Loft Living: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


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You know what's a really weird experience? Walking through your home for the last time. Saying goodbye to the empty loft late Sunday night was a surprisingly hard moment for me. In a lot of ways the space was a challenge to live in, so I wasn't expecting to feel that nostalgic as I stood there taking a million pictures of our old home.


The same day we were shown the loft two years ago, we also toured a really lovely two-bedroom in Battery Park City. It was in a nice luxury building with all sorts of amenities. The apartment was a good enough size, and the finishes were really nice, but the real selling point was a heart-stopping view of the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty.

We went back and forth on which of the two apartments to rent. Each place represented two very different sets of trade offs. They were the opposites of each other in almost every way. What would life have been like there on the river?


When it came down to it, we decided open-concept living was a better fit for our family. It just felt more "us." I wanted to live, eat, work, play all in the same space. It felt like a great opportunity to get in a lot of family time. And I think we actually achieved some of that dream over the two years we lived in our big white box. I know I'll miss some of that. Some of the other things... not so much. Namely, the fashion photographer neighbor who would play loud house music for his shoots that would often last until 3 or 4 in the morning (!). Also, the less-than-awesome natural light situation that made it hard to photograph the windowless bedrooms and that probably gave us all SADD in the winter. Also...


Did I ever mention that we didn't have walls that went all the way up to the ceiling? A law was passed the month we signed the lease that made landlords super liable for accidents involving pressurized walls (commonly used to divide up apartment spaces here in New York). So when we signed the lease, we thought we were going to be able to divide up the space with semi-permanent, insulated walls, and that ended up not being the case. We were too close to moving in when we heard the news, so we just had to roll with it and make eight-foot tall 'bookshelf walls' instead. We stacked old trunks on top of the shelves to fill the two-foot gap and give us more privacy, but I think you can figure out on your own that the wall situation was not super ideal.


And now our house in Brooklyn has very separate spaces for separate functions, which I'm thinking might feel a little lonely at first! But, the exciting news is all of us have real rooms, with real walls. We have more than one bathroom (hallelujah!). And my office is two full floors away from my kids room (which will make business calls sound a lot more professional than they've been the last two years! ha!).


In my experiences working with clients in all sorts of home and apartments, and also with all the places I've lived (my move-count is up to 22!), I've had the chance to think a lot about how to make spaces work despite/while embracing challenges. The reality is, we can never have it all and there are always tradeoffs. I wonder how soon I'll miss the tradeoffs that were unique to the loft.


How many times have you moved in your life? (It's actually a fun exercise - try it! Can anyone beat my 22?) Also, am I the only one that slowly walks through the empty house after packing up, saying goodbye to each room? So many memories (sniff, sniff). But here's to many new ones!

70 comments:

Amanda said...

22 moves?! That's insane! I love lofts (my best friend just moved into one) but I'm not sure I'd enjoy not having complete walls!

Julia said...

Including the move we're making in 2 weeks, my count is also 22!

It was fun to watch the transformation of your loft - as a Texan living in suburbia it's fun to see how the city-folk live :-) Can't wait to see what you do next - I'll be watching for ideas I can use in our new home!

Kerry Steele- Design du Monde said...

My move count is 17, not quite as impressive. I have sniffled through empty houses as I left them too.

Stephanie said...

Can you please tell me where you bought that light?!

Blake and Catie said...

I'm very sentimental about moving. I've so far moved 11 times, but that counts dorms in college, so it might be inaccurate. :) My husband and I just moved from the first apartment we lived in together, and I nearly cried as I said goodbye to our little studio! Our new place is much nicer though--a whole bedroom! That's big stuff in DC haha

Anonymous said...

It's so funny you asked that question. Just yesterday I was talking about all the "moves" my dad had in his life. (He just passed away at age 92). It was 5! hahahh

heather (love your space) said...

I'm a put-down-roots type, I guess. At 37, I have lived in 9 homes total, including my childhood (but not including college dorms--that would add four more)! I bought my first apartment at 24.

And yes, I have walked nostalgically through every one of my adult homes as I left.

Candice said...

