When you’re hunting for an apartment in Washington, DC — or really any area — then you’re likely to run into listings advertising lofts and studio spaces. If you don’t know much about these types of apartments, then you might be in for a bit of a shock when you first visit one — or you may be needlessly avoiding these types of apartments because you assume they won’t be a good fit.
Before you schedule a tour, here’s what you need to know about the differences between lofts and studio apartments, the pros and cons of each one and how to big the right one for you.`
What is a loft apartment?
A loft apartment is a type of apartment that has a small, open second floor overlooking an open-concept first floor. The ceilings are often very high, allowing for that second floor.
Traditionally, lofts are often built into repurposed industrial buildings. They often have exposed brick and pipes as well as very large windows. Some lofts have additional bedrooms and bathrooms, but most consider the upper floor to be the main bedroom. In some lofts, even the bathrooms do not have doors blocking them off.
What is a studio apartment?
Much like a loft, a studio apartment is an open-concept apartment in which one room houses the kitchen, living room and bedroom. The only other room is the bathroom and maybe a closet.
It’s a common misconception that all studio apartments are small, sometimes as small as 300 square feet. This isn’t always the case. On average, studio apartments tend to be about 600 square feet, sometimes even larger. As long as the entire space consists of one room with just one bathroom, then it’s considered a studio.
Loft vs studio apartment: main differences
The biggest difference between a loft and a studio apartment is that a loft has a raised second floor and a studio does not. The upper floor in a loft usually overlooks the main floor, and it is not walled off or separated by a door.
While studio apartments can be found in just about any type of apartment building, lofts are most commonly found in industrial buildings that have been repurposed. Both studios and lofts can have exposed brick and pipes, but you’re more likely to find these features in a loft. Because these industrial buildings are usually found in cities, lofts are far more common in urban areas whereas studios can be found just about anywhere.
Some lofts also have additional rooms whereas a studio will always have just the one room and bathroom. Second bedrooms and bathrooms are not uncommon in larger lofts. You’ll also find high ceilings in most lofts, which aren’t as common in studios.
Studios, however, will almost always have a closed-off bathroom. While some lofts do have doors blocking bathrooms, some do not.
Loft apartment: pros & cons
Nothing says “hip and trendy” like living in a loft apartment. These refurbished spaces often have a ton of character, such as exposed brick walls as pipes high up near the ceiling. The windows are often massive, which allow for a lot of light. If you have a green thumb, then you’ll have plenty of light to help your plants grow big and strong.
Because the ceilings are so high, lofts feel open and airy, and they allow for tons of different design options. If you love industrial or modern design, a loft will fit perfectly into your style. You can add chunky rugs, blankets and throw pillows to soften the space and make it warmer and more inviting.
Open concepts in lofts also allow for endless design options. You can use furniture and partitions to carve up the space into a design that allows for a little more privacy and functionality.
Of course, living in a loft apartment does come with some drawbacks. The high ceilings can make it difficult for the unit to hold heat or control the temperature, leaving you sweating at night on the upper level and freezing during the day on the main level. Lofts often have concrete floors, which stay cold in the wintertime.
It’s also rare to find a loft with a lot of closet space. You can certainly create your own space with curtain rods or use a large dresser or armoire, but not even having a coat closet can be a big problem for loft dwellers.
While having the upper floor as a bedroom provides some privacy, lofts can still be a little too open to the rest of the world. The big windows are often too large for blinds or curtains, so if you’re windows face another apartment or public space, then there’s a good chance that people can see into your unit. Bathrooms without doors are also fairly common in lofts, which means you’ll need to add a curtain or some other partition to create some much-needed privacy for that room.
Studio apartment: pros & cons
Don’t let their reputation for small sizes fool you: studio apartments can be a good fit. If you would rather live without a roommate and prefer to go out rather than entertain at home, then a studio apartment may be a very good fit for you.
Studio apartments need very little upkeep. They take very little time to clean, and because space is lacking, occupants tend to be a little neater to prevent clutter from building up. With smaller kitchens and bathrooms, it’s easy to notice problems right away. If a kitchen faucet is dripping, chances are you will hear it right away. From month to month, you’ll also save on utility bills because the space doesn’t need much heat or air conditioning to regulate the temperature.
Occupants often save on furniture and decor when renting a studio apartment. Many studios have Murphy beds, which can be folded up into the wall and pulled down when needed, so they save on buying a bed frame and mattress. Because the room is smaller, you won’t need so much furniture to fill it, and you can choose furniture that serves more than one purpose. An ottoman, for example, can be a footrest or extra seating for guests, but if the top opens, then you can also use it for storage.
Not all studio apartments are 600 square feet in size or more, and that’s usually the biggest drawback for people. Studio apartments can be tiny and feel cramped, even if they have Murphy beds or multi-functional furniture.
The lack of storage space in a studio apartment can also put you at a disadvantage if you like big closets and aren’t ready to part with some of your possessions. While you can rent a storage unit, it is an added cost, and you won’t have easy access to your possessions.
Studio apartments are really made for just one person. If you get married or want to live with your partner, a studio apartment will likely feel too small. There won’t be much room for privacy.
Both lofts and studio apartments offer benefits and drawbacks to any renter. Not sure which is a better fit for you? Contact Atlas Lane, and we can show you both types of units and help you imagine yourself in the space.