191 Helen St - $550,000

The Essentials

A true four-bedroom midtown family home that’s been renovated in lovely ways. It’s open plan and it’s bright. Its lines are clean and its outdoor space is fabulous and private. It’s exactly what’s been missing from the market in this low-inventory year

The Bigger Picture

I’ve been sitting in the early morning kitchen at home, looking slowly, meditatively even, through the lovely pictures of 191 Helen St. I was at the house a couple of days ago when Jordan from iGuide was setting up his tripod on the rain-wet deck out back. He was talking to someone I’d brought to the house for an early look, and so I was just wandering about, taking in how green the grass was, how quiet the street. I was musing mildly on the pleasant state of my life too, how mysterious it was that I’d somehow ended up with a top pocket full of business cards plastered with my name and mugshot on them, and my job was to sell houses for crying out loud.

I’d already been through the house again at that point, and it was perfectly clean in there and it was dead still, and everything felt like it was in its right place. We were pretty much ready to list, is how it seemed. And so I went home and filled out the paperwork, kicked around with my kids for a bit, and waited for the pictures, which I put aside when they did arrive because I was busy with something else. Until this morning, that is, when I lined them up on the laptop screen and went through them more carefully again, like they were news stories, or evidence of some hard-fought truths.

And I like very much what I see here. From the start, when Cheri and I first visited the seller and made our pitch, 191 Helen St has felt as much beach house to me as it has midtown family pad. I like the way the light floods in from all sides, and I like the pale pale walls, the mute blue flicker of the pilot light in the big gas fireplace, the driftwood frames tacked up here and there on the walls. I like the very faint reflections of us I caught in the kitchen counter and the far-off windows, like suggestions of a crowd, a summer seaside party, a happy history for the house.

And some houses do feel that way, don’t they, like the repositories of good stories rather than sad? As if they were built specifically to facilitate happy endings rather than sad. I think that has to do with design, with floor plan and window placement, flooring and mirrors. The truth is that the way you are able to move through a house creates the way you feel about a house. One room leads to another smoothly or it flows awkwardly. And if a house really is a machine for living in, then 191 Helen is pretty much a Swiss watch, so finely do its component springs and gears come together.

It is finished well on three levels. One of the advantages of moving away from the downtown core is that good living quarters down below is more likely, and who doesn’t want a breakout space like that, something quiet and just a bit darker, a bolthole far from the madding crowd?

And then there’s the deck. My word, the deck and the garden here really are something special. It’s how I started this bit and I’m happy to come full circle. The deck is low to the ground and seems a perfect square that stretches on like a flat beach with the tide out, an emerald sea at its lip and a forest at the horizon. It’s private and yet it’s also perfectly built for dinner parties, your friends’ laughter rolling in like surf.

The Realtor.ca listing will appear here later today. All the more prosaic details, the taxes and lot dimensions. The the full iGuide is here. Spend a little time in the brilliant kitchen and the sparkling baths. There’s no open house planned, so call us for a tour. Or your own realtor, if you have one. Any offers will be reviewed on Tuesday September 17th at 2 pm.

The Gallery


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