Isn't it sort of sad to see your home empty after you have moved out? But now you get to make a new home! My move count is only 6 and I am 54 years old (2 childhood homes, college dorm & sorority, my first apartment and the condo where I have lived for 25 years). I hate to move and have no plans to move in the future. I am sentimental about the home I grew up in and still drive by it all the time in Scottsdale, AZ.

Crystal (theweekendhomemaker.com) said...

Wow, Jenny, I was thinking 22 is a lot of moves. Then I started counting mine. If you include dorms and the move back home (temporarily) after college, I'm at 21!

AaReAn said...

oh its always such a bittersweet thing isn't it?! Out with the old in with the new!!! LOVe that light btw!

Jenny at LGN said...

My 22 counts everything - dorms and college apartments. I count them because even back then I had to haul around a lot of furniture! This chair/mirror/lamp problem runs deep! :)

Jill said...

17 moves for me - including a loft space in Chicago that also included walls that did not go all the way to the ceiling - and that was BEFORE children! I can't imagine living that way with kiddos. It is always bittersweet saying good-bye to our spaces.

Never commented before - but love your blog and look forward to seeing what you do at the brownstone!
xo~Jill

colleen said...

We're actually trying to make the same decision--loft or luxury apartment with amenities. I love the decorating possibilities of a loft, but at the same time see the appeal of an apartment with already-nice finishes and just adding some accessories, and being done!

Sara said...

Counting the move we made last weekend, my count just hit double digits at 10! The physical process of moving is always a pain, but I love experimenting with new spaces! I'm looking forward to organizing my new place and I can't wait to see what you come up with for yours!

Sandy said...

First time posting. I don't have nearly as many moves as you (5?) but we are currently planning our next move. We used to live in an open concept home with a loft bedroom so literally only the bathroom was walled in. Our dog loved it because she could always keep an eye on both of us at the same time. When we moved to a house with separate rooms she spent the first week trying to herd us all into the same room all the time! And it did take us some getting used to as well. And the last time I wiped the kitchen counters down at the old house I burst into tears. I enjoy your blog. Your decorating is very inspirational. Thanks!

Emily M said...

My move count is 14 and I thought it was high but you've definitely got me beat! But I've moved myself every single time....and then swore I'd pay movers the next time and then never did!

Cathy Lee said...

Love hearing your journey. I have a "last meal" every time we move and it's always with tears. We're contemplating another move and dreading every moment of it. Glad to hear it is possible to move on Again! :)

Linzy said...

We bought our little home here in Vermont when I was 23. It was my 20th move... Good luck getting me out of here.

pve design said...

Looks like you left the space perfectly spotless for the next tenants. I bet your land lord was thrilled but sad to see you move.
pve

VivaCindy said...

I am at 17..... And even though we bought a house last year, I'm sure I'll have many more in my future. I hate the actual moving of stuff, but getting into a new space always brings lots of creativity.

Jen @ RamblingRenovators said...

Just counted 16 and that seems high. 22 seems crazy ;) I can't believe its been two years... I remember when you moved into this loft! But walls are good thing. Looking forward to seeing more of your projects in the new place.

Amy P said...

I've got you beat. Currently at 30 moves, including a couple cross country moves. There will be more as where we are now is not where will we stay forever. I think next up is yet another cross country move this fall. After all these moves I think I have the packing and moving piece down. I have learned to live with less stuff. While the actual moving part is not fun I love the excitement and creavite opportunities a new place provides.

Nichole ML said...

At 33 I have moved right at 22 times as well. I had to count a few times. I have gone to 13 grade schools and 3 colleges. Military life. I have not been attached to any home but perhaps I was never there long enough, plus base housing is hard to get attached to. Good luck with your move, I'm sure it will be wonderful.

Heidi Garvin said...

I've moved 16 times. If you don't count the month I kept everything in my COMPACT car (a Toyota Echo) and slept on a different friend's couch each night. That's a whole different beast.

Juliet Novak said...

As a family of four we have design/layout challenges with a 700 sq. foot home in upstate NY. But I keep telling myself that people would pay big bucks in Manhattan for a place like ours! What a challenge it must have been to create "walls!" You'll be more humble for having had your loft experience! You and your husband can have a good laugh recollecting on it someday!

