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North Drive, a boutique developer that is building 10 Prince Arthur, 36 Birch and One Forest Hill, is seeing the demand rise for more dedicated spaces, such as dining rooms with walls where you can display cherished art, as well as his-and-hers closets.IMAGES COURTESY OF NORTH DRIVE

With so much work, family time and entertaining concentrated in Toronto’s homes these days, the luxury real estate market is responding to buyers who are looking for alternatives to open concept design and its touted promise of uninterrupted space.

Tiffany Wood, director of sales for The Daniels Corporation, says that while open concept layouts do provide flexibility, a global pandemic has changed what buyers want in their home.

“Today, people value more walls, doors and overall privacy. I think we will see a shift in the way homes are designed because of this,” Wood says.

Changes in what luxury home buyers are looking for inspired the company’s design of 24 upscale townhomes known as Field House in Regent Park. The new development features large outdoor patios and terrace roofs, along with den options and multiple bedrooms for added privacy for work or relaxation.

Mitch Abrahams, president of The Benvenuto Group/Malen Capital Corp., has a practical view on the future of the open design concept.

“There will be some that prefer an open layout, some that differ, and some who are in between,” says Abrahams. “I will say that our audience is incredibly discerning and looks at virtually every element of our suites, trying to imagine how they will live there.”

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With its clients’ desires top of mind, The Benvenuto Group has created Monzo Condos in St. Clair West Village in Toronto.

“We know that more people are spending longer periods of time at home and there will be an element of working from home in a post-pandemic world,” Abrahams says. Most of the suites at Monzo include two bedrooms with the option to use the second bedroom as an office or den. His-and-hers libraries will offer independent spaces in which to work and retreat. In-suite fitness rooms along with separate family living rooms and dining rooms are all options that blend the spaciousness and natural light of open layouts with quiet havens and places to relax and re-energize.

For The Benvenuto Group, flexibility is key. “For example, we have a large audience of art collectors. In that case we take care to massage the open layout design to allow for appropriate wall space so their prized art will have prominence in their new home,” Abrahams says.

Jordan Morassutti, co-founder and partner for North Drive, has seen a move away from open concept designs as people pause and reflect on what is important to them in a home.

“Buyers are looking for private spaces for Zoom calls rather than in a closet or an old bedroom. They also want in-suite fitness rooms and separate family living rooms and dining rooms,” he says. “Natural light is incredibly attractive to buyers. However, those watching television a lot may want a family room tucked away in their suites.”

Morassutti describes North Drive’s 10 Prince Arthur condos in Yorkville as an exciting new alternative to buyers wanting a change from open layouts. Suites include separate living, family and dining rooms, a library and den, as well as individual closets. He also mentions North Drive’s One Forest Hill where dens, offices and libraries are the norm rather than the exception.

Taking buyers’ desires for a new kind of home to heart, North Drive engaged interior designer Michael London, principal of Michael London Design, as one of the designers for the developer’s projects in Forest Hill, Summerhill, Yorkville and its latest at 10 Prince Arthur.

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Before beginning his own entrepreneurial journey, London worked for renowned designer Brian Gluckstein for 20 years. On his own for two years now, London’s warm yet modern aesthetic is attracting those who are looking to create their own paradise at home.

London’s goal is clear: “I listen carefully to my customers and how they want to live given they are spending so much of their time at home. My goal is to create spaces for them that are luxurious, immersive and creative,” he says.

I listen carefully to my customers and how they want to live given they are spending so much of their time at home. My goal is to create spaces for them that are luxurious, immersive and creative.

Michael London, principal of Michael London Design

His conversations tell him that buyers of luxury homes are looking for tweaks to open layouts, with spaces for entertaining, exercising and relaxing. At North Drive’s 36 Birch development located in the heart of Toronto’s Summerhill community, London has created solutions to hide clutter with butler’s pantries or catering kitchens behind the kitchen “where the mess happens.”

Marrying his unique style of modern together with industrial, London incorporates pocket doors with textured glass or custom upholstered privacy walls between dining and living areas.

At 10 Prince Arthur, art-infused dressing rooms surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass doors with subtle lighting, textured walls, ultra-modern seating and an abundance of closet space become destinations with London’s expert touch.

With a flair for the unexpected, London loves to use metal to surprise. He’s been known to replace grout in tile floors with slivers of brushed metal and incorporate metal in drywall. He uses a calm and neutral palette, adding a soft pink sofa or accent to create interest.

“I love to take the simplest things and make my colleagues or clients wonder, ‘wow, I’ve never done it that way before’ or ‘I’ve never seen that before.’ For me it’s about taking a step back and asking: ‘how can I make this better?’ "

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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