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Home of the Week: Riverdale house gets modern main-floor makeover

home of the week

Riverdale restitched

The main floor of 58 Myrtle Ave.

Upholsterer Lindsay Wilson gave her east-end home new life. Now it needs a new owner

58 Myrtle Ave., Toronto


TAXES $2,628.06 (2016)

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LOT SIZE 23 feet by 150 feet.

LISTING AGENT Lance and Brenda Van der Kolk, sales representatives, Re/Max Hallmark Realty Ltd., Brokerage.

Lindsay Wilson has a knack for giving old things a new life. About 15 years ago, she first tried her hand at reupholstering an antique Victorian armchair that her great-grandmother had given her sister.

This was before the age of endless DIY videos on YouTube. So Ms. Wilson took it apart piece by piece and tried to remember the sequence so she could put it back together.

"It was fun and super satisfying," she said. "It was like taking apart a puzzle and putting it back together."

Years later, Ms. Wilson – who now does reupholstering professionally – was tasked with a similar project: Giving an old east-end home a new life.

The back story

When the homeowners came across the Riverdale house, they knew it would work for them.

In early 2015, Ms. Wilson and her husband were living in a loft near King Street West and Shaw Street, and it was starting to get cozy as they both needed the den space as a home office.

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So they decided to explore the east end of the city to see what was on the market. One of the first homes they toured was 58 Myrtle Ave., which is near Gerrard Street East and Jones Avenue, and right away they knew they could live there.

"It was kind of a surprise, we weren't expecting to find a house," Ms. Wilson said.

There were a few major features that really attracted the couple to the detached, two-bedroom house. Beyond the 150-foot-long lot (which has a parking area that fits four cars), Ms. Wilson remembers being excited by the home's potential. It had been maintained over the years and featured a finished basement suite with very high ceiling. But it needed an update.

"We knew we could put our own stamp on it," she said.

The house sits on a 150-foot-long lot.

After purchasing the property in June, the couple spent the summer figuring out how they were going to do that. They knew that they wanted to open up and refresh the main floor. They also knew that they wanted to upgrade the finishes, including installing hickory hardwood from Tillsonburg, Ont.

"When we were choosing things we asked ourselves 'What could we live with forever?,' " Ms. Wilson said.

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Key to this process was injecting their own style, which Ms. Wilson described as a "comfortable, refurbished modern" sensibility.

"We both grew up in a small town and I grew up on a farm, so we've blended that into our style as well," she added.

Real estate duo Lance and Brenda Van der Kolk happened to be the listing agents for the former owner of 58 Myrtle Ave., which is how they met Ms. Wilson. Given their history with the house, they were able to see before and after the Wilsons renovated it.

"It was shocking," Mr. Van der Kolk said. "The old house felt much more tight before Lindsay did the renovation."

Blending their styles together, the couple made design choices that buyers would be attracted to, says their real estate agent.

Mrs. Van der Kolk remembers being impressed by Ms. Wilson's aesthetic decisions.

"The design choices that Lindsay made are also what buyers are looking for," she said.

Now that Ms. Wilson and her husband (and their six-month baby) are looking for a new home, the Van der Kolks are again listing the home on market. This time, though, they've had the new challenge of figuring out how much this renovation adds to the value of the home.

"Looking at a valuation with very limited recent sales in this area, it's a challenge to price this property," Mr. Van der Kolk said. "Really, the selling price will be driven by buyer demand."

When renovating the home, the couple asked themselves what they’d be willing to live with forever.

Favourite features

One thing that Mr. Van der Kolk is sure will drive buyer demand is how Ms. Wilson transformed the main floor.

"This main floor space is what is going to sell this house," he said.

The kitchen is central to design. In the old home, the kitchen was pushed up against the back of the house. Ms. Wilson turned the orientation around so that the kitchen runs up the west side of the house, allowing it to take up more space. This also allowed them to fit bigger appliances, including a six-burner Kitchen Aid gas stove. And it gave Ms. Wilson the space to install an oversized kitchen island, which is almost 10 feet long.

"I was a little nervous when we put it in and it got chalked out on the floor," Ms. Wilson said. "I was like, 'Oh my god, the whole house is going to be just a kitchen.'"

Almost 10 feet long, the kitchen island has become the gathering point whenever the couple entertains.

But it was worth dedicating so much main-floor real estate to the island because it has become the hub of the house whenever they are entertaining.

"When people come over, this is where we hang out," said Ms. Wilson, adding that the island is one of the things she will miss most of the house.

But she is ready to pass this home to the next owner and look for her next home to revitalize.

"We're very go-with-the-now people," she said. "It's exciting to figure out what comes next."

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