A glass house on a ravine
The home in Toronto's Bayview Village was constructed to take full advantage of the verdant views
Listing: 6 King Maple Place, Toronto
Asking price: $5,789,000
Lot size: 62 feet by 157. 64 feet (irregular widens to 203 feet in the rear)
Taxes: $16,456.82 (2017)
Listing agent: Jamie Dempster, Broker, and Barbara Dempster, Sales Representative, Re/Max Hallmark
Broker Jamie Dempster has walked into a lot of houses in his 13 years in the business. But he distinctly remembers walking into 6 King Maple Place.
"As soon as you walk in door, you can't help yourself – your eyes look past whoever is talking to you," Mr. Dempster said. "Immediately you're drawn into this ravine."
King Maple Place is a little stub of a street in Toronto's tony Bayview Village neighbourhood. The homes of the street back onto the East Don Parkland with backyards looking out over the steep ravine. When Eleanor Potter bought 6 King Maple, she knew she could finally have a home with a view that would take your gaze away.
To have a home with a beautiful view, you have to have the perfect lot with the right surroundings. This was the aim of Ms. Potter's search.
"I realized to have a view in the city, one either needs to be on the lake or on a ravine," Ms. Potter said. "For our work purposes, it couldn't be the lake, so we started to look at ravine properties."
As she and her husband checked out properties, she noticed a pattern – none of the ravine houses on the market were constructed in a way that took full advantage of the verdant views.
"What I realized was that nobody knows how to build a house properly on a ravine," she said. "And I had very definite ideas of what a house on a ravine lot should be like."
One thing Ms. Potter didn't want in her home was a fireplace placed along the wall with the views, blocking the trees. And as she started to find more and flaws with existing homes, her search strategy changed. Suddenly, it became about finding the right lot where they could build a custom home that melded nature and style. That's when they found 6 King Maple Place.
After their six-month search, Ms. Potter became excited by the opportunity to re-envision the two-storey, L-shaped bungalow that stood on the forested lot they purchased in 2009. "I realized that this way we can get want we want."
The next step was hiring an architect. The couple settled on Richard Wengle and shared their vision.
"I knew I wanted a glass house on a ravine," Ms. Potter said. "And he made that real for us."
The design was anchored on three tenets: include the ravine view to the fullest extent, bring in as much light as possible and keep the lines clean, muted and modern inside.
"The view was everything with this house," she said. "It informed a lot of our decisions."
One such decision was the idea to include two-storey tall windows in the great room, that immediately capture you when you step into the house. The idea was to draw the visitor into the home and into the nature that surrounds it.
All of the other windows in the home have a purpose too. Take for example, the skinny but tall vertical window in the bedroom at the end of the hall on the second floor. With the bedroom door open, that window acts as a picture frame for tree on the other side of the glass.
"Richard was very into viewpoints in the house," Ms. Potter said.
Even the colour scheme – created by interior designer Connie Braemer – was meant to compliment the nature, by using muted greys and warm wood to enhance but not distract from the ravine.
"In this house, every piece, every detail leads to a logical reason," Mr. Dempster said, as he gestured to a short wall in the great room that creates a foyer space on the other side and provides a space for a hutch. "There isn't any part of this house that doesn't make sense."
The design played a big part in how Mr. Dempster priced the home, which he acknowledges, at $5,789,000 is an outlier.
"This is not your average home. To find comparables for this home is very difficult."
So when calculating the listing price, he worked his way backward, starting with the value of the land and then adding the 1 1/2-year construction it took to create 6 King Maple as it stands now.
"People will pay to not have to live through nearly two years of building," he added.
"This is the perfect house for someone who wants luxury but not excess," Mr. Dempster said. "Pound for pound, I think this is the best house available in Toronto."
Mr. Dempster can easily list half a dozen elements of the home that he loves, including an uncommon feature in the basement. During the design phase, Mr. Wengle asked Ms. Potter and her husband to devise a true wish list.
"He said: 'Write down your wish list, it doesn't matter how ridiculous it is, write it down,'" Ms. Potter said.
So, her husband added golf simulator room to the list as a blue-sky idea. Mr. Wengle, though, found a way to make it a reality. In the basement, surrounded by long black velvet curtains is a giant screen and a little artificial-turf green that is hooked up to golf simulator equipment. It's a space that can also double as a theatre room.
"My husband has the ultimate man cave down there," she said.
But Ms. Potter's favourite part of her house is backyard with its 46-foot pool and covered patio that features a hot tub and an outdoor TV.
"In the summertime, I love having a nap on one of our outdoor sofas. You can hear the wind in the leaves and the water lapping. We have a sanctuary in our backyard; there is no need for a cottage, really, when you come home to your own piece of nature."
It's moments like that that make parting with this house a difficult task for Ms. Potter.
"We're coming to a transition phase in our lives and it makes sense to sell it," Ms. Potter acknowledged, adding: "But we're very sad because we thought this would be our forever-house."