Toronto Loft Living: What is a Loft?
March 31, 2011
Who hasn’t dreamt of living in an authentic Toronto loft like that fab, New York style loft we all remember from the movie Ghost? Well, the other day I got a call from someone on the team of a celebrity TV Toronto designer and I’m excited to write that we’re in conversations to have me explain to their viewers what a loft is exactly. They’d like me to help show the differences between “Authentic Lofts” and “Soft lofts”. We’re going to be walking through a few loft spaces on camera and pointing out the elements of the living spaces that specifically reference ‘loft style’.
So I thought I’d take this opportunity to put in type the differences one would expect to see when viewing the different kinds of Toronto loft spaces one can find in our city. Bear with me while I ‘practice’ my lines…
Authentic Lofts: aka; Hard or True lofts, Loft Conversions
- These are usually buildings that have been retro-fitted for residential purposes meaning that the intended use of the original building has now changed it’s been divided up into residential units and sold as condominiums. Lofts are condos and loft refers to the style more than the type of ownership. Great examples of this kind of building conversion would be The Candy Factory Lofts (993 Queen St. West) or The Brewery Lofts (90 Sumach St.). Both are considered signature buildings in Toronto’s residential loft landscape.
- There are two main types of ‘old loft style’ one finds in Toronto; post and beam (The Candy Factory) or concrete construction (The Brewery Lofts)
- Post and beam construction is a style found in late 19th century or early 20th century manufacturing buildings or warehouses and since the original structure is used in full or in part one would find large warehouse windows (sometimes original but often new) allowing plenty of light, exposed brick, wood beams, exposed flooring from the ceiling above, large volumes of space with high ceilings of 10ft or more, wood floors; this style of loft often exudes warmth.
- Some of Toronto’s concrete constructed lofts were originally built in the 1920’s -1930’s and lofts of this vintage and style often have exposed concrete floors and ceilings with large windows and mushroom cap or square pillars that support the building. The ceiling height is most often equal to that of post and beam construction. A couple of interesting points are that the circumference or size of the pillars gets smaller as one gets higher in the building because there is less weight to support and the concrete is often rough and pitted with bits of wood and stone visible giving it a real authentic texture; this style of loft often has a colder more industrial feel.
Soft Lofts: aka; New Construction
- Developers obviously noticed Toronto’s yen for loft living and since century old warehouses are a rare find and it’s expensive to restore them, the next best thing is to building condos that have loft style elements but have less of a hard unfinished feel. A great example would be Abbey Lane Lofts at (261 King St. East)
- In many soft lofts you will find huge warehouse style windows (maybe a little more energy efficient), exposed aluminum ductwork, concrete ceilings and floors (but smooth and polished). You will find often larger volumes of space created with high ceilings but the rooms may still be smaller than what would be found in a true loft. These are often more finished spaces that feel ‘new’.
If you’re a true loft person you’ll know it the minute you walk into one of those sun-drenched, voluminous spaces that allows you the freedom to design your own way of living space with different levels and without walls unless you want them… if you need a bit more structure to your space then there’s always a soft loft. Either way, which ever kind of loft you choose, you’re going to love it!