Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things
Photo by Feinknopf for WSA Studio

Last November, I stumbled across an apartment listing that looked like it couldn’t possibly be in Columbus. We weren’t planning to move to another place in town, but I had a feeling we should go take a look.

Located at the south end of the Brewery District, just west of German Village, we discovered the live-work space of our dreams. Built in the early 1900’s, this formerly abandoned engine manufacturing plant had been transformed into an architecture studio and six industrial-style loft apartments.

WSA Studio, the architecture and design firm that occupies the first floor, had lovingly restored the building’s exposed heavy timber ceilings, concrete and wood floors, large industrial windows, and exposed brick walls.

There was one unit left. We figured it was meant to be, so we moved in a couple of weeks later.

Over the past ten months, we’ve turned this beautiful raw space into a cozy, functional home for everything we do. We’ve also discovered a love for loft living. We like to blur the boundaries between work and life as much as possible, and this wide open space is perfectly suited to our lifestyle.

Here’s a peek inside our home-slash-studio. Enjoy!


Welcome!

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

Step inside our 800-square-foot space and this is your view. A wall of north-facing windows look out onto the rooftops of German Village and the downtown skyline. The 13′ ceilings lend an airiness to the space. Can you find Will the cat? He’s chomping away at his food bowl, as usual.


Kitchen

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

For the past few years, we’ve been slowly whittling away at our possessions in pursuit of a somewhat minimal lifestyle. Living in an open loft has forced us to get even more serious about paring down our belongings. When we realized we had barely any hidden storage space, we had no choice but to get honest about what we actually use on a daily basis.

With the exception of four drawers in the island unit, all of our kitchen storage is open and visible from the entire apartment. This pretty much forces us to keep things neat and tidy.

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

We ditched our random assortment of dishes and glassware and replaced it with an inexpensive, simple set from IKEA.

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

Even the pantry is exposed. Glass containers and feathergrain wood boxes help keep everything tidy.

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

We really wanted a bar cart, but this leaning bookshelf has worked out perfectly. It holds our fancy liquors, glasses, and cookbooks.

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

We picked up a bunch of these glass spice jars months ago with the intention of making neat custom labels for them. We learned to identify everything by smell since it only took us, oh… ten months to get around to actually making the labels. Last week I finally dragged out the vinyl cutter and got to work.

They’re lined up on a set of Grundtal spice racks to match the other IKEA shelving in the kitchen.


Living Room

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

To the left of the kitchen is our living room area. Want to play Find Will again? No hints this time!

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

This custom-designed shelving unit is the star of the space. Our good friend Tim Friar from Grid Furnishings in the Short North designed it to function as both an entertainment center and room divider. Two staggered panels of frosted acrylic create privacy for the bedroom while still allowing light to filter through. These overlapping panels also double as a cable run to conceal the ugly cords coming down from the TV. (Yes, Tim’s a genius.)

The shelving unit was built by hand near Millersburg, Ohio in Holmes County. About half of the Amish people in Ohio live in the greater Holmes County settlement in the central part of the state. Holmes County has the highest concentration of Amish residents in any county in the United States.

This piece is crafted from rift cut oak with an ebony stain and 1” tubular raw steel frame with a clear finish. The finished piece is gorgeous and it fits between the existing brick columns perfectly. Tim designs a whole line of furniture that is custom-made by these Amish craftsmen. You’ll see a few more of his pieces in our studio.

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

As I mentioned earlier, we’ve been slowly transitioning to a more minimalist lifestyle. I didn’t exactly think of this when we designed a ten foot tall shelving unit. Once the TV and other accessories were on it, it’s become kind of challenging to find “stuff” to fill the rest of the space. Decorative things? Chucked most of them because I’m sick of dusting. Books? We have a small collection of art books, but we’re now reading everything on our iPads. Minimalist problems.

