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Home of the Week: A twist on the Beaches design vernacular

THE LISTING 46 Herbert Ave., Toronto

LISTING PRICE $2,099,000

TAXES $4,884.61 (2016)

LOT SIZE 25 ft. by 123 ft.

LISTING AGENT Steven Fudge, sales representative,; Bosley Real Estate Ltd., brokerage

46 Herbert Ave., Toronto. (Vivek Wu)

When Felix Leicher goes to the drawing board, he begins the same way: “I always start with a simple house.”

Then as he sketches, he pushes the form, extends the structure and reinvents this “simple house” into a modern design.

Mr. Leicher – who is the creative director of development company baukultur / ca – was inspired by the peaked roofs of surrounding, older houses on Herbert Avenue. But instead of centring it, he shifted the peak off to the side in his sketch, giving the house an asymmetrical shape and an unmistakable modern flair.

“The engineering team struggled quite a bit to get that shape because it’s not even,” Mr. Leicher said. “But eventually, we figured it out.”

The off-centre roof peak gives the home an unmistakable shape. (Vivek Wu)

The back story

The house on Herbert Avenue, which is minutes away from Queen Street East and Toronto’s Woodbine Beach, is Mr. Leicher’s second project since moving from Germany. His first was a semi-detached dwelling on Louvain Avenue, a short streetcar ride away in Leslieville.

With that house, Mr. Leicher had wanted to build up, but decided instead on a cantilevered extension of the second floor off the back. With 46 Herbert Ave., he faced the same dilemma

“In the beginning, there were two options: to build up or build a big addition off the back,” he said. “But I decided to do the more challenging and go up.”

The living room at the front of the home. (Vivek Wu)

To do this, he kept the same footprint of the original house but redid the foundation and added a steel frame that helps with the asymmetrical shape and peaked roof. The goal here was to give the structure a distinctive look. But he didn’t want to use the common trope of a flat roof for a modern house. And he also didn’t want to go so extreme with the shape that it seemed out of place.

“What Felix has done is [he has] taken the vernacular of the neighbourhood and twisted it,” said Steven Fudge, his real estate agent.

The renovation took a total of 10 months and in the end, the house had five bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms.

The basement has been converted into a separate suite – which Mr. Fudge jokingly calls the “moody teen” suite – complete with a kitchen, full bath and enclosed bedroom.

The kitchen of 46 Herbert Ave. (Vivek Wu)

The main floor is fairly open; Mr. Leicher used half-walls and steps up to distinguish between the different areas (the foyer, living room, dining room, kitchen and family room) without disrupting flow.

The second floor has three bedrooms with two bathrooms. While the third floor is dedicated to the master suite. And it’s where you feel the shape of the home the most. The different angles create four distinct spaces in the master: the walk-in closet, the bathroom, a reading area and a sleeping space. It also features a walkout deck.

Like Louvain, there are a few design principles that pervade the house.

The home's shape is most felt in the third-floor master bedroom. (Vivek Wu)

The first is interplay of light and air. In fact, light was one of the main reasons Mr. Leicher bought the property.

“The exposure to the west was definitely beneficial and you have lots of soft light from the south,” he said.

To capitalize on all of the sunlight that he

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