“In the dining room, for example, and the drawing room, the fireplaces are in corners,” Mr. Blades explains. “They’re not central to the room as they would be in a more formalized Victorian layout” Eight years ago, the couple drew on their restoration experience and decided to revive Pinehurst.
For Mr. Blades, a historic building consultant specializing in masonry, the view was a major enticement “You couldn’t see the house in those days,” recalls Mrs. Blades, who grew up in London and emigrated to Canada in 1976. “It was totally covered by undergrowth and trees. We had no idea what the property looked like or the house. We peered through the windows and we were amazed at what we saw. It was very much in need of loving care and a lot of work.”
Some 50 window panes had cracks, vines grew through the windows and many water pipes had burst. The Blades and some 25 area high school students spent endless hours working on the house and grounds: sanding, painting and removing a rough plaster finish from various walls.
Luckily, the house has good bones and a wealth of adornments: 10 coal-burning Victorian fireplaces; eight bedrooms; four bathrooms; mostly original windows, many wrapping around a corner; original embossed wallpaper as well as new hand-stencilled paper by San Francisco-based Bradbury and Bradbury; and slate from Quebec’s Eastern Townships for the roof.
Penny and Keith Blades, an English couple who visited Canada in 1976 and stayed. In the last 30 years, the couple has renovated eight houses and built one. “There was always another challenge, but this is the last one,” says a laughing Mrs. Blades. The architectural style of Pinehurst is late Queen Anne, a time when early notions of the Arts and Crafts style were emerging. made of cherry and bird’s-eye maple.
One of the stunning things about the drawing room is a rose-coloured ceiling. “It changes colour,” says Mrs. Blades, immediately getting at the nut of a thorny issue. She wanted an orangey hue in the terra cotta line, but the present colour shifts from a light terra cotta to a strawberry rose depending on the play of light one of those things that’s hard to get right when nature is ultimately in control.
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
17 May 2003, Sat • Page 77