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Toronto Real Estate Home of the Week: A ravine house with a master carpenter’s interior

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The listing: 3 Glenwood Terrace

Asking Price: $2.85-million

Taxes: $9,043 (2019)

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Lot Size: 82-foot frontage, 200 deep, 225 wide in rear

Agents: David Dutton, Real Estate Homeward Brokerage

The back story

Almost every space in the home has been substantially updated or rebuilt, and custom woodwork abounds throughout.

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Stacey Purcell and Ken Nicol like home-renovation projects. “We got the place in January, 2012. It was almost original from when it was built [in 1952, owned by the same family for 60 years]. The first five years, we did a couple projects a year. We had two kids and raised them through it,” Ms. Purcell said.

There are almost no spaces that did not get a substantial remake or update (perhaps only the mechanical room escaped their attention). Mr. Nicol is a master carpenter (the garage has been converted into a commercial-grade workshop) and he seems to have personally added some custom woodwork to almost every room.

“We just have this sense of walking into a room, and ‘Oh, it would be great to have a built-in here!’” Ms. Purcell said. “The built-in desk on the second floor, with the workstations? That was just a big closet when we moved in. I said ‘we’re never going to need that much closet space,’ ” Mr. Nicol said.

They also updated many of the mechanicals: windows and doors, some new electrical, new roof, replaced oil boiler with natural gas and a new SpacePak air-conditioning system (there are small circular vents in rooms you open up in the spring and close in the fall). The SpacePak was necessary because there’s no forced-air furnace, but there is in-floor heating – just one of a few high-quality features that are original to the house.

“We have the original blueprints. The house was built with 10-inch concrete block,” Mr. Nicol said. “In terms of technology and quality of construction, it would have been top of the game in 1952.”

Even almost 70 years later, the house feels solid, quiet, warm and private. The lot is so deep, neighbours would need binoculars to see into the house.

The house today

The three-level home sits on a gigantic ravine lot.

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From the front, this house looks like your bog-standard 1950s ranch bungalow done in the Prairie School: It is long and sandy-bricked with board-and-batten accents, big windows, a two-car garage, a main front door and a side-door breezeway entrance, too. The one sign there might be more going on is the curiously high-pitched roof.

Once you’re inside, or if you happened to approach the house from the rear via the property’s gigantic ravine lot, you realize it’s a three-level house; there is 4,900 square feet of living space, with four bedrooms on the upper floors and two more in the basement (plus four bathrooms).

To the left of the front door is the "master retreat,” so called because, in addition to the master bedroom and ensuite bathroom, there’s a corner office with windows on both sides that drink in the light from the nature-filled backyard. “It’s a magical place in the morning. Sun shines through the trees; in early spring, there’s a huge area of forgetmenots,” Ms. Purcell said.

The master bedroom is part of a 'master retreat' that includes an ensuite bathroom and a corner office.

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Take a right off the modest foyer, past the stairwell leading to the second floor (containing two kids' rooms with ravine views, a three-piece bathroom and one multifunction room with attic access), and you step into the generous 31-foot-long open living/dining space. This is a show-stopping space; a bank of full-height windows show off the treed ravine, while light also pours in from the double-wide kitchen entrance (which has its own wide bank of windows facing the street).

The 31-foot-long living/dining space is flooded with natural light.

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The kitchen is almost 27 feet long, nearly 14 feet deep and was originally all pink. Only one-third of the space had cabinets, the rest was a mix of seating. “I think the kitchen almost broke Ken, it was such a big project, so many details,” Ms. Purcell said. A six-burner Wolf range, Sub-Zero fridge, custom maple-wood cabinets from Guelph’s Enrich It Woodwork (it has one entire drawer with slots for knives, another just for bottled spices), soapstone counters, automatic blinds, motion-sensing wave-one lights, a custom-built leather banquet, slide-out pantry spaces (no fumbling around in deep cabinets) and even a powder room and mudroom with access to the secondary entrance.

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The kitchen, previously all pink, has been completely overhauled.

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There’s unity in the design of this room: stainless-steel appliances accented by dark-grey cabinets; pale, honey-gold-hued wood on tables and stools complimented by brass and glass lights; and long rectangular shapes repeated in the window frames, subway tile on the walls, oversize floor tiles and lower counter drawers. The kitchen is almost too shelter-magazine perfect to believe the couple isn’t just flipping the house.

“This is just how they live,” listing agent David Dutton, a family friend, marvels. Don’t even get him started on the laundry room, with its crafting and folding stations; all the marble and limestone in the bathrooms; the random-width oak flooring; or the large guest bedrooms downstairs.

“I would say we bought it as a forever house. This was Ken and my fourth house; every house we had we’ve improved,” Ms. Purcell said. “It’s just what we do and we love doing it together. He’s got the skills, we both have the desire and the vision.”

The best feature

The 'Muskoka room' is the most recently finished in the house, and has a 'cozy vibe' with a stone fireplace, timbers on the ceiling, a sliding door to outdoor eating space and more.

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There are no fewer than four rooms that could serve as a living room (although only two are set up with televisions) – the vast basement living space held a bounce house and ball pit before it was restaged by Mr. Dutton.

But Ken and Stacey are most enamoured of the “Muskoka room.” It’s the most recently finished in the house, and prior to its transformation, it was basically an unheated, screened-in porch with Astroturf on the floor. A sliding door offers access to the deck’s outdoor eating space (with BBQ) and steps to backyard. More windows keep the indoor-outdoor feel.

“I just like all the elements: the stone fireplace, the timbers on the ceiling, shiplap on the walls, the cozy vibe. … I know it’s not a big room, but everywhere you look, there’s detail.”

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They added a gas fireplace faced in stone with the television mounted above, and a clever little built-in for the cable box that solves the age-old problem of “where do I hide all the wires?" with mantle-mounted flatscreens.

Building this room, and relaxing in it since, may have played some role in the family’s decision to list. Glenwood is big and homey, a suburban-postwar design that embraces the ravine – a kind of upper-middle-class boomer paradise. What they want next is something more like the Muskoka room: cottagey, with acreage, out of the city. They know what they are giving up, but they are ready for new projects.

The home features several smart built-ins, like the shelves seen here.

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