People who originally rented or bought lofts were looking for functional spaces with a low price, and they were often willing to add their own amenities. Some of them had the skills necessary to do a perfect job, but others lived in homes where the plumbing and electrical were exposed. Ceiling beams were often part of the décor, and even the industrial heating added to the charm. While some modern lofts still have these features, many of them have been covered up in favor of presenting a finished look.
Hardwood floors were originally used in industrial buildings because their thickness would keep the floor solid for decades, but they have become one of the important elements that remain an integral part of modern lofts. Where necessary, some of the rooms might have tile flooring. Kitchens and bathrooms have become the areas where modern floor treatments are more acceptable, but living areas generally use the original floors or are covered with hardwood to mimic the favored industrial look.
Heating and cooling vents are still an important aspect of loft design today, and they are left in the open along the ceiling whenever an apartment is being remodeled for sale or rental. Their clean lines are considered modern, but they actually date back quite a few decades. Heating and cooling large spaces is difficult, and the huge pipes add a touch of grandeur to the high spaces they inhabit. Ceilings are left in their original condition except for a bit of cleaning, and the walls are often nothing more than the exposed brick or wood original to the building.
Functionality is the root of the loft spaces, but adding amenities and finishes has become another important aspect. While tenants and buyers today want an old-fashioned look, they still want to feel they are getting a finished space for their money.