all this a poll within a blog, since I’m starting to wonder which hard loft style is more desirable among the buyer pool.
I’ve always assumed that the “brick-and-beam” style of hard loft is, by far, the most sought after in the city, but the “art deco” style has seen some huge valuations as of late.
Let me distinguish between the two, provide some photos, and ask for your opinion – whether you’re an active buyer, or simply playing along…
Every conversation, with every first-time condo buyer, goes the same way.
At some point, whether it’s in the very first paragraph of the email, or whether it’s a the end – sort of a “wishful thinking PS,” the buyer mentions a loft.
I get it.
We all watched Friends.
Monica & Rachel had this unbelievable New York City loft, with exposed red brick in the kitchen, wooden beams in the hall, 12-foot ceilings, and that massive industrial warehouse-style window where they spied on “Ugly Naked Guy.”
Fast-fast forward 15-years for those of us who were coming of age when Friends first hit airwaves, or even consider those younger than us who watched on DVD box-set, and everybody starts their mental condo search by picturing a loft.
If you go online and Google “Monica & Rachel…” it will auto-complete “apartment” for you, as well as “floor plan,” which is really cool.
The apartment looked to be about 1,500 square feet, and the answer to the obvious question, “How in the world could they afford that?” was the back-story that it was rent-controlled because it was in Monica’s grandmother’s name.
I know, you’ve heard this story before, quite possibly on this blog!
But it bears mentioning because it helped set the stage, along with a host of other variables, for some very unrealistic condo searches.
I love lofts. I love visiting them, and I love selling them. I get genuinely jealous when my clients buy them.
Lofts are, and always have been, red-hot.
Look no further than an astronomically-priced $2.75 Million unit at the iconic Candy Factory last week, which, already priced at almost $1,200 per square foot, ended up selling for almost $700,000 over the list price.
It was truly, by the very definition, “one-of-a-kind” in Toronto, and I’m willing to be some of the city’s elite were lined up to buy it. In fact, I’d bet whoever came 2nd and 3rd in that bidding war, is probably already regretting not going higher.
That was a hard loft, as opposed to soft; the latter of which are essentially fake – created from scratch to look like hard lofts.
Hard lofts are conversions from existing buildings, notably warehouses, office buildings, or other commercial/industrial structures that served a different purpose in their former lives.
Let’s leave soft lofts for another day.
Today, my question is very simple: when it comes to true hard lofts, do you prefer the “brick-and-beam” style, with exposed brick walls, timber ceilings, and wooden beams, or the “art deco” style with a fluted concrete columns, epoxied concrete floors, and a cleaner, more modern look?
Tough call. And might I say, to each their own.
I have a few clients in the Imperial Lofts on Sherbourne Street, and one of them recently noted the price discrepancy between the art-deco style building at 80 Sherbourne and the brick-and-beam style building at 90 Sherbourne.
A unit at the art-deco style 80 Sherbourne recently sold for a whopping $875/sqft.
A unit, just listed, at the brick-and-beam style 90 Sherbourne, is asking around $800/sqft. And what’s more, is the last sale in the building was for a mere $705/sqft.
Even comparing apples to apples, some are green, and some are red. The recent sale at 90 Sherbourne versus the current listing at 90 Sherbourne could represent other variables, explaining the price.
But the art-deco style building seems to be commanding a premium these days, and it motivated me to ask my readers which style they like better.
Let me give you a few examples of the two styles, drawing on some of the more well-known of each.
ART DECO STYLE LOFTS
Here are a couple of photos from a unit at Imperial Lofts:
Note in this unit, they’ve used fake brick, which I find is a huge style clash:
This is another unit at 90 Sherbourne Street, same characteristics, but a completely different feel as they’ve used a lighter colour palette:
Here’s another example, which shows how open concept these places can be. Yes, brick-and-beam lofts can be open concept too – even moreso, when you have no bedroom wall. But the art-deco style often offers a bit “cleaner” look and feel:
And here we see another common feature – the steps, which are prevalent in all three buildings I’m showing today:
This is a unit at the iconic Tip Top Lofts, which shows how those fluted or “mushroom” columns can work both for and against you, depending on the position:
Updating, staging, and photography can make a big difference. That last photo left much to be desired.
Here’s a really nice example of the 2-storey industrial art-deco style:
Here’s a unit at the Merchandise Lofts, which are very industrial in feel, and the common critique is that the spaces are long and narrow, and natural light is often a problem:
Notice the unit below feels a little “warmer” with the inclusion of hardwood flooring:
Last but not least, the Brewery Lofts on Sumach Street, which are known for the massive 14-16 foot ceilings, and fluted columns:
There is often so much empty wall space in these units, that owners will get creative – like this person below, who re-purposed some old doors to give the unit some character:
Here are a few units at the Broadview Lofts, which you would probably include on any “Top Five” list of Toronto hard lofts:
These check all the boxes for the hard-loft, brick-and-beam enthusiast.
Note the steel door in the photo below. Brick, beams, columns, picture windows, and add a steel door just for good measure:
They’ve also done a good job of keeping the “authenticity” when it comes to the staircases, which are metal, as opposed to a more modern glass railing, or something like a wooden-spindle which would completely bastardize the look and feel of a hard loft.
Here’s a similar look and feel at the Robert Watson Lofts in Roncesvalles:
As I noted with the fluted columns in the art-deco style lofts, the timber columns in some of these hard lofts can be awkwardly placed, or, they could be incorporated into the layout:
We’re seeing a lot more photos like this one on MLS, which show the character and hard-loft features, rather than the actual space itself:
Last but not least, the crown-jewel of Liberty Village, the Toy Factory Lofts:
Maybe by this point it’s, “Seen one, seen ’em all,” but keep in mind that I’m picking the best brick-and-beam hard lofts in the city, and choosing the best photos from the archives. Plus, you’ve got great stagers (or owners with really good style, who know where the outdoor flea markets are…) who incorporate things like the water bag and wagon wheel in the photo below:
I honestly don’t get tired of these photos that show the character. It’s better than a fifth photo of the kitchen…
So there you have it, folks.
A pretty good representation of “art deco” style versus “brick and beam.”
What’s your fancy?
And why, if you don’t mind my asking…