Polished pied-à-terre has class
Kelvin Browne, National Post
Many 1960s condos and co-op apartments need new owners. These suites have great bones, lots of windows and usually prime locations but haven’t had much attention for half a century. They usually need to be completely redone to recapture their original modernist glamour. When owners take the plunge and gut them, they can realize remarkable investments, both financially and as wonderful places to live.
A friend, architect Andrew Jones, just completed such a renovation for a mutual friend, William Thorsell, the former director of the ROM. Because William is spending quite a bit of time south (Costa Rica) and north (Mulmur) of Toronto, he decided to sell his Moore Park house and decamp to an urban pied-à-terre (or pad-a-terre as one real estate agent pronounced it).
He looked at a few new condos and none clicked, but a 1960s building at Heath Street and Avenue Road did.
The classy 11-storey building has 43 suites and a view of Avenue Road. It has a twin on the other side of the street. William’s apartment is about 1,000 square feet, but after the renovation feels much larger.
William initially called Andrew for a consult on flooring, but then the project grew. The original layout didn’tmaximize the space’s potential, and since the kitchen and bathrooms needed to be redone anyway, why go half way? There’s nothing timid about this reno: The warren of rooms was opened up, the position of the kitchen moved and practically every surface reconsidered.
“This vintage of building typically has lots of windows relative to the total square footage,” Andrew explains. “I wanted to take advantage of the impact of the continuous horizontal band of windows that face on to Avenue Road.” Andrew gutted the interior, which presented issues. “There’s no service elevator, so all the debris had to be taken out discreetly,” he says.
The effort was worth it. There are several things that make this renovation exceptional; the first is that Andrew is very in tune with the modernist aesthetic of the building. (The worst renovations of 1960s and ’70s buildings are those that try to convert them to Georgian, or something else traditional. Modernist rooms with huge cornice mouldings are an abomination.)
Andrew also mixes inexpensive components with pricier custom-built items, like a concealed fridge, to produce a polished look. You can’t scrimp on some things, such as the floor as it’s dominant in the apartment. On the other hand, the bathroom is coolly elegant and it’s the design that makes it appear chic, not the acres of marble or ex-pensive fixtures.
What is less easy to perceive in the apartment is the subtlety of the design. It’s one of those occasions when you walk into a place and it works, but it’s not obvious why. There are no gimmicks, no boutique-hotel-like flourishes that scream trendy but are boring to live with. When you look closely at the apartment, you realize more can be less. Everything is meticulously thought out, there’s lots of design finesse that makes everything smoothly work. However, the result is quiet, with the windows and glorious new floors allowed to take centre stage. It’s as if the architect of the building had a second chance to design it and got it perfect this time around.
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416-388-1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.
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