LISTING 150 Douglas Dr., Toronto
ASKING PRICE $4,295,000
TAXES $17,976.96 (2017)
LOT SIZE 40 by 138.16 feet
LISTING AGENT Gillian Oxley, salesperson, and Joseph Robert, broker, Royal LePage Terrequity, Oxley Robert Real Estate, Brokerage
Here's one thing you won't find in Dana Jones's Rosedale home: WiFi.
The radio waves that commonly connect all of our devices are not present in 150 Douglas Dr. Instead, Ms. Jones has hard-wired Internet connections where they are needed.
"Your home environment is as integral to your health as are your food and lifestyle choices," said Ms. Jones, who is a student of healthy living – including reading up on lesser-known areas such as "electrical pollution" and their suspected impact on human health.
So, when she purchased the three-storey, six-bedroom home in 2010, she knew she wanted to make it a "healthy home."
Unlike "green homes" that focus on the health of the environment by minimizing energy use, healthy homes are about human health and reducing any toxic components. Common healthy renovations involve water and air-filtration systems, but Ms. Jones knew that she wanted to commit to the concept when she found 150 Douglas Dr.
"We knew we would be renovating," Ms. Jones said. "I wanted a traditional house built in a way to minimize exposure to toxicity."
During their first year in the house, she and her husband hired a team, including architect Stuart Watson of Drawing Room Architect Inc. and healthy-homes consultant Anne Stewart.
"As with a lot of houses in Toronto, the front part was not too bad, but the rear had been butchered," Mr. Watson said, describing the old addition as a "terrible" stucco box measuring 10 feet deep by 20 feet wide.
"You couldn't furnish or do anything with it," he added. "Plus, it destroyed the cottage charm that the rest of the house had from the outside."
In its place, Mr. Watson's team build an L-shaped addition that restored the Arts and Crafts detailing to the exterior and allowed for bigger windows and much more breathing space for furniture.
The room that saw the biggest change thanks to this addition was the master bedroom. Previously, it was long and narrow with screened in windows, Ms. Jones said. Now, it's its own suite occupying the back half of the second floor, complete with cathedral ceilings
in the sleeping quarters, a separate dressing room and a four-piece bathroom overlooking a private deck.
Other areas that Mr. Watson redesigned during the renovations were the front entrance, which involved removing some 45-degree angled walls, adding storage and reproportioning the front rooms to create a formal foyer and a grand centre hall.
"It was a combination of trying to solve these practical lifestyle problems while creating beautiful spaces on the inside and beautiful façade at the rear," he said.
For Ms. Stewart's part, her work focused on the technical side of the renovation, including helping pick out water-filtration systems with reverse osmosis as well as installing a whole-house dehumidifier.
The biggest part of her work was around the house's wiring.
"In the whole electrically related field [of the philosophy of healthy homes], there are a lot precautionary principles," she said. "It's at the opposite end of evidence-base because it's very difficult to do any double-blind studies or trials to prove that electrical interference causes health harm because you don't want to expose people to high rates of electrical field."
However, in an effort to reduce any potential harm, Ms. Stewart made sure the house was rid of any faulty or knob-and-tube wiring, replacing it with shielded wiring that are positioned in "single-runs."
For example, in bedrooms at 150 Douglas, the electrical wiring only runs along one side of the room and it's not the wall where the bed is.
"Because that's where you recharge. It's a time of healing and a time when you don't want any exterior influences," Ms. Stewart said.
Both Ms. Stewart and Ms. Jones stressed that building a healthy home is about doing what you can.
"Of course, you have to compromise here and there," Ms. Jones said while explaining that the house is, of course, still insulated even though insulation contains fire-retardant chemicals. With Ms. Stewart's help, they devised a workaround by ensuring the walls
were fully sealed.
This kind of commitment to the healthy-home philosophy did require a lot of Ms. Jones's patience and extra costs.
"It just made the whole process a little longer because at every stage you added a couple of steps to ensure the healthy living," said her real estate agent, Gillian Oxley.
All of these extra elements did factor into how Ms. Oxley determined the listing price of 150 Douglas.
"We looked at this house as an entire package," she said. "I think this house is so forward-looking.… You can talk to somebody about [the healthy features], but … you won't recognize the benefits till living here."
Keeping in theme, the house also features a lush backyard with a few elevated gardening boxes, where Ms. Jones and her two daughters cultivate their own organic vegetables, such as kale, Swiss chard and kohlrabi, with compost they produce.
"It's so beautiful and it's functional," Ms. Jones said. "And it's great for the kids and quite private."
Ms. Jones knows some people think she is a "flake" for actualizing the principles of a healthy home. But she has no regrets.
"I had an opportunity, so I took advantage of it and I'm really happy with what we did," she said.