When one adjective describes your company name, your product and your design esthetic cohesively it’s definitely a good thing. Whether it’s a view from the driveway or stepping into the front entrance of a custom one-of-a-kind luxury home built and designed by Grand Estate Homes, the word “grand” will definitely come to mind (along with a few oohs and ahs too). Builder and designer team Eleanor Falbo and her husband, Victor Brewda are rendering communities with their eye for detail and architectural beauty in the Oakville and surrounding area.
At a young age, most children have aspirations that don’t often translate into a career later in life. As a child, Falbo was always inspired by history and curious as to how the world was formed and built. When she was 18 she traveled to Europe and was further inspired by architecture and awe-inspiring stone carvings steeped in history. “All that beautiful history, and to think that someone had a dream!” she says. “And still today it’s still standing for the rest of the world to enjoy.”
Falbo found equal inspiration here in Toronto, which also likely helped strengthen her passion for her career as a builder and designer. In her early teens she was interested in property development and real estate; growing up in downtown Toronto, the family’s favourite picnic spot was the courtyard at Casa Loma. “I was inspired by the detail and the history of the castle,” she explains.
Falbo’s first foray into the real estate and home building industry began in the mid 1980s. She started investing in real estate and renovating homes. “The first home I bought as a renovation project,” she recalls of the home, which was located in the Beaches. A quick success, the home was fully remodelled and resold within 30 days of being on the market.
After becoming a Tarion Builder, which is mandatory in order to be able to provide purchasers with a warranty on their new home, she says the process of writing the exam was educational and also helped in her own personal development. “Being the only woman in class was a certainly interesting,” she remembers.
In 1997 she became partner and CEO of a high-end importer of luxury furniture, home design and accessories, creating beautiful spaces for high-end homes in Canada and the USA, hotels and banquet facilities.
As a homebuilder, her first project was a French Chateau in Oakville, designed to replicate a home similar in Paris, France. “The home was constructed with roof lines of curved arches, stone and brick with cut stone,” she states.
A natural pairing to her passion is her strong work ethic, inherited from her parents who immigrated to Canada from Italy just after WWII. Not knowing what they would find here and not speaking one word of English, what Falbo says they did bring with them was their work ethic, which was passed down to her. While it’s obvious Falbo loves working with bricks and mortar, she equally enjoys the experiences she has with her clients, from start to finish. “I’ve had the opportunity to work for CEOs of large companies to everyday hard-working business people. I respect and strive to do my utmost best work for each and everyone,” she says. “I really enjoy working with all my trades, I bring out the best of each and everyone everyday and I thank them everyday for a great day’s work.”
Falbo admits that custom construction building isn’t for everyone. “It has many challenges to overcome, but the fulfillment of the work done is very gratifying,” she says. I’ve found that working in construction is no different than any other business: you need to be organized and must have the leadership skills to enforce every day.” She says that part of her job is to minimize to maximize. “In every home I look for functionality, comfort and beauty.”
With talents and drool-worthy tasteful designs, it’s no wonder that Falbo’s has built homes in high-end neighbourhoods of Toronto and Oakville. And when you think of luxury and when only the best will do, who better to create a grand design for none other than the artist Prince himself? Falbo renovated the singer’s 16,000 square foot bungalow in Toronto’s Bridal Path area. She also just completed renovations for two other homes in the same community: one of which was complete with an indoor basketball court and indoor pool. Falbo’s work can also be seen in Toronto’s Avenue Road and Lawrence area.
Today you’ll find Falbo creating grand homes in Oakville with her husband as they develop three lakeside homes in West Oakville on Westdale Drive. She says they’ll be built in 2015-2016 and are currently for sale. “They’ll have panoramic views of Toronto Skyline and Lake Ontario,” she describes. “These homes will have floor to ceiling windows with large open concept principal rooms and state of the art technology.” Not to mention stunning architecture. The exteriors of Grand Estate Homes are always constructed with the best materials, says Falbo. “We use Indiana cut stone all hand carved with Indiana custom moulding. These homes are solid built’ they will be there for many generations.”
Working in a field where changes can happen at any given time, what’s surprised Falbo the most? “One must be able to overcome obstacles and make quick decisions without any delays,” she says. Obstacles and challenges come with rewards too. “I enjoy everyday challenges; they become ongoing learning experiences and growth in personal development with my company.”
Just like Falbo had a chance to admire French architecture up close and personal while travelling, she enjoys knowing that the homes she has built with quality and detail will be around for generations to come here in the GTA and adds that “one day my grandchildren and great grandchildren will drive by and say ‘my grandmother built that’!”
Falbo isn’t afraid to don a hardhat and work boots and be on site six days a week if she needs to. When evening comes she can be found creating floor plans and project designs. She is an adept multi-tasker who strives for quality, innovation and creativity on and offsite. Quality time spent with friends and family is also a priority. “I have four children and four grandsons that I’m proud of and I hope one day they’ll want to build with their grandmother,” she says, adding that she loves to cook, entertain and always find the time to help friends and family. “I never say ‘no’ to anything,” she admits. “I always say if there’s a will I will find a way.” And given the opportunity to create stunning homes with equally impressive interiors for her clients, she definitely will.
What does Falbo do when she’s not working or spending time with family? She puts her hardworking, focused and project-driven energy into staying on top and ahead of the next trend alongside fuelling her passion for the beauty of architecture worldwide and loves living in Oakville. Oh, and another thing she does in when she’s not working, traveling or entertaining: buying real estate of course, what else?