Dream home: He bought the old house facing his childhood home. Here’s the $4.45-million, modernized and upsized result
It wasn’t just any old house.
Sure, it was badly in need of an update but Gord Shearn had a special attachment to it.
“I’ve seen this house my whole life,” says Shearn, who was five months old when his family moved in across the street in 1970. “Our front doors lined up directly.”
Shearn, who still has family living at the same home in the Lytton Park neighbourhood, in Toronto’s midtown area, jumped at the chance to purchase the opposite house when the aging owner moved out in 2018.
As owner and principal of gordongroup, a design, build and project management firm specializing in residential projects, he had a clear idea of what he would do with it.
“We wanted to prove that you could build a modern house that a modern family would want, and still maintain the character of the street,” he explains.
Now, he and husband Jeff Riffle and their silver Labrador retriever Kevin live comfortably in the rebuilt, “big and bright” brick home that blends seamlessly into the century-old streetscape.
Just months after they moved in, however, they’re preparing to move out.
“This house was designed as our dream house … but we never thought it would be our forever house,” Shearn explains. “We have loved living here but it deserves a family.”
Broker Daena Allen-Noxon of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada calls the transformation “just outstanding.”
“I’m amazed at the amount of square footage. It’s unheard of and it’s a true five-bedroom.”
With the redesign, the original house of 1,432 square feet on two floors grew to 4,600 square feet of living space on four levels.
Shearn and Riffle, an artist, bought the “pretty much untouched” house lock, stock and ’80s sofas that they later had reupholstered in Sunbrella fabric for Kevin’s benefit.
It took 19 months to clear the city’s obstacle course of applications and approvals then close to another year to complete the project, which included three additions.
Living space was added at the back, on top and on one side. The side expansion where the staircase was relocated “changes everything inside,” says Shearn, noting the front hall measures 6-1/2 feet wide and 30 feet long.
The back addition includes the combined kitchen/family room and second-floor primary suite while the added third floor — boasting four skylights — created space for two bedrooms, a bathroom and a lounge. Awash in natural light under a vaulted ceiling, the “glorious space” is one of Shearn’s favourites.
“Light was really important” in the redesign, he notes, adding the big glass doors that open to the deck offer views of “amazing sunsets.”
One of the interior design highlights is the “very sleek look” of Italian black steel tubing used for suspended open shelving in several places, including dining and family rooms, and gantry over the kitchen island.