Toronto Lofts: Hard vs. Soft

woman sitting on a leather sofa in a loft

If you live in the Six, you understand that lofts in Toronto are a hot commodity. Someone that doesn’t live around the downtown area, however, wouldn’t get the appeal of loft living. After all,  it’s exposed pipes in an endless ceiling! Nevertheless, most people don’t know that there are actually two main types of lofts: hard lofts and soft lofts.

Today, we’re clearing up the differences between soft lofts and hard lofts, breaking down the prices of each type of loft, the pros and cons, and the option most suitable for your needs.

 

loft with open ceiling

But first, how did Toronto lofts come about?

Contrary to popular belief, lofts weren’t always residential. The lofts in Toronto today are pretty much a bohemian twist on what was industrial spaces in the 1800s until the mid-1900s. When industries began relocating from Downtown to remote areas, people seized the opportunity of empty factories and warehouses and converted them into living spaces.

Apartments that developed in this method are known as hard lofts.

So, what exactly is a hard loft?

As discussed above, a hard loft is a previously commercial or industrial space that was refurbished into a residential unit. The most outstanding feature about hard loft apartments is the exposed utility pipes in the ceiling. Because hard lofts weren’t originally built for residential purposes, they have maintained the industrial layout of open ceilings, also known as plenum ceilings, which gives a spacious feel to the place.

What about soft lofts?

Soft lofts have a similar concept to hard lofts yet don’t share the history of hard lofts. In a nutshell, soft lofts are new apartment built to resemble hard lofts. Like hard lofts, soft lofts have open concept ceilings, as well.

Unlike hard lofts, however, soft lofts don’t always have exposed piping and vents. While some soft lofts do just to mimic the look of hard lofts, most do not. Soft lofts also don’t have the authenticity of hard lofts that were once manufacturing facilities and later converted into apartments.

Moreover, due to the fact that soft loft apartments are primarily residential, they tend to be cozier yet more modern. And because they’re newer structures means that they’re far more energy-efficient than hard lofts in old factory buildings.

 

hard loft with brick walls

When browsing for a loft…

Consider the following factors:

     •  Choice of neighborhood

If you’re adamant about investing in a hard loft, know that your options are limited. In this case, you can’t really be picky about the neighborhood you live in. Because hard lofts were once industrial spaces, they don’t necessarily sit in the heart of the city. They are also not as available as condominiums or soft lofts.

Nonetheless, if you care more about the location of your apartment, look for soft lofts instead. They usually exist in more strategic neighborhoods closer to the subway line. There are also more soft lofts on the market to choose from than hard lofts, which means you have more options to choose from.

 

Hard loft

     •  Loft prices

According to Toronto Lofts, loft prices in the city range from $500,000 to $1,000,000 on average. Sure, this is partially the cost of the location and hip aesthetics of a loft. Still, prospective buyers sometimes prefer to invest in, say, a bigger townhouse in the suburbs for the same price. Ultimately, this all depends on the size of your family, how close to the center you’d like to live, and what your daily commute is like.

     •  Not for hoarders

One of the drawbacks about loft living is that you have limited space for storage. Loft apartments rarely come with built-in shelves and closets, which means you need to be smart with your belongings. In this case, less is definitely more.

However, there are some interior design and remodeling ideas that can increase storage space in your loft. Experts suggest adding floating shelves where the walls allow it. Use multi-purpose pieces, like an entertainment unit with plenty of cupboards or a storage bed with drawers. This way, you make the most out of the space you have in your loft.You may even rent an offsite storage unit where you keep your belongings out of your loft yet within reach.

loft renovation

 •  Loft renovation

If you’re concerned about your loft’s open concept or lack of storage space, a renovation is something to consider. You can remodel your loft to exactly meet your needs, adding interior walls and storage units as you please. When it comes to loft renovation ideas, the options are endless. Connect with a renovation contractor to receive some helpful tips and design inspirations.

     •  Little privacy

Loft apartments don’t usually have interior walls. While this gives you the freedom to design the loft’s layout however you please, it puts a limit on your privacy. The open concept of loft apartments leaves little to the imagination, meaning your guests can see right through your bedroom all the way from the kitchen.

Soft loft apartment

Of course, there are tricks you can do to separate areas in the apartment, like strategically placing a divider or a free-standing closet between rooms. You can also install sliding doors to stop curious eyes from wandering in your loft. Nonetheless, if you prefer more privacy in your home, go for a traditional condo instead of a loft, as condos have more division between the rooms.

The bottom line about lofts in Toronto

Lofts in Toronto are a viable option if you’re looking for a cool apartment to live in. No matter the type, you get to enjoy the openness and avant-garde design of lofts, hard or soft.

Before you rush into buying your dream loft, reach out to a real estate professional. An expert’s opinion could make all the difference when you rent or buy a loft.