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Archive for March, 2015

How I Came To Transform A Vintage Home In Charlottetown, PEI

By Steven Fudge

As a west coast Canuck who relocated to Toronto over two decades ago, it wasn’t until 2005 that I first passed through Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island en-route to a wedding in Cape Breton. Charlottetown was on my itinerary because my dear friend and musician, James Ormston, was playing in the Charlottetown Festival. On that first visit, I instantly became smitten with the east coast charm of PEI’s capital city. Of course, during that initial rendezvous with Charlottetown, I had no idea that just three years later James and I would co-purchase a dilapidated vintage triplex on Upper Hillsborough that was in dire need of TLC and take on the task of renovating it remotely from Toronto.

7 - Black_House

 

Our original plan was simple enough. We’d buy a triplex and once the mortgage was paid off in 25 years, we’d each have a unit and the third could cover our operating expenses. Our income property proposal was a simple (or so we thought), strategic way to secure ‘free housing’ in our retirement years. As someone who has cultivated his passion for housing into a career, we sleuthed out the right opportunity in a transitioning location . We wanted to find a place where we could act as an anchor to a neighbourhood’s rejuvenation, while also capitalizing on a more economical acquisition price.  It all seemed reasonable enough. Along with our $153,000 purchase price and $4000 in closing costs, the home inspection revealed some significant repair needs totalling around $54,000. We figured we’d systematically tackle these projects during the summer months over the next five years, however, it wasn’t ultimately that simple (when is it?).

2-Black_House_Archive_Photo

 

When James arrived to take occupancy of the top floor apartment during our first summer of ownership, he discovered it sufficiently ruined. A wall soaked with water and mould from an on-going roof leak meant that the suite had to be gutted, reconfigured, and refreshed into what would become James’ contemporary Attic Atelier.

Attic Atelier Kitchen Transformation

 

SBS_Attic_Bed1

 

It was during this time we also had to acknowledge most of the major building components were beyond repair – the roof was shot, there was no insulation in the walls, the windows leaked like sieves and the heating system was almost kaput. Furthermore, James really craved an outdoor terrace for the attic suite, which basically meant we had to build a 3-storey ‘deck tower’ and I realized that the house had to have at least one 3-bedroom suite for our parade of friends and family.  James never did live in the house that summer, but we reconciled that this sad, forlorn 1880’s shell of a manse truly deserved our commitment to comprehensively ’do it right’. What began as a $200,000 long-term investment quickly ballooned into a $600,000 capital injection over a six-year period. While our slow and steady good intentions were quickly shattered, we embraced transforming the property into both our ‘home away from home’ and a luxury vacation rental guest home we ultimately called The Black House.

After - Attic Atelier Living Room

 

After - Attic Atelier Dining

 

Just as the Attic Suite was complete, our second floor tenant vacated, which prompted a cosmetic refurbishment including installing a new ‘vintage inspired’ washroom with ensuite laundry. When it quickly rented, we gained the confidence to rebuild the triplex as a low-maintenance, high-yield investment and summer residence. Tackling the ground floor Garden Suite reconfiguration was our next endeavour and it took an entire year to complete. A bland 1980s former bedroom addition was expanded an additional 180 square feet to create the Garden Suite Great Room (complete with reclaimed barn plank floors and beams) on which we stacked a ‘Sleeping Porch’ for the second floor apartment and a Sky Tree Terrace on top of it for the Attic Suite. While the additions were being built, we gutted the entire main floor to the studs, where we discovered the house was full of knob and tube wiring (which had been missed in the home inspection), and the hot water radiators were in need of all new plumbing lines.

After - Attic Atelier Terrace

 

As it progressed we turned our attention to redesigning the exterior, where we rebuilt the poorly enclosed front porch into a proper Centre Hall entrance serving  the second floor suite while a newly constructed well-proportioned Side Porch was  built as elegant entrances to both the Garden and Attic Suites. And as it neared  completion we ponied up a tidy sum to landscape the front with a Black Garden  using our landscape designer Dan Nuttall and resurfaced the asphalt driveway.

6C - Black_House_Siding_

 

The Garden Suite was an opportunity to engage and celebrate all the wonderful tradespeople who make Charlottetown their home. We enlisted the best of the best, including contractor Paul Coles, who is brilliant in his sensitive approach to elevating vintage properties, to create a bespoke suite that offers all the contemporary comforts we seek in a home today with a nod to the past. We used reclaimed plank floors and beams, incorporated bead board, custom parquetry, and had marble mosaic tiles laid as ‘carpets’ in classic patterns. The washrooms are indulgent, the sleeping spaces are discreetly tucked away from the Great Room, and the cedar wrapped terrace with barbecue off the kitchen is situated under the canopy of an enchanting 100-year old Ash Tree. Our sublime ’pinch me perfect’ Garden Suite, which we furnished with a mix of eclectic designer pieces, is ideal for family fetes.

