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What Is A Loft Apartment? Complete Guide & FAQs

Written by Than Merrill

Imagine a beautiful living space with high ceilings, expansive windows, and tons of natural light to illuminate the building’s brick walls and industrial bones. For many metropolitan residents, this description is their ideal space, and it’s found in loft apartments.

Known for their wide-open spaces and aesthetic appeal to creative types, loft apartments can be excellent living arrangements for all sorts of people. But before you sign on the dotted line for a new loft apartment lease or rental contract, you need to know what to expect.

So what is a loft? Let us break down loft apartments in detail with this complete guide.

What is a Loft Apartment?

As its name suggests, a loft apartment is an apartment with a single large and open space and without any major internal walls. This isn’t to say that loft apartments lack walls entirely; most loft apartments have a separate bathroom with walls enclosing that private space.

That said, the bed or sleeping area, the kitchen, the dining room, and any living areas will be indistinct from one another and may even share the same floor and wall plans. Because of this, loft apartments feel much more open and flexible, even if they have the same square footage as smaller apartments with more internal walls.

As a bonus, many loft apartments are fairly large. They often exceed 1000 square feet, even in dense metropolitan environments.

The first loft apartments appeared in the 1960s in New York City when many industrial buildings became vacant and were purchased and redeveloped for apartment living. Due to their less-than-popular aesthetics of the time, loft apartments quickly became inexpensive places for artists, thinkers, or college students alike.

These days, modern loft apartments have undergone many changes. Many loft apartments may include vertical staircases that ascend to second or third levels, which help create some level of separation between different spaces in the apartment.

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loft apartments

Pros of Loft Apartments

Loft apartments have many major advantages and benefits. These include:

  • A spacious floor plan with high ceilings and lots of room to move around in. This offers many apartment residents unprecedented flexibility to decorate the space as they please or set out unique areas for work or play according to their individual preferences. This stands in stark contrast to most other apartments, which are not as customizable as traditional homes

  • There’s no denying the modern or industrial style is trendy and aesthetically attractive at the moment

  • Many loft apartments are zoned in residential and commercial areas. As a result, some loft apartment owners or renters can legally conduct business from these locations without running into any zoning issues or fees. Small business owners may particularly appreciate loft apartments for this reason

  • The natural light in loft apartments is among the best you can get, even in dense metropolitan areas where skyscrapers may make natural light hard to come by in other apartment layouts

  • Lots of loft parts are also located in desirable neighborhoods, with trendy restaurants or nightlife opportunities easily within walking distance

  • Lastly, loft apartments don’t have to worry about as much noise from neighbors, as the high ceilings of loft apartments keep noises from neighbors away from your ears

Cons of Loft Apartments

While there are lots of benefits to living in a loft apartment, you should also be aware that there are several major downsides, such as:

  • They can be hard to keep organized, particularly if you are not big on regular cleaning. It’s very easy for a loft apartment to appear messier than it is because there are fewer rooms or distinctions between spots or areas. For example, a couch cushion on the kitchen floor might be indistinguishable from a couch cushion on the living room floor

  • Loft apartments can also seem noisier on the inside. This is doubly true if you live with roommates; when someone watches TV, everyone can hear what’s on the screen

  • Loft apartments are also typically more expensive in general. That’s partially because of the square footage and partly because of how desirable loft apartments are at the moment. Add traditionally excellent locations on top of it, and loft apartments can be quite pricey, especially for college students who may not have enough scratch to make a big down payment

  • Additionally, loft apartments compromise privacy, even if you live alone. The wide windows of loft apartments mean that more people have a direct look into your living room, bedroom, and other areas all the time unless you invest in big shades. If you live with roommates, privacy is also minimal (save for the bathroom)

  • Many loft apartments don’t have a lot of storage options. Most of them even lack the most basic closets or other storage spaces you’d find in a typical apartment or residential home

What’s the Difference Between a Hard Loft & Soft Loft?

Loft apartments come in two major types: hard lofts and soft lofts.

A hard loft apartment is a space with a rugged and industrial aesthetic. It’s the traditional loft apartment layout. Expect to find exposed brick and pipes, very high ceilings, and even potentially steel beams. Many of them also include large industrial-shaped windows. Most hard lofts are converted from restored warehouses or old manufacturing buildings.

On the other hand, soft lofts are loft apartments designed to mimic many of the aesthetics of traditional lofts. Soft lofts may have the same aesthetic elements like exposed brick and high ceilings, but they aren’t as rugged or industrial. The majority of soft loft apartments are renovated residential buildings whose owners seek to capitalize on the loft apartment craze. As a plus side, lots of soft loft apartments have a raised platform within the apartment space: ideal for a bedroom area.

