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Real Estate


House of the Week: $1.75 million for a hip family home in the heart of downtown

ADDRESS: 50 Sullivan Street

NEIGHBOURHOOD: Kensington-Chinatown

AGENT: Julie Han-Emery, Re/Max Realtron Realty

PRICE: $1,749,000

THE PLACE: A modern renovation on a sleepy side street in the heart of the downtown core. With four bedrooms and five baths, it could be a great family home or, for the rich and adventurous, perhaps the nicest shared accommodation in the city.

BRAGGING RIGHTS: Lots of condo dwellers can lay claim to a view of the CN Tower, but few downtown homeowners have a view this good from their hallway. Toronto’s most famous landmark is perfectly framed in the window of the 18-foot staircase.

BIG SELLING POINT: You can’t be much more downtown than this—Sullivan is equidistant from Queen Street and Dundas, and this house is steps from Spadina. Close to the AGO, Chinatown, Kensington and Queen Street revelry, there’s no excuse for staying in.

POSSIBLE DEAL BREAKER: A full storey higher and much more modern than its neighbours, this home doesn’t exactly blend in. Paired with the wall of windows in the front, prospective buyers should be comfortable with eyes on them.

• $1,749,000
• $4,500 in taxes in 2011
• 3,700 square feet
• 9-foot ceilings
• 5 bathrooms
• 4 bedrooms
• 3 storeys
• 2-car detached garage

  • cathie

    Normally I hate these infill homes that don’t fit in with the neighbourhood but this place is kinda neat. However, too bad about the electric meter on the front porch and those crappy bottom-slider windows. It also needs more extensive, softer landscaping.

  • Steven

    I watched them build this place over the past nine months, and I went to the open house. For the price, I would have expected better workmanship, and finishings. It It strikes me that they used the cheapest materials possible, and there are a number of sloppy mistakes and poorly laid floors/tiles. It looks unfinished from the outside, not “modern” – again, probably the cheapest possible exterior finish. I won’t be shocked if it sells for $1.75 million, but someone with that kind of money could get something better for less or in a nicer neighbourhood.

  • Robbie

    Hey guys, it’s easy tooooo back at these houses and judge. We just bought a house and are in the midst of renovating it. U always start with a budget, and that budget keeps going up and up. So u have no choice but to cut corners. Workmanship and materials have become very expensive. So 200k easily becomes 300k.

  • me

    mediocre interior, poor landscaping, and a horrible facade for that price.

  • Steven

    @Robbie. They bought the house for something like $700,000 last summer. I highly doubt that they put $1 million worth of work into it. It used to look like the house to the left in the pictures (to which it is attached). Hope all that corner cutting works out for you!

  • Jason

    Haha. Funny that 80% of contributors beneath such articles always tend to be negative bleaters. Probably the same little group each time. You’ll give yourselves a heart attack spending your life trying to point out problems. It looks like a great home, in a great location. I used to live one street away from here and I’m sure this project is setting the tone for things to come in that little pocket. Walk to the Rivoli in a couple of minutes or downtown in 15. Well done to whomever took on this project and I wish them and the lucky new buyer the best of luck!

  • Paul

    I love it and would grab it in a jiffy if I was looking and had the $$$$… You dont get more central than this and its a quiet street. Look at those crazy low property taxes. Who can be so critical of the renovations like they are Holmes ?! Come on people, lighten up!

  • me

    i love how the “same little group” always make excuses & rationalizes mediocre work. there are many much better examples of workmanship on “house of the week” or “great spaces” alone.

    i used to live down the same street; yes, it’s a great location, but it’s still a lackluster house for the price. regardless of how expensive a reno is, it does not necessarily transform mediocrity into quality.

    other than location, objectively what makes this house genuinely worth nearly $1.8M and qualifies it as being of *high quality*? the bland landscaping? the ugly garage? the walk-in formica closets? the industrial broadloom in the basement? the generic recessed lighting?

