hello! neighbor - geoffrey & lisa

Hello everyone! For the last post of July, I'm leaving you with this month's edition of Hello! Neighbor. I have to admit that this is one of my favorite parts about doing this blog. I love getting a glimpse into how other people live. I find it totally fascinating. Apparently, I'm not the only one. At the beginning of this week Apartment Therapy picked up the Hello! Neighbor post I did of Per and Elana's house. I was certianly happy to share their beautiful home with a wider audience.

This month we are visiting Geoff and Lisa who live just east of us. Their house is obviously a labour of love. These two have poured their heart and soul into this place. At one point in their renovation, they hauled away twelve dumpsters of plaster and lath leaving just the brick shell of the house remaining.

Enjoy the tour!


Lisa & Geoffrey


Lisa: photographer, Geoffrey: cafe owner.

How long have you lived in your home?

We purchased the house in late 2004; demolished the interior because the electrical was knob and tube and there was no insulation.

Basically we bought the house, got married, got pregnant, and moved in by October for Sophia's birth in November 2005 - luckily she was born on her due date.

We added a twenty foot, second floor addition to the back (master bedroom & family room), dug the basement down four feet and put in radiant floor heating (discovering in the process a hidden room - so now we have a spot for a second bathroom in the house), put in a laundry shoot, a large walk in closet, and rearranged and rebuilt walls.

We used Architect Sharon McKenzie to help us with the addition we put on the back of the house. Since we stripped the inside down to the brick and took out most of the interior walls she was able to give the house a good flow. She made the layout of the main floor kid friendly, creating a "running path" from the front to the back door; which also gives the house an awesome sense of depth when you walk in the front door. It looks like a small house from the outside but it has a long lot. We were able to take advantage of that, building the house out to take up fifty per cent of the land.

Sharon recommended G. Colucci & Sons to us for the addition on the back of the house.

George was straightforward and smart, he said he wouldn't come until he could do the whole job at once. Then he showed up with this great crew and built it in like 3 days, (after which we insulated, drywalled, had the roofing & siding done). We were so impressed with his professionalism and approach.

George also recommended a handful of great reliable trades people to carry out the small jobs that needed to be done, like closing up windows while matching the brick perfectly; building the front porch & walkways.

The house (built in 1914 - detached double brick) was originally a dairy that served up fresh milk to the area. We found the ruins of a barn out back when we dug down for the addition. It is rumoured there is an old milk cart buried down deep in the backyard next door, which was part of the original property. It was called Maple Grove Dairy Ltd - the vintage milk bottles on the table above are from the dairy.

In the backyard, we built a seven foot white cedar fence with trellis and super gate door with ironwork. We have cedar trees growing out of the deck. In the back area, the brick floor and small wall were built using bricks from the back of the house that was torn down.

All of the plants were bought from Sheridan Nursery who also helped with landscape drawings.

Geoffrey found a service berry plant on a film set he was working on that was almost dead. We planted it in the backyard and it has prospered, giving us eye-catching white flowers each spring!

Any animals, kids?

Our daughter Sophia Rose and our tuxedo cat Pizza (named by Sophia after her favourite book about a cat that lives at a pizzeria and only eats pizza).

Oh yeah, the laundry shoot, which is positioned outside the upstairs bedrooms and runs through the kitchen (with chalkboard) was Geoffrey's idea. He had one in the house he grew up in. I cut the hole with the sawzall at 8 months pregnant, our friend Paul Dakin constructed the aluminum venting down to the basement laundry room.

What is your favorite room?

Geoffrey: The front living room.

Lisa: My office and the back garden.

What is your favorite object/thing/moment in your home?

Geoffrey: historical Toronto books, teak dining room table set.

Lisa: I love the large poster of my father with a fish he caught in the Bahamas. He had it stuffed and it hung on his office wall for as long as I could remember. The poster was hidden away in a closet for 30 years and was only found when my mom sold her home. I had it digitally copied and sent a framed edition to my sister in BC as we have few pictures of him.

I also love the framed poster of the fire girl collected from a trip I took through Finland & Scandinavia while on tour with Peaches.

Also my parents teak cutlery set from when I was a kid.

Sitting in the back garden on a hot day watching Sophia running through the garden hose, making mud pies, chasing the cat.

I love the front garden with the hydrangeas. They start off white and change to purple by autumn.

What are your future plans for the home?

Add a third floor with a deck.

Anything you would change?

The next door neighbours.

Best thing about living in Parkdale?

Geoffrey: being close to the cafe, have long connection to the past.

Lisa: the community, Sophia's little friends and their parents.

What original feature(s) of your home will you never get rid of?

floors, doors, baseboards, bricks, stairwell to 2nd floor.

Links, acknowledgments?

All photographs by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book except photo of Sophia (Lisa Kannakko)

Furniture: Sophia's blue desk, front marble table, dining room tables & chairs, family room table & orange chairs: Queen West Antiques.

Kitchen & black leather couches: Ikea

We used Steve Moschenross, owner of Straightline Construction to build our white cedar privacy fence, garden gate with wrought iron peep door, trellis, deck, shed, and the back bench seating.

We used Dupont Heating to put in our high efficiency furnace, radiant floor heating and redid all our existing rads.

We purchased two used and one vintage rad from Addisons Inc at 41 Wabash Avenue, as well as new taps for the original clawfoot tub that came with the house.

We reused the original baseboards, door & window frames wherever possible.