Home Tour: University professor's "modern grandma chic" Victorian house (PHOTOS)

Jul 27 2022, 7:29 pm

Welcome to DH Homes, a new series featuring Torontonians and their homes! Whatever your design aesthetic, we want to hear about what makes your home uniquely you. Click here for more details, and apply to have your digs featured.

When Ellen Geesje Schraa graduated from school in her hometown of Orangeville, Ontario, in 1985, she found a 1950s dress from the “new — and only — vintage store” in the area. That dress set her on a path to becoming a tireless collector of all things antique and vintage.

“I’ve been featured on Collector Showdown for my vintage clothing collection,” she said, adding that her previous homes have been featured in Canadian Home and Garden and The Globe and Mail.

Schraa, whose background is in accounting, currently works as a professor of health policy and management at York University. But when she’s not teaching students, she’s exploring her neighbourhood with her dogs and looking for unique furniture for her stunning Victorian home in Little Portugal.

DH Homes Q&A

Name: Ellen Geesje Schraa

Neighbourhood: Beaconsfield Village

Size: 2,500 sq ft

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Girly, modernized, grandma chic.

Ellen Geesje Schraa

How long have you lived in your home?

One and a half years.

What’s the best part of living in Toronto?

The small town neighbourhood feel. Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods. I lived in many Toronto neighbourhoods since moving here in 1995. I just love [the city] and my neighbours.

Ellen Geesje Schraa

What’s your favourite thing about your neighbourhood?
The people and the small one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants. My everyday dog walk is a sightseeing adventure.

Ellen Geesje Schraa

Where do you get your decorating ideas?
From what I visualize in my mind, which is influenced by everything I see. I’m a very observant and detailed-oriented person.

Ellen Geesje Schraa

What’s your home’s best feature?

The original Victorian features, like tall ceilings, cornices, ceiling medallions, trim, doors…

Ellen Geesje Schraa

Ellen Geesje Schraa

What’s your favourite item in your home?

This is very hard for me to answer, it changes all the time. Today, my painted ceilings with the original medallions in the entry, living and dining room, and kitchen.

Ellen Geesje Schraa

What’s the biggest expense so far?
The boring stuff, underpinning, and mold abatement. My splurge purchases in my budget were my unlacquered brass fixtures and Broche light fixtures.

Ellen Geesje Schraa

And your favourite DIY project?
Painting. Detailed painting that makes all the difference in the big picture.
What’s your least favourite part of your home?
Unfortunately, the front of my house. I took a porch down, had some brick repaired, did some landscaping, but it just doesn’t feel like me yet. I planted a Japanese Maple but it died, and I’m currently on the hunt for a saucer magnolia. I’m so sad to miss a growing year.

Ellen Geesje Schraa

Where do you usually source furniture and decorations?
Everywhere. The side of the road, Kijiji, Facebook marketplace, family, friends, antique and vintage shows.
What’s your decorating advice?
When you’re overwhelmed with a decision, give yourself some time away and let the right answer come to you when you’re in a peaceful state of mind. Otherwise, the decision may be wrong.

Ellen Geesje Schraa

Ellen Geesje Schraa

How do people usually react to your home?

They gasp, then ask if I’ve been featured in a magazine. The funniest comment was from someone living out of the city who said, “This would make living in the city worthwhile!”

Ellen Geesje Schraa

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Interested in being featured in DH Homes? Check out our callout page here.
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