Last November, I stumbled across an apartment listing that looked like it couldn’t possibly be in Columbus. We weren’t planning to move to another place in town, but I had a feeling we should go take a look.
Located at the south end of the Brewery District, just west of German Village, we discovered the live-work space of our dreams. Built in the early 1900’s, this formerly abandoned engine manufacturing plant had been transformed into an architecture studio and six industrial-style loft apartments.
WSA Studio, the architecture and design firm that occupies the first floor, had lovingly restored the building’s exposed heavy timber ceilings, concrete and wood floors, large industrial windows, and exposed brick walls.
There was one unit left. We figured it was meant to be, so we moved in a couple of weeks later.
Over the past ten months, we’ve turned this beautiful raw space into a cozy, functional home for everything we do. We’ve also discovered a love for loft living. We like to blur the boundaries between work and life as much as possible, and this wide open space is perfectly suited to our lifestyle.
Here’s a peek inside our home-slash-studio. Enjoy!
Step inside our 800-square-foot space and this is your view. A wall of north-facing windows look out onto the rooftops of German Village and the downtown skyline. The 13′ ceilings lend an airiness to the space. Can you find Will the cat? He’s chomping away at his food bowl, as usual.
For the past few years, we’ve been slowly whittling away at our possessions in pursuit of a somewhat minimal lifestyle. Living in an open loft has forced us to get even more serious about paring down our belongings. When we realized we had barely any hidden storage space, we had no choice but to get honest about what we actually use on a daily basis.
With the exception of four drawers in the island unit, all of our kitchen storage is open and visible from the entire apartment. This pretty much forces us to keep things neat and tidy.
We ditched our random assortment of dishes and glassware and replaced it with an inexpensive, simple set from IKEA.
Even the pantry is exposed. Glass containers and feathergrain wood boxes help keep everything tidy.
We really wanted a bar cart, but this leaning bookshelf has worked out perfectly. It holds our fancy liquors, glasses, and cookbooks.
We picked up a bunch of these glass spice jars months ago with the intention of making neat custom labels for them. We learned to identify everything by smell since it only took us, oh… ten months to get around to actually making the labels. Last week I finally dragged out the vinyl cutter and got to work.
They’re lined up on a set of Grundtal spice racks to match the other IKEA shelving in the kitchen.
To the left of the kitchen is our living room area. Want to play Find Will again? No hints this time!
This custom-designed shelving unit is the star of the space. Our good friend Tim Friar from Grid Furnishings in the Short North designed it to function as both an entertainment center and room divider. Two staggered panels of frosted acrylic create privacy for the bedroom while still allowing light to filter through. These overlapping panels also double as a cable run to conceal the ugly cords coming down from the TV. (Yes, Tim’s a genius.)
The shelving unit was built by hand near Millersburg, Ohio in Holmes County. About half of the Amish people in Ohio live in the greater Holmes County settlement in the central part of the state. Holmes County has the highest concentration of Amish residents in any county in the United States.
This piece is crafted from rift cut oak with an ebony stain and 1” tubular raw steel frame with a clear finish. The finished piece is gorgeous and it fits between the existing brick columns perfectly. Tim designs a whole line of furniture that is custom-made by these Amish craftsmen. You’ll see a few more of his pieces in our studio.
As I mentioned earlier, we’ve been slowly transitioning to a more minimalist lifestyle. I didn’t exactly think of this when we designed a ten foot tall shelving unit. Once the TV and other accessories were on it, it’s become kind of challenging to find “stuff” to fill the rest of the space. Decorative things? Chucked most of them because I’m sick of dusting. Books? We have a small collection of art books, but we’re now reading everything on our iPads. Minimalist problems.
In the end, we did find a nice assortment of things to display. On the shelves are some vases from Crate & Barrel and a small selection of antique fair finds, along with our TV and a shelf of books. Nice and simple.
The living room area was lacking in the lighting department. Since we’re renting, we spent a while searching for affordable and removable solutions. After finding these commercial-grade string lights online, we decided to hang them from the exposed beams. Like a charming alfresco patio, but indoors! The soft light is perfect for lazy evenings at home.
Here’s the view into our studio nook from the living room.
To take advantage of the wall of windows, Tim helped us design an extra-long 12 foot workstation, made by the same Amish craftsmen as the shelving unit. (Also, look how serious we are when we’re working! Probably talking about something really important.)
The desks have Wormy Maple tops with a catalyzed conversion varnish finish on a 1” tubular raw steel frame with a clear finish. Wormy Maple is also call Ambrosia maple because it is actually the ambrosia beetle that make the tunnels or holes in the trees.
Much like Spalted Maple and other forms of figured maple, Ambrosia Maple is technically not a specific species of Maple, but rather a general description of any type of Maple that has been infested by ambrosia beetles. The beetles bore into the tree, and with it bring fungus that discolors the wood. The result is a gorgeous natural patterning that is totally unique.
We kept our wall hangings super simple in this space, as we didn’t want to distract from the huge windows and exposed brick. This cute watercolor calendar is by Linda & Harriet. I hung it on a nail that was already there. After drilling one hole in the brick I was like yeah, I’m done.
We’ve reduced our office supplies to the items on this industrial shelving unit and a few things inside our rolling file cabinets. Cartloads of old art supplies were donated to a local art studio, and we haven’t missed any of them. Shelving unit from Mix Home in Clintonville.
Small drawers for important things: writing and drawing tools, greeting cards, printer paper, and assorted cords and chargers. Red drawer unit by Bisley.
Here’s what it looks like in here most days. Just us working on stuff! Usually we’re working on different projects, but some days we’ll crowd around one computer and really hack away at one thing in particular.
Nestled under each desk is a file cabinet to hold our personal stuff – glasses, sketchbooks, and whatever else finds its way into the drawers. Our chairs are Eames knockoffs. Pro tip: Just say no to white leather, no matter how great it looks on Mad Men.
On the other side of the loft is our bedroom nook. The frosted acrylic of the bookshelf unit gives some privacy. A big IKEA freestanding closet holds all of our clothes and accessories. It’s nice to have, but we almost strangled each other while building it. It took 14 hours from start to finish and I’m pretty sure one of us was almost crushed in the process. I can’t really remember. Way too much IKEA for one day.
Across from our bed, we have this giant painting. We’re big fans of MWM so we snagged this piece from his Cincinnati show. A narrow steel bench by Sarabi Studio gives us a spot to sit and also references the square tubing used in our desks and room divider unit.
The bathroom is behind that door to the left. It’s a nice bathroom, but I didn’t take any pictures of it. Sorry!
I hope you enjoyed this tour of our space! We’ve taken photos of our last few apartments. Here’s a look at my old place and Omar’s bachelor pad that I later crashed. It know it seems a little strange to take pictures of your house but it’s actually kind of fun to have a record of all the different places we’ve lived. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away!