Interior designer Samantha Plaisted went back to basics for her revamp of a loft in a 1999s iconic scheme
No31 The Warehouse, Clanbrassil Terrace, Blackpitts, Dublin 8 Asking price: €525,000 Agent: Felicity Fox (01) 633 4431
New York loft apartments often sell for €50m. So who would have thought that the classic look of this iconic home type has its roots in a need among penniless artists to rapidly hide all signs of their own habitation?
In the mid 20th century New York’s impoverished artists found dirt cheap studio spaces in the run-down industrial warehouses of the late 19th century located in blocks located south of Houston Street (SoHo).
And so the temptation abounded to stick a bed and a kettle in there and live in it too; thus saving a lot of money on residential rent. But this was wholly illegal then under New York’s strict housing and fire laws.
So the artists made platform beds on pulleys that could be hoisted skywards in seconds in the event that a fire officer or housing department official came calling. Wardrobe storage was hidden behind wall panels. Kitchen counters were assembled out of bits of wooden palettes and rusty industrial lighting dominated to ensure their spaces looked convincingly utilitarian as working studios, with no hint of clandestine living spaces.
Located in non-residential areas where a loud nocturnal groove was not a concern, those loft studios/apartments were also perfect city party spaces through the Swinging Sixties. The vast floor spaces offered perfect post club dancing potential for the cultured set.
There was metal sculptor Donald Judd’s five-storey warehouse at 101 Spring Street, bought in 1968 for $70,000 to serve as his workspaces, gallery and home. Today it’s a museum to the loft living and working experience.
Perhaps the most famous was Andy Warhol’s first Factory at 231 East 47th Street, which he leased in 1962 for €100 a year and then wallpapered in tinfoil (practical from an insulation point of view). Although guests often stayed overnight, Warhol largely lived at his nearby townhouse.
Wealthy patrons came to these lofts to buy art and to party and they liked what they saw. Before long the artists were being ejected by developers to refit the buildings for residential use and sell the resulting apartments to the city’s elite at top dollar. When they ran out of warehouses, they started building new blocks to look like them: the so-called ‘soft’ lofts.
Now an international affair, the NY loft- style apartment is characterised by its central location, wide open-plan layouts, robust industrial-style flooring and windows and very high ceilings.
While Ireland has plenty of converted distilleries and old mills, there aren’t too many genuine factory or warehouse conversions. Perhaps Dublin’s only version of scale is The Warehouse at Clanbrassil Terrace in Blackpitts, Dublin 8, a former garment factory run by Crowe and Wilson.
The disused 1940s building was redeveloped in 1999 by developer Michael Roden who recognised the character of the flat-roofed, red-bricked four-storey block and engaged architect Mary Donohue specifically to remodel it into a Manhattan-style loft project with a difference. Residents at The Warehouse over the years have included Sugar Club owner Nicky Toppin; Tipperary Crystal owners Robbie and Karen Scanlan and fashion designer Jen O’Dwyer.
Twenty two years on a few of them are in need of a revamp. The owner of No 31 on the second floor decided to call in the interior designer Samantha Plaisted of Reign to update her apartment for sale.
The open-plan areas are so large here that this one-bed home has a floor area larger than most average three bed family homes, at 1,270 sq ft.
“It was very tired, worn and dated in some of its furnishings and decor,” says Plaisted who studied it at length before tabling her solutions. “There was dated wallpaper, dark red walls and a good quality but very 1990s looking Shaker style kitchen. The more I looked at it, the more I saw that many of the apartment’s aspects were classic and fundamentally sound and could be revamped rather than replaced.
“The floor is best travertine and it was filthy and with staining in the grout. So we got Chemdry Cleaners in to see what they could do. The results were amazing. they gave it a sand treatment and it came up immaculate. Some of the mid-century style furniture that the owners had bought from the original owners was cleaned by them too and to our surprise it also came up as new.”
“With that floor revamped and reflecting in the light, the next big change was a decision to go back to basics and brighten up the whole place with an Oxford White from Benjamin Moore and a Slipper Satin from Farrow & Ball for the joinery, to unite it in white.
“We painted the kitchen too, also in white. This worked well with the original black marble worktops which were in new condition after 20 odd years. We replaced the lighting with modern rail mounted versions. We softened this with throws and cushions in a Moroccan style and brought in pieces like the mellow sideboard from Vintage Hub and bedside tables from Ikea.” And now No31 is on offer for sale through Felicity Fox Estate Agents priced at €525,000.
The apartment comes with a designated parking space and access to a communal courtyard garden. There’s integrated Bosch appliances including an oven, hob, extractor fan and dishwasher. It’s entered via an industrial glass and metal door into the entrance hall.
There’s a bedroom with built-in wardrobes and an ensuite bathroom; a utility room comes with storage cupboards, there’s a shower room; a hot press and the huge open-plan kitchen/living and dining space. A door leads out to a communal balcony. And of course there’s that vast open-plan kitchen, dining and living space the size of a small factory floor.
For those who like to entertain. New York City style.