Garden Suite Kitchen Transformation

 

Garden_Living_BeforeAfter

 

Garden Suite Rear Deck

 

Finally, when our second floor apartment became vacant again, we made the decision to fully restore, furnish and elevate this space into the Captain’s Quarters to complement the other two fully-equipped suites. While James had always gravitated to the Attic and I love being able to walk into a garden, when we finally flew in to furnish the second floor newly renovated suite last year, we both instantly felt the power of this space. It has that insouciant, compelling charm that comes with the patina of original rooms that have been happily occupied for over 125 years. Committed to reclaiming its original pedigree, we restored the stair banisters, added crown mouldings and bead board in our Centre Hall Makeover, built a dining bench in the cozy entertainment space and installed a breathtaking custom kitchen that included a built-in pantry with antique-leaded glass doors.

Captains Quarters Kitchen / Dining

 

Captains Quarters First BedroomCaptains Quarters WashroomThis year will be the first year since our purchase in 2008 where we don’t have a massive ‘To-Do’ list – and all 15 rooms are furnished. With the exterior complete in Black (here’s why), and two of the three suites being quickly booked for weekly summer stays), we finally get to fully enjoy ‘The Gentle Island’. While this labour of love will never be finished (yes, we’re obsessed with design), we’re looking forward to engaging more with the community, which has fostered several dear friendships. No matter what time of year we’re visiting The Black House, we feel like we’re home.

The Black House

Steven Fudge is co-owner of The Black House and divides his time between Charlottetown and Toronto.

For more about Steven and James’ Charlottetown dream-come-true vacation retreat visit www.charlottetownaccommodations.com 

Learn more about Steven’s Toronto enterprise at www.urbaneer.com
Follow them on twitter @urbaneer 

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5 Ways to Get Active in Charlottetown This Winter

Charlottetown Parks and Rec team lays down their top tips for staying energized all season long

By Christopher Drummond

Despite what the weather dramatics out there have been reporting lately,  Charlottetown is indeed alive and well—even after the copious amounts of snow that has been dumped on us this winter. But the silver lining of all of this snow (once it’s been cleaned up and managed, of course), is that it opens the doors to a wide variety of winter activities in the capital city, many of which are the secret to maximizing your time in Charlottetown once the temperatures start to drop.

1. TAKE A WINTERY ROMP

Jack-Frost-2014The Charlottetown Parks and Recreation Department maintains a number of walking trails within the city during the winter. Two very popular trails are the Confederation Trail and Victoria Park boardwalk. But remember: winter can be unpredictable, and although we try our best to clear the snow and ice on the trails, we encourage folks to use caution and take their time when being physically active in the winter. The last thing we would want is someone to fall and get hurt!

2. SHARPEN THOSE BLADES

Outdoor Hockey In CharlottetownAnother popular activity in Charlottetown is ice skating. In ideal winter conditions (i.e., consistent temperatures of -10°C or below), the Parks and Recreation Department constructs and maintains about seven outdoor rinks each winter in a variety of locations throughout the city. Their sizes can vary and so can the number of users. For example, East Royalty offers an outdoor rink for hockey with boards, nets and a light for evening play. And if you drop by on Sunday afternoons, they have a designated free family skate time from 2-4pm. Meanwhile In the downtown core, Founder’s Hall outdoor rink at the bottom of Pownal Street appeals to all kinds of users—whether it’s a game of pick-up hockey or just a relaxing skate, everyone can enjoy this rink. But be sure to bundle up down there  because it gets a little chilly that close to the water. Other popular rinks include: J. Bomber Callaghan Park in Hillsborough (also good for pick-up hockey or recreational skating), Orlebar and Centennial rinks (recreational skating).

Current Outdoor Rink Conditions  |  Indoor Rinks Schedules

3. CATCH A GAME

Charlottetown is also home to many great sporting events and activities in the winter. The University of Prince Edward Island and Holland College are great places to catch sporting events. The Charlottetown Islanders Quebec Major Junior team and the Island Storm of the National Basketball League draw huge crowds at the EastLink Centre as well. Of course, there are lots of other free sports to watch in our local arenas and gymnasiums in Charlottetown.

4. WORK IT OUT

Yoga in Charlottetown PEIFor those more inclined to sweat things out at the gym, Charlottetown is full of many fitness classes and gyms that you could sign up with. And whether it’s a deep yoga stretch you’re looking for or a high intensity interval workout, there are many businesses that offer drop-in classes and discounted packages for new members. So throw those excuses to the curb and watch the difference regular physical activity can do for your overall energy levels.

5. WHEN IN DOUBT, PLAY

Charlottetown-SnowshoeingAnd finally, just getting outside into the great outdoors will do wonders to fend off that cabin fever. Try reliving your childhood days by building a snow fort or challenge your neighbours to a snowball fight—that is when you’re done shovelling one another out, anyway. Snowshoeing, sledding and cross-country skiing are also great options. Whatever you choose to do, just be sure to dress for the elements and bring a hot drink to stay warm for longer lengths of time.

Most importantly, have fun!

For more information on City of Charlottetown activities, feel free to contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 902-368-1025 or check out our Program Brochure that lists all sorts of other activities for all ages.

Additional Links:  Brookvale Provincial Ski Park Cross Country Skiing Maps  |  Cross Country Ski Trail Conditions

 

Christopher Drummond is a graduate of the Recreation and Leisure Studies program at UNB and for the past ten years has worked as the Assistant Program Coordinator with the Charlottetown Parks and Recreation Department. As a parent with a young family (three children ages 1,3 & 6) Christopher has quite a bit of experience in “playing outside”.

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