This Loft Makeover Makes the Most of 890 Square Feet

Custom-built furniture, reclaimed materials, and stylish bins elevate the look and function of this open space, for a perfectly homey result.

loft living room

When fire broke out in Val and Joey Fishman's Portland, Oregon, loft, the floor and 12 inches up the wall were ruined. Instead of letting this catastrophe get them down, the couple viewed it as an opportunity to customize the space and make the unit truly feel like their own. They also added lots of creative storage to help the 889-square-foot unit, located in one of the city's oldest buildings, feel much larger than its actual footprint would suggest.

After replacing the floor and appliances, the couple focused on taking stock of what items they actually needed. "Essentially, we have always been proponents of living small," Joey says. "We tried to toss everything we don't use on a regular basis."

What they kept, they put into containers in a pair of bookcases in the main room, sorted by category. New furniture throughout the loft creatively enhances available storage space, and reclaimed materials mix industrial chic style with vintage warmth for a mood that's at once comfortable and contemporary. The loft is primarily one big space, so Val and Joey set up distinct zones through the use of area rugs and furniture groupings. A desk in a window bump-out creates a cozy office in the far corner of the living area.


A pair of bookcases at one end of the kitchen holds bins and baskets to organize exercise equipment, cleaning supplies, and pet food and toys. Each basket is uniformly labeled to maintain a clean and consistent look. Like containers in a variety of sizes and colors keeps the bookshelf visually interesting yet streamlined.


Val used a chalk pen and stencils on chalkboard fronts to label matching crates. She painted paw prints and other dog-related designs on baskets of pet gear. Air-tight containers keep food and treats in order and makes sure everything is fresh for their four-legged friend.


Joey crafted the coffee table out of two wooden pallets. Hollow inside, it offers a handy place to stash items when guests visit. Corral reading material inside shallow baskets or trays with handles to easily move from one room to another. A solid board on top of the wood pallet surface prevents drinking glasses or trinkets from falling through the gaps.

loft kitchen

Small kitchens can benefit from open shelving or glass-front cabinets, which lighten the overall look and help the space feel more airy. But don't let the shelves become a jumbled mess or they might detract from the room. "All-white dishes always look nice on open shelving," professional organizer Barbara Reich says. For a streamlined look, she suggests displaying items that are uniform in terms of size, color, or style. Galvanized plumbing pipes form the base of the kitchen island Joey and Val constructed, and they double as a convenient pot rack. Red barstools add color and create a casual eating spot.


A post running from floor to ceiling anchors a two-tier bike rack near the loft's entry. The Fishmans liked the sturdiness of this type of bike rack and the fact that it takes up as little space as possible. Look for an adjustable bike rack that can work with various ceiling heights.


Lofts are modern and sleek but often lack privacy. A floor-length curtain can close off the bedroom when desired. This one is hung using a barely-visible wire unit that goes unnoticed when not in use. Be sure to choose a curtain that is thick enough so that it doesn't become transparent when light hits it. Meanwhile, built-in drawers in the bed, inset, provide space for extra sheets in the same footprint. The bedroom sits in one corner of the loft. Across the hall, a door leads into the bathroom, where cabinets hide the washer and dryer.


A deep basket at the end of the bed serves as a stylish spot for extra pillows. A lid discreetly conceals the contents. When pushed up against another basket, the two combine to make a bench, perfect for planning tomorrow's outfit. Baskets like these are also great for a guest room, where they can hide extra linens or toiletries guests may forget to pack.

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