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COVER STORY: Edge Tower 2

COVER STORY: Edge Tower 2

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COVER STORY: Edge Tower 2

Solmar Developments prepares to launch Tower 2 of Edge Towers

With the successful sale of Edge Towers, Solmar Developments is beginning construction of Tower 1, the first of three Towers that are zoned to be built on the strategically located property that is just steps south of Burnamthorpe Road and Hurontario Street, in Mississauga.

And as construction begins on Tower 1, Solmar Developments is preparing to launch the sale of Edge Tower 2. The 40-storey Edge T2 will set a new standard in elegant living in Mississauga.

Being just steps from Square One and shops like Holt Renfrew, Armani, Hugo Boss, Gucci, and the Rolex Boutique, Edge T2 is set to be an exciting place to live. The Living Arts Centre, Celebration Square, the Hazel McCallion Campus of Sheridan College, Wholefoods, Chapters, Earls Restaurant, and Bier Market are also close by.

With the new LRT at their doorstep, future residents of Edge T2 will have easy access to travel locally, or the opportunity to take an express trip to Union Station, Pearson Airport, or anywhere else in the GTA, on the Metrolinx transportation network.

For those who prefer to drive, access to highways 403, 401, 407, 410 and QEW could not be more convenient. “There is a huge difference in value being located in a prime location right on the main public transportation system versus being a 10-minute drive west, down the highway,” says Scott Davie, the listing Broker of Edge Towers.

In addition to location, value is determined by a number of factors, and Solmar considers the quality of the finishes to be one of the most important ways to define value. The first impression at Edge T2 begins in the elegantly appointed lobby, with its marble finishings and hand crafted, Venetian plaster columns.

It is the gateway to the timeless elegance theme that defines the style of Edge Towers, the timeless elegance that Solmar is known for.

The luxury condominium lifestyle means that the Concierge will be available 24/7, and amenities include the use of the state-of-the-art gym, yoga studio, Wi-Fi lounge, movie theatre, billiards room, guest suites, and the party room with a walk out to an amazing terrace with a fire feature and barbecues.

Edge T2 was designed by the award winning Rosario “Roy” Varacalli, of Cusamano Architects. The Solmar team worked closely with the architect and, recognizing the changing needs of the market, has designed even more efficient suites, with typical sizes ranging from 493 to 721 square feet.

Edge T2 will include 424 one-bedroom, one plus den, and two-bedroom suites. Quality is defined by the level of the workmanship, and the level of the finishes, in the suites. Suite finishes include 9 foot smooth ceilings, fully integrated or stainless steel, superior quality, kitchen appliances, separate showers with frameless glass doors, and premium plank laminate flooring.

Solmar Developments is a traditional Italian builder that has taken a special pride in delivering the highest quality residential highrise, lowrise, and commercial projects across southern Ontario, over the last 30 years.

Choosing the right developer can make a big difference in quality, customer service, and future resale value. Savvy new condominium buyers recognize that the key elements that will lead to a making a successful decision when buying a new condominium are:

  • Superior location;
  • Proximity to public transit, local amenities, and highways;
  • Fine quality finishes and workmanship from a reputable and experienced builder;
  • Attractive building and floor plan designs; and
  • A full range of luxury amenities.

Today, the majority of Ontario residents count the equity in their home as their biggest source of their wealth. Real Estate is the gateway to personal wealth for the majority of people. Now more than ever, consumers have to make the right choice, not only to buy, but which property to buy.


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Cover Story: In The Zone

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Cover Story: In The Zone

The designated areas of Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault’s backyard makeover add up to countless hours of summer fun

By: Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault

Photography By: Larry Arnal

There aren’t many things more boringly Canadian than talking about the weather, but now that warmer days and balmy nights are in the forecast, I have to tell you…I’m doing cartwheels across the lawn at the thought of summer patio season!


Maybe it’s the fact that after a decade of living with a lacklustre backyard, my husband and I FINALLY invested in a complete outdoor overhaul, starting with a new low-maintenance concrete patio that has turned our once-underutilized patch of suburban grass into a multi-functional extension of our home. Early in the planning phase, we discussed how we envisioned spending time in our then-blank-canvas backyard, and determined that we wanted to include dedicated zones for lounging, dining, and cooking, as well as a fun zone for outdoor games.


For the lounging zone, we opted for a modular, maintenance free woven resin sectional that is perfect for relaxing with our feet up on lazy days but can also comfortably seat up to 10 guests when we’re entertaining. We defined this zone by introducing a substantial outdoor area rug that adds softness underfoot and is large enough to sit under the front legs of the furniture to anchor the area.


When we were shopping for the lounge set, we searched specifically for neutral beige, gray, and black finishes that would complement the existing exterior brick façade, trim, and fixtures of our home to create a cohesive look.


We then introduced touches of colour through affordable outdoor cushions and potted annuals, and I even transformed kitschy hot-pink plastic garden flamingos into a pair of flirty fowl with a quick coat of Universal spray paint in Copper Rose.


Another major consideration for our lounging zone was staying cool on sunny sweltering days. Our backyard gets direct afternoon sun, and I often felt like a sizzling strip of bacon when I sat out for more than five minutes, so I included a large free-standing market umbrella in the space that can be tilted to shield us from the rays.


For the dining zone, I had visions of creating a relaxed al fresco environment complete with comfortable seating and a self-serve beverage cart, but after searching high and low for the perfect piece, I decided to flex some DIY muscle and make my own! With less than $200 worth of materials and an afternoon of construction, I created a mobile drink station that features a mounted bottle opener, folding sides that lift for extra prep surface, and an insulated cooler inside to keep beverages cold. To finish it off and complement the dining set, I added a quick coat of Varathane Ebony Stain and an exterior clear-coat to protect it from the elements.


Like most exterior dining tables, our cast aluminum set has an umbrella in the centre, which makes it difficult to display a centrepiece, and any potted plants that I leave out on the tabletop often blown over with a gust of wind. So, I decided to craft an upcycle solution by adding a fresh coat of high-gloss black paint to an old Bundt pan from my kitchen, and then I planted a collection of fresh annuals inside it. Now, with the umbrella through the centre, I have no worries of it blowing away, and it creates the perfect focal point on the table.