Julia at Home on 129 Acres said...

I've only lived in four different houses and that includes one from 0-5 years old, so I don't think that move really counts. Six months ago we sold our starter house and moved into our (hopefully) forever house. Guess I'm just a homebody! Are you leaving your Sputnik? I feel like you did so much work on it that you should take it with you!

Cristina said...

I've moved 22 times, as well! Sadly I'm pretty sure I'll have a few more moves to go before we settle. Welcome to Brooklyn, it's my home too and my favorite borough by far!

eLIZabeth Floyd said...

I am always flooded with nostalgia during the last walk through of a home, even if it was only for a few months, so I understand your mixed feelings.

I am at 26 moves if I include all the college moves. Luckily I have been planting more roots in the past ten years and have only moved twice in that time :)

Good luck settling in :)
Liz

Anonymous said...

I'm happy you and your family have gotten away from the abusive noise polluter.

Intrusive noise constitutes a potent stressor that can result in increased blood pressure, essential hypertension, increased heart rate, ischemic heart disease, headaches, nausea, an altered blood flow, changes in blood viscosity and blood lipids, and shifts in electrolyte balance, along with elevations in gastrointestinal motility. In addition, according to the World Health Organization, exposure to noise increases drug use, fosters substance abuse, and promotes anxiety, stress, irritability, depression, aggression, interpersonal conflict, and sexual impotency.

For more information about noise pollution see:

The Deleterious Impact of Projecting Noise into the Home Environment
http://www.barkingdogs.net/exposeindex.shtml

and

Noise Pollution Can Ruin City and Suburban Life
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20080624/COLUMNIST13/806240707?p=all&tc=pgall

KO

Bromeliad said...

Only 8. You have me way beat. The hardest move was away from the place with the bay window on Columbia Heights. Loved that window.

Kathleen said...

I always get very nostalgic and teary eyed about moving. It takes me awhile to feel like a new place is home. With my current home it's actually taken me years to feel like its home (I downsized from a large home in a suburb to a small condo in a more city environment. Due to some life circumstances it felt like starting over again and was not pleasant. I resented the move. Then again this is my unlucky 13th home so maybe that has something to do with it!

the brunette said...

I have moved 7/8 times in the past 6 years (thanks college/grad school!) and I must say that nothing is sadder than leaving a space that holds so many memories. I have such poignant recollections of closing the door and walking away from each apartment. There is something about that moment, that finality that is just really difficult to deal with - no matter how excited you are to move on to new things!

Brittany said...

I can't believe I've been reading your blog for that long!! Well before you had moved into the loft. You really did a lot with that space now that i'm seeing the moving photos.

Brittany said...

I can't believe I've been reading your blog for that long!! Well before you had moved into the loft. You really did a lot with that space now that i'm seeing the moving photos.

Heidi said...

I am at 22 as well, but most of those were the effect of being an air force brat...then there were 7 different places I lived while in college. I have only had 3 homes I've lived in and decorated as an adult and one was a rental for just over a year so we did not do too much.

Serenity said...

I'm at 31 (this includes 3 college moves though). What an interesting exercise! I wrote them all down, going backwards. The funny thing is that I only moved once before I was 14, the rest are since then, 2/3 after the age of 20, and I'm 35.
I have to say I love moving. Fresh starts and a new house or apartment, new rooms to arrange, all very fun!
I say goodbye each time too.

Serenity said...

I'm at 31 (this includes 3 college moves though). What an interesting exercise! I wrote them all down, going backwards. The funny thing is that I only moved once before I was 14, the rest are since then, 2/3 after the age of 20, and I'm 35.
I have to say I love moving. Fresh starts and a new house or apartment, new rooms to arrange, all very fun!
I say goodbye each time too.

Julie said...

I can't believe you left your Sputnik Chandelier!

Pinecone said...

I counted 15 moves. Four of those have been the cross country variety - which should count for more - ha! It was fun to figure all of that out!

I am sure you are going to miss some things about the loft - but, I can't wait to see more pics of your new space. xo Ashlyn

Sarah said...

I too have moved 22 times! I was so surprised when I started counting. However, one of those moves was when I was a young child and thus it was no stress at all for me. I just woke up in a new bedroom! If I only count moves that happened as an adult, I have moved 21 times.

