The Ottawa Citizen
Check out this priority list to slip under the tree
It's a good thing Santa has two major
elves to help him sort through requests
for pricey goodies to put in very
Otherwise, the chubby little fellow
might throw up his hands in exasperation
and leave the wrong refrigerator by
the tree. Even this veteran Christmas
magician can't slip a restaurant-style
cooling unit under the average evergreen.
Walk-in refrigerators, similar to
the stainless-steel monsters that
chill shrimp in five-star restaurants,
are taking over luxury homes, according
to a Royal LePage listing of the top
10 must-haves for multi-million-dollar
With cocooning and home entertaining
still in vogue, well-equipped kitchens
are mandatory in high-end homes, according
to the real estate company's survey
of 14,000 agents across the country.
These kitchens have multiple ovens,
sinks and dishwashers, says Elli Davis,
a Toronto-based agent for Royal LePage
Real Estate Services who specializes
in luxury properties. The 20-year
veteran knows the luxury market. She
holds the enviable record of being
Canada's No. 1 real estate agent for
Royal Lepage for 13 years and its
top agent in Toronto.
The survey's top 10 home features
will likely be tucked into a $3-million
or $4-million home with 5,000 square
feet of real estate under one roof
because million-dollar homes are becoming,
well, too commonplace, says Davis,
who readily admits her Forest Hill
townhome is much smaller and there
is no walk-in refrigerator. But she
admits the driveway is heated and
she retreats to a country home with
husband and visiting grandchildren
"I sell these (luxury) homes,
I don't live in them," says Davis,
who is best business friends with
Marilyn Wilson, the real estate queen
of luxury homes in Ottawa.
Wilson has been connected to 20 of
the top 43 home sales topping $1 million
in Ottawa this year. "I sold
a house on Soper Place in Rockcliffe
for $3 million with a beautiful walk-in
refrigerator," she says.
The Soper Place home also boasted
seven bedrooms, nine-foot ceilings,
a theatre screening room, and rooms
for fitness and billiards, says Wilson,
who wants to add an 11th feature to
the must-have list: a doggy washing
shower, hopefully close to a back
I must admit our Kanata townhome
has a doggy washing shower. It's in
the ensuite off our master bedroom.
It's where Rocky goes after chasing
ducks across thin ice covering the
water treatment pond beside the Queensway.
It just happens to be our shower
Now, for your holiday entertainment,
here's the lineup of luxury must-haves
and some affordable Ottawa alternatives:
1 Park and lift: Luxury homeowners
spare no expense on their Lexus or
Hummer. Avid car collectors, especially
in urban homes where lots are cramped,
are maximizing their garages by installing
car lifts. Keeping a fleet of cars
roadworthy is time-consuming, don't
you know, so many of these garages
also feature indoor car washes.
Ottawa alternative: Wilson suggests
putting a hot water tap in the garage.
2 Walk-in refrigerators: Visualize
the clunky walk-in freezer in the
local butcher shop and you get the
idea, says Frank Dagenais of C.A.
Paradis on Bank Street. These insulated
cold rooms can measure six by 10 feet
and come equipped with huge fans and
a separate compressor, which can be
located in a garage. But beware: These
units are far noisier than domestic
refrigerators. They are also pricey,
averaging about $13,000 for units
with baked white enamel doors. Add
$1,200 for shelving to hold your jams
and milk, and if you are feeling really
flush, repeat the design and budget
for an adjoining walk-in freezer.
Now enough already about food and
get ready to contact Weight Watchers
3 Spa-licious: These are no ordinary
home gyms, with the elliptical trainer
doing double-duty as a hanger. The
focus is on complete health and wellness
facilities. These are professional-style
spas, with steam rooms and massage
rooms overtaking the outdated sauna
or whirlpool. Yoga and Pilates studios
are trumping stair climbers, treadmills
and rowing machines.
4 Cheers: Grand wine cellars are
often found in big homes in the Toronto
neighbourhoods of Rosedale, Forest
Hill and Westmount and in Ottawa communities
surrounding Greely, Manotick, Kanata
and, of course, Rockcliffe and Rothwell
Heights. Some pads house individual
cellars for red and white wines and
the tasting area is equipped with
sinks, comfy chairs and small tables.
"The tasting rooms are fully
decorated," says Davis.
5 At your service: It's common for
pricey condos and residential hotels
to have concierge services and staff
on duty who will fetch guests a bottle
of wine or pick up the dry cleaning.
Now rent-a-helpers are available in
Toronto neighbourhoods. Wendy Davis,
no relation to Ellie Davis, has started
Zebrano (www.Zebrano.com) in Toronto,
with a team of willing professionals
who will organize your renovation,
book a trip to Greece or deliver fresh
flowers every Friday.
Ottawa alternative: Avoid lineups
in the produce aisle by going online
to various stores, including the Glebe
Loeb at www.loebglebe.com. They deliver.
You can also buy groceries online
at onlinegrocer.ca, the countrygrocery.com,
and telegrocer.com. All of them deliver.
Drop into locations of Farm Boy and
discover the takeout counter, where
the food is magnificent, says Wilson.
6 Movie time: These are no ordinary,
pokey affairs with a couple of leather
recliners and a bowl of popcorn nearby.
Upscale media rooms rival theatres
at AMC, featuring a theatre-size screen,
surround-sound and rows of plush seats
to accommodate many friends.
Ottawa alternative: Visit CHEO's
lottery home on Tradewinds Drive and
snuggle down into the comfy sectional
sofa in the media room.
7 Wrap it up: These are specialized
rooms for hobbies. In Orlando, Florida,
fancy homes come with wrapping rooms
and shelves packed with paper and
Ottawa alternative: Enlist the gift
wrapping services of your favourite
8 Fully wired: Even homes under $1
million come with structured wiring
and video security at the front door
and beside the garage. After all,
Ottawa used to be Silicon Valley North.
9Going up: Because urban homes sit
on smaller lots, designers are installing
elevators -- or at least the space
to install one -- to accommodate residents
when they no longer want to climb
stairs. Ottawa philanthropist Shirley
Greenberg's multi-million-dollar townhome
by the Rideau Canal has five floors
and one very fancy stainless- steel
and glass elevator.
10 Heated asphalt: Forget hiring
the plowman, folks in upscale neighbourhoods
are installing heating coils under
the laneway, walk and the garage floor
so the snow melts as soon as it hits
the ground. Yippee.
Now Santa, baby, would you please
tuck a doggy shower under my tree.
Rocky's been a very good boy.
Sheila Brady is the Citizen's Homes
editor. She lives in a modest, but
pleasing townhome with husband Dave,
Hobbs, the cat and Rocky, the border
© The Ottawa Citizen