114 KILBARRY RD., TORONTO
ASKING PRICE: $4.295-million
TAXES: $24,640.09 (2013)
LOT SIZE: 75 by 111 feet
AGENTS: Wanda Cowie and Debbie Penzo (Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., Johnston & Daniel Division)
The back story
When the house at 114 Kilbarry Rd. was built in Forest Hill in 1928, it had the three stories and eight bedrooms needed to accommodate a large family.
The traditional centre-hall plan with spacious principal rooms also provided plenty of space to roam outside.
Decades ago, a neighbour purchased the house – along with another on the block – and sliced off portions of the two properties in order to enlarge his own.
The result, says homeowner Jennifer Brown, is the creation of a very secluded walled garden that gives the family plenty of privacy and quiet in summer.
Meanwhile, the interior was revamped to create a house with five-plus-one bedrooms and five bathrooms.
Ms. Brown and her husband, Colin Brown, purchased the house about 10 years ago and raised their three children there.
Ms. Brown says the couple had renovated houses in the past and didn’t want to tackle a major project again.
Previous owners had already updated and refurbished 114 Kilbarry, so there was very little for the Browns to do. They made a few changes and then kept busy with the children and their friends.
Now two of the kids have left home and the third will move out soon. The three-storey, five-bedroom home is too large for empty nesters, says Ms. Brown.
“It’s a house that a family should be living in,” she says.
The house today
Guests arrive to a marble-tiled foyer and a grand central staircase. The main floor has a large living room with an adjacent sunroom. The formal dining room, with panelled walls, overlooks the street.
“It’s grand; it’s gracious – it’s also very comfortable,” says Ms. Cowie.
At the rear, a large kitchen has a centre island and a breakfast area with French doors leading to a stone terrace. Inside the kitchen, the Browns added new, built-in wall ovens and cooktop and a built-in refrigerator.
The front staircase leads to a second-floor family room at the very centre of the house.
The room, with a wood-burning fireplace and windows on three sides, provides views in every direction.
Ms. Brown had her own desk placed beside one of the large windows so that she could always keep on top of family activities.
“It’s a great perch as a mother,” she says. “I can see every entrance and exit.”
The remainder of the second floor allows the parents to retreat behind the doors of a private master suite. A large bedroom has a gas fireplace and French doors leading to a terrace. The ensuite bathroom has a large bathtub surrounded in marble. There are his-and-hers marble-topped vanities, along with a separate walk-in shower and a water closet. A dressing room has plenty of built-in closets.
The third floor provided spacious bedrooms and bathrooms for the kids.
On the lower level, the Browns had the basement finished to provide a media room. While one son attended boarding school, he often arrived home on the weekend with friends from all over the world in tow, says Ms. Brown, so the room gave all of the boys a place to hang out.
Ms. Brown says the house is about one block in either direction from entrances to the walking and running trails that wind through the neighbourhood.
The private schools Bishop Strachan and Upper Canada College are also nearby, and Forest Hill Village is just a short walk.
The best feature
Ms. Brown says the first time she walked in the house and saw the wide and curving staircase, she immediately imagined it decorated for Christmas. Every year, she says, she has the bannister decorated with evergreen boughs that wind through the rails for the full height of the stairs.
“It was the Christmas staircase that sold me.”