When the subject of lofts arose, we discovered that many different types of structures are defined as lofts. The one common element is that lofts are located on the second floor of Katahdin Homes, and just how big or small depends on the design.
Typically in smaller vacation log homes, a loft is an extra sleeping area tucked in under the purlins. In larger homes lofts can act as a transition area between rooms on the second floor or as an extra living area for reading or hobbies. Because lofts have a view of the main living area, they’re a way of providing both separation and proximity for a busy household.
Most Katahdin designs for one-and-a-half- or two-story homes feature the option for some sort of loft area. It’s an excellent way to economically expand the living area square footage, similar to the way finishing off a basement utilizes the foundation structure.
We spoke with Jim Lyons, Katahdin’s VP of Design, who provided the basics on lofts. Because of local and state codes, nearly all lofts need stairs for access. The rare loft accessed by a ladder is really more of a sleeping loft that one might find in a vacation cabin. The most compact stair solution is a pre-fabricated spiral stair, but most homeowners opt for traditional staircase access for lofts.
Because lofts are located up underneath the roofline, the headroom can vary depending on the pitch of the roof and any dormers that might be added. A minimum of eight-foot head clearance is necessary to locate the stair egress, so it is usually located centrally in the loft floor area, said Lyons. Additional headroom can be expanded out using dormers that add architectural interest to the home both inside and out.
“We always try to include windows and dormers for extra light in loft areas,” said Lyons. “On the underside of lofts, exposed beams and tongue-and-groove cedar paneling complete the desired look in many of our log homes.”
Lofts start to become truly interesting when owners get creative with the space. Some folks take advantage of the sloping walls to tuck bookshelves and built-ins into the knee wall area. Others look overhead and take advantage of the peak of the roof to suspend art or other objects to add a dynamic element to the area. In some home designs there are interesting nooks and crannies that can be utilized in what is commonly called “dead space” up under the eaves. This tiny sleeping nook (left) is one example of creative use of this area.
Railings along the front of the loft area are required for safety reasons, and as long as they meet code requirements they can also include striking decorative elements. Log railings are a common treatment, but the vertical balusters can take on many shapes and characteristics. If the loft area is adjacent to the master bedroom, it can be transformed into a master sitting area or small home office, which allows for work and relaxation with a view to the main living area in the home.