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

Christies International Real Estate Luxury Specialist Conference 2017

Christies Luxury Real Estate Specialist

I have just returned from an amazing few days in sunny San Diego attending the Christie’s International Luxury Specialist Conference and can now proudly call myself a Luxury Specialist. The conference was held at the historic Hotel del Coronado, which is situated on a beautiful beach and filled with old world charm. It was nice to meet Christie’s-affiliated Realtors from all over the US and to hear about their local markets.  Allow me to share some of the insights I learned from the conference!

A Little Trivia

Christie’s is owned by Groupe Artémis, a French holding company owned by François-Henri Pinault. Christie’s complements other luxury brands owned by Artemis including winery Château LatourLe PointStade Rennais F.C., and Théâtre Marigny. Artemis is the controlling shareholder of luxury-goods conglomerate Kering, which includes the brands GucciSaint LaurentStella McCartneyBottega Veneta and Balenciaga. Talk about a strong luxury brand alliance!

Interior Design

Martyn Lawrence Bullard of Martyn Lawrence Bullard Design gave a presentation on trends in interior design. Martyn has worked  with many celebrities – his list includes the  Kardashian’s Calabasas homes, Elton John,  Tommy Hilfiger, Ellen Pompeo’s LA villa and Malibu Realtor Chris Cortazzo’s retreat to name a few.  Martyn shows off his style with his own mid-century Palm Springs home.

What impressed me most about this designer is that he seemed to really listen to what his clients wanted and created unique spaces for them, rather than a formulaic “look” you see with other designers.  Tommy Hilfiger’s Miami residence,which is currently on the market for $27.5 million listed with a Christie’s affiliate, is very edgy and contemporary with vibrant modern art throughout. This is a sharp contrast to the work Martyn did on Tommy and Dee Hilfigers’ Ivy Covered Connecticut Castle which has the vibe of “hunting lodge meets yacht club”, designed to showcase his many antiques and collectibles. When working with Khloe Kardashian Martyn had Khloe show restraint with the colour palette of her home in order to showcase her growing art collection.

Trends Martyn is seeing in Luxury Homes

  • Two kitchens, one for family living and one for catering. The catering kitchen being more industrial and the family kitchen flowing to a family room area.
  • Exceptionally large kitchens as they have truly become the hub of most homes today.
  • TVs that are hidden unobtrusively under the bed with a mechanical system that can be purchased for US$5000-6000. Fun fact: Elton John was the first to have one of these mechanisms years ago. Now they are more affordable.
  • Movie theatre rooms are still popular but they are evolving into cozier spaces with sectional seating and throw cushions rather than theatre seats. For ease of use, clients are opting for extra large flat screens instead of movie projectors.
  • Kids’ rooms have become a very important. Martyn actually now interviews the children to hear directly from them what they want their rooms to become. Martyn created a sailboat bed for one of the Hilfiger’s children and the bathroom had scratch-and-sniff banana wallpaper!
  • Usable rooms, even in large mansions. Living rooms are divided into more intimate spaces.
  • The Kardashian homes were outfitted with pink-hued glow bulbs so everyone looks tanned all the time and Instagram-ready anywhere in the house!
  • Hilfiger’s Miami residence has a disco ball from Capri that was sourced by Martyn and shipped to Miami for installation. An attached bonus was a Polaroid photo of Joan Collins dancing, which they framed as art! Unique items such as this give a luxury home more personality.
  • Martyn created a full La Cornue Kitchen for a client when the iconic range alone wasn’t enough.

Martyn is currently working on the Seafire residences  for sale in Grand Cayman. It is a new  Kimpton resort property described as “modern flare meets island life.” Suites range in price from $1 million to $8 million. The units have local crafts, indigenous hardwoods, and are clad in oak with beautiful ocean views from floor to ceiling windows.

Not everyone will have the budgets of those on this celebrity list, but it’s always great to look at design as inspiration for any budget. Design savvy does not mean expensive!

The Chestnut Park Group in Attendance

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Art and the Home: Christies International Real Estate Conference 2017

Art at Home

At the Christies’ Conference we also had the good fortune to be able to attend two presentations by Agnes Berecz, a professor at Christie’s Education. Her appreciation of Art and Art History was exceptional and it was a pleasure to hear her speak so passionately.  One lecture featured the ideas of how one looks at art and the different layers of interpretation.


