Toronto's real estate and development boom has not only impacted how we perceive and navigate the city, it's also changed the way in which we interact with our personal living spaces, altering our expectations of what is required to make a house (or condo) a home. The amount of square footage one can expect to have in the downtown core has been steadily decreasing, as land prices continue to soar and developers subsequently feel the need to create ever-smaller units. While the young urban professional has persevered and found innovative ways to live in small spaces (Thanks to Ikea and EQ3, no doubt), growing families are feeling the burn, faced with trying to fit into units unintended for them or having to relocate outside the downtown core.
The majority of units we see come to market are one-bedroom, and tend to be around the 600 square foot range (give or take). While practical for young professionals, they lack the space necessary for a growing family, and are impractical (and uncomfortable) for those looking to share the space with a roommate.
The unit above is a two-bedroom floorplan at The Carlaw by Streetcar Developments, meant to be both efficient in space and flexible in use. The design minimizes the hallway, opening the end up towards the kitchen and creating a nook that could be used for a dining table or desk, subsequently freeing up space in the living room. Sliding barn-style doors allow the second room to be closed off for use as a bedroom, or completely opened to the living space, perfect for an extension of the main room or for use as a nursery. a reduction in bathroom size allows for sizeable closets and storage, while the balcony is kept small in favour of a larger living room. While certainly not revolutionary, the design and layout shows a level of foresight in the floorplan that is often negated in other developments.
Flexible floorplans (such as the one at The Carlaw) allow for a variety of users to enjoy and personalize units based on their particular needs. Families with multiple children, however, are not often able to work with these plans, as three-bedroom units have been limited to large penthouses, only attainable to those with comparatively high incomes.
B.Streets by Lindvest at Bathurst and Bloor is looking to appeal to these users with a three-bedroom, two-storey floorplan at a more reasonable price point. The unit divides the bedrooms between two floors, and has a den separate from the living/dining space for added privacy. Three separate outdoor spaces, two full washrooms and plenty of closet space allow you to spread out, all contained within an efficiently-arranged 1,205 square feet. While incomparable to a house, the unit could be used by a family for a number of years, rather than having to relocate as the kids grow older.
The Carlaw and B.Streets are two recent developments that are proactively trying to find new ways to create buildings that cater to a variety of users rather than a single demographic. Growing awareness that our urban environment requires flexible, family-oriented units in the mix — with the need for efficient spatial arrangement - will hopefully encourage developers to follow suit and consider matters of building longevity on the same level as they do profit.