At the Intersection of O.C.

The Vivere Apartment Blog

The Difference Between Lofts and Flats, and Which is Best for You?


At first glance, it is often difficult to tell the difference between a loft, an apartment and a flat. And with so many living communities listing regular apartments as lofts these days, the lines have become even blurrier. So what is the difference exactly?

First, the basic definitions:

Flat:

In British usage, the word ‘flat’ simply means ‘apartment.’ And that’s a good thing to keep in mind, because there really is no difference.  A flat is generally defined as a residence located in a multi-domicile building, or any building occupied by more than one household. So, while less common in American English, flat is still just another word for apartment.

Loft:

While the term ‘flat’ can be used to describe any apartment (including a loft) the word loft has a more specific architectural definition. Technically, a loft is a room that is located directly under the roof of a house, warehouse, factory or other building, which can be used for accommodations, work space or storage.

Loft vs. Flat:

  • Layouts – Since lofts, in the technical sense, are utilitarian, often industrial spaces, loft-style apartments tend to borrow some characteristics from industrial buildings and warehouses. So, even if they aren’t technically lofts, loft-style apartments tend to be more open than traditional flats. This might mean that they take up an entire floor with few, or sometimes no walls delineating living space from sleeping space from working space.
  • Windows – Since industrial workspaces require a lot of light, loft-style apartments often have many windows, and sometimes floor-to-ceiling windows, whereas flats tend to have the traditional windows you see in most modern apartments.
  • Ceilings – Where a flat will have a finished ceiling, a loft-style apartment might have an unfinished ceiling with exposed wooden joists and exposed air ventilation ducts, etc. However, many modern loft-style apartments do have finished ceilings, in which case they just tend to have higher ceilings than traditional flats.
  • Finishes – This is where things can begin to blend together. Loft-style apartments are more likely to preserve some details from their industrial roots with things like unfinished walls, exposed brick, polished concrete, or unfinished wood floors. However, many modern flats have also begun to pick up on this trend. So, where it’s more likely that a loft will have that unfinished look, you’ll definitely find it in many flats as well.

Pros and Cons:

Both lofts and flats have plenty of pluses and minuses, so whether you choose one over the other really just depends on your personal taste and style. If you like that wide open, industrial feel, then you might opt for a loft-style apartment. If you prefer a more traditional, cozy home with plenty of private space, than a flat might be for you.

Still unsure about the difference?

The key to keeping them straight in your mind is to remember that flat just means apartment, whereas a loft will have certain characteristics that harken back to its industrial, utilitarian roots. So, while a loft is a type of flat, a flat is not always a loft.

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