BIDDING WARS ARE the norm for homes in Toronto’s trendy West End, yet in 2007 Michelle Donnelly and Mark Puchala were the only people willing to tiptoe through this semidetached Victorian. Abandoned and rotting, with weeds growing indoors and the scorched remains of a fire lit by vandals in one room, it had a classic haunted house aesthetic. Even the bank got spooked: it pulled financing the day before the deal closed, leaving the couple scrambling for a mortgage.
While others recoiled from the house, the artsy couple â” she’s creative director of brand and marketing at Canada Goose; he’s an artist and former advertising associate creative director at agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky â” saw huge potential. It was wider than most Victorians, had plenty of space (about 2,300 square feet) and a generous-for-Toronto lot (27′ by 130′). They asked Brock James at LGA Architectural Partners to design a three-bedroom, three-bathroom layout, then braced as a down-to-the-studs renovation took just over a year to complete. Their gamble paid off: the house is now a comfortable hangout for the couple, their son, Jack, now 8, and their English bulldog, Roscoe. It’s also a beautiful backdrop for their eclectic art and furniture collections, with a jaw-dropping backyard that draws everyone outdoors from spring through fall.
ABOVE: The homeowners handpicked every piece of salvaged Ontario barnboard used to clad the back of the house. They were drawn to its weathered patina and zero-maintenance style. Barnboard, Legacy Vintage; chair by Ligne Roset, Kiosk. OPPOSITE: The farmhouse from the movie Beetlejuice inspired the white-painted brick and tin roof of this once-abandoned Victorian semi. Exterior wall colour, Baby’s Breath (OC-62), Benjamin Moore.
The ceiling in the family room is clad with the same barnboard that covers the back of the house. Bertoia chair, Inabstracto; sofa, Montauk Sofa; rug, Woven Treasures Persian Rug Gallery.
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