Small Spaces

Stellar Views Spark a Loft's New Layout

When you consider a loft conversion, the very first image that probably springs to mind is of a large, open area. And that’s true most of the time. But a prior incarnation of the apartment in Texas has been the sort of loft that could provide lofts a lousy name.

The design was quite partitioned off and did not benefit from the fact that the apartment has views to the northwest, south and west. Heather Rowell of Content Architecture, working with Robert Sanders Homes, created the area more effective and maximized those viewpoints in the exact same moment. “We made a heart in the middle of the device,” she says. “It’s basically a big rectangle that includes the bedroom, an office, a laundry room and two bathrooms.”

This freed up all the exterior walls while keeping the private and public spaces feeling different from one another. The result: A genuine loft was born.

in a Glance
Who lives here: A retired attorney who was closer to her family
Location: Houston
Size: 1,400 square feet
That’s intriguing: Initially constructed in 1917, the construction (Hermann Lofts, called after Houston philanthropist George Henry Hermann) has been used by the Salvation Army before it had been converted to lofts in 1997.

CONTENT Architecture

The primary living area takes advantage of an incredible view of downtown Houston and Market Square, at the center of the city’s historic district. “It’s possibly the most precious view you can have,” says Rowell.

“For the loft in general, I knew that the customer had a wonderful art collection, intriguing artifacts from her travels and lots of amazing books,” she says. “We wanted to make a backdrop, making sure the view was important, after which your eye shifts to all the owner’s good pieces”

The floors throughout the apartment are oak. The painting leaning against the rear wall is by French artist Michel Nedjar.

Sofa: Poltrona Frau Chester One; rug: Design Within Reach; classic coffee table: Kuhl-Linscomb; custom shelving unit

CONTENT Architecture

The key upper region of the storage device is painted; a lesser portion is made from solid walnut with a walnut veneer. The television is set toward the trunk and onto a swivel mount for watching by the kitchen (next picture ).

Bentwood chair: Marc Newson for Cappellini; leather side table: The Gardener; leather seats: 1940s, French, Kuhl-Linscomb; facet table: Tom Dixon Screw Table

CONTENT Architecture

A lack of wall area, the owner’s hesitation to block the views and also her love for these pieces led to the decision to place artwork across the floor. The paintings behind the couch are by Mexican artist Rogelio Diaz.

Bar stool: Pepe Cortes Jamaica

CONTENT Architecture

The dining room is kind of a humorous wedge shape. The homeowner does a lot of fun, and this custom-made table, by local craftsman Bob Card of greenwood bay, can be used for dining or as a buffet. The table is made of reclaimed wood, including some from the debris of Hurricane Ike.

“We wanted this to feel as a space folks would want to go to even though it is the furthest away from the excellent views,” says Rowell.

The hallway leading from the entrance is employed as a gallery. “It gives the sense of a small procession as you come through and adds to the industrial sense the space already had,” she says.

Framed dried lily pads hang above the dining table.

Lamp: Bubble by Pelle

CONTENT Architecture

This perspective of the dining room shows its relationship to the living room and kitchen.

Chairs: Series 7 by Arne Jacobsen

CONTENT Architecture

The guest bathroom features a floating vanity whose surface was protected against water damage using a sealant similar to one you’d use on a ship’s deck. Incorporating the towel rod makes for a self-contained device and eliminates the need for any other sticks.

A stacked washer and washer were removed from the restroom and placed in a closet throughout the hall so the small shower could be expanded (next photo).

Sink: Water Cover, Kohler; faucet: Falling Water, Kohler

CONTENT Architecture

The bathroom does not have a natural light source, so Rowell shining a linear lighting cove in the rear shower wall to make the illusion of a skylight. “And we needed that the lighting fixture to wash the slate down and emphasize the texture of this wall,” she says.

Tile: Stone Black Slate Mini Sticks, Mini Wave Pebble Tile, Timor White pebble flooring and Palazzo Santelmo wall tile, all from LaNova Tile; showerhead: Axor Faucet, Hansgrohe

CONTENT Architecture

The kitchen has several interesting features. The stovetop and the sink have been flipped, and because the flat is in a historic building, a port to the outside could not be installed. The Elica Twin hood includes two fans which pull air and recirculate it through a charcoal filter. Additionally, it has a series of lights on dimmers.

The drawer fronts are laminated at a ceramic veneer. “We’re going to perform regular laminate, but we came across these porcelain tiles also had them laminated to a high-tech plywood,” says Rowell. “And they’re simple to clean.”

Refrigerator: KitchenAid; cooktop and oven: Wolf; dishwasher: Optima, Miele; microdrawer: 24 inches, Wolf; tiles: ceramic, LaNova Tile; countertops: Caesarstone, Buttermilk

CONTENT Architecture

The glass-front cabinets are 1 foot in depth; the solid-front cabinets will be the complete depth of this counter. “We made a decision to make the shallow cabinets glass so the rear wall would not feel as heavy and dark,” says Rowell. “The glass will help divide the weight of this wall.”

The glass-front cabinets also permit the owner to exhibit her white Alex Marshall organic-shaped dinnerware, which provides a contrast against the dark wood and complements the white countertops and tiles.

Backsplash: handmade ceramic bricks, LaNova Tile

CONTENT Architecture

A custom cupboard walls off the perspective of the bedroom from the bathroom. Various African fertility statues collected through time by the owner are displayed along the floor. The painting is by Brigitte McReynolds.

Bed: wenge Zola Bed, Design Within Reach; bedding, cushions: Kuhl-Linscomb; sconces: Ananas Small Wall Lights, FontanaArte; status lamp: antique

CONTENT Architecture

The sleek custom storage unit includes white doors and doors of paint-grade plywood. The surround is walnut veneer with a good walnut trim cap.

CONTENT Architecture

The owner did not want to have the design of this dressing table in the master bathroom to be too symmetrical. “We contained a bit of walnut on the drawer front, and the exact same wood is used on the bathtub skirt, but did a waterfall with Caesarstone at Buttermilk,” says Rowell.

Sink: Ladena, Kohler; faucet: Stillness, Kohler; tub Archer, Kohler; bathroom fixture: Stillness, Kohler; bathroom: Carlyle, Toto; floors: Palazzo Santelmo tile, LaNova Tile; walls: Palazzo Belvedere Natural tile, LaNova Tile

CONTENT Architecture

This resembles a hallway with a lovely seat from Swallow Tail that’s coated in a Stephen Sprouse cloth and retains a West Elm pillow. And it’s all that. But it’s also a hidden office, as you’ll see in the next photograph.

CONTENT Architecture

Voilà! The owner needed a home office, but Rowell did not wish to design it like a separate room. “We used long entrance doors and made it a circulation path which can be activated as a function zone,” says Rowell.

And if that’s not enough, there is a springboard mounted onto the wall to the right (not visible here) the owner uses for her everyday Pilates routine.

Cabinets: paint-grade plywood with solid wood nosings; desk surface: Caesarstone, Buttermilk; rear wall: 1/3 chalkboard paint, 2/3 bulletin board

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