When you first fell in love with that lofty condo, you couldnít imagine anything better. Oh, the freedom of undivided space, the Bohemian spirit of exposed brick walls and those scraped and gouged wood floorboards have such stories to tell.
These fabulous features hold many of us in thrall, but they do come with decorating challenges. All that raw character and height can feel a bit impersonal, even overwhelming on a day-to-day basis.
Iíve always enjoyed the challenge of decorating loft spaces. I start with the kitchen. It sits open to the living area; everything is in plain view. And kitchens large or small are people magnets. Itís an unproven fact that the smaller the kitchen, the larger the number of people who will squeeze in to help you cook, or more likely just to chat. Here are a few of my tips for transforming the kitchen into an exhilarating zone that energizes the entire loft.
Choose a focal point. The undercounter area or backsplash is a perfect location to infuse with color. Paint this strip in a shade that can be repeated elsewhere in the living area to synchronize the overall design. Here I simply painted over bland beige tiles in a striking tone of true blue and tied it up with glassware and linens. A carpet in the sitting area has streaks of this blue in its design. You could add touches in glass sconces, cushions and artwork. Just enough to keep the eye moving and unify the living spaces. There are many options for creating a focal backsplash. Glass and ceramic tiles are traditional choices that can be fashioned in an unlimited number of color and design patterns. I also have used more novel materials such as corrugated steel or funky plastics.
Keep it simple. This area is more suited to clean lines. Too many details will blur and confuse the picture. Flat-faced cabinets that open by touch eliminate the need for hardware. Alternately, sleek chrome handlebars work well and complement stainless steel appliances, large and small. Utilize the countertop to store items that are visually appealing and in frequent use, such as a lineup of condiment bottles or stacked dishes or mixing bowls, but leave space to work.
Edit your kitchen supplies. If you are short on storage space, be judicious about the number and size of plates and glasses you require. Go with what you know you will use. Small appliances take up big space, so ask yourself how many times a month you would use a food processor, mixer, blender, toaster oven or juicer. Be brutally honest about the number of spices you really cook with, what basic food supplies you reach for, and discard the rest.
Build a barrier. Loft kitchens are generally positioned along one wall. A bar-height partition will define the room, add counter space and can be designed to include storage shelves as well. Add a drop-leaf extension on the living area side of the bar partition that can be raised for eating or used as a serving area for dinner parties. A rolling kitchen cart takes steps away from preparing and serving food. Set it up and wheel it where itís needed. It can be tucked away against a wall when not in use.
Put overhead and task lighting on dimmers so that you can produce the required mood and accents, and you have a well-designed kitchen that will enhance your lofty lifestyle.
Debbie Travisí House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Travis on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis, and visit her website, www.debbietravis.com.