At first glance Real Housewives of Toronto star Ann Kaplan, seems like just another pretty face living life of luxury — in Toronto and abroad. You know, our typical idea of the rich and famous.
Her Bridle Path mega-mansion is a few doors down from where Drake’s future abode is under construction. And according to a quick trip to her Instagram account, she has travelled to Sydney, Brisbane, London and Honolulu — in just the past few months alone.
Judge her as you may, lady has worked hard to get to where she is — and has one of the best work ethics out of anyone I know.
The self-made millionaire is the CEO and president of iFinance Canada. She’s also the founder of Brix RCR — Canada’s first Real Estate Crowd Funding Portal and Medical Technology Portal — regulated under the Securities Acts in each province.
Kaplan has a real estate portfolio that includes seven commercial and residential investment properties in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria, and a degree in interior design (amongst other degrees) from The Design Institute of San Diego, to boot.
She’s a wife and a mother to eight kids (two were born to Kaplan’s late-sister whom she adopted after her sister’s passing), a teacup poodle Emma, and her old, frail, toothless rescue cat Puss Puss.
We caught up with Kaplan at her Bridle Path estate to pick her brain about her home, her lifestyle — and of course — her closets.
Home is ________.
Where the dog and cat can spray their territory. Where the children feel free to eat the dinner prepared for guests that night. And where you create memories, with all of the noise, the scents and the clutter. It is my sanctuary. Without it, it’s a house.
You and your family have lived here for less than a year. How many houses have you and your husband lived in prior to this? And how does this one compare?
Together, we have lived in two homes. Aside from the memories (encapsulated in the past house and in our minds), I have not looked back. I love the French-chateau feeling, the elegance … From the moment I saw the house it was “perfect.” The kitchen is a fair size … The second kitchen is slightly smaller.
What attracted you to this area?
I was and am attracted to the size of the lots. There are only 60 houses in the Bridle Path — uniquely bringing the country to the city.
The neighborhood and the neighbours invest in landscaping, taking care of their grounds (for the most part) and in keeping our area safe. It is also (so I find) quite a community and I’ve gotten to know some great people.
I’m not sure that I will ever fit in. I brought the neighbours a home-made apple pie made with apples that I picked from our own orchard. Their response, “What’s wrong with you?”
What drew you to this specific home?
I had envisioned a house that was old style. We have different homes in different locations, but the style of home that I would like to live in was elegant. I lean toward antiques and love (absolutely love) King Louis IVX furniture — very ornate, gold finish. I love colour and I love that over-the-top attention to absolutely every detail.
When I saw this house (our house), it was perfect. It is as close to being in a French chateau as I believe one could be. When the realtor (the seller) opened the door the first time, she got me on “hello.”
How would you describe the style and vibe of your home?
French Chateau. Classy. Elegant.
Did you work with an architect or designer for this home?
I’m considering working with a designer on the house, but am not totally convinced that I may not want to take the lead (having a degree in interior design).
The house was built in 1946 and two years ago it was completely renovated. What’s intriguing about it is the overhaul kept in mind the style of the house: significant detail to mouldings, doors, tile, etcetera.
There’s nothing I would change. I would only add to what is existing — including a ballroom. Seriously.
Walk us through your home.
To walk someone through our home is to start at the gates: Black with gold leaves — tall, inviting and assuming. They open to a long driveway, reminiscent of an old street, winding around the front of the house, past an apple orchard and circling a cluster of topiary bushes and beautiful, ornate fountain.
A covered area protects the entrance and invites one into a 25-foot foyer — ceilings painted like the sky. As you walk through double doors, the large, marble hallway leads you to the living areas of the main floor, including a winding staircase that goes up two floors.
The house is ornate. It is elegant. And the details … glass, bathrooms (10), bedrooms (seven) and common areas continue with the same design theme … molding, gold hardware, marble and herringbone wood pattern where there are wood floors.
The house is also open to the backyard, two acres of landscaped gardens, a large lawn and a 300-year-old oak (one that I found needs its own babysitter) looms over the gazebo. Hedges protect the tennis court and cement lions protect the pool.
It is a picture out of an old Hollywood movie. It is “Mulywood”.
Naming a home is reminiscent of Real Housewives past, like queen of the franchise Lisa Vanderpump naming her home “Villa Rossa …”
Our house is Hollywood glam. It is truly an estate home (at least I feel that way). As my husband’s last name is “Mulholland” (which is my legal last name). It seemed like a fun play on words to call our home “Mulywood.”
