Before & After: A Dark Austin Loft Becomes a Light-Filled Haven
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Before & After: A Dark Austin Loft Becomes a Light-Filled Haven

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By Lauren Jones / Photos by Chase Daniel
Sustainable materials and multi-level cabinetry create a curated feel in this exquisite renovation.

When California transplant David Bjorndahl and his partner, Whitney Keeton, first purchased their 1,800-square-foot warehouse-style loft in South Austin, they were immediately drawn to the architecture of the building. But the interiors were lackluster with dim lighting, an array of competing materials, and minimal storage space.

Thus, the pair called on Austin–based designers Jamie Chioco and Vanessa Francis of Chioco Design to carry out a remodel that would transform the entire house—from the first-floor living room to the upstairs master bath. Completed in January 2019, the open and airy remodel fits their lifestyle, and it even has a second-floor office with enviable views of downtown.

Before: Entryway

The first thing Chioco and Francis aimed to fix was the lack of light in the entire loft. The entryway was also mottled by exposed beams and HVAC and sprinkler pipes all in different colors. 

The first thing Chioco and Francis aimed to fix was the lack of light in the entire loft. The entryway was also mottled by exposed beams and HVAC and sprinkler pipes all in different colors. 

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After: Entryway

A simple, clean palette and double-duty lighting brighten up the entryway. Chioco selected a thin suspension light in brass from Juniper Lighting, a blue Scandinavian kilm runner from Black Sheep Unique, and a Danish bench from The Renner Project to cozy up the space.

A simple, clean palette and double-duty lighting brighten up the entryway. Chioco selected a thin suspension light in brass from Juniper Lighting, a blue Scandinavian kilm runner from Black Sheep Unique, and a Danish bench from The Renner Project to cozy up the space.

Before: Main Living/Dining Area

One of the loft’s best features is its floor-to-ceiling windows with downtown views—but the original design did little to accentuate them. Chioco and Francis lightened up the rust-orange cement flooring and worked with the couple to get their sense of style and how they lived.

One of the loft’s best features is its floor-to-ceiling windows with downtown views—but the original design did little to accentuate them. Chioco and Francis lightened up the rust-orange cement flooring and worked with the couple to get their sense of style and how they lived.

After: Main Living/Dining Area

Bjorndahl hoped for a great room that would feel "curated and orchestrated, much like a tailored suit." To achieve this goal, the team used cabinetry from Elmwood Fine Cabinetry in New Haven for the kitchen, the living room, the office, and the master bath. The home’s first floor measures approximately 1,000 square feet. The dining area features a 60-inch round table from Design Within Reach and Eames molded plywood dining chairs from Workplace Resource.

Bjorndahl hoped for a great room that would feel "curated and orchestrated, much like a tailored suit." To achieve this goal, the team used cabinetry from Elmwood Fine Cabinetry in New Haven for the kitchen, the living room, the office, and the master bath. The home’s first floor measures approximately 1,000 square feet. The dining area features a 60-inch round table from Design Within Reach and Eames molded plywood dining chairs from Workplace Resource.

The Inheritance sectional sofa in Green Canvas from Stephen Keen is one of the couple’s favorite pieces. "I like how it still has dimension but doesn't take up much space," Bjorndahl says. There are also coffee tables from Stephen Kenn as well as a Haik Vintage area rug from Black Sheep Unique. The colors for the first floor, as well as the rest of the home, play off the couple's love of the Southwest.

The Inheritance sectional sofa in Green Canvas from Stephen Keen is one of the couple’s favorite pieces. "I like how it still has dimension but doesn't take up much space," Bjorndahl says. There are also coffee tables from Stephen Kenn as well as a Haik Vintage area rug from Black Sheep Unique. The colors for the first floor, as well as the rest of the home, play off the couple's love of the Southwest.

Before: Stairway

The stairway was backed with this worn-down terra cotta, which made little sense with the modern design of the loft. 

The stairway was backed with this worn-down terra cotta, which made little sense with the modern design of the loft. 

After: Stairway

Chioco says they "treated the stairs and structural beams as design elements, painting them a dark color to contrast with everything else to visually tie the space together."

Chioco says they "treated the stairs and structural beams as design elements, painting them a dark color to contrast with everything else to visually tie the space together."

