Written by: Tanya Bottomley | Photography: Paul Spears
Minto is a small township, located at the western most point of westbound Highway 9, on the Maitland River in Wellington County. This charming town was officially established in 1999, and is named after its founder Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, 4th Earl of Minto; 8th Governor General of Canada.
Known for its sweeping farmlands, rolling open space, and friendly residents, Minto is in the heart of Ontario’s Agricultural Country, and as such, is also home to many historic farmhouses – some dating back to the mid to late 19th century.
When Amy and Grant Habermehl happened upon a decrepit old Victorian Century Home for sale on the 5th line of Minto in the fall of 2018, it had most certainly seen better days. Built in 1890, situated on a 2.8 acre lot surrounded by farmland, it had been rented out by the local farmer/owners for a number of years. It had been largely left unmaintained and unkempt by the tenants. As local business owners and entrepreneurs, they had long had a dream of living in the country with their young family. Their expectations were simple – they wanted to remain in the community, close to town and their business, on a paved road. The home on the 5th Line seemed to fit the bill perfectly. After briefly viewing the home and land surrounding it, Amy and Grant were forced to make a split-second decision in a multiple offer scenario, and they decided to go for it! Just a few weeks later, they took possession of their future home, and commenced what would become both a massive undertaking and a labor of love.
Over a period of 14 months, they painstakingly restored and renovated this old Victorian which had seen better days, into a stunning, modern family residence. Every step and detail of this renovation was thoughtfully planned and carefully executed by the Habermehls, with the assistance of local design experts Cover-Ups Carpet & Flooring and The Plumber’s Wife.
Amy and Grant completed the demolition themselves, which admittedly took much longer (and a few more bonfires of burning wood) than expected, and they essentially stripped the home to the bare bones and started from scratch. Having said that, the couple did an outstanding job of marrying modern functional amenities with touches of gothic Victorian charm which serves to preserve the original character of the home.
When driving up to the front of this grand old farmhouse, I was immediately struck by the smooth transition from the original yellow brick to the modern, dark grey exterior of the addition on the south side. The large windows and welcoming entryway reveal hints of the original era but have a contemporary flare that is warm and inviting. The covered porch (currently under construction), is certain to become the place to be on warm summer nights with a nice glass of wine or cup of tea, much as it would have been more than 130 years ago.
Walking in the front door, the feeling is much like what can only be described as “coming home”. The large, open concept kitchen, living and dining area feature high ceilings and gothic-inspired windows which result in every room being flooded with natural light and an open, airy feeling.
The kitchen is the centerpiece of the main floor, with much thought put in to ensure that every amenity you could possible think of was included. Storage abounds in this space, with an oversized center island complete with kid-friendly pegged storage on one side, and hidden storage on the other. The bar stools are eclectic and innovative, and double as step stools, allowing for even the most vertically challenged chefs to reach the top shelves of the abundant pantry space. The unique, porcelain tiled backsplash completed by Cover-Ups Carpet & Flooring in Arthur, is a stunning juxtaposition of old and new. Expertly installed by the Cover-Ups installation team, the tile is mitered on the corners to create the appearance that it was originally a whitewashed brick wall. This technique results in a no-edge tile which is pleasing to the eye, and does not require metal edges. All of the kitchen countertops are stunning Cambria quartz, and the brushed metal black fixtures and apron sink complete the modern/rustic farmhouse look.
As a realtor, and self-professed HGTV addict, it takes a lot to impress me when I walk into a home for the first time, but I can honestly say that the main floor of this home is nothing short of jaw-dropping. The shiplap wall and live edge mantle surrounding the built-in propane fireplace are the focal point of the living room, and they make it warm and cozy despite it being a large, open space. The luxury vinyl floors found throughout this house mimic wide plank barn boards, only they are much easier to clean and maintain, and are certainly more practical for a young family. When I mentioned to Amy how much I liked her floors, I have to say I was stunned when she told me it was vinyl. I knew vinyl flooring was the new “thing”, but like many other people I was skeptical. Although solid hardwood floors will always be in demand, new engineered hardwood, laminates and more recently, luxury vinyl flooring are trending upwards. Advancing technology allows for manufacturers to create planks and tiles that mimic natural looks such as wood and stone. Hand scraped and distressed looks are becoming more and more popular, as are metallics and natural stone. As a result, the stigma of the old school 70’s vinyl floor seems to be waning, and more and more consumers are using it to express their own personal style.
Proceeding down the hallway to the second storey, the exposed brick wall is an unexpected throwback, and is a lovely way to preserve the original façade of the home. It seamlessly ties into the newly constructed addition, which the Habermehls required in order to accommodate their young family. The bedrooms are spacious and bright, with an abundance of natural light, and the master features a spa-like ensuite bath with a standalone tub and step in shower. Design touches such as feature tiles in strategic places, and dark brushed metal fixtures give it a high-end look which could be easily described as farmhouse chic. Cover-Ups in Arthur helped with the design choices and provided the tile materials for the bathrooms, which include innovative little details such as cutting a shampoo cubby to match the deco tile size to make it visually appealing with a streamlined look.
The upper level family room is a cozy retreat just off the master bedroom, and it is great place to hide away and read a book, or simply escape the hustle and bustle of busy family life. Many of the final touches, such as the reading swing in the children’s room, and additional décor items were provided by The Plumber’s Wife in Arthur, including the super cool reading swing in the children’s room!
The quality of workmanship throughout the home is evident everywhere you look, and the attention to detail is second to none. While the theme may be decidedly rustic, there is most definitely a modernistic flare. It is inspiring to see that people still appreciate the architecture and design of gothic style Victorian homes. The Habermehl Family started with a vision of a dream home that they hoped to create and were able to bring it to fruition.
With the help of local area experts Cover-Ups Carpet & Flooring and The Plumber’s Wife, they transformed a once forgotten, neglected old house into a stunning new home, where they will create many new memories in the years to come. Perhaps even in a time when everything is disposable, some things are worth saving. Perhaps everything old really is new again.
Cover-Ups Carpet and Flooring and has 2 store locations to serve customers in the Arthur and Fergus area. You can visit their website at https://www.coverupsflooring.ca.
The Plumber’s Wife is located in Arthur and specializes in unique bathroom renovations and home décor solutions. You can visit their website at https://theplumberswife.ca