Our biggest backyard splurge was creating an outdoor cooking zone! We installed a simple stacked-stone peninsula to house a built-in BBQ, and topped it with a solid slab of granite featuring a breakfast bar overhang at the back. As the saying goes, “the party always ends up in the kitchen”… and well, the “burger bar” is inevitably where everyone tends to gather now when we entertain.


And when it came to creating the “fun zone,” it didn’t take much more than a few outdoor games of ladder golf and badminton to set the tone for family activities. On weekends when the neighbourhood kids come over to play, I even whip up a quick DIY giant checkerboard using a square cardboard template, a can of YardArt spray paint, and a collection of red and blue dollar-store Frisbees to act as the game pieces, and it makes for hours of afternoon fun.

By designing our outdoors with distinctive zones in mind, we now have a multi-purpose space that not only maximizes the style and function of our once-bland backyard, but also extends our living space exponentially during the warm weather months.


OUTDOOR FURNITURE: DOT Furniture; PILLOWS, AREA RUG, DINING ACCESSORIES: Canadian Tire; BBQ: Napoleon; Universal metallic spray PAINT and YardArt PAINT: Rust-Oleum

A self-proclaimed DIY ninja, Leigh-Ann believes that great design has little to do with how much money you spend, but rather how creative you can be with your budget. As an expert on CityTV’s Cityline, Leigh-Ann embraces every opportunity to spark creativity and instill confidence in others who strive to “DO IT YOURSELF.” For more information, visit huelala.com @leighannallaire


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Cover Story: Making it Work HAL EISEN and ANDREW BOTTECCHIA

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Cover Story: Making it Work HAL EISEN and ANDREW BOTTECCHIA

By Cece M. Scott www.cecescott.com

WHEN YOU LOOK AROUND the sun-splashed condo of Hal Eisen and Andrew Bottecchia, you can’t help but be struck by Eisen’s outsized collection of eclectic art. Located in an 1873 heritage building in the west end of Toronto, the couple’s penthouse also includes a spectacular 1,200-square-foot, wrap-around terrace.

On the wrap-around terrace of their condominium. Photo, Steve Russell

Partners in business, and in life, Eisen ( 61) and Bottecchia (54) met some 16 years ago. True to his acting roots, Eisen is gregarious and animated, while Bottecchia is the gracious parenthesis. When speaking about their relationship, Bottecchia says, “It took a while to figure things out. We had to set some boundaries.”

The couple’s personal commitment was cemented when Eisen was performing in a play in Ottawa called It’s All True, which won the Governor’s General award. “I knew Hal wasn’t in a good place, mentally,” says Bottecchia. “So, I got up on at 2 a.m. on a Saturday and drove to Ottawa. I called Hal from outside his house and said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have breakfast together this morning?”

“Talk about a big romantic gesture,” says Eisen. “Andrew’s visit gave me the opportunity to let go, and to step away from the role for awhile. I had a whole new energy. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he was good looking, funny and charming. His goodness is what you fall in love with.”


Bottecchia is president of Bottecchia Artistic Group Inc., and has worked on such shows as The Designer Guys, This Small Space, and on Life T.V. and The Food Network. At the height of the SARS epidemic in 2003, major film productions were being pulled out of Toronto and acting opportunities were scarce. Bottecchia, who was the art director on Love by Design, recommended Hal as the show’s host. “They wanted someone who had done interior design and was also familiar with television,” says Eisen. “I had experience in both, as I’d put myself through acting school by doing design work.”

By the end of 2009, both Bottecchia and Eisen stepped away from lifestyle T.V. and immersed themselves in their individual careers. However, the door was never really shut when it came to collaborating on design projects. “We don’t even know how we agree on stuff,” says Eisen. “We each have strong opinions and we filter things through our own aesthetic. But, ultimately, the client decides.”

Eisen has been acting for four decades in theatre, movie and television, and has appeared on Saving Hope, DeGrassi and Murdoch Mysteries. Eisen admits that the opportunities for auditions for his age group are dwindling. “It’s not like when I was in my 20s and 30s. I went out there knowing I’d get the roles – I just expected it. There’s a lot more competition now,” says Eisen. “But the good thing is, I am at a point where I can turn down a role that doesn’t speak to me. That’s why it’s wonderful to have another creative outlet.”

Bottecchia established his design company in 1994. What he’s now noticing is that he’s designing for the offspring of the families that he initially designed for. “It’s exciting, and an honour, to be working with the next generation,” says Bottecchia. “We’ve become part of their families.”

Both Eisen and Bottecchia are aware of the pros and cons of being self-employed. “When you have a relationship with someone who understands the freelance life, it certainly helps,” says Bottecchia. “Hal gets the hardships of it. He’s my rock – my mushy rock.”

“You’re fighting time – your mind says one thing and your body says another.” – Andrew Bottecchia


The opposites attract theory holds some merit with regard to the way that they each approach life. Bottecchia sees the glass as half full, while Eisen is a self-declared worrywart. As a child, Eisen says that he was overweight, and had glasses and big teeth. “I was never the first choice, so I spent a lot of my life achieving things.”

Whereas Bottecchia says that he could be sitting in their lovely home with only a nickel in his pocket, and would consider himself rich. “I call him Pollyandy,” says Eisen. “Andrew always looks at the good side of everything. He’s incredibly loyal.”

On their off hours, Eisen likes to swim, and Bottecchia enjoys going to the gym and roller blading. When at a cottage in Haliburton, Bottecchia hikes and kayaks, and Eisen reads and sleeps. “I’m a city guy, and Andrew is the country boy,” says Eisen.


Eisen is now the same age as when his mother passed away. Aging is on his mind, as are his aches and pains. “I miss that gung-ho ability to throw myself into everything. And, I miss the realization that not everything is possible.”

“I haven’t found any aging challenges, yet,” says Bottecchia. “But when I do, I am going to deal with it like I do everything else, which is basically screw this, I’ll handle it. There’s nothing I miss about my younger years – it’s all in how you set your mind.”