  • peachy

    no, sorry, i love quirky infill and there are aspects to this internally that work but overall – i cant believe they even got away with it! were the guys at city asleep (more than usual)???

  • Mike

    Epic Fail. The ruin of Kensington has begun…

  • Top Left

    Thank you Jason for calling out the negative remarks. As I have said before, people post the meanest comments that they would never have the courage to say in person. COWARDS. I think it is wonderful that people take chances and build such interesting infill projects! If the owners get their price, more power to them.

  • tenofclubs

    I am not a fan of modern, however, love the kitchen.

  • Jess

    fabulous inside, hideous outside – but that’s just personal taste. The oak is such a nice change from super dark, or super light wood…and the kitchen is a chefs dream. Back to the outside: modern home, traditional home, mobile home, whatever – just don’t use stucco! It stains and ages so terribly. Our Canadian winters don’t make it a terribly wise exterior option.

  • cynthia

    I live in the neighborhood and watched this house being built. I thought it was great that someone was taking a run-down house and transforming it into a new living space. However, the end result is mediocre. And I’m not saying that because I’m “hating” on the project but because the house is just not worth the price tag.

    Let’s be clear on the fact that this was not merely a renovation. The owners did not just gut the insides and gussy-up the exterior. This was a total rebuild. Most of the house was demolished and all that remained was (most of) the front facade and the foundation. The foundation was re-poured for the new structure as the footprint is much larger than what stood there before.

    The interior of the house is not well-finished. It looks all nice in the pictures (and what house does not photograph well when it has been professionally staged) but pictures don’t show the details. Like the uneven and misaligned tiles in the bathroom. Or the “mistakes” in the drywall/painting. The exterior is just atrocious. Maybe it is supposed to look unfinished. And if that is the effect, fine. But the builders should have at least lined up the screws that are holding the panels in place. And they should not have put cheap (painted) wood stairs out front.

    The neighborhood is fantastic. Close to everything yet still very quiet. Whoever plunks down the cash will love living there. However, they could pay the same money to live somewhere else the core and get a better property.

    Oh, and @Top Left, I have no qualms about making these comments “in person”. As I suspect you are the listing agent for the house (or know the listing agent/owners), I encourage you to have another open house so that everyone has the opportunity to see the shoddy finishes in person. @Jason: you put yourself in the same category as the rest of us “bleaters” by posting. Congrats on being so much better than everyone else. I’m not sure it is quite working out for you, though.

  • Methinks

    that kitchen is fabulous!

  • JGHali

    I like the kitchens and bathroom, but I find all the greys and whites and blacks kinda bland. And what’s with rock-gravel instead of grass (or even turf/gardens)??

  • Donald

    It has some nice features and lots of living space. But lets face it, this house is a rectilinear box with a 2012 bland colour scheme.

    Unfortunately projects like this show their provenance: designed by a builder and homeowners with lots of magazines as inspiration: a detail here, oh that’s nice can we do that? And you end up with cubist areas of wasted space (odd return at staircase) and assorted spatial oddities (3rd bedroom is an oversize hallway?) that are left over when fundamentlally uncreative people take on a little too much with out an overarching vision.

  • TT

    Toronto Life, this was looong over do. This place is properly priced for the size and area and beautifully done!! Although the home does stand out from the rest on the street it makes sense and still works for the neighbourhood. People please, landscaping takes TIME (which will eventually make the house appear “softer”) and this was a flip so lighten up- not everything needs to be done for the house to be worth this price. take it Whoever thinks this place is over priced, must NOT be in the market. I cant speak to the quality of the finishings, but everything seems so well done (I just dont like the interior doors). I think ME is just jealous. Im sure her/his house (if its in the core) is shit compared to this, or

  • me

    TT, you really sound like a shill for the house, perhaps the agent or seller. I’ve lived downtown for most of my life, previously toward the Sullivan/Beverley end of the street (since the days of Speakers Corner and The Bamboo), and now in Queen West on Claremont. I renoed my place, rather than do a tear down, which maintained much more of the character of the house & neighbourhood. If you feel the need for ad hominem attacks without commenting on my specific points, feel free, but it really does nothing to support your points (or lack of).

