1300 Yonge Street, Suite 100 Toronto, Ontario M4T 1X3 416-925-9191 helenbraithwaite@chestnutpark.com

Hollace Cluny: Sophisticated Toronto Design Store

Hollace Cluny, fine design  160 Pears Avenue Suite 203 Toronto

Hollace Cluny made its debut as an eclectic design store roughly 20 years ago and had their first storefront location on Yonge Street at Roxborough Street.  After establishing a strong client base, they relocated to their current space at Pears Avenue a few years ago in order to gain a larger showroom that better displays the many products and lines that they carry.

Hollace Cluny has always been a favourite of mine as they have a healthy mix of established design companies including Knoll, Carl Hansen & Son, Bocci and De La Espada, along with home-grown talent such as Martha Sturdy, a Canadian designer that works with resin to create beautiful bowls and tables. Martha Sturdy bowls make excellent housewarming gifts!

I recently purchased some unique Walter G cushions at Hollace Cluny. Walter G is a company owned by two young Australian designers who have fresh, textured textiles with an airy, coastal feel to them. There’s nothing like new pillows and cushions to instantly refresh a room! Hollace Cluny also carries a wonderful assortment of unique ceramic accessories that make a perfect housewarming or wedding gift.

This mainstay of the Toronto design industry carries much more than accessories, though. You’ll also find contemporary lighting, outdoor furniture, storage units, office pieces, bedroom furniture and much more.

I was originally disappointed that this gem of a store had relocated as I loved the Yonge and Roxborough location, but after visiting the new space it is clear to me the new location works well for them. It is open, bright and spacious and there is always a well-informed staff member happy to assist you. It is definitely worth checking out.



Read more >

An Opportunity for Value in Older Condo Buildings

Not everyone heading to a condo wants to live in a massive multi-unit high-rise. I suggest that condo buyers don’t overlook older buildings in their quest for new ownership or a nice downsize.

This past summer, while looking for a condo for a young, first-time buyer, I decided to inspect a sleeper property that had been on market for over a year. The unit was in a boutique building that has just 10 units. There had been a few small price reductions along the way but for a few reasons that I will touch on later, the unit was still available in Toronto’s very heated real estate market.  When I entered the unit, I noted and was pleasantly surprised by how spacious it was. It also had an excellent layout and good light and I saw how a few changes could increase its potential.

Its location, just steps to shopping and transit at Yonge and Roxborough, was ideal. The old adage–location, location, location—definitely resonated with me! To be able to buy a condo in the Rosedale-Summerhill corridor, below its newer and questionably finished price-per-square-foot downtown equivalent, really appealed to my client.

My client also saw the unit’s potential; so we drew up the offer and—presto!–she owned her first piece of property. We did put in a home inspection condition on the offer, which is prudent, particularly for older buildings. A condo inspection is as important as a home inspection as there could have been water damage, plumbing or HVAC issues over time. The home inspector gave the unit an excellent review and did point out a few concerns, such as a fan that had been decommissioned, but nothing that was too daunting to deal with.

Once the conditions were waived (all condo purchases should have a condition on the review of the status certificate unless the seller has provided it to you ahead of time and you have had a lawyer review it), the next task was updating the unit to suit the client’s needs. The property management company must be contacted regarding any alterations to a condo unit to ensure the board approves the work. Also be sure to use a competent contractor who has the patience to deal with myriad condo rules, etc. for renovations. There are guidelines in terms of times work can take place, waste removal, etc., particularly in a smaller building, as everyone knows what is going on.

The unit had no individual thermostat, and no air conditioning, which had likely turned off prospective purchasers. After a consultation with an HVAC expert, my buyer created a plan to add a thermostat and also to add a Mr. Slim ductless air conditioning unit. The board approved it, and it is tucked away unobtrusively at the side of the building. It is ultra quiet and much more attractive than a window unit. Step one done!

Strangely, the kitchen was covered in mirrors! At first the buyer thought she would keep them as they made the space feel bigger and renovating costs were mounting. However, the contractor convinced her that the mirrors needed to go. What a difference! A quick reface of the cabinets and some tile to match the bathroom and the place really came together without spending too much money.

The original floor was an out-dated parquet, which was removed and replaced with a top quality Moncler white oak engineered hardwood. The difference the floor made to the look of the unit was unbelievable, and one of the best investments in the project.

The original bedroom had a cedar closet within another closet. By removing this interior cedar closet the space was opened up to create a very generous walk in closet. California Closets designed a comprehensive system to maximize space in a finish that matched the floors.

The bedroom had some very dated glass doors that were permanently fixed to act as a wall. The prior owner had used Mactac to create a faux frosted glass door look on the glass, which I’m sure had scared more than a few purchasers away! The doors were removed and replaced with one large frosted panel to separate the bedroom from the main area. This allows light to pass through while providing privacy to the bedroom. Entry to the bedroom is via a sliding and space-saving matching frosted glass door. A sliding closet door was also installed to maximize space and offer a contemporary feel.

A few photos of the finished space…



Before photos….

Despite working within a relatively tight budget, it’s possible the buyer may have over-improved the unit for short-term resale but over the next five years I am confident this will be a great investment. I do believe a property is both an investment and a home. Invest, within your means, into a property so you enjoy your home and not think of it purely as an investment.

