soft loft
n. A loft that includes some elements of traditional house design. Also: soft-loft.

Example Citation:
Amenities loom larger to empty nesters, who tend to have a higher income and even more sophisticated tastes, said Tripi Kasal, another sales agent at Beliard, Gordon....They also prefer "soft lofts" — with separate, walled-off bedrooms — over traditional lofts, which tend to be one large room.
—Brian Jackson, "Selling the new breed of home buyers," The Chicago Sun-Times, October 24, 1997

Earliest Citation:
Shipka began with rehabbed lofts, but now is creating a hybrid type of city dwelling, one that combines the wide open spaces of lofts with the finished look and outdoor green spaces of townhouses.

Shipka coined the terms "soft lofts" or "lofthomes" to describe this concept. The Cornelia project, called Cornelia Lane, at 1111 and 1133 Cornelia Ave., brings the "soft loft" concept into sharp focus, Shipka said.

"The public is demanding a more subtle, sophisticated and traditional environment. Lofts are practical to a point, but have to be softened up," he said.

Although popular, lofts have disadvantages: draftiness, sound transmission between units, no patios or lawns and are generally located in rundown, industrial neighborhoods.

Townhouses, while overcoming most of those disadvantages, commonly offer only narrow, confined living space.

Shipka's hybrid concept attempts to cover all bases, leaving no negatives in its wake.

While still a stacked living space with its three levels, Cornelia Lane's units are 22 feet wide. That width, along with a minimum of partitions within the units, offers a far greater range of furniture arrangement options than most affordable townhouses that are 14 feet wide and four stories tall.

The softening process Shipka mentions starts with the interior finish, which no longer features the exposed brick walls of the renovated industrial or warehouse buildings.

"There's far too much penetration and transmission of sound between the units with exposed brick. The units have to be sophisticated with airspaces and double-wall construction," he explained.

The Cornelia units are finished in drywall. In addition, the second floor is reinforced concrete to minimize sound and vibration between levels and all floor surfaces except the bathroom and kitchen are carpeted.
—Larry Lupas, "'Mr. Redo' dares to build differently," Chicago Tribune, March 20, 1988

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