548 RICHMOND ST. W., TORONTO
Asking price: $4.2-million
Taxes: $13,159 (2012)
Agents: Robin Tully (Royal LePage, Johnston & Daniel) and Marc Paillé (Bosley Real Estate)
The Back Story
Specializing in product design and development, Richard Brault and Dianne Croteau, founders of Toronto’s Studio Innova, purchased a small parking lot on Richmond St. W. in 1993, hoping eventually to build a modern live/work space providing a physical separation between the design studio and their personal residence.
“When we were at home we wanted to be at home, not in the studio,” says Ms. Croteau, a Canadian-born industrial designer who earned her Masters in design from Milan’s Domus Academy. “The complete separation between the studio and residence proved to be very beneficial. When at home we never felt that the studio was encroaching on our personal space, yet we were only one-level away from work. Our residence remained private. Our studio remained professional.
Working in tandem with her architect-brother, Murray Croteau in Ottawa, the married couple with a grown son worked a year on the modernist building that in 1997 won the Ontario Association of Architects Award of Excellence for residential design.
“At the time, in 1995, the King Street West/Queen Street West and Portland Street area had no similar modernist buildings, and there were no condos,” says Mr. Brault, who graduated with high distinction from the School of Industrial Design, Carleton University, in his native Ottawa, in 1982. “Studio House was one of the first legal live-work buildings in the area, a new concept that required 18 months to obtain City approvals. We like to think of ourselves as pioneers in the area. When at home we never felt that the studio was encroaching on our personal space, yet we were one-level away. Our residence remained private. Our studio remained professional.”
Empty nesters, they are selling now because their lifestyle and business needs have changed.
Made of concrete and steel as well as natural materials such as exposed block and solid maple floors, the freehold building is spread over four levels, featuring generous open spaces, high ceilings, extensive natural light from large custom windows.
The two levels of commercial space encompass 1,764 square feet, in addition to 200 square feet of fenced-in private deck space. The two levels of residential space are spread out over another 2,252 square feet of interior living space with an additional 350 square feet of private courtyard.
The property comes with a secure and accessible underground garage with an elevator. Other notable features include a two-storey glass entrance foyer, custom oversized, solid-core doors, custom metal railings and a wood-burning fireplace.
The 19-foot window wall from the kitchen with a view of the vegetated courtyard is not just an architectural detail, it’s an experience,” says Ms. Croteau. “It opens up the space to the outdoors, giving a feeling of expansiveness. You’d never know from being inside the space that you were in downtown Toronto.”