Ray Civello’s dramatic reinvention of a dated Hoggs Hollow estate
When Ray Civello first considered this Hoggs Hollow estate, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. “It was really over-the-top ugly inside. Dated and very ’80s,” he says. In the front atrium, with its grand rotunda design, the staircase risers and eight pillars were a metallic “BMW blue.” One of the more eccentric elements was a glass shower next to the master bed with hardware shaped like a woman’s body.
Perhaps due to its interior hideousness, the 9,600-square-foot ravine property sat on the market for at least two years before Ray made an offer. When he closed the deal on Christmas Day in 2016, many of Ray’s friends and associates (including his partner of nearly 20 years, Kelli McGushin) thought he was crazy. They were mostly wrong. “The indoor pool was the only part of the house that was making me nuts,” he recalls. He didn’t know what to do with it. “Finally I said just shut the room off and leave it alone.” They finished the rest of the house before eventually filling in the pool to install a golf simulator and home gym.
He worked with his long-time interior design collaborator Alicia Garas and furniture-maker friend Daniel Perez. The new iteration of the home has a modern palette of whites, greys and taupes. “When you see nothing at all but clean, simple lines, it tends to be a bit stark,” he says. “But there’s a lot of warmth here with the fabrics, the surfaces, the textures and other elements.”
Ray wanted to get rid of the poles that frame the dramatic stairwell, but they’re structurally integral—they anchor the suspended staircase. Ray and Garas covered the risers with vinyl car wrap instead of stripping the paint. “It looks like metal,” he says. “It looks amazing and will last forever. It’s a really great solution and people don’t think of it for homes.” Canadian painter Mark Karasick used a photograph of Ray’s nine-year-old son, Corrado, as a base for the encaustic painting, a style using hot wax. Ray hopes it will become a family heirloom:
This painting, by Daniel Diaz, was inspired by an Olympic swimming competition. The “Brunello” sitting chairs by Perez—originally a bright cobalt blue—were reupholstered with earth-toned velvet:
The kitchen is one of Ray’s favourite spots. “We’ve had chefs come over to cook for parties—they’ve really liked it, they don’t want to leave.”
The bed is another custom design by Perez. Ray likes it for the back ledge, on which he can prop up extra pillows. The art deco–style chairs were also designed by Perez. Ray often uses this area to take phone calls and watch the news:
The matte stone tub in the en suite sits directly under the skylight. The marble floor is heated. The fixtures are by Philippe Starck and Zucchetti:
There used to be a small bar and refrigerated wine closet here, but Ray wanted his cellar to be a prominent feature of the basement. It’s stocked with an assortment of wines, with a few extra bottles of his favourite, Black Chicken, a Napa Valley Zinfandel from Robert Biale Vineyards: