When Mr. Big surprised his fashionista fiancée Carrie Bradshaw with a dressed-to-the-nines walk-in closet in the “Sex and the City 2” movie, it gave David Tausendfreund an idea.
“I can make a better closet than that,” he thought while watching the romcom with his wife Lanelle in 2010. So he stayed up all night, secretively drawing plans for her own walk-in wonder in their St. Catharines mansion on Lake Ontario.
The 280-square-foot room, which became part of a major renovation that year, exemplifies the thought, planning and attention to detail that characterizes the entire four-level house.
Bright, white and envy-inducing, the closet is the epitome of well-organized space with built-ins, open shelves and glass-fronted compartments, topped off with a sparkling chandelier.
But the real spectacle starts outside, where the regal residence built in the late 1990s is rooted in another, pre-pandemic world. Styled after Queen Anne architecture from a century earlier, the brick house boasts big gables, decorative millwork and numerous windows outlined with small squares of glass in nine colours.
“We wanted a house that looked like an original in Port Dalhousie, Ont., when it was a little shipping community,” Tausendfreund explained. “We spent months drawing it and getting it absolutely perfect.”
The couple knows a thing or two about design. He owns a company called Tradewood that manufactures high-end windows and doors for clients all over the world, including “famous people and past (U.S.) presidents.” Lanelle is the firm’s graphic director, and an artist and fashion designer.
“We just love colour and art,” Tausendfreund said, adding he likes mixing classical and ultra modern, whether it’s architectural details, furnishings or finishes. “The old warms the space while the new invigorates it.”
On the main floor, furniture, accessories and artwork take their colour cues from the jewel tones in the windows while black pillars, built-ins and accent walls add dramatic flair.
Listing agent Doug Widdicombe of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada describes the opulent hilltop home as “a feast for the eyes.”
An hour’s drive from downtown Toronto, “It is the premier waterfront property of the Niagara Region.
“When people go through it, I just get ‘Wow! Wow!’” said Widdicombe.
From a showstopper kitchen where 24-karat gold leaf adorns a black tile backsplash to authentic plaster mouldings and intricate motifs in the limestone and hardwood floors, “they’ve thought of everything,” he said of the owners.
That includes an elevator, hobby room and top-floor playroom for the couple’s now 15-year-old daughter.
One of Tausendfreund’s favourite spaces is his “pretty spectacular” mahogany-lined den/library where he spent hours on his back installing a 1900s tin ceiling. He repeated the feat in the billiards room downstairs, and also built the backyard conservatory for his wedding 17 years ago.
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He’s particularly proud of the estimated 75 windows, worth $ 750,000. While they’re historically authentic, their manufacture is strictly 21st-century, with energy-efficient, shatter-proof laminated glass.
Tausendfreund calls the mansion their “houttage”: a grand house full of comforts, conveniences and amenities in a cottage-like setting. With a big backyard, kayaking and beautiful sunsets, “you don’t have to drive anywhere. You just open the door and walk outside,” he said. “One of the things that’s so cool about living on the lake is every day is different.”
As COVID-19 restrictions loosen, it’s tailor-made for summer soirees, backyard picnics and luncheons in the conservatory. But the Tausendfreunds are passing the torch to new hosts; in a bittersweet move, they’re relocating to Texas, where Lanelle is from.
Price: $ 6.9 million
Size: 7,975 sq. ft. plus 2,650 sq. ft. on the lower level
Bathrooms 3 + 2