Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Loft Living Hits DC
by Jennifer Haber
Photographed by Zaid Hamid

Think about living in New York's Soho district and images of lofts instantly come to mind. Think Washington and one might picture Georgetown's Federal-style townhouses or Kalorama's grand ambassadors' residences. No more. Loft living has hit the District in a big way!

By definition, a loft generally has clean unobstructed lines except for structural supports, often with open duct-work, exposed brick walls, 11- or 12-foot ceilings, and an industrial feel. With rare exceptions, D.C. lofts are not in renovated factories and warehouses like the ones taken over decades ago by struggling artists in New York. They are new construction projects with such modern-day conveniences as high-speed internet, cool bathrooms, and sleek kitchens.

Because there are few walls in these homes, owners and designers have to be creative in their design. Storage is a consideration, as well as the often-troubling issue of how to create the feeling of different “rooms” within the space.

Architect Jim Foster of Arcadia Design in Washington, D.C., has developed a number of loft projects, including the Empire Lofts project on Johnson Avenue, N.W. “That building was designed to integrate into the existing, disparate context which includes a few industrial warehouses, six-story apartment buildings, and circa 1860 row houses,” Foster says.

LeVal Sneed moved into his Empire Lofts apartment near Logan Circle two years ago in an area that is booming with new loft developments. These projects have continued the ongoing gentrification of the neighborhood where cafes and shops have opened along 14th Street, N.W. and a Whole Foods market is just around the corner.

Sneed moved into the Empire Lofts building from Capitol Hill and says he was really taken with the beautiful and dramatic space. “The loft was pretty much my ideal living space. I did wind up adding additional storage and completely customizing the master bath,” Sneed says. That bathroom now boasts a new glass shower, limestone tilework and a wedge wood vessel sink. The two-bedroom, three-bathroom unit also features a spectacular barrel ceiling and a large, inviting terrace.

Photos of LeVal Sneed's loft on Johnson Avenue, N.W.

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