    The house may be priced at a point for the area, but it still does not justify it’s mediocrity. The gravel landscaping in the front is exceptionally poor with little aesthetic merit, while the back yard has what will likely be an unimaginative lawn. I’ve landscaped my place before, and there is nothing in the photos that suggest that it will be anything more than a flat landscape with little depth of imagination once it comes in full.

    Will it sell for the price (or close to it)? Perhaps, although no one is suggesting that it is out of line with local pricing. But just because something sells does not mean it is high quality or has any significantly redeeming qualities (save location).

    Who cares if it’s a flip? That still does not make the house any better; it more likely means that the owners put in minimal efforts that are more superficial than substantial. Is it better than a run-down house? Sure, I agree. But again, the garage is a sore sight, formica walk-in closets are not great, the generic detailing is generically (un)attractive, the industrial broadloom in the basement is boring, and the stucco treatment is uninspired. The best design elements are the flooring and the kitchen (see, I do like some elements!); I would hope they have heated floors, but that may be hopefully optimistic.

    Apparently, I am not the only one who feels the house is of mediocre quality and does not accurately reflect the price, including some who seem to have seen the workmanship up-close (and in all its gory detail).

    I would like to hear your comments about what specifically really makes this house stand out and why it is genuinely worth $1.8M (other than location).

  • Oil Man

    A Veyron or this House?

    I’ll take both.

    The depreciation on both is irrelevant ;)

  • Antoniette

    Great home with lots of space!!! Love the modern decor too!!! Beautifully done! I certainly wish it was in within budget!:)
    Just reading some of these other comments and although I’m only basing my opinion on photos…the workmanship looks amazing and we’ve looked at enough model homes to compare. I think they did a great job and obviously if they hadn’t it would not be the “House of the Week”! I personally LOVE IT and I love all the windows and light. GREAT JOB!!!

  • Countess Suzanne

    Dear dummies,

    An infill house is a building built on a (most often urban) piece of land where a residence didn’t exist before (garage, alleyway, old gas station, industrial property, etc.). Call this is a reno, a flip job or a handsome Kensington semi striped of its personality and hidden under a cheap ass stucco sleeve, but don’t call it an infill anything.



  • Luca

    I went to the open house to check this place out and I thought it was beautiful. There’s condos being built not far from here going for over 2 million that are smaller and not nearly as cool as this house!!! I Think the price is more than fair for the size of the home especially in comparison to those condos, I’d much rather live in a beautiful detached home with a backyard and privacy than a stupid condo.

  • Barber

    usually the guys complaining about this type of project are the guys living in a shoebox with no less than two dimes to rub together. Shut your faces! And stop dreaming!

  • Joel

    Whatever city official gave and approved the permits for this should be fired, tarred and feathered.

  • Highly Suspicious

    I agree with Barber. I checked out this place when the sun was shining and it is priceless. amazing natural light and modern architecture. I wish I had the $1.8M to plonk down on this thing but I can keep dreaming. Location is awesome, and the place and finishes are amazing. If people think its way overpriced they haven’t been shopping in the City – after all this is not downtown Windsor. No doubt there are minor imperfections, but that doesn’t make the calibre and price of the home materially off the mark. The complainers could also be potentially very interested buyers trying to drive the price down….nice try. Highly Suspicious

  • Elisa See

    I am grateful for being granted the opportunity to vigilantly observe this modern masterpiece in person. It is evident that if this house wasn’t uniquely particular in its own way, both internally and externally, it most definitely wouldn’t be considered “house of the week” in the Toronto Life magazine. If it is recognized by the media then it should most definitely be equally valued by the general public. This perfectly put together house has the potential of becoming a great home, in a great location and because Toronto’s current sizzling real estate market is still gaining momentum, with average prices in the country’s largest city soaring more than 10 per cent last month, to about $504,000 this month, it’s common for a house of this height, size and modern refinishing in the heart of the city where the potential buyer has access everything they need within walking distance, to be sold for the manufactures suggested retail price. Toronto and Vancouver together account for about one-quarter of all real estate activity in Canada so I believe that the price is perfectly suitable for this property and I wish both the buyer and the person who took on this project the best of luck. Also, I am looking to get my house renovated and would like for the builder of this project to contact me at:

