Loft living is fast becoming one of the most modern, sought-after housing options, as downtown areas across America are going through an exciting revitalization. This is trend is becoming very apparent in Providence, Rhode Island, as the city re-envisions its downtown residential landscape. The Alice Building, a downtown Providence structure built in 1898, is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings and was considered the first “vertical” shopping mall with seven floors of retail space in the building’s heyday. Now converted to residential units, resident Michael Collins has recently moved in and has enjoyed making his new home in this 1,400 square foot corner studio loft.
Michael owns a digital agency business, which he also operates from the loft, so it was important for him that this open space function for all of his day-to-day living and business needs. To accomplish this, he enlisted the design expertise from Sarah Dover, home stylist with West Elm Providence. “Moving to a new place and taking the time to furnish and decorate it was a bit daunting,” says Michael, but Sarah helped design the perfect space for him.
Tour this historic open loft below and learn first-hand about the process the Design Crew with West Elm Providence took to meet their clients needs, outfitting a space that makes them happy each time they walk in the front door.
A long-time fan of West Elm because of the style, quality and (most importantly) the comfort, Michael was eager to take advantage of the free West Elm Design Crew services. “To get a sense of my style, Sarah led me through the store looking at various pieces, and we talked about colors, my ideas for the space, my work, my hobbies, and my goals,” he says. “Since I work from home, I wanted it to be a place I was happy living and working in.”
“I gave Sarah a blank floor plan,” Michael says. “For some designers that would be enough — but not for Sarah. She wanted to come see the loft, measure it and experience the joy I felt when being in the space.”
The day they met to go over the plan was a busy one for Michael, but he says he was put at ease right away. “Sarah could see I was a little anxious, so she brought me over to the Design Lab area of the store and jumped right in,” he says. “We went over the floor plan, furniture options, color swatches, rugs, lamps, and accessories.” She worked with Michael to find his preferences, but also offered suggestions he wouldn’t have normally considered. “We discussed what I liked and what I didn’t like. She showed me options and pushed my boundaries to incorporate something I wouldn’t normally have – in this case the color of a rug and dining chair,” he said. “I was onboard with the rug but needed to be pushed with the chair. Turns out the Wasabi color of the chairs ties the whole place together! I left West Elm that day with a sense of calmness and relief that I was in good hands,” he says.
“That calmness continues daily when I’m in the completed space, along with the joy of the memory of the experience,” he says.
Sarah was determined to make Michael’s space work for both home life and work life. “Because it is a corner studio with an abundance of natural light, we wanted to ensure the space felt clean and cohesive, but not cold,” she said. “Since Michael works from home, we needed to zone each space – living, dining, bedroom and office. We were able to achieve this division with careful placement of rugs and furniture to create a balance.”
For the main living space, Sarah anchored the room with the Drake Sofa in Twill Platinum. A pair of matching Distressed Velvet Olive Carlo Chairs add additional seating options while also providing a bold focal-point for when you first enter the room. The olive tone of the chairs was a welcomed pop of color that complements the natural plant life and wasabi colors found throughout the loft.
“Michael has an extensive art collection and we wanted to do it justice,” says Sarah. “It was a bit challenging to find the right placement for each piece, but once we embraced the idea that his home was a gallery of local artists – including many images Michael himself photographed of Providence – it came together beautifully.”
A perk of this studio loft is, of course, the high ceiling and large windows overlooking Downtown Providence. As a way to heighten the ceiling even further, white curtain panels hung on Brushed Nickel Oversized Curtain Rods were used on the windows. This design element was visually pleasing while also helping to absorb ambient noise from the street below.
Keeping with the Mid-Century theme used throughout the loft, Sarah utilized the Mid-Century Expandable Dining Table, paired with Crest Bentwood Dining Chairs and two velvet Mid-Century Dining Chairs in Wasabi at each end. “I’m always happy to bring color to my client’s designs! The little hints of green in fabrics, rugs and plants helped us give this space some life,” she says. The Optic Lines Rug brings the dining space together and adds some visual excitement to the room as well.
Bedroom + Office
“We were tight on space in the bedroom and the West Elm + Rejuvenation Cylinder Floor Lamp allowed us to brighten up a dark corner without taking up space with another nightstand,” says Sarah. The Malcolm Bentwood Leather Swivel Chair + Ottoman makes for a relaxing destination in this partitioned area of bedroom. The bentwood frame of the chair pairs back seamlessly with the Grid-Tufted Upholstered Tapered Leg Bed and Mid-Century Charging Nightstand.
Michael had such a great experience that he is now working on designing a second space with Sarah. “I can’t wait to see how that comes together.”
Below: Sarah Dover, Lead Stylist – West Elm Providence, RI