Being loft lovers here at the MrLOFT Team, we're big fans of industrial design and vintage-inspired decorating trends. But too much of one thing can make a place look overly-staged - your home should be reflective of your personality and not too stiff while still being respectful of the "bones" / the heritage of the space. That's why we love mixing trends, materials and injecting a little colour and humour through objects and art.
Whether you're already a proud loft owner or currently looking at Toronto lofts for sale, here's a round-up of our favouite decorating trends for a little home makeover inspiration.
Whether it's a strategically-placed antique typewriter, industrial parts like cogs and wheels, a backlit sign or an old letterpress plate, vintage and antique objects make great art pieces.
Industrial finds at the Queen West Antique Centre at 1605 Queen St. W. Photo © QWAC.
While there are a ton of replicas of vintage prints, industrial-inspired objects and decorative items available at big chain stores like Restoration Hardware and Urban Barn, it’s nice to go for the real thing and add some patina – and a conversation piece or two - to your home. Check out antique stores and flea markets – we love Queen West Antique Centre, pictured above, and the Salvage Shop.
For items that are both soulful and practical, look for upcycled materials that give old objects a new lease on life. We love the work of local Toronto artist Adam Fullerton who upcycles everything from old industrial parts to license plates into stunning works of art, furniture and lighting. Lights like the license plate sconces seen below add a touch of whimsy to a hard loft space. And his marquee-style union jack (pictured in our lead image) would bring a welcome a pop of colour to the concrete walls of a soft loft.
You can see Adam’s available works for sale on his website (he also does custom pieces).
Photo © Adam Fullerton.
Reclaimed furniture is great for adding instant patina and when mixed with hot- or cold-rolled steel, it’s a beautiful marriage of materials. Check out Urban Tree Salvage and Rebarn for one-of-a-kind, custom pieces fabricated from salvaged wood and steel. Pictured below is a custom dining table by Urban Tree Salvage that looks great paired with the Gus Modern Thompson chair from Style Garage.
Photo © Urban Tree Salvage via Etsy.
We also love a wall-mount, pipe and wood bookshelf like the ones seen in this Toronto loft, designed by Toronto interior designers Rad Design Inc. Not only are they spot-on in terms of industrial styling, they're great space savers for narrow rooms.
Photo © Rad Design Inc. via Houzz.
Freestanding metal and wood bookshelves also make for great room dividers. The open concept living of authentic, hard lofts is a huge part of the appeal but it can be difficult to create rooms with a purpose without some sort of division. Open bookshelves made from salvaged, time-worn wood will section off the living area from the bedroom or work space / office with enough visual heft to feel substantial without destroying the open concept feel.
Want something a little more bold? Barn boards make for a great feature wall. Toronto's Barn Board Store in East York specializes in wood feature walls in a variety of hues from soft greys and browns to pops of spicy red intermixed with neutrals.
The Barn Board Store created this faded black wood feature wall for a commercial interior (Designer Inspired Interiors on King St E). Photo © Barn Board Store.
A handmade, knitted throw draped over a sleek leather couch. A lamb's wool cushion or sheepskin throw over a mid-century modern steel chair. Dreamy, velvet drapes in pale pink or silver against concrete walls. Mixing hard and soft textures along with man-made and natural materials will add balance and visual interest to your Toronto loft.
Mongolian lamb pillow covers for sale at West Elm. Photo © West Elm.
Plants are also an easy and inexpensive way to add a softness to your space, bringing in texture and little of the outdoors, in. Our favourites are the ornamental string of pearl plants that look like little pea tendrils along with succulents that add so much visual texture and are generally easy to care for.
Images courtesy of Sarah Freihofer, The Upper Valley. For more recommendations on house plants, have a read of her indoor plant guide.
If you live in an historic, hard loft, not everything in your space needs to be representative of the era of the original build. In fact, decorating all in one style or era can be a little too on-the-nose and end up looking like a page out of the Restoration Hardware catalogue but not in a good way (read: impersonal).
Big, bold, bright canvases are one way to inject colour and modernity to a heritage-inspired space and balance out that industrial charm with a little colour and even humour. A Warhol or Pollock poster is great but don't shy away from buying original art. There are plenty of original works by both local and international artists at reasonable prices and shopping for art can be a really fun experience. The piece will end up meaning so much more to you than a dime-a-dozen reproduction print and you can help support a living artist.
You don't have to be an art afficianado - just buy what you love. And with online shopping options, there are a ton of great stores like UGallery and 20x200 that make buying art easy and comfortable. No pretention with these dealers.
One of our favourite sources is a magical store called Art Interiors, right here in Toronto. The staff here are wonderful and they have art at a variety of price points, including a ton of work under the $250 mark. If your budget can swing a little more, we love the kaleidoscope of colours and shapes in Emilie Rondeau’s mixed-media works and the tongue-in-cheek, sometimes existential paintings of Marcel Kerkhoff featuring a cast of furry characters.
For more information on sourcing great art on a budget, check out this post on where to buy affordable art from our partners over at Condos.ca.
There’s a tendancy to go all white or beige on the drywall in a lofts, particularly if you’re balancing out a brick or concrete feature wall. But dark, moody greys, almost-blacks, olive greens and bronzes can look phenomenal in an industrial space and really make those large windows sing. Given the soaring ceilings of most lofts, you can even paint the ceilings a similar colour (a few shades lighter is best) and not worry about making the room feel small.
Here are some of our favourite dark shades for lofts:
Left to right: Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze, Farrow & Ball Studio Green and Benjamin Moore Deep Caviar.
Finally, don’t forget the importance of great lighting to transform your loft space. Have a read of our previous post on affordable, vintage-inspired lighting.