5 Tips For Building a Loft Into a Working Space

5 Tips For Building a Loft Into a Working Space

Kerrie Kelly, ASID, shares her takeaways from building a loft to add more square footage to her office space. Check out her tips, paired with modern loft examples from the Dwell archive.
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This year, we celebrate 20 years of interior design at my California firm, Kerrie Kelly Design Labs. Each year has brought expansion and growth, but nothing like the transformation we experienced these past several months.

Look for blank space where the added level will blend in with what already exists.

An industrial white backdrop inspires our work, and natural light pours in through skylights. Searching for an additional place to perch, we noticed a flat area above and behind our conference room—right under two large skylights. As we began to entertain the loft idea, we realized that the conference room ceiling and new loft floor would need to be reinforced. Joists and plywood were the most cost efficient method. When painted white, they fit in with our existing scheme.

With five ASID designers on staff, we are always looking to give back to the industry by mentoring interior design students. However, that requires space—especially on days with a full house, when presentations, fabrics, finishes, and clients are flying all over our Design Lab. When welcoming two new interns for this past summer, our team had no place to go but up!

Use the loft to open up the space, not add clutter to it.

The raised loft floor gave us some wiggle room to add electrical outlets in the floor—under desks—to eliminate cords running across the work area floor. Our next challenge was how to get up to the loft area without taking up too much floor space on the first floor. The most modern and interesting way we found was to incorporate a spiral staircase. It required only a 40-inch diameter footprint—smaller than any other solution.

Here are five lessons we learned when adding 200 more square feet by building a loft.

Incorporate safety into your design.

We needed an affordable and safe way to protect our designers from the loft ledges. We decided to use plumbing pipe to create 36-inch half-walls. The look ties into the metal details on our first floor glass barn doors, and into the dramatic draped areas where we used plumbing pipe for rods as well.

Use neutral tones.

A few fresh coats of paint on top of the plywood rounded out the loft flooring and provided the perfect backdrop for our desks and interns. We chose to use a white color for our floors. But there were a number of colors that could have done the trick. We considered several neutral tones before settling on white paint and rolling it on by hand.

Let the loft inspire the rest of the space.

As loft construction progressed, we decided to install tile flooring on our first floor area. Our original white epoxy concrete floors weren't holding up with our additional traffic and we felt the tile would create a more professional studio look. The loft now features versatile carpet tiles and white contemporary desks. Downstairs, our look has become more polished, offering our Design Lab clients options for flooring and wall tile that they can easily visualize and incorporate into their own projects.


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