What’s the Difference Between a Studio & Loft Apartment?

A studio apartment is similar to a loft only because it doesn’t have a lot of separate or distinct rooms. Studio apartments have two rooms: a bathroom and a combined bedroom, living room, and dining or kitchen area. Studio apartments are different from one-bedroom apartments, which include the combined living room and dining area but which also feature a distinct sleeping space.

Although studios may sound similar to lofts, loft apartments are much larger than studios in terms of square footage and usually have much higher ceilings. This can make them visually seem larger than a studio apartment, even if they have the same square footage.

Because of these differences, many studio apartments are cheaper than loft apartments. Studio apartments also typically don’t have a full-sized kitchen the way lofts do. Instead, most studios have kitchenettes or miniature kitchen areas.

What’s the Difference Between a Traditional & Loft Apartment?

Of course, a traditional apartment is different from a loft apartment in a variety of ways. Traditional apartments may include the above-mentioned studio apartments, as well as one-bedroom or multi-bedroom apartment spaces.

Traditional apartments include a distinct kitchen, living area, and sometimes a separate dining room as well. Each area is separated by partial or full walls, creating more of a distinct area or feel in each section of the residence. Traditional apartments can vary heavily in price; some are more expensive than loft apartments, while others are cheaper. It all depends on the area, the age of the building, and the available amenities and floorspace. Most traditional apartments are part of dedicated residential buildings that started off and remain apartment buildings to this day. Because of this, traditional apartments may include additional amenities, including roof decks, in-apartment gyms, and so on.

However, many traditional apartments are located in dedicated residential areas. Because of this, they may not be as geographically ideal for enjoying a city’s nightlife easily.

Is a Loft Apartment Right for You?

Ultimately, a loft apartment may be the ideal living situation if you’re looking for an expansive and overall unique space that features industrial or rustic aesthetics. They’re also excellent choices for urbanites who want an apartment close to the best eateries or nightlife locations in the city without being constrained by the size limitations of most studios.

Loft apartments may be ideal if you have the cash to spare for some of the best loft spaces in your area. They can be great if you need a full kitchen and don’t mind the privacy losses you might have to deal with if you have a roommate.

On the other hand, loft apartments aren’t the best choice if you prefer multiple amenities from your apartment building, like a pool or gym. Additionally, if you need to have your own space while living with roommates or simply prefer that each room be its own distinct area, loft apartments will be a bad fit.

The best way to tell whether a loft apartment will be ideal is to look at pictures of loft apartments available in your area. Do a few guided tours if possible and come to your own conclusions.

How to Find a Loft Apartment

For many would-be loft apartment renters or owners, finding an affordable loft apart is a challenge. But it is possible to find a cheap or affordable loft apartment due to the increasing popularity of this apartment style throughout the country. More apartments overall means that more affordable loft choices are available now than there were a couple of years ago. But this apartment class is still pricy compared to others overall.

To find an affordable loft apartment in your area:

  • Try to find “Move-In” specials. These are special promotions that landlords use to incentivize new tenants. Loft apartments with move-in specials may have reduced fees or reduced rental rates for a year or two after signing the lease

  • Try to rent a loft apartment with one or more roommates. Roommates can help you split the bill for both the rent itself and any utilities, though you will need to share the space and deal with a lack of privacy

  • Consider choosing a loft apartment outside the major metropolitan area. Apartments are typically more expensive the closer you get to popular downtown blocks

For many other cities, the best time to rent an apartment is in December or January, as there’s less competition and landlords are trying to fill out any empty gaps in their apartment buildings.
When starting your search for a loft apartment building, begin by checking out loft apartments online. Web listings, while typically offering a wide range of loft apartments to check out, may also mis-list large studios as lofts, so keep an eagle eye to avoid being scammed.

Of course, you can also go with the tried-and-true way of contacting a real estate agent, particularly if you are moving to a new metropolitan area from out of state. Real estate agents know all the best areas in the city and may be able to hook you up with a great loft apartment deal in exchange for a fee.

No matter what, always investigate a loft apartment before signing the lease. You’ll want to see the apartment space for yourself before determining whether it’ll be a great pick for your needs and decoration preferences.


All in all, loft apartments are popular and attractive residential options for folks who prefer living in the heart of downtown areas or who like the wide-open, creativity-inducing spaces they’re known for. That said, remember the loft apartments are usually expensive and they do come with some downsides compared to traditional apartment residences.

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