20 NIAGARA ST., UNIT 401, TORONTO
ASKING PRICE: $999,900
MAINTENANCE FEE: $866.26 including parking and storage locker
UNIT SIZE: 1,400 square feet
TAXES: $5,467.79 (2012)
LISTING AGENT: Jonathan Ferrier, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.
The Back Story
There is no shortage of condos in the King Street West neighbourhood. It’s hard to walk a block along the stretch between Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street without passing a new development. But in a sea of uniform, single-bedroom units it can be tricky to find a condo that feels like a home. To find one, you sometimes need to look at the old instead of the new.
The current owner of this home bought it in 2010, attracted by the spaciousness of the two-bed, two-bath layout and the sense of privacy despite being in the heart of a trendy community.
And there were other factors. “He was interested in its exclusivity – there are only 23 units in the building – its view and its proximity to King West,” realtor Jonathan Ferrier says.
The building was constructed in the mid-1990s and was envisioned to be a true conversion-style loft, meaning exposed concrete, open spaces, floor-to-ceiling windows. The current owner appreciated these elements but decided to strip the space down to its bones and do an interior rebuild with the help of designer Samantha Baillie.
“Some people move into condos and say ‘Well, I’m only going to be here for a little bit, so I’m not going to put too, too much into it,’” Ms. Baillie says.
“But his opinion was that this was his house and he wanted his house to feel a certain way.”
The goal of renovation was to give it a fresh, clean look to that was easy to maintain and conducive to entertaining.
The original floor plan was already very open, so there wasn’t a lot of knocking down walls. Instead Ms. Baillie and her team focused on refining the space, specifically the kitchen.
The entire renovation took about four months.
The kitchen faces east and overlooks Victoria Memorial park. Ms. Baillie says her team worked with the view and rearranged the kitchen so that the appliances organized in a way that suited the owner.
She installed a bigger island, with cedarstone quartz countertops, to allow for maximum elbow space when entertaining. The owner also splurged on his kitchen tools, installing only Sub-Zero & Wolf appliances.
To brighten up the space, Ms. Baillie added a mini-mosiac backsplash that adds a little shimmer, a nice contrast to the smooth concrete walls that enclose the rest of the space. She also helped the owner pick the lighting, including “playful” teardrop pendants above the kitchen island and a custom-designed, chic, modern chandelier.
Another major change to the unit was replacing the pine floorboards with a dark walnut hardwood floors.
“I found that the concrete and the dark wood worked together to make the space softer,” says Ms. Baillie. “It adds to the warmth of the home.”
The other alterations were fairly cosmetic. A sleek fireplace was installed to be the focal point of the open living area. Ms. Baillie upgraded the two bedrooms and bathrooms, including adding a steam room, with marble walls, to the master suite bathroom.
“It’s not something you find normally in a condo space,” Ms. Baillie says. It is one of the reasons why it’s one of her favourite features of the home.
Both Ms. Baillie and Mr. Ferrier agree that the most impressive element of the home is its main balcony and the view. One of two balconies, the east-facing one is large at seven feet by 14 feet – definitely big enough for a large barbecue and some comfortable seating, Ms. Baillie said. And in spring, it’s an immense private space, shrouded in greenery.
“You feel like you’re sitting on top of the park,” she says.
Mr. Ferrier agrees that the green oasis that the unit backs on to is a special feature, even in the winter.
“When leaves fall off of the trees, you can see a beautiful city skyline,” he says. “But when the leaves are blooming, some people say it’s like living in a treehouse.”
He thinks the neighbours in the building are a rare selling point for the unit.
The other people living in 20 Niagara are not your “typical King St. West population,” Mr. Ferrier says.
They are generally older, more mature and well-off. Many use their lofts as a new home after becoming empty nesters or as pied-a-terre in Toronto.
He also adds that a third of the owners have had their
units since the building was opened.
“When people move in to this building, they love it,” he says. “They don’t want to leave.”