How do you make a 3,000-square-foot concrete-and-glass loft in Atlanta feel urban? Get designer secrets to achieve this modern high-rise style.
For interior designers, when a potential client informs them just how much they like their style, and that they would like to incorporate it into their own home, it's like winning the interior design lottery. This dream situation happened to me, an Atlanta-based interior designer; in January 2009 a young couple answered an ad I placed on their building's hallway message board in regard to vintage furniture I was selling. The couple, Jeremy and Amanda, own and operate a hauling company located about 90 minutes outside of Atlanta. Due to their hectic, loud and physically exhausting work weeks, they decided to turn two small lofts in an ultra-modern, glass-and-concrete high-rise into one large, open and airy two-story loft where they could escape on weekends. In addition to their own rest and relaxation needs, the loft, located in an urban area known as Midtown, was also intended as event space, whether for TV and/or music video shoots, or for parties and celebrations in need of an urban, contemporary setting with a penthouse-like feel.
After meeting the couple for the first time in my previous loft, as I was selling furniture to make room for new pieces in my recently purchased house, we instantly hit it off. As Jeremy looked around, he quickly inquired as to what things in the loft were available for purchase, from sofas and coffee tables to area rugs and art. Eager to pare back my overabundance of sleek, modern, chrome pieces to make room for more Danish modern decor in my new house, I quickly made a list of everything Jeremy and Amanda wanted, then got to pricing it all out. Before I could even come to a number, the couple asked me to also bid on designing their newly renovated loft, not only with items from my old loft, but with new, custom pieces as well.
With all three of us agreeing to a three-week timeline and a reasonable decorating budget, the 3,000-square-foot loft design project was under way. First up on the list of things to do was creating a color scheme that wouldn't compete with the urban architectural elements of the space, which included: cool, gray concrete columns, a steel staircase and rails, reddish-brown ipe hardwood floors, floor-to-ceiling glass windows that overlook downtown Atlanta and a state-of-the-art gourmet kitchen. Since the space was meant to remain open and airy, the majority of the walls were kept white, with a few accent walls designated for accent colors.
With the dining room and guest bedroom tackled, we next turned our focus to the master bedroom, the area of the loft with the most spectacular view of downtown Atlanta — a view left unobstructed thanks to clear glass half-walls, which open up to the first floor. To ensure the view remained front and center, the walls were kept white and the furniture was kept minimal. In order to keep the budget in check, we added a custom headboard upholstered in a silvery-brown silk linen and a pair of high-back flea market chairs picked up for $100, then reupholstered in an indoor-outdoor dark brown acrylic. Since the seating area of the master bedroom has the best view in the loft, and it was certain to get the most foot traffic during parties, it was important the upholstery be durable enough for all of the up-and-down, but also soft and tailored enough to fit the streamlined menswear-inspired look of the master bedroom.
Keeping our focus on the view, we made our way downstairs with design ideas in mind that wouldn't detract from the skyline just outside the window. In the kitchen, we added clear acrylic stools that allow the state-of-the-art gourmet kitchen to have a clear view out the windows. When arranging the living room, we stuck with low-slung, white vinyl 1960s sofas floating in the center, facing one another. This encouraged conversation between guests and also directed eyes back out to the view. When it came to hanging art on the 30-foot-tall white wall, we chose a four-piece navy blue, white and black abstract collection, which allowed us to use a consistent color, fire engine red, as the accent color for the first floor.
The red accents were carried on from the living room over to the lounge, tucked just underneath the industrial staircase, in the form of 1970s chrome armchairs upholstered in bright red automotive vinyl. Similar to the durability of the seating in the master bedroom, it was important the lounge upholstery also be able to withstand high traffic. Lastly, to keep the lounge light and airy, we added a 42-inch round coffee table with a Lucite and chrome base and a clear, tempered glass top.
As the project came to a close, my team and I found ourselves rather attached not only to our urban-dwelling clients, but also to the pedestrian lifestyle their high-rise offered. Directly across the street sits a 10,000-square-foot gym; two blocks up is a grocery store; restaurants and bars cover every corner for at least six blocks; and Piedmont Park, the most popular picnic and exercise area of Atlanta, is a seven minute walk up the street. With everything complete and centered around the fantastic view, it's safe to say that any seat in Jeremy and Amanda's loft is the best seat in the house.
As far as what urban living-related design elements were requested for decorating the loft's spacious interiors, Jeremy and Amanda asked for the following: a lounge setup just below their staircase, allowing guests to take in the Atlanta skyline over cocktails, an edgy yet elegant dining room that incorporated modern architecture with the modern farmhouse style Atlanta's design scene is known for, a guest room that looked both masculine and industrial, an uncluttered home office, a tailored yet minimal master bedroom, complete with a colorful place to work on a laptop, a walk-in master closet that was both dark and colorful, and a bold, graphic living room, complete with graphic art that would ground the space.
To add small, isolated areas of color to break up the otherwise all-white interiors, the second-floor landing was painted a cool robin's egg blue, which would allow an original abstract wood sculpture by Atlanta artist Robert DeLoach to stand out. Next, to give Jeremy and Amanda the dramatic and edgy flair they wanted to see in their farmhouse-meets-modern-penthouse-style dining room, the back wall of the area was painted black.
The last splash of color, a calming blue-gray, was added to the back wall of the guest bedroom. And although the other colors truly added new depth to their respective areas, the blue-gray of the guest bedroom became completely washed out by the ample sunlight streaming in through its half-wall that opens up to the first-floor living room. In a last-ditch effort to enhance the blue undertones of the paint, we decided to dress the bed in navy blue, then flank it with a glossy black midcentury modern Paul McCobb side table. With no luck in our conquest to add color behind the bed, we instead made our way into the guest bathroom, covering an accent wall in a springy celery green. Having learned our lesson about going too muted in the guest bedroom, we ensured the green would shine through by choosing a color two shades darker than our original choice.