61 ASTLEY AVE., TORONTO
ASKING PRICE: $2.395-million
TAXES: $11,982.58 (2013)
LOT SIZE: 27- by 243-feet
AGENT: Jimmy Molloy, Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.
‘Oh my lord, there’s a lot going on right now,” says Stephan Moccio.
Mr. Moccio’s frenetic world has intensified to frantic since the release of Wrecking Ball, the Miley Cyrus single that is currently rocketing up the Billboard Hot 100 with the help of nudity and a controversial video. Mr. Moccio is the Canadian composer, arranger and performer who co-wrote the mega-hit.
“You pray for these songs as a songwriter,” he says, while admitting to feeling rather overwhelmed. “It’s so much fun.”
The titillation of his recent collaboration with Ms. Cyrus notwithstanding, Mr. Moccio says he’s a pretty laid-back family man who likes to spend time at home. He is in the midst of moving with his wife and kids from Toronto to Los Angeles after spending most of the past couple of years on an airplane between the two cities. During 2012, Mr. Moccio was a judge on the television show Canada’s Got Talent.
“It’s a good problem to have,” says Mr. Moccio of the pace. “My career is going 200 per cent.”
With the move to L.A., the couple has decided to sell their modern house perched on a Rosedale ravine.
When he purchased the house back in 2008, Mr. Moccio was in the middle of writing the famed I Believe theme performed by Nikki Yanofsky for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. He was also writing musical cues for the CTV network and arrangements for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. He has collaborated with Seal, Celine Dion and Sarah Brightman. His career was almost as busy as it is now.
“Life was chaos,” he recalls.
Still, Mr. Moccio didn’t want to miss out on the Astley Avenue project, which he learned about through a friend in the design industry. Construction was in the early stages at the building site. Mr. Moccio and his wife were glad to buy the property when there was still time to offer input into the layout and materials of the finished house.
“We got it from the ground up,” he says.
At the time, financial markets collapsed and fear infused the real estate market. Work was lean for carpenters, electricians and other workers.
The project fulfilled a long-time dream of Mr. Moccio’s to build a modern house. “My parents say if I had a second choice in life I would have been an architect.”
Mr. Moccio and his wife had been living in a suite at the Brewery Lofts before their two children came along.
“It was just beautiful. It was airy and it was sexy and it was everything you would want in a loft,” he says.
But with children, open-concept living became too challenging, so the family moved to a house in the Beaches that Mr. Moccio came to realize was too boxy and too traditional for his liking. “There was something about the creative energy that just wasn’t feeling right.”
So when he had an opportunity to add his imprint to the house on Astley, Mr. Moccio knew he wanted to re-create the open and modern feeling of the loft.
The approximately 3,000-square-foot house has its main living space on the second floor. One large great room puts the kitchen at the front overlooking the street. There, the island seats six for breakfast. The counters are made of stone and the cabinetry of oak. The dining area is next to the kitchen and the living area is at the rear, overlooking the ravine. Throughout, the polished concrete floor is heated.
Upstairs, the master suite also looks out on the ravine. The bathroom is open to the bedroom, with a separate water closet and an opaque glass sliding partition that separates the spaces. Mr. Moccio says they rarely close the partition to the large bathroom with a walk-in shower and a freestanding tub right beside the treetops.
The composer says he often walked home from work at a music studio to the haven above the ravine.
“It’s just like a beautiful nest perched up in the tree. There’s so much privacy and seclusion,” he says. “I’m so aesthetically driven and sensitive to my surroundings, it was affecting my mood – in a positive way.”
Mr. Moccio describes the foliage in the ravine as lush in the summer and crisp in the fall. In the winter, the leaves gave way to an expansive view and the fresh smell of spring was powerful, he adds. Throughout the year, the ravine seemed to bring a continually changing vista. “It was like a mural in front of your face.”
At ground level, the house has a foyer with a door leading to the integral garage. There’s also a fourth bedroom with an ensuite bathroom. A door to the exterior opens to the ravine and turns showering into an outdoor experience.
Real estate agent Jimmy Molloy of Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd. points out that the room also makes a good home office, with a wall of glass overlooking a deck and the trees beyond.
On the lower level, Mr. Moccio installed a soundproof studio with baffles on the ceiling to create great acoustics. The room would also serve as a very quiet home theatre or gym, Mr. Molloy says.
“The window above grade brings in light, but it also brings in grand pianos.”
Mr. Moccio says he enjoyed living in Rosedale, with the nearby shopping on Bayview Avenue and the Summerhill stretch of Yonge Street. On Saturdays, the family would walk to the farmers’ market at the Brickworks. Mr. Moccio would often run through the ravine.
“You just fall out of bed and roll down the hill and you’re there,” he says.
Mr. Molloy points out that the house is also within walking distance of Whitney Junior Public School and other well-regarded area schools.
In California, the Moccio family is living near the ocean in Pacific Palisades.
They plan to build again and incorporate many of their favourite elements from the house in Toronto.
“We’re driven to do it all over again,” Mr. Moccio says. “Now that I’ve lived in a modern house, I have no interest in living in a traditional house again.”