Home View: Lofts


Sky's the limit at the Roosevelt -- and we're not just talking ceiling height. The 222 lofts in this 1927 historical gem have been raised to the highest levels of 21st century design while preserving the building's historical provenance. Distinguishing the Roosevelt from the pack are its original Beaux-Arts facade and Italian Renaissance interior combined with 50 floor plans in one-, two- and three-level configurations. Each unit is tricked out with premium materials like maple flooring, milk-glass countertops and finished concrete ceilings as well as luxury-brand fixtures and appliances. But the real amenities are found outside the lofts: 24-hour valet, business lounge, fitness center, massage and hydrotherapy rooms, rooftop pool and climate-controlled wine lockers. This could just be the perkiest pad in town.
-- The Roosevelt, 727 W. 7th St. Los Angeles; $500,000 to more than $1 million; 877-887-7858

Master realtor:
Ted Trent believed in downtown loft-living long before it was the rage. Ten years ago, the photographer moved into a 2,400-square-foot loft, which was such a hit among clients that it led to a career change. "I started helping developers market their projects as rentals," Trent recalls. "I took clients on tours of spaces because downtown can be intimidating -- especially back then." Further spreading the word, he launched loftlivingla.com seven years ago, which now gets 15,000 hits per month. When loft conversions became available for sale four years ago, Trent earned his real estate license and joined forces with fellow realtor Drew Panico. The two have a lock on the downtown loft scene, and their lives have been chronicled on both the USA and E! Entertainment networks. Together, they aim to help clients navigate the rough and tumble downtown terrain. "Every unit looks great when the developer is pitching it," says Trent. "He won't mention that your great view will disappear when the parking lot next door is developed. It's like the gold rush. We have no ties with developers, so we can make sure buyers don't get stuck with fool's gold." E-mail: staff@loftlivingla.com

Master artisan:
Painter: When loft owners want their space to shine with wall-to-wall style, Mark Venaglia is the man they call. The Carnegie Mellon-trained artist uses trompe l'oeil to mimic oak floors or Oriental rugs, turn a floor grate into a virtual wine cellar, or define a room without throwing up walls. "You work with where something might conceivably be, and the eye buys it as reality," says Venaglia, 46, who's been named "one of the most exciting artists in America today" by the New York Times. "A traditional home footprint doesn't work in a loft, and yet the space can seem cavelike if you don't know how to work with the massive volume." Every project takes about two months to complete, he says, and costs $120-$600 per square foot. The art is rendered in his Burbank studio on organic muslin so that the installation can be steamed off when the client relocates. Lofts comprise about 50% of his workload these days, but he still finds time for other projects. His mural triptych commissioned for the centennial of the New York City Public Library is contained in the library's permanent collection. He was chosen out of 3,000 artists to create Pasadena's only exterior mural (at the corner of Euclid and Cordova streets). Next up: He's poised to unleash his artful shenanigans on a sprawling early-1900s Ojai estate. Web site: venagliastudio.com

Must-have products:
The bright light afforded in most lofts plays havoc with television viewing. Bang & Olufsen's 40-inch high-definition LCD screen (pictured) automatically adjusts picture quality to match the light conditions in the room. The BeoVision 7's anti-reflective screen can be tilted and turned via remote control. It looks sleek from any angle and can be mounted on a floor stand, table or wall brackets; $13,500. Stands range from $500 to $1,000. Available at Bang & Olufsen, Beverly Hills, 310-247-7785, Pasadena, 626-449-5172.

Wide-open loft spaces can be a detriment when the in-laws come to visit. Creative Home Engineering can design a hidden room that's virtually seamless with the loft interior. Standard designs include recessed bookcases, grandfather clock-shaped entries to passageways and rotating fireplaces. The activation switch is your choice -- twist a wine bottle, lean back in a chair or use fingerprint identification to gain access to your room. Projects range from $5,000 to more than $50,000. Available at hiddenpassageway.com.


OVERVIEW: Home designs affect mood

Home view: Snapshot of house styles and furnishings:
Mid-century modern