  • stella

    I like the moderness of it though it could use some variety in colours. I disagree with the bathroom in the basement though unless you had someone living there.
    I didn’t notice a laundry room there though did they not say anything about that. Loved the kitchen though the bathrooms too much white. Other than that very good design and well on the whole I would buy it if I had the dosh to do so. Spacious enough for a small family or couple but I don’t know about the price.

  • Mary

    I have worked in this neighbourhood for the past 4 years and I have seen bad reno’s asking for more then this is. Who ever attempted this ‘build’ coodles to you! You have just increased the neighbours value…your neighbours should be thanking you! I have been to many open houses and frankly speaking I have seen new construction homes with worse workmanship, why is that no one comments on those? Why is it that home buyers are willing to pay full asking price on a house rendering without knowing the workmanship and just settle for what they get and then you are at the mercy of the builder. Here is an opportunity to see with your own eyes what you are buying…are you kidding me? I guess those suckers that buy off a rendering think they are getting their ‘monies worth’! Congrats on the build, it looks great! Wish you all best….and if you do sell it for this price ALL your neighbours will thank you!!!!

  • Francis

    Thank-you,thank-you, thank-you!!!! I live in the neighbourhood and have been watching this build from day one and I think you have done a beautiful job. If Toronto Life didn’t think it was the house of the week then I doubt it would have made front page….I think Toronto Life has some credibility doesn’t it? Great job I wish you success on your sale!

  • Tim S.

    The house my wife and I bought cost about the same, and it looks much better. We saw better looking places than this that were solid renos or new builds in the Queen/Bloor, Spadina/Ossington area…we saw shoddy ones too. If I had the choice between this and looking elsewhere, I’d keep looking.

    A spread in Toronto Life doesnt mean it’s the best option available. Seems airy with lots of space, but not great design overall. That said, even though the price-to-quality is high, if you sell it at this price, your neighbours will thank you for raising the prices their homes. Fortunately for you, some people have more money than taste these days.

  • cindy

    I’m guessing the real estate agent paid for this spread in Toronto Life. The house has been on the market for three weeks with little traffic and the carrying costs must be enormous for the owner. What better way to create buzz!

  • mmm

    Well DUH, you feature a house with tons of pics, of course people are going to comment and not all of them are going to be pro, take it easy. If there were oics of a group of women, some might comment how one is fat or ugly. What acn you do…You’re allowed to love or hate the place, and if one can comment on how wonderful it is, you may get just as many people who don’t love it.

    I personally think the layout and design LOOKS amazing! I would love to live here!! I think the look really beats out some of the other properties that have been featured in this section. Everything seems tasteful and not as though someone was trying too hard. As for the quality of finishes and what not, I couldn’t tell by these pictures. Me loves.

  • WalterPO

    Just another example of the Californication of a Toronto neighborhood…the days of being able to find a decent, freshly baked bagel with fresh cream cheese or a piece of gefilta fish or a slab of havalah are long gone and so is the excitement.

  • Giovanni

    I have been in the construction business for 50+ years. I do have to say that the house is over priced.. This house shouldn’t be more than 975K tops…As for the meter a rookie mistake. It is very obvious that this contractor is a part time hobby for him or them..They obviously didn’t even think about moving the meter..The house looks like a tower. Money could of been better spent. I think they will not sell for asking price,For 1.7 million I or anyone can buy a MANSION with property and pool in an exclusive area of Toronto…for the same price that they are asking..That’s why they should leave building to a professional. I’m sure the people who built it are proud of the work they did …However the interior is not cheap furnishing and cheap workmanship. That I will give the contractor….They should stick to building in the out skirts of Toronto not the heart of it….

