There are a few pictures in the virtual tour for this marvellous new listing that were shot at twilight from an angle slightly below the house. They give the impression, I think, of a house set into a near-desert of dry tussock grass and a glittering litter of moon rock. Something a high roller with impeccable taste and working out of Vegas might live in.
The seller asked that we consider removing those. And he’s right — considered in isolation they give the wrong impression. Because the house has actually been set, with a jeweller’s precision, into a classic Canadian Shield setting just less than thirty minutes north of downtown Kingston.
There is a boulder bigger than the garage just off the driveway, a soft-edged monster likely left behind by the receding glaciers of the last Ice Age. And there is a pleasing mix of deciduous trees stretching away to the west behind the house, some of them with roots exposed and wrapped like covetous fists around stones the size of watermelons.
There is also a pretty green field behind the house with a small pond in the corner and a cedar rail fence at the northern limit. There is a family of deer that ambles as casually down to the deck most mornings as I wander into Starbucks. And a population of birds both muted and intensely colourful, large and small. A sun that pierces the tree canopy seemingly at will.
It’s wonderful, that’s what I’m getting at. You’ll want to sit outside when it gets dark, predictably humbled and awestruck by the sky above, the history of the world writ large all around you. You’ll point out constellations to your friends and listen intently to the stillness of things. Eventually someone will pad inside for another bottle of wine, leaving the door open. And there you go, that’s your invitation to head inside for a look
The floor plan is open and bright. The kitchen gives onto the living room, and in common parlance this is your great room, though that term does this space no justice at all. The windows are tall and they are wide and they are long, and the way they invite the outside in and also frame the setting makes art of it all and a wondrous gallery of the house, a planetarium of sorts.
The kitchen is brand new and it’s lavish and efficiently organized, but it’s also a room for entertaining and for gathering around its touch-me counters. The appliances date back just a few months, not years, and are top-notch.
There’s a separate, intimate dining room, if you hanker for that sort of hushed conversation and little more formality. But mostly this house has an easy-going feel to it. It’s as if you’ve arrived, late at night, at some country estate you booked online for the weekend. And you expected to be mildly disappointed — nowhere could be as good as this looks, could it? — and yet here you are, and well, it’s all really rather extraordinary, isn’t it? The reflex when faced with a spot this perfect is to laugh, and maybe give your head a shake. Oh my word! is perhaps how you’ll vocalize the sensation in polite company. The rest will be mostly swearing.
Upstairs there are three bedrooms, all impressive. One of them has a vaulted ceiling and another (presently being used as a family room) exits to a balcony and a treetop walkway that leads to a further retreat above the garage. They is where friends stay, perhaps, or where you project crackling home movies onto the end wall late into the night, then peel down the stairs to the green field, and away you go up the hill, the moon making long shadows of your party.
I really do go on sometimes.
And I’ll stop. I really will, But let me just mention that this is a house built to the highest standards, and we’d be happy to chat you about those. You’re not going to buy this one and wonder which contractor you should call first. Everything has been done, and done well, inside and out. I should, as a way to end this, bring it down a further degree or two and mention the geothermal radiant in-floor heating system that’s wonderfully simple and yet also ridiculously inexpensive to operate. The earth itself wants you here and is lending a hand. That’s the message
Here’s the virtual tour the property deserves. There are floor plans there, and lots more photos taken as the sun was setting. They remind me a bit of a walk I took with thousands of others into the desert around the UNLV campus more than twenty years ago. There was a band playing, and a melancholy third act under way. But that’s another story altogether.