This post piggy backs on one written by Jennifer Sergent of DC by Design, and after attending the Concrete Chic event at e-lofts with a panel of involved participants. Jennifer was the moderator. Many interior designers and interested attendees were there.
We were able to experience e-lofts first hand in what it would be like to enter the space as a visitor with a chess game set up greeting you and enjoying a gathering in the communal kitchen as guests or as inhabitants would.
We listened to a panel discussion in front of the main pod with Melanie Domres, Executive Vice President for Novus Residences; Holly Polgreen, President and Co-Founder at Carlyn & Company, who designed the e-lofts lobby and Jiyoung Park, chief stylist at West Elm, who decorated the e-lofts model units. They described their inspiration and practical application for the new blended communal-living concept.
What is e-lofts? It is a refurbished office building at 4501 Ford Avenue in Alexandria, VA, near I-395. It accommodates residential and commercial renters who work, live and blend the two in one complex. e-lofts is a concept that allows one place to satisfy multi-faceted lifestyles.
Not all of us work from home, but plenty of us do. Those of us who don’t often carry work home on the weekends. e-lofts allows work to be done within flex time of living. Apartments are 600 – 1,200 sf and rent from $1,500 to $2,900/ a month depending on the size.
The lobby is a work / residential communal gathering space. Although once a concrete shell, it has been turned into a sophisticated, modern environment through Novus Residences and Holly Polgreen’s designing expertise.
One would think there would be an echo chamber in a 10 foot+ high space primarily made of concrete but there was none. Holly Polgreen was able to create inviting segmented areas in the lobby with a curvilinear sofa with blown up houndstooth pattern rug accentuating bold, bright colors.
Along the corridor to the kitchen area in back, there are modular “restaurant” booths with padded accent striping that serve double duty for sound control. Cocoon chairs line the window paneled space that must be flooded with light during the day. We were there at night and only got a glimpse of the 3,000 sf patio space, which is also a spot for hosting office parties or just a reason to get outside.
Individual meeting/ gathering rooms serve dually as audio-visual / gaming/ TV watching pods. Melanie, of Norvus Residences, explained they’ve taken great care to think of multiple scenarios in which incoming inhabitants can use the spaces.
They have ample parking for realistic living, unheard of in Alexandria, when the City is constantly trying to reduce new development’s parking in hopes of increasing non-driving behavior. Along with parking in the basement, they have bicycle storage, a pet grooming station and music rooms, all with convenient TV viewing, so you never miss your favorite show or sports game. Their gym, rivals anything you’s spend for a costly membership!
Going upstairs, we were treated to a showcase of different styled apartments by Jiyoung Park. She deftly demonstrated how a space can be multi-functional as an office or residence. The first 1,000 sf apartment looked just like a residential unit walking in with a sleek modern bathroom and kitchen appliances and cabinetry. However, there were four computer desks facing one another with a frosted glass partition, cubbies and storage lining the window walls and a separate executive / meeting room that could double duty as a bedroom. Thick frosted glass pocket doors were used in abundance. The room felt spacious leaving the thought that it could accommodate even more working desks, which could all be re-arranged if desired.
The next was a residential apartment that seemed even more spacious but it was the way the furniture was arranged plus the bank of corner unit windows that provided the visual effect. The decor was livable yet elegantly modern and hip with West Elm’s accessories. With limited wall space, Jiyoung explained select artwork and multiple pieces could be arranged as a collage or with easels or simply propped up against the windows to give extra personalization.
The last live / work combined room had the largest square footage and yet with 25 or more people inside, it still felt spacious. After the tour, it seams a believable premise when e-lofts says As e-loft says, they are “in the business of liberating the human spirit.”
Hat’s off to all involved, including Jennifer for helping to organize. It was an interesting and fun event that opened up everyone’s eyes to the possibility of a practical solution to modern-day living that is blended with living and working simultaneously. No wonder e-lofts has a patent on this type of accommodation. It’s a new normal!