28 COUNTRY LANE, TORONTO
ASKING PRICE: $6.995-million
TAXES: $29,038.24 (2013)
LOT SIZE: 99.6 by 239 feet
AGENT: Eileen Farrow, Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.
The back story
Wendy Sokolowski and Steven Pezim were vacationing at the Delano Hotel in South Beach, Fla., when Ms. Sokolowski was struck by inspiration.
Plans were under way to build a new house and Ms. Sokolowski wanted to recreate an experience she enjoyed at the chic hotel: The 6,600-square-foot house would have a swimming pool with a plateau at the shallow end. She would set a table and chairs in the pool so that diners could kick off their shoes and linger over a meal with their feet in several centimetres of cool water.
"We just wanted to eat dinner and have fun and be in the water," says Ms. Sokolowski of the many summer dinner parties held there.
The couple's travels to Italy and France inspired other elements: A balustrade around the pool area is a replica of one they saw at a villa on Lake Como. The marble floor in the dining room is reminiscent of the Four Seasons George V Hotel in Paris, while the front door resembles the grand entrance to that city's Hotel Lancaster. The floor of the elevator is similar to one in the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris.
The couple worked with luxury home builder Joe Brennan to design and build the residence, which was completed in 2002.
The land was carved from the former Windfields Estate of business tycoon E.P. Taylor. The back garden overlooks a park created from a portion of the storied estate. Wooden jumps for Mr. Taylor's horses still stand in the fields.
"The property was here and it's spectacular," says agent Eileen Farrow. "It's not just the large garden – it's a park, which goes and goes, which is wonderful."
The house today
The L-shaped house was built around the pool, and French doors lead from the principal rooms onto the terrace.
Mr. Brennan advised the couple to create rooms that had good flow for entertaining and space for furniture to accommodate large and small groups. The living room has 12-foot ceilings and a large gas fireplace. A private library is panelled in lacquered mahogany.
The large kitchen and family-room combination was the hub of the house while the couple's two children were growing up.
A hidden butler's pantry connects the kitchen to the dining room.
"It's back of house for serious entertaining," says Ms. Farrow of the servery and wet bar.
Upstairs, a master suite has a gas fireplace in the bedroom and French doors leading to Juliet balconies with views over the pool and parkland.
His-and-hers dressing rooms provide lots of storage space. A walk-in steam shower stands between the his-and-hers bathrooms and can be accessed from both.
The master suite also includes a sitting room which is currently used as a small gym, but Ms. Farrow points out that the room could also serve as a home office or a nursery.
Two other bedrooms on the second floor have ensuite bathrooms, while another bedroom has doors leading to a balcony above the staircase.
A full gym is located on the lower level, next to a large playroom. There's also a fifth bedroom with ensuite bath on the lower level. Outside, the house's exterior of stucco and limestone is brightened with wrought-iron window boxes.
"She just wanted these window boxes overflowing with flowers – it's very European," Ms. Farrow said.
The best feature
The swimming pool can accommodate a dining table and still leaves room for laps.
The pool is surrounded by a stone terrace and formal gardens. Stairs lead down to a lawn area large enough for a tennis court.