before and after

before & after: bachelor loft transformation

by Kate Pruitt

It’s funny to me that “bachelor” style has such a bad rep. I equate it with leather chairs that look like massively overstuffed beasts, giant TVs, a sparsely filled modular bookshelf and not much else . . . maybe an unpacked cardboard box or two. A harsh stereotype, I admit, although in my defense, I have walked in on just this scenario more than once. It’s nice to see a bachelor pad that incorporates a bit of coziness and eclecticism but also utilizes the more sophisticated elements of masculine style, such as salvaged industrial materials and subdued neutral hues. Interior designer Melinda Cabanilla updated this Cambridge, MA, loft to feel warm and textural but also classic and understated. I love the colors she’s chosen, and the lighting fixtures in the bedroom are amazing. And not a pizza box in sight! Okay, now I’m teasing :) Great work, Melinda! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read the full post after the jump!

Time: 1.5 months

Cost: $17K

Basic Steps: For this project, I focused on texture, lighting and color, which are three of the many stimuli I used to design from. Below are the steps I used to create this space.

  • Paint/Color — Colors that were masculine, industrial and bright enough to create a warm and inviting feeling.
  • Furniture — This project became about the custom furniture from recycled pieces and parts (i.e., creating custom pieces from architectural salvage). I used salvage because he wanted an industrial look, but I also wanted to make sure it was done in a way that made it feel warm. I added warmth, color and texture by using tarnished and rusted metals, old ceiling tins and various woods. I have always loved salvage; it’s about creating a new life for old objects.
  • Lighting — I wanted to find unique lighting fixtures and design to complement the architectural salvage items we transformed into new pieces. I wanted the space to look industrial, but without the cold feeling usually associated with the industrial look. I went for lighting designers that may not be as well known. . . . It paid off.
  • Texture — I created the finishing touches with rugs to add texture; art and accessories to add interest on the walls, floor and on furniture; and lighting to give texture to the feeling of the room.

Salvaging takes time, mileage and man/friend power. It takes time to sort through hundreds of items. As a designer, it’s looking at found items and figuring out how I can recreate it into another furniture piece needed for the project at hand. Treat it as a scavenger hunt because when you find something that is just that perfect, it makes it all worth the time and effort. Hint: Make sure you are nice to your friends because the ones with a truck will come in handy to help you move the found items you purchase.

Internet searches for furniture/lighting/accessories are also time consuming. I am always online looking for the best deal and most unique items for my clients, and most often what you think will take you one hour usually ends up taking three. So be patient. When you finally find the perfect item at a lower price than all the others, you will be handsomely rewarded, sometimes spending half of what you would normally spend on retail sites. — Melinda

“After” photographs by Rachellynn Schoen

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  • lol well of course this “bachelor” pad has great style, it was decorated by a woman! I don’t think you can call it a true break from the stereotype unless a man, specifically the man who lives there, did the work. Gorgeous place though! Simply stunning :)

  • What building is this? My hubby and I are moving to Boston in a few months, and this place is JUST my style! Someone DM me!

  • The bedroom paint color looks like Silver Sage from Restoration Hardware, but I’m not sure.

  • Hey all thanks for your comments. I wanted to respond to some of you with colors i used in the space. The blue/green in the bedroom is: Sea Star by Ben Moore
    The kitchen remained the same and the insets are Sabre Gray by Ben Moore
    Keep sending us questions. =) Hope you all are having a great day!!!

  • @Lynnae, I don’t know which building this is but there are a bunch of lofts in the Kendall Square & Northpoint areas in Cambridge. I work in the Kendall area in the last 2 years we’ve had no less then 10 fantastic restaurants and 2 amazing coffee shops open up – its really changing and a lot of the industrial space is being renovated for residential use. Welcome to the neighborhood!

  • where did you get the glass pendant lights in the bedroom? i’ve been looking for those

  • Beautiful. The pendants framing bed are stunning–where are they from? They define the space wonderfully. Also, how did you deal with the unsightly vent in the “before” shot?? It disappeared!

  • Where did the $17k go? This one seems like interior decorating an already pretty awesome and empty space. Beautiful job, I’m just confused at where the big expenses came in…

  • Please, could you give the source for the pendant lighting in the bedroom? It’s just perfect.

