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Toronto Real Estate Home of the Week: A vision of Paris in Trinity Bellwoods

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The listing: 111 Givins St., Toronto

Asking Price: $3,799,000

Taxes: To be assessed

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Lot Size: 20 by 121 feet

Agents: Ashley Bardi, Right at Home Realty Inc.

The back story

The front sitting area has a mantle in the style of a Victorian coal stove.

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The new-build house at 111 Givins St. stands out. Not just because it’s tall and narrow with white bricks and black-trimmed windows. Yes, its neighbours are more squat, a little wider and feature red bricks. 111 has a black cobblestone front garden and walk, the neighbours have grass or overgrown bushes. 111’s windows are huge: floor-to ceiling on the first level, oversized on the second level and a wall of sliding windows on the third-floor deck facing the street. The neighbours are much more modest.

For owner Brad Bardi it’s the third time he’s redone a house in the area and it’s the one he’s perhaps most proud of. “We love living in the area and we always kinda had our eye on this lot,” Mr. Bardi says. The original house was a wood-frame bungalow, pretty much the smallest house on the street, which is tucked between Ossington Avenue and Shaw Street, south of Dundas Street West (steps away from the Artscape Youngplace on Shaw). Mr. Bardi and his wife, Ashley, tore it down completely in 2017, built an entirely new house from the basement up and moved in on June 1, 2018. “It was gratifying to imagine something and make it happen,” he says.

The family room is at the rear of the house, on the main floor.

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“We were away in the Caribbean when we finalized the purchase, he already had ideas in his head and the next day he starts sketching up what he wants to do.” says Ashley, who is a real estate agent and is listing the house herself.

"It's the worst, like a three year old," Brad interjects.

“It’s really not though, it looks so much like the house as it is today,” Ashley says.

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Brad’s vision was something Parisian, he says, a “château” though perhaps the result is more a terrace house or a flat: “When I get the idea I go on Pinterest and you can punch in anything and it will come up. I took a piece of everything I saw and blended it together.”

The house today

The main floor has no separating walls, and the only windows are at the front and rear.

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The main floor is 16 feet wide and 11 feet tall by 55 feet deep, all in white with no separating walls and no windows except at the front and rear. Near the almost 10-foot-tall front door is a sitting area and the dining table (next to a black, built-in hutch/storage system) and a reproduction mantle in the style of an ornate Victorian coal-stove (it’s natural gas).

The floating glass staircase is attached to the house's steel frame.

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A floating staircase (attached to the steel frame of the house) sits in the middle of the floorplan. Below it are stairs to the basement (which has a front-yard walkout for a potential income property) and just behind it is the small rectangular outcropping of the powder room.

The island is made of porcelain slabs that resemble white Carrara marble, but at a much lower cost.

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The kitchen is also in middle of the space; the bulkheads carrying pipes and forced air vents to the upstairs levels are hidden behind the kitchen cabinets, which also hide the fridge and other appliances. There are brass fittings, even the range hood, and the island looks similar to white Carrara marble, though in fact it is made from porcelain slabs. There are 15 such slabs in various bathrooms, laundry rooms and storage islands throughout the house. For the Bardis, the math made the choice obvious: $10,000 a slab for marble, or a more reasonable $1,500 or so for the porcelain.

The kitchen features brass fittings, including the range hood.

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The home feels vast and is filled with a mix of contemporary features (glass wall on the floating staircase), atomic-age modern (brass fixtures and mid-century furnishings) and some rococo-feeling crown moldings.

Mr. Bardi is in sales, billboards and outdoor stuff, and he has a habit of asserting that something in the house “has never been done before” or has a feature where there’s “nothing else like it in Toronto.” In this case it’s the crown moulding: “Only a few places in Toronto have something quite so ornate, the company I got it from says only two places have it: the penthouse at the Four Seasons, and here.”

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A floral mural works as a feature wall in the second bedroom.

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Upstairs is the second bedroom, facing the backyard, more huge windows, more white, but with wide-plank, warm oak floors and a floral mural on black as a feature wall. Along the hallway to the street-facing baby’s room (born during construction!) is the laundry room and a big bathroom. Separate soaker tub, black tile glass-walled shower, but in this room copper finishes and hardware win the day, as opposed to brass. The baby has her own floral print wall and a hanging seat in the corner.

Like the main floor, the third-floor master suite is entirely open.

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Top floor is the master suite. The entire floor is open, similar to the main floor, and more of those porcelain slabs are used as an island counter to define the closet space (one wall is all mirrored closet doors) that separates the bathroom from the bedroom.

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The ensuite bathroom features brass fittings, a clawfoot bathtub and a toilet stall of tastefully frosted glass.

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The bathroom has oversized checkerboard tiles, a claw-footed soaker tub in the middle of the floor facing the Juliette balcony (streetside). The brass is back on this floor, all the fixtures and hardware shine, and the walk-in glass shower (with steam insert) tucks itself into the corner (next to a tastefully frosted glass toilet stall). The bed is at the rear of the house, away from street noise, and with the large walk-out deck a step up. That rare crown moulding has been used on every floor, and helps decorate the skylight above the stairwell that brings in even more light to the middle of the space.

This is the most expensive house the couple has tried to sell (they want to move to the Beaches area of Toronto, both for the schools and their families who have been moving to that region of the city). And they might be in luck. In an otherwise sluggish real estate market Trinity-Bellwoods is perhaps the hottest neighbourhood going in Toronto: average prices for detached houses grew 28 per cent in 2018 versus 2017, (data crunched by Century 21 realtor Scott Ingram, himself a Trinity-Bellwoods resident), not least because of the low volume of sales: there were 96 transactions in the neighbourhood but only 1 in 5 were detached.

Certainly, very few are quite so all-new as 111 Givens.

The best feature

At the back of the family room is a folding glass wall that opens the home to the backyard.

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The family room. The back half of the main floor has become the main hangout, with kids toys and a wall-mounted TV and easy access to the fridge. (Mr. Bardi recently spent many an hour on the extra-deep couch recuperating from knee surgery).

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At the rear is a 10-foot tall, 14-foot-wide folding glass wall that basically opens the entire back of the house onto the deck and short rear lawn (done as a checkerboard of pavers and artificial turf). A new garage on the laneway is done in the same white – “imported from Spain” Mr. Bardi says – brick of the main house, so charming it could be confused for a tiny cottage.

The backyard has paving stones and artificial turf arranged in a checkerboard pattern.

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A vast screen can cover the open space, "It’s so nice to have it open, it’s almost like it turns your back room into your backyard,' Mr. Bardi said.

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