It might seem like this story should have come at the beginning. Or maybe we needed time to fully appreciate all the synchronicities that led us to the yellow brick beauty. The house search was not easy. It began even before we left Toronto. After a deal fell through, we decided to rent a place in the neighbourhood we wished to live. We were lucky to find a beautiful, newly renovated home in Wortley Village to settle into during our search. And what a search it turned out to be.
Fifty houses later and five failed offers got us pretty discouraged. And then it happened.
We needed a fresh start. In the backyard fire pit we burned all of the listing sheets, purchase agreement offers, and notes on all of the houses we had seen. We consciously let each failed offer go and opened ourselves up to finding exactly what we were looking for. We wrote a list of all the elements we wanted in our new home.
The next day while out walking we saw a ‘coming soon’ sign on the yellow brick beauty. We immediately contacted our agent’s assistant, Lindsay, (our agent was away) and asked to see it before it came on the market. The listing agent was holding off showings until the open house that weekend and holding off offers until the following day (wait a minute, this sounds a lot like Toronto real estate!) I must have watched the online marketing video of the house probably 50 times and KNEW this was our home. I begged to get in to view it just before the open house. The agent agreed. We arranged for Shane, our amazing friend and contractor to meet us for the walk through to make sure the house was structurally sound and required minimal repairs. With his approval we would be able to put in a clean offer.
We were in the house less than 20 minutes and in my mind we had already moved in. This was home.
In that moment I made a promise to love this house.
We worked with rock star realtor, Veronica Jovicic to put together a solid offer. We also drew a picture of ourselves holding a sign with our names, the words ‘new homeowners’, the yellow brick beauty address and put it with the listing photo. We kept this image in our minds as we waited…
On offer day, four other offers were presented. We bit our nails as we waited outside the yellow brick beauty for the homeowner and the listing agent to review all offers. 45 minutes seemed to take an eternity. Finally the listing agent emerged from the house and my heart sank as he walked towards the vehicle of another potential purchaser. Veronica assured me this was good. I could hear them talking and laughing for an impossibly long time. Then the agent turned towards us and I held my breath as he walked the 100 feet to where we were standing. He was about 20 feet away when he said “Congratulations, you guys got it!”
We almost couldn’t believe our ears! A flood of happiness, relief and gratitude washed over us. After a little jumping up and down (ok, a LOT) and thanking the agents we celebrated our good fortune. Our new home, our new lives could finally begin on solid ground. And I could, once again, enjoy the process of falling in love with a beautiful old home. xo
In case you have been asking yourself ‘who is this urban farm girl?’ and ‘who is working on this project?’ and ‘where do these ideas come from?’, here is a little more about us.
Rachel (urban farm girl) is an interior decorator, artist and craftsperson who has been in Toronto for 25+ years, working in both interior design and non-profit organizations. Rachel’s work experience includes: event planning, set design, residential interior design, television work, creating/selling her art and crafts, as well as non-profit management, quality improvement and evaluation work. She is trained as an interior decorator and ran a successful design company with partner Susan Abramson for over 10 years (2 Great Gals). Currently building a design business in London Ontario while renovating her 106 year old, yellow brick home.
Adam is an artist, graphic designer, illustrator and craftsperson who has also been living and working in Toronto for the past 20+ years in the art and design fields. His laser-etched long board illustrations have been exhibited in Toronto and will soon be available via Etsy. Adam is currently putting his carpentry and construction skills to use in the renovation of the home he shares with his wife Rachel (urban farm girl) as well as designing neighbourhood merchandise for local Wortley Village shop, Heist.
Shane is the general contractor and owner of True North Renovations, and partner in True North Homes, specializing in the restoration of older homes. His approach brings houses back to their former glory and prestige while ensuring today’s conveniences and modern standards are met. The end product is a home that maintains its historic character with today’s lifestyle in mind. In addition to the yellow brick project, he is currently working on the restoration of a mid-century home in North London.
Although we are loving our new city we find ourselves at times dearly missing Toronto. Well not just Toronto, but specifically…
our old workplaces and colleagues
being closer to family
the vast design resources
the TTC, yes, I miss the TTC (not the 168 bus though!)
our old routines
our little row house on Clinton Place (and our lovely neighbours!)
Bickford park, High Park, evening walks around Christie Pitts
my old yoga studio
my favourite painting at the AGO
Learning a new city can be a lot of fun. We spent the first six months learning as much as we could about our new home city of London, Ontario. Here are some of our best finds…Londoners, please add to our lists if you can!
Food: The Only on King! The Root Cellar, Byron Freehouse, Thaiphoon and Bungalow
Trails: Springbank Park, actually the whole trail system along the Thames River is pretty spectacular!
Kind people: everyone is super-friendly and helpful, we have met some great people and reconnected with old friends
Getting around: biking is much safer than Toronto, we are walking distance from downtown but glad we have a car for most things
Shopping in Wortley: Heist (of course!), Quartermaster Natural Foods, and Curiosities
Coolest new ‘firsts’: Gardner Galleries auctions! Heeman strawberries, hula hooping at Wholistic Hall
Looking forward to continued exploration…especially house-related sourcing and shopping! By the end of this reno we’ll have a comprehensive design resource list for you Londoners. Want to add your favourite London home stores, secret sources and quirky shops?
We are Adam and Rachel. Two creative souls from Toronto who have recently made the HUGE life changing decision to leave the big city for a smaller, greener community where we can have lots of creative adventures! The last six months have been a whirlwind of learnings as we let go of our big city pace, rode our bikes, explored the trails and got to know our new city of London, Ontario. Finding a house proved more difficult than we thought – after five months of searching, 6 offers and two bidding wars we finally found the place we now call home. If you are interested in joining us during the top-to-bottom renovation of this 105 year old, yellow brick beauty, please follow along on this blog. We will be transforming this home one room at a time and plan to give all the details, design tips, London (and Toronto) resources and of course, before and after photos!