Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Building a Mod retreat

What do you do when you love to collect mid-century modern furniture but you don’t have spare space to put it? It’s simple. You build a mezzanine!

Since the first time I laid eyes on the building plans when I bought my loft on paper five years ago, I knew that one day I was going to add a mezzanine. With 14' high ceilings, it’s a shame not to take advantage of the vertical space.

More easily said then done, you need a vision, a healthy bank account and a trusty contractor. Luckily, the last two came in the form of an amazing family. My wife’s parents and my own parents teamed up to offer us a generous wedding present. 

First, define the space and frame it.
This will be the future reading and listening corner situated above the loft's entrance.
The futur bedroom

I can’t thank my father enough for spending the better part of 3 weeks turning my vision into reality. He not only provided skilled labor and a detailed plan, worthy of a seasoned architect, but also transmitted his passion for work well done and attention to detail.  If only I was this talented! It was equally pleasant to have my father-in-law join us on the weekends to lend a helping hand. 

My father on the left and my father-in-law hard at work
Built almost entirely of cedar, I thought it would match perfectly the existing 100-year-old columns. To add that modern look, some glass blocks made up part of the guardrail. 

Glass blocks were used only for part of the wall. One reason why is that they are bloody expensive. Plus, they are hard to displace if you need to move large pieces of furniture upstairs. So a section of the guardrail was built using industrial steal tubing and wooden posts. This gives the part of the mezzanine with less direct sunlight more light. 

One section of the rail’s tubing is slightly smaller in diameter then the next so that one can slide into the other. One of the posts can also be easily removed which leaves a large opening.

An engineered wood floor was chosen for it’s practical and economical advantages.

Elegant cedar planks were used for the ceiling of the first level to mimic the factory's original mill-floor ceiling.

What I think is the most impressive part about the design my father came up with for building the upper level is that nothing is permanent. Although the structure is very sturdy and solid, it’s the equivalent of a giant painting hanging from the wall. Every piece of wood is screwed in so if a future buyer doesn’t appreciate the extra room, it could all be taken down easily.

I would never paint wearing a Fred Perry but doing it in a Lacoste is acceptable.

Mezzanines are most often used as bedrooms and we won’t break with tradition this time. With the ceiling less than 5’ over your head, your options are limited. One area will be used as a reading and listening corner. A Space Age, Mod decor is in the works. Only 60s vintage furniture and accessories will be part of the landscape. This is when the fun begins for me! Picture Eames, Saarinen, and Panton for a mental image. Small halogen spotlights were also added under that section to add much needed light to the loft’s entrance. 

The bed's new home.

All that planning freed up space in the former bedroom to organize a proper office. I’m working on an antique industrial look that is the new trend in lofts and seem to be all the rage in Europe. Expect a future post on the design of the new office.

A huge thank you to my whole family for all their support. In the coming weeks, get ready for the more interesting part: the decorating. Now, that’s MY domain!


  1. Whoa! Awesome! Love the glass blocks. Jen would be quite comfortable in the space since she is only 4' 11" tall. :)

  2. "I would never paint wearing a Fred Perry but doing it in a Lacoste is acceptable." BHAHAHA!