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Mshati Productions

7 Hurndale Ave., Toronto

Asking price: $3,995,000

Taxes: $11,686.45 (2023)

Lot size: 36 by 110 feet

Agents: Paul Maranger and Christian Vermast, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada

The backstory

Cate Jevons and Lionel Gadoury dramatically revamped their lives in 1996 when they moved back to Canada from a sojourn in Italy.

Three weeks after landing in Toronto, Ms. Jevons gave birth to their first child. The couple launched a creative agency together. And they had yet to buy a house.

The two were about to submit an offer for a property in Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood when their agent persuaded them to look at just one more.

The property at 7 Hurndale Ave. was in a nearby enclave named Playter Estates for one of the earliest settler families in present-day Toronto.

Captain George Playter was a United Empire Loyalist granted a large swathe of land in the town of York and on both sides of the pastoral Don River Valley in 1793, according to historical records.

In the 1800s, Captain Playter’s great-grandson built a 200-acre estate on the land east of the river. His farm was sold in the early 1900s and developed into an enclave of detached brick homes on leafy boulevards and crescents.

By 1920, the completion of the Prince Edward Viaduct linked the eastern suburbs to the city and opened up the surrounding neighbourhood for more new residents.

Ms. Jevons and Mr. Gadoury agreed with some trepidation to look at the stately Edwardian that had been in the same family for more than 50 years.

The two walked into a home packed with the belongings of three generations of a Japanese family. They appreciated the untouched condition of the home’s beamed ceilings, wood trim and charming pocket doors but they knew it would need updating.

The prospect of tackling a renovation while looking after their newborn son and getting the new business off the ground seemed too daunting.

“Cate’s first words were, ‘We are not buying this house,’” Mr. Gadoury recalls of their conversation on the front porch.

“It was going to be a tremendous project,” she says.

Still, the more they mulled it over, the harder it became to let the opportunity pass by.

Ms. Jevons had been put off by seeing many houses with shoddy renovations and jumbled updates from different eras.

“Some places had been renovated 10 times and you could tell,” she recalls.

On Hurndale, the two could envision creating a modern home that retained the best elements.

“The house itself has its own personality,” says Mr. Gadoury. “That’s what we first responded to.”

The couple submitted an offer but the elderly couple who owned the house wanted to meet them again before signing off on the deal.

The couple were wondering if the meeting would lead to protracted negotiations but they arrived with Ms. Jevons holding their tiny son in her arms.

The seller greeted the couple at the door, smiled at the baby, and said, “You’re going to love this house.”

The house today

  • Home of the Week, 7 Hurndale Ave., Playter Estates, TorontoMshati Productions

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Nothing had been let go in the sturdy brick home, but nothing had been modernized either, says Mr. Gadoury.

The entrance foyer features wood wainscotting, a staircase with a built-in bench and arts & crafts details carved into the newel post. The wood had never been painted, Mr. Gadoury says, so very little refurbishment was needed.

Ms. Jevons and Mr. Gadoury kept the original footprint of the principal rooms so that they wouldn’t disturb the wood trim and sliding pocket doors.

The couple needed to replace knob and tube wiring and walls of plaster and lathe. The original windows were intact but they had been covered with aluminium storm windows on the exterior.

They kept the decorative leaded and stained glass windows but replaced others throughout the house with new windows in keeping with the traditional style.

The dining room had been used as a bedroom so the couple restored it to its original purpose.

“It’s a very cozy room – it’s great for conversation,” says Mr. Gadoury.

The couple renovated the kitchen soon after they moved in, then again more recently.

They worked with Toronto-based Joanne Myers Architect, who designed a new layout that doubled the storage and work surfaces.

There’s an integrated stainless-steel refrigerator and Wolf range, along with new cabinetry and an update to the windows and back door that give the space a more contemporary look.

The breakfast area has a bar counter with lots of storage behind fluted glass doors, and the main floor powder room was given a refresh.

In the living room, they had a sleek and modern fireplace surround installed.

The changes provide a better backdrop for the couple’s collection of mid-century modern classics.

“How do you harmonize furniture and architectural styles? That’s part of the intrigue,” says Mr. Gadoury.

On the second floor, the couple kept the three bedrooms in place and turned a former sunroom into a light-filled home office.

A family bathroom was renovated with a soaker tub and a walk-in glass-enclosed shower.

On the lower level, the couple created a recreation room for the boys. Today they use the area as a home gym.

Outside, the home’s original garage still stands at the rear. There’s a landscaped yard and a new deck.

The home’s position a short walk from the Chester subway station was convenient when the couple’s sons were teenagers, Ms. Jevons says.

The shops and restaurants of the Danforth are just around the corner and the nearby Jackman Avenue Junior Public School offers French immersion.

One day a few years ago Mr. Gadoury went outside to find a location scout for film and television sizing up the house.

He asked Mr. Gadoury if he would be willing to have the house serve as the backdrop for an IKEA TV commercial.

The family was planning a vacation for the time filming was set to take place so they agreed.

The ad crew painted the bedrooms in different colours, then restored them to the original colours before the family returned.

“It was all back to normal,” Ms. Jevons says.

The best feature

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Glass doors close off the suite from the landing.Mshati Productions

Open this photo in gallery:

Mshati Productions

As their sons grew older and wanted more of their own space, the couple decided to turn the third floor into a primary suite.

Glass doors close off the suite from the landing so that the bedroom at the front of the house remains a quiet haven.

A new bathroom has a walk-in shower and clerestory windows to bring in light.

The space at the rear was reconfigured into a dressing room with plenty of cupboard and hanging space for two.

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