The streets of downtown Boise are dotted with two-story, century-old buildings with storefronts at street level and what appear to be living quarters on the second floor. The Gem Noble Lofts have turned the old-school concept into a comfortably modern reality. The Gem and Noble buildings were originally constructed in 1902 by a famous local architect as two separate but adjoined structures. Together they form the northwest corner of 10th and Main streets, where popular restaurants like Asiago's, Zen Bento and a new Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop occupy the storefronts.
Elements of architect John E. Tourtellotte's original structures remain, like skylights, clerestories, tall ceilings, exposed brick walls and large windows that make you feel as if you are floating above the streetscape below.
Inside the remodeled interior are nine lofts. Each unit has a unique floor plan, as well as a different color scheme and finish work, so that none of the dwellings are the same. One unit has dark wood cabinetry and floors, ivory walls and rich French blue accents. Another is outfitted with nutmeg-colored hardwood flooring and cabinets, cream-colored walls and fern green accents. Accents come in the form of colorfully painted walls, slab stone countertops in varying hues and eye-catching tile work in the kitchen and bathroom.
A few common elements flow throughout the project, like low-VOC paints, sustainable hardwoods, stainless steel appliances and designer light fixtures suspended from the ceiling in shapes like drums and boxes. The idea was to retain historic character and provide a stylish backdrop while remaining flexible enough for the new owner to add personal flair.
Each loft has a distinctive feature. Unit No. 208 is a one-bedroom unit with a tall gallery wall that would easily accommodate an oversized 8- by 10-foot painting to make a bold, singular statement. Tourtellotte's signature turret, which is cantilevered above the street corner, forms a rounded alcove in unit No. 201, where you'll also find two walls of windows providing nonstop views of the downtown flow. The Gem Noble Lofts are two blocks from the summery Saturday morning farmers market and four blocks from nightlife.
Pros: Stylish downtown lofts blend historic elements with modern comforts.
Cons: Only nine units.