In counting, I realized that most of my moves cluster around when I moved to a new city. I tend to change apartments about every 6 months for a few years, and then finally find an apartment, in a neighborhood, that I want to stay in for a few years.

Boo Hazard said...

My count is at 15... I can't imagine 22!! I've loved watching the empty loft evolve into your home. I can't wait to see what you do with the brownstone! -Boo

Wizbet and Lotta said...

I've counted to 29 and stopped. There are a couple more but I'm struggling to remember them although I know they happened! Divorced parents who moved a lot plus my own moves. Does moving country count as more than one? I can't believe you managed to live with no proper walls and three children. Definitely a case for the white noise machine.

Lisa Baker-Heaton said...

So true about the trade-offs. We are putting our home up for sale and packing for my 23rd move in 33 years. It's the 13th in my nearly-seven-year marriage. The 24th/14th will follow within the year. I spent 13 years of my childhood in one house and I really miss that permanence. I am a sentimental person about houses and moving.

Are you taking your sputnik light? We put a couple of light fixtures in this house that I'm really going to miss. I want to exclude them from the sale but I don't want to seem like a weirdo. Hardly anyone does that here.

I can't wait to catch up on blogs once we get through this move. Yours is in my top three favorites and I miss our (one-sided) "friendship" :) This is my first visit in a few weeks. Posting on my own blogs completely ceased.

Good luck in the new place!

Maria @ All Things Luxurious said...

I have moved only three times in my life, but each time, it definitely was difficult. There are so many memories that become a part of you when you are in a home, and it is hard to leave those meaningful rooms behind. Hang in there!

Michelle said...

At 28 years-old, I've moved 14 times (several of them cross-country). I'm looking forward to what you do to your new space.

Paige Hewlett said...

Congrats on the move! I just moved into my 23rd - each place has it's own perks. Can't wait to see pics of the new place!

Paige Hewlett said...

Congrats on the move! I just moved into my 23rd - each place has it's own perks. Can't wait to see pics of the new place!

Kelly said...

I'm so happy for you and your family. Sounds like this will be a change for the better, though I understand the nostalgia of leaving a place.

I've moved 14 times. (SW states to Canada, East coast to west and a few smaller moves)

And if you see this I have to say I just bought an English roll arm sofa. We've been a month in our newest house (rental) with no sofa. I kind of didn't care because this move has been hard in itself. Once the sofa was in the living room I kept coming back to our newly "homey" room. I learned about this style of sofa from your blog and it makes me so happy! Thank you.

pimpmybricks.wordpress.com said...

I'll be up to 20 moves in six months time when we get out of our rental and into the house we're restoring.

And no, you're not the only one to say goodbye to your home as you leave it. We left our longest ever place (ten years) a few months ago and began missing it about three months before moving out. I mean really, really missing it. On the final day as I was cleaning, I said goodbye to each room and then finally closed the door on it. But you know, once we'd gone we missed it far less than we would have anticipated. Certainly less than while we were still there and anticipating leaving.

I'm excited about your brownstone and looking forward to seeing pictures of it.

PP
pimpmybricks.wordpress.com

Nicole said...

I'm 37 and I've moved 26 times!!!! A bunch were college, but my husband and I have moved 7 times in 13 years of marriage, and at this point we have 5 kids and a dog. Actually were supposed to move in to our old rental today! Because,you know we thought we wanted a big house with shiny appliances and lots of bedrooms but it turns out we wanted our old neighborhood and are making do!

jacquie said...

Honestly, I've never thought to comment on this great blog but I too can never leave a space that I don't walk through nostalgically. I think of all the dinners, all the laughter, all the blood sweat and tears to get the paint color exactly right and even then think it probably could have been better... it's nice to connect with the emotion rather than the superficiality and that's why it's worth so much more than this idle text. Enjoy your move and know the depths to which you inspire the silent masses.

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Alana in Canada said...

I am almost 50--my current home is my 23rd residence. (I counted--I thought the number would be higher!) I have been here almost 15 years, though. I remember getting very antsy after the first two years--it was really hard to adjust to the fact we were not going to be moving. I'm still adjusting, actually. (There's too much moss on this ol' stone, I think!)

katie said...

