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Inside a serenely minimal SoHo loft

A cast-iron loft originally built for commercial use transformed into a calm escape from the fast pace of New York City

By Piet Smedy  | January 13, 2022 | Architecture

In New York, designer Justin Charette converted a 1910 cast-iron SoHo loft into a serenely minimal apartment for a thirty-something technologist and investor.

‘We wanted to create something modern and serene that struck a smart balance between the older framework of the loft in contrast with the modern renovation. Ultimately, the space itself served as a huge source of inspiration,’ says New York-based designer Justin Charette who, along with architect Andrew Berman (best known for designing MoMa PS1), was tasked with reimagining this historic SoHo space as a chic bachelor’s apartment. ‘Showing restraint in the approach allowed for a sleek synergy between the architectural features and my design choices.’

Photography by Sean Litchfield

The 1910 cast-iron loft had originally been built for commercial use, but the new owner, a San Francisco-based thirty-something technologist and investor, needed the space to be converted to accommodate him and his Shiba Inu, Sam. ‘The home was intended to be a pied-à-terre, but, after the pandemic, the homeowner decided to move in full time to be closer to his family,’ says Justin. ‘I created a bachelor pad that was cool in tone while remaining warm and inviting. It needed to feel well used but not overcrowded.’

The homeowner required a space that offered a calm escape from the fast pace of New York City but that still felt a part of its urban surrounds, a mandate Justin achieved through a focus on neutral materials and a palette informed by the surrounding tones of brickwork, timber and concrete, softened by layers of textured fabric upholstery, accessories and rugs. ‘It was also essential to embrace open space and not feel the need to fill every corner,’ says Justin. ‘This is often the biggest challenge for a loft space, so it was vital to introduce properly scaled furniture and artwork, which maximises utility but also emphasises the volume and vastness of the space.’

Photography by Sean Litchfield

The architecture of the space – and its transformation – also served as a key point of inspiration for Justin who says, ‘The biggest stand out is the pressed tin ceiling. It influenced the furniture shapes. I kept the large pieces more rectangular and incorporated circular furniture pieces in the smaller items.’

The 260-square-metre loft was designed to create a generous open space for living, cooking, dining, and music, with an open-plan communal living area ringed by discrete spaces for privacy and utility. Open sight lines and a fluid circulation throughout create long vistas and places of different scale and character.

Photography by Sean Litchfield

‘Given this free-flowing nature, my goal was to create defined spaces throughout the loft. I achieved this by creating zones through decorating,’ says Justin. ‘The views decided the colour palette; hence the more neutral palette throughout the rest of the home also plays off their views from the arched windows.’

Similarly, art was selected to bring both a minimal yet graphic element to the spaces and emphasise the volume of the room through the large scale of the works.

Photography by Sean Litchfield

The finishes in the loft are heavily focused on wood, ‘I did not want to avoid wood furniture pieces, but wanted to make sure everything selected would add some contrast, while still complementing the ash wood finishes,’ says Justin. Happily, the result is an alignment between Justin’s design philosophy and the homeowner’s vision – a crisp, modern and unfussy space filled with craft and detail.

For more about Justin Charette Design visit justincharette.com.