Behind the yellow door

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/02/2022 (343 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The house with a sunshine yellow door at 240 Des Meurons St. in St. Boniface wasn’t always a house. The structure built in 1903 was originally a three-storey apartment building. At some point in the 1980s, the space was transformed into a single-family dwelling.

For the last 19 years the historic property has been home to Nicole Mastaler, her husband Guy and their daughters, Madison and Ava.

The family had been living in a smaller St. Boniface home but needed more space to accommodate a growing home business. During their search for a bigger house, their realtor encouraged the Mastalers to have a look at a property, which wasn’t quite what they were expecting. They were initially hesitant to even go in and look.

Supplied photo The 30-foot ceilings of Nicole and Guy Mastaler’s home in St. Boniface are what first moved Nicole to decide she had to havethe house.

“Our realtor says ‘You have to see it, you have to go in, it’s a unique place.’ We walked in and it was instant. I had to have this place. It was immediate,” Nicole remembers.
While exploring the basement, Guy, who runs an upholstery business, came upon some unexpected challenges.

“He went downstairs; his head was touching the ceiling. I said get a haircut, don’t wear shoes, we have to have this place,” Nicole says with a laugh.

They had to find a way to make it work and they did. They gave away the garage and built an 800- square-foot shop in the back yard.

The 119-year-old structure has seen many people come and go.

“We had neighbours who remembered chickens and goats running around the backyard,” Nicole remarks.

When the couple first saw the house an artist was living there, with huge paintings on every wall. It felt like an art gallery, Nicole recalls. The Mastalers liked the idea of continuing that tradition and made a conscious decision to celebrate local artists in their new home.

Nicole, a staffing scheduler at Health Sciences Centre, takes pride in displaying their collection of paintings and clay art by Winnipeg artists.

The 2,600-square-foot home features a wide-open space on the main floor with a great room, kitchen, living room, and bathroom. On the second floor there are two bedrooms, a bathroom, a balcony and mezzanine. The third floor has a play room, study room, and additional bedroom.

The 30-foot ceiling draws the eyes upward to the balcony and mezzanine. Nicole appreciates the distinctively historic features.

“The crown molding, the old wood, it’s just this unique open space. I fell in love with it and so did Guy. It’s a busy street, but with 15-inch-thick brick walls, you can’t hear the traffic. And though there’s no front yard, there’s a nice back yard with space for a flower garden, a hot tub, a deck and the shop.”

The couple has made some renovations to the house, especially in one room.

“The kitchen was dated,” Nicole notes. “We put in hardwood floors, new cupboards, granite, and paint. My kitchen is my favourite room, I love cooking. I like to bake, I light candles, I have music going.”
Though they’d like to paint other spaces in the house, it would require significant resources — one of the drawbacks of the extremely high ceilings. But those same ceilings provide amplified acoustics in the open space where the family plays music together.

“I play piano on the mezzanine,” Nicole says. “Madison plays as well. Ava loves listening and dancing to music. We have played Christmas carols sometimes together, me on the piano, Guy on drums; as long as the music is more sedate we can control the volume. But being an open concept, whatever is happening on the first level travels through the house.”

“I love living in St. Boniface because of the character, the old eclectic homes, the beautiful big trees, the deer, the Seine River. I like the history, so much history.”

Janine LeGal is a freelance writer who loves Winnipeg’s homes and architecture. If you have a suggestion for a house to be featured in this column, please contact her at: janinelegal@gmail.com

Janine LeGal

Janine LeGal
St. Boniface community correspondent

Janine LeGal is a community correspondent for St. Boniface who also writes the These Old Houses column for our Community Homes section.

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