292 South River Rd., Elora, Ont.
Asking price: $1,249,900
Taxes: $4,880.78 (2012)
Lot size: 208 feet by 184 feet
Agents: Brad Douglas (Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.) and Alan McPhedran (Homeward Team Realty Inc.)
The back story
‘Stonecroft,” as the house is known, was built in 1865 near the Grand River by the prosperous businessman J.K. Barrett.
Mr. Barrett, whose ancestors had immigrated from Ireland, was the owner of the mill across the river in the hamlet of Aboyne.
“It was never a farmhouse,” says current owner Rebecca Shaw. “It was always more formal.”
The property is located on a country road halfway between Elora, Ont., and the smaller town of Fergus, Ont.
Ms. Shaw purchased the house with her husband and their two children six years ago.
They knew the house needed some work but the couple was drawn to the stone exterior and Georgian symmetry.
“I love old houses,” says Ms. Shaw. “They always get into your bones.”
The house today
Despite the age of the house, Ms. Shaw envisioned a modern addition and renovation.
“I like that tension between the modern and the old and I think they can both work together,” says Ms. Shaw.
The original summer kitchen at the side of the house had been turned into a TV room. Ms. Shaw transformed it into a very large mud room with a heated limestone floor, lots of cupboards and a large island with drawers for mittens and baseball gloves and all manner of paraphernalia.
A light-filled addition at the rear combines a kitchen, casual dining area and family room. Ms. Shaw fit in as many windows as she could, and French doors lead to a wrap-around terrace overlooking the yard.
The modern kitchen has built-in appliances and granite countertops.
Ms. Shaw had the original crown mouldings and Georgian-style windows replicated throughout the house – including in the kitchen – but she eschewed curlicues and old-fashioned details because she prefers to cook in an environment that doesn’t feel too busy.
“I’ve been through so many Victorian kitchens. I wanted to keep everything simple.”
The floors are reclaimed hemlock and the stone walls of the original exterior have been left exposed. A modern glass and stainless steel railing in the family room is juxtaposed against the grey stone.
“I’m drawn to the natural elements – steel and glass and wood,” says Ms. Shaw.
The dining room, living room and staircase in the old part of the house have been left mostly as they have always been. The windows still contain the original glass panes.
“I still love this room,” says Ms. Shaw of the living room. “There’s something about the light quality in here.”
On the lower level, the recreation room has a walk-out to the garden. The landscaped yard includes tall trees, a rock garden and terrace.
The renovation was a major undertaking: When builders straightened the main beam, plaster and lathe fell off of the walls.
But when it was all finished, the house had expanded to 4,000 square feet.
Ms. Shaw says Elora is a small town that fosters lots of community involvement. Her teen and pre-teen kids can head downtown by themselves, she adds.
The arts scene and the Elora Gorge Conservation Area draw lots of visitors to the town. The historic Elora Mill Inn has long been a local landmark and plans are underway to redevelop the inn and the downtown area with new shops, conference facilities and condominiums.
The best feature
Upstairs, the addition at the rear contains the luxurious master suite. The bathroom is open to the bedroom with a large soaker tub dividing the two areas.
“We really enjoy the openness,” Ms. Shaw says of the views from the bathtub to the trees beyond.
The bedroom has cathedral ceilings, a fireplace and French doors leading to a Juliet balcony.