Ahead of the Pack

A winning mix of family life and luxury amenities define designer Miriam Manzo’s dream home.

When Vaughan, Ont.-based designer Miriam Manzo was ready to build her dream house, and a three-acre lot in an older pocket of the city came on the market, she didn’t hesitate. With trees covering the acreage, it was the perfect site to build her custom home. “I was ready,” she says. “I had designed a floor plan five years prior to finding the property. My husband, Emilio Manzo, is a builder, developer and contractor, and between the two of us, I knew we could make this the home we’d been waiting for.” The first thing she did was scrap her original floor plan and completely revise her design to better suit the property’s 300-foot-wide frontage. She then walked the land to decide which trees to keep and clear. “I had initially thought we’d put up a 6,000-square-foot house, but after working with the architect and taking my plans into consideration, we settled on a five-bedroom, 7,800-square-foot home with a 3,000-square-foot basement with almost 12-foot ceilings.”

cozy living room with build in fire place and wall mirror

Manzo, who runs a home-staging business alongside her design firm, had several must-haves on her wish list. “I knew I wanted nanny quarters, a home gym, a bar and wine cellar for more than 1,000 bottles, a theatre, and a catering kitchen in the basement,” she says. “And I wanted to create ‘his’ and ‘hers’ spaces, not just ‘his’ and ‘hers’ closets. There are two sets of garages — one for my husband and the kids and their stuff and one for me. We also have separate offices and bathrooms. I need order, so this eliminates a lot of anxiety for both of us.”

modern dining room with ceiling crown moulding and dining table    beautiful kitchens with ceiling decor and wooden floor

When it came time to design the interior, Manzo kept true to her style, opting for a very clean, traditional look with classical elements that’s light and airy — something with staying power. She incorporated French doors, panelled walls and archways. “I use antique mirrors that reflect the outdoors throughout, and I love bringing in detail. I’m all about decorative ceilings,” she says. “I add layers of decor and details to rooms, and I really believe that if a room is well done, it should be beautiful even before it’s furnished.”

Manzo spared no detail in designing her dream home. “I want everyone who visits to be comfortable.” Each bedroom has its own bathroom; the nanny suite has a separate laundry room; there is an elevator and a fully accessible bathroom in the guest suite. One of Manzo’s favourite spaces are the butler pantry, where she keeps her espresso maker, tea drawer and wine fridge (stocked with Champagne), and where she displays her cherished antique Limoges china. Manzo’s quite fond of the yard — not only does it have a cabana and several outdoor living areas, there are also fountains and formal gardens of boxwoods, roses and hydrangeas, which make a beautiful backdrop for her annual mother-daughter dinner parties.

amazing patio design ideas    old wood oven in custom timeless kitchen

The family has lived in this palatial home for seven years and, as much as she adores her abode, Manzo says it will be time to move and build her next place in five to 10 years. “This is definitely my dream home, but I knew it wouldn’t be my last home. My three children are almost grown and the house is too big for just my husband and me,” she says. “I truly believe this is a family home and should be enjoyed by families.”

Photography by Larry Arnal