The listing: 178 Balmoral Ave., Toronto
Asking Price: $4,795,000
Taxes: $16,472.75 (2019)
Lot Size: 57½- by 135¾ feet, irregular, tapering to 81½ feet at rear
Agent: Boris Kholodov (Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., Johnston and Daniel Division)
The back story
Twelve years ago, Kelly and Jason Trainor had two young daughters and a baby on the way when they purchased a grand three-storey home in Toronto’s South Hill neighbourhood.
Ms. Trainor was attracted by the curb appeal of the three-storey, red-brick house and its adjacent coach house.
The five-bedroom home sits on a slight rise on Balmoral Avenue, which runs along the top of the escarpment just south of St. Clair Avenue West.
“It has an extraordinary street presence,” says real estate agent Boris Kholodov of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., Johnston and Daniel Division.
Once they took possession, the Trainors were curious about the history of the house. Ms. Trainor visited the archives and found that it was built in 1904 for William Davies, who had built a commanding presence in the meat-packing business.
Davies was an English grocer who emigrated to Canada and set up a stall in St. Lawrence Market. In 1861 he erected a major building for smoking and curing meats, which helped establish Toronto’s reputation as Hogtown.
“He had eight kids here,” Ms. Trainor says.
Inside, the house had retained its leaded glass windows and other original details, but the interior had become a bit tired over the decades, Ms. Trainor says. The fluorescent lighting was jarring in an Edwardian-era home and the hardwood floor throughout most of the main floor was worn down.
“It needed some love,” Ms. Trainor says.
The couple undertook a renovation that would preserve much of the original character while adding comfort and modern fixtures. The plaster was torn down and floors were ripped up.
“We took it down to the brick,” she says.
Outside, previous owners had divided the two-storey coach house so that half belongs to the Trainors and half is owned by the neighbours.
The historic red brick stable, which likely housed horses and carriages, still has a hook on the façade for drawing bales of hay up through the window to the loft.
The house today
Ms. Trainor says the contractors were working hard to finish the project before the baby arrived, but they didn’t quite make it. The Trainors moved into the newly renovated, 4,122-square-foot house three weeks after their son Joey was born.
On the main floor, they kept the centre hall plan, but rejigged some of the rooms. Today, guests arrive to a foyer with a heated stone floor. There’s a living room on one side and a library on the other.
Ms. Trainor says she believes the rich wood panelling in the library was likely installed for Davies when the house was built. Two sets of French doors lead to an outdoor terrace.
The Trainors preserved the original formal staircase with wood railings and banister, but they removed a second staircase that was likely used by servants.
Today, that space is taken up by a wine cellar and tasting room next to the dining room.
“That was a better use of space for us,” Ms. Trainor says.
Throughout most of the main floor, the old flooring was replaced with new wood laid in a herringbone pattern.
A side sun room was likely added sometime in the 1970s or so, Mr. Kholodov says. Similarly, the area that houses the kitchen was likely an addition on the rear of the house in the 20th century.
Today, the kitchen has wood cabinets painted blue and a breakfast area with French doors leading to the backyard.
On the second floor, four bedrooms provide space for kids and guests. There’s also a laundry room.
At the front of the house, 15-year-old Tralee and 13-year-old Teagan each have a bedroom with a shared bathroom in between. Eleven-year-old Joey has a bedroom with a separate bath.
Outside, the house has a backyard with mature trees and enough space for the Trainors’ large trampoline.
Ms. Trainor says the South Hill neighbourhood is very family friendly, with good schools nearby. The Toronto Transit Commission subway, streetcar line and buses all pass through the area.
The shops and restaurants of Summerhill and Yonge Street are a short stroll away and the Trainors often take their dog Lucky to nearby Sir Winston Churchill Park and the Nordheimer Ravine.
“We love the neighbourhood. There are lots of families. It’s a really great community,” Ms. Trainor says. “Now that the kids are older, they can go to the subway on their own.”
The best feature
The third-floor master suite is a quiet sanctuary, Ms. Trainor says. The cathedral ceiling brings height to the bedroom and there’s a view of the CN Tower from the bedroom window.
There’s a walk-in closet and dressing room.
The ensuite bathroom has heated floors, a soaker tub, a walk-in shower and his-and-hers vanity.
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