Janice Dubiansky got her dream house in an unusual way: by knocking on the door. When she and her husband made an offer on their home in November 2015, it wasn’t for sale. Earlier that year, they’d seen it listed online on realtor.ca for one week before the post was taken down. But Dubiansky, a trusts and estates lawyer at Robinsons Law, couldn’t forget about it.
The house, just east of the Beaches and built in 1949, struck Dubiansky as a perfect Cape Cod-style home: symmetrical exterior, a steep roof and multi-panelled windows. The two-storey house was also covered in windows and skylights. “After living in a narrow row house in Cabbagetown for so long,” says Dubiansky, “we loved the idea of having natural light.” It would also afford plenty of space for their two little kids, Luca, 4, and Ivy, 19 months.
Months after the listing vanished, Dubiansky kept daydreaming about what could have been. One day, she drove by the house with her husband, Jason Casagrande, who works in financial services, and they just had to know. “We knocked on the door and asked the owner if he was still interested in selling,” says Dubiansky. It took some negotiating, but he was. They officially moved into the house in March.
On day one, they faced a big design challenge. The house came furnished with contemporary items, but Dubiansky and Casagrande are long-time second-hand-furniture addicts. “We’ve always bought stuff off of Kijiji and refinished it,” says Dubiansky. The couple didn’t want to throw out their old furniture, or the new stuff. So they made an unusual decision: they mixed all of it together.
That means the interior design is half modern and half vintage-antique. But it works — mostly because they buy tasteful antiques (like their brass bar cart and their son’s spindle bed frame) that are brimming with personality.
When Dubiansky looks around, she has to pinch herself from time to time. “I remember seeing the listing photos and telling Jason, ‘This is my dream house.’ I can’t believe we live in it now.”
This story is from our Winter 2016 issue.
Photography by Nancy Tong