Their retirement dream is to secure an eight-bedroom guesthouse in Barbados. It will be a bed and breakfast, as well as an art gallery that features Bajan and Canadian artists. Bottecchia will reside there, while Eisen will travel back and forth. “I need to be around my acting, and my city friends,” says Eisen. “I need my six months in Canada.”

Photo, Jake Martella

“You come to an age when you either get it or you don’t,” says Bottecchia. “When we are young we aspire to material things. I’ve achieved all that, and now I am thankful for the wisdom, gratitude and understanding. I say prayers every morning. Everybody needs something that they can connect to.”

Eisen interjects and says that he connects with their dog (Boy), and the couple breaks into laughter. Both are grateful that they live in a country that is so accepting, and where seniors are not a throwaway generation. “I feel there is more that I can do,” says Eisen. “In many ways – to teach and to share.”

Photography, courtesy of Hal Eisen and Andrew Bottecchia.


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Cover Story: Editor's Choice: Fieldgate Homes

Cover Story: Editor’s Choice: Fieldgate Homes

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Cover Story: Editor’s Choice: Fieldgate Homes

Discover the GTA’s most spectacular residences when you visit Fieldgate’s many fine communities

Over the past six decades, Fieldgate has worked hard to provide the finest quality family homes and communities to thousands of satisfied homeowners across the GTA and beyond. This year we’re offering an exceptional selection of new homes to choose from at our many fine community locations.


Located at the southwest corner of Mayfield and Chinguacousy Roads, Upper Valleylands in West Brampton brings the signature look and feel of Fieldgate’s celebrated Valleylands community to a new highly desirable location on the Caledon/Brampton border. Discover a beautiful selection of semi-detached, 30-, 38- and 41-foot detached homes and freehold townhomes in a complete master-planned community setting. Register today at Fieldgatehomes.com for your preview purchasing opportunity. The sales centre is located at 8676 Chinguacousy Road, just north of Steeles Avenue West.


Since it opened, Valleylands has been a top choice among homebuyers in West Brampton. At an ideal location on the west side of Chinguacousy Road north of Steeles Avenue West, this is a place where the valleys surrounding the Credit River offer a breathtaking outdoor playground of lush green parkland with major urban conveniences all just moments away. With a limited number of homes remaining, this is your chance to own a model home in this picture perfect setting.

Valleylands is also offering a collection of inspired live/work units. Discover an amazing business opportunity plus all the luxury you’d expect with a Fieldgate home. These stunning units provide a beautiful Fieldgate residence on the upper floors and a retail/office unit on the ground level. Start your own business or enjoy added rental income.


At Cobblestones South, just south of Steeles Avenue West in West Brampton, you can discover an exquisite selection of new 36-foot designs, many of which feature optional lofts that will bring the total interior space up to over 3,400 square feet! With a wonderful collection of solid brick and stone homes to choose from, you are certain to find something that is perfect for your family here. Enjoy Brampton’s most convenient lifestyle with many major amenities nearby, including parks, schools, shopping, dining, easy access to Highways 400, 401 and 407, Brampton Transit, GO Transit and more.


GTA homebuyers have already fallen in love with this new master-planned community of Richlands at Elgin Mills Road and Leslie Street in Richmond Hill. Fieldgate is excited to be offering 36- and 43-foot singles over 4,600 square feet, semis over 3,000 square feet and freehold townhomes over 3,100 square feet at this spectacular family community. Register today for priority access.


Whitby Meadows is a master-planned community that offers West Whitby’s best lifestyle. Discover an exceptional new selection of 30- and 36-foot singledetached homes in west Whitby’s finest natural setting. This community truly has everything you’ve been looking for.


Stouffville’s Blue Sky is the new home community you’ve been waiting for — a refreshing way of life full of old-fashioned charm, set in a dynamic, modern and convenient community of mostly detached homes just five minutes north of Markham. Over 1,300 families already call Blue Sky home, and with this latest release of 30-, 36- and 40-foot singles, there has never been a better time to call Blue Sky your home, too!


The new release at Impressions will feature an excellent selection of all new home designs, so there’s never been a better time to discover this acclaimed Kleinburg community. Discover an exceptional master-planned community setting that features over 70 acres of greenspace, community parks, ponds and two proposed community schools. Featuring an ideal location minutes from the heart of the historic village of Kleinburg, this is without a doubt one of the finest new home communities in the GTA. The next release at Impressions will feature a collection of 36- and 44-foot detached homes of unparalleled style and distinction. With a number of acclaimed Fieldgate floorplans to choose from, homebuyers will find something that meets their families’ lifestyle and needs.


Go online for more information on any of these remarkable communities, Sales Centre locations, phone numbers, floorplans, or to register for upcoming communities.



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Cover Story: Bianca

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Cover Story: Bianca

Tridel’s Luxurious Addition to the Annex

The Annex is one of Toronto’s oldest and most charismatic neighbourhoods. Endearingly known for its industrial roots, the northern border of Dupont Street is about to undergo an exciting transformation from its former factory glory, into the city’s newest urban destination for arts, food and entertainment.

Tridel’s Bianca will be the first residential condominium to arrive along this coveted Annex corridor. The luxurious midrise building will bring renewed poise to this rejuvenated stretch of Toronto’s downtown, dubbed ‘The New Dupont’.

Located on Dupont, west of Spadina at Howland Avenue, the luminous nine-storey residence is designed to make a profound architectural statement. The distinctive white façade and gently sloping exterior of expansive terraces and balconies are the hallmark of Teeple Architects’ design for Bianca.

“Bianca is truly one of a kind, with spacious suites and distinctive architecture,” says Jim Ritchie, executive vice president, sales and marketing at Tridel. “This is a unique opportunity to live in a luxury condo residence in the coveted Annex neighbourhood, while still having private outdoor space to entertain or simply relax.”

The generous outdoor spaces at Bianca offer residents extended living space, inviting the opportunity to grow fresh plants and herbs, relax and unwind for some private leisure time, or host an afternoon barbecue to enjoy time with friends and family.

