301 Millwood Parkway, Vaughan, Ont.
Asking Price: $12,998,000
Taxes: $25,284.90 (2021)
Lot Size: 244 feet by 492 feet
Agents: Cheri Dorsey McCann and Lori Younder, McCann Realty Group Ltd.
Miriam and Emilio Manzo were working in the renovation and building industry when they decided to design and build their own house in Vaughan, Ont.
Ms. Manzo already had one floor plan on paper when they found a treed parcel of land with just less than three acres backing onto a ravine near Pine Valley Drive and Major MacKenzie Drive West.
She decided to redesign the house to take advantage of the wide lot and the sloping land that allowed a walk-out from the basement.
The couple had three young boys at the time. Ms. Manzo started out with a smaller house in mind, but by the time she had laid out entertaining and recreation areas for the family of five, the home’s footprint had expanded to 12,000 square feet including the lower level.
“I really just had a vision of our lifestyle and how I wanted it to be.”
The house today
Construction on the five-bedroom house began about nine years ago and took two years to complete.
Ms. Manzo walked the property to decide which trees to keep and which to cut down. Because the property backs onto a ravine, the couple had to comply with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority regulations, which are designed to safeguard the watershed.
When the couple tried to build a wall at the edge of the ravine, the TRCA stepped in, she says.
“They came with police officers and handcuffs to make sure we were abiding by the rules, which we weren’t,” she says. “We had to take the wall back down.”
The couple created a more layered landscape, with formal gardens near the house.
The “old world” interior of the house was influenced by Ms. Manzo’s travels in France. She chose 11-foot high ceilings, chandeliers, crown mouldings and walnut floors in a herringbone pattern.
“I wanted to make sure that I didn’t build a traditional house. I wanted a classic house.”
Guests arrive to a large foyer with a floor tiled in marble.
The main floor has a formal dining room and living room. The large, white kitchen has a centre island and a breakfast area nearby with doors opening to a covered porch.
That level also has a family room with a fireplace and a coffered ceiling.
Ms. Manzo says she and her husband and complete opposites: she prefers order while Mr. Manzo is more laissez-faire.
To ease marital tensions, she created lots of his-and-hers spaces.
“I have my own two-car garage with my own entrance,” she says, while Mr. Manzo has a separate garage.
The couple each have their own home office on the main floor: Mr. Manzo’s is designed to feel like a library, with wood-panelled walls and a fireplace. Ms. Manzo’s, at the opposite end of the house, has lots of built-in storage. She also has a desk where two people can work together.
Her combined mud room allows her to keep handy her coats and umbrellas and other belongings she needs to grab on her way out the door.
“It’s such a multi-purpose room,” she says.
A grand staircase leads to the upstairs, where each of the five bedrooms has an ensuite bathroom.
The primary bedroom has a coffered ceiling, sitting area and his-and-hers bathrooms and dressing rooms.
Ms. Manzo’s bathroom has a stand-alone tub in an alcove, a fireplace, a walk-in shower, a water closet and a floor tiled in marble.
Mr. Manzo’s bathroom has wood panelled walls, a walk-in shower and built-in storage.
The lower level has a recreation room, gym and home theatre room. There’s also a second kitchen for caterers to use when Ms. Manzo is entertaining.
There’s a nanny’s suite with ensuite bathroom.
Ms. Manzo says she enjoyed having a large home so she could have her sons’ friends over when they were younger.
“Every single room is used,” she says.
Outside, the house is surrounded by terraced gardens with boxwood hedges and hydrangea.
There’s a putting green next to the house. Mr. Manzo and all of the couple’s sons play golf, Ms. Manzo says.
“It was such a hit with guests coming over.”
The best feature
The cabana at the end of the garden has a pizza oven, a vaulted ceiling, and a casual dining area.
“I wanted a destination – a reason to go down into the backyard,” Ms. Manzo says.
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