The second lecture, which truly resonated with me, was about how homes have slowly evolved into places to showcase art. They become personal, curated spaces of art and collectibles that resonate with the homeowner, that, along with the home’s architecture, can became a significant art form themselves. I have always believed that buying a home should not be just an investment, but rather a personal reflection of the property owner’s style. The best part of home ownership is transforming a house into a home. The Christies’ affiliation truly integrates luxury properties with art and collectibles. For those looking to expand their art collections please have a look at  Christies upcoming art auctions .

I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and left appreciating how lucky I am to work for Chestnut Park Real Estate and to have the Christie’s International Real Estate affiliation. Christie’s has been a luxury brand for 251 years and remains a trusted advisor with 139 affiliates in 46 countries. Within their new flagship office at 20 Rockefeller an entire area is designated to display a curated selection of their luxury offerings, showcasing these unique listings to the most discerning and qualified buyers.

Christie’s can also assist clients by coordinating the sale of estate items prior to putting a luxury home on the market. They have just finished the Audrey Hepburn collection sale and spring of 2018 Christies will present The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller.

For anyone interested in purchasing a property outside Toronto please do not hesitate to contact me so I can introduce you to a trusted Christie’s Real Estate affiliate in the area you require.


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August 2017 Toronto Real Estate Market Report

August Toronto real estate sales were lower volume year over year, please note however last summer we never saw the typical summer slow down the market usually sees so volumes were unusually high. The average sale price seems to be stabilizing after the retreat from peak April 2017. Please refer to the graph in the link below that shows the average sales price of Toronto Region properties weekly since the peak of the market in April.Stat Chart -Average Sale Price

September’s sales will be the true deciding factor as to where prices are going as we see more inventory hit the market. There have continued to be solid sales and we have seen a quiet Rosedale sale for near $9mill and also an early September land value play over $7mill on a signature street of a not rated home that sold in a day. There is demand for signature quality product despite the slow down and Summerhill is still very sought after with properties fetching over ask.

The condo market continues to be strong as their continues to be limited inventory as most first time buyers can only afford that type of product. Downtown locations with good walkability are sought after.

For the full read on the Toronto Market the Chestnut Park Real Estate Market report is found in this link. Toronto Real Estate Market Update August 2017

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RADform: King East Contemporary Furnishing and Design store

In the heart of the King East Design District is RADform.  A newer store, RADform features new-to-Toronto home furnishing brands and exclusive collections.  317 Adelaide Strett East Suite 102  RADform.com
When  I stopped by RADform to investigate the space I was welcomed by Keara Brown, an extremely knowledgable and attentive sales associate for a personal tour of the retail space. Keara is a great contact for anyone interested in design assistance.
This modern, colourful showroom designed and continually updated by its architect owner, houses a carefully curated selection of sophisticated European products. With furniture by world renowned designers such as Paola NavoneChristophe PilletFront, Claesson Koivisto Rune, and Luca Nichetto, it is no surprise that RADform’s product range is suitable for anywhere from residential to commercial spaces. Take Ibride’s series of sculptural bookcases shaped like animals, or the Appia chair by Christoph Jenni that adapts to the most diverse environments, or the wallpaper collection which features larger-than-life graphics that are printed to order. Custom made-in-Italy Vibieffe sofas can be sized to fit any space with modular elements, while Jasper Morrisonoak Kali chair does as good as it looks: a portion of each sale supports an orphanage in Africa. 

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July 2017 Toronto Real Estate Market Report

The Toronto Real Estate Market continues to retreat from the peak of April 2017. The question is whether this is normal course summer time lull or actually a market slowdown. The 905 area has seen higher declines and lower sales volume whereas homes in sought after neighbourhoods in central Toronto sell very quickly and often will multiple offers. The hottest area of the market is condominium sales as that is the most affordable section of the market. The rental market continues to be tight with multiple offers on apartment rentals. The average lease price for a bachelor apartment in central Toronto is $1600 and the average lease price for a one bedroom in central Toronto is $1800. The entertainment district can see one bedrooms fetch $2400.

