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“We get so many ideas from seeing so many houses,” says Lau, 37, whose favourite splurge in their new house is the $ 30,000 glass-walled and mirrored gym in the basement, the likes of which he’d seen in other high-end homes.
The Laus, who are parents to Audrina, 5, Brinley, 3 and Maddox, 5 months, began searching in 2014 for the perfect spot to build their forever home, determined to stay within the boundaries of Alderwood, Mimico and Long Branch.
“It is truly a hidden gem,” says Lau of Alderwood, which hugs the Etobicoke Creek all the way down to Marie Curtis Park on Lake Ontario. “The neighbourhood is definitely transitioning as more and more people uncover this pocket.”
The couple hired husband-and-wife team Lindsey and Gerry Anacleto to do the contracting and design work on their two-storey home. The Laus lived in their old house a short drive away during the eight-month rebuild.
The couple says the company had originally promised to put in their gas line by December 2016. Then the date got pushed back until April, meaning the family would face a winter without heat if they wanted to move in on schedule. They went to their local councillor, Mark Grimes, who called Enbridge on their behalf. Two weeks later, workers showed up to install the gas line.
Things didn’t go completely as planned with their budget, either; the original figure of $ 650,000 shattered, with the final tally coming in closer to $ 900,000.
“I’ve seen exposed brick in houses usually in the basement but thought it was a good feature to have in the stairwell for maximum ‘wow’ factor,” he says.
The Laus’ airy, open-concept kitchen and dining area boasts 11-foot ceilings and oozes natural light. Adding to the luxurious feel is the nine-foot Cambria quartz island, the Tiffany Crackle subway-tile backsplash straight from Italy, and a Restoration Hardware dining table.
Upstairs, the children have their own private enclave, a three-bedroom wing at the back of the home, with their parents’ 400-square-foot master bedroom situated at the front. The master bathroom boasts a $ 10,000 soaker tub which had been snapped up for $ 3,300 on clearance, and private toilet and showering rooms.
The couple, who run A.L.L. Appraisal Services Ltd. out of the new house, also built a large, self-contained office space just inside the front entrance, where two of their administration staff work each day. The office has been outfitted with custom work stations, a fridge, a wetbar, a microwave, a Keurig coffee maker and a flatscreen TV.
Custom pre-school style cubbies for each of their children occupy the other half of the mud room, keeping the kids’ shoes, bags, coats and other accessories organized. “This was my dream,” says Meagan with a laugh.
She says the family-friendly neighbourhood has been incredible, between the helpful moms’ groups and proximity to parks, schools, a swimming pool and a baseball diamond.
$ 519,900: Amount the Laus paid for the original Alderwood cottage
$ 1.7 million: Amount their new house has been appraised for
$ 20,000: Cost to upgrade the sewer and water mains
1: Church pew used as a bench in the front hall
5: Times a week Michael uses his luxury home gym
1: multi-purpose basement, which also includes a guest room, bathroom, kids’ playroom, sports bar and storage closets
1 and 2: The numbers on the seats from the former Maple Leaf Gardens, which Lau bought for his basement sports bar
20: Minutes to Union Station from nearby Long Branch GO station