Design

A Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

Winemaker Rachel Silkowski lives with her fiancé Michel, a creative director, in Los Angeles. (By the way, if you ever buy wine for the label, you’ll love hers.) Their apartment has concrete floors and a completely open floor plan, which at first felt overwhelming. “We were like, how do you decorate without walls?” she says. But they figured it out, and now the space feels welcoming with cool art and her grandfather’s records. Take a peek inside…

DINING AREA

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

Table: vintage from Rose Bowl Flea Market. Chairs: CB2. Candle holders on dining table: Poketo.

On living in an old liquor warehouse: This is the first loft we’ve lived in, and we love the industrial ceiling. We’ll look up and find shapes, like you do with clouds. That kind of looks like a dog! There are great details because it’s wood-pressed concrete, so it actually has the patterns of wood. Also, the concrete floors are always cool on a warm day.

A funny challenge of loft living: If my fiancé and I have a disagreement, we’re like, well, I’m going to be sitting right here across the room staring at you! You don’t have a bedroom door you can slam.

On old and new: I try to buy our statement furniture secondhand and then fill in the blanks with CB2 or West Elm. We like the Rose Bowl Flea Market, Long Beach Flea Market and Fairfax Flea Market. We found this vintage table that can seat 10 people, and the sleek chairs are from CB2. The combination of vintage and modern works.

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

Console: HD Buttercup. Black candle holders: Night Palm. Plant stand: vintage from Rose Bowl Flea Market.

On family heirlooms: My grandfather died last year. He grew up in Orange County back when it was just orange groves — he represented old-school California to me. He had all these 1950s cocktail glasses. He was so cool — I don’t think he realized how cool he was! He had old Frye boots in perfect condition, which I gave to one of my guy friends. Our record player and most of our records were his hand-me-downs.

On everyday moments: We light candles at dinner every night. I grew up that way; it feels intimate and cozy. We also put on old records (John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Nat King Cole…) or play Perfume Genius, Rhye or Blood Orange.

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

On getting into wine: My dad and stepmom were both accountants who loved wine, so they inspired me to get into it. I studied agriculture at Oregon State and then got a job as an assistant winemaker. The vineyard gave me the freedom to make my own wine as a side project in 2013. I didn’t know what I was doing. I started with one barrel. Then a year ago I quit my day job to focus on growing it. Now I have 14 barrels. It’s still very small. Taking the leap was scary, but working in a winery is exciting, especially for anyone who likes to be outside or work with their hands.

On naming the wine: Michel and I were brainstorming a name for our fourth vintage, so we pulled out all the books around our apartment and read the first sentence of chapter four. But they weren’t working. Hemingway was too poetic, and others seemed too dry. That afternoon, there was a thunderstorm in L.A., and I said, ‘It needs to be something romantic like, It was one of those rare L.A. days where there happened to be a thunderstorm.‘ We turned to each other and were like, that’s it.

LIVING AREA

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

On a party ritual: At first, we didn’t know how to decorate such an open space. So, we decided to use art and rugs to create little nooks. Also, since the living room is elevated by two steps, it breaks the loft into sections without having a wall. Every time we have people over, somehow, by the end of the night, everyone ends up sitting on the steps, like we’re in high school on the bleachers. We’ll sometimes joke around and take a picture. I never expected that!

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

Sofa: West Elm. Rug: CB2. Pillow: Matteo. Woven basket: similar.

On a third roommate: We got a puppy, Hank, two months ago. He’s a total mutt. We thought he was a wheaten terrier but we did a DNA test, and it came back with every dog you can imagine. He hangs out on the steps, too — he’ll sit on the lower step and rest his head on the upper step. [Ed. note: Sadly Hank wasn’t home for the shoot, but here’s an adorable pic of him!]

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

Bike: Virtue.

On the joy of wine: I drink lots of red wine and Chardonnay, and I like making cocktails — especially whiskey sours with the egg white and lemon. Friends always text me when they’re at Trader Joe’s, and ask me what they should get for under $20. My tip is that the staff will know the wines inside and out, so you can ask them. My friends don’t ask for help in wine shops and at restaurants, I’ve noticed, but I do all the time. I’ll say, I want to experiment, but I’m only willing to spend $15. They’ll work with you. No one knows everything.

