183 CONFEDERATION DRIVE, SCARBOROUGH
Asking Price: $469,000
Taxes: $2352.15 (2012)
Lot Size: 100.15 feet by 50 feet
Agent: Erika de Vasconcelos, Royal LePage Urban Realty
The back story
When Eliza Clark and Tim Trojian, who work in television, came to see this mid-century modern three-bedroom home, they discovered the best view was reserved for the family pet: the only piece of furniture beside the floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding the front door was a dog bed.
The living room, says Ms. Clark, was “all pushed into the corner,” effectively turning half of it into an extended foyer … and dog habitat. To make matters worse, heavy drapes blocked most of the juicy natural light raining down through the massive roof cut-out, and the original 1962 floors were painted dark brown.
“They didn’t understand the windows,” she says. “It was just very closed in: it didn’t have that exuberance that I think this house really has … it’s a happy house and I didn’t feel that it had that yet.”
While Ms. Clark had been happy in the Toronto houses she’d owned before, they were starting to look the same – narrow floor plan, gable, bay window and a staircase to the side – so the self-confessed “vintage furniture lover” decided she needed the correct environment for her mid-century modern finds. “This [house] felt like California, and I couldn’t move to California because of work commitments.”
While the home’s architect was not from The Golden State, Toronto-born Harry B. Kohl was one of the golden boy Modernists of the 1950s and 60s. Not only did Mr. Kohl (1923-73) design the iconic geodesic-domed Hwy. 401 rest stops (now demolished), he penned experimental model homes for the National Home Show from 1962-69, countless high rises, and a Fiji resort for Peter Munk.
Mr. Kohl also designed Don Mills homes in the 1950s, a few of which are twins to this Scarborough side-split (check 41 Broadleaf Rd. on Google Street View). In Don Mills, however, you’d need a time machine to get something in the mid-$400s: “It’s cool to see a house that’s this incredible at this price-point,” says listing agent Erika de Vasconcelos.
The home today
Almost everything that makes this home a stellar example of mid-century modern is intact. Hanging in the 16-foot foyer is a cluster of original, bubbled-glass globe fixtures.
Long beams that caress the ceiling continue outside to form a semi-private forecourt/carport. Echoing the floor-to-ceiling glass at the front of the home, the dining area sports a huge, wedge-shaped window-wall; to eradicate condensation between the original double-pane windows, the couple had “Mr. Foggy Window” drill small vents in the glass.
Ms. Clark and Mr. Trojian had the hardwood floors restored back to their original golden hue, removed acres of dated carpeting, and painted all walls “white and bright” to highlight Mr. Kohl’s architecture.
While previous owners had “diligently” replaced every interior door with inappropriately ornate doors, the couple replaced “the two that you could see when you sit [in the living room] because they were driving me crazy,” chuckles Ms. Clark.
The kitchen, which also boasts an original light fixture, was fairly well done, so it was left alone save for some new shelving.
Upstairs, two smaller bedrooms had already been combined into one large master, which the couple retained (there is a bedroom in the basement), but they added a soaker tub and granite counter top to the main bathroom.
The two lower levels (this is a four-level split) contain a panelled family room with original, groovy shelving, a workshop, a large laundry room, a “knick-knack room,” and “even more storage.
“This house kind of goes on and on,” laughs Ms. Clark.
The best feature
While the couple enjoys strolling in the nearby ravine, they get plenty of nature at home with all of that glass. “I think the light is amazing,” says Ms. Clark. Specifically, the couple sits on the couch gazing out the massive window the previous owners had given over to the dog: “The cut-out lets you see the clouds roll in, see storms come in, [and] you see the sunset.
“I don’t know if there’s a name for it,” she continues. “I tried Googling once to see if the cut-out had any architectural name, and I never found anything.”
If the new owners can’t think of one, they could do worse than “Kohl’s Hole.”