Two brothers who work together built homes beside each other to stay close
By Connie Adair
Not all brothers get along, but Omid and Nabid Arbabi work together and wanted to live beside each other too. So they were delighted when they found a 40-foot-wide property in east Toronto.
They demolished the existing house and built two homes, creating the clean, contemporary, luxurious and well-appointed living spaces they love.
The brothers have an advantage over most homeowners. Omid owns Saazé Building Group, which constructed the two homes. Nabid, who owns design/build company Bananarch, and his partner Mahsa Ghodoosi, designed them.
It took three months to create the perfect design and one week to demolish and excavate. Over the next nine months the houses, identical in floor plan but different in finishes, rose simultaneously.
Omid’s house is complete, the structure clad in grey brick and featuring large windows with black frames. A touch of mahogany warms the contemporary space. The home’s design focuses on the details – custom doors and baseboards feature linear grooves that add a custom feel without fussiness.
A typical plan would have included a long exterior staircase to an entry door at the level above the garage. However, there are only five steps to the welcoming eight-foot-high solid mahogany front door.
The clever design provides for more than 3,100 square feet of living space on five levels. The impressive 14-foot-high foyer and hallway are beside the kitchen, which is above the garage.
The foyer has a designer chandelier that casts dramatic shadows on the polished 2×4-foot porcelain tile floor. Tile gives way to seven-inch white oak flooring throughout the living spaces, stairs and bedrooms.
The left side of the hallway has a closet with custom shelves. Another door offers a surprise – a powder room with a walnut vanity top and a wall-mounted faucet and toilet.
Instead of floor-to-ceiling drywall between the hall and kitchen, the upper portion is left open to create visual space.
The custom Italian kitchen by Muti Kitchens and Baths has everything the cook could want, all efficiently hidden behind sleek grey cabinetry. Integrated features include a dishwasher, garbage and recycling station and fridge. A five-burner Wolf cooktop, white quartz counters and a book-matched porcelain tile backsplash with a slightly raised pattern, meld form and function. The long quartz-topped island has an L-shaped wood breakfast bar at one end. “The kitchen has to be fully equipped. It is the most important room,” Omid says.
The spacious dining area, which easily seats eight, is a breathtaking space. It and the staircases at the centre of the home are lit by four skylights 27 feet above, an impressive feature that ensures bright living spaces in a home with no windows on the side elevations.
The open-riser staircases, that have wood treads and glass railings, serve to divide the house, the front portion offering a friendly-to-the-street two storey facade and a three-storey rear portion.
The dining room has a built-in flower box beside the stairs. A floor-to-ceiling wood-clad unit has a shelf and a potlight that creates a perfect place for a vase or sculpture. The unit cleverly disguises the ductwork leading to the upper floors. This oak ‘smart box’ includes an iPad and an intercom with a monitor and an Ecobee smart thermostat.
In the family room, a 72-inch linear Napoleon fireplace is wrapped in custom oak. Oak boxes are an interesting alternative to standard shelving and display space.
Rather than continuing the floor to the back wall of the house, it was cut short and the room is open to the lower level. A glass railing ensures no views are lost. The back wall of the house, including the lower level, is almost entirely glass.
A staircase (which has storage space and a wine cellar tucked beneath it), leads to the lower level family room. Rather than a traditional narrow staircase walkup to the backyard, a glass walkout leads directly to a 150-square-foot cement patio on the same level. Wide stairs lead up to the manicured lawn.
The lower level also has a bathroom, roughed-in heated floors, mechanical room and staircase leading to the garage.
On the second floor, two bedrooms share an en suite bathroom and a laundry closet is at the end of a hall.
The master suite, one level up, has an eight-foot-high door and a 10.5-foot-high ceiling. Large windows overlook the street. A linear wall closet, also by Muti, runs 20 feet along one wall. It has a place for a flat screen television, as well as a makeup desk.
One section of the closet has drawers and open shelves above. The top drawer has a glass top, creating the perfect place to display treasures, in this case a collection of bow ties.
Each bathroom has different tiles, some with fine, almost imperceptible designs and others with texture. Lighting includes pot lights, chandeliers and seven high-voltage floor lights that cast light upward to the ceiling. Although there is no need to turn lights on during the day, they add warmth and interest at night.
What sets this house apart is the details. Omid says, “Little details take a house from ordinary to extraordinary.”
A large room on the upper level has a balcony and en suite bathroom. The bathroom has heated floors, custom his-and-hers vanities, a luxurious freestanding tub highlighted by a dark accent wall behind and an operable skylight. Somewhat reminiscent of an old-fashioned phone booth, the walk-in shower does not extend to the ceiling. A shower head mounted to the high ceiling would have been too far from the user, so a ceiling was built on the shower, Omid explains. The open space above adds to the airiness of the room.