The listing: 14405 8th Concession, Schomberg, Ont.
Asking Price: $2,389,000
Taxes: $5,436.61 (2019)
Lot Size: 350 feet by 150 feet
Agents: Lynda Laceby, Broker, Laceby Real Estate Ltd.
Ontario’s King Township is a real estate market of extremes: Dotted among the rolling hills and small towns are houses and condominiums in the sub-million price range, but there are also a large number of estate homes on significant acreage running between $4-million and $10-million (and above).
Patrick and Shannon Cian, a duo of interior designers who moved to the township several years ago to find space for a growing family, have found their latest project sits somewhere in the middle of these extremes. Its 1.2 acres is sizable for those used to even large suburban lots, but not the 10 to 30 acres the area’s well-heeled mansion-builders covet. The house has been thoroughly renovated and is an elegant example of contemporary country living (lots of wood and light, but not too farmhouse-cute). Its combined living space is around 4,000 square feet (if you include the updated basement), which is a step away from the 10,000 square feet (and above) typical of the sprawling mansions occupied by the region’s multimillionaires.
“It has everything you need, but it’s not that crazy McMansion, and not 8,000 square feet of cleaning,” said Mrs. Cian, who acknowledges that the house has been on the market with one price reduction since August. “You see a lot of really monstrous new builds that are so huge, those are sitting on the market too.”
“We’re pushing it a bit; if it had been on 10 acres it would have gone,” said listing agent Lynda Laceby, who says King is still a bit of a tough market. There are locals, she says, who have been keeping an eye on the house as they try to sell their own. It’s not the kind of market where you buy a house and hope you can sell. “It’s the perfect retirement home for someone who doesn’t want to move into town,” she said.
A Google satellite view of the area shows a lot of big houses in the middle of a big parcel with a long laneway, the kind of thing you can’t see from the road.
Ms. Laceby, who helped the Cians buy their first home (and spotted this one too) represents a lot of high-end clients who make their living in Toronto but want to live away from hustle and bustle. She drops hints about former Toronto Maple Leafs players whose mansions she sold after they recently moved out of town, or of a Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment executive who moved from Arizona some years ago (the snow apparently made his wife cry).
At the end of 8th Concession are also two stables where a lot of Toronto’s equestrians rent a stall, making the area with its kilometres of trails a popular spot for riding. Another neighbour who lives on an unpaved road (and was unable to overcome the horsey set’s objections to his proposal to pave more) has a special “toy box” trailer truck that he loads his Maserati supercar (one of many vehicles) on in order to ferry it past the harmful gravel down to the highway where he leaves his “toy box” on the shoulder so he can go cruise in style.
After committing to a king’s ransom on renovations (the roof had to come off, the basement was dug out, a new garage was added – quite a bit more than just updating the interiors) the couple began with the intention of moving in, but child number four changed their plans. Suddenly, three-plus one bedrooms just wasn’t enough. So, after buying the house in 2018 for $949,000, they are hoping their investment property – which they have never lived in – can earn them a tidy return.
The house today
Local legend has it the site was originally one of the area’s early schoolhouses, but there’s no sign of that now. What you see coming up the drive is a long ranch-style bungalow framed by two wings with peaked roofs (one is the new extra-tall garage that Mr. Cian says can accommodate a car-stacker, an essential for the auto buffs of King Township) separated by a covered porch. There’s a big, beefy custom-made porch swing, too.
The front door is framed by narrow windows on all three sides. In addition to adding light there’s an architectural motive for those windows that becomes clear once you step inside. To the right of the front foyer is a powder room and a set of extra-tall antique doors (sourced from Egypt). In order for more standard doors to match those antiques, dormer windows were added in this space, and on the front it made sense to extend the frame. There’s a lot of antique wood in the house; there are weathered beams used as decoration on the entryway to the kitchen and elsewhere on ceilings.
“They bring in warmth,” Mrs. Cian said. "We love any of these objects with a texture and a story; we love the energy embodied in those pieces.
“We met someone who reclaims barns and old wood pieces," Mr. Cain said. "The beams came from a barn in Innisfil [Ont.].” To the left of the front door is a sitting area with a stone-faced fireplace and the stairs to the downstairs basement are directly ahead.
The kitchen was relocated to the centre of the house (the original layout was more bisected, with one half dedicated to an in-law suite) and now commands a central view of the rear yard. The kitchen has a few dedicated zones: the preparation area with the sink and stove features open shelving instead of full cabinet uppers on walls covered in white subway tile. A huge island sits in the middle of this space (with lathe-turned posts giving it just a little rustic charm) and mixed pantry/hutch/kitchen office is snugged in the half-wall between two entryways. A large pantry and fridge cabinet (there is another pantry off the kitchen that shares space with the laundry room on the way to the garage/workshop) separates this from the dining table and one of three of walkout doors to the rear deck and stone patio. More of those decorative beams line the ceiling in the kitchen and this space (decorative because the new roof is a truss, and these are not structural “exposed” beams).
“Every house we’ve owned, we’ve redone and renovated – we’ve done a few other projects in Caledon – this one is kind of a unique one,” Mr. Cian said. “Our design goal … was to meet our standards. We weren’t designing it to flip it. We chose high-end fixtures that spoke to us.” Such as the 48-inch Bertazzoni double oven, six-burner and griddle range (these run anywhere between $6,000 and $9,000).
Mrs. Cian’s brother, Steve Moschenross (Straightline Construction) pitched in with a lot of work, which included a new well, new septic system, new HVAC (propane-fuelled forced-air furnace), the new roof and reconfiguring a lot of rooms. They estimate they spent close to $1-million on upgrades.
Off the rear doors is an outdoor dining space with a new pergola. The lot is longer than it is deep and the small barn/shed outbuilding is out of the way behind the garage. There is an attached workshop on the back of the house.
Back inside, next to this dining room area is another sitting room, with a second set of doors to the deck and an antique fireplace mantle. The hallway to the master suite is off this room.
At the foot of the basement stairs is an expansive media room with built-in entertainment centre wall to the right. Around the corner is a large games room, with a pool table and filled with wine racks, that could convert to a full gym. There’s also a sizable office that sits under the master suite and has several at-grade windows for light.
There are three bedrooms upstairs – two in the wing next to the family room, one on the garage side – and one in the basement. The two smaller upstairs bedrooms are 10 feet by 9 feet, both with custom built-ins and more beams. There are two full bathrooms for the non-master bedrooms, one upstairs, one in the basement.
The master suite is 18 feet by 12 feet and faces the road, with windows on two walls (the inner window doubles as a Juliet balcony that looks onto the front porch). There’s a walk-in closet/dead-end hall here, and the master ensuite is Mrs. Cian’s favourite upgrade.
The best feature
For Mrs. Cian, the goal with the master ensuite was to create a spa. The tiles are hexagonal, the walls are shiplap wood, the fixtures Hans Grohe. The vanity was made from reclaimed wood (the same source for the beams). The walk-in shower is vast, the freestanding soaker tub is deep, there’s a varnished tree stump for a stool.
Both bathrooms on the floor feature a glass-cabinet hutch for storage, which is an interesting way to manage all the bath bombs, oils and ointments a modern self-care regimen requires.
“The sparkle of the carpet inlay, that big skylight, it’s full of light … it makes me feel like I’m on holiday,” Mrs. Cian said.
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