The listing: 27½ Dunbar Rd., Toronto
Asking Price: $2.995-million
Taxes: $10,450 (2018)
Lot Size: 17.25 by 143 feet
Agents: Julie Rennie, Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.
The back story
When Trish Magwood first visited 27½ Dunbar Rd., she was there as a guest of a school friend who was renting from the owner – Rosemarie Bata (daughter of shoe mogul Sonja Bata) – and immediately thought the street would be a great place to raise her growing family. “I saw two or three basketball nets on the street, the house was tucked away and it was quite a little gem,” she said.
Indeed, it is a blink-and-you-might-miss-it-home; the lot is not even 20 feet wide and the house, with front wall painted gray-black, looks like an over-tall garage set back some distance from the street. The lot was subdivided from 27 Dunbar Rd. in 1964 and the narrow split-level structure is quite different than houses on the rest of the street, which is lined with extra-large red-brick manses. Still, Ms. Magwood was hooked. “It felt like a home and not a house,” and through her friend let Ms. Bata know they would be interested in buying the house should it ever come to market.
In 2008, Ms. Magwood and her then-husband, two kids (with number three on the way) got their chance, and before moving in undertook a substantial renovation to update the interiors in her own style. At the time, Ms. Magwood was the owner of Dish Cooking Studio (a cooking school and catering business), had two seasons of TV show called Party Dish on Food Network, and had recently published a book Dish Entertains, which won a James Beard Award. She would go on to sell her Dish business, but continued to appear as a judge on television in food shows such as Family Cook Off. Her new home became part studio, part laboratory and all about entertaining family and friends.
As chance would have it, Ms. Magwood recently purchased a previous Globe Home of the Week (nearby 83 Glen Rd.) and as plans are underway to move in with her partner and their blended family, it’s time to sell the house on Dunbar Road.
“I think it is a really unique property in Rosedale, there are people that do know about the property for sure,” Julie Rennie of Chestnut Park says. “Given Trish’s social-media presence and how she has utilized the house for her own business use [including running a bi-annual pop-up store out of her garage, which is kitted out like a rustic boutique] there are a few people people that have expressed interest in the past.”
The list price, $2.995-million, is $1.3-million less than the larger house next door (the also-for-sale 27 Dunbar Rd.), and some potential buyers have approached Ms. Magwood about buying both lots for a potential combination.
The House Today
To enter the house you have to walk down the driveway, past the garage door and through a wrought-iron gate into a courtyard. This front area feels secluded and walled in by the neighbouring house. “It’s very urban outdoor space. There’s that incredible stone wall; you feel like you’re in Europe in an al fresco sitting area,” Ms. Magwood said. To the right is the gate and steps that lead to the side-yard deck, built in 2008 after a bit of wrangling that ended up in the OMB planning appeals division.
Through the double glass-and-steel front door is a small foyer/landing between the split levels of the home. There is a short flight of stairs downstairs to the basement and against the north wall is the flight upstairs to the main living space. This main floor is all open and contains the dining space, kitchen in the middle and a living room in the back of the house. There are large windows on both sides of the house, and at the rear, flooding it with light.
The space is only 15.4-feet wide, but feels wider thanks to the big, open windows. The windows are industrial steel-framed affairs inspired by New York’s Meat Packing District. When Ms. Magwood called commercial supplier Bliss Nor-Am they almost refused to come to install them “‘We don’t do residential’ they said, and I was like … ‘Good.’“
In the centre of this floor is a marble-topped kitchen island Ms. Magwood calls the “party bar,” it is styled after the setup she had at Dish Studios. The range is a six-burner BlueStar (which she swears by after having burned out both Viking and Wolf ranges in her cooking school) and one whole side is dedicated to a seating area. On the north wall is a butlers’ pantry which has storage, counter space and a separate chef’s desk. Facing south is the sink, fridge and a huge window that looks onto the narrow deck that runs the length of the house. The deck is in use year-round for barbecuing.
Almost everything is a mix of stainless steel and barn-board and the floor here is narrow oak strip painted white during the renovation. A television is hidden behind sliding barn-board panels, the sink and counter is one piece of custom-made stainless steel and the hood is a massive stainless steel industrial-strength model. Essentially, it’s a dressed-up mini-commercial kitchen.
Up the stairs on a half-floor above the garage is the first of the four bedrooms, which has a balcony facing the street. There’s a four-piece bath on this landing, serving guests and the children’s rooms, the rest of which are up the stairs on the second full-floor. There are two more bedrooms on this level and the master suite. The master bath is a five-piece, with a glassed-in shower stall and a stand-alone soaker tub. Down a short hall is the master bedroom with two built-in wardrobes.
Two of the doors on this level are green-painted barn doors mounted on rails, sourced from Israel. All the doors on the upper floors have transom windows that allow natural light to filter through the house.
In the basement is a laundry room, a two-piece powder room and storage areas, (three closets, one walk-in.) The 19-by-15-foot rec room has a walkout to the below-grade courtyard and its retaining walls, fences and stone walls. With the trampoline in this area it’s almost like an arena, but staged as a patio it’s intensely private with no sight lines to any neighbours, and there is access to the side deck via exterior stairs.
The best feature
Ms. Magwood does almost all her work running the house from the kitchen nook seating area, with a reclaimed industrial work table. From this space she did much of the planning for her second book, In My Mother’s Kitchen, and works on her new ventures (she is a retail consultant and has been working with Mama Earth Organics delivery service as they develop ready-made meals to go with their existing organic grocery delivery service).
She and her siblings take turns hosting Christmas and she manages to entertain 22 people in this space (12 at the nook table, the rest along the party bar counter). This space works well, and while she has a style and taste that is reflected here, function trumps all.
“It’s not precious,” Ms. Magwood says, speaking in terms of a pejorative attached to homes that are meant to be seen and photographed, but not used. But maybe, too, in the other sense. “Friends were congratulating us on the new house and one of the questions was ‘Are you sad; are your kids sad?’ And I hadn’t even thought about it, but it is emotional. It’s been a well-loved home, and a perfect home. I will miss it.”
Your house is your most valuable asset. We have a weekly Real Estate newsletter to help you stay on top of news on the housing market, mortgages, the latest closings and more. Sign up today.