128 Sherwood Ave., Toronto
Asking price: $1.795-million
Taxes: $8,162.76 (2015)
Lot size: 27.9 by 184 feet
Agent: Cailey Heaps Estrin (Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.)
The back story
Architect Gina Schafrick had designed other people’s houses before she and her husband, photographer Peter Schafrick, began looking for their own raw material in midtown Toronto.
“I really wanted to sink my teeth into something and build for my family. You’re living vicariously through your clients most of the time.”
The couple had been looking for about nine months in Leaside and other traditional neighbourhoods when a box-shaped house built in 1983 came on the market in Sherwood Park.
“It’s one of those things where suddenly you open your mind to something different,” Ms. Schafrick says. “I thought, ‘It’s a post-modern house. It’s got great bones. I can work with this.’”
She also figured a modern house would not look out of place in the more eclectic streetscape west of Mount Pleasant. She popped out the front and added a shadow box.
“That allowed us to create that façade that I was looking for that says, ‘This is a new home,’” Ms. Schafrick says. “We could never have done this in Leaside.”
The house today
Ms. Schafrick opened up the main floor to make an open living space with the Bulthaup kitchen at the centre.
“We started out as city loft dwellers,” Ms. Schafrick says. “We always looked for that openness.”
An addition at the front of the house cantilevered over the driveway was used as an office by the previous owners but Ms. Schafrick has turned it into a family room.
“It’s the place where we hang out.”
It also provides a buffer between the street and the kitchen.
The kitchen is designed so that the chefs can have family and guests gathered around them while they are busy with preparations. A large walnut dining table in the centre accommodates the extended family.
The living room at the rear of the house has a glass door leading to the deck and a large window overlooking the garden. The wide plank floor is a wire-brushed white oak with an ebony stain and matte finish.
A powder room on the main floor has been reconfigured.
“The powder room is quite condensed and very economical,” Ms. Schafrick says.
Ms. Schafrick designed the white oak staircase to appear as a sculptural, poetic statement with open risers and one solid rail that merges with the treads.
The natural stain of the wood also sets the staircase apart from other wood elements, such as the walnut bar top and the living room floor.
“Because we have a skylight, I wanted this to be sculptural and kind of float down from above,” she says. “It is its own statement and has its own personality.”
Upstairs, eight-year-old Stella Schafrick has her room at the front of the house. Maxx, 6, has a room in the middle and the two kids share the main bathroom.
Ms. Schafrick says she could have built four bedrooms but decided to go with three larger ones.
“I really wanted our bedrooms to be generous.”
The master suite at the rear of the house once had smaller windows and a Juliet balcony.
“I just wanted to have a picture window with a beautiful view of our backyard,” Ms. Schafrick says.
A fireplace in the bedroom provides a place for a large work of art. There’s an ensuite bathroom and his-and-her closets.
Outside, the large backyard is traditional in design, with a koi pond and two waterfalls.
“It’s a gorgeous English perennial garden,” Ms. Schafrick says.
A wave of positive reactions to the project encouraged Ms. Schafrick to launch her own practice. During construction, people would pass by to watch the progress and they’d often stop to tell her how much they liked the finished house.
“This kind of propelled me,” she says.
Design Nine Architects will focus mainly on residential projects and some small commercial work, she says.
The house was on the market for only one day last week when it received a bully offer for the full asking price.
Real estate agent Cailey Heaps Estrin of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. advised the Schafricks to reject the bully and wait for the night scheduled for reviewing offers.
A so-called bully typically offers an amount high above the asking price; the strategy is meant to make the offer so irresistible to the sellers that they accept on the spot instead of holding off in the hopes of sparking a bidding war.
The couple was shocked when, that evening, a second bully approached with an offer $105,000 over the asking price, or $1.9-million.
This time the Schafricks didn’t have to ponder for long before deciding to accept. The house is now sold.
“It feels great,” Ms. Schafrick says.
The best feature
Ms. Schafrick chose the Bulthaup kitchen for its strong design, which keeps the inner workings concealed behind crisp panels.
Ms. Schafrick found that Gaggenau appliances best suit the Germany-made cabinets. The Silestone quartz countertop was also fabricated in Germany for a precise fit.
The design keeps the appliances mainly hidden, Ms. Schafrick says. An appliance garage provides a place to hide small devices such as the toaster, mixer and microwave so the countertop remains clutter-free.
The floor is warmed with radiant heating and covered with large format porcelain tile that resembles concrete.
A built-in stainless steel Gaggenau coffee maker provides espresso at the touch of a button. Another luxury is the wine fridge, which keeps the temperature-controlled bottles on display behind a glass door.
“We’ve got this 100 bottle wine fridge – which is very dangerous if you’re not disciplined,” Ms. Schafrick says with a laugh.