This article was originally published in the National Post.
By Connie Adair
35 Heath St. E. (Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue)
Asking price: $1.895-million
Taxes: $5,539 (2011)
The owners had enjoyed their Victorian home for years, but as they grew older, they say the way they used their house changed and they wanted more fresh air, light, an open concept and a sustainable living space. To that end, they gutted their three-storey semi-detached home, adding insulation to the double brick shell, removing walls and ceilings, and finishing the interior with natural materials.
Walls were removed to create sight lines, the homeowner says. “From any part of the house, you can see to the back or the front. There is no visual barrier.”
The backyard features the work of a Japanese carpenter, who created a fence of horizontal slats and a Camaru Brazilian teak deck that covers the backyard, resulting in a low-maintenance outdoor space.
One of the most important features in the planning was to create the greatest exposure to nature possible, the homeowner says. Large windows at the back of the house meld indoor and outdoor space.
Inside, the “vertical cavity” that housed the stairway was opened up and replaced with stairs with open risers and metal railings. Light streams down from a skylight, giving the space a loft-like feeling.
The walls throughout are painted white and the oil-finished oak floor has a grey tone. Oil was chosen instead of a lacquer finish for a more natural look and feel. As well, any scratches from canine foot traffic can be easily buffed out. Also, open wood pores absorb sound, which lends a calm feeling to the house, the homeowner says. “Once wood is covered with lacquer, it acts like glass from an acoustic point of view.”
Because the owners do a lot of international business, it’s not unusual for them to be working in the middle of the night. “I work in the nicest part of the house — the kitchen,” the homeowner says. The kitchen has white cabinetry for a seamless look in the all-white home.
The interior design, by Joan Kritz of Relative Space, features an open-concept master bedroom and ensuite bathroom, a private third-floor deck and architectural radiators that provide clean ambient heat.
“The house offers adult living, perfectly suited for couples or singles desiring fabulous entertaining space, total serenity for relaxing and healthy living design. It’s the perfect urban retreat,” says listing agent Leslie Lyons of Royal LePage J&D Division.
Shade trees on the southern exposure help naturally cool the home in summer and passive solar heating can be enjoyed when the leaves are off the trees in cooler months.
The 20×110-foot property is on a dead-end street that has easy access to a ravine. It’s great for private people, offering “anonymous living” away from the larger residential areas that surround it, the homeowner says.