OFFICE AREA

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

Desk and chairs: Craigslist. Desk lamp: HD Buttercup, similar. Wall shelves: IKEA. White rolling table: IKEA.

On a pretty home office: I make the wine in Santa Barbara for a few months a year, but otherwise, I work from home. We got three file cabinets on Craigslist and layered wood on top. We display our favorite art and photography books on the shelves as inspiration.

Standing desk: vintage. White hanging planters: IKEA.

On a standing desk: We found this desk on the side of the road for free! Michel is 6’4″ so he likes standing up. He’s a South Philly Italian and talks with his hands and is an emotional speaker, and when he’s working, he’s constantly moving.

On personal photos: Next to the desk is a little display of sentimental stuff — for example, a photo of Michel’s grandparents, and one of me as a girl holding a tomato I had grown in my backyard. His family is all about tomatoes and calls tomato sauce “gravy,” so he loves that photo.

KITCHEN AREA

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

On a proposal at home: My fiancé and I met at a pizza shop four years ago, so pizza has sort of been our thing ever since. Last June, we had just gotten back home from vacation. We ordered our favorite deep dish pizza and opened a bottle of wine. I was getting the plates and napkins while Michel lit the candles and put on music. When I turned around, he was on one knee. I was completely surprised! He had been carrying the ring around for days waiting for the right moment.

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

Hanging fruit baskets: World Market. Red pitcher: Bauer Pottery. French press: similar.

On easy entertaining: When friends come for dinner, I usually serve a bunch of appetizers, instead of a big entree. We might have a veggie dish, a salad, bruschetta and cheese. Also, bacon-wrapped blue-cheese-stuffed dates. They’re the easiest thing, and meat eaters are always impressed.

READING AREA

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

Round mirror: IKEA, similar. Bookshelves: IKEA.

On adding light: The apartment gets direct sunlight from 10 a.m. to sundown. But since the space is so deep, the back half can feel darker. This round mirror gives more light.

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

Sofa: vintage, similar. Green chair: HD Buttercup , similar. Coffee table: Urban Outfitters, similar. Summer fruit print: Plant Planet. Black floor lamp: HD Buttercup. Rug: IKEA. Magazine stand: vintage, similar. Side table: handmade.

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

Art: Kaoru Kasai.

On meaningful art: Michel went to Tokyo for work a few years ago. He visited Hiroshima and talked to families whose parents or grandparents had been there during the bomb. He was deeply affected. This poster was drawn by Kaoru Kasai for the Hiroshima Appeals poster series, where major Japanese graphic designers create artwork to help call for peace in Japan and abroad. Especially right now, it makes you think about everything. I like what it stands for.

BEDROOM

A Bright Friendly Loft in Los Angeles

Bed: IKEA, similar. Blanket: Pendleton. Duvet: Muji. Sheets: Matteo. Bedside tables: vintage. Rug: CB2, similar. Basket: vintage. Moon artwork: Kristine Claghorn. Shelf: brackets from Amazon and wood from Home Depot . Light: Philips Wake-Up Light.

On a DIY bedroom: We wanted a separate place to sleep, so Michel and his dad built this bedroom by hand in a week. We used peg board because you can hang things and move art around. It’s a 10-foot wall and 12-foot wall connected, so that creates the room; there’s an opening to enter, versus a door.

On happy mornings: Since the bedroom doesn’t have windows, we got an alarm clock that rises like the sun! It takes 30 minutes to get to full brightness. You can also set it to play music or NPR that slowly builds in volume. Waking up gently is so much nicer than a harsh alarm.

On layered bedding: We have a Pendleton blanket collection, so I’ll put one on during the colder months. We also have the jersey duvet from Muji; it feels like a soft old T-shirt. I’d prefer no decorative pillows, but the pillows are a Michel thing. I’ll wake up with my head on the mattress, and he’ll have all the pillows under him! It makes me laugh. Now this loft really feels like home.

Thank you so much, Rachel!

P.S. Looking for color? Here’s a Brooklyn townhouse and Seattle home. For international tours, check out this dreamy Parisian apartment and house in the Japanese countryside. Craving a big garden? Here’s a cottage in New Hampshire, Sonoma house and Noe Valley stunner. Want tips for small spaces? Here’s a teeny family apartment and an actual tiny house. Love wallpaper? See this Brooklyn cabin-in-the-sky and this rainbow bookcase.