Bianca offers suite collections in a variety of thoughtfully conceived layouts. Open concept living and dining spaces flow out onto terraces and balconies with views of Casa Loma to the northeast and the downtown skyline to the south.

For those seeking large suites with both indulgence and privacy, Bianca’s Terrace Collection includes exclusive luxurious north-facing suites. These expansive residences are available in two-bedroom, two-bedroom plus den and three-bedroom layouts that overlook the community’s private landscaped courtyards.

Beginning from 1,015 square feet, these coveted suites are priced starting from $1 million, include a parking space, and boast luxury finishes such as Miele appliances, a natural stone or quartz waterfall island, and plank engineered flooring.

Bianca’s stunningly rich interiors and sophisticated, urban amenity spaces have been artfully crafted by the award-winning designers at II by IV Design. Bianca will boast a striking rooftop terrace with panoramic views of downtown and Casa Loma, complete with an outdoor pool, cabanas, barbecues and an outdoor fireplace lounge. Indoors, Bianca has a welcoming two-storey lobby with fireplace lounge, a state-of-the-art fitness centre with yoga and stretching studio, and is also home to multi-function entertainment spaces including a sophisticated European-inspired party lounge and bar, and an elegant private dining room.

“Rich with robust lifestyle options, the Annex and Dupont Street have an exciting, vibrant energy that Bianca residents will enjoy,” says Jim Ritchie. “The introduction of new residential condominiums coupled with the lively, eclectic mix of cultural hotspots and community green spaces make ‘The New Dupont’ an attractive choice for everyone.”

Inarguably, one of the area’s biggest draws is the growing restaurant scene along Dupont. The street is home to a seemingly endless choice of popular eateries including French brasseries, Italian ristorantes, Mexican cantinas, burger joints and other grab ‘n’ go options for local foodies.

The Annex also features an exciting list of high-end shops, heritage buildings, art galleries and cultural escapes such as Artscape Wychwood Barns, Casa Loma, and the Royal Ontario Museum. Additionally, the area is home to an inviting expanse of greenspaces and parks for the enjoyment of Annex pedestrians.

Visit the Presentation Centre, located at 408 Dupont Street. The Presentation Centre is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and from noon to 6 p.m. weekends; closed Friday. For further information visit the website.



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Cover Story: Christine Magee

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Cover Story: Christine Magee

Living Life on her terms

By Cece M. Scott www.cecescott.com

Close to 25 years ago, Christine Magee had a stable career at a bank. Many people would have been content, but Magee decided to embark on a new trajectory and seize an opportunity. Magee had worked with both Stephen Gunn and Gordon Lownds on previous financial transactions, when they invited Magee to join them as a third operating partner in the launch of a new mattress retail concept. “There were some very attractive industry fundamentals, and we felt that none of the existing mattress retailers were doing a good job of servicing the customers’ needs,” says Magee.

Photo, John Crozier

For Magee, it wasn’t just about selling a mattress, a pillow or a sleep accessory, but rather helping a customer get a restorative, better night’s sleep. “We also identified that as the demographic was aging, the awareness around the importance of sleep was growing,” says Magee. “And there was an opportunity for us to service that need – along with providing exceptional customer service.”

In 1994, it wasn’t an easy decision for Magee and her husband, Allen, to quit their jobs, sell everything and move from Toronto to Vancouver. From a purely conventional perspective, those who were looking at this new adventure from an outside position, didn’t understand why they would leave good jobs to start a new company. “I stopped telling people what we were going to do, and thought it was better if we just went out and did it,” says Magee. “We certainly had to weigh the pros and cons of that decision. Now when I am asked what lessons I have learned, I talk about the importance of the notion – what would I do if I were not afraid to fail? I hope that if I want something bad enough, I will make every effort to go out and make it happen.”

A Dynamic Campaign

The start-up business plan for the new company was an aggressive one, with 88 stores scheduled to open in the first five years. Four stores were launched in lower, mainland Vancouver, and by the end of the first year of operation, 12 stores were up and running.

Sleep Country opened 10 stores in Ontario in 1996. Within the same year, 19 more stores were added, and another 14 stores in 1997. In the fall of 1997, they opened four new stores in Calgary, and by the end of the first three years, they had opened more than 50 stores. Fast forward to 2018, and Sleep Country has more than 247 stores across Canada, 16 distribution centres and more than 1,400 team members. “From the beginning, we have focused on three factors to differentiate us from our competition,” says Magee.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Sleeping Beauties and Beaus for One Walk to Conquer Cancer; Christine Magee and The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, 2010 to 2017; ALS Ice Bucket Challenge; Blissdom Canada Conference. Photography, courtesy of Sleep Country Canada

First, Sleep Country creates top-of-mind awareness, so that each customer understands that they are receiving the best value and the best service. Secondly, an exceptional in-store experience services the needs of the customer through a consultation, rather than a hard sell. And thirdly, Sleep Country offers a prompt delivery service that includes a three-hour delivery window and the removal of the mattress packaging, in addition to the removal of the old bed, which is recycled or donated to a family in need. “Our ability to deliver on these three factors is all about the execution, and excellent execution comes down to having the right team,” says Magee. “Attracting, developing and retaining a great team of associates has been the differentiator in delivering on our customer promises.”

There’s no question that Magee has created one of the most award-winning formulas for success, and is an inspiration to many. Recognition includes, Canada’s Top 40 under 40 (1997); Induction into the Retail Council of Canada Hall of Fame (2005); Women’s Executive Network Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women (2007, 2010, 2011 and 2013 ), the Order of Canada (2015), and the Excellence Canada Special Recognition of Achievement Award (2017). “At the end of the day, it’s all about companionship and friendships,” says Magee. “Any successes that I have had are made that much brighter by sharing them with the individuals who have helped me to get there.”

