49 Florence St, in the lovely Balsam Grove subdivision, is nestled on the east side of the street most of the way up the easiest of hills. Which means that you’re part of a very discreet and sweet little enclave, with large trees casting dappled shade over the front lawns and very little motorized traffic actually making it up that far. It’s an interesting mix of houses too, with both bungalows and two-storeys, original owners and considerate newcomers. Most people don’t even know it’s there.
If you look down from above you’ll see how it sits beside Grenville Park. And they do share the same pretty topography tucked between Portsmouth Avenue and the Rideau Trail, as well as the same swift access to all the midtown amenities. They each have their own park too - Balsam’s is smaller, sure, but impressively treed and it really feels like a forest in there, a place to steal away for an hour and muse on the way light moves across the back of your arm. If you had to boil things down, you’d likely decide that Balsam Grove is Grenville’s shy, less flashy sibling.
Number 49 is a two-storey home that was built in 1960, and an addition housing the fifth bedroom went on sometime after that as the family expanded. The lot is some 58 feet by 140 feet and is delightfully and intentionally wild. This morning, as we hosted an agent open house, butterflies flitted below the dining room window, nosing in their no-touch way at the heads of the milkweed, and then parasailing over to the little cedar shed in the back corner of the garden.
Inside, the original charm of this high-quality home has been maintained as much as possible. The oak-strip floors have worn to a creamy near-white in the high-traffic areas and I realise that you’re probably going to refinish those, but I like them very much. The comings and goings of the last 58 years are written into that fine hardwood. It’s like a map, if you will, and truer than any diary.
The new owner may choose to simply move in, and play up that late midcentury vibe. But we think it more likely the kitchen and bath designers will ply their trade here in the coming months, the interior stylists with their hundredweight of sample books and their designer jeans. It would be fascinating to witness. The template here is so pure, the possibilities are so very close to the surface. The obvious comparison is to the butterflies that have emerged from their woolly cocoons. Art, then, will soon imitate nature.