2019 was filled with life-changing moments, and in the final weeks before 2020, life introduced just one more: On December 23rd 2019, we became the proud new owners of an original 1980s chalet in Whistler—and we could not be more thrilled to finally share it!
Our search for a place to call home on the west coast started around this time last year. After living in Squamish for just a few months, we knew that the Sea-to-Sky corridor was the place we wanted to hang our hats, but we didn’t know where exactly to set our sights.
We toured everything from turnkey townhouses in Squamish to empty lots in Pemberton to build on, gaining clarity on exactly what we were looking for all the while.
To start out with, our wish-list was super…vague. We told realtors something like, “We’re looking for like, a run-down cabin in the woods—or a plot of land. Or a turn-key townhome with a yard.” (Sorry, guys.) We really had no serious must-haves in terms of normal things like square footage or number of bed or bathrooms. But we always insisted this dream space have just the right light, the right amount of yard, and the right vibe. Our needs and wants were super particular (if it’s not already obvious), making for a slow hunt.
In the end, our criteria became to find something remote with lots of charm and a little land, ideally between Vancouver and Pemberton.
Being a builder and a designer, we wanted a space that hadn’t been updated (and priced as such). Gutting and renovating a home to suit our needs has always been the dream, but in Squamish that fantasy didn’t go very far—for a few reasons.
This little district is quickly becoming a bigger district than we’d like—and it’s only growing. Since we arrived in late 2018, countless new condos, townhouses and developments have cropped up, bringing lots of cool shops, people and, well, lines—lines of cars, of people, of houses. And while that’s awesome for many reasons, it personally didn’t leave us inspired to snatch up a little slice. It’s a fantastic town, and I’ll continue to work from it and hang out in a few days a week, but after living in a town that tripled in population in one year in Milton, I personally sought a space that felt more like a private retreat (and so did Mike).
At the end of the day, we are truly home bodies. We don’t prioritize proximity to shops, restaurants or nightlife, but instead crave nature and some land Piper can roam around. We love biking and overlanding and working on home projects, and having access to the mountains. And, when we feel like it, driving 20 minutes to eat out, see friends, hit a comedy night, etc. Our days are busy and spent between Whistler and Vancouver, so our ideal nights are spent at home, all piled up on the couch by the fire.
So we had the dream—to find a secluded little cabin, located anywhere between Vancouver and Pemberton. But each time we found a spot that fit the bill, there was a catch: it was either out of our price range, or too far out, or totally the wrong style, or any number of other factors.
And then we stumbled upon this chalet.
We fell for it instantly, but, as expected, there was a catch: it was financially out of reach. Regardless, we decided to indulge ourselves a bit and go see it. At the very least it would help our realtor get a better sense of what we were after, or offer us more insight—or a reality check.
As you can imagine, we fell in love at once. I mean, just look at those exposed beams that reach through to the exterior, that cathedral ceiling, the massive two-story windows and wraparound deck, the original pine ceiling— need I go on? Despite the original state, we saw right past the tired finishes, the outdated layout, and the obvious issues to be addressed to a space with tons of magic and potential.
After seeing it, we were obviously chomping at the bit, but the price was an obvious roadblock… that was, until it underwent a price reduction later that same week! While the space was priced appropriately for the area, it’s on the small side at 1,200 square feet (not including the basement), which in the end offered us an upper hand when making our offer as most people looking for a primary residence in Whistler need/want more space. It’s quite the specific property calling for quite the specific buyer—and those specific people happened to be us.
As you may have already guessed, we’ll be renovating the chalet to suit us perfectly—and we cannot wait to get our hands on it in March! But before then, we have our work cut out for us. We’re already elbow-deep drawing out floorpans and elevations, playing around in SketchUp, gathering inspiration and seeking out the right companies for everything from millwork to in-floor heating systems.
The 2020 plan is to restore and re-design it from top-to-bottom without compromising its character or original features. Design-wise, the vision is a modern, open space that maintains the cozy, warm chalet-feel.
So that’s bye-bye tile, kitchens, bathrooms, deck rot, and carpet. To name just a few for now…
Over the course of this entire year, I’ll be documenting and sharing this whole process right here on my blog, and on social. So be sure to follow me on Instagram, and subscribe to my newsletter. You can also look forward to new products in my shop! I’ve been sourcing the coolest hardware, lights, and home goods (many of which I’ll be using in our chalet), so stay tuned.