A Look Inside Vanessa Carlton's Stunning Loft

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In 2002, Vanessa Carlton released a little song called "A Thousand Miles," which would become a worldwide sensation and movie soundtrack favorite. According to Vice, the piano-driven pop song was an international hit in the early aughts, getting stuck in millions of people's heads. Considering how catchy it is, it's not surprising "A Thousand Miles" launched Carlton to fame. Since then, the singer-songwriter has released six studio albums and continued to develop as an artist over the years.

In addition to her musical talent, Carlton also has impeccable interior design sense. The singer gave Architectural Digest a tour of her unique NYC loft, which hits all the right notes with cool brick walls, couches made for sinking into, and many repurposed items. Of course, there are also two beautiful pianos for whenever inspiration calls. The musician gave a tour of her entire living space, from the comfortable living room to the pair of zen bathrooms, giving us an intimate look into her design aesthetic. Here are some of the highlights from Carlton's amazing home.

1. The chic SoHo loft used to be a mercantile factory

Part of the SoHo cast-iron district, Carlton's 2,600 square foot loft has no shortage of character. According to Compass, the building dated back to 1891 and was originally used as a mercantile factory. Even though it has been given plenty of modern upgrades, the loft does not shy away from its rich history. The turn-of-the-century space is filled with original architectural details like exposed brick walls, pipes, hardwood flooring, and stately iron columns. To add to the charm, there is also a super high ceiling and a wall of windows that bring lots of natural light into the open floor plan.

While you might not live in a century-old loft, you can still recreate elements of Carlton's charming space in your home. Start by bringing in as much natural light as possible. Being exposed to more daylight has the power to improve your mood, plus natural light makes a room feel warmer and more open (via House Beautiful). You can also look for brick-inspired wallpaper and reclaimed wood decor to match Carlton's cool aesthetic.

2. The cozy living area is filled with comfortable seating

Carlton's dreamy living area is the perfect place to kick back and relax after a long jam session. The spacious room, which Carlton refers to as her "sanctuary," features plenty of comfortable lounge areas, including the singer's favorite couch and a cozy chair by the window, as reported by Architectural Digest. Plenty of blankets and pillows make the room feel like home, while a chic coffee table from designer Pierre Cardin adds some edge.

When it comes to buying a sofa for your own living room, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind. First, take the time to test out potential couches before you make a purchase (via House Beautiful). You're going to spend a lot of time on it, so it should be comfortable. Ideally, your sofa should have good back support and come with at least a 15-year warranty. And, of course, you'll want to ensure that the sofa matches the color and style of the rest of your room. 

3. Follow Carlton's design advice and decorate with plants, plants, and more plants

What is one of Carlton's top design tips? Add personality with plants. Her living room comes alive with various lively houseplants, including two 12-year-old potted plants with special meaning. These were the first plants that Carlton ever owned, and according to Hunker, they're jade plants, which are relatively easy to care for. The singer-songwriter also decorated her coffee table with a beautiful houseplant to cover up a broken part. And, on the brick wall above the couch, Carlton hung up small metal ornaments from Etsy and topped them with air plants to breathe life into the space.

According to The Spruce, adding plants to your space not only looks great but also makes a home feel more alive. Take notes from Carlton and decorate with low-maintenance air plants (via Better Homes and Gardens) or have some fun playing with vines. Potted plants look great on bookshelves or bar carts and can instantly make your home office, bathroom, or bedroom feel more inspiring. 

4. The utilitarian desk and chair used to live in an airplane hangar

Carlton's spacious living area also includes room for a workspace. The corner is decorated with an army green desk and chair that the singer found in Paula Rubinstein's antique shop in SoHo. According to Architectural Digest, the utilitarian pieces used to be in an airplane hangar before finding a new home in Carlton's loft. Incorporating repurposed furniture in her home is important to the musician, and she is always trying to source items from companies that are conscious of their impact on the planet. Carlton wants to buy pieces she feels good about that won't negatively affect the environment.