Talk to us about your personal style and how you went about personalizing the home.
My style is very similar to the house as it stood (and stands). I personalized it with my “we need to live in it” approach. With all due respect to cleaning up after yourself, I want the children to feel it is home they can enjoy.
Less white, more comfortable chairs and less things that just-may-break. I also like to invest in art that makes you smile. While it can still be elegant, I like it to stir emotion.
Going forward, I hope that the changes I make will bring delight. I love the house as it is, but the idea of expanding and adding to such an incredible foundation is exciting.
What are a few unique features in your home?
The house has a butler suite with its own quarters and entrance, there is an elevator, a long pantry off the kitchen. A Tibetan-type redwood den and a large — large — marble ensuite that is one of the 10 bathrooms.
One of the most interesting rooms is the powder room: black marble from floor to ceiling with gold and ceramic faucets and a hand-painted toilet and sink.
How many closets are in your home? And what’s the key to maintaining all your gowns and enviable garb?
Ahh … the closet.
In the new plans, there will be a two-level closet. But as it stands now, there is a winding, large closet with racks of shoes and racks of clothes organized by skirts, shirts, dresses, suits and pants. There’s even a jacket section and a black section.
In other areas, there is a gown closet (sectioned and each with its own suit-bag), and there’s an area for older clothes and costumes (a converted cedar sauna).
It’s not that I have too many clothes; it’s that I have too small a closet.
What’s the key to organizing a shopping girl’s closet?
I put all of my clothes in their own category/section. For example, I love skirts. My skirts are organized by colour and, within the colour section, they’re organized by length and style.
Shoes? Shoes are organized by type. (Not necessarily brand, but I do have a Louboutin section and a Valentino section.) I try to keep the more casual shoes together, the boots together and the thinner heeled shoes together.
I also have my clothes hanging in particular locations based on use. As my style is to mix skirts, shirts and then layer — those clothes are easier accessed than, say, a dress. With the accessibility, I can look at the choices and put different looks together until a decision is made.
Recently you hosted a charity event at your home, where even eTalk arrived for coverage. What’s the key to being a gracious host AND to trusting others in your space?
I love having a home that welcomes people. As the event was in our home, I did take a lot of control of the planning, the style, the food, the type of wine … I just asked that it stay elegant.
Trust? We did have security guards, but in truth, I was not too concerned that anyone would run off with the cutlery.
Within the same week of moving in, you hosted a pre-TIFF media glam party – in which I was included — and when I arrived, the house already was all set up with everything exactly in place. How were you able to pull that off?
The house already had specific pieces of furniture in it, but I had to merge an eight-bedroom house with a seven-bedroom home. I had pre-planned for the dining set to be picked up by an upholsterer. And, on the day we took possession, it was whisked off, fabric and all, to be recovered and brought back within three days.
I did have a lot of help unpacking, a large container in the front driveway (which was full) and people lined up to pick up the furniture that we did not want to keep. Cars came and went, nails were broken and everyone pitched in.
The day of the TIFF party, the container was removed, someone swept up the little scraps, a gardener cut the grass and floral arrangements arrived. I was between collapse and giddy. And wondering actually where the washroom was when someone asked me, “Oh, good question.”
What’s the first thing you do when you get in from a long day?
All my days are long. I work long, hard hours. The first thing I do is checks and balances to which kids are home. Emma (the dog) greets me (standing on hind legs). I generally head right to the kitchen and start dinner preparation, even before changing.
Fav room in the house?
I love the “house.” My favorite room would likely be the dining room – it is large and it is elegant.
What one thing can you not live without in your home?
I cannot live without my family, the more the merrier. But in my home, an item, there is not one particular thing that I covet.
Are there any “velvet rope” rooms that the kids or Emma (the dog) aren’t allowed in?
Emma runs the house. She has her routine. Aside from respecting each other’s bedrooms (space).
You always seem to be travelling, do you actually manage to spend any time at home? How do you ground yourself?
I love to wake up early. When I am on Toronto time (and in Toronto) I like to get up at 5:00 or 5:30 a.m. I look at the news, spend some time alone, relax and prepare for the day. I travel a lot and I feel like I am always going somewhere, packing for something and wondering if I will get an Asian-Vegetarian meal on my flight, or if they will forget.
I live out of a suitcase, until I don’t.
When I’m home, I’m there. Ever-present. Hugging the kids, making dinner, Emma (the dog) one foot behind me. Lately, I have aimed to do more things north of the city, to have meetings at my home and to explore what I can find in the Don Mills area.
By Jen Kirsch