Inside the dream home: A Dragons’ Den star’s sunny, $7.8 million city loft
Maybe it was the long hours spent inside a windowless lair. Or maybe she craved a warm and welcoming environment after the hard-nosed manner of her fellow “Dragons.”
But when Arlene Dickinson, a star of the long-running CBC series “Dragons’ Den” stepped inside the capacious sunlit loft on Wellington St. W. in Toronto, she became emotionally invested in an instant.
“It drew me in the first time I saw the space, and I have always loved the feeling of history here,” the venture capitalist and self-made business mogul recalls a decade later.
“The space is warm and inviting, and the brick walls and the high ceilings give it character which I prefer to more modern, contemporary spaces,” Dickinson told the Star in an email.
With less time now spent there, she’s put her personal den on the market for $7.8 million.
Defined by massive arched windows, exposed brickwork and 14-foot ceilings, the airy fifth-floor suite is a far cry from the murky interior on “Dragons’ Den,” an unscripted show in which aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to wealthy investors. (The 16th season aired on CBC TV and CBC Gem last fall.)
It’s easy to see why Dickinson, whose style is more friendly than ferocious, has felt at home there, surrounded by bold-hued, whimsical and offbeat art and furnishings that reflect her personality and lifestyle.
The great room, which encompasses living and dining spaces and an open chef’s kitchen, showcases an eclectic assortment — including a painted pony from an antique carousel, a bare-bottom-shaped dining chair and an armchair upholstered in a Roy Lichtenstein pop-art print.
There’s also artwork with “special meaning” that Dickinson collected during travels to places like Thailand and Africa, where she’s from.
“I have always enjoyed living with colourful pieces,” she says. “Each piece makes me recall where I have been.”
Listing agent Kara Reed calls the 5,230-square-foot sub-penthouse “really a spectacular space (in) an incredible boutique loft building” that’s unrivalled in the city.
The 1915 red brick building was first occupied by the Butterick sewing patterns company. Eighty years later, the vacant factory was sold, topped with a sixth floor and converted to lofts, preserving the original post-and-beam construction as well as other historic features.
What impresses most is the “sheer expansiveness of space” in the “jaw-dropping” great room, says Reed, of Chestnut Park Real Estate Brokerage. “It has a very grand esthetic, a special feel.”
With south-facing French doors, and windows on both south and west sides, every room enjoys urban views and ample natural light. Double doors open into the huge primary bedroom with wall-to-wall closet space, custom chandeliers and a luxurious six-piece ensuite featuring marble floors, built-in soaker tub and glass rain shower.
Across the hall are two more bedrooms and a gym with infrared sauna.
The loft has its own elevator which opens into a separate live-work area with office space, kitchen, boardroom, bathroom and mezzanine area. Reed suggests it could serve as work space for a small business or living quarters for a nanny or family members.
“The private elevator and the ability to entertain with the two kitchens has been wonderful,” observes Dickinson. (Reed notes that 200 people can easily fit in the entire suite, which is listed on Christie’s International Real Estate website.)
“I’ve really enjoyed living in a small boutique building. It’s so close to everything — restaurants, theatre, park,” says Dickinson, CEO of Calgary-based Venturepark, described as a business growth ecosystem.