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The Globe and Mail

Home of the Week: Renaissance and refuge in Rosedale


Asking price: $2,395,000

Lot size: 108.25 by 78.54 feet

Taxes: $14,995.19 (2013)

Agents: Jamie Ann Kinnaird and Jane White, Bernice Whelan Realty Inc., brokerage

Sheri Belanger

Sheri Bélanger clearly remembers the day she first laid eyes on 97 Cluny Dr.

It was raining and she and her husband were huddled under one umbrella. They were planning to move to Toronto from the suburbs and hadn’t found the right house yet. But everything changed before they even entered the large Arts-and-Craft-style home in Rosedale.

“When I saw 97 Cluny, it reminded me of an elegant English stone cottage,” she said. “It seemed very warm and inviting. And it was so pretty, quaint and different from the cookie-cutter houses we were used to.”

Sheri Belanger

Once inside, it didn’t take long to realize that house was a perfect fit for them and their four kids, with its extra-large finished basement, five bedrooms and elaborate backyard, that came complete with a built-in grill and outdoor fish tank.

The back story

The house was built in 1910 and had a series of renovations in the course of its life, including an extensive one that happened in the 1990s under the watch of former owners, jazz musician Laura Fernandez and artist Rick Jacobson.

“The house has been updated, but a lot of the character has been maintained throughout,” said agent Jamie Kinnaird.

Sheri Belanger

Many of the windows and the front door are original, but a lot of the interior has been tweaked over time to keep it functional but still in line with the charm of the home’s history. (The house has a heritage designation from the City of Toronto.)

The 1990 renovation included the expansion of the basement, making it a multitiered, 1,482-square-foot space, with a sauna tucked under the stairs. The previous owners also added a sun room that is “wrapped in glass,” as Ms. Kinnaird describes it, and off of the dining room on the main floor.

The main floor also houses the kitchen and a formal sitting room with a fireplace and big bay windows. The second floor consists of the master suite, a bathroom, a family room (with another fireplace) and a second bedroom. The top floor has two nearly symmetrical bedrooms and a vintage-inspired bathroom, including a claw-foot tub.

Sheri Belanger

Over the course of their ownership, Ms. Bélanger and her husband made a few changes to the home as well. “Where we put the money that we had was all behind the walls,” she said.

They redid wiring for the whole house and replaced most of the mechanical, as well as the appliances.

Favourite features

Ms. Bélanger and Ms. Kinnaird agree there are a lot of details that make 97 Cluny special.

“You have that majestic presence without having a huge home, plus you’re at a price point that is difficult to find in Rosedale,” Ms. Kinnaird said.

Sheri Belanger

In terms of favourite rooms, they both agree that the sun room on the first floor is a great, calming space with the blue, Spanish-glass detailing in the windows and the tile art on the floor that celebrates the deities of the wind.

“It’s perched up slightly so it gives you a nice vantage point of the street,” Ms. Kinnaird said. “I think it’s where I would spend most of my time if I lived here.”

Ms. Bélanger has spent a lot of time there, since it’s a refuge from electronics. “I always felt warm in that room and could appreciate the quietness of the house.”

The other area Ms. Bélanger treasures is the basement because it was the location of many family moments. “I remember sitting on the floor playing with toys when they were young, or having our own space to work together when they got older.”

The other standout feature of the basement is the courtyard fountain-pond water installation. It’s 10 jets shoot water down into a tank that can hold up to 2,600 gallons of water. It’s also heated, meaning fish can live there over winter. Best of all, the tank is visible not only from outside but also from the basement. All of the tank that is underground becomes a huge aquarium in the basement.

Over the years, Ms. Bélanger has had goldfish, koi and even perch from the Don river in that tank. And while she admits that it takes a bit of work to maintain, it’s worth it. “It is so relaxing,” she said. “It’s like watching a fireplace.”

And it adds to the uniqueness of the home.

Sheri Belanger

“[All of the details of home] weren’t things that you could ever get at Home Depot,” she said. “I felt like I had a one-of-a-kind home.”

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