By Holly Williams
Flatshares in television shows are almost always implausible. Has anyone ever rented a house as nice as those on screen? I lived in one flat with no central heating — shards of ice springing off my shower cap of a winter’s morning — and in one with no shower at all. Another had a Milky Way of mould across the bathroom ceiling. They were fun places to live, but aspirational they were not.
While British comedies usually show a degree of chaos amid the enviable charm (I am thinking of recent cosy house shares in the likes of Feel Good and Starstruck), it is US series that veer into era defining, property-porn territory. The apartments in Friends had plenty to admire, but the one that always had me clenching my teeth with covetousness was the loft in the US sitcom New Girl.
It seems unlikely that a teacher in her early thirties — Jess, played by Zooey Deschanel (pictured above) — or her bartender flatmate Nick, played by Jake Johnson (second from left in top picture) could afford such a vast, airy, light-filled apartment in LA's Arts District, even when splitting the rent with two others. But it makes for an attractive backdrop to their japes and is exactly the image that springs to mind when you mention loft living: huge windows, exposed bricks and beams, wooden floors, an open-plan kitchen, a massive couch and dining table, oversized pendant lamps.
To be fair to the set dressers, this was no show home; it looked like it really was lived in by three men and a woman in their early thirties, from the mismatched kitchen chairs to the messy coffee table to the basketball hoop.
The apartment also epitomised an aesthetic that took off during the time New Girl was on air, between 2011 and 2018. Converted warehouses may have already been hip, but it was this era when the industrial chic look achieved global domination — until it became hard to find a coffee shop without exposed brick walls and filament bulbs.
Which could make loft living seem old hat now. Yet, it seems, pared-back interiors with generous space and light have long-term appeal. The converted factory in New Girl is still the stuff of my daydreams.
I might not be willing to move to LA but plenty of former factories and warehouses in British cities have undergone similar conversions. I live in Sheffield but could be persuaded to move south for the exposed brick and beams of this two-bedroom apartment in London’s Wapping, on the market for £800,000.
Even more tempting is the prospect of riverside dwelling in this two-bedroom loft-style apartment. Part of a warehouse conversion by the Thames, this £1.4m home provides the airy, open-plan space I covet not to mention the beams, cast-iron pillars, pendant lights and, yes, more exposed brickwork.
There is even enough space for a basketball hoop, although that is one detail I think I would be happy to live without.
Photography: Alamy; Getty Images; Knight Frank