old house

my dream house

Now, don't get me wrong, I consider myself to be quite fortunate. It's true that Mr. A and I call 3 different properties home. When I say it out loud, or if it just happens to come up in conversation, it sounds wildly extravagant - like we hang with Conrad and Babs and Galen and Hils. We don't. During the recent Sandy/US election news cycle there was a joke Twitter account for Mitt Romney and one of the tweets was: "Those in Sandy's path, now is the time to evacuate to your 2nd or 3rd homes." I chuckled at the pretension and then thought...oh, wait...

While our "portfolio of properties" is far from Romneyesque, I love each one. But I do still dream of other types of properties and wonder if one day I might call one of them home. Call it an occupational hazard. Among my fantasies is a Haussmann-style Paris apartment, a mews house in any S or SW post code in London (actually, any place in London), a raw loft space anywhere, a converted barn by the ocean. And last, but not least by any means, is a centre hall plan stone house. So you can imagine my goosebumps when I clicked the Twitter link to this beauty posted by fellow lover of smushy-faced dogs and realtor, Douglas Hotte.

Hello gorgeous!. Here are the deets:


This Spectacular Rare Century Stone Home Built In 1861 With Newer High Efficiency Geothermal Heating/Cooling On 5.8 Acres In Northumberland Only 90 Min To Gta. 3 Plus 1 Bedrooms, Very Large Principal Rooms, Grand Foyer, Deep Windows, Built Ins, Servants Staircase, 2' Thick Stone Walls! Private Side Porch, Original Plank Flooring, Double Car Garage, Drive And Garden Shed.

Price: $529,000


I die. This place is located in the charming town of Warkworth, ON, 90mins from Toronto and also just a hop, skip and jump to my family members in Peterborough and Oshawa. It comes with a John Deere tractor. Please join me for a tour. 

Looks like there was some sort of portico on it at one point. Love the front door colour. Sad to see the gothic window replaced with a combo of arch-top shutters and a rectangular window. Getting the right window in there would be job 1.

A charming private side porch with a gravel walk. The perfect spot for tea, hot or iced depending on the season. 

Those windows, that stone.

Simple. Perfect. 

They could throw in that high boy, too! Handsome devil.

The room needs a pair of wing chairs or old leather club chairs by the wood stove. Done and done.

Upstairs landing for the main stairs.

I love old things but a clawfoot tub with a shower - been there, done that, not a fan. Almost always leads to a case of "attack of the shower curtain." But I'd endure it to live here.

One of the 2 secondary bedrooms. A bit museumy but look at those bones!

Et voila, le Master. It's a whopping 25ft by 16 ft. Amazeballs.

 And this little treat in the corner - the secondary staircase, which leads directly from the master bedroom down to the main level. 

A home office located on the main floor to the right of the entry. Needs books, books and books. 

And so my lovelies, by now are you thinking, hmmm, where's a photo of the kitchen? That's the most exciting part of this house. Because, you see, the answer is that no photos of the kitchen are posted. You know what that means in the real estate world: the kitchen is a wreck and/or needs a complete re-do. To me, this is the home's ultimate enticement. Cast your eyes upon the floor plan:

There exists an odd excuse for a kitchen in the back left corner of the main floor. But of course that simply wouldn't suffice. This home is crying out for the modern country kitchen of my dreams. It needs the Plain English treatment tout suite. Without a single doubt I am the girl for this design job. Truthfully, I have already begun the design in my head. I may or may not have started a private board in Pinterest devoted to it...

And for a little icing on the cake, here are the vistas:

To see the full listing or to buy this for me for Christmas à la Miracle on 34th St., please see the featured listings section of Caldwell Banker rep Douglas Hotte's web site.






st. peter's: a very special house

I've been thinking about this house a lot over the past few days. This week my great aunt Jean MacDonald passed away, just 2 days shy of her 105th birthday. Save for the last years (during which she lived in nursing homes), this is were she spent most of her very long life. My memories of her are memories of summer holidays spent at this house. She lived here with her brother Colin. You see, that's how things were in big families in their generation. One of the sons stayed home to look after the farm. One daughter stayed to look after the aging parents. That's what Jean and Colin did. Neither married. Just like Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables. Oh yes, and did I mention that this house is on Prince Edward Island? 

This is where my love of old houses was first kindled. This is where I learned the joys of back staircases, antique furniture, a clawfoot tub, family history, fresh baked blueberry pie made with berries picked that day, a kitchen to live in (not just cook in), creaking floors, slamming screen doors, card games and the wildest thunderstorms sweeping in across the Bay. Oh yes, the Bay. This is the view from the front porch, St. Peter's Bay:

Aunt Jean was at the centre of everything that happened at this house. Aunt Jean was the salt of the earth. Aunt Jean will be most remembered for her devilish sense of humour and laugh, and her willingness to dance a jig at a moment's notice. 

If you squint and look closely across the bay, you'll see a white dot to the left. That white dot is the church where we would go on Sundays, dressed up in our best with sunburned skin. It's one of the prettiest chruches on earth:

On Monday morning Aunt Jean's life will be celebrated here, and then she will make it to her final resting place, the picturesque cemetery just to the left of the driveway in the photo above. Imagine that, there she will be resting on a rolling green hill looking back over the bay at her beautiful home. Heaven.


restorer guy

My new favourite. Have you seen the Restorer Guy, the new show that premiered last week on TLC? It's my new favourite show. The guy -- his actual real name is Gable Painter -- specializes in restoring gorgeous historic properties in Richmond, VA. It's such a refreshing approach to renovation - a welcome antidote to the banal quick-fix or tear-it-all-out-and-put-in-new-stuff hideousness of most reno TV. Gable is filling that niche once occupied by Bob Vila and his carpenter buddy Bob Riley. I have missed them. Decorating and design is all well and good (also not that well represented on TV) but this is the real guts of great design -- it starts with the envelope. Oh yes, and he's super cute, too (this is TV after all)!