- The listing: 29 Forest Hill Rd., Toronto
- Asking Price: $13,680,000
- Taxes: $46,136.95 (2019)
- Lot Size: 96.75 – by 184-feet
- Agent: Elise Kalles (Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd.)
Julie Lee and her husband looked at many houses before choosing the circa-1922 Georgian-style home at 29 Forest Hill Rd. in midtown Toronto.
The couple needed a large house for their five children, but many of the homes they looked at had disjointed floor plans, Ms. Lee recalls. At 29 Forest Hill Rd., the length of the house is oriented to the south, which floods the principal rooms with sunlight, she adds.
“This floor plan was perfect for our large family,” Ms. Lee says. “We also loved that the house does not seem as large as it is from the street and has a quiet presence behind a tall hedgerow.”
The house had been renovated by previous owners in 2008 and the bones were in good condition, but it didn’t have everything the family wanted, she adds.
The couple purchased the house in 2015 and brought in Powell & Bonnell to oversee a top-to-bottom renovation. The Toronto-based firm had designed the interiors of their previous home, Ms. Lee says, but this time, the couple asked for something different.
Ms. Lee loves the style of hotelier Kit Kemp and her use of fabrics and punchy colours in such boutique properties as the Haymarket Hotel in London and the Crosby Street Hotel in New York.
Inspired by their stays at different boutique hotels in Kit Kemp’s portfolio, the couple asked Powell and Bonnell to create a joyful house with all the colours of the rainbow.
“No Toronto beige for us,” Ms. Lee says.
The house today
After a two-year renovation, the house was transformed into a family-friendly home with five bedrooms and nine bathrooms over nearly 7,000 square feet.
It was important that the kids have their independent spaces but that the family still lives communally, Ms. Lee says.
From the foyer, guests enter the large living room through an oversized solid mahogany door. The living room has a wood-burning fireplace, elaborate plaster crown moulding and an oak floor. Columns frame the entrance to the sitting room, which has Palladian-style windows on three sides.
The formal dining room has a wood-burning fireplace and bow window with a built-in banquette.
Ms. Lee says the parents and kids mostly hang out together in the family room, which has built-in window seats, furniture in fresh shades of green and some of the couple’s favourite pieces of art.
There are wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling custom built-in display shelves and cabinets.
The adjacent family dining room sits under a cupola with upper clerestory windows. Three sets of French doors with arched transoms open to the gardens.
The main floor also has a mud room with lots of built-in cupboards and a ceramic tile dog shower.
There’s also an elevator that glides between floors.
Throughout the house, Ms. Lee says, the designers preserved some of the heritage fireplace mantles and solid wood doors in the interior.
They also added such details as new crown moulding and wood floors.
Stairs to the second floor have oak steps, a banister with carved spindles, a solid mahogany handrail and a carpet runner in multicoloured stripes.
On the second level, a luxurious master suite has a bedroom overlooking the side garden, a sitting room with a fireplace and a spa with a sauna. There are his-and-hers dressing rooms with custom-built closets and shelves.
Ms. Lee’s husband’s bathroom has a glass-enclosed shower, a built-in vanity and Caesarstone floors and walls.
Ms. Lee’s bathroom has a glass-enclosed marble steam shower, a large overflow circulating bathtub with marble surround and a built-in makeup table with granite top.
There are three additional bedrooms and bathrooms on that floor.
The third floor has a fifth bedroom and an upper family room.
The lower level, which provides an additional 3,600 square feet of living space, was completely transformed, Ms. Lee says. Today, it has been turned into a kid-friendly space that includes a recreation room and a curtained stage for performing plays and concerts.
That level also has a home theatre with stadium seating, a wine cellar and a gym with a commercial-grade rubber floor.
Outside, the kids play basketball and other sports in the large yard. They also like in-skating in the driveway.
Throughout the house, the Hue lighting system is the largest residential installation in North America, Ms. Lee says.
She explains that the lighting means the house is optimized for circadian rhythm so that the lights dim in the evening and change colour to remove the “blue light” wavelengths which can interfere with sleep by suppressing melatonin and keeping children awake longer than they should be.
In order to build a healthy house, Ms. Lee says, the couple chose natural fabrics and materials wherever possible. All of the paints and finishes are free of solvents known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.
The home also has two saunas: a traditional Finnish style and a built-in infrared model.
Ms. Lee says the entire home is designed for health and well-being.
”Let’s face it – the winters are long in Canada and living in an uplifting home helps get through them,” Ms. Lee says.
The best feature
Double doors lead from the formal dining room to the family kitchen, which has custom-built cabinets, built-in appliances, a large central island and a marble floor.
There’s also a walk-in refrigerator with a marble floor and commercial shelving.
French doors open from the kitchen to a side garden.
Both parents like to cook for the kids, Ms. Lee says.
A floor-to-ceiling glass door leads to a separate prep kitchen for the family’s chef. That kitchen has stainless-steel cabinetry, countertops and shelves. The five-burner gas stove has a pasta pot filler and wok ring.
“It is set up with commercial-grade equipment, which makes his job easier,” Ms. Lee says.
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