For full details on the Toronto Market please link to the Chestnut Park Market Report Toronto Real Estate Market Update July 2017

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Real Estate with Style: A Rosedale House Transformation

It is always nice to be able to see what your clients create of a property they buy. In my blog I will be sharing two exceptional properties that had their great potential realized through my buyers’ vision to take them to the next level!

The first property I’m highlighting was one of my listings near Chorley Park in Rosedale. The home had a very stark, Scandinavian-inspired interior in contrast to its handsome Georgian exterior.

While the look of the home was quite specific, the quality of the architecture and the renovation was exceptional. However, many potential buyers could not process how they could make this open, sparse house a home. After some time on market, I was able to find the buyers that saw a vision for this property! For them, it was love at first sight and they immediately understood the unique architectural details of the home and the quality of the construction. An offer was submitted and accepted and my clients began their journey to transform this space into their home.

After interviewing a number of designers, they ultimately chose to work with young, up-and-coming designer Megan Crosbie of  Megan Crosbie Design to create a wonderful space to showcase their art collection. Megan immediately understood the essence of the space. Below are a few photos of the home’s interior that showcase the work. More photos can be found here: House near Chorley Park


My next blog article will showcase a Ritz Carlton Condominium that went from a frumpy dated batchelor pad to a wonderfully fresh space that highlights a spectacular view!

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June 2017 Toronto Real Estate Market Report


There has been a welcome cooling off  of the Toronto real estate in June with a drop in the average sale price, down from the high seen in April of over $900,000 to $793,000. Year over year however the average sale price was up 6.3%. The volume of sales was also softer with 7,974 properties sold versus the record volumes seen in June of 2016 of 12,725 properties sold. We did discuss this week at our office meeting that the July weekly sales reports from the Toronto Real Estate Board show a stabilizing of the average sale price of just under $800,000.  For full details on the Toronto Real Estate Market please click the link to the Chestnut Park Market report. We are monitoring the weekly average sale prices to see if in fact we have stabilized.

The Toronto Real Estate market is still seeing some healthy sales in desirable neighbourhoods. In June a Yorkville condominium sold north of $10,000,0000 and a signature Rosedale home has sold just under $10,000,0000, in addition to a few other Rosedale sales over $5,000,000 in the past few weeks. The luxury Toronto real estate market remains sought after. Quality properties in good areas are selling well however this cool down provides the perfect opportunity for buyers to step in during this market lull.

For further details on how the market is behaving in your neighbourhood do not hesitate to contact me. I am happy to assist you whether buying or selling.

Toronto Real Estate Market Update June 2017

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Canada 150! Celebrate with some interesting Canadiana

Happy Birthday Canada! #Canada150

This week we are coming up to Canada’s 150th Birthday! I thought I should highlight some of the fun items you can find to celebrate.

This Canada pillow done by Cat Studio, sold at Root’s Canada stores, is a nice pictorial of Canada from coast to coast. They also have a Canada 150 line of clothing apparel to sport you patriotism. http://www.roots.com/ca/en/celebrating-canada150.html

Cat Studio Canada Pillow

The Drake General Store is always a great destination for Canadiana. They even have an x-Oh Canada shop on their website to source anything from a Royal Canadian Mountie mug t0 a tea towel of all our provinces. http://www.drakegeneralstore.ca/x-oh-canada#

Tea Towel of the Canadian Provinces

Drake General Store Mountie Mug

Love my Local http://lovemylocal.ca is a great website for bamboo cutting boards done by a Vancouver artist. They make the perfect cheese platter for your  Canada 150 celebrations!

Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) is a large part of Canadian history and an excellent source of Canadiana. The ultimate being the HBC Canoe which is a collaboration with Langford Canoe.  The HBC line offers Towels, mugs, t-shirts and  blankets with the signature HBC stripes.   They also carry all the Canadian Olympic branded items. thebay.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/en/thebay/brand/hudsonsbaycompany/home

HBC Canoe – A collaboration with Langford Canoe

This Charles Pachter collaboration with HBC is a clever twist on the original HBC striped blanket and looks wonderful as a throw on a sofa or bed for a brilliant pop of colour.