Moving in the right direction

At the age of 58, and after 24 years of strategizing, implementing and hands-on company management, Magee is, once again, listening to her inner voice. To that end, she has transitioned from her role as President of Sleep Country to that of Co-Chair of the Board for Sleep Country Canada Inc. “It was a more difficult transition than I expected,” says Magee. “Now, I balance my time between overseeing the business and other board work, while being able to pursue my personal goals. I didn’t realize how ingrained in the day-to-day activities I was, so it takes a period of adjustment to let go.”

In addition to Sleep Country, Magee also sits on the boards for Metro Inc., Woodbine Entertainment Group, as well as two non-profits, Trillium Health Partners and Plan International Canada. “Right now I am fully occupied. I’m challenged. I’m learning. I am also enjoying spending more time with my husband and my daughters. I am confident that these are the right ways to spend my time at this point in my life.”

Magee has two daughters – Riley, 20 and Kate, 17. “As the life stages of the family changes, Al and I, as parents, have to change and adapt as well,” says Magee. “I hope that I can share that same belief with my daughters that my parents gifted me with – that in life, we are really only limited by our own aspirations.”

Being present, and appreciating those around her, are conscious choices. Observing challenges that friends and family members are facing as they age is a reality that is all-too real. “To the degree that I can influence my health, I need to take responsibility for it.”

Magee has always been active and involved in many sports like skiing, golfing, tennis and yoga.“I’m rejuvenated by nature, and I love going to the cottage, going for walks and taking the time to take in the beautiful scenery.”

Photography,Andy Vanderkaay

As she approaches her sixth decade, Magee is well aware that this very moment is what’s important – to appreciate it and to live in it. There’s no point in having regrets, but to learn from them and to move on. “When we are young, we do not realize just how much time we have to determine our passion – one’s true calling. Then we age, and we finally discover what our passions are, only to realize that we don’t have as much time to pursue them as we thought.”


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National Homes

Cover Story: Editor’s Choice: National Homes

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Cover Story: Editor’s Choice: National Homes

Blueprint Workshop revolutionizes new home consumer research

As its slogan “You are the Blueprint” attests, National Homes takes homebuyer feedback seriously when planning its homes and communities.

Always an industry innovator, the company has now revolutionized the concept of traditional focus groups and consumer research with the National Homes Blueprint Workshop, a ground-breaking event that explored how homeowners feel about their homes, how they live in them, and what type of design, features and technology they believe will improve their lives.

The January Blueprint Workshop brought together creative design thinkers with dozens of past and potential future National Homes buyers of varied ages and demographics. They gathered in the IBM Innovation Space at Venture Labs in Markham, along with National Homes staff, designers, architects, engineers and partner leaders for a THINKTANK dedicated to new homes. Students from York University’s Schulich School of Business real estate master’s program also participated.

They broke into four small groups with partner leaders to engage in discussions, presentations and interviews. IBM helped to design and facilitate the workshop.

When IBM’s expertise in human-centred design indicates that the conversation is less about features and functions, and more about users and outcomes, businesses are more successful. It’s about understanding what matters to clients, how they see the world and getting to know them.

“With a typical focus group, people are sitting behind a screen or mirror with a facilitator and it’s structured,” says Deena Pantalone, director of marketing innovation and managing partner for National Homes. “This was more relaxed and comfortable. Rather than asking things such as, ‘Which interior finish do you like,’ we discussed generally how it feels to live in a house.”

The workshop’s purpose was to provide in-depth insight into homebuyers’ needs and desires, to further research and development efforts to position National Homes as a builder that values innovation and is responsive to its customers.

The day delved into the homeowner experience beyond bricks and mortar, explored new technology and time-saving solutions, as well as how to make the homebuying experience unique. It explored the idea of community, looking not just solely at homeowners’ needs, but what their parents and children might need as well.

Participants were selected based on responses to a survey sent to registrants from National Homes’ communities, along with current homeowners.

Partner leaders included Karl Vredenburg, Director IBM Design Worldwide Client Programs and head of IBM Studios Canada; Professor James McKellar, Associate Dean External Relations and Director of the Brookfield Centre in Real Estate and Infrastructure at the Schulich School of Business; Raphael Wong and Matt Lennan of ThoughtWire, a leading Canadian digital intelligence company; Jenna Zaza of The Interactive Abode, a technology company that allows purchasers to virtually decorate their new homes and make finishing selections online; Jason Disher, Logan Stewart, Tyler Balding and Yonnas Tecle of Panasonic, a company that makes state-of-theart home products; and Bob Storey, Andreas C. Leuth and Greg Jefferies of Sto Canada Ltd., a leader in high-performance building cladding options.

“Innovation has always been a staple of our corporate foundation,” says Pantalone. “I’ve travelled to leading international cities where this type of research is being carried out. We want to anticipate homeowner problems and provide solutions by thinking ahead. We want to provide futuristic homes that are affordable.”

Workshop participants got a glimpse into some of the future possibilities. For example, ThoughtWire has changed the way people act with their built environment with its software. It has played a transformative role in digitizing healthcare facilities, speeding up workflow and improving patient experience with automation and real-time interactions between medical staff, systems and devices. For instance, patients can control the temperature in their rooms, medical personnel get real-time patient information on their devices and elevators can be programmed so food carts delivering patient meals won’t be delayed. Some of this technology can be adapted for residential use.

Panasonic might be best known for home entertainment products in Canada, but the company has a comprehensive lineup of home-related products and builds entire new home communities in Japan. Participants learned about the Shimau Principle – the art of space and harmony where everything is in its rightful place. Panasonic offers comprehensive storage and organization solutions. Developed in Japan, where people live in smaller spaces, the solutions are a great fit for condos — or any home — as many homeowners do not utilize space to its best advantage.

Attendees got to see, touch and feel EcoShapes from Sto Canada, a product that has been used in Europe for more than 30 years but is new to Canada. It reduces energy costs, provides a higher R-value and reduces the home’s carbon footprint. Sto’s forward-thinking products contribute to creating a superior energy-efficient home.

Zaza, founder of The Interactive Abode, explained how pop culture, online sites and TV shows inspired development of her interactive software that allows purchasers the time to research and make decisions about their new home selections from the comfort of their own homes. It uses photo-realistic renderings to take the guesswork out of decisions between standard or upgrade options and allows buyers to visualize how colour selections and finishes will look in their new residence. Zaza says in the last five years, sales centres have incorporated software that helps with homebuying, but the process was lacking in the design studio. Zaza brought four laptops for workshop participants to try the online design studio for themselves.

