Custom-home builder Robert Di Toro and architectural designer Marin Zabzuni are men of many talents, including building and designing this incredibly striking estate in Vaughan.
By Lisa van de Geyn
Photography by DiGenova Media and One House

Any custom-home builder worth their salt will admit that it’s risky to build a large custom home on spec, but for Robert Di Toro, president of Stonebrooke Homes, the risk he took with this palatial abode paid off in spades. It was February 2020 when Di Toro started to construct this powerfully grand estate in Woodbridge, Ont. The 10,000-square foot mansion would be built on an oversized lot on a quiet street that backs onto The Country Club golf course. “I purchased the property with the intention of creating something truly unique and luxurious. I wanted it to be monumental yet timeless. I envisioned something extravagant and so extraordinary that the average custom-home builders don’t typically dare to build on spec,” says Di Toro. For a builder who’s been in the business for many years, Di Toro wasn’t afraid to take a leap — he knew he had the expertise and longevity in the industry to pull off a build of this magnitude.

“I knew it could be risky, but I also knew it could be very rewarding if it was flawlessly designed, well planned out and fully executed in terms of excellence and production skills. “I knew it would be a complex build, but I’m confident in myself, my passion for high-end design, creativity and attention to fine detail, and I knew it would be awe-inspiring and that once completed, finding the right family who would be seeking a custom home of this calibre wouldn’t be an issue, because it would be so unique and one of a kind.”

Upon starting the massive undertaking, Di Toro brought in architectural designer Marin Zabzuni, the founder and owner of design firm Contempo Studio. “We met years ago and have created a good working relationship. We connected because Robert saw one of our designs in Kleinburg — a luxurious, transitional chateau design we did. He really loved the lines, ideas and proportions we created,” says Zabzuni. “One of my favourite exterior styles comes from Parisian architecture and that neo-classic feel. I’m inspired by objects and shapes that are symmetrical and that flow,” Di Toro adds.

The goal for this build was to design a modern- transitional chateau with European influences that would be timeless and fresh. “We worked on the layout first and settled on very clean lines, polished limestone panels, bigger aluminum windows, modern parapet details, DaVinci grey slate roof shingles and we did four garages on the right side of the house, so when you drive in, the façade feels extremely powerful,” Zabzuni says. “It actually looks bigger than it is, which was the feeling of grandeur we wanted to convey.”

The interior is no different than the exterior when it comes to evoking that striking presence Di Toro seamlessly planned and executed. “I spend countless hours onsite in each of my custom home creations, in the bare bones of each living space as my homes are under construction, and each space is a blank canvas for me to envision what I feel that I want to create. These rooms are then magically transformed into bespoke interiors by a hand-selected team of the most celebrated and elite craftsmen,” he says. “My inspiration comes from art deco, classic and timeless architecture. I also find a great deal of my inspiration comes from the interiors of luxurious world-renowned five-star hotels — from their lobbies, suites, bars, restaurants, terraces, washrooms, elevators and all their amazing amenities. I absorb all this inspiration and incorporate bits and pieces of this luxe hotel experience into my custom home creations.”

To bring this one-of-a-kind masterpiece to life, Di Toro drew on his knowledge of flawlessly combining a variety of materials, such as glass, stone, metal, fabrics and wood. Take the art deco-inspired chef’s kitchen — it was beautifully executed, and features an oversized art deco fluted hood fan, stone counters, custom stone fabricated LED wall sconces on the backsplash and brass inlay details on the glass cabinetry. The main floor also has a formal dining room (which was also done using a mix of materials, including patterned wood flooring, detailed wall panelling and ceiling moulding), a family room, home office, mudroom, great room and guest powder room. The estate boasts a three-stage elevator, heated flooring throughout, floor-to-ceiling windows for optimum natural light and an oversized custom-designed double front door with etched glass for privacy.

On the second floor, each of the four well appointed bedrooms has a private ensuite. The principal bedroom is a true retreat and features a comfortable living room, fireplace, spacious his-and-hers closets and even a 1,000-square foot deck that overlooks the backyard. The lower level is a marvel, with a theatre room outfitted with fabric wall panelling and plush carpeting for perfect acoustics, a 120-inch screen and projector, surround sound and built-in wall speakers that offer a true theatre experience. There’s also a fitness room, a steam and sauna room for relaxation, a walk-in pantry, safe room, a 500-bottle white-oak temperature-controlled walk-in wine cellar and a suite perfect for a nanny or guests.

“My inspiration comes from art deco, classic and timeless architecture.

Step outside and you’re immediately in awe of the formal landscaped gardens lined with lush beechwood trees and boxwood shrubs. There’s a covered entertaining area complete with firepit and grilling station, as well as a saltwater pool and pool house that has a full wet bar, built-in beverage fridge, change room and a three-piece restroom. All exterior terraces, walkways, porches, stairs and driveways are outfitted with snowmelt technology.

Throughout the designing and building, Di Toro says he felt this estate would best serve a family who likes entertaining — a larger family with young kids who need features and finishes in their space that they can really use and enjoy, outdoor entertaining and outdoor kitchen, the saltwater pool, a true theatre room experience, an executive home office, a formal dining room, the nanny quarters and a children’s home study room to just name a few. He was right. The family who ultimately ended up falling in love with this elegant and exclusive abode nearly two years after the build began is a couple with young kids who moved in with a set of grandparents in tow. “This home broke record-high sales in the area within one week of being featured for sale on the market. I don’t believe in putting any of my products up for sale until every last detail is complete, from the fine interior hardware to fully manicured lawns. That’s what’s built my brand and reputation — the finished product. You can’t rush perfection.”