Parisian City House

This was a new build on a narrow city lot created by us. The white stone Baroque exterior was matched by a Louis XVI interior. Millwork, casegoods and freestanding furniture were custom designed and made by Po Ku Design Build. The hand-carved Baroque stone fireplace mantels were created by Rob Little.

How It Started

In the Find The Perfect Site section, we have stressed upon the fact that good architecture brings about more good architecture. This is how an upscale neighborhood is created, not by building bigger and glitzier houses, but by building better architecture.  In 1991, a developer bought the old Eaton house on Clarendon Avenue which was, by any standard, a beautiful Georgian edifice and managed to subdivide it into three apartments and sold them all at considerable profit. The developer had the foresight not to alter the exteriors of the old house. In 1994 we bought a decrepit old house next to the Eaton house and severed the land into three parcels.  One with the old house on it and the other two for new construction.  The existing house was the famous haunted house in the Canadian blockbuster movie Black Christmas. In the movie, the maniac lived in the attic. The real house had an attic but was too low to stand up straight in. At the time there were a few spec-built houses and townhouses on the street.  The rest were older and undistinguished homes. Also there were quite a few rooming houses in the neighborhood. We were the first one to create an enclave of three extraordinarily luxurious custom homes on the street – two new houses and one renovated old house.  Today the street is the most sought-after place to live in Toronto.

Site Layout

We created a private drive for access for all three lots. This Parisian City House was situated at the end of the created street. The house had a gated front yard and very deep backyard which was surrounded by trees so dense that one could not see the neighboring houses. It also had an inner courtyard hidden deeply in the middle of the building with a secret garden. This was the setting we had created right in the middle of the densely populated mid-town Toronto.

What Stood Out

The white stone glittered in bright daylight. The most prominent feature was the giant stone stringcourse that ran all around the building. It was designed with a slope on the flat top to shed water (see Construction Management section). The white stone quoins, the tall French windows, the ironwork, the Baroque arches and the giant fluted stone pilasters in the courtyard were memorable features of the house.

The Inside

Above the Baroque entrance was an exquisitely handcrafted French wrought iron grille. When the doors open, you were greeted by the gracefully curved white staircase with a free-flowing wrought iron balustrade. The floor was cream-colored limestone. All surfaces were painted a light cream color. Pillars separated the living room from the foyer. At the end of living room was a feature wall with a full height Baroque carved-stone fireplace mantel in the center. Walking down a long hallway, you would find the courtyard garden on your left and the Louis XVI library on your right. The cream and gold library was fitted with finely carved woodwork on three walls. The end wall had a full height fireplace mantel in the center. The bookcases were to the right. Integrated in the full height glass doors of the bookcases were slender pillars with an urn on top. Wall panels were golden Indian Satinwood with lacquered trim and molding surround. At the end of the hallway were too rooms. To the left was the dining room looking into the courtyard. Breakfast al fresco in the courtyard in the summer was a beloved event in the morning. To the right of the hallway was the kitchen family room. There was an entrance from the garage and a second stair going up to the second floor and down to the lower level. The kitchen family room was designed in a simple French country style. Kitchen cabinets were old-fashioned, cream colored and handcrafted. The center of attraction was the Honduras mahogany island counter with a shaped pillar at each of the four corners. The island was designed as a freestanding piece of fine furniture. The blue and white checkered tile pattern reinforced the French country feel. The back of the kitchen family room was a full-length window wall with large French doors that open out into the lush and very private backyard.