Skip to main content
home of the week
Open this photo in gallery:

David Klass and his partner Andrew Cudmore turned the non-functional house into a family friendly home.Robert Holowka

Address: 155 Madison Ave., Toronto, Ontario

Asking price: $4,499,000

Lot size: 24.88 ft. by 121 ft.

Taxes: $11,788.62 (2018)

Listing agent: Myles Slocombe, sales representative, Sotheby’s International Realty, Canada

Andrew Cudmore remembered a night about three-and-a-half years ago when he was sitting in the family room of 155 Madison Ave. with his partner, David Klass.

Mr. Cudmore looked upstairs and mused: "What would happen if we blew off that third floor and put an extension?

“And all of a sudden, it’s 2:30 in the morning and we’re designing floor plans.”

Such a structural change would be no small feat for the 120-year-old home in Toronto’s esteemed Annex neighbourhood. But that didn’t deter the couple from dreaming. As they started to conceive a substantial renovation, they began asking other questions, such as what would happen if they dug down in the basement and added a street-facing walkout?

Before they knew it, they had decided to totally transform their 4,600-plus-square-foot house.

“These little questions turned into a lot of time, energy and effort,” Mr. Cudmore said. “But we really love the home now.”

Open this photo in gallery:

Although the house is a semi, it is priced closer to high-end detached homes in the area because of the extensive work put into renovating the property.Robert Holowka

The search

That isn’t to say the couple didn’t love 155 Madison Ave. when they first came across the property about five years ago, but they knew it was going to need a lot of work to restore.

At the time, they had lost a number of bidding wars for other homes in the Annex. Then they happened upon the old Victorian semi that had been carved up into apartments and had no finished floors – just wood planks.

“We like to put our touch on things so we look for … the worst house in the best neighbourhood,” said Mr. Klass, finishing Mr. Cudmore’s sentence.

Even still, the state of 155 Madison at the time caused the pair to pause: They wondered how much money they wanted to spend to turn it into a family home. They ended up putting down a bid and bracing for another bidding war.

“But that was it. We were the only ones who put down a bid,” Mr. Cudmore said.

Open this photo in gallery:

The master bedroom is connected to an upstairs patio, which looks over Madison Avenue.Robert Holowka

The renovation

Once they bought it, there were a few key features they wanted to enhance through a renovation, including the exposed brick wall along the south end of the house, the soaring height of the ceilings on the first and second floors and upstairs patio off the second-floor master bedroom that looks over Madison Avenue.

“We were excited by the thought of bringing this house back to life,” Mr. Klass said.

They renovated the main and second floors within the first year of their ownership. Then they had that fateful discussion in the family room that led to the overhaul. That renovation took the home down to its studs and included major transformations, such as adding a multistorey addition to the back and underpinning the basement in order to increase its ceiling height.

“We essentially ended up undoing the original renovation, but it was great – it allowed us to get exactly what we wanted,” said Mr. Klass said. “Our vision was to take a home that wasn’t functional and turn it into a family-friendly one instead.”

To do this, the couple first figured out what they needed in order to function as a family, then worked on weaving a common aesthetic through the house.

Open this photo in gallery:

The dining room blends into the kitchen.Robert Holowka

“Everything ties into itself,” said their real estate agent, Myles Slocombe. “Even this [yellow] accent chair ties in with the backsplash in the kitchen. There is so much thought that went into the colours, the texture and the flow of this house.”

The basement now features a living space, a bedroom, a full bathroom and the larger of two mudrooms. The main floor has a formal living room, a dining room that blends into the kitchen and the second mudroom. The second floor has a large family room in the centre and their daughter’s playroom (with an ensuite bathroom) in the back and a secondary master bedroom with its own balcony at the front of the house. The top floor has the master suite, a laundry room, a powder room, a study and their daughter’s bedroom.

The price

There were a lot of factors that Mr. Slocombe included when he decided on a nearly $4.5-million listing price for 155 Madison Ave.

“The price was based on true appreciation rates and the huge amount of money they have invested in the house and the level of quality of the end product,” he said, adding that he also consulted comparable sales.

The other major factor for Mr. Slocombe was the size of the home, which is akin to other detached homes in the area, rather than other semis. As such, he priced the property closer to high-end detached homes. (The average price for a detached home in the region – known as C02 by the Toronto Real Estate Board – was $2,679,445 in June of 2018.)

Open this photo in gallery:

The renovation included major transformations, such as adding a multistorey addition to the back.Robert Holowka

Favourite features

Both Mr. Slocombe and the owners agreed that the second-floor family room – which is in the centre of the floor – is one of the best rooms in the house as it’s very much the hub of the home.

“It’s one of the largest rooms in the home, and we spend a lot of time there with our daughter,” Mr. Cudmore said.

“It’s very inviting and comfortable, and you have to walk down to the kitchen to get food, so it’s a great diet tool, too,” he added with a laugh.

For Mr. Klass, his other favourite space is his daughter’s playroom – the only room he designed exclusively. (The couple consulted with each other for every other detail in the home, and said they only disagreed on one thing – the wallpaper in the master bedroom.)

For the playroom, Mr. Klass had a very specific vision from the get-go, and with the help of his father, designed it as a special gift for his daughter. “I had a lot of fun creating that room.”

Now Mr. Klass and Mr. Cudmore are selling in order to find a new home to transform, explaining that they get fidgety when they don’t have a project to work on.

“We both have other jobs but renovating and designing homes is a passion of ours,” Mr. Klass said.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe