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Minh Ton decided to put the living space above the two bedrooms and master bath on the lower level in her penthouse. Home of the Week, 10 Wellesley Place, PH 505, Toronto (photos by MATT VARDY)
Minh Ton decided to put the living space above the two bedrooms and master bath on the lower level in her penthouse. Home of the Week, 10 Wellesley Place, PH 505, Toronto (photos by MATT VARDY)

Home of the Week: Steam plant refit powers an unusual layout Add to ...

10 WELLESLEY PLACE, PH 505, TORONTO

ASKING PRICE: $634,900

TAXES: $3,913.22 (2013)

Maintenance fees: $561.51

Agent: Ricky Lau, Right at Home Realty Inc.

The Building

Minh Ton was at the forefront of interested buyers when Aykler Development unveiled plans to transform a mid-century red brick power plant into residential lofts.

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The conversion would see the circa 1953 Wellesley Hospital steam generation power plant turned into 31 units in a boutique building just south of Bloor and Jarvis.

Ms. Ton was drawn to one of the two-storey penthouses, but she wasn’t pleased with the plan. The unit offered a large outdoor terrace located just off the master bedroom on the upper level.

“I was horrified that everyone would trot through my master bedroom to get to the terrace,” says Ms. Ton, who holds frequent dinner parties for friends.

Ms. Ton thought it would make more sense to locate all of the living and entertaining space on the upper level to take advantage of the light and views over the city. The bedrooms and master bath would work well on the lower level.

Ms. Ton approached the builders with her design and they agreed to make the swap: The living space is above the two bedrooms and master bath on the lower level. A staircase of wood, glass and metal connects the two. She also suggested that the ceilings on the upper level should be made higher.

As it turned out, the developers were so convinced of Ms. Ton’s logic, they made the same tweaks in the other penthouse units, says real estate agent Ricky Lau of Right at Home Realty Inc.

“They were a small builder and she bought early,” says Mr. Lau.

The Unit

The 990-square-foot unit has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Upstairs, the open living space has a skylight above and a large dining area opening to the outdoors.

“You don’t usually get that in condos,” says Mr. Lau.

The floors are white oak and the ceilings concrete. Quirky window openings and exposed pipes add to the industrial feel.

Ms. Ton was working in Sweden when the building was completed in 2008. She had been working with her friend and designer, Steve Suraci of Icarus Designs, from the start, so she invited him to meet her in Stockholm for a shopping excursion.

“That’s how the orange came about,” says Mr. Suraci, pointing to the kitchen’s backsplash tiles and other accents.

“He predicted orange five years ago,” adds Ms. Ton.

The two found inspiration in the design-forward city and the bold colours of Marimekko prints.

“We carried back bolts of fabric,” says Ms. Ton.

Ms. Ton loves to cook so she had a gas range installed in the kitchen and a gas range outside.

The Best Feature

The 300-square-foot terrace – five storeys above the ground – is not high up by skyscraper standards, but in this residential pocket it sits well above the surrounding low-rise buildings and townhouses.

“She has a great city view,” says Mr. Suraci. “You can see the CN Tower. You understand you’re in Toronto.”

Ms. Ton says the terrace is a quiet place to relax because there is so little noise from the nearly hidden streets below.

The power plant’s original brick chimney also looms above and provides a reminder of the building’s heritage.

When friends are navigating through the back laneways for the first time, she tells them to look for the smokestack.

“It’s a conversation piece – that’s for sure,” says Ms. Ton. “It’s a landmark too.”

Follow on Twitter: @CarolynIreland

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