The PaperTree Cottage


Although there are many days when I miss living by the beach I cannot help but feel so blessed to be living in a much sought after home in the mid country.  It has taken me awhile to get out of the slump I fell into from our brutally cold winter.  Unfortunately it was the first few months we moved here.  We survived, prevailed and now have a zillion projects hanging over our heads.  Of course with the sunshine comes my own personal artistic inspiration, so all I want to do is the crafts and painting projects, leaving the big work to be done at later dates.  But I promised myself I wouldn’t do that this time.  I would work methodically from room to room, closing the literal door on each project.  So I started with Peach’s room.  Silly idea! The walls are still in the rough state they were a month ago.  But I can feel the sunlight recharging me from the previous year’s work load.

I want to talk about our beach house.  It wasn’t huge – 649 square feet.  We called it The PaperTree Cottage – named appropriately for its size and the large birch tree planted on the front lawn.  When we moved there it was this rather unattractive brown and white aluminum house with an unfinished porch.  The first summer there we painted the whole house – Twice! Peach was eleven months old, and she sat content to watch her mommy and daddy go up and down ladders while she enjoyed her toys and the shade from the tree.  When we were done we added the flower boxes created by my Sweets and finished the porch.  We painted the porch white and the front door a welcoming sunny yellow.  It was a completely new house! We went further and re-landscaped the front yard.  We added pebbled paths in the back yard, a chicken coop, a play house and a swing set.  We also tackled the inside.  Not one surface remained the same.  We created a third bedroom for Little Pea, although it was not technically large enough to even house a single bed.  We renovated the whole kitchen, which took six months longer than anticipated.  The home was perfect. We shared it with international students and travelers.  We were close to coffee shops, stores, public transit and of course, the beaches of Lake Ontario.  But we didn’t have a place to sit and eat! And the children were quickly outgrowing the lack of running space. And then our chickens were attacked and killed by a weasel.  The Big City seemed to host millions of raccoon, rats, weasels and owls! Then I read an article about a family from Vancouver.  The ‘perfect’ city.  Eco friendly, mountains, oceans, cool shoppes, artists and you name it … but this family was all about flowers.  The mom wanted to grow more flowers so they bought a small farm with five acres.  Those acres happened to host organic wild blueberries.  They were an overnight success! I saw snapshots of her children gathering rich berries, gorgeous flowers and carrying their beautiful hens.  That was what I wanted for my children! I wanted exploration without fear of someone weird snatching them up.  I wanted them to know where food comes from (not from the grocery store) I wanted them to experience raising chickens and possible other animals not commonly raised in the city.  I wanted them to be able to have a dog.  But like this family, I was not really willing to move super far away from the city center.  One because my poor husband would already have to give up his walk to work.  But Sweets too complained about the lack of space, the uneven floors of the cottage, the backyard filled with vermin, and the oddballs that frequented our parks.  Then one day I told him of this article.  Immediately it got him searching through MLS for country properties. By country I mean slightly outside of the city. We looked at some rather daunting farms.  I knew I was not able to tackle this much work alone.  Even my mom-in-law said I would be crazy to sign off on a deal like that! I had nearly given up.  I thought about looking for new homes in the city area we lived in.  The City is silly expensive, and we were basically trading our house for an even worse house with maybe a few hundred feet more.  I settled on the idea that the beach was a lovely spot, and we would just have to make do.  Then that urge hit me.  I had had it before.  We found our PaperTree Cottage via this urge.  So I opened my laptop and punched in the URL.  MLS … and this home popped up.  It had not been there before.  But there it was.  Sweets wanted a nice house.  Good size. This was a two story brick 2400 square foot home.  He wanted a lane way. Check! He wanted some sort of outdoor feature.  Check! The front is a large creek, the back a small stream.  Professional landscaping in between.  The inside was a little dated.  It made sense though.  The current owner was in her mid-eighties.  I can look passed dated decor though.  The house was filled with solid chestnut original trim, mahogany inlay flooring, a beautiful sun room, and three bedrooms each with a walk in closet.  Peach’s room has two! She would have a reading nook! Sweets also wanted a detached garage, and I wanted a studio space.  Check! Check! Now for the price … below market value! I jumped and called our agent. 

The next day we were walking though the home in awe.  Even the doorknobs are hand blown glass Art Deco knobs! Which Peach’s friend Rosebud calls “diamond door knobs”.  I was sold. Sweets was a little hesitant. It didn’t take much to get him on board though.  He knew we both wanted this.  So we made an offer.  With a slight counter offer the deal was done!

We rested knowing we had three months until our move.  In the meantime we found new people to take over our little beach home.  They’re the perfect size family, two adults, one dog.  I know they love it.  And I cannot say I blame them.  The area is up and coming, it just got it’s Starbucks. 

Then November hit and we moved.  A short three weeks later the whole area was covered in feet of ice.  Trees were broken everywhere. We had no heat, no power, no phone.  All at Christmas time.  Our family huddled by the fireplace and slept in the breakfast room together to keep warm. 

I had busily unpacked the whole house.  I had packed and unpacked within a three week period! All in time for us to host Christmas! And it was basically cancelled.  The tree lay dark in the freezing cold living room.  The turkey kept cold in the ice and snow outside.  I was exhausted.

Then the slump hit.  It was easy to hide away in the darker days of winter.  Tired from the years of renovations, moving and having two young children.  I needed time to simply just be. To do nothing.  So I did as close to nothing as I could.  Now I have to shake that nothing off!

My bestest friend (I can say that since we met at age 12) is coming for a long visit this summer.  She is bringing her fiance, so I need a great place to host them.  We’ve decided with a little work on my studio it could function beautifully as both an art studio and a three season guest suite.

I have a purpose to working now.  I am still slumpy. I am thinking, maybe if I allow a few of those creative projects it may just launch me back into the swing of things.  I really need to start making this truly feel like home.  I need to hang our artwork, and paint the walls with colours we like.  I need to take out the carpeting (although Luna & Picante are helping with that with their claws) I need to make this home.  And fast! Time to get cracking!

Want to see The PaperTree Cottage? Click here.

Tomorrow I need to include a chicken update! Two of them are crowing! uh oh!


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