This is the first in a multi-part series by Miranda Fabricius about her latest renovation project, Crest View House in Belleville.
Home has always been important to me. Wherever I’m living, I like to make my space special, comfortable and a place where I feel secure. In these crazy times, I feel this need heightened, as I’m sure it is for many of you, too. We have been confined to our homes more than ever before and we are shifting the way we use them. They’re now not only our place to rest, but also our office, our gym, our summer home, and home school.
My husband and I have a goal to beautifully renovate century homes in the East Hill neighbourhood, keeping (or restoring) the original character, while adding the modern comforts of today. We believe that caring for these century homes is an important part of our heritage and adds to the revival of our neighbourhood. We want to see these old homes being loved and lived in for many years to come.
Our current project is a Victorian house called Crest View built in 1889 by Charles F. Smith. Smith built many homes in the East Hill neighbourhood and built this one for himself. Over the past 130 years the home has changed hands only four times.
Growing up on this street, I always thought this was a beautiful home, but it was hidden away behind giant coniferous trees, and was not very welcoming. So, one of our first tasks was to take down all the overgrown, partially-dead trees in the front yard. We wanted to welcome the house back into the neighbourhood and let people admire Crest View’s architectural details. We also want people to see our renovation progress: see the work that we are doing and maybe get excited and inspired to work on their own homes.
We started this project at the beginning of September. In the first month we settled on a new layout and found a great team of experts and tradespeople to work with. Some of the companies that we are currently working with
are Royal Plumbing, Bi-Temp and Three Tree Wood. All great local
companies that we would recommend for any renovation project.
While finalizing our plan, we stripped away the things that we knew had to go. We peeled back old carpets and dated wallpaper, and we melted years of built-up paint from detailed East Lake hardware. It was like bringing this home and its original accents back to life.
Once our layout for the interior and exterior was finalized, we got to work removing old plumbing, walls and trim to make way for Crest View’s new life. Of course, we kept as many of the spectacular original details that we could.
At this stage, we are starting to frame up the walls of the new rooms, putting in new plumbing, electrical and HVAC and cleaning up the landscaping to get ready for a beautiful new courtyard and fenced-in side and backyards.
Crest View, like many century homes, has its share of quirks and intriguing spaces: secret passageways through closets, hideouts under stairs, back stairs and servant quarters, and the biggest one, a Cold War-era bunker. Built around 1960, the fallout bunker is 300 square feet and the floor is roughly 12 feet underground. What does one do with a fallout shelter? You will have to stay tuned for that plan.