Ren­o­vated home is stuff of fan­tasies

The Prince George Citizen - The Citizen - Real Estate Weekly - - Real Estate - Stephanie Whit­taker for Canwest News Ser­vice

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.

Canwest pho­tos

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.

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