A Barbie-pink Victorian in Trinity-Bellwoods with a motley collection of curiosities
Real estate agent Alex Brott’s vibrant pad is packed with Canadian art, her grandfather’s taxidermy collection and covetable one-of-a-kind finds
Alex Brott, a 45-year-old real estate agent, lives in a red-brick Victorian near the Ossington strip. She bought the 1,900-square-foot semi-detached house for $1,070,000 a decade ago, painted the door banana yellow, then proceeded to personalize the interior.
“I describe my style as bordello meets gentlemen’s club—but for Barbie,” Alex says. “It’s a weird, eclectic mix.” She shares her hot-blooded pad with Lamb Chop, a grey pit bull mix, and two cats, Charlie and Clementine.
Alex’s boyfriend of 12 years, Wes Dix, a tattoo artist, lives down the street. Brott likens the arrangement to that of “Helena Bonham-Carter and Tim Burton,” the former actor-director couple who famously lived next door to each other in London throughout their long-term relationship. “Having our own spaces has been very healthy for us,” she says. They’re both visual people with singular visions of what makes a place a home, and this way, they don’t have to compromise.
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“If I want to paint my whole house pink, I don’t need to tell anyone about it,” she says—which is exactly what she did in the dining and living room during the pandemic, right down to the hardwood floors. The colour blends with the pair of swollen salmon-coloured sofas—they’re Togo by Ligne Rosset—off of the foyer.
An enormous wolf with bared fangs is draped over the sofa closest to the front door. More taxidermied wildlife can be found inside, including stags’ heads, a bear and, splayed on a wall above the staircase, a mountain lion in need of a manicure.
“They’re from my dad’s dad,” Alex says, referring to her namesake grandfather, who collected the pieces. She describes him as a “cool cat, a conductor and a composer. He went to Juilliard and had a pet alligator. He never left the house without an ascot and cufflinks and tinted aviator glasses.”
The three levels of Alex’s home are packed with beloved distractions: intricate paper ribbons by Australia-based artist Leila Sanderson (Alex awards them to herself when she meets a goal), Canadian art (she’s drawn to pieces with texture, movement and colour, particularly works by Richard Ahnert and Bobby Mathieson), snake-shaped candleholders, and her mom’s needlepoint pillows. Still, Alex mostly hangs out on the main floor. She installed a fireplace in the living room during the pandemic. “I gravitate to it the most out of anything in the house. By a landslide, it was the best thing I’ve done,” she says. “At night, my boyfriend describes my house as ancient Rome. I have tons of candles, and the fireplace is on all the time.”
It’s cozy-making, says Alex, who, true to form, is wearing a Thin Lizzy tee and holding a chunky mug of Forever Nuts David’s Tea. She recently started making pottery, or “Brotts Pots,” as she calls them, and moulded the mug herself. “I feel too lucky to sell them. I just ask people to donate to any charity and I’ll make one—Seth Rogen, take note!” It usually takes her a few months because her job is relentless and demanding.
“There’s so much sentimentality here,” Alex continues, eyeing the room. “Everything in this house, I have coveted and loved.”
Alex built the wood-burning fireplace during the pandemic. The swans and domed porcelain pieces on the gallery wall are by Toronto ceramicist Lana Filippone, and the flowers are by Tellie from Hunt & Gather Floral.
The marble mantle’s swirls of black, pink and gold “jam with my space,” Alex says. The ceiling is also gold. The fireplace is by Peter Haats of Fireplace Concepts. It was a massive undertaking. “They brought a cherry picker and dropped a big liner down my chimney,” Alex says, “and now I’m cozy.”
Neon art by Toronto artist Thrush Holmes animates the wall. Alex loves his work and believes in supporting Canadian artists.
She bought the fire-breathing Godzilla lamp from whimsical British homeware website Oklahoma.
The gallery wall features artwork by Richard Ahnert, Bobby Mathieson and Lana Filippone.
Alex’s friend, painter and actor Olympia Lukis, painted the walls and floors pink for her during the pandemic.
A massive ornate mirror hangs in the foyer. “It belonged to a family in Montreal,” says Alex. “It turned out that they were on the board of my dad’s orchestra. When I got it, my dad said, ‘I’ve been inside that house.’”
Alex calls her third-floor boudoir “the heartbreak hotel.” “All my girlfriends who leave their husbands stay here,” she says. “Many have healed their hearts here.” The open-concept bathroom has lace curtains and a floral mural.
“My grandfather would go on these trips around the world to conduct at various orchestras, and he loved this kind of stuff,” Alex says of her taxidermy pieces.
“If I set a goal for myself and I accomplish it, I buy myself a ribbon,” Alex says. They’re by Leila Sanderson, a floral designer in Australia. She also collects old horse ribbons. Alex earned a Sanderson ribbon when she sold her first house for over a million dollars. She gave herself another one after completing a fitness challenge.
“The kitchen is made up of leftover restaurant parts,” Alex says. The previous owner was a chef. Alex replaced his lower bar fridges with a standard fridge and switched out the other appliances.
Alex fashioned this cozy lounge off the back of the house. Sliding doors close off the TV—“I hate seeing a TV,” Alex says—and closet. Alex and Wes watch Raptors games in jerseys here.
This artwork is by Alex’s boyfriend, Wes Dix.
The banquette has storage that holds art supplies. “I’m an auntie, so the kids come over and colour here while Lamb Chop babysits,” Alex says. She has two nieces and two nephews.