Pantalone is excited about the possibilities the Blueprint Workshop offered and sees this as the springboard for more collaborative sessions with homeowners and other partners to transform the builder-buyer relationship.

“Our slogan, ‘You Are the Blueprint,’ means something to us as a company,” she said. “This will allow us to take our relationship with our purchasers to a whole new level and create a more meaningful buying and living experience for them.”

National Homes looks forward to offering some of their latest “bright ideas” at upcoming new home communities in 2018 and 2019 including Markham, Bradford, Brampton, Courtice and Burlington.

National Homes returns to Bradford with Phase 2 of The Forest, featuring elegant homes and stunning architecture.
National Homes returns to Bradford with Phase 2 of The Forest, featuring elegant homes and stunning architecture.


Visit National Homes online for more information and to register for previews before the public openings in communities in Markham, Bradford, Brampton, Courtice and Burlington.



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Cover Story: Bear Creek Ridge

Cover Story: Bear Creek Ridge

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Cover Story: Bear Creek Ridge

Pratt Homes addresses pent-up demand for new freehold homes and condos in Barrie

It was a long time coming in Barrie, and Pratt Homes has addressed the pent-up demand for new freehold homes and condos by launching sales at Bear Creek Ridge in October 2017. This new family neighbourhood is located at the corner of Salem and Essa Roads, in the southwest section of Barrie.

Phase 1 freehold detached homes and towns are 90 per cent sold. Phase 1 condos have had a fantastic reception, and are approximately 40 per cent sold. The phase 2 release saw another large portion of homes snatched up buy purchasers. It’s safe to say, purchasers are very enthusiastic about the Barrie new home market.

Why buy in Barrie? The prices are substantially lower than the GTA, the deposit structure is substantially lower for the majority of builders in Ontario, the sizes of the homes are far greater for what you pay than anything south of Barrie, plus the lifestyle is incredible.

Towns start from the mid-$400,000s; detached from the low-$600,000s; and condos from the mid $200,000s. Compare that with GTA prices, and the value is incredible.

Pratt Homes offers deposit structures unlike anything you’ve seen in the GTA. For towns and condos, simply pay $1,000 on signing; $4,000 in 30 days; $5,000 in 60 days; $5,000 in 90 days; $5,000 in 120 days; and $5,000 in 150 days. For detached homes and classic towns, pay $5,000 on signing; $5,000 in 30 days; $10,000 in 60 days; $10,000 in 90 days; and $10,000 in 120 days.

Condominium bachelor/bachelorette suites range in size up to a 1,454-square-foot three-bedroom, two bath layout. Enjoy secure underground parking and balconies that enable barbecuing. Metro Towns (with garages) and Euro Towns (with European-style carports) are all three storeys, have two- and three-bedroom options with dens, private balconies, and are fully above ground. Fully detached homes range in size from 1,900 to 3,000 square feet.

This location is sensational. Residents will live around the corner from the Holly Recreation Centre, which has ice rinks, pools, gyms and a full schedule of activities. The community is also a 10-minute drive to the downtown core, where residents can enjoy an eclectic selection of restaurants and nightlife. Four swimmable beaches with walking trails along the waterfront beckon with opportunities to commune with nature. Plus, the GO station makes it convenient for commuters to get to their destinations from downtown.

Southwest Barrie is a mere 45 minutes to the Greater Toronto Area, and is a similar distance north to skiing at Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Muskoka’s cottage country, and the largest freshwater beach in the world at Wasaga Beach. In addition, avid golfers know the Barrie area for some of the best courses anywhere.

The new phase 3 release is early February 2018 and will include additional 29-foot detached homes, the more affordable Metro and Euro Town collection and the coveted and ever desirable Classic Towns with 9-foot ceilings, a garage and private backyards!

At Bear Creek Ridge, Pratt Homes is offering completely new designs featuring dynamic exteriors that range in style from traditional to modern, and even hybrid, for distinctive streetscapes. The Bear Creek Ridge Community will be unlike any other neighbourhood in Simcoe County.

Pratt Homes has been building fine new residential communities in Barrie for six generations, since 1890. Over the past few months, Pratt Homes developed and released its new brand evolution from “Barrie’s Largest Builder since 1890” to designing homes and neighbourhoods with the stages of family life cycles in mind, paying meticulous attention to beauty and functionality as well as ensuring they offer a home size for every stage of the family life cycle.

In addition, Pratt Homes offers Ontario’s first virtual reality Model Home tours inside the Bear Creek Ridge Office. The Virtual Reality experience gives you the opportunity to walk through and get a feeling for your new home instead of just seeing a blackline drawing.

The Bear Creek Sales Office will be opening Saturday, February 10th, 2018. Visit the Bear Creek Ridge Sales Office, located at 241 Essa Road, Unit 3 in Barrie, just off Highway 400. The Sales Office is open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and from noon to 5 p.m. weekends and holidays.

(705) 719-6669



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Cover Story: MORE is MORE

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Cover Story: MORE is MORE

Personality, not square footage, drives this design

By Vicky Sanderson • Photography By Asa Weinstein

Asked if executing maximalist design in small spaces is particularly challenging, Meredith Heron shrugs.

Two stools are tucked under the table (made by Heron’s mother) in the foyer also serve as extra seating at the dining table.

All it really takes, explains the Toronto-based designer, is extremely close attention to the scale, depth, and height of furniture, an appreciation of architectural constraints, an ability to weave pattern and texture through window treatments, seating, and rugs in a layered tonal palette, and the deft blending of art and accessories into an interesting, personally meaningful, and handsome mix.

Simple, right?

Heron’s own economically-sized Victorian home in downtown Toronto, less than 1,000 square feet and with a living/ dining area just nine feet wide and 21 feet long, accomplishes all that effortlessly, proving that small spaces are not necessarily best served by unrelenting understatement.


