How to Create a Cool Downtown Vibe in Any Space

Updated 04/13/19

Just hearing the word loft conjures up cool imagery of open-plan living rooms, exposed-brick walls, structural elements, and industrial vibes. Converted warehouses or factory flips fuse old and new with ease, for an edgy space with a ton of attitude. These über-trendy conversions typically dominate hip neighborhoods like the East and West Village, Chelsea, SoHo, Union Square, and the funkier Flatiron District in Downtown New York, but you don’t have to live in the Big Apple to own a cool loft-like space.

If you're obsessed with this loft-like style and really want to bring it back home, our simple tips will take you there. Follow our foolproof formula to style your space with that effortless downtown vibe, no matter where you are.

Patrick Cline for MyDomaine

Don't Overfill Open-Plan Spaces

Open plan is synonymous with the loft interior style. Since New York is notorious for small spaces, this simple design trick gives the room a spacious appearance, even if it's not actually spacious. To ensure it stays looking that way, carefully consider your furniture placement. Even if your home isn't open plan, you can give off the same essence by thinking about your furniture placement. Once you've decided on your pieces, move them around, really work the space, and play with it, making sure to leave ample "white space" for breathing room.

Take notes from this insanely cool pro skateboarder's loft in New York.

CB2 Marble Floor Lamp $199
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Claire Esparros for Homepolish

Show Off Your Exposed Brick (or Fake It)

Since these apartments are typically converted warehouses or old industrial buildings, there will usually be a few exposed-brick walls throughout the space. Or you can rip an old wall down and find one. If your home doesn't have that option (or there's no brick wall hiding behind a plastered one), then we suggest you faking it. There's a ton of cool exposed brick wallpaper around, along with equally hip concrete versions for that raw, industrial feel.

Then style your interior around this historic-like feature for a cool Old World–meets-new mashup. Midcentury-modern furniture, industrial lighting, frameless mirrors, and decorative accents in various metals always pair well with the brick color and texture. If you're not handy, consider hiring a contractor who can apply a brick wall decal or concrete wallpaper to give your room that loft feel.

Brewster Loft Red Brick Wallpaper $25
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Julia Robbs for Homepolish ; DESIGN: Megan Grehl

Mismatch Your Chairs

If you've always wanted to juxtapose a 1970s Milo Baughman floating cube or Eames lounge chair and ottoman next to a French-inspired occasional or sectional sofa, then now's the time. Lofts are notorious for housing a variety of furniture in differing eras, styles, and conditions without clashing. If it's your first time testing this design style, then the living room is a great place to start.

Herman Miller Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman $4935
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Julia Robbs for Homepolish

Include a Gallery Wall

With so much open space, towering high ceilings, and exposed brick walls, every loft needs a gallery wall to fill the space. If your interior doesn't include these features, don't stress. A curated wall of art can work in any room, no matter the style or height. This revered design feat is simply a creative collection of artworks ranging in height, position, and style, arranged in the artistic format you see fit. From new artists to flea-market finds, the gallery wall is a humble dedication to all forms of creative expression—now you just have to learn how to hang one.

Galerie Sommerlath Abstract Black and White Photograph $280
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Chris Patey for MyDomaine

Keep the Bedroom Minimal

Dedicate your bedroom to the art of sleeping by keeping the design to a minimum. The exposed feel of a loft-like room welcomes minimal, fuss-free style, so your boudoir should be simplified to only include the necessities plus a few sentimental pieces for comfort and added pleasure. Luxe white cotton sheets are essential to get the look. Be sure to add a throw over the end of the bed for that extra cool factor.

Loloi Rugs Tanzania TN-01 Rug
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Loloi Rugs Tanzania TN-01 Rug (price upon request)

Jenna Peffley for MyDomaine

Hang a Swing

An indoor swing is the epitome of loft chic. As far as we're concerned, those soaring ceilings are just asking for one. Even if you don't have the lofty roof, we've seen cute swing styles hanging from lower ceilings too—Carlson Young's hip L.A. loft is the perfect example. So bring out your inner child and add a touch of whimsy and romance with a simple swing in your living room. It will be the highlight of your dinner parties; who wouldn't want a turn on a chic swing? Depending on the style you choose, it can add an industrial vibe or a bohemian mood.

Serena & Lily Hanging Rattan Chair $498
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Justin Coit for MyDomaine

Sprinkle Vintage Furniture Everywhere

The loft apartment style lends itself to a high/low mix of furniture and accessories. Fuse an Eero Aarnio couch with a thrifted coffee table, a vintage pendant lamp from the local flea market, and new furnishings from your favorite high-street brands. This beautiful blend of old and new is where the magic happens. Experiment, mix it up, clash a little, and above all enjoy the process.

Chairish Danish Modern Teak Sideboard $2950 $2500
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Are you a fan of the downtown loft style? What design elements do you think are essential to re-creating this look?

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