22 moves is crazy! sounds like you need to do a post on "how to pack like a pro".

Susan Davis said...

After several moves, local and long distance and the death of a husband...I take to heart the notion that a house is an address--the people we love are our home.

GranMarty said...

I'm amazed by what you did with that big white plastic-looking space! I'd never recognize it from your beautiful blog!

JenWoodhouse.com said...

At age 33, my move count is 23 (I grew up as an Air Force brat, then coincidentally married an Army guy) with many more moves on the horizon. The Army has us moving every 2-3 years and I've got at least 16 years left as an Army wife. Moving is a lifestyle - I get restless if I'm in one place too long. Though it can be bittersweet at times, the next move is always an adventure!

Looking forward to seeing what you do with the new digs!

Melissa said...

now that you've left it- My husband and I are in the Financial District looking for a place just like your loft. Could you let me know the building- so we can inquire?

Melissa said...

now that you've left it- My husband and I are in the Financial District looking for a place just like your loft. Could you let me know the building- so we can inquire?

Anonymous said...

I am at 25 moves, and the 26th begins in the next week! There are more on the horizon.

Luna said...

I never have time to say goodbye as I like to ensure everything is packed up properly and every room is spotless before I leave. Then I'm too exhausted for the Goodbye which is good as I don't like them.

I've moved 6x but you did really well packing up in such a short time. After 21 moves I'm pretty sure you have a really good system.

Maybe you can share some of these?

Patty Day @Pattys Epiphanies said...

How about 35!!!
My husband and I have been married 53 years and have lived in 35 different homes. You name it, small apartments, a mobile home, condominiums, single family ranch, colonial and even a bi-level. We are now in a single family 2050 sq.ft. home in a DelWebb community. I was a Realtor specializing in New Construction, my husband was in the A.F and then moved quite often in his civilian job. All explaining the fun of trying new living!!! Have fun....Enjoy each experience!

classic • casual • home said...

GOOD luck. I have moved a lot too...(20 times)...but they have all been rewarding.

classic • casual • home said...

PS. Included college moves. Don't you feel in helps you keep things paired down?

Lesli at My Old Country House said...

At last count I think I hit 30 different places I have lived and I am thinking I might have missed a few...we moved a ton while I was growing up...!
I am happy that my own children have lived in just two homes though who knows they will probably grow up and wished we' d had bigger adventures!
And I ALWAYS say good bye even to hotel rooms!
Congrats on your new home I can't wait to see it unfold!!!!

myimaginaryblog said...

I thought 22 was a huge number, and was completely surprised when my tally was 25 moves. I counted every single move, and most of those were during my college years and first couple years of marriage, and I also counted all 6 of the cities I lived in as a missionary.

There was a time during my late twenties when I got a little shell-shocked from so much saying goodbye--and from never having the time to keep up with old friends in the midst of making new friends--so I didn't feel like getting to know anyone, since it seemed like it would be so hard to say goodbye. I also felt guilty for not keeping in touch with people I really had cared about. (Facebook and the internet have made keeping in touch SO much easier!)

I've been in my current suburban home for 9 years, and although I'm tired of our house itself, we're happy with our schools and neighborhood and doctors and dentist, so we will likely make the house do and stay put while my 5 kids are in their school years, unless a really great home goes up for sale very close by.

Anyasr said...

Counting my current move (in process!)... 14! Including one from Argentina to the US.

Little Lovables said...

I just moved last weekend, so I'm feeling the nostalgia of our old home, but loving the larger, newer space. It was an odd feeling, for sure walking through it the last time, bittersweet. As for total moves in my lifetimes... it's right around 24 that I can remember.

Anonymous said...

I am also at 22. Our current house is number 17 for my husband. We both moved a lot as children so we have been in this house for eleven years (and we are only in our mid-thirties). That means I hit number 22 when I turned 23! Staying put for a while now.

Candace Spees said...

So far, I counted 34 moves. I'm sure there are a few I have forgotten. I didn't realize there are so many of us who have moved so often.

Now, I don't feel so bad.

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