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44A Maple Ave., Toronto

Asking Price: $3,299,000

Taxes: $10,426.50 (2020)

Size: 2,779 square feet

Monthly maintenance fee: $766

Agent: Eileen Lasswell, Broker, Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.

The backstory

Things were going great for photographer and artist Koray Erkaya in recent months. Three exhibitions of his photography were happening – one in Tokyo, one in London, one in Kyiv – and he was finalizing plans for two of his three children to join him in Toronto. He was finishing renovations on a townhouse he bought in Toronto’s exclusive Rosedale neighbourhood.

Then, the global pandemic turned the whole world upside down. Suddenly, he says his children can’t travel to Canada (they last met in New York before all the travel restrictions really began to lock down borders), and he’s not sure if there’s going to be a new school year in 2020, and he is really not sure about the townhouse.

“I love the house, it’s nice for me and my family, I would like to live there,” Mr. Erkaya said. ”My plans are changed right now … the house is a little bit big for me.”

All of which makes for a major challenge for listing agent Eileen Lasswell, a broker with Chestnut Park Real Estate. First of all, sales are down close to 80 per cent in Toronto, and even for a high-end listing such as this people aren’t doing showings.

And that’s when she came up with the idea of staging a series of art exhibitions in her virtual tour.

“Most agents are doing the 3-D tour,” she said. "I think it is more important to be innovative to try and to grab a buyer’s attention, but also to tell a story of a home and help the buyer visualize themselves in it. And at the same time illustrate the lifestyle that they may want to live.”

Her plan was to do a three-week reveal of the house: she worked with contemporary art dealer Barbara Edwards to do one-week digital exhibitions of works by artists William Kentridge and Eric Fischl.

But she says that plan came undone when it turned out gallery installers are not essential workers and Ms. Edwards could not get insurance for the works unless a gallery installer hung them in the townhouse.

Luckily, Mr. Erkaya is his own installer and he hung some of his own works in the townhouse (after a security system was installed).

“My house is always like a gallery, so I’m showing my work to my friends and my clients,” he said. And it’s good timing in a way; his Tokyo exhibit opened a few weeks ago and London was a month ago. But of course there are no live audiences. Suddenly, online exhibits are the hot new thing.

All along the plan was to have one of the three weeks feature works by Mr. Erkaya, but now, by necessity, he is the whole show. His style is a little more risqué than some Canadian condo buyers might expect: He works in nudes.

The house today

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The living room features two French doors that open to a rear patio space.Koray Erkaya/Koray Erkaya

The front door opens directly into the stairwell that leads up to the bedrooms and down to the basement.

To the right is a living room lounge, with a gas fireplace and a glass-doored wine closet. This room holds the most prints; two large nudes are from a series titled Don’t tell Mama (from some angles of the virtual tour the model’s face is blurred, but not others). “They are not digital, most of them are analog. I continue to shoot on that series,” Mr. Erkaya said.

There are two glass French doors that open out onto the fenced-in rear patio space.

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The kitchen is separated from the dining room by a large island.Koray Erkaya/Koray Erkaya

To the left of the front door is the kitchen-dining room, a huge open space separated by an island, which forms part of continuous “U” of counter space. A stainless steel Wolf stove (glass-topped) and Sub-Zero fridge headline the appliances, a more mid-range GE dishwasher and under-counter Panasonic microwave round out the set). The kitchen keeps the walls mostly free of upper cabinets, except at the edges of the room, and there are two more French doors that open onto the front garden.

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One of the owner's prints hangs on a wall above the dining room table.Koray Erkaya/Koray Erkaya

Above the dining room table, another large Erkaya print dominates, this one in colour. “I have a new project right now, Rebirth, with underwater photos,” he said. “It’s the awareness of the pollution of the earth and the idea that we like to see the clean water, where even the myth of mermaids can be reborn.”

That’s the extent of the virtual tour; it doesn’t cover the basement or the upper floors (some of which have been virtually staged, given Mr. Erkaya never really moved in). But the rest can be gleaned from other images.

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The living room is staged with two large nudes from a series titled Don’t tell Mama.Koray Erkaya/Koray Erkaya

On the second floor of the three-storey townhouse are two more bedrooms, the one facing toward the street has bay windows and a fireplace, the other bedroom has more double doors that open onto a narrow balcony that faces the complexes courtyard. Both rooms on this level have ensuite bathrooms with showers.

The third floor has what is most likely the true master bedroom (though they are all similar in scale), with ensuite and a massive closet and two Juliet balconies (more double doors). Across the hallway is the door to the quite spacious rooftop terrace.

Heading back to the basement, the first landing down from the front door has a simple two-piece powder room. The finished basement has a rather large laundry room, a media room and a three-piece bathroom with a dog shower. There’s also an entrance here, from the underground parking lot.

In this era of physical distancing a virtual tour will likely become the key tool of the realtor, one wonders if Ms. Lasswell’s idea of adding art into the mix will become a key selling feature.

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Koray Erkaya/Koray Erkaya

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