Bewitched in Wynchwood

A Toronto home hides its city roots with mature trees
and a winding road

By Connie Adair
Photos by Mark Wilson, Property Films

It’s hard to imagine a day when Robbie Weisz isn’t smiling, but his grin gets wider and his eyes shine brighter when he talks about his house. His sleek mid-century, modern home is nestled on a slightly inclined lot, a new jewel within an historic neighbourhood known as Wychwood Park in Toronto, Ontario.

Despite its downtown location, Wychwood Park offers a setting like no other in the city, with large lots, mature trees and a winding road that circles through it. Weisz says he didn’t know the neighbourhood existed but when he saw it, he fell in love with it. Consisting of about 60 mostly Arts and Crafts-style homes, it started as an artists’ community in 1874.

A 1950s bungalow stood on the property when Weisz bought it. Its exterior walls were retained and the home expanded to offer just less than 5,000 square feet of luxuriously appointed living space.

Sited perfectly on its 100X115-foot lot, the home spreads low and wide, its elongated brick and wood blending with its natural surroundings, and large spans of mullioned windows reflecting the style of neighbouring homes.

A stepped walkway leads to a 9.5-foot solid oak front door, inspired by Missionary and Mid-Century Modern design. The interior, inspired by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, was designed to bring the outside in, says interior designer Adrienne Zicherman of Kmp Interiors Corp.

Her interior design meshes so successfully with the home’s natural setting that Weisz, a self-confessed cottage lover, says he rarely travels north to his Muskoka cottage anymore. And why would he? He has nature, serenity and beauty wrapped up in his new home.

Every morning Weisz opens his eyes and sees trees. Another treed view spreads before him when he sits in his favourite spot – the breakfast area that overlooks the landscaped front yard and woods beyond. Having breakfast there, he says, puts him in a good mood for the rest of the day.

The kitchen/breakfast area has large spans of windows on opposite walls. Side walls in the breakfast area provide floor-to-ceiling pantry space, with lower cabinets finished in walnut teamed with high-gloss white uppers. The kitchen area includes two integrated refrigerators, four freezer drawers, two recycling stations, a work island and plenty of cupboard and pantry space, with organizers to keep everything in its place. Floating walnut shelving has integrated LED lighting. The cabinetry throughout the house has been painstakingly bookmatched, as well as the white Calcutta marble wall in the kitchen.

The adjacent family room has double French door walkouts to the front garden and back patio, a marble wall and an integrated gas fireplace.
Weisz’s piano occupies a corner of the family room. “The piano loves the house. It loves the floors and the acoustics,” says Weisz. The pianist of five years plays his Steinway, filling the house with classical music.
When not playing the piano, Weisz enjoys the sounds of classical music throughout the home via a sound system controlled by an iPad/IPort system on a wall just off the foyer.

A coat closet and a powder room are beside the foyer. The powder room has a hand-picked and hand-cut onyx floor laid in a herringbone pattern. A backlit slice of onyx becomes a natural work of art and a source of light. A Swarovski crystal chandelier is a sparkling jewel in a jewel of a room, Zicherman says.

Beyond the foyer is the open-concept living and dining room, which is located on the original bungalow’s footprint. The gracious space features an elongated and contemporary marble fireplace, 11-foot ceilings and a wall of windows. A rounded sofa and light fixtures with round clear bulbs were chosen to soften the angular room.

Instead of drywall separating the living and dining room from the sunken office, Zicherman opted for a wall of tempered glass, which provides a view through the office to the backyard.

A wood and tempered glass staircase, lit by a skylight, features a wood banister instead of the expected stainless steel handrail in a contemporary home.

The lower level has a media room that features ebony wood cabinetry, a bar sink, an integrated beverage fridge, a popcorn station and seven massively comfortable white leather theatre seats. It also has two windows, which prevent the space from feeling cave-like.

Every inch of the house is finished (down to the carpeted crawl space) to offer maximum storage space.

The home features a careful selection of materials – walnut floors for warmth, walls in simple paint colours and a linear design that includes horizontal board-and-batten walls to provide an updated and contemporary feel. “There’s a flow but something different in each room that catches the eye in a different way,” says Zicherman.

Designed to look spectacular but functional too, this house brings form and function together. Weisz credits the home’s beauty to Zicherman, who he calls a world-class, extraordinary designer. “Living here is magical. It brought my quality of life to a different level,” Weisz says.