451 St. Germain Ave., Toronto
Asking price: $3,495,000
Taxes: $14,009.95 (2022)
Lot size: 37.5 by 150.16 feet
Agents: Christian Vermast and Paul Maranger, Sotheby’s International Realty
The Google Maps Streetview service has been with us so long now that it can serve as a sort of recent historical real estate record, and if you’re interested in that kind of thing St. Germain Avenue in Toronto is a good place to start.
When Sue Simone first moved into her house at 451 St. Germaine 17 years ago it was a newly built, two-storey home that had replaced a post-war bungalow very much like the two houses that then flanked her property. Streetview only goes back to 2007, but you can see what Ms. Simone has experienced: the bungalows on the street have become an endangered species, they have almost all been replaced with more new-builds – some modernist boxes, some with more traditional stylings – particularly the closer you are to Avenue Road. As for the few bungalows that remain, “those lots are going for a ridiculous amount of money,” said Ms. Simone.
Ms. Simone is a life-long Torontonian and has lived in several neighbourhoods in the city, but she said perhaps her favourite is her current one. “There’s nothing you can’t purchase on Avenue Road,” she said, with everything from fine-dining to hot-table takeout, dentists to doctors and fresh produce to French bakeries a short walk from her front door. Well, there’s maybe one thing missing: “If it had a bookstore it would be complete.”
It was great for her young family when they moved in: her two boys went to down-the-road Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School, and now that they’ve grown up and have children of their own, her grandkids also attend nearby Ledbury Park Elementary. Her stepdaughter who moved in for just her first year of university some years back, met her to-this-day best friend across the street. But, if anything, the neighbourhood has only gotten younger. “There’s a lot more kids in the neighbourhood; the older people are maybe moving out,” she said.
The house today
One wintertime feature sure to draw the eye is the heated sloping driveway to the basement-level double garage – great for traction and convenience.
The foyer is a runway of large-format porcelain tiles that extends to the rear of the house. On the right is a large formal sitting room with gas fireplace and bay window and hardwood flooring that runs under a large archway framed by half-walls and pillars into to a formal dining room with coffered ceiling. On the left of the main hall is a home office with custom cabinetry and stairs heading up and down. A powder room got an update in 2019 with a bold blue print pattern on the walls, same colour vanity, with a vessel sink and wall-mounted brass faucet.
At the back of the house is a family room/kitchen combo, with built-in storage and entertainment unit on the TV wall, and on the opposite side a wall of kitchen cabinets and counters. There’s a Wolf gas range, a Wolf wall oven and Sub-Zero fridge, with Miele dishwasher in the island that anchors this space, which was all updated in 2019.
“I love the kitchen: When I came home after work I’d make dinner and we’d sit around the island, we never use the table in the kitchen,” Ms. Simone says. “There’s a casual elegance to it, it’s clean and fresh, it’s just a comfortable place, that’s how I’ve always felt about it.”
Up to the second floor, the central hallways is a vaulted space with a skylight that connects to four bedrooms (as well as a laundry room and linen closet) with hardwood throughout.
The primary suite has a gas fireplace, coffered ceiling, a walk-in closet and a walkout to a backyard-facing balcony. The ensuite bathroom was updated in 2019 with double vanity, walk-in shower with glass surround, and a large soaker tub with air jets.
The second bedroom has the only other ensuite bathroom, but rooms three and four sit next to a second main bathroom.
The basement has become grandson central with air hockey table and video games in the carpeted rec room (it also has a gas fireplace for cozier quieter moments) and off to one side of this large space there’s also a gym area. There’s also a four-piece bathroom next to a fifth guest bedroom/nanny suite.
The backyard is Ms. Simone’s happy place. “It’s so calming; you’re surrounded by silver birches and oak trees and daisies and hydrangeas and the waterfall,” she said. They put in a pool that her husband uses almost every day to get his laps in, and she likes to sit by with a book in the good weather.
The pool has been a big hit with the grandsons, and, now that she’s moving, Ms. Simone’s had to make a deal to keep the peace: “They said, ‘Nana, you’re going to have a pool wherever you go.’ That was the deal we made with them: If it doesn’t have a pool we will put one in.”
But as much as the city has been home, her husband has craved something closer to open spaces and now they are ready to make the move to the country.
“He’s from Vancouver – he moved here 20 years ago for me … he’s a real outdoors guy, he likes his hiking,” said Ms. Simone, who still has some trepidation. “I still want to be close enough to the city to be able to come in as often as I choose. In some ways I’m excited, but I only know the city; we’ve never even owned a cottage. The backyard has been our cottage.”