Corey and I love introducing people to our loft.
Partly because it's a unique space – full of light and historic detail and raw energy – and partly because what you see is pretty much what you get. If you walk into our loft and one of us says, This Is It, we literally mean This Is It.
I understand that for a lot of people, living in one big room, as a family, seems insane. Short of locking yourself in the closet or the bathroom (the only doors) there's really no way to escape the shared space.
Well, wait. We have the Studiobricks. Which, as a soundbooth, can actually be kind of an incredible place to experience a different kind of quiet. But it's where we work. No one wants to hang out in there.
On a day-to-day basis, the fundamental aspect of living in our loft is that we're all together, all the time.
So. How do two parents, a teenager and a baby peacefully co-exist? These are some indispensable tricks I've found for living in a shared space without wanting to murder each other.
Corey and I both own pairs of Bose noise-cancelling headphones and while we primarily use them for travel and work, they have, on occasion, meant the difference between a fight and peace. Because as pithy as Bill Maher is, I don't always want to hear him. A few years ago, Corey also got me a fantastic set of wireless headphones that I mostly use for working out, but Corey also gets good use out of them when he wants to watch/listen to something and everyone else is sleeping or trying to concentrate, and he also needs to be moving around. We got C jr a pair of great headphones and when I can't listen to one more YouTube video, on they go. Wonderful.
2. Solo Adventures
While Corey and I love spending time together, and particularly enjoy outings with C jr and S jr, we've learned it's vitally important we take time to just be alone. Especially now, with a baby, solo time is a gift. Whether it's treating myself to a massage or a leisurely coffee or just strolling around The Last Bookstore, I've come to appreciate what used to seem like a boring errand if it means a quick trip to the outside world by myself. Because of course, in DTLA, a simple trip to CVS might result in some fascinating encounter. And with S jr, one of us might take him out on a stroll and let the other get work done, or just chill. We actively pursue solo bonding time with the baby because it keeps the other parent sane, and we both win. I particularly dig heading out on our different courses and then meeting up somewhere. When we reunite we both feel refreshed and usually have stories to tell.
With a three-month-old and a busy teenager, life can be exhausting. The Nap has, for me, always been a sacred thing, but now it's like that Ivory Tower floating on what's left of the world at the end of The Neverending Story. (C'mon, we've all done the voice of the Childlike Empress. CALL MY NAME!!!!!!!) I'm definitely more of a napper than Corey, and can power down for a solid 20 minutes almost on command. Because the acoustics go everywhere, when someone naps it means everyone else has to calm down and be quiet. Learning this kind of sensitivity to each other has been key, I think. One person's actions profoundly affect everyone else in our loft, and in a lot of ways it's a microcosm of interaction on a much bigger scale. We've all learned to respect each others' need for quiet, and sometimes being forced to take a little more care can give you a chance to focus or discover something new.
These qualities are required no matter what your living situation, but loft living demands them in a unique way. We're all in each others' orbits in a rather intimate way, and sometimes you just have to deal with the weird/annoying/confusing/frustrating aspects of your family members' personalities. Luckily, we all really enjoy each others' company, and I'm pretty sure the close quarters have had a big effect on how we communicate with C jr. Unlike a typical home, there's nowhere to hide. And while we definitely find ways to give C jr privacy, most of the time we're all hanging out together, and because of that we get real insight into our teenager's life. Music, videos, funny stories about friends, heartache.
When we briefly moved out of downtown and into a "normal" apartment with multiple bedrooms and multiple doors and hallways and dividing walls, I felt like I was in a rabbit warren. And guess what – even though C jr had a separate room, that kid was only in it to sleep. We all just kept drifting toward one another.
So yes, loft living can be an exercise in counting to ten. But it can also yield deep connection and understanding simply because it's difficult to avoid. When S jr fusses or cries, three people hear him, and one of us is always ready to help. C jr is sooooooo good with the baby. It makes me and Corey unbelievably happy to see them interact.
This is my constant goal and my constant challenge. I used to save stuff. A lot of stuff. Because, you just never know when that smallish paper bag might be the perfect conveyance for something. But living in a loft is like living on a boat. There simply isn't room. We're lucky – our loft has a walk-in closet and the ceiling is waaaaaay up there so possessions can kind of climb the walls. But it's often the place we'll stash stuff in a hurry, the garage of our home. Walking in there can feel like Death Tetris. It's on my list. I'm coming for you, walk-in closet.
When we started taking advantage of the vertical, it helped immensely. Our wall of shelves means no bookcases taking up floorspace. The sub loft we built with Kelly and Dom adds an entirely new living space. And I've come to realize that visual simplicity is really the final answer. Stuff is part of life and god knows with a baby you have a lot of it. But how it's stored, where it's hidden, can mean the difference between a feeling of chaos and a sense of calm.
Of course, I also Marie Kondo'd the shit out of our place, and that helped immensely. Because as much as I love me the Container Store, the first step is not more storage. The first step is less stuff. Then you figure out how best to contain it.
Living in a loft is not for the faint of spirit. It can feel like a social and anthropological experiment. But so far, we all thrive off it. It's non-traditional living, and that appeals to all of us. Actually, it's the way humans have lived for most of our existence. It's only in the relatively recent past people have decided they want/need enormous homes with multiple, single-use rooms. I'm fascinated with the challenge of living small and living well. It forces creativity, and that's often when the best ideas are born.
What do you think – could you live in a loft?