Channel Choice: A waterfront gem

RENOVATION

Channel Choice
A waterfront gem was a surprise discovery for these homeowners

By Connie Adair

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You never know where surfing the internet will lead you when it comes to looking for a property. For Keith Pfeiffer and his partner, Dr. Lawrence Reiter, it took them to a place they had never seen before and to a property and home that dreams are made of.
Pfeiffer was looking on the internet one day and “was drawn to Prince Edward County in Ontario. I had never been before but had heard rumblings. I had heard it was the ‘in place’ to be but hadn’t paid a lot of attention.”
His dream was to live on the water, and after looking at the map at the area east of Toronto, his interest was piqued.
“It’s a funny thing about Canada. It’s not cheap to live on the water, but it is achievable, a possibility for the average person,” unlike in South Africa where’s he’s from, he says.
After seeing many properties, none of which they were crazy about, they saw this property on the Napanee side of the channel. “We fell in love with it. It has everything. It’s so beautiful that our friends say we live in a postcard,” Pfeiffer says.
It has 252 feet of water frontage with views of Adolphus Reach. The grounds include a gazebo and a garage with a loft above (their next renovation project is to create a guest house). Flower beds and a dock were added by the previous owners.
The 2,720-square-foot house is over-engineered, he says, adding it has electrical plugs everywhere. A generator can run the whole house, from lights to TV to fridge, he says.
The home was built in the early 1800s and surprisingly many original features, for example thick beams in the sitting room and basement, remain. “You can see where they were chopped with axes,” Pfeiffer says.
The kitchen had been redone by the previous owners. “There was nothing wrong with the kitchen, it was just dated,” he says.
Two months into the renovation project, they tackled the kitchen. Instead of gutting it, Pfeiffer brought in local artisan Elizabeth Harvey of the Melon Patch in Bath, Ont.
“Chalk paint can be put directly on to wood cabinets. You don’t have to sand or strip. It really looks lovely and fits the theme of the house,” Pfeiffer says.
The cupboards were painted with French Country blue, using Annie Sloan chalk paint imported from the U.K. “I helped Keith choose the colour for the walls in the house and I did a custom mix of two Annie Sloan colours with a couple of waxes for his cabinets,” Harvey says.
The kitchen island remains untouched. “We didn’t want to overdo,” he says. “The kitchen worked out well.”
The heart of the home has granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, including a gas stove, plus a pantry. Three chandeliers above the island add a touch of sparkle.
Off the kitchen/family room is a three-season room that has wall of windows and spectacular water views. The windows fold down to create an open view and welcome breezes on a hot day. Beyond this room is a deck area perfect for barbecues and basking in the sun.
One of the biggest projects was to rebuild the staircase. Walls on one side of the staircases were removed to create an open feeling. They were lucky enough to find balustrades that matched perfectly.
Although the lower level was finished, when they bought the home, access down was via a ladder, so they added a proper staircase.
The two “very 1980s” bathrooms were renovated. The upstairs bathroom was originally four rooms. Walls were removed, structural beams were added and the laundry room was moved to the lower level.
A challenge was that the bathrooms had a one-piece tub/wall system that covered the old bathtubs and walls. “It was hard to get out of the house,” he says. “We had to get machines to cut it them into pieces so they could be removed.”
The new upstairs bathroom is a luxurious yet masculine space finished in marble. A floating vanity and soaker tub add a fresh feeling to the room. A large open marble shower was built, and had an unexpected benefit. Unlike stepping out of a shower stall and into a cold bathroom, the open shower allows the steam to warm the whole bathroom. Also, he says, “You walk into the room and it doesn’t feel pokey.”
The main-floor bathroom features ceramic subway tile with bevelled edges and a shower with a glass wall on one side and no doors.
The house was painted and decorated, with wallpaper added in the master bedroom and wood closet doors in the bedrooms painted with chalk paint. The technique, Pfeiffer says, lends a “Restoration Hardware” style look.
The home is a blend of classic and contemporary, with the yellow walls throughout painted a neutral grey. Choosing the right shade of grey was no easy task. They tried about 20 samples, some which had a greenish tint once on the walls, or that looked different with the varying light in each room. They wanted a bluish grey and chose Benjamin Moore’s Bottlenose Dolphin grey. To keep the decor fresh and bright, doors and trim were painted white.
The renovation and decorating took about eight months. “It took a little longer as we only did one room at a time,” he says. When each area was finished, they moved to another room until it was complete.
“It’s a magnificent home. Sometimes you wish for something and get it and I appreciate that,” Pfeiffer says. “From the day we moved in, I had a picture of what I wanted. It turned out exactly as I hoped it would.”

Space for Art
In the dining room, all eyes are on a large painting of Cardinal Richelieu. “We’ve had the painting for 20 or 30 years,” Pfeiffer says. “Wherever we buy a house, we ask, ‘Will the Cardinal fit?’ It was touch and go in this house.” The painting fits, occupying a prime dining room wall from floor to ceiling. They also looked at how the other pieces of their extensive art collection could be highlighted.