Brodie Murdoch, a Waterloo native, relocated back to her hometown during the pandemic, trading in her downtown Toronto loft for a Victorian home with a bonus building brimming with history and charm.
The Airbnb is partially attached to a Victorian home built in 1905 and located on a tree-lined street nestled between Downtown Kitchener and Uptown Waterloo. The space was originally a local grocery store in a predominately Polish community. According to historical records, David Mather, the grocer, lived in the attached house with his wife Mary. The Mathers owned the property until 1962 when it changed hands with the Dorscht family. The grocery store became Watkins Quality Products in the late 60s and Kazan Trading Company in the 70s and 80s. The shop was later converted into a living space with a one-wall kitchen and gas fireplace. The house is across the street from Sacred Heart Church, a historic building built in 1916 in the Romanesque revival style. Down the road is Mount Hope Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in the city. These historic neighborhood landmarks are juxtaposed by Google headquarters, creating a unique balance between the past and the present.
When Brodie Murdoch first laid eyes on the historic property, she immediately saw the potential in the space. She loved the character of the wood floors, the way the windows flooded the room with light, and the unique storefront exterior. When it came to design, Murdoch wanted guests to feel a sense of relaxation when they entered the space – a quiet simplicity. She chose a clean, natural palette with a touch of whimsy to create a sense of well-being and enjoyment. The original color palette was quite dark, so Murdoch immediately painted everything white, including the floors. She updated the window coverings, replaced the outdated light fixtures with statement lighting, and added window boxes to enhance curb appeal. For visual interest, she hung oversized artwork and bold accent wallpaper to add a little eye candy to the all-white interior. All decor updates were cosmetic and budget-friendly.
“It is incredible how much fresh paint and new light fixtures can transform a space. I saw a return on investment almost immediately.”
The Airbnb has had a wide array of guests ranging from parents of students visiting from as far away as India, Germany, and Denmark, to guests traveling for work at local tech companies, hospitals, and universities. A few photographers have repurposed the space for photoshoots, local residents book the suite during their home renovations, and newcomers come to stay while house hunting. However, the majority of guests are couples from Toronto and surrounding cities, celebrating an anniversary, birthday, or even their wedding night!