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Toronto Real Estate Home of the Week: Multistorey living space in Little Italy on a single level

Riley Snelling/Handout

The listing: 540 College St., unit 301, Toronto

Asking Price: $4,285,000

Taxes: $6,386.83 (2018)

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Maintenance fees: $1,689.82 monthly

Lot Size: 2,950 square feet

Agent: Paul Johnston, Right at Home Realty Inc., Brokerage

Crossing the statuario marble entranceway into Gianpiero Pugliese’s and Mariya Naumov’s Little Italy condo, you notice the elegant living space looks nothing like the bare office space it was four years ago.

The architect and interior designer crafted the 3,000-square-foot home essentially from scratch, sparing no detail to make day-to-day life more convenient.

Architect Gianpiero Pugliese and interior designer Mariya Naumov’s Little Italy home is spacious with high ceilings and ample natural light.

Jordan Prussky/Handout

“Every time I come home, I feel pampered in a way,” Mr. Pugliese said. “When we travel, we come back and we’re like ‘Thank God.’ ”

“It has an amazing flow,” Ms. Naumov added.

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They bought the entire third floor of the former office building when it was nothing but “concrete and wires,” she said.

But the amount of space on one level, coupled with the high ceilings and ample natural light, promised something better, and piqued the couple’s creative interests.

“This was kind of a labour of love because it's what we do for our clients all day,” Mr. Pugliese said.

The pair designs high-end homes and commercial spaces, including popular restaurants Colette and The Chase Fish and Oyster. If you’ve eaten there, you’ll recognize the same dark, cloudy wallpaper in the couple’s powder room.

The couple purchased the entire third floor of a previous office building when it was nothing but 'concrete and wires'.

Jordan Prussky/Handout

Here at home, they’re showing how a well-designed condo can suit a family as well, or better than, a detached house.

“We’ve got almost 3,000 square feet here of pure, livable space,” Mr. Pugliese said. “If we design a 3,000-square-foot house on three floors, a good portion of that is taken up by the stairs. The amount of livable area is way better.”

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He likens their condo to flats in France or New York, where people are used to raising families on one level.

The couple loves living in Little Italy, and when they had their son in a small condo nearby, they knew they didn’t want to leave the neighbourhood. They love the vibe, the lively parks nearby, the proximity to work and being able to walk to popular restaurants and cafés.

As for outdoor space, Mr. Pugliese created a “winter garden.” It’s a south-facing room onto College Street, with walls almost entirely of windows, so in summer they open to turn the room into a covered terrace.

The apartment's south-facing terrace has been covered completely to make a 'winter garden' overlooking College Street, with walls almost entirely of windows.

Jordan Prussky/Handout

Flaps descend inside the walls to cut off the air conditioning to the garden, and once you close the French-knobbed glass doors you’re in the outdoor climate.

“It's awesome at nighttime,” Ms. Naumov said. “I usually just open these up and read a book.”

There’s also a drafting table here, where the couple gets to work putting their visions on paper.

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As fall nights get cooler, the terrace becomes part of the home again. The double-sided fireplace visible from the dining room and the garden helps create a cozy vibe.

Mr. Pugliese now incorporates the winter-garden concept in some of the condos he designs for clients.

“It's very urban. It's almost like being in a hotel,” he said. “You want to feel like you're on vacation.”

Moving inside, there’s a sitting area with couches, followed by a grand dining table in front of an elegant, open-concept kitchen.

The family of four usually eats in the kitchen, one parent watching the kids eat dinner until the other gets home to share a later meal.

Jordan Prussky/Handout

On the lower level, there’s a sitting area with couches, followed by a grand dining table in front of an elegant, open-concept kitchen.

Jordan Prussky/Handout

But when company comes over, Mr. Pugliese and Ms. Naumov serve meals at the dining table. For entertaining, the condo has a special “butler kitchen.” Essentially, the kitchen is divided in two parts. The main area is exposed, but there’s also a section where a freezer, microwave, second sink and dishwasher are tucked away.

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The couple says it’s perfect for stashing dishes out of site, or getting a turkey ready for a big reveal.

“You don't want to see dirty dishes while you're entertaining, right?” Ms. Naumov said.

The kitchen marks the end of the condo that’s open concept for entertaining. The rest is like the “upstairs” in a home, Mr. Pugliese said. A pair of double doors, perfectly aligned with the point in the herringbone floor, separate the family’s bedrooms from the living area.

Closest to the kitchen is their young daughter’s, who has cheater ensuite access to the children’s shared bathroom with equator marble tile.

Her room is black and cream, and was inspired by a Harvard rocking chair Gianpiero’s parents gave him for graduation that now sits by her crib.

Their daughter's room is black and cream inspired by a Harvard rocking chair Gianpiero’s parents gave him on graduation.

Jordan Prussky/Handout

Next is their school-age son’s room, complete with a stack of Lego organizers and chalk-friendly wallpaper.

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"We were going to do the alphabet to help them learn. But by the time we got around to it they already knew the alphabet," Mr Pugliese said, laughing.

From there, Ms. Naumov and Mr. Pugliese’s master suite begins. First is a boudoir attached to their walk-in closet. It’s dark, with soft lighting – Mr. Pugliese wanted the feeling of going shopping at a boutique every time you get dressed.

“I always like to put a bit of an anti-space before you get into the bedroom. So if somebody's sleeping, and somebody's getting ready, you're not crossing through the bedroom all the time,” he said.

The couple's master bedroom is airy and clean, offering a view of Euclid Avenue.

Jordan Prussky/Handout

And then, arm’s length form the walk-in closet is the couple’s laundry room. It’s also open to the hallway, meaning dirty clothes from anyone’s closet are no more than a few steps away from the machine.

“It’s the convenience. Until you actually live it you don’t appreciate it. It’s like ‘Oh my God, this is so much easier,’ ” Mr. Pugliese said.

The master bedroom is airy and clean, with a view onto leafy Euclid Avenue.

The couple are selling because they’re itching for their next creative project together. They haven’t decided on what they’ll do yet – adding they’ve been “spoiled” by living here.

“It’s the power of design … your relationship to your body and how you flow through spaces … those principles really do impact your quality of life,” Mr. Pugliese said.

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