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Home of the Week: Parkdale rooming house turned single-family home

Home of the Week

Pet-friendly in Parkdale

The front exterior of lawyer Kim Schofield’s Parkdale home.

Two lawyers slowly transform a former rooming house into a single-family home

THE LISTING: 51 Wilson Park Rd.

ASKING PRICE $2.2-million

TAXES $6,707.74 (2016)

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LOT SIZE 29 by 148 feet

AGENTS Paul Maranger, Christian Vermast and Fran Bennett, Sotheby's International Realty Canada

The back story

Lawyer Kim Schofield and her dog Spud in the living room of their Parkdale home.

Kim Schofield and Terrance Fitzpatrick were just a few years into their law careers when they bought a Parkdale rooming house in 2001.

"It's all we could afford back then," says Ms. Schofield, reminiscing about the decision to buy a ramshackle building with seven units crammed into two-and-a-half storeys.

While the house had been carved up without much care for its original layout and details, the couple found many features – such as beamed ceilings, leaded glass windows and turned spindles in the wood staircase – still in place.

The living room in lawyer Kim Schofield’s Parkdale home.

The couple, who met when they were both students at Osgoode Hall Law School, decided to take on the challenge of restoring the red brick circa 1898 house into a five-bedroom single-family home.

At the time, Ms. Schofield was breaking ground as a member of one of Toronto's first all-female law collectives and Mr. Fitpatrick was forging a career in human rights and ethics law.

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The renaissance of Wilson Park Road was just beginning as more people began seeing an opportunity to transform the grand Victorians and Edwardians that line the street, which runs south from Queen Street West to King Street West.

The house today

The kitchen has been opened up to the dining room.

Ms. Schofield and Mr. Fitzpatrick improved the house gradually as they found the time and funds to renovate while practicing law and raising their three boys.

Today Ms. Schofield leads the criminal defence firm of Kim Schofield & Associates, while Mr. Fitzpatrick counsels Ontario Power Generation in matters of employment, human rights and ethics.

Guests who visit 51 Wilson Park Rd. arrive to a rebuilt front porch. The oak panelled front door has a leaded glass window.

Inside, there's a traditional vestibule with a marble floor and a cozy living room with a bay window and wood-burning fireplace.

The wall between the kitchen and dining room has been opened up to create a large combined room with a beamed ceiling over the dining area.

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A beamed ceiling hovers over the dining room.

The kitchen's wood cabinets, which were built by a local artisan to blend in with the period details of the house, rise to the ceiling. There's a built-in refrigerator, a gas oven and cherry wood countertops.

The kitchen's unique conversation piece is a custom-made water fountain for the family's pets. The couple has a large St. Bernard who tended to slosh her water everywhere when she drank out of a regular dog bowl. Ms. Schofield visited nearby Addison's Inc., which specializes in antique plumbing fixtures, and presented the challenge of making a more tidy water bowl.

Addison's fashioned a larger stainless steel bowl with a vintage faucet, an overflow basin and a drain. Now the dogs can drink as enthusiastically as they like without water landing everywhere.

Stella drinks from a custom-designed dog dish.

At the rear of the house, the couple extended the main floor to enclose the stairs to the basement and add a sun-filled family room. Light streams in through three skylights, two large windows and a French door leading to the garden.

The couple excavated the lower level so that they could create a recreation room with a built-in entertainment centre. There's also an extra bedroom, a bathroom and lots of built-in storage.

"We did a major dig on the basement," Ms. Schofield says.

Upstairs, Ms. Schofield and Mr. Fitzpatrick created a master bedroom with a sitting area and a built-in cherry wood closet.

"In these houses, if you don't build closets, they don't have closets," Ms. Schofield says.

The master bedroom in lawyer Kim Schofield’s Parkdale home.

There are two bay windows and a door which opens to a deck with views to Lake Ontario.

There are two additional bedrooms and a bathroom with a claw foot tub on that level.

On the third floor, they had the last makeshift remnants of the rooming house removed and the dormers opened up. A new, oval window was installed at the front of the house and a neat, custom-made cushion can be placed in the opening to block the light. The two bedrooms on that floor share a bathroom.

Throughout the house, Ms. Schofield added elements from the 1920s and 30s. The stair runner is a Deco-inspired cheetah pattern, for example. Other vintage touches include pendant lights, sconces, door knobs, medicine chests and mirrors.

The third-floor bathroom in lawyer Kim Schofield’s Parkdale home.

The couple say they enjoy being so close to the cafes and shops of Roncesvalles Avenue and Queen Street West. Ms. Schofield takes the dogs for a run in High Park every morning and Sunnyside Beach is a short distance away.

The neighbourhood is well-known for galleries, adventurous dining and a vibrant cultural scene.

Even as the area's character changes, it never loses its quirkiness.

"Parkdale is always going to have a bit of a rough edge around it," says Mr. Fitzpatrick.

Favourite features

Leo Schofield-Fitzpatrick plays basketball in the backyard of his Parkdale home in Toronto on February 12, 2017.

Outside, the home's backyard has a large deck and stairs leading to a garden. The couple had an elaborate treehouse built for the boys but they realized that the novelty wore off quickly. They tore down the treehouse and replaced it with a basketball court. Now, everyone in the family shoots hoops.

"It just gets everybody outside," Ms. Schofield says, adding, "we're big Raptors fans."

Weighty rocks provide seating for spectators, large lights illuminate the court and night sessions are common, she says. Basketball is a great way to burn off stress after a long day in court, she adds.

"You can play midnight basketball out there."

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