The Toronto couple signed up $ 2.2 million for their 5-story “tower” home so they could move to the country. Then COVID-19 hit


Julie Dyck and Michael Humphries were ahead of the pandemic when they put up for sale their custom home, a five-story live working “tower”, to sell in late January for $ 2.2 million.

They were planning on moving around the country and rebuilding – maybe something with a low, modern design in the Niagara region.

But their home on Little Trefann Street, near Queen Street and Parliament Street, didn’t sell until COVID-19 brought the housing market to a standstill. So the couple crouched down to watch the sun set over a suddenly silent city from their rooftop terrace.

Now on the other side of what Dyck calls “lockdown, disbelief, leaven and Netflix,” they’ve changed course. As others reconsider city living in favor of more space outside the city, Dyck and Humphries have re-committed to their downtown location as the base of their expanding jewelry business.

Winners was their company Jool Inc.’s biggest customer, but when COVID-19 hit, that business shut down, Humphries said.

While they wait for things to get back to normal, they have added a new concept called Ring Reno which simplifies the process of recycling gold and gemstones into modern coins. How to do this is the first thing people usually ask themselves when they find out the couple are a jeweler, Dyck said.

“The value is not always in the stones. It’s in the sentimental part of the jewelry and so we plan to help people hold onto their memories or bring them back into something they can wear again, ”she said.

It’s not that different, Dyck said, from the way they redesigned the 25-by-28-foot terrain they bought for $ 50,000 15 years ago. They replaced the old hangar there with a new steel-framed, glass-walled structure. The Carrara marble from the facade of First Canadian Place is incorporated into the countertops and wall tiles of the house. The stair treads are made from reclaimed logs from Georgian Bay.

The couple’s real estate agent Erica Reddy-Chouquette said live workspaces were a popular commodity in the COVID era. The tower house – which is zoned commercial-residential – attracted a bid that simply did not succeed. But it usually takes a little longer to find the right buyer for a unique property.

The roof of the five-story house offers views of the city and a hot tub.

Humphries and Dyck say they’re not disappointed the house didn’t sell.

He said they would still like a bigger studio and a garden. But if their business is busy, they can, in the meantime, expand their ground floor studio in the basement or garage. They don’t have a car.

“We have always enjoyed the house and built it live-work. But we really, really enjoyed being here the best we could during all the madness – just the comfort of being able to work in the studio made us mentally a lot more bearable, ”he said.

“We just crouched down and started working on samples. Honestly, it allowed us to overcome the uncertainty, ”he added. “The house is really gone for us.”



Tess Kalinowski


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