Embracing Minimalism

Downsizing to a chic, urban loft doesn't have to mean giving up comfort and style.

By Shannon Craig
Photography by Anne Matheis


For many the idea of designing a functional and beautiful home in less than 1,000 square feet is pie in the sky. But for loft owner Joan Hoff, whose seventh-story revamp on Washington Avenue defies the standard of urban living, design ideals are more simple and grounded than most would expect.

“I think for us it was the right move,” says Hoff, who purchased the loft nine years ago and completed the renovations within the last two years. “I wanted to unburden ourselves of the necessity of keeping up the house, and I wanted to be able – once we retire – to pack up the bags and leave. This is very minimal.”

After living what she refers to as “the Baby Boomer’s American Dream” when their children were young, the Hoffs opted for an urban revival, selling their overstuffed chairs and gardens and embracing Minimalism.

“I downsized because I watched my parents grow old in a house they couldn’t manage,” Hoff explains, standing in her living room, office, kitchen and dining room. “Trying to deal with that is not something we wanted to do with our children. So this is a very viable concept for us.”

And that concept took off with a mood board, patience and an understanding of her space. “When you live in a space like this, it’s all about your flow. You can’t block the flow. You have to leave it open.”

Accented by south-facing arched windows and vaulted ceilings, Hoff’s open floor plan flows from a cozy corner sitting area/office to a casual dining area, complete with a one-of-a-kind industrial light fixture and round mirrored table. From there, one finds the only two rooms in the loft that are walled in – the bedroom and the bathroom. The custom kitchen hosts industrial aspects Hoff chose for their feminine qualities “to make it comfortable;” comfort being the common denominator in every aspect of the owner’s design scheme. Well, that and color.

“You can’t load the walls down,” Hoff insists. “The only thing I used to load down the walls was the color.” A cool gray comes to life when touched by the sun’s rays. The bright-white details add balance to the gray that could, under normal circumstances, be considered too dark and heavy for such a small space. The design surprises continue in Hoff’s bedroom.

“This is a picture of my father’s ’57 Chevy station wagon, “ Hoff explains, pointing to the exterior bedroom wall covered in family photographs and grandchildren’s artwork. “If you recognize that color, you see that it’s almost exactly the same pink-blush tone as the color in the bedroom.”

During a loft tour in May, the owners received offers to buy the loft and their furniture, but the couple refused every inquiry. The Hoffs are sure they have found their home for life.

“When we first moved, everybody was pretty negative,” Hoff laughs. “They said, ‘We can’t believe you gave up your house!’ And I said, ‘Your kids don’t want your crap.’ I firmly believe that when you walk into a space you’ll know if it’s yours. I knew this was mine.”