In the end, we did find a nice assortment of things to display. On the shelves are some vases from Crate & Barrel and a small selection of antique fair finds, along with our TV and a shelf of books. Nice and simple.

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

The living room area was lacking in the lighting department. Since we’re renting, we spent a while searching for affordable and removable solutions. After finding these commercial-grade string lights online, we decided to hang them from the exposed beams. Like a charming alfresco patio, but indoors! The soft light is perfect for lazy evenings at home.

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

At night, the lights are even better. Vintage J + O movie theater marquee letters were a gift from our friend Chad. The sofa is a loft-sized sectional by Gus from Grid Furnishings.


Studio

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

Here’s the view into our studio nook from the living room.

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

To take advantage of the wall of windows, Tim helped us design an extra-long 12 foot workstation, made by the same Amish craftsmen as the shelving unit. (Also, look how serious we are when we’re working! Probably talking about something really important.)

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

The desks have Wormy Maple tops with a catalyzed conversion varnish finish on a 1” tubular raw steel frame with a clear finish. Wormy Maple is also call Ambrosia maple because it is actually the ambrosia beetle that make the tunnels or holes in the trees.

Much like Spalted Maple and other forms of figured maple, Ambrosia Maple is technically not a specific species of Maple, but rather a general description of any type of Maple that has been infested by ambrosia beetles. The beetles bore into the tree, and with it bring fungus that discolors the wood. The result is a gorgeous natural patterning that is totally unique.

We kept our wall hangings super simple in this space, as we didn’t want to distract from the huge windows and exposed brick. This cute watercolor calendar is by Linda & Harriet. I hung it on a nail that was already there. After drilling one hole in the brick I was like yeah, I’m done.

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

We’ve reduced our office supplies to the items on this industrial shelving unit and a few things inside our rolling file cabinets. Cartloads of old art supplies were donated to a local art studio, and we haven’t missed any of them. Shelving unit from Mix Home in Clintonville.

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

Small drawers for important things: writing and drawing tools, greeting cards, printer paper, and assorted cords and chargers. Red drawer unit by Bisley.

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

Here’s what it looks like in here most days. Just us working on stuff! Usually we’re working on different projects, but some days we’ll crowd around one computer and really hack away at one thing in particular.

Nestled under each desk is a file cabinet to hold our personal stuff – glasses, sketchbooks, and whatever else finds its way into the drawers. Our chairs are Eames knockoffs. Pro tip: Just say no to white leather, no matter how great it looks on Mad Men.


Bedroom

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

On the other side of the loft is our bedroom nook. The frosted acrylic of the bookshelf unit gives some privacy. A big IKEA freestanding closet holds all of our clothes and accessories. It’s nice to have, but we almost strangled each other while building it. It took 14 hours from start to finish and I’m pretty sure one of us was almost crushed in the process. I can’t really remember. Way too much IKEA for one day.

Our Midwestern Studio Loft: A Tour by These Are Things

Across from our bed, we have this giant painting. We’re big fans of MWM so we snagged this piece from his Cincinnati show. A narrow steel bench by Sarabi Studio gives us a spot to sit and also references the square tubing used in our desks and room divider unit.

The bathroom is behind that door to the left. It’s a nice bathroom, but I didn’t take any pictures of it. Sorry!


I hope you enjoyed this tour of our space! We’ve taken photos of our last few apartments. Here’s a look at my old place and Omar’s bachelor pad that I later crashed. It know it seems a little strange to take pictures of your house but it’s actually kind of fun to have a record of all the different places we’ve lived. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away!

Notes

  1. What a beautiful space! Can I ask where your sofa is from? It looks as though the chase part is a removable footstool!! Thanks!

    From Chasity
    Date October 12, 2012
    • Yes, the chaise part is moveable and can be used on the left or right side or as an ottoman! It’s the Spencer Loft Sectional by Gus. The fabric is Totem Pebble. Love this sofa!

