In the episode titled, “The Ballas Loft,” Joanna is renovating a condominium in a multiunit building for her dear friend Catherine Ballas, a fitness instructor. The only problem: This building’s board has strict regulations forbidding certain alterations. Bummer!
“The biggest challenge is having to work within the guidelines of the actual complex,” Joanna explains, adding that there are certain features in the home “we can’t touch, because it would affect the exterior.”
Like? Jo learns she’s not allowed to paint her friend’s front door (at least not the side that faces out into the hallway for all to see).
Many reno shows (Jo’s included) recommend painting the front door in a cool color, since it’s a budget-friendly way to make a place stand out. Granted, we can see why condos might want all doors the same hue, but suffice it to say that Joanna and her husband, Chip, rarely work under such heavy restrictions. So, that’s definitely a big adjustment for them.
Another challenge this time around that throws Jo out of her comfort zone? Ballas wants her loft to have a “modern industrial” vibe—which is a far cry from the farmhouse look Joanna can do in her sleep.
“I’ve never done a modern industrial loft,” Joanna admits.
Nonetheless, despite these limitations, Joanna musters up some genius design moves that loft owners and others will love and want to try too. Look and learn!
Expose the inner workings
The first thing Joanna does is rip out the dropped ceiling, to see what’s up there. As she suspected, there’s a sprinkler system, pipes, HVAC conduits, etc. By removing the dropped ceiling, she gains a couple of feet overhead, and will use all the pipes as design features.
Don’t go too raw
There is some strange colored tape and insulation overhead, where the ceiling used to be, and Joanna doesn’t like the ramshackle look of it all, even if it is ultra-industrial. “We want it to look very purposeful, but also refined and clean, and that’s a very tight balance,” she says. She has the high ceiling above the industrial elements painted white (rather than leaving it cement gray) and spiffs up all the piping, vents, and ducting by painting them black and polishing the galvanized steel.
Balance out a black-and-white kitchen
Joanna says Ballas “loves the contrast of white and black,” so she makes sure to add plenty to the kitchen.
“White cabinets and white countertops ground the space and keep it from feeling too heavy,” says Joanna. She adds black, in the form of handmade backsplash tiles, and a black stove hood and pipe that reaches up to the other black pipes near the exposed ceiling. Then she warms everything up with brass hardware. It is indeed the perfect balance.
Add an industrial island
“Industrial” and “island” might not seem to be a match made in heaven, but Joanna comes up with a stainless steel rolling chef’s table on black casters that can be moved around to any point in the loft. And it looks fabulous.
Triple-purpose the second bedroom
Ballas wants both an office and a place for guests to stay when they come to visit, but Joanna doesn’t stop at a guest room/office. After building in a loft-style, “floating,” queen-size bed, accessible by a ladder, she installs a quaint and cozy reading nook below, with built-in bookshelves, that help support the bed. Genius!
A novel closet feature
The loft also has an elaborate and spacious closet, Joanna’s first big custom closet job. She wants it to be a real show closet that looks like a boutique, so Ballas can display all her shoes and hats. For this, Joanna comes up with great open shelving. And, upon realizing that the laundry room happens to be on the other side of a closet wall, she creates a waist-high pass-through cabinet, with a laundry bin on rollers. That way, when it’s full, Ballas can simply push it through the pass, and voilà! It’s in the laundry room.
This is one of Joanna’s cleverest moves yet.
Smart home features add a whole new level of cool
When Jo takes a moment to explain the newly renovated condo’s many virtues, she says, “This apartment is a little too smart for me. I don’t even know how to talk smart.”
Of course, she’s not referring to her own intellectual capabilities. She’s talking about the way her team has added a number of “smart home” features to the place.
“You can control everything from a phone,” she explains. “Whether it be the thermostat, the lights, the music, the T.V., the blinds…” All of which add to the loft’s cool modern feel.