16 BALSAM RD., TORONTO
Asking price: $2.299-million
Taxes: $11,138 (2011)
Agents: Gail Thomson, Kelly Lazar and Andrea Kalmar, (Forest Hill Real Estate Inc.)
THE BACK STORY
Even though they specialize in renting out office space in downtown Toronto, Cynthia Rostie and John Anderson, the married owners of The Rostie Group, would themselves rather work from home. "I love my third-floor office, says Ms. Rostie. "It's so peaceful."
Certainly, the view beats anything offered up by Toronto's urban skyline. Located on the end of the Glen Stewart ravine, the house looks over a leafy valley, making it feel like a cottage retreat. The couple chose the house primarily for its location. They have two boys and wanted a house where they could raise a family as well as conduct their business. "We had originally looked at a house on nearby Southwood Drive, but it was too busy and we knew the boys couldn't play street hockey on it," explains Ms. Rostie. "Balsam Road, by comparison, is quiet. I knew they'd be safe here." She was so determined to get a house on Balsam Road, a highly desirable cul-de-sac on the northern reaches of the Beaches neighbourhood, that she frequently walked the street, knocking on doors to see if any were for sale. She had enlisted friends and family to be on the lookout for her and then one day her brother saw the For Sale sign on the home that for decades belonged to the neighbourhood music teacher, Mrs. Nellie Mould. The house was built in the 1920s in the Arts-and-Crafts style made popular by Eden Smith. Mr. Anderson says that the selling point for him were the exposed dark wood ceiling beams and built-in bookcases in the home's living and dining rooms. "They gave the house character," he says. "I felt instantly draw in."
Shortly after purchasing their home, the couple commenced a major renovation that involved upgrading all the electrical and plumbing and creating a new 1,100-square-foot rear addition that enlarged the interior living space to approximately 5,000 square feet, with four bedrooms and five bathrooms.
The new addition accommodates a redesigned master bedroom with ensuite on the second floor and a finished basement with games room. On the main floor is a spacious eat-in kitchen built according to the specifications of Mr. Anderson, a former chef. He made sure the new kitchen came with plenty of counter space in addition to professional-grade appliances by such industry respected brands as Wolf. The traditional design of the wood cabinetry was meant to conform to the style of the original house.
"Everything we chose was intended to complement what was already here," says Ms. Rostie. Often this attention to detail required research into what houses of the era might have had in them by way of decoration, which is how the couple determined to add vintage-looking stained-glass windows. The home had originally come with stained glass but the previous owners had taken them out. "I put them back in," says Ms. Rostie, "and I think they look quite at home."
To take advantage of the ravine lot, the homeowners extended their backyard patio, creating an oasis of green in the heart of the city. Made for outdoor entertaining, the patio is wired for sound and fenced in to prevent animals coming up from the ravine of the property and keep children from falling down into it.
The front of the house also has its connection to the outdoors by way of a large covered veranda that looks onto large leafy trees, even though within sight of nearby Balsam Avenue. Ms. Rostie concedes that the only reason she and her husband are now moving is they are becoming empty-nesters. The boys are off to higher education, their street hockey days behind them.
Editor's Note: An earlier online version of this story and the original newspaper version incorrectly stated the name of the former owner and the orientation of the home to Balsam Avenue. This online version has been corrected.