24 Weybourne Cres., Toronto
Asking Price: $3.489-million
Taxes: $13,427.50 (2020)
Lot Size: Irregular shape. Frontage: 50 feet by 124-feet; 31 feet by 140 feet at rear
Agents: Jamie Dempster, Re/Max Hallmark Jamie Dempster Group Ltd.,
Everybody is handling this extraordinary health crisis differently. For Rob and Sally Sarjeant, the pandemic has provided the time to do something they’ve spent the last two years thinking about: buy a house in the country.
“What else do you do in a pandemic? You can’t curl four nights a week, so you’ve got nothing else to do but clear out all your cupboards, put your house on the market and move up north,” said Ms. Sarjeant, who is joyful and ready for her urban exodus.
The Sarjeants think the house they bought up in Collingwood Ont., just a few days before Christmas could be about a two-year renovation job, but are raring to go. Mr. Sarjeant is a renovator and builder, so such things are second nature. Even when, 20 years ago, they bought this house in Toronto’s Lawrence Park neighbourhood, they did so fully intending to fix it up.
“What attracted us more than anything is the little island in the front,” said Ms. Sarjeant, referring to a tiny garden parkette in the roadway, a feature of some of the winding streets in the area. “All the neighbours have always worked on it,” she said. “It’s always just looked so pretty, and I used to drive up and down the road just looking at it. When I saw this lot came on the market I went home and called Rob and within two days we had it.”
In the event, the house was in such disrepair that they decided it was easier and more cost-effective to raze it to the ground and replace it with something new than attempt a renovation. Mr. Sarjeant, owner of Moore Park Homes Inc., mainly does additions and renovations; 24 Weybourne was to be one of a half-dozen he has built completely from scratch.
“We’re almost 20 years to the exact date we moved in,” Mr. Sarjeant said. “We knocked the old house down on Sept 9, 2000, and we moved in Feb. 14, 2001. We did it in six months.
“I did do a lot of the work myself,” he said. “All the flagstone and stone steps and patios, I did a lot of the tilework, I did all the concrete work, all the waterproofing, the fencing … all that.”
“[Architect] Peter Higgins helped with the design,” Ms. Sarjeant said. “But Rob actually knew exactly what he wanted. He based it on an old house in Moore Park he grew up in.
“People can’t believe it’s new. Well, it’s not new anymore, but they used to say that.”
Despite being only 20 years old, the house blends in well with the 90-year-old houses typical to the area. It is fully clad in brick and has a sweeping limestone entryway. The Sarjeants also didn’t build a monster home or a contemporary design, opting for a “bastardized Georgian” according to their architect.
“It’s not big and pretentious around here at all,” said Ms. Sarjeant, though it is an exclusive enclave in the city with lots of attractive features. “The proximity to Yonge Street, the subway is so handy, and the ravine at the end of our drive … it’s pretty special.”
The house today
Through the stone portico of the entryway, the house opens into a hallway with large limestone tiles laid in a diamond pattern that runs the length of the house. Just ahead is the main staircase heading up and downstairs, and the first room on the left is a formal sitting room and a huge stone wood-burning fireplace built by Scottish masons.
Although separated by function and archways, each of the spaces on this level opens up to the others. Just behind the front room is a formal dining room with a raised ceiling pan with a deep copper colour and a traditional crystal pendant chandelier. The dining room has white wainscotting (as does the hallway) and the plaster crown moulding is all custom as well.
The floor in these first two rooms is cherry hardwood, but the limestone extends from the hallway into the third space that takes up the back of the house: the combined living room (with gas fireplace) and kitchen.
An island with double sink separates this space, which is filled with light from the French doors and a big bay window looking onto the backyard. The custom cabinets in the kitchen pick up the cherry. Like the all the doors in this house, if you see wood it’s solid and not veneer on particle.
“I grew up in Moore Park and we had a laundry chute, so we put one in here,” said Mr. Sarjeant, another traditional feature that eats up a little of the space next to the kitchen. “Our two kids loved it so much, every single teddy bear and stuffed animal went down in it,” said Ms. Sarjeant, one adventurous spelunker even lowered himself down the shaft to the basement.
Mr. Sarjeant didn’t like to bring clients around to look at his handiwork, relying on word of mouth and recommendations for most of his 30-year career, but some of the things in this house made their way into future renovations include the 9½-foot ceilings, custom cornice-work and underfloor heat.
“I did a hot water radiant heating system throughout with a high-efficient boiler and it really runs on pennies a day, a very inexpensive system,” he said. Their main wants with the house were the open plan, a large principal bedroom suite and a big basement for their boys.
The basement features another gas fireplace, a wine cellar, another bathroom and the main space is dominated by the billiards table.
The stairwell to the second floor has massive windows as you ascend, and the principal bedroom is on the left toward the front of the house. A vaulting ceiling and camber-top window defines this space, behind a pocket door is a walk-in closet and the ensuite bath has a steam shower, corner soaker tub and double vanity. The other two bedrooms, the laundry chute and another full bathroom are on the back half of the house.
“The best part of this house is without a doubt the open plan,” Ms. Sarjeant said. “By the open [wood-burning] fireplace is our favourite room, with a big fire going we just love it. The people who buy it have got to be able to have a party … you move the couches back and we can have a hundred people here. We always like a really good Christmas party; we do it every other year, and everybody waits for the Sargent Christmas party.”
The other place they spend their time is in their perennial garden. “We’re avid gardeners, so we wanted as much green space as possible,” Mr. Sarjeant said. But if there’s one bittersweet feature of this whirlwind decision to move it’s what’s coming in the fall: “I’m so ticked off. We planted so much garlic, and I won’t get to have it – you can’t pick it until October,” Ms. Sarjeant said. “It’s heartbreaking; the people who buy this house are going to get all my garlic.”
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