Dream loft: fewer rooms, more space

March 22Lifestyle, Storage space
A family home in an open-plan loft that exudes industrial charm: Hanneke and Wouter took on the challenge and created a one-of-a-kind home for their family. The couple use dividing walls, well-defined spaces and a great love of order to make a visual impact in the home on the harbour in Rotterdam.

Love at first sight

A former power plant on the harbour in Rotterdam – while it might not sound a likely place for a family home, Hanneke and Wouter were hooked from the moment they stepped inside the door. To the left a view of the harbour and river and to the right the façades of the townhouses of Rotterdam. Every inch of the 136 square metre flat is flooded with light thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows. Schiecentrale, as the old industrial building is known, showed off its best side and the couple saw the potential that living in a loft here would give them. In addition to flats, the complex also accommodates offices, event spaces, studios, restaurants, combined residential and working space and a hotel.

"We were completely bowled over by the transparency and flow of the apartment,"says Hanneke. It took them just five minutes to decide to buy the loft in Rotterdam.

Loft or old building?

The freelance educationalist and IT consultant had originally been looking for a classic old building – not a raw industrial loft with bare concrete walls and ventilation pipes. But then they remembered their first apartment together in Ghent in Belgium: "As soon as we moved in, we removed all the doors because we love the feel of spaciousness!" The loft was a lucky find, offering limitless scope for design. Interior designer Martijn Sorée channelled the couple's ideas and needs into a bespoke design. With a small budget but many ingenious ideas, he has created a modern family apartment that is almost totally open-plan and yet packed with possibilities for privacy – including for Elise, the couple's young daughter.

Schiecentrale on Lloydstraat is part of a former power plant that was redeveloped by Robert Winkel from Mei architects and planners.
The best thing about living in a loft is that you can customise your floor plan.

Flexible Finnish pine

One design element that came to play a special role in the loft was panels made of Finnish pine. These sleek, light-coloured wooden walls are truly multi-talented, because they structure the floor plan, serve as a wall for hanging pictures, create storage space and can even be moved about. The ceiling-high bi-fold doors to the children's space, for example, run on ceiling tracks. During the day, the doors are simply folded away so the space opens out onto the light and airy entrance area, giving Elise plenty of space to play and run about.

The couple's bedroom is tucked away behind the wooden panels with fanlights in the living area. These fanlights let enough natural daylight into the room, while sliding doors with discreet recessed grips milled directly in the pine create a sense of privacy.

The flexible wall separating off the children's area can be folded open as needed, while the bedroom doors simply slide away to the side. This allows the family to adjust their space depending on whether they want to open everything up or need a bit of privacy.

Well-defined living spaces and flowing transitions

There's only one space in the entire apartment that has masonry walls and that's the bathroom. The other areas are open plan – and yet clearly zoned. The living zone with the family sofa and long dining table now share the glazed façade; the parents' and child's bedrooms are discreetly hidden by the wooden partitions. The parents' bedroom consists of a wall of wardrobes and has no windows – the horizontal band of glazing under the ceiling lets in enough natural daylight. The two runs of kitchen units open a passage to the glazed entrance area at the rear of the loft. There is even space for a small desk.

Useful tip: Organising space into zones isn't just a great way to plan an entire loft. Planning a kitchen around distinct areas has also proven to be a very effective way of maximising the available storage space and minimising distances between work areas. Blum's can help you do this.

The loft's living zone includes the cosy dining area centred around a long table, with mismatched chairs creating an eclectic look.

Everything in its place

Loft life teaches discipline. Because avoiding clutter is the only way to keep this special home light and airy. Plus, the window façades at the front and back can't be taken up by cabinets and other furniture. So the couple took stock before they moved in and had a good clear out: "We got rid of everything we didn't use." Closed walls such as the folding doors to the children's area and the ceiling-high sliding doors to the bathroom and toilet create a visual calm. Having a lot of open space doesn't automatically mean that there's little storage space for supplies: the two runs of kitchen units have very deep drawers, which help to keep everything nice and tidy. And bikes and a tumble dryer are concealed in a steel box in front of the apartment door.

The galley kitchen was fitted with light-coloured wooden units to match the rest of the apartment. Base cabinets with deep drawers provide space for everything needed when cooking.
Bare concrete walls and ventilation pipes: we love the industrial feel combined with the warmth of wood.

Industrial look with a homely feel

The industrial look is in. And what better place to live this vibe than in a former power plant? But the family still wanted their apartment to feel homely, so they juxtaposed industrial elements with cosy design choices. The exposed ventilation pipes, bare concrete walls and cast floor in taupe offer a sober contrast to the sofa and the warm metallic hue of the copper lights. Even though large textile surfaces absorb noise, particularly in large spaces, Hanneke and Wouter still made a conscious choice to forego curtains. "The ceilings are relatively low so the reverberation is not so bad." In addition, the timber construction in the sleeping zone and a large carpet in the entrance area create a warm ambience. The young family can enjoy their life together here and make the most of the light and airy spaces in their home.

Concrete walls and exposed ventilation pipes paired with the glow of copper lights and a cosy sofa give the apartment a warm and inviting industrial look.

All advantages at a glance:

  • Flexible walls open up limitless scope for design

  • Areas are open plan yet clearly zoned

  • Very deep drawers in the kitchen create storage space

  • Wood, rugs and low ceilings keep reverberations down

  • Exposed ventilation pipes, bare concrete walls and cast floor for an industrial look

  • Carefully selected furniture, wood and warm copper lights for the feel-good factor

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