9 Millbank Ave., Toronto
Asking price: $3,925,000
Taxes: $20,236.24 (2012)
Lot size: Irregularly-sized 35-by-135-foot lot, widening to 50 feet at rear
Listing agent: Julie Gofman, Forest Hill Real Estate Inc., Brokerage
Nine Millbank Ave., is a bit of a trompe l’oeil . From the street – a quiet curved road bordering a park in Toronto’s luxurious Forest Hill neighbourhood – it doesn’t look like much more than a copper-clad two-storey, bungalow-esque house. From this vantage point, you’d have no idea that the house is actually 7,000 square feet, is serviced by an elevator and has a small pool in its courtyard. Not to mention its five bedrooms, seven bathrooms or two kitchens.
All of this space was certainly a selling point to Mervyn Blumberg and his family when they scoped out the home back in 2003. “This home is unique,” Mr. Blumberg said. “If I wanted to create something like this, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
The back story
Part of the reason why Mr. Blumberg recognized this house could never be duplicated is that its structures push up against all four of the lot lines.
Brick walls delineate the east and west borders. The south edge comprises a rear deck that nestles up against Suydam Park.
It’s only by looking at the house from the park that you get a true sense of its size; a full five floors perched amid the greenery.
To say it’s a multifaceted house is an understatement. But Mr. Blumberg says the layout of the house is quite logical and accessible if you think about it in zones.
Zone 1 includes the two-storey coach house on the front, including a garage and covered courtyard connecting it to the main house.
Zone 2 is the master bedroom on the second floor, with its west-facing balcony, mirrored, spacious dressing area and six-piece master bath with an ensuite sauna.
Zone 3 is the rest of the top floor, which consists of three co-joined bedrooms and two full bathrooms. Like the master suite, each bedroom also includes a loft space above it.
Zone 4 encapsulates all of the below-ground floors, including the striking living area, cozy lounge, service kitchen, recreational rooms and home theatre.
Finally, Zone 5 is the main floor, which houses the gallery foyer and main hall, a luxurious two-range kitchen, a formal dining room and family room.
Barring the fifth-floor home theatre, all of these zones have a source of natural light, including a massive bubble window in the walkway connecting the main house to the coach house.
“I love the quality of light. There isn’t another house that has this quality of light,” Mr. Blumberg said.
He has made some changes to the home over the last 10 years, including replacing the garage door with a glass one, fixing the roof and many windows and renovating the master bath.
But the biggest change was to the main courtyard on the west side. When Mr. Blumberg took ownership, there was a mysterious mini-mountain of large stones occupying the centre of the long, but narrow, courtyard.
Instead of just trashing the stones, Mr. Blumberg used some of them to create a tiny rocky escarpment that sits on the north end of the plunge pool and is festooned with flowers during the warmer months.
In the place of the pile of rocks, he created an outdoor dining space, accessible from the sliding doors off the kitchen.
The defining features
The courtyard is certainly one of Mr. Blumberg’s favourite spaces in the house, but he also loves the great room. Viewed from the family room above, you can appreciate its size, at nearly 23 by 191/2 feet. Mr. Blumberg says he and his wife have hosted a 150-person party there, which might seem crammed but it’s not since the living room opens up to the back deck, which is even larger at nearly 45 by 28 feet.
The home is undeniably huge, providing enough space for Mr. Blumberg, his wife and their three kids (who are now adults and out of the house). And yet, even as emptynesters, Mr. Blumberg doesn’t think it’s overly big.
“Yes, there is openness but you don’t feel that it is overwhelming,” he said.
That said, the size and unusual layout require an imaginative buyer. “Some people just get this house,” Mr. Blumberg said. “And when they do, they love it.”
The house sold earlier this week for $3.7-million.