January 6, 2019
We moved to South Surrey a year and a half ago. We first lived in a very small apartment, then moved into a townhouse with a postage stamp sized yard for the summer. After deciding to buy a new build last March, we’re SO grateful to finally be in our house– the first new place I’ve ever lived in!
My previous house in Port Alberni was built in 1978 and was a typical BC Box that needed a LOT of work. After moving over here, I rented it out and I have to tell you what a HUGE relief it was to finally sell it to invest in a property that didn’t require so much elbow grease or dealing with renters from afar. Read more about our search for a home South Surrey’s daunting real estate market HERE.
So I’m totally not an interior designer. Like, at all. I’ve found that instagram inspo has really helped me acquire a sense of the bright, white minimalism that’s trendy right now. That said, a picture perfect home isn’t necessarily also a family-friendly one. We share a firm belief that our home needed to be fun and relaxed.
I’ve been trying to overcome my love of clutter, knick-knacks, and reluctance to throw things away if they’re still good or I feel attached to them. My old house was decorated in bright colours and clashing patters as I bought things ad-hock without a clear overall vision in mind, other than that I was going for ‘carefree-boho-hippie’. The end result was a cacophony of styles.
It’s been REALLY exciting to decorate a plain, white space with neutral floors and ceilings– it’s literally a blank canvas. When in doubt, I’ve stuck with plain and neutral and added pattern in three rooms with Urban Walls decals.
(Fun Fact: My childhood home in Port Alberni had bright orange shag carpet and brash gold floral wallpaper until I was 17!).
Well, we needed to budget so used as much of our old furniture as possible. I’m NOT in love with our rickety bar stools in our kitchen or our banged-up dining room set… but they’re good enough for now. The things we did buy new were our bed set, coffee table + desk for the office.
All of our Christmas decorations were from years ago, bought from Port Alberni craft fairs or collected from my mother-in-law’s garage. We did buy a new tree as the one I had was in rough shape. I know it’ll be early January when this post gets published and these photos show full-on Christmas decor. It’s been a busy time, with lots of out of town company.
As I write this blog post, the decorations are now down and the place feels so much more decluttered, airy + spacious!
We’ll do another post in the Spring showing our updates and how things look around here without all the decorations.
The space is far from perfect– when you see inside the pantry and mud room, you’ll know what I mean! But I wanted to share these photos now, so we can be real and also hopefully share some progress pictures down the road! But we all have to start somewhere, hey?
We love the location of this house and the growing community of South Surrey/ White Rock. I’ve previously written about the many surprising pros and cons of living in this area.
This was our first impression of the show home, and it created a great first impression– all of the other comparable homes we looked at walked right into the dining room. Where would we put our shoes and jackets?
The floor-to-ceiling california closets really impressed me, and I remarked “I love this house already– it’s been designed with a family in mind!”
Now, I was going to pare down our jackets before taking the photo but wanted to be honest–we definitely need some help in the organization department!
After the mudroom, we then enter into the dining room. We’ve re-purposed my husband’s dining room set (which I’d REALLY love to replace with a solid rustic farm table!).
Zack really loves to have our table always set (which is a concept that’s new to me), so we used our old turquoise dishes with the addition of woven reed placemats from Pier One Imports.
I sought out the perfect piece of art for the space and splurged a bit on a giclee print from local artist Robert Mennie, from Wynwood Furniture in South Surrey. This one is called “Oh, Mexico” and I love its simple design, colours and beachy theme.
The fake orchid is from Homesense.
Moving on, I haven’t owned a home that’s open concept before, and it sure makes the space seem larger. We were inspired by a show home to add marble tile to the upper half of the fireplace, along with the mantle.
Our old coffee table set had cracks in it and was in rough shape, so we bought this new set from Urban Barn.
Rug from Wayfair.
Christmas tree and lights on mantle from Canadian Tire.
Fur Stockings, hangers and tree skirt from Home Depot.
Fake fur throws on couch from Homesense.
For as long as I’ve been dreaming about what kind of house I’d like to live in, I’ve always wanted a white kitchen with high ceilings and a window. I find we can use all the brightness we can muster during our dreary west coast winters.
I haven’t had a gas stove before and have quite a phobia about turning it on. I actually had to get a hands-on tutorial from Zack to turn it on, and finally can do it by myself now (yes, I still wince). It’s embarrassing to admit this, but we all have our quirks!
Utensil container from Pier One Imports.
Swan ladle from Kitchen Therapy.
Magnolia Table from Indigo.
Black and white dish cloths from Walmart.
I didn’t want to share this photo of the messy pantry– it’s something we really do need to work on. I’m glad it has a door that closes so we don’t need to see the mess all the time!
Ahhh, the office. I wanted to put my treadmill in here, but hubby really wanted his ‘man cave’ with its view of the ocean and frosted glass doors.
Desk, bookshelf + large wall clock from Urban Barn.
Chair from Staples.
This room has extremely high ceilings and we wanted to spice things up a bit as this is the washroom our guest will be using. I love the ‘selfie mirror’ which is lit all around for a WOW factor.
I’ve been wanting to get decals from Urban Walls from Langley BC for a long time and finally had my chance! We chose the watercolour-look ferns and eucalyptus for this room and my 6 year old son helped to install! This room has received rave reviews from guests– they’re so impressed by the unexpected jungle vibe in there!
Plant: Aloe Yucca
Well, I guess I don’t have all that much to say about the stairs other than the fact that I this is the first place I’ve ever lived that doesn’t have carpeted stairs and I’m thrilled to be able to never have to lug a heavy vacuum up or down them again! I find vacuuming stairs is one of my top pet peeves as it’s so awkward and always leaves me in a less than stellar mood.
