The challenge: Owners Michael Rabatin and Lenore Moritz wanted to make their model loft function for them and their two young sons, while honoring the architecture and the open floor plan.

The designer: Michael J. Rabatin,, 612-616-9685.

The space: The two-story loft, which includes an open 1,200-square-foot ground floor, has a concrete staircase, concrete walls and round concrete support columns on both floors.

The approach: "The biggest issue was to arrange the furniture so it was open to the rest of the space but felt cohesive, not like a landing strip," Rabatin said. He created an "art wall" to serve as a focal point and to define the living space.

Art with impact: Rabatin used a system of aluminum rail tracks, grippers with hooks and tension cables to hang an assortment of art, including a relative's oil painting, batiks made by Moritz's grandmother and an Asian scroll painted by one of the boys. The Arakawa hanging system ( is adjustable, so the family can rotate new pieces in and out and change placement easily. "I feel like the Walker [Art Center]'s current exhibit, 'Benches and Binoculars,' has stolen a page from my design book," Rabatin joked.

Separate "rooms" in an open space: Rabatin had wall-to-wall carpeting cut into a 14-foot circle and bound. He said the circular shape helps to anchor the living area "without sacrificing a lot of the wood floors."

Kid-friendly moves: Rabatin said his furniture coverings, a palette of creams and neutrals, are "all durable and strong," including the shantung silk covering the two chairs, pictured, and the cream-colored ultrasuede couch. "I have never felt that child-friendly spaces need to be dark colors," he said. "My cream sofa cleans just as easy as a darker color." Sleek, woven patio chairs provide part of the dining room seating. "I can pull them outside, we can hose them down," Rabatin said.

Living with toys: Two long, low Room & Board bookcases are placed at a right angle to each other, alongside the sofa. Toys are stored inside, and corralled in front of the cases in a series of flexible, oversized red buckets. It keeps the clutter to a minimum, and keeps the sight lines clean.

The colors: The concrete art wall remains unpainted, while cream, khaki and a deep eggplant are used judiciously in other spots. "Because the art wall is so strong with color and shape, I wanted the other upholstery and flooring to be subtle," Rabatin said. "With our windows showcasing the skyline, there is a lot happening in the space, so I didn't want the upholstery and floor to compete."

Attention to lighting: Rabatin orders full-spectrum bulbs online for his spotlights and lamps and uses dimmers on all. "The best lighting plan is one that has lights at differing heights," he said. Buying lighting is "like buying art for me. Each one of my lamps is unique, has a story and are mostly one-of-a-kinds. One is from the Paris flea market, one is from an estate sale, one is from a vendor from a New York flea market and one I made."

Kim Yeager • 612-673-4899

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