  • Ok, I will be the first to say it: This is not a transformation. This is called decorating. You don’t transform nothing into something. In order to transform, there has to be something there to start with. This was an empty apartment that now has furnishings.

    That’s not to say that I don’t like the furnishings, but don’t get carried away people.

  • This space is very nice. I don’t care for the decoration and furnishings, however. It seems really impersonal.

  • I kind of agree that it is a bit impersonal. I am not sure about the kitchen redo. But overall, I love the space and want to live in a space like this soooo much.

  • I am no bachelor (married lady, quite the opposite, actually) but can I please move in? The space has such great architectural details; perfect blank canvas for this stunning transformation. Thanks for the peak!

  • @Christina- Thanks for the clarification, but now I don’t understand why these photos were presented as the “before” shots. And honestly, I’m still kind of fuzzy on why this is a “transformation” and not just redecorating & repainting. If somebody says “clean simple lines” or “colors that pop” I’m going to puke.

    PS: Shame on the designer for having a website with an “Enter” page. Having interior design skills clearly does not equate to also having web design skills.

    • Tiny hands

      Shame on the designer? I think that seems a little harsh to assume that your preference for a website landing page is the best option- or that not sharing that opinion deserves a comment like that.


  • Great effort! With loft spaces, I imagine more dramatic style and uniqueness. Just my opinion since it was posted for comments. The dining area, rug and couch doesn’t speak to me. Otherwise, great effort!

  • This is amazing work! Very natural with a little ethnicity thrown into each room.. I like how you play with bright colours and yet, they’re subtle, not overpowering the surroundings.. great job!
    PS: please do not listen to anyone who doesn’t appreciate what we, designers, do.. just do your best and keep designing!

  • I am no professional (or amateur, really) designer..so “transformation” or “redecorated” or whatever..I really like this! I love that they replaced the useless half-wall in the entry with that great gate door. Also love how cohesive the space feels…we have a baby so there’s no way I can picture living in a loft space, but I love this!

  • @Grace – Totally agree that my opinion is just an opinion, but can anyone explain the purpose of a “landing page” as you call it? Is there any doubt that one wants to enter someone’s website, or do a significant number of people type in a URL and then realize that they’ve made a mistake and decide not to enter, the ramifications of which (i.e. seeing someone’s design) would be too late to remedy were it not for a shiny roadblock?

    • tinyhands

      as is the case with many designers/artists/makers, people often want web visitors to have some sort of immediate visual introduction to their style. home pages rarely accomplish that same clean, visual message because they’re bogged down with options, shopping cart features, etc. so i’d say 50% of the artist/designer sites i see have some sort of landing page you hit first before going in deeper. that said, i don’t love them all. but if they’re done simply, cleanly and without flash, i totally understand wanting to have that one moment where you grab someone, show them to your “world” and introduce them to your style in a clean, concise way.


  • @Grace – I think that is a reasonable explanation and I retract my wholesale rejection of entry pages.

    In the case of this particular designer however, the landing page is a kaleidoscope of shapeless colors and something that triggers a momentary hang followed by a Quicktime crash upon loading (Firefox 9.0.1, current version as of this writing) so I don’t think it meets the standard you describe of introducing the style in a clean, concise way. I stand by “shame” and appreciate the dialog with you about it.

  • Thanks everyone for your comments good and bad…going through design school we were toughened up by the harsh critics too. However thank you all who love and appreciate and love the space as I and the client do. After all this space is a reflection of him.
    To all who asked about the bed…this was something the owner had. Other pieces that were carried over from the previous home were…the sofa, dining table, bedroom dresser, and entry table. Kitchen was existing…I just designed a new island and painted… Everything else I designed and had built for him.

  • I agree – the designer added some furnishings, changed the paint, and knocked down a knee wall. That’s about it. <– As far as I can see from these photos. I think more attention to scale, proportion and placement (artwork, lighting, rugs, etc.) would have gone a long way in the space. Creating a more defined area between the dining area with a console…or a couple more of those iron doors? Adding a hefty floor lamp (not located by the television, please!), not cutting those windows in half with beige drapery, adding some greenery… sorry, I could go on.

    None of us are the client or the designer. In the end, all that matters is that the client is happy, the project was completed on time and on budget, the designer put forth their best work and got paid accordingly.

    Such a great space that has a lot of potential. Maybe we can hope they aren't finished!

    *Professional ID