The Baskervillian

The front entrance of a condo, the custom made entry stand with tin inserts
This week I was in four homes in a row that were full of individuality, personality and lots of love. It starts with the photo above. The new home owner took out what was a very contemporary closet, she wanted the space more open and consistent with the age of the building. Sorry the photo is so dark!
The house maid
Next to the front door stands an objet d art, this home is filled with original modern art and vintage objets, a wonderful blend of new and old.
The bathroom sink
Even the bathroom has art, and I love this tiny art installation next to the sink.
The front closet. No bi-folds here!
Next Im off to fishermen's Wharf to deliver to a float home. This closet door just inside the front door   is so beautiful. This float home is small and open concept, everything is visible. The owner cringed at the thought of bi-folds, her solution, make the door to the front closet look like a piece of furniture. She had a local craftsman build the doors and frame to look like a late 1800's wardrobe. Brilliant!
A collection of side mirrors
This art installation is in the home of Mary Patterson and Sean Shepherd, the owners of Polychrome Fine Arts Gallery. I have been in and out of their home over the years, purchasing various things from their collection. I so love going to their house!!! Personality reigns supreme here. This was Mary's idea, a collection of car side mirrors mounted on the wall in a narrow spot.
This demonstrates so beautifully that art can take many forms, and the everyday can look outstanding when displayed outside the box.
The fourth home I was in, sadly I did not take a photo. I got distracted by the dog, a pug named Zoe, too cute. 
I go into a lot homes buying and delivering furniture, the stand outs for me are always those filled with individuality, homes that reflect the owners, and not what you would necessarily expect. I always encourage my clients to buy pieces they love, are passionate about, and not getting so hooked up on "is it going to match", we don't match at Surroundings! 
Be passionate about your home environment, and guess what?  You will have a beautiful home. Don't worry what others think, you live there, it is your home. Make it yours.
Custom Upholstered Italian Sofa, All organic on the inside, 8 way hand tied springs, down and feather seats, Italian Leather detailing, Price $3395
This very lovely love seat just arrived in Surroundings last week. It is one of our latest custom upholstery projects, and has some exquisite details. The frame comes from Italy, hand carved in the 1950's. This little sofa was originally purchased at Eaton's Fine Furniture Gallery in Toronto in 1956. These were glory days for Eaton's, and their Fine Furniture Gallery carried the best furniture from around the world.
The year is 2010, Im called to an estate sale, there is the above sofa looking very tattered and worn, but the beauty of the frame still is magnificent. I purchase it just for its bones. The little sofa then makes a trip to the Cowichan Valley to the upholsterers, we talk in great length about fabric, it had to be just right. I bring back linen from belgium, nope, makes the wood look dead, back to the drawing board.
This beautiful fabric called "Quill" was used a few years ago on a Bergere chair, we had enough left over for the love seat. Originally the finished edge near the wood work was done in what we call gimping. For the record nothing dates a vintage piece more than gimping. I wanted it updated but not trendy, always a delicate balance. There was enough Italian leather left over from a previous job to do the trim work, finished off by antiqued bronze french nails by hand.
The gracious curve of the arm, balance, proportion, symmetry. The hand carved frame was stained a rich cherry colour, and has a patina of a much older piece.
More than just a pretty face, you must sit on it!! OMG ( I hate that expression, but it seems appropriate here), this is the most comfortable seat in the house. If you have a chance try it out.
 Pedestal Table Circa 1890.
Of all the pieces of furniture I sell, I love selling tables the most. It is here around the dining/kitchen table that life happens, birthdays are celebrated, homework is done, and where loved ones gather daily.
This is beyond an important purchase, and it is the one antique I think EVERYONE should own, and I mean EVERYONE. A table with age has presence and energy that can not compare to the modern world. By all means put very modern chairs with it, you bet, it will look great. 
I love the contrast of the antique table and modern chairs, to me it is a classic look. If your living in a modern condo, that antique table is going to sing!
Early Canadiana Farm Table
The more rustic the piece, the more modern the environment around it should be. This table above would look great in the entry way of sleek condo, or use as a sofa table, put a flat screen on it, the options are endless.
Pembroke Table, Mahogany, Circa 1850
The classic of all drop-leaf tables, the Pembroke ( named after the Earl of Pembroke), is perfect for small space living. It is compact when both leaves are down, and has a drawer on each end for that oh so valuable storage element.
Canadiana Drop-Leaf Table
This makes the best kitchen table, it becomes very large with both leaves up, and can sit 6 quite comfy. A more humble table than the Pembroke. This is also great for those super tall men in your life, leg room under the leaves means not dealing with the skirt ( the side structure) of the table.
Prairie Farm Table
Made by the farm owner, this is not fine craftsmanship, it is far more important, it represents the founding and building of our nation. This was not meant to be pretty, but functional. Here we are 130 years after it was built and it still functions and has become more beautiful with age. This one would look wicked with modern chairs.
The Classic Dining Table
For those who want to sit in the dining room and entertain for hours, there is no greater pleasure than sitting around a beautiful dining table.
There was a lot of discussion this weekend at Surroundings over dining/kitchen table height. Here are the basics. European tables are often 29" high, North American 30" high, chairs are 18" seat height.
I personally prefer tables at 29" high, and it has nothing to do with the fact Im not that tall!!  In the Netherlands where everyone is tall, dining tables are often 29" high, it just feels better, regardless of how tall you are. Find a beautiful table that  feels right for you.

It was a crisp sunny day during Christmas, Im walking home from a long dog walk, I look down the road, this is where I live. I love where I live.


Love Where You Live


It is my tag line, it is on the store window, business cards, website, but more importantly it is my way of living.  When we love where we live, we take care. We take of our homes, our neighbours, and the community at large. There is a massive positive social impact to those communities where people love where they live. As we head into the new year  I hope you take some time to reflect on those simple words "love where you live". Think about your home and community and what it means to live there. 


When I first moved to the Cowichan Valley 9 years ago, a neighbour swung by and asked if I was fixing up the cottage to flip. His tone of voice was very clear, if I was going to flip it, he was going to turn around and leave my yard. I understood his questioning, there was no point in getting to know me if I was going to leave. 


During that first year my neighbours watched in awe as I transformed a neglected cottage into a loving home. One by one they came onto the property mesmerized by what I was doing. The hard work was done out of love for this property.  As the years go by, neighbours drop off rocks for my many rock walls I have been building, and manure for my garden, and in return I bring home anything they need from Victoria. 


Ida is curled up on her dog bed sound asleep, the fire is roaring in the wood stove, the fog is so thick I can not see the beautiful countryside, it does not matter. I love where I live.


Happy New Year.



Surroundings is decked out for the holiday season!! Once again I want to thank Marina Woywitka for taking such lovely photos the night of our Open House. For those of you who could not make it, here is a sneak peak.
Little Christmas birds do a dance on an antique pine dresser.
The front window at night.
Inside the window, warm and cozy.
The goodie table, Yummy. Shortbread and lemon tarts were devoured!
Silver, always a Christmas classic.
Copper and gold glass hearts with raffia ribbon.

The Library panels from our IDS West trade show booth make a great back drop for the Christmas Season.
Surroundings is now open 7 days a week till Christmas. Come and see the magic of the season, it really truly is the most beautiful time of the year.