Question: I live in the Greater Toronto Area and I'm considering a move from our 2 1/2storey Victorian to a 1 1/2 storey, open-concept Craftsman-style home. However, I find this style of home to be in short supply in the GTA. Do you know of an area where this style home is in abundance? How do Craftsmans compare in terms of price to other styles? Can you speak to any advantages/disadvantages of living in this style home?
Answer: Before I answer your questions, let me shed some light for readers who aren’t familiar with Craftsman-style homes since they aren’t common in Toronto.
The Craftsman home (also known as American Craftsman) came into existence in the late 19th century out of the Arts and Crafts movement. Their popularity increased out of a desire to have high-quality craftsmanship included as features of a home. Design and architecture typically focus on simplicity and clean lines with low pitched roofs and exposed rafters. They often incorporate elements of handcrafted wood, metal and glass work throughout the house. This is most commonly seen through solid wood trims around doors and entranceways, stain glassed windows and a variety of metal accents.
Craftsman-style homes aren’t something you typically encounter in conversations about Toronto’s architecture, but they do exist. Bloor West Village and High Park in the West end have a variety of these homes. In my experience, High Park typically has larger homes whereas Bloor West Craftsman-homes tend to be slightly smaller – and perhaps more affordable. In Toronto’s East end, the Beaches have a great selection, which have kept true to their original character. Going even further East, the Southwestern neighbourhoods in Scarborough like Birchcliff, Cliffside and Cliffcrest have a good selection of Craftsman-style homes. Finally, try the area around Yonge Street from Davisville to Lawrence. The great thing about living in an old city like Toronto is that you will not be confined to one specific location to find a certain type of home.
You may be paying a premium for Craftsman-style homes due to their sprawling footprint and naturally open concept layouts. This is in contrast to Victorian-style homes, which tend to be narrow in design, and therefore require less land to build on.
While style of home is often a personal preference, there are several advantages to a Craftsman. The open-concept layouts of these homes are appealing for many because of the minimal structural renovation work needed to “modernize” them. The unique, and often one-of-kind hand-crafted finishes are also a large part of their appeal and charm.
When it comes to disadvantages of the home, not many come to mind, but there are a few. The unique features and finishes of the home can become an issue when it comes to repair and maintenance as they require costly materials coupled with a very specialized skill set to perform the repair work. The use of wood on the exterior such as shingles, beams and other decorative features will require constant upkeep from wear and tear.
Whether you decide to stay in your current Victorian-style home or move to a Craftsman-style home, you can take comfort in the fact that both architectural styles have historically maintained their values and have withstood the test of time.
Ricky Chadha is a broker with Royal LePage Estate Realty in Toronto, and specializes in applying social media and other digital tools to the business of real estate. You can find Ricky on Twitter @your416 or at his website RickyChadha.com.
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