(Photos by Nicki Sebastian for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Lacey says...

    My husband and I used to live in a loft. We had the same issue with being mad and not having anywhere to go and sulk. We did have a door to our bathroom. I would slam it for good measure – just so he knew I was upset. I wouldn’t even go into the bathroom. Just walked over to it and slammed it and then carried on.

  2. madeleine says...

    Great space! I also love the pink top Rachel’s wearing. Could you tell us where it’s from?

  3. Amanda U says...

    I live in a loft in Minneapolis and I love it – not sure how I’ll ever switch back to a typical apartment. Thanks for sharing!

  4. jenn says...

    love it!!! and your wine labels….I would definately pick the bottles just for them!

  5. Jeannie says...

    My mind the entire time, scrolling through this post, “Alright! Hope the puppy makes a cameo somewhere!” Lol, crestfallen…. Nice home, though!

  6. Christi says...

    Rachel, how do you keep your concrete floors clean? I have polished concrete floors, and it’s impossible to keep (or at least appear) clean, especially with a black German shepherd. My floors look dusty most of the time since I don’t have time or energy to mop everyday.

  7. Debra Suzanne Sanders says...

    This looks so nice and comfortable. It must be wonderful to be able to share good times and fun with a family. I always had to be left out and not included in ANYTHING NICE. I was always left behind to pay the price for their fun. I always wanted a family to share my life with. Too bad I NEVER had one. I had people who spent all their time lying to me and stealing from me. Just once I wish I could of been included.

  8. kitkat says...

    I was really hoping to see a picture of the puppy and was sad to find none! LOL lovely loft tho :)

    • aleksandra says...

      me too!!! where in the puupy!

  9. Stephanie Oneill says...

    Ugh. Oh man, hate to admit this. Total loft envy…
    Great space! :)

  10. Tam says...

    I cannot get over the visual conjured up by “if my fiancé and I have a disagreement, we’re like, well, I’m going to be sitting right here across the room staring at you!” Love the space, love the furnishings, but that was hands down my favorite part.

    • Haha me too!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha i laughed out loud when she said that. too funny.

  11. Oh my goodness. You apartment is beautiful, and I love that it feels more Brooklyn, despite being LA.
    Please know that if you ever need a petsitter, or a housesitter, my husband and I do this 365 days out of the year and we’d love to fly and pet/housesit for you in the future, at no cost. You can read about us here:
    https://nynomads.com/2017/12/petsitting-life/

    Stay in touch!

  12. Robin says...

    Go Beavs!!!

    • Kelly says...

      Omg he’s sooooo cute!! I could watch that video for hours ;) He really looks like a Wheaton, but guess not…

      and your place is gorgeous!

  13. Amy P says...

    Love that the pope made it into the photos! And that is one seriously big tomato. I should hang up photos of my husband as a child – it might give me some perspective when our own kids are being less than adorable ;)

  14. Sarah W says...

    But where is the puppy???

  15. Denise says...

    I’m kinda in love with that green chair along side the green plants.

  16. Emmie says...

    Pillows are the husband’s thing? Mind blown.

  17. Loft living is on my bucket list. Also, I feel like these are my soul people. And it made me laugh to read that she usually drinks reds and Chardonnay, because I am the exact same way. I usually prefer Chardonnay, but now that it’s getting colder I’ve incorporated reds into my personal wine list. I’ll definitely have to see if I can nab one of her wines, too. That is amazing. I love these people so much. I’m crying.

  18. So…my decorator was right. Concrete floors are not the enemy. They are nice actually.

    Alina

    • Clare says...

      They look really nice but are not great if you like to do yoga at home.

  19. jmswanson says...

    Where is the puppy???

    • Clare says...

      yes, so sad there weren’t any pictures of hank. i have a wheaten terrier so i would have loved to see a similar looking nugget.

  20. J says...

    OMG. We used to live in an industrial loft. I loved living there as a young couple. We would throw some big parties. And when husband needed alone time he would put his headphones on and listen to music in the corner of the living room area.

