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home of the week

Robert Holowka

71 Madison Ave., Toronto

Asking price: $5,189,000

Taxes: $17,083.93 (2021)

Lot size: 25 by 126 feet

Agents: Myles Slocombe and Lucille Chenoweth (Sotheby’s International Realty Canada)

The backstory

Over the years, Valerie Chort and Jules Roy lived at three different addresses in Toronto’s Annex, where the streets are lined with houses built in the Victorian era.

About 12 years ago, the couple were living on Walmer Road in a grand home with a charming coach house, but the property needed rejuvenating. Rather than jump into a daunting renovation, they began looking for another house.

The modern kitchen contains wood cabinets, a central island and built-in appliances.Robert Holowka

A semi-detached house a few streets to the west on Madison Avenue had been recently updated by an owner who had transformed several of the other century-old homes in the area.

The first owner of the circa-1895 house was an industrialist named Robert Thompson, says real estate agent Myles Slocombe of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.

The house contains an ensuite bathroom with a standalone tub.Robert Holowka

Ms. Chort and Mr. Roy appreciated the way that the renovator preserved many of the home’s heritage elements while adding modern conveniences.

“With some of these old houses, you lose all of the character,” Mr. Roy says.

Ms. Chort says the semi-detached house reminds her of a New York brownstone: “When I walked in, it had a mix of that Brooklyn terrace feel with a touch of Annex.”

The living room stands at the front of the house with a gas fireplace and a bay window overlooking the street.Robert Holowka

The house today

Residents and guests arrive to a recessed front porch and the original oak entry door.

Inside, the five-bedroom house has more than 5,600 square feet of living space and 11-foot ceilings on the main floor.

The formal dining room at the centre of the home has a fireplace and panelled walls.Robert Holowka

Leaded glass windows and a Victorian staircase leading to the second floor are still in place.

The living room stands at the front of the house with a gas fireplace and a bay window overlooking the street. The egg-and-dart wood trim, plaster mouldings and ceiling medallion have been painted white.

Ms. Chort can open pocket doors to connect the room with the rest of the main floor or close them to create a more secluded feel.

The couple created a reading area with built-in cabinets and bookshelves.Robert Holowka

The formal dining room at the centre of the home also has a fireplace and panelled walls.

The couple had oak floors in a herringbone pattern installed in the living room and dining room, Mr. Roy explains.

At the rear of the house, an addition contains a modern kitchen with wood cabinets, a central island and built-in appliances.

Upstairs, the primary bedroom stands at the front of the house with a gas fireplace and a bay window above the street.

There’s also a dressing room and an ensuite bathroom with a standalone tub, a walk-in steam shower and a gas fireplace. The marble floors are heated.

The primary bedroom stands at the front of the house with a gas fireplace and a bay window above the street.Robert Holowka

At the rear, Mr. Roy’s office has a roof lantern to bring light to the interior. A gas fireplace adds warmth in winter and a balcony provides access to the outdoors in summer.

The couple also created a reading area with built-in cabinets and bookshelves.

“It provided the room with a library feel because we love books,” Ms. Chort says.

On the third floor, the couple created a suite for their daughter by opening up two rooms to create one bedroom with a lounging and study area at the front of the house. The ensuite bathroom has a glass-enclosed shower.

A door leads to an outdoor sleeping porch under the gable roof.

Upstairs, there’s a dressing room and an ensuite bathroom.Robert Holowka

The third floor has two additional bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms.

Downstairs, the home has a recreation room, a home gym and wine storage.

Outside, the backyard’s flagstone patio provides a place to relax in summer. In winter, it can be transformed into a skating rink.

Ms. Chort and Mr. Roy have seen many changes to the neighbourhood over the years. Today, Madison Avenue is part of the West Annex heritage conservation district.

“There are some beautiful period houses that have been decimated,” Mr. Roy says.

Outside, the backyard’s flagstone patio provides a place to relax in summer. In winter, it can be transformed into a skating rink.Robert Holowka

In the past, many former mansions were divided into apartments or turned into quarters for students at the nearby University of Toronto.

These days, Mr. Roy says, many new owners are turning those properties back into single-family residences. He welcomes the restoration of many of the older homes.

“It’s coming back to be more and more family-oriented as well,” he says of the couples moving in with young children.

Ms. Chort and Mr. Roy recently accepted an offer of $5,050,000 for 71 Madison Ave., and the property is now sold.

The best feature

The family room adjoining the kitchen has a bay window and doors opening to the patio and garden.Robert Holowka

The kitchen has luxurious touches, including an elevator that glides between the home’s four floors.

The couple enjoy cooking, so they make good use of the six-burner range, Ms. Chort says. For casual evenings with friends, they often serve dinner with everyone gathered around the island, she adds.

The couple also use the kitchen’s wood-burning fireplace for cooking, explains Mr. Roy, who likes to prepare pizza, steak and duck.

The family room adjoining the kitchen has a bay window and doors opening to the patio and garden.

The kitchen has luxurious touches, including an elevator that glides between the home’s four floors.Robert Holowka

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