More than a decade ago, Christopher Hume, the now-retired architecture critic and urban issues columnist for the Toronto Star, lamented that “though many suburbs are now trying desperately to reinvent themselves in more urban forms, they’re doomed to fail.” But is that really the case?

Anyone who has lived in Vaughan for more than 10 years would whole-heartedly disagree with that sentiment. Once the small “city above Toronto”, the slogan was dumped in 2010. Vaughan had grown up, become a flourishing city on its own and no longer needed to hang on to the skirt hem of the City of Toronto.

As the city grew, so too, did the reliance on vehicles to get around. As Woodbridge, Maple and Thornhill continued to expand, villages like Kleinberg and Unionville became quaint places to visit on the weekends. We flocked there in our cars, parking on side streets as we strolled the mains, taking in the shops, the festivals and the charm common to small towns, all while condos and cul-de-sacs were being built around us.

In the same article quoted above, Hume complained how condos have become boring towers of glass and concrete slabs. “Most of our lives are spent indoors, so none of this matters,” he wrote. “The outdoor city, the exterior terrain, is little more than a landscape through which one must travel — make that, drive — on the way from one place to another.”

While that may have been true back in 2011, Vaughan has done so much better for its residents. Condominium buildings are showpieces, and the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre stop is an architectural delight the breaks up the monotony of Highway 7. But somehow, despite the density and the progress and the expansions, Vaughan’s communities have kept their cozy feel. It’s a unique combination of all the amenities we need being close by and the sense that Vaughan really is something special.

Sorry, is my bias showing? I have lived in and loved Vaughan for most of my adult life. I’ve seen it change for the better. The homes have evolved along with the population. Since 2011, Vaughan has become a hub of its own for business, recreation and life. Suburbia is no longer a place we take a drive to on the weekend. It’s where we thrive and flourish, raise our children and plant seeds for the future.

To see how much housing has changed over the last decade, see the stats below from a National Association of Homebuilders 2011 survey that predicted what homes would like like in 2015. I posted the results of the survey on this blog when it was released, but it’s fascinating to see what they got right and how homes—and what’s important to homeowners—has evolved over the years.

 

Layout

The survey predicts that:

  • 63% of homes will be between 2000-2399 square feet in size
  • 5% will have living rooms as we see them today
  • 52% of new homes will have a “Great Room,” merging the kitchen, living room and family room into one
  • 30% of homes will not have a living room at all
  • In 13%, the living room will become a parlor, retreat, library or music room

What will be removed? 

You know all those rooms that you once thought were cool little features, but then were rarely used? Well, many of those features will be scratched off the home builder’s list. Those that didn’t make the cut include the:

  • extra bathrooms
  • mudroom
  • unheated porch
  • dining room
  • skylight
  • 3+ car garages
  • 4-bedroom homes
  • media room
  • hobby room
  • sunroom
  • two-bedroom master suites

Green features

It’s highly unlikely that we’ll see too many LEED certified homes in the future, or homes using geothermal or wind energy. New homes, however, will be energy-efficient and more likely to use the energy star ratings for the entire house, not just individual features.

Greener features will include:

  • Low-E windows
  • Dual flush toilets
  • Low flow faucets
  • Greener products, such as engineered wood beams, joists and trusses

In the kitchen 

By 2015, kitchens will be revamped to meet our changing needs. We’re likely to see less storage for small appliances, and fewer wine coolers, fireplaces and trash compactors.

New kitchen features include:

  • Double sinks
  • Recessed lighting
  • More table space for eating
  • A breakfast bar
  • Pullout drawers

What features are a must for your home?

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