“Of course, there are personality types that thrive in a minimalist environment. Those are not my people,” says Heron, who shares the home with life/work partner, Asa Weinstein, and their son Luke, eight.

“I could not put three things in a room—of any size—and call it done. Besides, that’s not how people live. Where do guys put their pocket change and keys? A maximalist style makes it easier to disguise clutter, which is always going to happen.”


Heron, who bought the house with Weinstein 14 years ago, explains that a clumsy 1970s renovation had, among other things, hidden original mouldings under a drywall ceiling that gobbled up about 12 inches of the room’s 11-foot height.

Dining chairs are covered in fabric designed by Meredith Heron through JF Fabrics

The water-damaged original moulding underneath was completely replaced, except for the original medallion in the foyer. “We liked that it looked old, and wanted to keep that charm and speak to the antiquity of the house.” Vinyl floors were replaced with in herringbone oak.


The colour conversation for this space starts with walls washed in Benjamin Moore’s Full Moon 2119-70

The colour conversation for this space starts with walls washed in Benjamin Moore’s Full Moon. Technically an off white, it has enough pigment that it’s “heading toward pale blue or iris,” and is well-suited to silver, purple, and periwinkle tones, says Heron.

A Thomas O’Brien chair from Century Furniture in soft-blue leather provides extra seating.

Hints of purple and cornflower blue turn up in the sofa, custom-made by Gresham House to ensure that it did not exceed 33 inches front to back (standard is 36 inches).

“We worked really hard to minimize the guts of the back to allow for the maximum seat depth,” says Heron. “That’s one of the benefits of working with people who can customize within a framework—it doesn’t really have to add to the cost.”

Decorative boxes hide everything from toothpicks to candles and lighters on a glass coffee table that allows the eye to follow the pattern without interruption.


The piece is covered in a Bargello (flame) stitch in a family-friendly Crypton fabric that Heron thinks is assertive but not aggressive.

“People think they should not put a busy pattern on a sofa, so they put a tiny Herringbone or fretwork woven fabric. But the patterns are often way too small and they just make the piece seem dinkier and too traditional.”

Plaster mouldings are a more ornate design than would have been seen more frequently in Victorian homes in New York rather than sedate Toronto.

Patterns on pillows for the sofa both play with scale and connect with other elements in the room. Tones of the embroidery on a pillow with a modern Greek-key design echo the sofa, for example, while the grey on the back of the Robert Allen burnt-velvet leopard print, which Heron uses “all the time, in every project,” is a colour cousin to the draperies.

“All those tone together, so that it’s all quite complementary. That kind of sliding scale makes your eye move across the room, and makes it seem bigger,” she says.

A sofa tucks neatly into the space, while a pair of vintage Vladimir Kagan chairs “soften” an angular bay window.

Pattern, says Heron, can be “your best friend” in a small space, if kept within a consistent colour palette. Here, the living room rug is a bold trellis in an anchoring blue of Heron’s own design, which she favoured in part because “when you put a grid down on the floor, your eye follows the pattern and it spreads out and (space) seems bigger.”


There are lots of personal touches, including piles of books, and a crowd of photographs of family and friends on an entranceway table. Art includes a print of a photograph taken of a very young Luke on a beach, the sunny blue of his gingham shirt mirroring lampshades that sit opposite.


Storage that is “really well thought-out” will be key in a small space, says Heron, who designed a shallow buffet/bar console to provide a crucial 12 inches of storage. Made from printed acrylic sheeting from fabricator Lumigraf on a plywood-box construction, it was built by a “brilliant” cabinetmaker who was bedevilled—but not defeated—by the intricate bevelling she requested.


Heron, who says good lighting is always a worthwhile splurge, prefers “over scale, dramatic lighting” in small spaces, especially those with higher ceilings. In the dining area, Heron likes that a large, spikey bronze fixture “feels like sculpture rather than sparkle.”

“A lot of people think that removing personality makes a space feel bigger and brighter and more open. But no matter what size your house is, it needs to reflect you. If it doesn’t, you are lying to yourself. And to everyone else, that is not who you are.”

SOURCES Most items were sourced through Meredith Heron Design LIVING ROOM: RUG: Ellwood through Meredith Heron Design, Thomas O’Brien CHAIR: Century Furniture CHANDELIER: Arteriors through Meredith Heron DINING ROOM: Dining CHAIRS FABRIC PATTERN designed by Meredith Heron through JF Fabrics LIGHTING FIXTURES: Kelly Wearstler through Meredith Heron FOYER: Hide RUG from Meredith Heron Collection

Designer and television host Meredith Heron characterizes her work as an extensive conversation with colour, form, pattern and texture. meredithheron.com


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Editor's Choice: Pratt Homes

Cover Story: Editor’s Choice: Pratt Homes

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Cover Story: Editor’s Choice: Pratt Homes

The story behind the builder of Bear Creek Ridge in Barrie

Don Pratt is a Barrie boy, born and raised. Barrie is a thriving real estate market located 45 minutes north of Toronto. Much like the previous generations of his family, Don spent the majority of his life in construction in the Barrie area then passed the family building legacy on to his daughter Karen Pratt-Hansen and son-in-law Heljar Hansen.

Don recounts a grade school memory of being surrounded by peers as his teacher asked questions about career dreams. As the teacher went through the questions, Don didn’t raise his hand. The teacher asked him directly, “What do you want to do Don?” He simply responded “I want to build homes.”

The Pratt family has been building homes in Barrie since 1890 but Pratt Homes was founded by Don in the early 1970s. At the heart of the company is building attractive and affordable homes to help people achieve homeownership.

Heljar Hansen and Karen Pratt-Hansen with their children.
Heljar Hansen and Karen Pratt-Hansen with their children.

The Pratt family legacy began when Stephen Pratt emigrated from England in 1890 and constructed two houses in the Cundles Heights area of Barrie. Don was inspired by his family history and when he took over the family business in the mid 1970s, he evolved from building houses to creating communities.

