1097 Birchview Ave., Oakville
Asking price: $2,795,000
Lot size: 115 by 138 feet
Taxes: $19,329.00 (2012)
Agent: Judith Hanley, RE/MAX Realty Enterprises Inc.
Tracy Ray's home in Oakville sprawls over 6,399 square feet but has the feel of a much smaller house. This is no hulking McMansion with rooms so big as to be daunting. It's a home of cozy rooms and cottagy comfort.
Ms. Ray, owner of the interior-design company Unique Ideas, decided to build the two-storey house on Birchview Avenue in Oakville back in 2008.
The back story
Ms. Ray's last house was a stone-and-stucco mansion in Mississauga, which she also designed. The 10,000-square-foot structure had it all; a basement that she describes as "a kid's heaven," pop-up TVs, a hot tub and even a tennis court.
"It was too much house. It was beautiful, but we kind of went overboard," says Ms. Ray.
Even her daughter agreed.
"She told me that she wanted a smaller home, something cozier. So with [the Birchview house], we tried to make it more intimate."
Ms. Ray also knew where she wanted her new home to be: Oakville. Despite growing up and living in Mississauga for most of her life, she had always liked the town and its quaint neighbourhoods. Plus, she wanted to be closer to her daughter's Oakville school.
The decision to build new came after touring several resale homes but finding nothing that fit Ms. Ray's vision. When agent Judith Hanley showed her the lot on Birchview, Ms. Ray immediately pictured her family living there.
The finished product
Ms. Ray has worked on more than 50 homes since she started her design company 15 years ago, but she didn't design this home by herself. Her family had plenty of input. Of course, that presented a different set of challenges.
"My husband really wanted a TV to pop up at the end of the bed, which I talked him out of," she said. "Though we did end up doing the wiring, so if the new owner wants that, it's there."
"But we were pretty much in synch with what we want – that said, I would have designed myself a bigger closet!"
The end result of their collaboration is a balance between luxury and practicality. For example, the floors: Ms. Ray decided to go with walnut floors, but had them hand-distressed on site to give the place a worn feel.
"Tracy has taken a luxury home and made it so that you're not afraid to live in it," says Ms. Hanley.
The basement, which has nine-foot ceilings, is basically a guest house within the house. There is a generously sized "entertainment room" that includes a small bar and a separate "wine-tasting room." There is also a gym with a rubber-tile floor and a 15-by-14-foot bedroom with a three-piece bathroom.
On the main floor, the mud room is spacious and has a laundry room (one of two in the home) off-shoot as a well as another three-piece bathroom.
Like trying to pick the favourite among her children, Ms. Ray says it's difficult to choose which room in this house she likes most. She likes them all in different ways. One that stands out is the formal dining room.
"I wanted it to be moody," she says. The walls are a dark, warm brown to match the walnut floors. The intensity of the decor is balanced by the light from the two large front windows and the detailed white-and-walnut ceiling. And just on the other side of the dining room is a small wine bar, built into the main hall, complete with beverage drawers and a mini fridge.
"I love entertaining in my dining room," says Ms. Ray.
Another favourite spot, ideal for entertaining in the warmer months, is the back deck, which is wired with an outdoor television. It overlooks a spacious backyard that is busy, even in January, with birds at the birdhouse, which happens to be a tiny replica of 1097 Birchview Ave.
Then there's her office, nestled between the formal living room and the family room/kitchen.
"I feel comfortable and inspired in there," she says.
Though it's one of the smaller rooms in the house, it feels large with many windows and 10-foot-high ceilings.
"It's my lady cave," Ms. Ray says with a laugh.
She says she is sad to say goodbye to it all, but her family – now grown to include three horses – needs a home in the country.
"If it wasn't that I wanted a place for my horse in my backyard, I could stay here forever," she says.