Moving along to the master bedroom, I love how spacious and bright it is– with a little bit of ocean view, no less! We put our bed into the spare room so got a new one for this room– we were torn between a Queen and King but decided on the former to give the room a more spacious feel.
We also got new bedding and decided on a neutral cotton with a natural wrinkle, along with some fake fur pillows and a throw in matching tones. (We used to have more pillows on our bed, but let’s be honest– it may look nice, but it’s SUCH a pain to arrange them every morning). Two decorative pillows are enough for me at this point in my life.
We also added neutral peony decals to add some personality to the room— I was tempted to go with the blush colour but felt like hubby wouldn’t be into that idea. I was right.
You’ll notice a diffuser, along with linen spray– I love essential oils as part of my self-care routine at the end of a long, busy day. My tastes are simple: lavender or eucalyptus are my jam.
Finally, a walk-in closet has been on my dream list for a long time, and we’ve tried to declutter our wardrobes to things we only really need. OK, so even though I’ve donated BAGS upon BAGS of clothing, I know it’s still far from a capsule wardrobe. I am trying to buy locally + ethically made clothes and focusing on quality over quantity. All of my jeans are fast fashion– any suggestions?
Bed, side tables, duvet and throw: Urban Barn
Room spray, lip balm + body balm: Haven Living
Magnesium Oil: So Luxury
Wall Decals: Urban Walls
Rug in walk in closet, marble hexagon coasters + fake fur pillows on bed: Homesense
Wooden crates in closet: Walmart
This room is pretty simple, but I DID have a big dilemma when looking for a shower curtain. I felt the tug of my former tacky-pattern-loving self eyeing up the bright florals. I checked myself and came home with this simple white shower curtain that has a wrinkle texture similar to that on our duvet. It feels clean, fresh and bright– I’m SO proud of my newly acquired minimal tastes.
Shower Curtain: Homesense
Next up is the spare bedroom– we haven’t had a true spare bedroom ever! My previous house had a pull out couch from the early 90’s in the basement, which was not at all comfortable. We can finally have company stay over, for the first time ever!
This is my husband’s old bed, with the duvet from my old house on it. My favourite part is the blanket my great-grandma crocheted.
The small floor space also doubles as my workout room.
No, it’s not pinterest-worthy. Yes, there’s a Finding Dory quilt on the bottom and a Thomas the Train quilt on the top, with a giant monkey. And there’s a Siamese fighting fish called Sunomono 2 (yes, he replaced Sunomono 1). We let our son decorate his room the way he wants, and this is what he’s chosen.
His bunk bed is solid wood (yes, it was VERY difficult to move!). Before this house, the bottom also doubled as our spare bed for when my parents came over to visit. Funny story– even though we now have a spare bedroom, the little guy still insists that his grandma and grandpa sleep on the bottom bunk with him at the top. They happily oblige.
Ahhh… I haven’t had a laundry room before… well unless you count the spider-filled space in my old house’s t unfinished basement. Our apartment had a stacker in a closet in our dining room!
I’m thrilled to finally have a space with its own window, countertop and sink. I had some unruly plants that I wanted to keep, so it’s also a great spot to keep them.
You’ll notice the blush peonies from Urban Walls.
I love these so much, especially how they add a bit of glamour to this utilitarian room and how the colour compliments the gray tile on the floor. My son helped to install these and it was just SO satisfying to put these up and see the pretty end results. As we’ve given our guests a tour of the house, they are all surprised by our laundry room– many people have remarked that they’ve been inspired to make their own spaces prettier!
Well, I am used to large backyards from growing up in a small town on Vancouver Island. In South Surrey, land is at an absolute premium and we were looking at postage stamp sized yards. We landed this very large (by local standards) corner lot through sheer dumb luck and opportunism. It just so happened that the “not for sale” sticker was being torn off of this lot on the development map as soon as we walked into the realty office… and we were the first people to sign the contract amidst a crowd of interested home buyers.
We’re thrilled to give our son a large yard to run around in and look forward to getting it ready for summer’s BBQ season with some landscaping. Right now, it’s a blank slate and we’re thinking of some ideas for a garden, hedges, play set, and (one day!) a hot tub.
My old house had an ancient apple tree that my son and I used to pick apples from to make apple sauce, and I’ve promised him that we will plant a tree here. Yes, it will take a long time to bear fruit, but we’ve got to start again somewhere, don’t we?
The Christmas blow up decorations are ridiculous; we had the train from our old house but Zack surprised us with this 16 foot Santa Claus.
Patio Set + blow up decorations: Canadian Tire
Well, there you have it folks. We hosted my parents and grandma from Port Alberni for the Christmas holiday that meant so much to all of us. It was our first time hosting dinner in our own home, and I even got to learn how to make my mom and grandma’s stuffing with our secret family recipe.
So, it’s been about a month since we’ve moved in (what a busy few weeks it’s been!). I had no idea that a new build would require such a long list of builder’s fixes and it’s been a bit of a nightmare trying to orchestrate all of the things that need fixing (some big and some little). It’s also been a lot of work organizing all of the tradespeople coming and going.
We still need to organize the garage, closets and give the whole house a good go-over now that our Christmas decorations are down. We’re also getting floating shelves and cabinets on either side of the fireplace for storage and a place to display books and ornaments. (It’s a long-standing family joke that Kama loves her knick-knacks).
Once Spring comes around, we also want to work on landscaping our backyard, which should be fun. A little known fact about me is that my first job was as a gardener’s helper on a large rhododendron-filled acreage. I am an expert rhodo-dead-header.