Heather’s House of Dreams

Anne’s House of Dreams is my favourite book in the Anne of Green Gables series. Ok, those of you who aren’t female and/or on the unsentimental side might be rolling your eyes right now, but somehow the title of the book has stuck with me through the years. As a young girl, I often thought about my own house of dreams and never quite stopped believing that I could have it. I’m just glad I had no idea how long it would take!

Over the last ten years in Toronto, we’ve rented apartments (hoo boy, have we rented apartments!) out of necessity. For most of the decade, the idea of home ownership, especially of the single detached dwelling variety, was laughable. I thought I had to adjust my dreams, pare them down and buy a condo. A couple of years ago we even went so far as to rent a condo, just to see if it was a good fit.

Well…it isn’t. Hermetically sealed in, at a steady year-round 23 degrees Celsius. Our only view is of a looming apartment building south of us, blocking the sun for most of its daily appearance. We still wonder what made us choose this place. If I recall, we just wanted a place that was clean, private and rather soundproof. We had a lot of projects on the go, wanted to walk to work, and thought we didn’t care that this ‘box’ had all the atmosphere of a scaled down 905 McMansion. The only joy I find here? Using the ensuite laundry. Whoever designs these places has no soul, no sense of the fitness of things. The low point? My cold cucumber soup, with cooling mint and yogurt, lost of all of its reason for being. We ate it mournfully in our dim, clammy condo one August afternoon. It should have been enjoyed in the soft evening air in a backyard – refreshing us after a scorching summer day.

My yearning for a proper house and garden grew and grew. Soon I found it difficult to read any of my chattier cookbooks – the ones that blissfully recount their outdoor meals, the herbs and produce that they grow themselves. I let my subscriptions to decorating magazines lapse – it was just too hard. I found I didn’t have the heart to write about my favourite recipes anymore; what was the point if I couldn’t take proper amateur photos of my creations in a kitchen that never gets natural light? Everything just looked, well, orange. It only reinforced my craving for a kitchen filled with sunlight.
Early this spring, we finally started our house hunt. Never one to do things halfway, not only had I written a list of “needs” and “wants”, I clung to my long held vision of what I thought my home could be. That, along with an experienced, perceptive and proactive real estate agent, proved to be unstoppable. He spent a lot of time talking to us before showing us a single house, and paid close attention to what interested us and what left us cold as we looked at houses together. It wasn’t long before he left us an excited voicemail – simply saying, “I found YOUR house”. He may just be my favourite man, next to my husband.

Much like true love, they say that when you walk into your house, you just know it. It’s true. I loved it the moment I walked in, on that dreary, snowy March day. I love it more each time I visit, and can’t wait to move in. I am supremely happy with the tour I’ve had of the back yard. I had hoped that there would be a lilac bush in my yard, and it is there. The seller hopes the jasmine will still be in bloom when we make another visit this coming Saturday. I almost don’t know if I can handle it. So much green, so many flowers, after the unrelenting pavement and concrete of the last few years.

And the kitchen? You just wait and see if I don’t get my food photography mojo back.