This Couple’s 120-Year-Old Rental Loft Has Envy-Inducing 20-Foot Ceilings

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Brick walled living room with large windows in art filled loft apartment.
Credit: Sabrina Marshall

Sabrina Marshall; her fiancé, Dane; and their cat, Freddie, have been renting this one-bedroom loft in Durham for 11 months, and pay $1860 per month in rent: I fell in love with this apartment after walking into a sun-bathed space with the most incredible original brick wall and 15-foot paneled window. I immediately called my fiancé (who was at the time serving overseas in England) and said, “This is the place; it was meant for us.” The 120-year-old building is in the heart of downtown Durham. The loft holds incredible character with 20-foot ceilings, original metal beams, and wood plank ceilings. I knew I wanted to mix the old with the new, and managed to create a little oasis in the bustling hub of Durham — perfect for entertaining or cozy nights at home.

Credit: Sabrina Marshall

This one-bedroom loft-style apartment has incredible character, and I used my eccentric taste to create the perfect blend of DIY bohemian-industrial maximalism. In the bedroom, we keep it simple with a mid-century modern-inspired bedroom set, where we display tchotchkes from various adventures (the highlights: a handmade pomegranate sculpture and a one-of-a-kind ceramic cat, both from Greece). The kitchen is small, but made entirely our own. On the counter we have decorated with the Poodle & Blonde Haden Toaster to add eclectic flair to the contrasting dark granite countertops. The modest kitchen decor incorporates pottery to hold utensils and a couple of specimens from our humble plant collection.

Credit: Sabrina Marshall

I am a pediatric cardiovascular ICU nurse and my partner, Dane (they/them), is a security officer. We met a year ago at a Pride event in Phoenix, Arizona, and reconnected last March. Our fun fact is that we actually got engaged at a Stevie Nicks concert, one of our first musical loves as children. My fiancé is originally from Pennsylvania and uses their humble Appalachian roots in their personal style (think: lumberjack and a love of antique finds). Our 5-year-old tabby cat, Freddie, also shares our space and spends his days lounging on his cat tree!

Credit: Sabrina Marshall

My personal style takes flight from my travels in Europe; I love natural textures and unique shapes. Maximalism has my heart, and I love having an expansive gallery wall as well as multiple fun finds around the loft. We both take inspiration from nature, as evidenced by our plant collection, the floral arrangements adorning most surfaces, and the materials our accessories are made of. We love to play with texture — with woven baskets on the wall, fluffy throws with tassels, wooden vases, concrete bowls, and glass elements. We tend to utilize a basic color palette of terracotta, creams, browns, black, and green but we throw in a pop of color for smaller accessories (such as the pink glasses on the bar!).

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or fewer: Authentic, heterogeneous, cozy, warm, and immersive.

Credit: Sabrina Marshall

What is your favorite room and why? Our living room is the real stunner of the space, and my favorite! We took so much care into placing each item and utilizing the large area for our needs. Our dining room table has a natural wood edge and matching bar stools — perfect for our intimate dinner parties! On the wall is a pallet plant display, made by my father before I moved from Arizona. It took me months to put together the best placement for each plant, and we added candles for some additional light in the dining area. Off to the side you will see the antique English bar that my parents brought home from Ireland as a gift; it’s absolute gorgeous and features china handles.

Credit: Sabrina Marshall

Our living space has many wood pieces we are proud of, such as the mid-century modern-style credenza with lanterns and textured pots, the round coffee table that houses a handmade guest book and coasters my sister gifted me from Malawi, and the wood and marble end tables from a local boutique (Nadeau in Raleigh!). Sitting on these side tables are the most unique lamps; I found them on Facebook Marketplace, made from aged copper, from a local unnamed artist in Tempe, Arizona. The star of the show is the Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni Arco lamp with a “right place right time” origin story. Overall, the soft floral accents, industrial lanterns, immense rug, absolutely gorgeous camel leather couch, and natural accents of our plants create a harmonious room with everything we need after a long day.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The most recent thing I purchased for my home was florals to make my own arrangement for the dining room table (thank you, 50% off sale!) and textured wrought iron tapered candlesticks!

Any advice for creating a home you love? Don’t be afraid to mix elements! Your space doesn’t need to be a perfectly cohesive environment; it is OK to play with textures, colors, and styles!

Thanks, Sabrina and Dane!

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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