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It may be on the lower level of their home, but Vita Mendolia and her husband Joseph now have a basement that’s been renovated to the highest levels of luxury.
“It’s a chic entertaining floor,” says Mendolia, 48, of the breathtaking, 2,000 square feet of living space that features a glassed-in home gym, sophisticated lounge area, entertainment section for movie nights and a kitchen/bar fit for a Hollywood bash.
Mendolia, who is a teacher, says their friends are “stunned” when they come downstairs to see the space.
“They can’t believe it’s the basement,” she says. “That’s not what they were expecting!”
For her part, Mendolia still has to pinch herself, too. “After all these years of having the vision in your head, to be sitting there, it still it feels like, ‘This is my house?!’ ”
The renovated retreat is certainly a night-and-day transformation from the unfinished basement that had been there since the couple first built their 4,000-square-foot custom home in north Etobicoke in 2001.
For years, their 14-year-old daughter, who plays competitive hockey, and their 18-year-old son, used the lower level for shooting drills— the holes in the walls proof of their dedication.
But Mendolia and Joseph, 56, a dentist, always knew they would eventually transform the basement when their children were older and keen to entertain friends as far away from their parents as possible. “They’re bigger, they’re louder!” Mendolia says and laughs.
With their son off at university and their daughter in high school, the timing was right. The couple hired Georgian Renovations, which specializes in luxury custom home renovations, additions and interior design, to help execute their vision.
Georgian spokesperson John Verdile says the Mendolias are part of a growing trend of families opting for high-end basement renovations, no longer content with the status quo of having one big storage room.
“A lot of people want that cold area to turn into another extension of the home,” he says. “It’s square footage. You’ve paid for it and it’s just sitting downstairs. If you’re going to do a basement, let’s do it right.”
Along with Georgian designer Ashley Reekie, Verdile worked hand-in-hand with the family during the four-month project, which was finished by 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve, just in time for holiday entertaining.
Verdile says such renovations cost between $ 200,000 and $ 300,000, depending on which bells and whistles clients choose.
The Mendolias went high-end all the way, opting for hydronic heated flooring made with solid porcelain tiles imported from Italy, which mimic the look and feel of reclaimed wood.
“That’s one of the new trends were seeing now,” says Verdile. “Porcelain tile is not just 12-by-12 inches or 24-by-24 inches, like the old days. Now porcelain comes 5-feet-by-10 feet, just like marble, granite or quartz slabs. It’s so beautiful!” he says.
In the Mendolias’ basement, it took three men to lay one tile, which is 16 inches wide by almost six feet long, and a half-inch thick. Between all the materials, the hydraulics and the boiler system, plus installation, Verdile says the flooring became a $ 40,000 feature.
Some other splurges the couple made include a stunning porcelain wall behind the $ 8,000 elongated fireplace and a $ 6,000 modern pool table with brushed metal legs which easily transforms into a dining-room table with dark black wood.
Since the Mendolias love to entertain, they went all-out in the kitchen/bar area, too, opting for a butcher-block countertop with a secret compartment that lifts up and becomes a trough sink where they can chill their bottles of wine and beer on ice. “I love the kitchen. It’s perfect for what we want to do,” says Mendolia.
Much of the family’s entertaining happens in the summer, once their busy hockey season has finished. At that time, the backyard becomes pool-party central. Now, the fun can happen seamlessly between the backyard and the basement and it’s no longer a bummer when there’s rain in the forecast.
“The dream was exactly what it looks like now,” says Mendolia.
She says everything came in on-budget, just as they’d discussed and signed in advance with Georgian. “There weren’t any surprises. We’re really happy about that part.”
6,000: Total square feet of living space, including the basement renovation
15: Number of years the family lived with an unfinished basement
$ 15,000: Approximate cost of the basement’s custom-made maximum security door
$ 100,000: Typical starting point for a standard 1,000-square-foot basement renovation from Georgian Renovations
$ 1.5 million-$ 3 million: Approximate construction costs (not including the land) of some 6,000-7,000-square-foot homes Georgian is now working on
16 feet: Sliding door put in as part of a $ 650,000 main-floor renovation for a Georgian client
22 feet-by-10 feet: Size of one of Georgian’s luxury laundry room renovations