Types of lofts - hard, soft, residential and live/work
Lofts, or loft apartments, are large open spaces that are often converted for residential or commercial use from some other use, often light industrial, warehouse, or office. They may be used for both commercial as well as residential purposes. There has been a recent explosion in the number of lofts developed in Toronto, and a growing numbers of people and companies are interested in the open design offered by lofts. There is a wide range of styles that lofts may come in, and this article will describe the different types of lofts that one may come across.
As a general overview, while there is a considerable amount of variety in loft shapes and sizes, they tend to be located near down town and business areas, and they usually have much higher ceilings than those found in traditional apartments or office spaces. In most situations, these ceilings will not be lentered, which means all of the pipes and wooden logs that run along the ceiling will be plainly visible. There are usually large windows in lofts that span the floor to the ceiling, which encourages a good amount of both ventilation and illumination. The average loft will also often come with metal stairs, wooden or concrete floors, sliding barn-style doors and interior walls that don't reach the ceiling. Hard lofts rarely come with balconies, but some buildings have rooftop terraces divided into individual spaces belonging to the owners of loft units.
Various terminologies are used for lofts that come from different commercial regions and backgrounds. For example, lofts that were converted from industrial or office buildings are described as hard lofts. In contrast, lofts, or loft-style apartments, that were constructed in the last few decades expressly to house people as residential dwellings are described as soft lofts. A common types of residential lofts are attic lofts. In the past, these lofts were areas that the owners of the home typically used to store their odds and ends. However, due to financial challenges or other life changes, these areas are used as bedrooms for living purposes or may be rented out to provide the owners of the property with money. As the name suggests, attic lofts are typically found in the upper floors of a home.
Another kind of loft is the bi-level loft. These lofts can be hard lofts which, having extremely high ceilings, had a second level built into the space, and typically used as bedrooms. While these are true bi-level lofts, some soft lofts have been built with two-level space taking most of the interior, and a two-storey hight reserved for the living room area.
Lofts designed to house a resident and his/her business are called live/work lofts. Most often these are hard lofts, and, while some buildings are all zoned for such use, other will only have part of the space zoned live/work, most often the ground level units.
While a large number of light industrial buildings have been converted to residential or live/work lofts, some remained strictly commercial, and are often used as office spaces.
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