Before: Office

Because Bjorndahl works from home, the office had to work overtime in terms of functionality and style. The prime spot on the second-floor landing had great views of downtown, but little going on design wise.

Because Bjorndahl works from home, the office had to work overtime in terms of functionality and style. The prime spot on the second-floor landing had great views of downtown, but little going on design wise.

After: Office

The millwork from the living/dining area and kitchen is carried up into the office, creating plenty of storage space, as well as spots for Bjorndahl and Keeton to display their trinkets from their travels, such as an ombre painting they picked up in Marfa. Francis says they "also wanted to incorporate other natural materials, such as the Texas Limestone used for the desk."

The millwork from the living/dining area and kitchen is carried up into the office, creating plenty of storage space, as well as spots for Bjorndahl and Keeton to display their trinkets from their travels, such as an ombre painting they picked up in Marfa. Francis says they "also wanted to incorporate other natural materials, such as the Texas Limestone used for the desk."

Before: Master Bedroom

The master bedroom had potential, but it needed soft lighting and bold furniture choices to keep it in line with the couple's aesthetic.

The master bedroom had potential, but it needed soft lighting and bold furniture choices to keep it in line with the couple's aesthetic.

After: Master Bedroom

The King Desaspada Hebpurn bed from UrbanSpace Interiors features two zodiac pillows from Marfa—a Gemini for him and a Scorpio for her. The side tables are also from UrbanSpace Interiors. The pendant in blackened brass is from Allied Maker, and the rug is a vintage Herki Runner from Black Sheep Unique.

The King Desaspada Hebpurn bed from UrbanSpace Interiors features two zodiac pillows from Marfa—a Gemini for him and a Scorpio for her. The side tables are also from UrbanSpace Interiors. The pendant in blackened brass is from Allied Maker, and the rug is a vintage Herki Runner from Black Sheep Unique.

Before: Master Bathroom

The original master bathroom lacked a connection to the rest of the loft, so no natural light could come through.

The original master bathroom lacked a connection to the rest of the loft, so no natural light could come through.

After: Master Bathroom

The design team transformed the master bathroom into a luxurious en suite with a white-and-black marble rain shower and multicolored his-and-hers robes from Austin's Hotel San Jose.&nbsp;<span style="font-family: Theinhardt, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, &quot;Segoe UI&quot;, Roboto, Oxygen-Sans, Ubuntu, Cantarell, &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, sans-serif;">The team also punched a window through the back wall of the office to allow natural light to permeate the room. "The</span><span style="font-family: Theinhardt, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, &quot;Segoe UI&quot;, Roboto, Oxygen-Sans, Ubuntu, Cantarell, &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, sans-serif;">&nbsp;window is switch glass and can be turned on and off for privacy while in the shower, but still provides a view of downtown."</span>

The design team transformed the master bathroom into a luxurious en suite with a white-and-black marble rain shower and multicolored his-and-hers robes from Austin's Hotel San Jose. The team also punched a window through the back wall of the office to allow natural light to permeate the room. "The window is switch glass and can be turned on and off for privacy while in the shower, but still provides a view of downtown."

Brass lights from Apparatus Studio provide extra lighting in the bathroom. The space is complete with Alexander Marchant sinks and faucet, hardware from Schoolhouse Electric and the same cabinetry seen throughout the rest of the loft.

Brass lights from Apparatus Studio provide extra lighting in the bathroom. The space is complete with Alexander Marchant sinks and faucet, hardware from Schoolhouse Electric and the same cabinetry seen throughout the rest of the loft.

Before: Powder Room

The original bathroom had dingy lighting and mismatched materials.

The original bathroom had dingy lighting and mismatched materials.

After: Powder Room

While the rest of the loft is bright and airy, the team wanted to create a moodier look for the powder room. "We used darker handmade tile (Mano from the Cev Series in Cobalt from DDS) and found these concrete sinks from the UK (Elm Sink from Kast Concrete) that can be made any size you want," Francis says. "We used brass fixtures to finish it off."

While the rest of the loft is bright and airy, the team wanted to create a moodier look for the powder room. "We used darker handmade tile (Mano from the Cev Series in Cobalt from DDS) and found these concrete sinks from the UK (Elm Sink from Kast Concrete) that can be made any size you want," Francis says. "We used brass fixtures to finish it off."