At the Art Gallery of Ontario you can  find unique houseware items by Canadian designers. Shop AGO

The Gardiner Museum gardinermuseum.on.ca/shop/ and Craft Ontario shop in Yorkville are other great destinations to buy Canadian designer goods. craftontario.com/shop/craft

To celebrate the First Nations heritage west coast Kwakwaka’wakw artist Curtis Wilson’s flag is a work of art that represents all of the First Nations people in Canada. It is a lovely addition to any flag pole.

Artist Curtis Wilson’s rendition of the Canadian flag celebrates the First Nations people across Canada

For that cheap and cheerful touch to a back yard BBQ check out these great chairs at Canadian Tire for $39.

Cheap and Cheerful Muskoka Chair for that Canada Day BBQ

We are truly blessed to be Canadian and we all should celebrate this freedom we have to live in such a spectacular diverse and accepting nation. Happy Canada Day! Enjoy your celebration whether it be watching the Fireworks over Toronto Harbour, a backyard BBQ, or a cottage retreat. Wishing you a safe and happy long weekend!


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Toronto Market Report for May 2017

The May 2017 showed an increased in average sale price year over year of 14.9% with the number of new listings increasing to 25,837 from last May’s 17,356. The number of properties sold however were down to 10,196 from 12,790 Many 2016 with an average of 11 days on Market.

We are beginning to see signs of weakening outside the city core in the 905 area. Central Toronto remains strong and properties well located and turn key continue to attract multiple offers. I have lost out to multiple offers acting for clients this past month. Buyers  however are a little more cautious and many properties seem to be going past their offer dates. Realtors are now pricing homes at a price the seller would be willing to accept rather than risking not getting the number a seller expects on offer date.

The foreign buyer tax coupled with the Home Capital news has had an effect on curbing the market. Please know I have currently have several qualified buyers for premium properties in Rosedale, Summerhill, Trinity Bellwoods, Annex. Do not hesitate to contact me if you would like a discreet sale or if you would like to discuss the value of your home I would be happy to provide you with a Current Market Valuation.

For a full commentary on the May Toronto Real Estate Report please click this link Toronto Real Estate Market Update May 2017 

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A Hidden Home Furnishings Gem in the Heart of North Rosedale.

Interior Couture 424 Summerhill Avenue www.interiorcouture.ca

I have been writing blog posts about a variety of contemporary design stores across the Toronto and realized that I have not yet written about Interior Couture, an interior design store in the heart of my neighbourhood, North Rosedale on Summerhill Avenue. I always feel it is important to shop local and keep retailers vibrant in the community. Summerhill Market is the dominant retailer of Summerhill Avenue and is a wonderful source for groceries but we sometimes overlook other retailers on that street that are certainly worth supporting.

Linda Williams Reive’s was in search for a location for her interior design office and stumbled upon this space in the heart of Rosedale. Loving the option of having some retail space in addition to a workshop this Rosedale location was perfect as it would not be too hectic and would allow time for design work.

I find the style of the store Jonathan Adler inspired with some nice bold colours including a broad selection of Designer’s Guild fabrics. Interior Couture offers full interior design services but also stocks a variety of home furnishing items: throw cushions, coffee table books, candles, soaps, towels, area rugs and other decor.

I always find Linda helpful and she seems to have some unique items I have not seen elsewhere. It is also the perfect spot to find a last minute hostess gift. Linda customizes towels and sheets. Currently there are some fabulous Canada pillows in stock to celebrate #Canada150.

I like to focus on design stores in my blog posts but given that I am writing about my neighbourhood I should point out there are a few other great retailers on the Summerhill strip.

Zoetry clothing boutique carries a nice assortment of quality lines in a quiet and relaxed environment. Owner Josh is attentive to his client’s tastes and keeps them up to date on new arrivals and upcoming sales. Rosedale’s Finest is a new specialty food shop in the neighbourhood offering prepared foods, pizzas, some great breads, cookies and desserts as well as incredible breakfast sandwich. It also provides a spot to grab a cappuccino or gourmet tea to go. It is a refreshing change from Summerhill Market for when you truly just need to pick-up a couple of things. Passion Flowers is a neighbourhood gem with a great selection of fresh flowers, orchids and potted plants. The orchids are so healthy the blooms last an incredibly longtime!

Update as of August 2017: Zoetry will be closing! It is a shame as it is nice to have diverse businesses on Summerhill Avenue. It is important to remember to support small businesses in your neighbourhood! Shop Local!

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