CELEBRITY HOME of Carlo Rinomato of “Top Million Dollar Agent” TV show
Settling into the Setting
This TV show agent wanted a home worthy of entertaining
By Connie Adair. Photos by Matthew Stallone Stallonemedia.com
“No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.” – Architect Frank Lloyd Wright
And so the words of the great architect were taken to heart by Frank Lloyd Wright fan/homeowner Carlo Rinomato, who built a 5,000-square-foot home designed to be at one with its setting. It allows the “outdoors in and the inside out, providing a complete flow and making every window a canvas,” Rinomato says.
It took one year to design and three years to build House of the Hill, a modern home of black brick, stucco, cedar and glass. “I design everything to be sexy and cool. This house is sexy and very cool,” he says.
Another influence was movie spy James Bond (the Sean Connery version). Rinomato says he thought about what the Bond actor would like then designed an ultra-chic house Connery would love. “That’s the easiest way to describe it,” Rinomato says.
The masculine exterior sports a long-lasting metal roof and sleek black brick walls accented with cedar and punctuated by NanaWall folding glass wall systems that open the indoors to the thousands of square feet of cedar decks that surround the house.
The one-acre property in Vaughan, Ont. has tiered stone retaining walls, a helicopter landing pad and beautifully manicured grounds overseen by multiple balconies, including one that’s 25 feet high, he says. “You can see for miles and miles.”
The more feminine interior use a combination of textures — rough stone and brick, smooth glossy finishes and even a faux fur panelled wall in the master bedroom. However, the star of every room is the view. Walls were kept to a minimum because Rinomato reasons, “Why look at a wall when you can look outside instead?” Structural walls were used to create bedrooms and living areas were left wide open.
Every room has a source of natural light, including large rectangular skylights that ensure there are no dark corners and allow for glimpses of the sky and stars, he says. “I want the the sun to act as the lighting.”
Furnishings were also kept to a minimum. “I didn’t want to block the view out a window by putting furniture in front of it.”
Douglas fir beams stretch across cathedral ceilings. White walls are a clean backdrop to sculptural features such as the floor-to-ceiling wood-and-stone fireplace in the great room. Floors are white oversized polished porcelain tiles (heated at the entry) or solid maple. Upstairs bathrooms feature Calcutta marble.
The front door, under the main peak, opens on to a cube of glass. Inside, the grand foyer is a sleek space that’s pleasing and Zen, with its smooth, shiny floor and a dramatic black brick wall stretching to the cathedral ceiling on the upper level. Exterior materials, such as wood and brick are carried inside to further blur the line between inside and out.
Each of the three bedrooms suites is a 1,000-square-foot space that includes a kitchenette and an ensuite bathroom. One bedroom suite also has access to the three-car garage.
Rinomato says that with the price of real estate, children may stay home longer and would appreciate their own self-contained space. “Upstairs has a 2,700-square-foot loft for Mom and Dad” and if the kids aren’t living at home, the bedroom suites idea is perfect for guests. “It’s a true celebrity home.”
A staircase, looking sculptural against black brick, has a glass railing that leaves natural light and sightlines unimpeded. It leads to an impressive dining room that has ample space for a table for 10 and its own balcony.
The kitchen is a beautiful work space that has a large island topped with natural stone, and walls of glass so the cook can enjoy the view. The high-gloss lacquer cabinets back on to an intriguing high-gloss grey lacquer box. It hides a washer/dryer, a powder room and pantry.
The master bedroom and a second bedroom, each with a walk-in closet and an ensuite bathroom, are also on this level.
Every room on this level has access to the outside and the Asian-influenced cedar infinity deck.
A 915-square-foot terrace is above the garage. Accessible from the kitchen/dinette/living areas, it is the perfect entertaining space for mingling, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres or après dinner drinks.
Wanting every space to be totally usable, Rinomato built this house without a basement. “Basements are made for creepy crawlers. They have no use other than to put junk down there.”
It wasn’t a money-saving idea. “There was lots of engineering involved. In this case it was more expensive because of the weight of the house” and the necessary supports. The home has a geothermal heating/cooling system.
Throughout the house, he says, “We went the extra mile to get the true architectural flavour” of the mid-century home built to the standards people now expect. “Everything is customized. Nothing in the house is off the line,” he says. “It’s meticulously built. No on the spot decisions were made. Everything was carefully planned.”
Rinomato joined forces with interior designer Lisa Renzetti-Fronte (who is also inspired by Wright) saying they worked well together, blending their ideas to create the spectacular home.
“There’s a feeling when you come in, a feeling rather than a look. It’s spiritual,” he says. “I’ve done a lot houses, hundred and hundreds, but I’m really proud of this one. It’s exactly what I envisioned.”
Rock Star Builder
Carlo Rinomato, a reality TV star on “Top Million Dollar Agent” (he says he’s often referred to as the Rock Star Builder) is president of design for Design Generation Homes, which builds luxury properties in Canada and Italy. His House of the Hill was built on a one-acre property that he bought 20 years ago. “It was the ugliest property I’d ever seen. The hill was full of trees, rock and bush. But at the time I was doing a subdivision close by and bought it. When I saw it raw, I had a vision.” He has turned his vision into a dream home reality.
