20 CHESTNUT PARK RD., TORONTO
Asking price: $4.9-million
Taxes: $33,385.17 (2013)
Agents: Susan Conacher and Douglas Gubitz (Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.)
The back story
Anne Swain was studying and practising interior design in England, when she and her family decided to return to Toronto.
Searching for a house, Ms. Swain was immediately drawn to an ivy-covered, red-brick Georgian in Rosedale. She admired the symmetry, proportions and such architectural details as plaster ceiling medallions and carved marble surrounds on the fireplaces.
Ms. Swain and her husband James Davis, a senior partner at Stikeman Elliott LLP, purchased the six-bedroom house for their young family. They raised three daughters in the 6,000-square-foot home with six bedrooms and five bathrooms.
“It’s a Christmas house,” says Ms. Swain, who likes to welcome holiday guests to a living room warmed by two fireplaces.
The house was designed by the architect Alfred Boultbee and built for Robert Greig in 1905, according to the Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada.
“The house next door was exactly the same,” says Ms. Swain of the neighbouring red-brick home on Chestnut Park Road.
She also recalls visiting a gracious home in Savannah, Ga., and feeling as if she were stepping through the door into her own house.
Ms. Swain did a little digging and found that Mr. Boultbee had worked in Savannah as well.
The house today
Guests arrive to a grand foyer with double-door entrances to the living room and the dining room.
The dining room, in Ms. Swain’s opinion, has perfect proportions. It can accommodate a round, rectangular or square table in front of the gas-burning fireplace. It’s easy to arrange furniture around the room without it ever feeling too crowded or too cavernous.
“I always take this dimension for a dining room when I design for clients,” Ms. Swain said.
The kitchen has been renovated with custom-built cabinetry, an island and a commercial-style gas range for a serious home cook. The adjoining family room has doors leading to the stone patio and garden.
A laneway at the rear of the house leads straight to the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club, where the family has spent many hours. Ms. Swain says the club was wonderful to have nearby when her children were younger because she never had to drive them to camps and lessons.
“The kids would go over for breakfast in their pyjamas and then come back for school,” she recalls.
Upstairs, the house has a second-floor library where Ms. Swain and Mr. Davis spend much of their time. The master bedroom has a fireplace and an ensuite bathroom.
The third floor has tall ceilings, a recreation room and more bedrooms for kids and guests.
Ms. Swain runs her business, Annabelles Interior Design Inc., from a home office tucked away at the rear of a home that accommodates grown children, their friends and Carter the golden retriever.
The traditional style of the house and its decorating appeals to people who are growing weary of minimalism, she says.
Ms. Swain believes that the mania for modernist design is beginning to fade after a 20-year run. For her, the change can’t come soon enough.
“Everything you see right now is so contemporary. Everywhere you go it’s the same room – and the same kitchen,” she says of the typical scheme in many houses and condo suites.
Ms. Swain is seeing the return of lively floral patterns and polished chintz – particularly in the fabric houses of Europe. The green-and-white toile that she used in the guest bedroom was chosen in honour of Irish friends she met during her time in England. The pattern has just been re-issued, she says.
The Best Feature
Ms. Swain’s favourite view in the house is from the foot of the staircase in the gallery all the way to the ceiling three storeys above. Windows with fanlights above bring light to the interior.
“The detail – with the run of the stairs and the run of the windows – is gorgeous,” says Ms. Swain.