Ok, so I have to preface this post by saying this gorgeous loft in Toronto's Little Italy neighbourhood - located west of Bathurst Street north of College on Clinton Street in The Button Factory - is one I hold very close to my heart. I led the sales & marketing program for this charming condominium of just 13 units back in 1993, prior to its conversion, and I also made it my Home for 18 years.
One of the first factory conversions in the area (The Banquet Hall on Claremont and The Movie House on Euclid would be marketed and sold by me 2 to 3 years later), this Little Italy neighbourhood was only just beginning to transition into one of the City's hippest spots in the mid 1990s. Cafe culture - including the beloved Bar Italia - was just beginning to be embraced by Torontonians well before Starbucks was on our radar, and the convivial Pool Hall - and its explosion as a popular destination for social engagement - was just taking root. Back then the neighbourhood was a domestic collection of cottages, row, semi-detached and detached houses ranging from working to merchant class in character and quality, and College Street - a street dominated by Italian shoe stores - had zero condominiums.
Today, like many urban neighbourhoods that have transitioned into a new life cycle, what was one distinctly Italian is now dominated by highly-educated professional first-generation Canadians (whose parents immigrated from all points of the Globe). The old storefronts are now a mix of everyday shops, 5star restaurants and designer boutiques, in an urban fabric which now includes luxury renovated houses, infill new builds, and mid-rise boutique condominiums lining the main streets. Over these past 30 years, as Toronto has transformed from an industrial port to a post-industrial engine for the new economies of service, information, and technology, the city's population has exploded, along with the density.
The result? An explosion of production-based high-rise condo towers across the downtown core built to meet this demand which, as an unintended byproduct, has served to elevate the uniqueness and rarity of authentic loft conversions, especially those situated in a neighbourhood setting where everything you wish, want, need and desire is within walking distance all points east, west, north and south.
And I just gotta say. The location of this jewel is a walker's paradise. You're a block from a subway station, a 24 streetcar stop, and seven doors from the Harbord Street bicycle lanes that take you straight to the University of Toronto and Queen’s Park. One block north is Koreatown, one city block south-east is Kensington Market, two city blocks south is Queen West Village, and two city blocks south-west is Ossington Avenue and beloved Trinity Bellwoods Park. This is an AAA Location!
Initially offered as a custom design/build program, the 13 spacious 2 and 3 storey condominium loft townhouses, ranging in size from 1380 square feet to nearly 2500 square feet of interior living space, were offered as base shells, with the opportunity for buyers to custom upgrade their loft as part of the development program. This was to appeal to the three buyer profiles attracted to loft living, which I identified completing my graduate research in Environmental Studies at York University in the early 1990s. The first were Artists engaged in photography, sculpture, and painting, who gravitated to these spaces for their affordability, utility, light and ceiling height; the second were creative professionals operating in the fields of media, design, and fashion who desired live/work incubators for progressive, liberated self-expression; while the third were white collar professionals mostly in the fields of health care, finance, and technology who appreciated high-design, innovative architecture, and a commitment to living mise-en-scene. These groups - rejecting the status quo of the suburbs, the conformity of traditional housing, and the constrictions of standard materials and design - gravitated to loft living for its freedom from convention and as places for reinvention.
For more about the original loft market - and its fracturing into Hard Lofts and Soft Lofts - here's my post called The Evolution Of Loft Living In The City Of Toronto, Ontario.
Because of the original design/build program - and the 23 years which have since passed - no two units are alike. They range in size, condition and quality, each tailored by successive residents to reflect their own self-expression, personal success, and aesthetic preferences. As a result, they're incomparable, both to each other and to other Toronto loft properties, representing a unique custom point-of-view specific to each discerning resident.
This loft, which is nearly 1700 square feet of interior space spread over two-levels, in addition to a 200 square foot brick walled garden, blends its factory sensibilities with modern fixtures and fittings. Grounded by the vibrant hues of burnt orange and clay red found in the exposed rough brick walls and rustic wood-beam ceilings (2"x8"s on their sides) that rise eleven feet high, this loft has been thoughtfully designed and custom-crafted. It offers the rustic plank floors and exposed metal ductwork that are signature loft details, and the expansive airy open spaces with massive factory-sized windows (plus skylights) that is so rare in Canadian domestic architecture. Having an Entertainment Level fifty-feet long, this is the kind of place where your grand piano doesn't dominate your home, and plays unrestrained with acoustic delight.
What's particularly rare is its private garden courtyard with stone pavers, brick walls, a cedar arbour and lush plantings. Beautifully lit with fairy lights, this garden oasis is stunning by day or by night, with an abundance of trees in the gardens beyond, nature sounds, and exquisite floral scents from neighbouring yards, including a mature flavourful cherry tree. This is where the superlative 'Country Living In The City' can truly be bestowed!
The upper level of the loft is split into two zones of domestic bliss. The sun-drenched landing contains both laundry and utility closets plus an exceptional Spa washroom with oversized steam shower including indulgent rain shower and aromatherapy diffusers. Filtered with natural light through an expansive sliding frosted glass door, this sumptuous bathing oasis is ethereal, magical, and calming. Anchoring each end are two bedrooms featuring exposed brick, 'factory' windows overlooking the courtyard and neighbouring gardens, and original maple factory floors. Acid etched sliding doors separate each of these private zone, which are fitted with an abundance of custom walnut built-ins. The master bedroom features a deep Japanese-style Kohler soaking tub with bespoke plumbing, custom bevelled mirrors in solid walnut frames, hidden lighting and operable skylight (with remote and sunshade), offering a quiet place for contemplation and solitude.
Here's some pics:
Honouring the architectural integrity of the original factory while celebrating contemporary urban living in a coveted neighbourhood setting, this dual-level unique urban space exhibits all the character of a vintage factory loft, including exposed brick walls, soaring wood beamed ceilings and columns, plus original factory floors on the second level. The ultimate custom respite - I love the lush garden views, the deep soaking tub, and quality custom built-ins that unify the space, keeping it minimal, understated, with just the right amount of luxe.
Want to learn more? Check out A Brick And Beam Loft With Courtyard Garden In Toronto’s Button Factory, offered for $1,699,000, on Urbaneer.com!
Love unique urban spaces? Check out these other properties for sale at Urbaneer.com.