Renovated home is stuff of fantasies
Dreams. There are the ones we have while we sleep. And there are the ones we hold in our imaginations, the goals to which we aspire. This story includes both kinds, but mainly it is about a dream home.
The dream home belongs to Layne Dalfen, a dream analyst and Gestalt counsellor; her husband, Andrew Morris, who is about to experience his dream of becoming a chef; and their daughter, Emma Jo, who has a dream of attending a U.S. university.
The house in question is currently on the market for $1,489,000 to enable the three inhabits to realize their respective dreams. More about that later.
The two-storey house on Circle Road in Montreal became the family’s dream home in 2007 after it had undergone a six-month-long renovation. “Strangely enough, I grew up in the house three doors down from this,” said Dalfen during an interview in her home office, which was added to the house during the reno. “My family moved out of the neighbourhood when I was 13, but this little area, besides being the best kept secret in the city, fosters people who live here and stay here.” In fact, she says, a man who grew up in her current home now lives across the street.
Much of the neighbourhood was developed in the postwar period, but there are architectural vestiges of the 1930s.
Built in 1948 for the late Nathan Steinberg, a member of the Steinberg supermarket dynasty, the house was ripe for a makeover in 2006.
“I’m attracted to things that are a mess that I can clean up. I could see the potential here,” says Dalfen. “I’ve renovated a couple of homes and I love doing it. I know wonderful trades people.”
She was also adamant that the renovation would be respectful of the home’s origins; as a result, many architectural details from the era of construction were retained. “I like things that are new, but I also like to pay my respects to the past,” Dalfen said.
The family lived in an apartment for six months during the renovations and moved into their house in 2007.
New to the structure are the extension off the den, designed by architect Luc Demers, an inground swimming pool and landscaping that includes large perennial borders. The old kitchen was gutted and replaced with a new country-style one. And the layout of some of the rooms was reconfigured to create a more practical use of the space. On the second floor, for instance, a bathroom was closed off to the hallway and turned into an ensuite. And a small bedroom was turned into another ensuite bathroom for the master bedroom. Dalfen found the original ensuite, under the eaves, confining so it was transformed into a walk-in closet.
After the renovation, she also decided she wanted a backyard pond. “I knew my husband would say ‘no’ to it,” she said. “So I had a guy come in two days before Mother’s Day to build the pond. When Andy got home, I showed him the pond and said: ‘There. You don’t have to worry about Mother’s Day. I’ve taken care of it.’
“All of the bathrooms were rebuilt, but wherever possible, Dalfen and Morris kept original elements, such as the 1948 vanity in the ground floor powder room. Other period details that remain include a couple of wood accordion closet doors that were in surprisingly good condition. And the ensuite bathroom off her daughter’s ground floor bedroom retains its sunken bathtub-shower with original hardware. “In each room, we’ve kept a mix of old and new,” Dalfen said, adding that she loves the architecture and design of the 1950s. The original oak floors were preserved, along with the marble floor in the vestibule.
Dalfen is particularly fond of the office-style cabinetry off the den, which she believes held Nathan Steinberg’s office supplies. “All of the cabinets are original in there,” she said. The same style of original cubby-like cabinetry exists in a walk-in closet off her daughter’s bedroom.
Dalfen decided she didn’t want to work with an interior designer. “If I don’t know what I like by now, there’s no hope,” she said, laughing.”Instead, I collected samples of wallpaper, material, flooring and tiles for every room. I booked a one-hour meeting with a designer, put all the materials on the floor and asked for her blessing. She gave me her blessing for everything except the wallpaper I had chosen for the dining room, so I changed that.”
The kitchen was gutted and renovated to create an ergonomic space for Morris, who does the cooking. Here, a back-splash of glazed beige subway tiles complements the black granite counters and pine butcher block. “This really is a dream kitchen for Andrew,” says Dalfen.
Morris, a salesman of wire and cable, has dreamed of changing careers. He wants to be a chef in his own restaurant. To that end, he’s been getting training in a Laurentian restaurant in his leisure time. Emma Jo, currently in her senior year of high school, dreams of attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A young conservative, she wants to study political science.
And Dalfen dreams of living near the sea in a climate that is a lot milder than Montreal’s. So the plan, she says, is to sell the house on Circle Road and move to North Carolina.
“Andrew is American,” she says. “Emma Jo will attend Grade 12 in North Carolina and, if we’re installed there for a year, we’ll have resident status and will be able to send her to UNC for the state tuition of $3,000 a year. Otherwise, we would not be able to afford to send her to a university in the U.S.”
Morris is planning to open his own restaurant in North Carolina. And Dalfen, the author of Dreams Do Come True, will continue to do what she’s been doing for years. She’ll help her clients interpret their dreams, tapping into their subconscious minds for answers to life’s questions and problems.
Clearly, for her and her family, dreams are about to come true.
A small bedroom became an ensuite for the master bedroom.
This image of the community gathering place shows the BBQ and eating area of the Trailhead complex. See more page 12.
The courtyard gathering space of a condo project under construction on Johnson Street in Victoria. There is also an indoor movie room in the same space.