Don and his wife Chris started Pratt Homes in their basement. They created a logo and began a new legacy and now Pratt Homes is the largest homebuilder in Barrie. To this day, Pratt Homes continues to be a family business that creates meaningful communities while supporting industries, families, charities and organizations.

Karen and Heljar sit in the boardroom at Pratt Homes’ Head Office. The entire office is meticulously designed including photography from Peter Lik in every room. There is a gorgeous reclaimed barn wood table; wood acquired from the Pratt family farm. As you enter the boardroom you’re greeted by a picture called “Sacred Sunrise” taken of Cayonlands National Park in Utah. The photograph commands your attention.

The pair are positioned beside each other prepared to recollect memories of the pinnacle moments that built the foundation for The Pratt Hansen Group.


Karen Pratt-Hansen has a proud demeanor when discussing her childhood in construction. “The family has always been in construction. It’s been my life. It’s what I know,” she says.

Karen remembers her mom as the chief cook and bottle washer who kept things on track.

“My mom was an integral part of Pratt Homes as well as teaching me about business,” says Karen. “She showed me how to dress professionally because a Pratt Homes representative must care about their presentation.”

When Karen and her brother were younger, they asked for a withdrawal from the bank of dad. The result was different than anticipated. “Mom and dad gathered up cleaning materials, put us in the car, stopped at one of our model homes and said they’d be back once it was clean.”

The Pratts had a family tradition: they children were first to view new model homes. They proudly they walked through the home their dad built, praised the gorgeous decorating their mom did and then played in the kids room.

Karen remembers her parents steering her towards the family business. “Even when I was thinking about practicing law, my parents encouraged me to be a real estate lawyer.”


Karen embarked upon a journey most students can only dream of and attended university in Australia, majoring in law. During her schooling Karen met her future husband, Heljar Hansen, a Norwegian descendant who obtained his Australian residency to get his MBA and minor in computer sciences.

Unfortunately, in early 2002 Heljar lost his mother and Heljar and Karen went to Norway for the funeral. “It was a very sad time for my family. We honoured and celebrated my mother’s life.” says Heljar.

While in Norway, Karen received a call from her parents sending their condolences and asking if they could stop in Barrie on their way back to Australia; Karen and Heljar agreed. It was during the stopover that Don and Chris Pratt announced that retirement was on the horizon and Karen, Heljar and Karen’s brother should be their successors.

“We were both thinking about living in Australia. Karen had applied for her residency and I already had mine. We weren’t considering moving to Barrie and running the business.” says Hansen.

“I loved living overseas but I missed my family,” Karen says. “I missed Barrie. It was my home.”

Karen wanted to put down roots where her family created a legacy. Karen and Heljar made the decision together; they would take the risk and return to Canada.


Heljar and Karen moved to Barrie in November, 2002. Heljar remembers it well — it snowed for five straight months. They returned home on Friday and Monday started at Pratt Homes. Don drove Heljar to the construction site and introduced him to the site superintendent. “Meet my son-in-law, teach him about building,” Don said. Judging by the look on the super’s face, Heljar was positive Don hadn’t informed him until that moment.

“When we came back from Australia, we were learning the business. Dad was still running things. The goal was to take over but we didn’t want the learning curve to be too much,” recalls Pratt- Hansen. Karen and Heljar wanted to ensure the ownership transition didn’t have a negative impact on the business.

“We jumped into the deep end of the pool,” Heljar continues. “We knew we could handle the challenge, we’re not afraid of hard work but to be honest, we felt overwhelmed.” The family worked together to make the transition as seamless as possible.”

Karen learned to manage the business while Heljar was learning construction. They then worked with the sales manager, learning the system that drives the entire machine.

“In the early years we did everything,” notes Karen. “During the week we were at head office, on the weekend at the sales office handing out brochures.”

“We even cleaned houses before predelivery inspections,” Heljar adds.

It took under two years for the Pratt-Hansens to transition ownership of the family business to the Pratt Hansen Group.


Karen and Heljar are leading Pratt Homes during exciting times. The company is designing a new product line, preparing to launch new communities and just released their new brand.

“The fact that the brand has evolved says something about the business because we’ve changed,” Heljar says.

Karen had a great attachment to the previous logo because her dad created it, but she has confidence. “The way the community has embraced our new direction has given me great comfort.”

Karen and Heljar are doing things the Pratt-Hansen way. “We love change. We love doing things new, different and better,” Karen says. “That has been a philosophy of ours but it was different when we evolved the brand. The logo was a foundation of what previous generations built before us.”

“But just because the logo changes doesn’t mean the foundation changes. We’re an innovative company that makes fresh new changes but we also believe in tradition,” Heljar adds.

The Pratt family legacy has become the Pratt-Hansen family legacy. Karen and Heljar hope their kids will continue the family business. Both kids attend community opening and closing events as well as clean homes before predelivery inspections. When it comes to the next generation of Pratt Homes, the preparation work is happening with mom and dad’s help.

“We can only hope. We’re not going to force them, but hopefully they’ve seen what we do and what we’ve done,” says Heljar. “We’ll support them in whatever they want to do but hopefully they want to build.”

Karen feels similarly. “I think, like us, they may go off in their own directions and pursue their own paths, but if, one day, they get a feeling in their gut and remember what it was like to be a part of what we’ve done, we hope they come home to the family business.”


Pratt Homes has just released for sale Bear Creek Ridge, a family neighbourhood in southwest Barrie. This release of freehold towns, freehold detached and condominiums — priced from the mid $200,000s — is the first look at Pratt Homes’ newly designed floorplans and exteriors. In Bear Creek Ridge, Pratt Homes has blended together traditional, modern and hybrid exterior designs creating Barrie’s most visually stunning community. So far, purchasers are thrilled to see the fresh new look and are quickly buying up the new homes.

Visit BearCreekRidge.ca for floor plans and prices.

Coming in 2018, Pratt Homes will be releasing an incredibly innovative community called Bistro 6, Culinary Inspired Condo Living. Bistro 6 will be located inside Pratt Homes’ newest neighbourhood, Hewitt’s Gate.


Go online to register and to find out more about all of Pratt Homes’ communities.



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