  • Giovanni

    One other comment the house was paid to be house of the week and featured. We used to do it all the time….All they did was buy advertising space….

  • modernist

    this is what you get when someone who doesn’t have a CLUE about design pretends to build something modern : horrible proportions, and idiotic floor plan and downright insulting materials.

    I feel sad for the sucker who falls for this amateurish property. Very sad

  • mima

    This house is absolutely beautiful. I LOVE the layout, the overall design and the modern sheek styling. The interior is not at all what it appears to be on the outside, however I love that element of surprise upon everything that is layed out on in the interior. Great location for such a beauty, the kitchen is gorgeous I think everyone can agree on that.The rooms are a good size and the stairs are such fabulous work of architecture. This is a very uniquely designed home all together, and definitely a show stopper for all visitors.

  • harold

    If I had 2 million to spend on a home, why would I want to live around poor people and junkies?

  • tfarih

    harold- thats a pretty ignorant comment. you must be from the burbs

  • Paul

    As always, if I could just buy the “comments” section of Toronto Life…its always worth the $. I am not the agent for this home. Instead, I do tours of the best & worst modern homes in Toronto every week & see all levels of workmanship. The ones who build as if they are staying are always the ones my buyers appreciate. Since workmanship can be optics, the best idea for the prospective buyer is to see the top 10 homes like this vs just 1. Keep the pros & cons a flowin’!!

  • Anthony

    Fabulous kitchen, beautiful taste with the oak throughout the home and very modern decor throughout.

    I can definitely look past any of the aforementioned tiny mistakes (that I did not personally notice when I viewed the home) to enjoy such a modern, upscale and spacious home right in the heart of downtown – just look around at the other homes in the area and it becomes clear that the chance to own a home like this in this area does not come by too often.

    Job well done!

  • Chalbe

    Looking at the pictures I find there’s a lot of strangely wasted space. I love to see the blueprints for this house to figure out why they ended up with those large landings and strange angles. While I like the layout of the kitchen I don’t like the materials, I’m still recovering from all the shiny surfaces of the 80′s and I’m not a fan of stainless steel, hate all the fingerprints…I don’t think this place is worth l.7mil but I guess the market will decide.

  • niche

    From my experience, most people with money to buy this house don’t care too much about the finishing. They care about location and overall bones of the structure. This is a cool house in a popular area. Most buyers of this kind of place will renovate again and get an interior designer to redo the home to their exact expectations so it works with their preferred colors, art, furniture and lifestyle. For example, the bathrooms are too ikea style with boring faucets and tiling. The baseboard running in all the rooms look cheap and flimsy. Ultimately, these things don’t matter because it can be changed relatively easily.

  • opl

    For those who have commented about the interior colors, please bear in mind that it is best to have neutral colors as opposed to the opposite when selling a home. It’s okay if you want to paint your walls blood red or funky green. But, when you are selling your house you have to use white or muted tones. There’s a reason why dinner wares and tablecloths are white in restaurants and weddings receptions and why art galleries have white walls. They are designed to accentuate the food, centerpiece and artwork. They also help open up the space. You don’t have to have a design background to figure that one out.

  • opl

    The price was just downgraded to 1.629M on MLS. Solely based on the photos, what they’ve done is beautiful (not to mention the incredible job in staging). However, even at the reduced price, it is still way too overpriced for the neighborhood and the street itself.

  • m3m

    Wow! Absolutely stunning. Minimalist modern home in the heart of Toronto.

  • opl

    Update, this house is still overpriced and is still listed at 1.629M in MLS. Why? Once again, too expensive for it’s location.

  • Nomorecod

    I love this house. It is a gorgeous building. Maybe a little sterile inside but wait until someone moves in – amazing. However, hopefully you don’t mind the smell of garbage water ’cause this is what the Spadina corridor smells like MOST days.