40 BEAUFORT RD., TORONTO
ASKING PRICE: $2,890,000
LOT SIZE: 42-by-131 feet
TAXES: $11,172.30 (2012)
LISTING AGENT: Mark Richards, Re/Max Hallmark Realty Ltd.
For many large, luxury homes, there is a fine line between being grand and being grandiose. But for Greg Cole of Cole Contracting Ltd., there is a simple, surefire way to exude grandeur without pomposity: Be proportional.
Not only does the house need to fit the lot, according to Mr. Cole, but the rooms in the home have to be proportional in size to their function. Keeping this basic building principle in mind, it’s easy to understand the balance that is struck in 40 Beaufort Rd., Mr. Cole’s most recent project, as well as his family’s home.
The six-bedroom, six-bathroom house is located in the east end of Toronto’s Beaches community. It sits amongst English cottage-esque homes, many with brick and mortar bases and stucco tops. The odd older home even has moss on its roofs. And even though it’s a short commute to the Danforth subway line, it’s easy to mistake 40 Beaufort as in the countryside. Perched up on a little knoll, you can see not only the Glen Manor ravine but also – in the winter when the trees are bare – you can catch a glimpse of Lake Ontario.
The back story
Beyond the location, another element of the home that drew Mr. Cole to it in 2010 was its centre-hall plan layout.
“It’s always been a very stately home,” he said. “But it was tired.”
Tired in this case did not necessarily mean unkempt. There had been a few renovations done to the Beaufort house before Mr. Cole took over. For example, the third floor had been opened up into one great space but practically partitioned off from the rest of the house. The staircase leading up to the top floor was closed off by an unnecessary door.
“It really felt like you were heading up to an attic,” said agent Mark Richards. “Even though it was open, it wasn’t really utilizing all of the space up there.”
The other odd touch that came with the house was a powder room tucked away on the main floor. Mr. Cole points out that it wasn’t that there was a powder room, it’s where it was, or more so what it replaced. Previous owners had annexed a few closets – and thus forsaken its storage space – for the addition. A noble thought, but a poor execution.
Mr. Cole, who has been working as a builder in Toronto since the 1980s, conquered not just the problem of not enough closet space but also the issue of too few bathrooms.
He added two extra bathrooms to the second floor (making for three on the floor), one in the basement and on the top floor. The sixth is on the main floor.
As for closets, he reinstated the main-floor closet space by removing the powder room as well as adding in new build-ins throughout the house. Every bedroom closet has shelves in it. The original galley kitchen has been turned into a second, smaller kitchen area with just a few appliances and plenty of cupboards. And the new main kitchen has storage space everywhere, even hidden on the sides of the walnut island.
Mr. Cole also opened up the third floor, removing the door, and splitting the space into two, which he points out is perfect for a family with two kids: The mirror-image upper bedrooms leave no room for bickering and are divided by a small hall and a bathroom.
The other major change was the substantial two-storey addition to the back of the home.
“The house needed something else – to be on this space, it just need something else,” Mr. Cole said. “It wasn’t driven out of a number [in terms of square footage], it was driven out of design.”
The addition includes the new kitchen as well as a family room and second fireplace on the main floor. It’s also entirely heated by the radiant floors, which are not just cozy on cold feet but are also a green choice.
“I think being eco-conscious is just being responsible,” Mr. Cole said. “It’s not just the fossil fuels that are polluting but it’s also the cost of heating a house, especially a large one.”
The second floor of the addition filled another void the original home was missing: a true master bedroom suite.
Prior to Mr. Cole’s addition none of the rooms really stood out as a palatial master bedroom, as you might expect in a house with such grandeur. To remedy this, he added not just a slightly larger bedroom with a full adjoining bathroom but also a true dressing room.
“Calling it a closet is an understatement,” said Mr. Richards.
It has wall-to-wall storage space, providing more closet space than a person probably really needs. There is also a boudoir desk and a bench to sit on while one dresses and enjoys the view of the spacious backyard.
Despite the luxury of size of the master suite, nothing feels overly big.
“I know proportions, I knew the master was good at that size,” Mr. Cole said. “Balance is everything.”
The best features
On the topic of balance, Mr. Richards added that the thoughtfulness Mr. Cole brought to the construction of the addition extends right to the details.
“The accents really finish the space,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like anythings been forgotten.”
As an example, he pointed to the built-in shelves that frame the fireplace in the family room. Instead of being wood, Mr. Cole decided to make them glass so that light from the LEDs that shine from above can travel all the way through, projecting interesting shadows on the walls behind.
For Mr. Cole, though, his favourite rooms are the dressing room in the master suite as well as the main kitchen.
“This kitchen is just very simple, clean and elegant,” he said. “It doesn’t have to try to wow you, it’s just highly functional and simple.”
“This is a showpiece home, of course,” he said. “But it comes from the heart. This is my home.”