The listing: 199 Allan St., Oakville, Ont.
Asking Price: $2,299,000
Taxes: $7,940 (2019)
Lot Size: 34 feet by 142 feet
Agent: Alex Irish (Sotheby’s International Realty Canada)
For 40 years or so, the circa 1925 house at 199 Allan St. was home to the same Oakville family. Eventually they sold the red-brick house to a builder who started a top-to-bottom renovation. But the project stalled and the property landed back on the market in 2016.
That’s when Christine Hibberd Ionescu and Andrei Ionescu came along.
Ms. Hibberd Ionescu, an orthodontist, and her husband, an endodontist, were both starting out in their careers. The couple also had two children and a third on the way.
They saw the unfinished property as an opportunity to move into the coveted Old Oakville area.
“When we purchased it, it was torn apart,” Ms. Hibberd Ionescu says. “It was down to the studs.”
By coincidence, her sister had bid on the property a few years earlier but lost out to the builder. But Ms. Hibberd Ionescu knew a little of the house’s history and that it had been well-cared for by the previous family.
And because the renovation was in the early stages, the couple had the chance to tweak the plans to suit their family.
“Our biggest thing was we were able to customize it,” Ms. Hibberd Ionescu says.
They wanted to preserve many of the house’s traditional details, such as the original banister on the staircase, the heavy oak front door, and the antique grates over the heating vents.
They both loved the wavy old glass in the windows at the front of the house.
At that time, the basement hadn’t been excavated and the rear addition hadn’t been built, but the couple could envision a large and family-friendly home.
The house today
The Ionescus continued working with the builder, who dug out the basement and put a two-storey addition on the rear.
The expanded house has five bedrooms and four bathrooms in 2,835 feet of above-ground living space.
The house is located in the Trafalgar Heritage Conservation District, so the couple followed the guidance of the Oakville Heritage Committee in refurbishing the exterior and choosing historic paint colours.
The couple oversaw the project while working at their busy dental practices and raising their young sons.
“It was sort of a whirlwind,” Ms. Hibberd Ionescu says.
Ms. Hibberd Ionescu grew up in Oakville in a family of nine children and today her parents and several of her siblings live in the area. As her parents began planning to downsize from their large house, she anticipated that the Allan Street house would take over as the setting for gatherings of their large clan.
She and her husband ensured the house can comfortably accommodate plenty of visitors. Sit-down dinners for 16 people are a regular event and the youngest generation now includes 12 grandchildren.
The original house was expanded at the rear to create a great room with a large, open kitchen and a lounging area with a gas fireplace. The dining area has a built-in corner bench under the window.
“We put a lot of little people in here so the bench was really important to us.”
The kitchen has floor-to-ceiling white cabinets, a large island and a chef’s range for Mr. Ionescu, who loves to cook for family parties.
The great room’s sliding doors open to the deck and backyard.
A butler’s pantry provides lots of storage space and a connection to the formal dining room, which also served for a time as a main-floor space for the little ones.
“This was the playroom, which was ideal because I could see them right from the kitchen,” Ms. Hibberd Ionescu says.
The family rarely uses the front door, Ms. Hibberd Ionescu says. Instead, they use a side entrance that leads right into the mud room with lots of built-in storage. The kids also use that door to head outside, with the side and rear yards enclosed by a fence.
“If the kids go out, they can go right into the backyard and I don’t have to worry about them wandering.”
The main floor also has a powder room and a music room where the kids play piano.
Ms. Hibberd Ionescu says the couple planned to stay until the kids were grown.
“We really planned for this to be our forever home – then we had another baby.”
With four children now, they’ve done some more rejigging of the rooms.
Upstairs, three-year-old Amy and two-year-old Leah each have their own room on the second floor. The home’s original cramped bathroom has been expanded to provide a larger shared bath for the girls.
A master suite at the rear of the house has a bedroom with cathedral ceilings, an ensuite bathroom with a stand-alone tub and walk-in shower, and his-and-hers walk-in closets. Another room in the suite is currently an office but has been a nursery for the littlest ones.
Throughout the house, closets have been made larger and extra cupboards have been tucked under the stairs.
“Every nook and cranny has stuff.”
After their youngest child arrived, the Ionescus decided to renovate the third floor and create a bedroom for Jack, 7 and Henry, 6.
The boys share a bathroom with a shower on that floor.
“They love it up here,” Ms. Hibberd Ionescu says.
Downstairs, the basement has a large recreation room and a guest bedroom and bathroom.
Ms. Hibberd Ionescu says the neighbourhood has lots for the kids to do. There’s a community centre with a skating rink and the kids visit a nearby park nearly every day.
The shops and restaurants of Lakeshore Road are a short walk away.
“It’s a really lovely area – I know all the neighbours,” she says.
The best feature
The large backyard has an interlock brick patio and an outdoor kitchen with a built-in barbecue and beer taps. There’s a spacious lounging area around the gas fireplace.
A line of columnar Dawyck Beech trees provides privacy and four-season interest in the garden.
Some winters, Mr. Ionescu creates a backyard skating rink for the kids.
There’s also a hot tub, which the family uses often. Sometimes the family stages outdoor entertainment nights, with movies or basketball games projected onto the fence.
“The kids love it,” Ms. Hibberd Ionescu says.
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