Have you ever been seduced by a funky New York loft style apartment so often seen in the movies but rarely in real life. There are many elements to a successful loft style scheme but the one I really love, and that I think you can’t do without for this style, is a beautiful weathered and aged brick wall.
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New York Loft style bricks
One of the most exciting trends lately has been the resurgence of the use of clay bricks in building. For many years we have studiously rendered and painted over brick walls both outside and inside our homes and the end result, although clean and crisp, often fell a bit flat and left us wanting.
Homeowners now though are looking at brick quite differently and beginning to appreciate the wonderful texture and interesting design elements that they bring to a decorating scheme.
However, let’s face it, unless we are fortunate enough to own a fabulous apartment in New York’s Soho or an old barn conversion, it is more likely that we have been confronted with an orange brick wall in our suburban living room that becomes a real challenge to decorate around and it is a colour question that I am often asked about.
How to achieve an aged and weathered look for bricks
There are several ways to approach this dilemma without losing all the architectural merit that the bricks bring to a scheme.
- You can simply just paint the bricks.
- Depending upon how much paint you apply, you will achieve varying results and the end result will also depend on the finish of the mortar between the bricks. A fully raked mortar will look different to a flush mortar and also will be more of a challenge to paint. Two or three full thick coats of paint will give you an even look with simply the outline of the bricks remaining.
- However you can apply just a thin layer of paint and then once dry, sand the finish back in different places so that the majority of the brick shows through.
- Alternatively you can use limewash rather than paint to achieve similar effects but with a very natural and soft chalky finish.
- A different approach is to ask a bricklayer to re-point the bricks and then smear some of the mortar over the surface to give more of an aged appearance.
- To take it a step further, some pressure washing afterwards will create a really uneven finish and you can attain a very effective aged and weathered look with this method.
- Of course, before undertaking a project like this it is wise to complete your research to ensure you follow all the necessary steps. As with timber, brick, once painted, is almost impossible to reverse.
My five top tips for completing the New York Loft style
- My go to colour for architectural trim to highlight aged bricks is black. This works particularly well for a New York loft style so consider using this for windows and highlight beams and or posts.
- Crisp, cool white walls and ceilings will highlight the brick feature wall and bring a contemporary definition to the space.
- Soften the look with sheer window dressings in neutral tones
- Consider your flooring – ensure that it is right for the building so polish concrete floors or use reclaimed timber for floorboards. Finish with natural fibre rugs to zone the different areas.
- Lighting is important so install downlights that can be dimmed and use feature wall and statement pendants.
Related: How to select the right rug
Related: How to complete a room with elegant sheers
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