Don’t Be Too Revealing

College Street / Little Italy

When it comes to real estate, first impressions count. That’s why the expression ‘Curb Appeal’ has merit. In the freehold property market, as house hunters pull up in their car they’re already assessing the dwelling, the property environment, and the surrounding streetscape. In the condominium market, purchasers instantly gauge how the lobby and common areas complement their own personal style. And when it comes to townhouses, buyers examine how well-maintained the exterior is while looking for clues on who the complexes’ occupants are. Everyone, either consciously or subconsciously is looking for the right ‘fit’ both aesthetically, financially and socially.

Although a favourable “Curb Appeal” first impression is essential to achieving top dollar, I believe the critical moment that really counts is when buyers cross the threshold. When buyers pass through the front door, they both physically and energetically respond to a property, intuitively asking themselves “Does this place look and feel like ‘Home’?”. In that singular instant you, the seller, have the opportunity to be like Cupid and strike your arrows into the heart of your buyers and their pocketbook. This is an essential tactical move in the art of trading property. It requires the savvy seller to tap into all the senses, creating a positive experience specifically geared to your target market.

Over the past twenty years I’ve been selling property, I’ve noticed one of the most overlooked spaces in a dwelling is a home’s entry. While owners will sink their capital into renovating the kitchen and baths, and pretty much every other space in a property, I find owners are least likely to invest in improving their entry despite it being the first part of a dwelling everyone experiences.

When it comes to my last residence, I’ve been no different.

For 13 years I owned my loft, a slice of a former ‘Little Italy’ textile factory affectionately known as The Button Factory (of which I was part of the conversion redevelopment team), I tailored the space from one large open shell on two floors into my dream home. As I neared completion, one of my final touches was creating a foyer where one never existed. It’s was a long time coming.

I have always admired the well-designed home that unfolds in a series of articulated spaces, where each space serves different needs and functions, while the dwelling remains visually unified as a whole. I am particularly drawn to those properties which take you on a journey the moment you arrive. These dwellings don’t reveal everything at once, but offer increasingly intimate layers of who the occupant is as you move through each space. Think about it, a visitor sees your entry and possibly the living room…a guest may eat in your dining area. As you get to know someone better they might spend time hanging out in your kitchen. An acquaintence or co-worker might see your den, family room or study but only a close friend or lover would ever see your bedroom. I like how this progression through personal space is a subliminal act of intimacy, especially when it’s done seamlessly through a beautifully-executed architectural narrative. It’s called “Good Flow”.

As you can see in the pic, for a long time when you arrived at my front door and crossed the threshold, you walked directly into the living space. I never liked the lack of privacy, for while very few people had reason to come down the outdoor mews beyond neighbours and guests, there was always a knawing feeling a stranger could look in at any moment to see what I might be doing. Actually, it happened once. The one time I walked down my stairs buck-naked from my bedroom to plug in the kettle for my morning cup, a female Jehovah’s Witness knocked on my door and peered through the window. Why I ran back up, threw on some clothes and returned to acknowledge her embarrassment and my humiliation was beyond me. I think it may have something to do with my mother instilling me to always exercise good social graces which, by my rote behaviour, apparently includes answering your door at all costs.

So I had a drapery system on a custom track installed to create a foyer

Here’s some pics of the details


As you can see in the photos below, when you walk into my place now you don’t see the entire space. Instead you enter into a semi-circular arc of breezy linen draperies suspended from a custom wood track that delineates the space into an elegant foyer. The linen weave runs across the full width of my townhouse allowing light to filter through while creating a transitional zone and a full wall of privacy. The verticality of the draperies cast the eyes up to enhance the proportions and height of the twelve foot ceilings. My place looks both larger and more expansive. The sense of arrival has gone from revealing too much (the entire main level and, well, occasionally my private parts) into an intriguing introduction to an unusual residence. It’s exactly what I wanted. My new ethereal foyer creates mystery and suspense, and piques the curiousity of those who look in. Just like Cupid, a spell has been cast in the desire to see more. Plus, it’s added a layer of softness and sophistication….a sort of feminine touch to an otherwise masculine brick, wood beam, stone and steel loft. In retrospect, I’ve realized the space was lacking this Yin Yang balance before.



This amazing drapery system was completed by Rebecca, who also did my reupholstery (see chaise for days).

The cost was around $5000, a tidy sum indeed, but as far as I’m concerned the effect is priceless.

Standby for more Rejuvenating The Button Factory about my unique urban home in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

~ Steven and the urbaneer team


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