Framed by Lake Ontario on one side and Hamilton Harbour on the other, Hamilton’s 6 km long “beach strip” is a unique neighbourhood with a proud past that is attracting a lot of potential new homeowners.
Just over five years ago business executive Krystene purchased a 3 storey walk-up that she playfully dubs as “The Sand Castle”. She was initially attracted to the area by the bicycling and rollerblading opportunities on the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail, which extends along the strip.
“I had looked into buying a house there a few years before, but it wasn’t the right time at that point.”
Pursuing her goal to move to the strip is a decision she has never regretted. Located in a collection of six houses, her 3,000-square-foot townhouse faces Hamilton Bay, while the rear overlooks the lake. “My back yard is Lake Ontario.”
That orientation enables her to watch the sun rise over the lake from her bedroom, see it set on the bay from other areas, plus watching full moons whenever they’re available. “The sunrises are just spectacular, as are the sunsets.”
As the house was brand new, she didn’t feel the need or the inclination to embark on any expensive renovations. But through the use of artwork, artifacts, accessories, pottery pieces, and other collectables she has purchased on business and recreational travels, she has stamped her own personality on the house.
“I make a special effort to peruse local galleries and purchase pieces of Canadian work while I’m travelling.”
A figurative and literal textbook example is a combined library/office she created in a room on the first level, just a few steps up from the main entrance. The well-stocked, seven-shelf library is the culmination of, “not owning a television for nearly 2 decades”.
As the Canadian branch manager for a Japanese gaming company with its North American headquarters in Las Vegas, the location works perfectly with her active lifestyle. This, combined with the luxury of working from home with a flexible schedule, attenuating to business in different time zones, allows her to escape for a rollerblade or bike ride during the day.
While working, she can look up from the office desk and peer out the window to catch glimpses – and be inspired – by sailboats on the water, and cyclists and walkers on the Waterfront Trail. “On a clear day I can see the Toronto skyline.”
Even on what others might tag as a dark, cold, and gloomy day in the city, here on the beach we are offered something fascinating to catch our interest, such as lake freighters and surfers in wetsuits braving the cold waves, she says.
“I call it moving artwork because the sights are continually shifting. A new, interesting and beautiful backdrop each and every day.”
When needing a break, she can get up from the desk and move to a lounge chair in the office and snuggle with her cat, Mistletoe, while still returning emails and phone calls from her cell phone.
As her home really is a beachfront house, it reflects a nautical theme. Representations of that theme include a wall painting of a beached boat in one of the bedrooms, another wall painting of a very long dock in the master bedroom, and a crab fishing net and life buoy hanging on the outside wall of a covered patio just off the library.
A few steps down from that covered patio is an open deck. Her kayaks and paddle boards are stored in an in-deck compartment and it’s simply a case of retrieving it, walking up a set of stairs she built to provide access to the Waterfront Trail, and then a few minutes’ walk down the beach grass path to launch the kayak.
Sitting in the office, on the patio, or out on the deck watching the sights and listening to the sounds – such as the roar of the lake – is therapeutic. “It really grounds me and is a great stress reliever.”
Returning to the interior of the house and up from the office is a very large, great room which is excellent for entertaining. But it’s also the perfect place to relax in solitude, says Krystene, who has created a reading nook there.
Overlooking the great room is a combined kitchen/dining room with walkout to a covered patio where she spends most of her time entertaining friends. One of the many kitchen features is a large island with a built-in stove top which allows her to easily interact with her guests while cooking. Another feature is a couch she has dubbed the “conversation couch” because it is the setting and the catalyst for some deep discussions, perhaps inspired by “The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius”, “The Mystic Rumi” and other great philosophers whose books are stacked on the sill behind the couch.
The upper level is comprised of three bedrooms. They include the master bedroom, which boasts two walk-in closets, an ensuite and patio doors leading onto a covered deck overseeing Lake Ontario; a guest bedroom; and a third which she describes as the “travelling room”. It’s where she keeps business wardrobes for her frequent and extended business and recreational trips.
Apart from the house itself, there is a strong sense of community in the neighbourhood, says Krystene, who has formed close relationships with three other ladies. Self-described as “The Boulevard Girls”; the foursome congregate and enjoy beverages on the beach together on the weekend or at the end of a work day and appreciate their little piece of paradise.
Written by: Dan O’Reilly | Photos: Paul Spears