The listing: 96 Undercliff Dr.
Asking Price: $1.899-million (Sold for $2,239,970)
Taxes: $8,372 (2020)
Lot Size: 50 feet by 150 feet
Agents: Jen Tripp, Homelife/Realty One Ltd.
Despite working as a gardener for the City of Toronto for many years, Jen Vanderweerd had never been to the Scarborough Bluffs area until her family moved there six years ago.
“Now it’s my favourite space in the city, we’re so close to the water,” she said. Her house on 96 Undercliff Dr. is across the street from Scarboro Crescent Park, and in the winter when the leaves are off the trees there’s a clear view of the lake from her front porch or balcony. “By the time my kids were five or six I could just send them out the door [to the park]. I could yell at them from the front deck. It’s a wonderful place to sit and watch storms come in off the lake.”
Undercliff Drive is aptly named as a treed slope rises up behind the houses on the dead-end street. A walking path at the end of the street comes out to the local school, Chine Drive P.S. “I love the setting, we’re really close to a meadow … there’s deer all the time, we see foxes on the regular. I love being outdoors and being surrounded by nature; you feel like you’re in a retreat,” Ms. Vanderweerd said.
The house today
The professional gardener’s house makes its first impression with a front yard that scorns a monoculture lawn with natural plantings and river-stone pathways. “I like to joke that I’m a lazy gardener. … I like to use really hardy species that don’t require a lot maintenance. I like a lot of ornamental grasses and things that are valuable in terms of wildlife. I have a really lovely big bluestem grass – a cultivar of a native grass – it has beautiful purple seed heads in the fall,” Ms. Vanderweerd said.
Behind the non-lawn is a house dominated by windows; the second floor has glass walls behind glass balconies, and the ground floor foyer is also all glass.
Off the long living room – tiled in slate and anchored by an over-sized fireplace of painted white brick – is a three-piece bathroom. This space has been a gym, the kid’s playroom and a number of other things over the years, but is now the over-flow TV room used when the family can’t agree on the evening’s entertainment.
At the back of the central hall the staircase curves up to the second level, and if you tilt your head up you can see a cut-out in the ceiling that allows light and air to flow between these floors.
The house is arranged in wings connected by a central hall. Behind a second-floor powder room is the breakfast room, which has a huge sheet of steel on one wall for hanging art with magnets, the opposite wall is coated with chalkboard paint. Oversized shelves guide the eye to the kitchen, which has a large central Island with dark granite and bar seating. A set of large glass French doors open onto the rear deck (which steps down to the hot tub). These two rooms are tiled, where the rest of this level has light oak strip hardwood throughout.
The formal dining room opens to a large open living room, which is the main TV zone and a set of sliding doors opens to the balcony that runs across the front of the house. On the other side of the house is a family room with another access to the balcony and the second of three fireplaces. “We used to have a record player, this was the chill-out room: we’d listen to records and have fires,” Ms. Vanderweerd said.
The stairs in the central hall curve upwards again to the third level and its four bedrooms. At the top of the stairs is a bathroom with bold red tiles on the walls shared by the four children, all girls. The primary bedroom suite has a large ensuite bathroom with a slate-tiled shower and, rather practically, the washer and dryer.
The other three bedrooms house the couple’s four girls: “It’s been bed bingo. … We’ve tried all sorts of different permutations.” The largest of the three is set up for the twins to share (though they now want separate rooms), the second largest has its own office workspace facing the front of the house.
The best feature
“My favourite spot in the house is the window seat, that is where I sit and have coffee in the morning and wine in the evening,” Ms. Vanderweerd said. The couple created a customized deep bench, with storage below, at the front of the main hall on the second floor.
“I insisted on this; I’ve always romantically loved the idea, and it was a perfect opportunity to make a window seat.” The space is flooded with light on three sides, and captures what makes the house work. “It’s how open and spacious it feels … so much light that comes into the house,” she said.
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