  21. Mama says...

    Uhuh, uhuh, but where’s the PUPPY??? ???

  22. Kristin says...

    Any chance you could add a comma between “bright” and “friendly” for the grammar freak in me?

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Thank you, Kristin!!!

    • KayN says...

      The grammar nerd in me is fixated on the fact that the wine label should say “It was one of those rare L.A. days WHEN there happened to be a thunderstorm.” Lovely, inspired place though!

  23. Wow, I love how the loft is broken up. So spacious and clean, yet the seperation of living areas is clearly defined.

    Plus, that furniture! I’m in love.

    -Grace

  24. Kathy says...

    I don’t have instagram ( I Know weird ) I can’t see Hank :-( I looked at every picture for him. I see everyone else was looking also! Otherwise
    ….great pics!

  25. Sasha says...

    I love these glimpses into others’ lives and homes. Really beautiful home, I’m inspired! Thanks for sharing.

  26. Em says...

    This is beautiful!!!

    For the future, do you have any plans to include a space where a single, badass girl lives all on her own? Maybe you already have. I’d love to see that!

  27. Cazmina says...

    What a lovely, calm space!
    Where is that great print on the wall above the console from?

  28. Becs says...

    My childhood dream was to live in a loft! When I was growing up, my dad was the engineer on a series of warehouses turned loft apartments. We would get to tour them every year. There was an old junior high school with lockers still in the hallways; a meat packing plant with gorgeous exposed brick…
    But sometimes the most fascinating ones were the blank concrete spaces. Most people went with a blend of modern and eclectic vintage, but I will never forget the one that looked like it was straight out of the Swiss Family Robinson, complete with hanging vines and fake parrots. Ha!

    • I watched “Mannequin” when I was little and have wanted to live in a loft since then, just like Andrew McCarthy’s character. :) This is really amazing.

  29. “Winemaker Rachel Silkowski lives with her fiancé Michel, a creative director, in Los Angeles.”

    …is the most LA in 2017 thing I’ve ever read.

    (in a great way! :)

  30. Sarah says...

    The art is so good!

  31. Amy says...

    This is my favorite space yet! Love the light (and the wine!)

  32. Andrea says...

    Hunted for Hank in all the photos… where’s the pup?

    • Lauren P. says...

      I had the same thought! Beautiful apartment…but I want to see that puppy! :)

    • Sasha says...

      Same. Thanks for the link! OMG, he’s adorable.

      Dog question, how do his people manage a dog, in a loft? Is it up and down stairs every time he needs out? Does he have outdoor space? Our family has three dogs (big yard, dog doors into house) and I’m wondering how we’d manage.

    • Emily Tan says...

      Ahhh thanks so much for the link Jo, it satisfied such an itch and omg Hank… what a cuddlefloof!

      But I have another burning question now. How does she keep her plants looking SO HAPPY?

  33. Alice says...

    I LOVE this. What a gorgeous space!

    I’m completely obsessed with wine and my friends (and work colleagues…) are always asking for my recommendations when they’re buying wine, or ask me to choose when we go out. Like Rachel, I just… ask! This has also made me realise how much I would LOVE to be a winemaker or work more with wine (it’s so INTERESTING!). Hmm. Plenty to think about here!

    • Kellyn says...

      Hah – thought the same thing – I even went back to see if he was hiding somewhere…

  34. Emma says...

    Am I missing the picture of Hank? WHERE’S HANK.

    • Hannah says...

      Seriously! Where’s the dog pic!

    • Brooke says...

      Dog photos pls!

  35. C says...

    Lovely space! Would love more details on the Alarm Clock! I sleep with blackout curtains so am looking for something similar.

  36. Kari says...

    Don’t tease me with talk of a puppy named Hank and then not include him in the photos! :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha

  37. liz says...

    um, puppy photo needed stat!

  38. Loving this apartment and this couple!! What a wonderful read :)

  39. Heather says...

    Wow, as someone who lives in a small one-bedroom apartment, I can’t even imagine what I would do with all of that space!!!

  40. I love the idea of having walls, but somehow this is probably one of my favorite home tours yet!! Gorgeous…

  41. Ooo I hope her Santa Barbara location is safe from the fires! Beautiful space!