Next time you have a ripped sofa or old cabinet on your hands, don't just wave goodbye. You can give furniture new life with a few easy steps (via Martha Stewart). For example, if you have a broken door, consider using it as a headboard, or turn an old wardrobe into a cool bar cart. There's always a way to make what's old new again.

5. Carlton made her own open shelving with wood from a nearby alley

On the wall above Carlton's desk are three wooden shelves, which the singer made herself using wood she found in a nearby alley. As reported by Architectural Digest, the shelves are actually repurposed from reclaimed wood. Originally one long board, they were cut into three different sections to make shelves. Now, the shelves not only look cool, but they also serve as useful storage space. Carlton displays a container filled with paintbrushes, a stack of books, and other random knickknacks on them. 

While open shelving can be a controversial design choice, there are plenty of great reasons why you should try it out in your home. These shelves instantly make a room feel brighter and welcoming, and they are more budget-friendly than traditional cabinets. Plus, making your own shelves is a pretty simple DIY project. You can source wood from your backyard or take a trip to Home Depot, where they will cut boards to your desired size (via Allisa Jacobs). Then, you'll pick out brackets, install them into wall studs, and hang up the shelves. All that's left is the decorating. 

6. For Carlton, music sounds best on vinyl

You don't have to be a Grammy Award-nominated artist to appreciate how great music sounds on vinyl. According to NPR, audiophiles commonly point to vinyl for superior sound quality and the best music listening experience. Carlton certainly agrees, which is why she keeps an Audio-Technica record player in a prime position on her desk. This brand has a solid reputation, consistently earning glowing reviews (via The Strategist). If it's good enough for a pop icon, it's good enough for us.

If you want to take your home music listening experience to the next level, consider adding a record player to your living room or home office. There are plenty of options to choose from, including Bluetooth connectivity and inexpensive price tags (via CNet). If you're looking for a record player with striking good looks, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO might be the one for you. Choose between black, yellow, red, or walnut-colored record players.

7. Of course the singer's loft is filled with piano surprises

In what should come as no surprise, the first thing one sees when stepping into Carlton's loft is a gleaming black grand piano in the entrance space. According to New York Post, that was the very piano featured in the music video for "A Thousand Miles." But this is not the only piano in the musician's living space. There's also a beautiful upright piano from the 1950s that Carlton discovered in the basement of a piano shop in her neighborhood. The piano, which is her favorite, only costs $1,200 and still hits all the right notes.

Whether you're a master pianist or know how to play a tune or two, adding a piano to your home has plenty of advantages. These musical instruments not only add an element of sophistication to a space, but are also a great way to make some sweet music. Whether buying a new or used piano, it's a good idea to try it out in person first if possible. If you are purchasing a piano over 20 years old, it should ideally have replaced strings, hammers, and keys since these parts deteriorate over time (via The Strategist). Pianos should also be tuned at least once per year and kept away from direct sunlight and hot air to prevent damage.

8. Her long dining room table is the perfect place for mealtime

The long, tree-like dining room table sets the scene for lazy Sunday breakfasts and cozy dinners with friends and family. Carlton loves her dining table since it feels organic and alive, and plenty of memories have been made there. But Carlton isn't the only A-lister who likes tree-like tables. HGTV star Christina Haack has a dining table that looks like a tree split in two, per New York Post. Carlton matched the table with one long bench and $500 chairs she scored on Etsy. Uneven windows, which the musician had cut into the brick wall, bring plenty of natural light into the space and add some New York flair. Other highlights in this room include dark bookshelves filled with vintage ledger books and a rustic leaning ladder.

To make your dining area more inviting, start with the table. The right dining room table can make all the difference. Whether you opt for a minimalist silhouette, traditional rectangle, or a statement-making pedestal table, there are many styles to choose from. The most important thing is to be aware of how much space you have and look for a table that's between 28 and 30 inches tall (via The Spruce).

