This lawyer’s light-filled home may be the best hotel in the city // Going In-House
We go inside a Victorian home with cosmopolitan decor and an endless stream of travellers
On Tuesday December 5th, 2017Print
The homeowners: Lawyer David Levangie (pictured left) and his partner Ryan Felix
Firm: Fogler, Rubinoff LLP
Area of practice: Commercial litigation
Year of call: 2009
Home profile: Three bedrooms and 3,000 square feet
When Levangie and Felix first saw the house, three years ago, they fell in love with its downtown location and its close proximity to Toronto green space. “It was just perfect,” says Levangie.
In one of David Levangie’s two guest bedrooms, the 34-year-old partner at Fogler, Rubinoff LLP has tacked a piece of paper to the wall bearing the words, “May your home always be too small to hold all your friends.” It’s a sentiment Levangie and his partner, Ryan Felix, 29, take to heart: they pack their three-storey Cabbagetown Victorian with out-of-town visitors, friends and family at every opportunity.
“We’re basically running a hotel,” says Levangie, with a laugh. Recent visitors include friends the couple has made during vacations to places like Japan, Brazil and Dubai. “We travel a lot,” says Levangie. “We’ve met a lot of people all over the place and they’ve opened their homes to us. We try to return the favour because we know how nice it is to stay with people who live in the area.”
But opening their home to travellers is only the beginning. The pair regularly holds dinner parties in the family room, dining room and kitchen. And they host big holiday parties for Felix’s large, extended family. “There are 10, 11, sometimes 12 of us and we all squeeze in here,” says Felix, who runs a company that provides design and marketing services to the non-profit sector. “It’s fun. They like being here.”
Levangie and Felix bought the house in 2014 after an intense five-month search. They were immediately drawn to the home’s Victorian details: the dormer windows and mansard roof. “We’re also close to parks,” says Levangie. “It’s green and quiet, but we’re still a 10-minute walk from the Eaton Centre. It’s a perfect balance.”
Built in 1870, the home underwent a major renovation in the ’90s. The then-owners added skylights, a pair of rooftop decks and a bright, greenhouse-like kitchen. The result is a home that’s both modern and classic.
When it comes to decor, the couple has filled the house with artifacts they’ve collected on their travels around the world. “Like the people we meet,” says Levangie, “that’s what brings our house to life.”
Greenhouse effect: On the mantelpiece in the kitchen, an array of succulents thrive, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows and massive skylights. “It’s interesting how life differs from plant to plant,” muses Levangie, lifting an air plant out of its glass terrarium. “There’s no soil in there at all. Another plant would die, but this one thrives. It’s kind of nerdy, but I liked the idea of having a range of plants that show off the different requirements for life.”
Steeped in tradition: On their travels, the couple collects new mugs and tea varieties. “Tea is sort of universal everywhere you go,” says Levangie. (Levangie favours Assam, while Felix prefers sencha.)
Family first: After Levangie logs long hours at the office — “I get home later than most, but I try to leave work at work” — he likes to unwind in the second-floor family room. Photos of the D-Day invasion pay homage to his grandfather, a World War II veteran, and his brother, who’s currently in the military and served in Afghanistan. (Levangie also spent six years in the Armed Forces before law school.) The extensive record collection makes the room a perfect place to relax. “It’s a lot of soul, R&B and classic rock,” says Felix. “We like albums you can play from start to finish.”
Home-office heroes: Levangie has decorated his home office with a pair of vintage Marvel comic books signed by legendary artist Stan Lee, which he bought at a charity auction. “Growing up, I was a big fan,” he says. “Every character has strengths and foibles.” He also owns a first edition of Captain Canuck, Canada’s answer to the Marvel heroes, which, he readily admits, isn’t worth all that much.
Tropical influence: Perhaps the most striking piece in the house is this huge Congo Rojo philodendron, which dominates the living room. The couple named the plant Angela-Lynn, after a beloved aunt and a grandmother who passed away in close succession.
Let there be light: When the couple bought the house, they accented the gilded dome in the dining room with a modern chandelier. The wine rack is made from an old wine barrel.
The view: The entrance hall features a wooden bench from Indonesia and a photo of a Brazilian favela. “We went to Brazil and absolutely loved this photo,” says Levangie. “We thought it was beautiful how they built houses right on the mountain.”
This story is from our Winter 2017 Issue.
Photography by Jason Gordon