The show Wednesday has been a hit on Netflix, becoming one of the most streamed shows of all time as people revisit the iconic character from The Addams Family. But, of course, that’s all fiction. The Addams family doesn’t actually exist, but the Blumberg family in Dresden, Ontario, comes pretty close!
The family behind the Discovery+ show We Bought a Funeral Home have shown the world their spooky side, turning an old funeral home into an incredible work of art.
Heather Blumberg, along with her husband Arryn, son Rafferty, and daughter Noa, made the move during the pandemic after finding the home on a list of mansions for sale outside of Toronto. The family went to see the property and within minutes knew it was for them. They ended up buying the 38-room, 12,000-square-foot mansion for $570,000.
We spoke with Heather Blumberg to learn more about the transformation and get the inside scoop on the design inspiration for her family’s new home.
Restoring the building to its ‘former glory’
The Blumbergs didn’t seem to mind that their soon-to-be-home was a funeral home for more than 100 years.
“It was a point of interest for us, but didn’t have any impact on our decision to buy it or not,” Heather told us. “All old houses have history! What’s been more interesting is finding out the folk stories about the house being haunted, and researching the lives of the people who have lived here. We also found an old body transportation box (which is now framed in the house) and spent time learning about its former occupant. There’s a very rich history to this area of Ontario.”
Just as all old houses have history, they also come with architecture and design not often seen in today’s new builds. Updates have been made to the property over the years, but as many in the home flipping business would say, the building had good bones.
“The original part of the house is very grand, it was designed and built by a lumber baron, so no expense was spared on the construction,” Blumberg shared. “However, in the 1990s, a large extension was built on to the home and a lot of the original woodwork, moulding, floors, and windows were removed. Part of the attraction of the house, which had sat empty for nearly six years, was being able to save the home, and restore it to its former glory.”
An intense project, but worth the wait
The Blumbergs certainly transformed the space into the home of their dreams, with unique design styles and themes throughout. For Heather, who formally established her design company 620XSTREET Interiors in 2021, this type of project has been 20 years in the making. Despite injecting their personality and design touches into the home, the family wanted to make sure the original structure was honoured and treated with respect.
“At the foundation of the design is the respect for the home’s original architecture and its history as a funeral home,” she explained. “No matter what the aesthetic each room has, I’ve put back in original baseboards, moulding, casing, trim, and doors. All moulded from the original parts of the house.”
The project wasn’t a small undertaking—no pun intended. It took more than a year for the home to come together, all captured on camera thanks to their reality show. Heather told us it was an incredible experience, and gave kudos to the production team and network for making the process so easy on them.
“It was a fairly intense project with lots of people involved,” she shared. “We aren’t from the industry, so we really didn’t have a clue what we were getting into! But who says no when you’re offered your own show? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance.”
While Heather openly admits they aren’t “aren’t delicate or patient people,” she had a method to the madness when figuring out how to craft each unique space.
“My process is to live with the space first, decide how we want to use the room, and how we want to feel when we are in it. From there I move to a floor plan to ensure that my design is practical as well as beautiful. Styling can be driven by an item I found, a colour I love, a film I just watched—anything really. If the room is for someone else (like the kids’ spaces), I have them tell me what they want. I then spend time sourcing items and images to make sure we are all on the same page!”
All in the family
Heather said she had a lot of fun creating her son Raff’s room, bringing in pieces of family history and international travel.
“I wanted the room to reflect him, he really was the inspiration,” she explained. “He’s an old soul. He’s quiet and calm but incredibly deep and layered. [We] chose the colour palette together, largely driven by the original foundation of the house we exposed in his bedroom. Lots of dark browns, creams, and ambers. The room itself is filled with items we have collected all over the world, or is a part of his history, like his grandfather’s [Order of the British Empire, a British order of chivalry].
“As the room has concrete floors, brick and stone walls, I needed to make sure everything else was a juxtaposition to that so the room is balanced and warm. I used lots of leather, wool, cashmere, and velvet. It’s a very tactile space!”
If you ask Heather to pick a favourite part of the house, whether it’s a room, the history, or the essence around it, she finds it difficult to answer.
