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Listed for $1.65-million, the light-filled, offbeat Bell Tower has $350,000 worth of upgrades
Connie Adair, National Post
With a mix of modern and medieval, the Bell Tower suite is a place that piques the interest of the visitor, makes them think — and makes them smile.
The former Howard Park Methodist Church on Sunnyside Avenue, in the Parkside and Bloor neighbourhood, once housed a nursery school, an auditorium, a basketball court and pews for more than 1,000 parishioners. The massive 1910 stone structure was bought by a developer in the early 2000s and was converted into residential lofts. In 2008, the first occupants began moving into The Abbey suites, no two of which are alike.
The owners of the Bell Tower put much thought and cash (about $350,000) into serious and not-so-serious upgrades throughout the 2,700-square-foot interior and 550-sq.-ft. exterior spaces (MLS# W1889416).
From the original 26-foot high cathedral ceiling in the open-concept living area to the industrial kitchen, exposed limestone walls and pipes to modern granites, this suite is “modern meets Gothic romance,” says real estate agent Lynn Tribbling of Coldwell Banker Terrequity Realty.
Wide open white spaces are punctuated with vibrant stained glass that stretches two storeys high and draws the eye upward, the visitor’s gaze stopping only to notice a lamb statue, or two, resting atop limestone outcroppings.
Subtle artwork in the hall takes the form of “wall spirits,” Ms. Tribbling says. “Parts of a nun and a pope peek out from the wall — a nose, half of a pope’s hat, a hand holding a candle — with musing rather than scary faces.”
Granite floors in the living room have insets of 32×32-inch etched-glass floor art. In the foyer, a Holstein “holy cow” statue stands beside massive wood bookshelves reminiscent of the stacks at the University of Toronto library, she says.
The space was designed to be not only beautiful, but functional too. The sleek kitchen, “the beating heart of the main floor,” has no upper cabinetry for a clean look, she says. “A 20-foot walk-in pantry was added to offer much-needed storage and a place to keep a wine collection.”
A highly polished stainless steel staircase offers access to the upper levels, where there is a master bedroom with an ensuite spa bathroom complete with shoji screens, a spa tub, heated floors and a door to one of three terraces.
The third-floor office, where the owners, a university professor and a school principal, write books and prepare speaking notes, is a minimalist space drenched in natural light.
The outdoor turret landing has artificial grass, Ms. Tribbling says. “The owners were recently shopping for an antique lawn mower to put on the artificial grass.”
From the top of the church tower are lake and park views.
The media room, the only room that isn’t white, has red walls and stained glass windows. It’s like being inside a glass paperweight, Ms. Tribbling says.
So fun, serious and interesting is the space that a photographer friend of the owners insisted on capturing it in an art book.
“The suite offers numerous features and art to keep the mind fed. There is no downtown cookie cutter loft here,” Ms. Tribbling says. “Abbey Lofts were sold with little fanfare. Academics live here — professors, lawyers and people who think for a living.”
But if it’s not to the next owner’s taste, the art and decor can simply be removed to transform the space into whatever the new owner desires, she says. “You could even do a Canadiana look with a simple wood table and church pews.”
The Bell Tower suite is listed for sale for $1.65-million.
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You want artsy? This pad has sliding Japanese doors, a bedroom in a nook and a kitchen island on wheels made of steel
Lisa Van de Ven, National Post
Sometimes, it’s easiest to wow buyers with a large model suite in which to make a big impression. But at ART Condos – Triangle West Developments’ Queen West and Dovercourt project – the designers did the opposite. Opting for one of the smallest suites, they made it their mission to dazzle visitors with a combination of functionality and flourish. Purchasers can imagine what’s achievable, even if they don’t go for the largest unit in the building.
“The space really illustrates a smart and effective layout,” says Arriz Hassam, a principal designer with 3rd Uncle Design, the team behind the model as well as the project’s interiors, “but the palette goes beyond that.”
The 533-square-foot suite features sliding panels inspired from the shoji screens of Japanese tea houses, along with oak engineered floors and metal accents. The materials add visual texture while the proportions keep the unit functional.
The bedroom is a highlight, hidden behind the shoji-style panels, which slide open to expose it to the living spaces, creating a loft–like effect when wanted. Combining translucent and transparent glass with wood veneer, the panels (when closed) become a form of art as well. In the bedroom, the 3rd Uncle team designed a platform bed to custom fit the space, with a dark brown leather headboard and an oak base. The nightstands are incorporated into the bed, with built-in lighting and flip-down tabletops.
“You can flip them back up so you don’t have to have a lot of loose furniture in there, but if you’re reading a book or have a glass of water, you can still keep them by the bedside,” Mr. Hassam says.
The bed fits snugly in the room, with storage drawers underneath and a closet in the corner. And next to the bedroom, the kitchen is just as thought out. It’s designed in a compact and contemporary European fashion, so that it’s both stylish and functional but doesn’t dominate the small space. The upper cabinetry is white, while below the cabinets are dark brown, a tone that extends up one side, panelling the front of the fridge.
A custom-designed island – framed in steel – can be moved around at whim, though the designers have placed it underneath a Tom Dixon-designed pendant light fixture of spun brass; it’s black matte on the outside and has a hammered finish within. “It has a really nice light quality, and we like the object quality of it in the space,” Mr. Hassam says. “It’s very sculptural in its shape.”
The design team uses functional items with sculptural appeal throughout the suite, adding to the artistic quality of the unit without cluttering it. In the living area, a wood stool combines an interesting shape with dual function: extra seating when needed, but doubling as an end table as well. The built-in media unit also acts as artwork, incorporating blackened–
steel sliding panel doors that are beautiful in their own right but also serve to hide the television when it’s not in use.
The living room sofa was inspired by a vintage mid-century Danish design and has been upholstered in natural linen-hued fabrics in two tones. It’s juxtaposed against a custom coffee table made out of raw planks of wood, which were oiled and then framed in steel.
“We wanted to oscillate between things that are really refined and things that are still raw,” Mr. Hassam says.
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