9. The dark kitchen brightens up with vintage stage lights

When designing her sleek kitchen, Carlton specifically wanted to juxtapose light and dark. While the entrance is flooded with natural light, the kitchen is decorated with dark and rich colors, metals, and paint. The space features restaurant kitchenware and cool lighting fixtures Carlton found in Nashville at Preservation Station, a great source for antique lighting. These large lights used to be stage lights in a theater in their former life. The artist clearly has a penchant for vintage things, which is why it's not surprising that, in 2020, she bought a New England house that dates back to 1798 and spent years restoring it, per Instagram

If you want to steal Carlton's kitchen style, source vintage lighting fixtures for your home. According to Urban Americana, vintage lighting offers personality and function. Look for lighting that attracts attention by embracing wild colors, different textures, or lamps in unusual sizes. Don't be afraid to think outside the box!

10. A restored bathroom features mosaic tile from the turn of the century

Carlton loves a luxurious bathroom, which is why she enlisted the help of star designer Sarah Sherman Samuel to transform the bathrooms in her loft into a serene escape, Architectural Digest reported. Carlton wanted both of her bathrooms to offer complete relaxation. Samuel was inspired by the clawfoot bathtub in the guest bathroom and created a 1920s-inspired space, complete with a custom mosaic tile floor, geometric wallpaper, and vintage fixtures. The vintage lighting features a dimming function, so the lighting is completely adjustable. Samuel also installed a floating wood vanity with a marble sink, played with light, muted colors, and mixed textures to set the mood for dreamy soaks. 

If you're a fan of zen bathrooms, bring some tranquility into your space by placing your tub under a window, lighting plenty of candles, and adding a few houseplants (via The Spruce). Hanging up artwork on the walls and having plenty of storage space will also help make the bathroom feel serene.

11. The guest bedroom is filled with memories of Carlton's beloved dog

The light-filled spare bedroom keeps things fresh and calm with high ceilings, huge windows, and amazing wooden beams that run throughout the space. According to Dwell, exposed beams add character and drama to a space, no matter the material. While the left bedside cabinet may look out of place, it actually holds special sentimental value for Carlton. This is the spot where her dog Victor used to sleep before he passed away.

While decorating a guest bedroom can be challenging, it's an opportunity to make friends and family feel at home. Some basic ground rules to follow are to decorate for comfort, remove clutter, and add a sense of your personality to the space (via The Spruce). Spare bedrooms are a place to have some fun with interior design, whether that's selecting a bold wallpaper you love or picking a fun theme. 

12. The singer's bedroom is designed to feel like a beautiful mix of light and dark

The chic, industrial style continues into Carlton's bedroom, where the singer mixes light and dark tones to create a beautiful, cave-like effect. While bright light spills in from the windows, the doors and ceilings are painted a dark shade of black. While black might intimidate some people, it doesn't scare Carlton. In fact, her bathroom in her Nashville home is entirely black, per Fireclay Tile. Elsewhere, Carlton repurposed her daughter's old changing table into a sophisticated chest of drawers. 

One design trick Carlton uses in her bedroom that you can easily recreate at home is to make your ceilings appear higher using techniques like paint, crown molding, or tall plants, as reported by Apartment Therapy. While the singer painted her ceilings a dark shade to make the room look larger, you can also get the same effect by finding a four-poster bed with a tall frame. Alternatively, work to draw the eye upward with floor-length curtains hung from the ceiling rather than the window frame.

13. Carlton worked with a designer to create the master bathroom of her dreams

Perhaps the most beautiful room in Carlton's SoHo loft is her main bathroom. As reported by the New York Post, designer Sarah Samuel Sherman also worked her magic here, transforming the bathroom into a dream. It includes old-school tile, a gorgeous soaking tub, handmade double vanity, framed Mike Wilcox art, and a hypnotic medicine cabinet. She even incorporated the loft's historic factory design by echoing the window shape with the white brick tiles. Carlton notes in her home tour that "it looks like a portal." While there is no window in the space, Samuel included a light dimmer to brighten things up.

Dimming the lights before a relaxing bath is ideal for unwinding and creating a calming atmosphere. If you want to take your bathroom lighting game to the next level, consider lightening the mood with a crystal chandelier, antique sconces, or ornate lanterns (via Better Homes and Gardens). If all else fails, candlesticks are an inexpensive and easy way to promote relaxation in any space.