that are possible. To show the evolution of this one bedroom loft, we included "before" pictures below:

The original entry to the unit. Original wood floors, tall ceilings and passageways, and exposed ductwork are typical of the old Chicago loft conversions. 

The original entry to the unit. Original wood floors, tall ceilings and passageways, and exposed ductwork are typical of the old Chicago loft conversions. 

The existing kitchen passed its expiration date long ago.

The existing kitchen passed its expiration date long ago.

The combined family/dining room. Exposed brick with over-sized windows and large wood beams echo the industrial history of this building. The kitchen and family/dining room all bleed into each other in one large and undefined space during the pre-construction phase.

The combined family/dining room. Exposed brick with over-sized windows and large wood beams echo the industrial history of this building. The kitchen and family/dining room all bleed into each other in one large and undefined space during the pre-construction phase.

The tall dividing wall between the bedroom and living space. One challenge with old loft conversions is the division of space, which puts even more emphasis on smart interior design work. 

The tall dividing wall between the bedroom and living space. One challenge with old loft conversions is the division of space, which puts even more emphasis on smart interior design work. 

The bedroom with access to the roof deck above. This loft enjoys one of the most outstanding roof-top views of the city we've ever seen.

The bedroom with access to the roof deck above. This loft enjoys one of the most outstanding roof-top views of the city we've ever seen.

The bedroom view of the stairs up, desk, and closet behind the curtain. 

The bedroom view of the stairs up, desk, and closet behind the curtain. 

The outdated bathroom was upgraded first. 

The outdated bathroom was upgraded first. 

Now that you've seen the pre-construction pictures, drumroll, please .  .  .

The finished space in its perfectly imperfect glory:

A new wall-mounted vanity, tile, lighting, and plumbing fixtures modernize the bathroom

A new wall-mounted vanity, tile, lighting, and plumbing fixtures modernize the bathroom

The front entry disappears into the floor-to-ceiling wallpaper, and the foyer is illuminated by a sputnik-style light fixture.

The front entry disappears into the floor-to-ceiling wallpaper, and the foyer is illuminated by a sputnik-style light fixture.

The new kitchen features modern white cabinetry, new appliances, and a new peninsula with wine refrigerator and under-counter microwave. The kitchen is better lit than my amateur photography was able to capture.

The new kitchen features modern white cabinetry, new appliances, and a new peninsula with wine refrigerator and under-counter microwave. The kitchen is better lit than my amateur photography was able to capture.

Another perspective shows one way to create distinct living spaces without building walls.  

Another perspective shows one way to create distinct living spaces without building walls.  

Countertops and backsplash are made from cement, a nod to the industrial history of the building. A skylight above the kitchen illuminates the workspace.

Countertops and backsplash are made from cement, a nod to the industrial history of the building. A skylight above the kitchen illuminates the workspace.

The owner's gallery includes gilt-framed paintings from her international travel and is set against a wall covered in Farrow & Ball's rich midnight blue-black color, Railings, for which we have major love. The neon sign illuminates "it is what is", unexpectedly surrounded by art rather than commonly used as a statement of cold reality or thinly disguised disappointment. Beauty is what it is, and we would never disagree with that.    

The owner's gallery includes gilt-framed paintings from her international travel and is set against a wall covered in Farrow & Ball's rich midnight blue-black color, Railings, for which we have major love. The neon sign illuminates "it is what is", unexpectedly surrounded by art rather than commonly used as a statement of cold reality or thinly disguised disappointment. Beauty is what it is, and we would never disagree with that.    

Modern and classic design elements can be found throughout the home, and the casual mix of materials, textures, and colors makes the space comfortably unstructured while maintaining the definition that many open spaces lack.   

Modern and classic design elements can be found throughout the home, and the casual mix of materials, textures, and colors makes the space comfortably unstructured while maintaining the definition that many open spaces lack.   

The new workspace is dramatically lit by skylight access to the roof deck and an octopus light fixture.

The new workspace is dramatically lit by skylight access to the roof deck and an octopus light fixture.

Access to the closet via a custom barn door. The height of the loft requires attention to scale and proportion so that the volume of the home does not detract from its comfort.  

Access to the closet via a custom barn door. The height of the loft requires attention to scale and proportion so that the volume of the home does not detract from its comfort.  

The owners bedroom with floating stairs to the clouds and an unobstructed view of Chicago.

The owners bedroom with floating stairs to the clouds and an unobstructed view of Chicago.

We think this home is "perfectly imperfect" because it was not staged with furniture or designed for a photo shoot. No product placements or wallet-busting decor. It is lived-in just the way you see it. The result is one of our favorite executions of a creative vision in a small home. 

 

Remodeling and Home Design