The listing: 16 Glen Edyth Place
Asking Price: $16,950,000
Taxes: $61,071.26 (2019)
Lot Size: 130- by 233-feet (irregular)
Agents: Jimmy Molloy (Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.)
The back story
In the early 2000s, David Daniels and Kate Alexander Daniels were living on a winding street in mid-town Toronto when the Art Deco mansion perched at the top of the hill came up for sale.
The couple had one child and another on the way and they were looking for a more spacious home. They figured the circa-1935 house in South Hill was larger than they needed but they were curious to see the property perched on the edge of the Nordheimer Ravine.
The house had a dated and rather eccentric decor, Ms. Daniels says, recalling tasselled red velvet curtains, outlandish wallpapers and a pink bathtub. There was an opulent, gilt-trimmed master bedroom and a ballroom in the basement.
To Ms. Daniels, that “kooky” interior radiated joy.
“When you walk in you have a reaction,” says Ms. Daniels. “I walked in and there was laughter in the walls.”
Mr. Daniels – with a background in real estate development – was intrigued by what lay beneath the layers of fabric and wallpaper.
“I see everything for its potential – never for what it is,” he says.
The residence had a notable provenance: it was designed by Toronto-based architect Mackenzie Waters for major-general Donald Hogarth.
“Being a high-ranking military officer was like being a rock star,” says Mr. Daniels.
In the early 1930s, Mr. Waters had already built a career designing residences for the Toronto establishment. He had a hand in bringing international modernism to Canadian architecture and gained further acclaim when his firm designed Maple Leaf Gardens.
Mr. Waters used the same buff-coloured brick for the major-general’s residence as he did at the storied hockey arena.
The Hogarth family lived in 16 Edyth Place until 1960. Two other families owned the house in the intervening years before the Daniels became the fourth family to take ownership of the property – which came with a few extra pallets of that famous yellow brick.
“We have a stash of brick outside in case anyone else needs it,” says Mr. Daniels.
The house today
The Daniels and their two young children lived in the house for about one year before they were ready to undertake the renovation, which began in 2005.
That time gave the family an opportunity to decide what they did and didn’t like, says Ms. Daniels, recalling waking up each morning in a room that looked like the Palace of Versailles.
Soon after purchasing 16 Glen Edyth Place, Mr. Daniels brought his father, John Daniels to see it. The influential developer and founder of Daniels Corp. had his own thoughts on the house, which has four levels from top to bottom.
“You’re putting an elevator in, right?” was the first question from Daniels père.
The couple moved out for three years while the house was rebuilt from top to bottom. Mr. Daniels brought in architect Paul Dowsett to reimagine the house with the use of sustainable materials and technology.
Today the house has five bedrooms and 11 bathrooms in 8,000 square feet of living space.
Guests arrive to a grand foyer with a domed ceiling and inlaid wood floor. A curving black terrazzo staircase with an Art Deco railing winds to the second floor.
“What was here was in excellent shape,” says Mr. Daniels of the original features.
One of Mr. Daniels’ favourite aspects is the sight line from the front door all the way to the garden at the rear.
“When you walk in, it’s a knock-out,” he says of the view through the centre of the house.
The large living room has a bay window facing west, new tilt-and-turn windows facing south and a fireplace surrounded in marble and glass.
The dining room has two swinging doors for staff to enter from the kitchen and exit again during dinner parties – just as they did in the major-general’s day.
Ms. Daniels says the dining room is large enough to accommodate as many as 33 people for a sit-down dinner.
The original kitchen, which dated to the 1930s, was a cramped galley, says Ms. Daniels.
The couple expanded the space to create a large and modern chef’s kitchen in a glass box with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the veil of greenery outside.
Ms. Daniels, who loves to spend time cooking, wanted a kitchen that was beautiful but also practical. A separate entrance and hallway allows her to bring groceries straight from the car to the kitchen.
“I love form but I love function,” she says. “I want to live with ease.”
For maximum efficiency, there are two large islands topped in stainless steel: one for preparing food and the other for clearing afterwards – the same way a restaurant kitchen works, Ms. Daniels says.
Tall wooden cabinets hide the appliances and another wall of cupboards hides the pantry.
There’s also plenty of space for casual family dining and lounging.
The Daniels have hosted a fundraising Grand Cru wine and dine event which saw a celebrity chef preparing delicacies for the assembled guests.
“They all love to cook in here,” Ms. Daniels says of the professional chefs who have wielded their knives in the kitchen.
Upstairs, the Daniels created comfortable bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms and a lounging area for their two children, who are in their teenage years now.
“This needed to be an area that was really theirs,” says Ms. Daniels.
The master suite was stripped of its lavish decorations and turned into a retreat with views of the treetops in summer and the city skyline in the distance when the leaves are gone.
“I go crazy for the view at night,” says Ms. Daniels.
There are his-and-hers ensuite bathrooms and dressing rooms.
On the third floor, the original staff quarters have been rebuilt as expansive home offices with walls of glass.
“We decided this needed a total re-imagination,” says Ms. Daniels.
Ms. Daniels is a producer and strategic communications guru who works from her home office, with windows facing south and east over the green roof. Mr. Daniels has virtually given up his space at the family real estate investment firm and works from his expansive home office, which has views facing north and west.
The elevator recommended by the senior Mr. Daniels glides between four floors.
Downstairs, the ballroom in the lower level still has the original sprung floor, with holes around the edge that allow the floor to breathe.
“The way people entertained in the 1930s was in their homes,” says Mr. Daniels. “You would bring in a four-piece band and you would dance.”
The multi-level home theatre is built in the room that originally housed the massive boiler.
Outside, the home has a separate garage with a porte cochere connecting it to the main house. When the Daniels took over, the space above the garage had been used as a potting shed by the previous owner.
The couple replaced the potting shed with more walls of glass and created a secluded guest suite with a private entrance. A glass bridge above the porte cochere leads to the house.
Outside, the Daniels replaced the kidney-shaped swimming pool with a long rectangle surrounded by landscaped gardens and terraces.
Below the pool, boxwood hedges are shaped into a question mark and an exclamation mark that represent the couple’s philosophy of remaining inquisitive and engaged.
“That’s our symbol – our way of looking at life,” says Mr. Daniels.
As long-time patrons of the arts, Ms. Daniels says the couple intended from the start to use the house for charitable events. The musician Rufus Wainwright, actor Alan Cumming and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra are a few of the luminaries who have taken part in festivities at the home.
Mr. Daniels says shepherding the house through the lengthy renovation allowed the couple to preserve its heritage while creating a modern and sustainable building.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us – a house of this scale, with its provenance,” says Mr. Daniels. “We wanted to do it justice. First and foremost, it’s a family home.”
The best feature
Some of the home’s strategies to reduce energy use include geothermal heating, rainwater collection and solar heating in the pool. The third-floor high albedo roof keeps the house cool in hot summer months.
Over the years, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada has twice recognized 16 Glen Edyth Place, says Mr. Daniels. The first nod was given when the house was built; the second was for its energy-efficient design when the transformation was complete.
Some of the building’s original elements were repurposed: The wood from the original sauna in the basement now lines the roof of the pool cabana, for example, while vintage doors have been reused in for cupboards in the laundry room.
“We tried to be as sustainable as possible,” says Mr. Daniels.
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.