When the renovations were complete I dropped by to visit my client and witnessed the biggest smile on her face as she settled in to her new condo, done exactly to her style and taste.

A few things to know about older buildings:

  • Maintenance expenses are generally higher than new construction. New construction, however, often sees a quick rise in maintenance over the first years, especially if builders were less experienced
  • Some older buildings are co-ops, which are a slightly different type of ownership. You own shares rather than your unit. With co-ops the maintenance includes the property tax. Monthly fees may seem high but be aware that tax is included
  • Co-op units can’t be rented out and they also expect a higher percentage for the down payment and board approval prior to purchase
  • Older condo buildings are often in premium locations. Newer construction frequently have to choose less desirable locations to find the land to build
  • Most older condo buildings include parking. Many new construction units have no parking attached to the unit and parking spots can be quite pricey to purchase.



Read more >

January 2017 Real Estate Market Report

The Toronto Real Estate Market continues into 2017 with a shortage of new listings. The Statistics show new listings down from 8,906 for January 2017 to 7,338 for January 2017 with the number of properties sold up to 5,188 in January 2017 from 4,640 in January 2016 which creates an even thinner market.

Seasoned investors of real estate and other investment know that to make a profit it is best to be a contrarian. With so few new listings now is probably a could time to buck the trend and list your home for sale to benefit from this limited housing inventory. Please contact me for a comprehensive package on how to list your home for a prompt and profitable sale. I do have buyers looking to purchase in Rosedale, Yorkville, Forest Hill, Moore Park, Riverdale and Leslieville at this time, preferably renovated turn key properties.

Toronto Real Estate Market Update Jan 2017

The full details on the Toronto Real Estate Market for January can be found on the link above.

Read more >

Happy New Year! Goodbye 2016 and Hello 2017

One of my favourite things to do toward the end of a year  is pick out my new journal for the year. In this world of technology, iCloud, iCalendars, Dropbox, AppleWatches it is nice to cling to a good old journal that reflects my style. There is something about the written word and the tactile nature of writing your appointments and plans on paper. This year I went a little more Whimsical and I feel it suits the vibe that 2017 brings. It is a new year with a lot of change for all of us. A new controversial President soon to be sworn into office has made things colourful to say the least. We have a frothy Toronto Real Estate Market with such slim inventory buyers are getting restless. Higher rates and some tax increases including a increase to Land Transfer tax should hopefully curb the house price surge a little but Toronto is still a highly desirable place and foreign investors have fallen in love with the stability that Canada brings.

It was a whirlwind end of the year for me with but an exciting one as I was busy with buyers and a few listings that left me with happy clients which is always nice.  I started 2017 with purchaser visits and I must say the best part of being a Real Estate Representative is seeing the excitement in a buyer when they visualize themselves living in their new home and planning decor. Always a feel good moment you have done your job.

I enjoy working with first time buyers. This summer I had a first time buyer client that chose to renovate a condo in an older boutique building located in an excellent neighbourhood rather than buy in a highrise building downtown. December was move in and it was wonderful to see how a stale unit was given fresh life with a few changes and contemporary furnishings. Stay tuned for a blog post on the transformation.

One thing to note this month is all of the furniture stores have their big sales in Toronto now so if you have been waiting for an opportunity to buy a nice sofa or find that perfect piece for the corner of the living room you should head to some of furniture stores to get a quality item for a good price.

The Interior Design Show on January 19th to 22nd at the. Tickets for opening night are $56 online and proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity. Please go to  InteriorDesignShow.com for more details.

Toronto Design Off Site is worth investigating also to see some edgier design and  emerging designers and it runs from January 16th- 22nd please got to  todesignoffsite.com

The Toronto Boat Show is on January 20th-29th for those pining for summer at the cottage. It is a smart time to go look at boats if you are in need of an upgrade and there are always some fun new products. My favourite item last year was Muskoka Surfbaord. For more details go to torontoboatshow.com

In any event Happy New Year!  Please do not hesitate to contact me for any real estate inquiries. The New Year brings New Listings and please know inventory is extremely low so if you are thinking of selling don’t wait for the spring market, it is best to come to market now as your home will attract more potential buyers and a higher sale price.



Read more >

Quasi Modo: A contemporary Queen West furniture store

Quasi Modo Modern Furniture  1079 Queen Street West, Toronto  416 703 8300

My next home furnishing store to feature is Quasi Modo another mid-century modern home furnishing store.

Quasi Modo has been a fixture in the Queen West neighbourhood for years and was one of the original sources for Mid-century modern furniture in the city. As demand grew, the store evolved to feature a variety of brands like Italia, Herman Miller, Flos, Knoll, Kartell, Artek, Foscarini and Artimede, just to name a few.

The owner is extremely hands-on and maintains a strong foothold in the contemporary and Mid-century market. His focus is on customer service, which even includes personally delivering items on occasion!This store recently relocated further west to an ideal location in a stunning red brick Victorian building just steps from the new flagship Drake General Store. It is certainly worth a look to see well-curated, quality home furnishings in an inviting space.


Read more >