2 MILES PLACE, TORONTO
Asking price: $829,000
Selling price: $829,000
Lot size: 17.67 by 35.21 feet
Taxes: $3,430 (2013)
Agent: George Niblock, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., Brokerage
Every house has its plans: mockups, city paperwork, photos. But not every house has an overstuffed binder, full of drawings, notes, stories, such as the one Jeff Pangman carries around when he shows off the laneway house he designed.
So to say that 2 Miles Place is Mr. Pangman's baby is an understatement.
"I've been thinking building my own laneway home for about 10 years now," says Mr. Pangman with a touch of astonishment.
The back story
The modern steel and wood 2 Miles Place started out a far less impressive place. When Mr. Pangman, an actor and TV producer, discovered it on a walk with his dog in 2006, the building was a pink, vinyl-siding garage with a few misplaced windows. "A shack," Mr. Pangman says. "Just a shack in a laneway."
The house sits at the corner of two laneways near Christie Pits tucked between Yarmouth Road and Garnet Avenue. Miles Place runs north-south, while a second laneway that acts as access to the many detached garages in the neighbourhood runs east-west and dead-ends right before Christie Street.
Even in its decrepit state, Mr. Pangman knew he wanted the detached home; he called his long-time friend and real estate agent, George Niblock, and asked him to keep an eye on the property.
As fate would have it, it came up for sale a few months later and Mr. Pangman bought it for $159,000.
After that he lived in the shack while he started on his "scribbles," sketching out different ideas for what could stand in same tiny lot.
"I knew that I had to live with the original footprint, so that's how the cantilever idea came to be," says Mr. Pangman. "I figured if I cantilevered out over the driveway, I'd be able to maximize the living space by going up and making something interesting."
Interesting it certainly is. From the outside, the house has an industrial feel, with its exposed steel beams, wooden and corrugated metal sides and asymmetrical windows. Inside has a far more modern aesthetic.
"I really wanted to design something with clean lines and I was big into wood," Mr. Pangman said.
And rich, warm Douglas fir and oak woods are all over the house: staircases, window and door trim, even the ceiling.
The ceiling on the second floor, which is one multi-purpose open space, has a barn roof shape. The idea came after Mr. Pangman took his drawings to architect Terence Van Elslander. He suggested he vault the roof up and curve it out.
And because the ceilings are so high and in such a warm wood, the light bounces off them, making the second storey a very bright space.
"I wanted to build everything around the light," Mr. Pangman said.
This is partially because even though the house is situated on a small lot, it does get a lot of eastern sunlight. Mr. Niblock points out that this is one of the special features of being in a laneway because if it were along either Yarmouth or Garnet, it would be far more sheltered from the sun.
"Row houses in Toronto, where the trees have all grown up, are pretty dark," Mr. Niblock said.
The glass doors that connect the rooftop deck with the barn roof allow natural light to flood the interior.
"The sun carves across and into the house – even in the winter – all day through those sliding glass doors," Mr. Pangman said.
There's plenty of light, but since it is removed from the streets, the home is also very private and quiet.
"It's so separate, which is why my girlfriend called it the 'Urban Cottage,'" says Mr. Pangman. "You come down the laneway, close the door and that's it. The whole world is closed out and it's peaceful in here."
Mr. Pangman says one of the most peaceful spots in the house is the staircase from the main living space on the second floor to the rooftop deck.
"[During construction] I spent the most time at the top of those stairs," Mr. Pangman says, "just staring down, looking down at the space."
The deck just behind those stairs is another highlight. It has high walls to give some privacy but it's still a great vantage point for the city skyline. With plenty of space for outdoor furniture and gas barbecue hook-up, it offers a very private space for entertaining and relaxing.
"I fell asleep so many times up on the roof deck in the summer, while the place was still half built," Mr. Pangman says.
For Mr. Niblock, though, it's the main space on the second floor that is the crowning jewel of the home.
"When you come up the main stairs, you get such a great sense of space, light and airiness right away," he said, adding that because of this, the space is perfectly suited for parties.
The size of the second floor is also very surprising because the first floor, which only houses the master suit, seems very intimate. You don't expect the second storey to be so spacious.
"There's an instant wow factor," he says.
It seems at least one person agreed – the home sold within five days for the full asking price.