      From Jen
      Date October 13, 2012
  2. This is phenomenal! If you guys ever decide to transition into the interior design business let me know. I’ll be your first customer!

    Also, where did you come across the ‘All About’ books? Those are awesome.

    From Adam
    Date October 12, 2012
    • Those were a flea market find. Amazingly, the guy had the whole set of six books scattered among a bunch of boxes. They have amazing illustrations inside, too. We’ll post some more pictures of them soon!

      From Jen
      Date October 22, 2012
  3. I love your space – so amazing. I really want to downsize on all the stuff we have as well but wow it’s hard saying good-bye to silly things sometimes. :)

    I would also love to have such an open house with nice things sitting on shelves, but our cats love to knock everything and anything over. How do you keep Will from dumping everything? Or is he one of those rare “good” cats who doesn’t cause trouble? ;)

    From Nikki
    Date October 12, 2012
    • You have no idea how much that last sentence had me ROFLing. Our cats Will and Dill spend at least half the day chasing each other up and down the length of the apartment, jumping off of almost all our furniture.

      The hidden bonus of downsizing most of our stuff is that there’s much less for them to knock over :)

      From Omar
      Date October 15, 2012
  4. Wow, that’s just stunning! I live/work out of a loft, too, but in Chicago just can’t afford anything quite that big and full of gorgeous light. I adore your windows and decorating!

    From Anni
    Date October 15, 2012
  5. WoW! :D

    From Jan Rhais Amantiad
    Date October 15, 2012
  6. Very cool space! Need to come visit you guys! Thanks for the shoutout!

    From Chad
    Date October 15, 2012
  7. Truly a beautiful space to remember in your list of homes.

    From di
    Date October 16, 2012
    • Aww, thanks! :)

      From Jen
      Date October 22, 2012
  8. i LOVE your space. this is exactly what i wish my loft looked like. i especially love the idea of using the string lights for additional lighting (i have the same issue where we have two main globe lights in the main living area, which isn’t enough). thanks for all of the ideas and inspiration and sharing your space!

    From Erika
    Date October 18, 2012
    • Thanks for the kind words! The string light idea seemed a bit wacky at first, but they really give off the best ambient glow. Just enough light for reading or sketching on the couch at the end of a long day. Now I want to put them everywhere. Definitely give them a try!

      From Jen
      Date October 22, 2012
  9. What a beautiful place to live and work! It’s so warm and cozy feeling, yet so fresh and modern and inspiring. Thanks for the sneak-peak.

    From Terri
    Date October 21, 2012
  10. Beautifully designed and well done. I would love to have that same space you guys have for my own work! Jealous! When you transition out, I’d gladly take the contact information for the space owner..

    Date November 14, 2012
  11. Your place is amazing! I can’t believe you have the will power to leave it. But New York will be well worth it, I love it! Where did you store all your clothes/shoes/coats?? I didn’t see any closets or dressers.

    Date November 26, 2012
    • In the bedroom, that mirrored thing is a big wardrobe from IKEA. There was an exposed closet rod with a curtain installed there originally. The wardrobe was a pain to build, but ended up working our great.

      From Jen
      Date December 1, 2012
  12. You both are nice couple. There is an atmosphere of art and style. It must be so cool to be great to be in the same profession, to work together, to think and create at such beautiful place. Good luck.

    From Yefim from Israel
    Date June 13, 2013
    • Thanks, Yefim! While we don’t live in this loft anymore, we think about it (and miss it!) often. It was a great space to be creative.

      From Jen
      Date June 15, 2013
  13. Are more units available? Can you link me to the rental property page?

    From emily
    Date September 10, 2013
  14. I love this loft. I been looking for lofts like this but cant find any. I only find lofts that look so much like apartments that idk why they call them lofts. What type of loft is this? The one in the pictures? BC thats the type of loft im looking for. Do you know any places where they have the lofts like the one in your pictures? Please help. Thanks.

    From Vanessa
    Date November 10, 2013

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