Toronto Loft Conversions

Toronto Loft Conversions

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Modern Toronto Lofts

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Unique Toronto Homes

More than just lofts, I can also help you find that perfect house. From the latest architectural marvel to a piece of our Victorian past, the best and most creative spaces abound.

Condos in Toronto

Condos in Toronto

I started off selling mainly condos, helping first time buyers get a foothold in the Toronto real estate market. Now working with investors and helping empty nesters find that perfect luxury suite.

Toronto Real Estate

Toronto Real Estate

For all of your Toronto real estate needs, contact Laurin. I am dedicated to helping you find that perfect and unique new home to call your own.


Tag Archives: vacant lots

Big isn’t better

In praise of going small — with the help of smart spaces

Suzanne Wintrob – National Post

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]al Vitiello fondly remembers yesteryear’s spacious condominium suites. As he recalls, downtown Toronto one-bedrooms in the 1970s and 1980s came in at about 690 square feet — “and that’s without a den” — and two-bedrooms soared to 1,050 sq. ft. or larger.

No more. With vacant lots scarce and building costs rising, today’s developers are squeezing as many units as possible into the towers going up around town. Consequently, condos are getting smaller.

“Major competition for high rise development is the availability of houses,” explains Mr. Vitiello, senior design partner at EI Richmond Architects in Toronto. “As there are fewer houses available in Toronto, the cost of the houses goes up and that drives up the cost of the condominium and the land. The densities increase as well. So the only way to reduce the cost of having affordable housing is to reduce the size.”

Still, just because a condo is small doesn’t mean it has to feel cramped. As unit sizes shrink, developers are hauling in architects and designers to create spaces that feel bigger than they are. The walls have come down in favour of open-concept and L-shaped layouts. Colour palettes are neutral for an expansive look. Storage and shelving are integrated in intriguing ways. And with amenity areas boasting rooftop lounges and catering kitchens, condo dwellers can still entertain guests in style.

Apparently, small is where it’s at. According to those putting up these little dwellings and those making them sing, it’s what buyers want — whether they’re just starting their careers or heading into retirement.

“Young professionals are not looking for large units,” says Andrew Hoffman, president of CentreCourt Developments that’s behind the 52-storey Karma Condos set for the Yonge and College neighbourhood. “They’re looking to live active lives and not spend a lot of time in the suite itself. They’re after a location where they can work, live and play in close proximity to each other,” he says. “They’re looking for a safe environment with 24/7 security — and the amenity package augments it. They have the opportunity to entertain and live in space outside their own unit.”

Tiffany Love concurs. Hip young buyers are less caught up on size. Instead, they want manageable spaces that are “comfortable and cozy” and mesh with their lifestyles. That’s why open layouts work well.

“Your kitchen is open to your living space and your dining spaces and they flow together very nicely, and that in essence makes them feel a lot larger,” says Ms. Love, intermediate designer and team lead at Tomas Pearce Interior Design Consulting in Toronto.

Empty nesters are also drawn to small spaces. Elaine Cecconi, founding partner of Toronto-based interior design firm Cecconi Simone, says most folks downsizing from houses as large as 6,000 sq. ft. understand they can’t take it all with them. In fact, they’re thrilled to declutter their lives and start fresh.

“They’re not living with their kids anymore, they want to live downtown, they want to walk places, they want to have everything at their fingertips,” Ms. Cecconi says. “They understand it’s not just a physical change, but it’s also a mental shift in terms of their lifestyle. They are ready to leave everything behind. They might have a sentimental piece like a chair that was their grandmother’s, but generally it’s a clean slate for them. It’s an opportunity to divest of all the stuff that you have when you have a house.”

To ease the transition from home to condo, storage becomes a big seller. At Karma, for example, Cecconi Simone has created two tiers of upper cabinets: standard-depth cabinets above the counter, and additional extra-deep 24-inch cabinets that continue up to the ceiling for maximum storage. As Ms. Cecconi puts it: “We’re maximizing three-dimensional space and trying to gain value from cubic feet as opposed to square feet. There is lots of shelving, lots of closets, things that make it easier to transition from a home into a condo.”

Furniture and finishes can also maximize space. Ms. Love is particularly fond of sofa ottomans where the top lifts off for storage, and beds with storage in the platform. Mirrored or glass dining tables and end tables open up the space, she adds, as do neutral and monochrome paints and finishes.

Mr. Vitiello is pleased that the City of Toronto has given developers the OK to position bedrooms away from the building’s front glazing. Setting the bedrooms at the back of the unit rather than at the front wall offers more planning flexibility, he says, making living rooms wider and more light-infused. Dead spaces like corridors are giving way to open plans, with room for small work spaces “so you’re not bringing your work into the living space.” He adds that buyers are happy to forgo a larger bedroom for a larger living room, he adds, and furniture manufacturers are responding with smaller options.

“The rooms aren’t necessarily larger but the sense of the space and how you experience the space is quite important,” he says.

Then there’s the balcony. One of Tomas Pearce’s current projects is Jade Waterfront Condominiums, a 38-storey, 370-unit tower set for Etobicoke. At Jade, the undulating balconies create a wave effect that is not only eye-catching but also functional with storage units plus electrical power, TV and telephone outlets, and barbecue hook-ups. Even the smallest suite, at 465 sq. ft., has a 105-sq.-ft. balcony that extends the suite.

As spaces continue to get smaller, developers are counting on captivating common areas to woo purchasers. Simple fitness centres and party rooms are giving way to spas, indoor/outdoor lounges with firepits and barbecues, catering kitchens and private dining areas that act as an extension of the condo suite.

“Amenities have become much more elaborate, much more varied, with a lot of options in terms of spaces in the building you can go to if you feel the need to get out of your unit but don’t feel like you actually have to put a coat on and go outside,” Ms. Cecconi says.

For instance, Karma boasts a pub-like Player’s Club Lounge for billiards, Ping-Pong and poker, as well as a sound room to sing or jam and a gaming room ideal for avid video-gamers. There’s also a social room with lounge seating and two-sided screen so people can watch movies from inside or outside. Jade has a virtual golf room and a private theatre room for screening films and sporting events.

Says Mr. Vitiello: “We’re not just creating little boxes for people to live in and making them smaller — they also have other opportunities and their lifestyle may be improved.”


Looking to buy your first condo or downsize from a big home? With condo suites shrinking, Tiffany Love of Tomas Pearce Interior Design Consulting offers precious advice on what to look for:

Generous ceiling heights: Vertical lines accentuate the grandness of a space. And nine- and 10-ft. ceiling heights maximize the use of vertical storage such as upper cabinets in the kitchen, furnishing with extra high storage units, or open basket storage for seasonal items.

Maximum wall space: Look for layouts that flow well with open-concept living/dining/kitchen spaces and lots of flat wall space. Such layouts provide great opportunities for mounting a plasma TV or integrating wall storage with extra height such as media units and floating shelves, or mounting decorative wall elements such as a large mirror over the sofa to expend the space. Ditto for bedrooms.

Glazing and natural lighting: Suites with an awesome exterior view feel much larger when you’re inside the suite.

Islands and U-shaped kitchens: Islands provide additional seating and storage, while U-shaped kitchens boast even more hiding places.

Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto Realtor with Century 21 Regal Realty. He did not
write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who are
interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.