From Shambles to Chic
An A-frame cottage is renovated from rough to refreshing
By Jack Kohane
When Pete bought his uncle’s simple, run-down A-frame cabin, he saw it as nothing more than a base from which he could ski, hike and bike through the beautiful wilderness surrounding Whistler, B.C. But since marrying Jude 10 years ago, “Pete’s Place” is anything but a vacation paradise for her. She’s had it with the cabin’s awkward kitchen, treacherous staircase and bare-bones bathroom. And never mind the unwelcome tenants taking over the crawlspace.
“The primary objective for the reno was to make it a place for Pete and Jude to both relax, and though Pete wanted to keep his memories, Jude didn’t want to vacation in a bachelor pad,” chuckles Dan Vickery, HGTV’s design star, who co-hosts with Elisa Goldhawke, W Network’s new series called “Love It or List It Vacation Homes.”
Says Dan, “I was asked to renovate the kitchen and it really needed it. The existing kitchen was tiny and Jude loves to cook and bake. She made us some muffins on the first day of shooting and they didn’t last long. It was easy to get motivated to give her the kitchen of her dreams.”
In the TV show, the homeowners’ love affair with their vacation property has fizzled and they are faced with the dilemma of whether they should love it or list it. And so begins the rivalry between designer and realtor.
It’s up to creative designer Vickery (who owns Los Angeles-based Dan Vickery Design Group) to renovate and re-design the homeowners’ current vacation property so that they will “love it” and stay. Whereas, Toronto realtor Goldhawke scours the market to find the homeowners a new vacation property that checks all the boxes on their wish list, persuading them to “list it” and put their current property on the market.
“Jude and Pete’s property was an absolute shambles,” remarks Goldhawke. “It was a typical old cottage built in 1960s, though the view from its windows was spectacular.”
Situated close to Alta Lake in Whistler, this is a quiet location offering hiking trails, lake activities and close to the five-star runs that draw snow-seekers from around the world.
The cabin itself is nestled by a grove of evergreens, giving it a tranquil setting. Its backyard views of the snow-capped mountains make it an idyllic setting for both summer and winter getaways. “But the structure itself needed tons of TLC and CPR,” Goldhawke points out.
The use of wood in the cabin was over-whelming. “It was everywhere — walls, beams, stairs — except for the one place you would really want it: the floor!” says Vickery. To help ensure the couple would love their revitalized cottage, the show’s design team addressed this by painting much of the exposed wood a warm shade of white, which accentuated the natural beams. As well, a solid fir floor of mixed plank widths was put down throughout, gleaming in the natural light from the windowed front door and the window above the sink that allows light to stream in from both sides of the cabin.
One of the homeowners’ top must-haves of the renovation was to make the kitchen larger for their frequent post-ski entertaining of family and friends. “We did this by moving the bathroom to an inefficiently used storage room, allowing us to double the size of the kitchen from 100 sq. ft. to 180 sq. ft,” explains Vickery.
White custom cabinetry, light counter tops and a pop of colour with a deep red rustic island, gave this kitchen the functionality and personality it had lacked. “The new location for the bathroom also allowed us to double it in size (from 50 sq. ft. to 110 sq. ft.), adding a separate tub and shower, larger vanity with storage and toilet — all with a view to the mountains,” says Vickery. “The living room just needed some customized storage to take advantage of the otherwise dead space created by the sloping walls. Incorporating a little seat for guests to take their shoes off and hang their coats was a bonus feature and clears some of the clutter away that can easily pile up in a small space.”
Meanwhile, Goldhawke guided the homeowners to view other picturesque properties. “Jude and Pete’s property is located in a prime real estate portion of Whistler, B.C. They are big into the social scene in this part of Whistler, so they wanted to stay close to the area. I showed several perfect properties nearby that would be more functional than their current cottage.
Whistler is a cottage hot-spot in Canada, so there are some amazing vacation home choices here.”
Like many couples, Pete did not want his bachelor pad to become too “pretty” and Jude obviously wanted it to feel less like a “man cave”, so striking a balance for them was the biggest challenge for Vickery. “Whether it is for a TV show or not, the designer and contractor are often plugged into the middle of a relationship,” he says. “There are always differing opinions on one issue or another and we come in and create compromise. Being a designer is sometimes like being a marriage counsellor. In this case, Jude and Pete were amazing clients.”
Among their wish-list items, Pete, who works as a tug boat captain, and Jude, a paralegal, wanted a second bathroom. “They have a very steep set of stairs which is characteristic of an A-frame but they did not like going up and down them in the dark to use the bathroom so they asked us to create a powder room upstairs,” notes Vickery. But that idea had to be quashed when a pack rat was found in the crawl space.
“Extermination measures to keep the cabin vermin free ate up the portion of the budget that was to be allocated to the new powder room,” says Vickery with a sigh. “A powder room upstairs would have been great but budget and time were not on our side.”