TORONTO -- For years, two ramshackle garages sat slowly decaying on a 25-foot by 25-foot piece of land in the area of Queen and Parliament streets in Toronto’s east-end. But, when the land went up for sale jewelry designers Michael Humphries and Julie Dyck knew they had found a diamond in the rough. 

“We’d definitely call that a lucky accident,” Humphries said, speaking to CTV News Toronto.

“We were living on Queen Street and our property backed onto this property and so when it came up for sale, just privately with a sign, we knew instantly it made sense for us to buy it”.


After purchasing the property for $50,000 the couple envisioned a small studio workspace for their jewelry business. It wasn’t until architect and friend Drew Hauser got involved that the true potential of the site came to life.

“Our place on Queen looked directly onto St. Paul’s Basilica and the tower is a square tower," Dyck said. “We could take inspiration from that and build a smaller, square tower.”

What they came up with is a five-storey, 2200-square-foot, modern home combined with their ground floor jewelry workspace. 

“What we were really excited about at the time we started this project was contemporary houses and architecture that we were seeing in magazines and starting to see around this city and other cities,” Humphries said.


Walking into 8 Trefann Street visitors will immediately be struck by the warmth of their surroundings. In fact their feet will feel it first. All the floors in the home are polished, heated concrete and what might seem like a cold industrial flooring option, takes on a warm buttery smoothness that makes you want to spend all your time in the home barefoot.

The marble that clads both the kitchen and master bathroom of the $2,250,000 property may seem familiar to Torontonians because for years it made up the exterior of First Canadian Place, the skyscraper at the corner of King and Bay streets.


“I actually found it on Kijiji,” Dyck said. “They were piling it on a farm in Markham and selling it. The harder part was figuring out how to get it cut and refinished because it had glue and they’d tried a bunch of different ways to keep it fastened to the building over the years so it was in pretty rough shape”.

Apart from being a major focal point of the home, the staircase also had a unique architectural beginning. 

“It’s wood from the bottom of Georgian Bay,” Dyck said. “There’s logs that have been preserved by the cold water and they bring them up to the surface and dry them out and they use them for the tables and chairs and 48 stair treads and 4 landings”.


One of the favourite parts of the home for Humphries and Dyck is the large fifth floor terrace, with its panoramic views of the city and St. Paul’s Basilica—all of which can be enjoyed while soaking in the outdoor hot tub. 


The couple feels that this is their “urban oasis”. “We run up here for coffee in the morning, we stay up here all day,” Dyck said. 

Humphries advice for other would-be dream home builders?

“If you can find the land, don’t feel constrained by a small footprint because if you’re in the right spot you can do a lot with that”.