74 BROOKDALE AVE., TORONTO
Asking price: $1.689-million
Lot size: 25-by-110 feet
Agent: Diane Speer (Royal LePage Urban Realty)
The back story
Ingrid Oomen and Asad Wali purchased their house near Yonge and Lawrence about five years ago, then began the work of remaking it.
“It basically was a cookie cutter North Toronto house,” says Ms. Oomen, a designer who specializes in transforming residences.
Ms. Oomen designed a house that brings in plenty of light and uses all of her favourite materials, while at the same time accommodating Mr. Wali’s use of a wheelchair.
The house today
The couple built an addition at the rear of the house for the new kitchen and family room overlooking the backyard.
Ms. Oomen was inspired to use Carrara marble for the countertops and a large island after she peeked into a butcher shop on a visit to Rome and saw lots of the traditional white marble with grey veining.
The island is lower in height than usual so that it can also serve as an eating area at a comfortable height for Mr. Wali.
The original kitchen was given over to space for an elevator that glides from the basement to the second floor and also provides access to the driveway. There’s also a powder room and a servery in the area next to the dining room.
Ms. Oomen reclaimed some old doors with etched-glass windows from a nearby house that was being torn down and had them installed in front of the elevator.
“When you’re in the elevator, you always have some light coming through from the glass doors.”
An infrared safety curtain is an invisible security measure that does away with the need for a cumbersome folding door.
Ms. Oomen says an elevator can be handy for many reasons: Older family members with lessened mobility can still visit and parents can wheel a sleeping child into the house and up to the bedroom level in a stroller.
“We had to get a king-sized mattress in,” she adds. “It wouldn’t go up the stairs but we put it in the elevator and it worked perfectly.”
On the second floor, the addition houses the master bedroom and ensuite bath. Ms. Oomen created a slight ramp leading into the bathroom and the large shower, then used limestone and glass throughout to make it feel luxurious. The bedroom has a gas fireplace and French doors leading to a Juliet balcony overlooking the backyard.
There are two other bedrooms on the second floor and the attic has been renovated to create another bedroom, sitting area and bathroom.
On the lower level, Ms. Oomen has brought in lots of extra light and added closets and built-ins for her decorating business, which she runs from her home.
In the newly-added portion, there is a recreation room with full-height windows.
The best feature
Ms. Oomen has made the house comfortable for the couple while also making changes that would suit any resident: A much expanded doorway into the living room, for example, makes the living room and the front hallway into a shared space.
“I find that sharing spaces makes the house feel bigger,” she says. She adds that she has maintained and matched the architectural details throughout the house. “For me it doesn’t feel like an accessible house,” she says.
Still, Ms. Oomen points out that wheelchair-accessible properties are hard to find and sometimes people who need one have to look a long time: “I would love it if someone who needs an accessible house would buy it.”