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Real Estate

Laneway Suite of the Week: A high-fashion two-storey home in Dovercourt Village

How a schoolteacher downsized into a sleek alley abode with two bedrooms and storage galore—all for $500,000

The owner of this laneway suite, a 47-year-old schoolteacher, purchased its adjacent three-bedroom house in 2006.
The history

In 2006, the owner of this property, a now-47-year-old schoolteacher, purchased its adjacent three-bedroom house with the help of her parents. She spent the next 15 years renting the place out to a series of roommates, with the goal of saving money to raise a family. Then her life plans changed. “I decided to not have children,” she says. “But it had also gotten to a point where I didn’t want roommates anymore either.” The owner was investing all this time and money into a large house in which she only used a third of the space. She pondered selling and then buying a smaller home—like a condo—but that would mean leaving her beloved Dovercourt Village and paying expensive fees.

The owner had fantasized about transforming her garage into a secondary apartment, but there was a lot of red tape involved. Then, in 2018, in an effort to alleviate the housing shortage, the city started making it easier to construct laneway suites. So, in 2020, she met with architecture firm Lanescape, and the company charted out her project. Then they got to building.

The build

By the time the project was done, in June 2022, the owner had spent $500,000—a bit more than she wanted, due to fluctuating Covid-related prices, but far cheaper than the $600,000 it would have cost had she begun after the pandemic.

She was ecstatic with the results: less footprint but plenty more built-in storage, a large living room, a kitchen fit for a chef, a dedicated crafts room, a walk-in closet and a spa-style shower. The suite also came with a second bedroom, which she could use as an Airbnb rental when required. "I’ve essentially built a condo in my backyard,” she says. Another pleasant result? Freeing up the original house for a young family to rent. 


The kitchen
This Dovercourt Village home was designed by Lanescape, with a final budget of $500,000

The old kitchen was white and had a Victorian feel. The owner wanted something more modern, opting for a matte-black Caesarstone quartz countertop. There wasn’t enough space for a full dinner table, so she settled on an island. Oversized, it doubles as a serving area and gathering spot as well as a work desk, with a cutout for a chair. There are added IKEA cabinets under the island too.

The owner always fantasized about turning her garage into a secondary suite, but, for many years, there was a lot of red tape at city hall. Then, things started to change, and the city made it easier to build laneway houses.

The built-in display shelving is her favourite part of the space. “I thought I might have to give it up because it got expensive, but this and the hallway to the stairs make the room,” she says. 

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The living room
The laneway suite was also designed by Angelo Antolino of Integrity Design and Build.

Almost all of the furniture is from Kijiji and second-hand stores, plus various objects the owner has collected on her travels. The only splurge: a custom-built console to complete the modern, minimalist look. The owner didn’t want the TV to be the centrepiece, so she chose a picture-frame-style screen that plays striking imagery and can double as an art piece. She plans on re-covering the living-room chairs in olive-green fabric and adding a Persian rug to warm the concrete floor.

This Dovercourt Village home has tons of built-in storage, a generous living room, a dream kitchen, sewing space, a walk-in closet, and a giant spa-style shower.

The floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows— with views of the backyard—open up and illuminate the space. 

"People without kids can usually live anywhere but people with kids can’t," says the owner. "I’ve provided a family home for people, so I feel like everyone wins.”

And who doesn’t like even more storage? The hidden under-stair cabinets are large enough to hold a bicycle, Christmas decorations and suitcases. And this camouflaged utility closet is for cleaning supplies. The stairwell, meanwhile, is her favourite feature of the home—the streamlined design creates an almost floating effect.


The powder room
The powder room adds an extra splash of colour.

Tucked away from the rest of the airy abode is the powder room, which presented the chance to do something funky. The pistachio-coloured sink is from Concretti Designs, and the wild wallpaper is from Manuel Canovas.


 The bathroom
In the bathroom: a glass shower with rainfall head, tiled floors and a vanity.

In the bathroom: heated terrazzo-tiled floors, a glass shower with a rainfall head, a hidden kitty litter under the sink (accessed by her cats via a custom door) and a motion-activated light for mid-night bathroom visits.

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The main bedroom
The main bedroom has big windows and hardwood floors.

Late in the game, the owner learned that laneway balconies are not allowed to face the interior yard, between the suite and the original house. She opted for big windows instead. The art is by Toronto-based Meera Sethi.

Here's the laneway suite's walk-in closet, which doubles as a laundry room.

She didn’t have a laundry room in the old house, so she bit the bullet to complete her bespoke walk-in closet. “It’s basically another room,” she says. “I get dressed in here; I do all my makeup in here; I have my jewellery all organized, plus there’s a skylight and more fun wallpaper.”


The crafts room
The second bedroom also allows her to brings extra cash as an Airbnb rental.

Finally, here’s the second bedroom, currently staged as a crafts room. The ceiling, walls and baseboards are draped in dark green to distinguish it from the rest of the house. 


Are you living the laneway life? Send your story to realestate@torontolife.com

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