“This is like asking me to choose my favourite child!” she jokes. “If we go to the room, it’s one I haven’t done yet. It’s the widow’s walk. I’m going to change it into a bedroom so you can sleep at the top of the house, surrounded by windows, and see the skies and the town at night. But overall it’s the history of the home. We feel incredibly privileged to live in a house that’s been a part of so many people’s lives. Thousands of people have been through here and have dear memories attached to it. That’s quite a responsibility!”
Black is the new black
Even though choosing just one room to label as the favourite is difficult, Blumberg does admit the all-black rooms hold a spot near to her heart.
“From the second we walked into the house I knew exactly where the kitchen/dining/family room would be, and that it had to be black and modern,” she shares. “The design for these rooms came from the stone, titanium granite in a leather finish. I wanted it to be the star of the show. Given the scale of the room (1,500 square feet) it was quite a commitment to make! I knew I needed to layer in shades of black, textures, and patterns to ensure it wasn’t flat and uninteresting. The original crown was painted in a gloss to pull out the fine detail, everything else is matte. The cabinetry is stained so you still see a little woodgrain. Everything has lighting to highlight specific aspects of the room.
“The bathroom was a really fun space to do, too. We could go wild with the tile as the space lends itself to dark and dramatic. We kept the focus on the oversized black soaker tub, and designed from there. Every time we show people the space we’re met with gasps! I used antique sconces to bring warmth in, and to stop it feeling like a cave. The warm amber tones offset the dark espresso chase the walls and tiles are.”
It’s about celebration, not sadness
Walking around the space, you may not realize it was a former funeral home…until you get to the bar, which is on the old casket lift. Other than that, it’s a pretty standard home.
“[There aren’t] many quirks, obviously not many homes have a casket lift or an embalming room,” Heather jokes, “but otherwise the home hasn’t really had anything we didn’t expect. Unfortunately, the previous owners had stripped a lot of the cool features out.”
Some people may see living in a funeral home as a bad omen or bad luck. Heather admits the family understands why people think the home is haunted—three people have died in the home during its history—but they don’t buy into the idea that it’s bad luck.
“We definitely don’t agree! This has been both a family home and a funeral home (and an ambulance service at one point),” she shares. “Yes, funerals are very sad. But you don’t go to funerals to be horrible about the person that has died, you go to celebrate them, to tell them you love them, to share stories and memories. We chose to believe that the energy in the house is positive, calm, and loving.”
Public reception has been overwhelmingly positive
Sharing your home—and your family—with the world can be a scary adventure, but Heather says the response from the public after the show aired has been amazing.
“It’s still such a weird concept that people would want to watch my family and me,” she admits. “So many people have reached out to tell us how much they like watching us and like the design. It’s actually overwhelming.”
“Noa and Raff have had an amazing response, too,” she continues. “Noa gets so many messages from kids and their parents talking about how great it is to see her on TV, and how they identify with her. She’s given people comfort that it’s okay to be a bit weird, that there are others out there like them and her. Raff is mainly asked if he’s single! Plus lots of great comments about him being the balance in our family—and he is.”
While a lot of work has been done already, Heather says there’s more to come.
“We’re only half done,” she told us. “I still have five bedrooms/ensuites, two libraries, a games room, gym, movie room, wine cellar, dressing room, office, art studio, widows walk, rooftop patio, and all the landscaping to do! I’m currently working on a guest room that I’m showing on Instagram. After the show ended, a lot of people wanted to see what’s next, so I’m showing my whole design, construction, and styling process via videos and Instagram Lives.”
She’s also open to taking on more projects like this in the future.
“Whether it’s another one for us, or helping others who want to take on similar projects, I would love to,” she shares. “I get so excited about the possibilities and the challenges, and it’s incredible knowing we’re saving a building that may otherwise have just sat and fallen into rot. Also, projects like this do allow my design to really come alive!”
Want to see even more photos? Take a look below!
Posted by Infinity Admin
Courtesy: realtor.ca Meagan Kelly
Credit: The Blumberg Family
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