John and Abi live in downtown Toronto, not far from our old house in the busy neighbourhood of Parkdale. They were really wanting to get out of the hustle and bustle and take a bit of a rural break, if only for a few days. Kids and pets can make finding a suitable bed and breakfast a hassle and with a 2 year old daughter, a dog and a Spanish exchange student as a border they weren't having much luck finding somewhere to escape to.
It sounded like a great idea. I love seeing how other people live, plus we had a wedding in the city the following weekend so it solved all sorts of accommodation issues for us as well. I said yes, then immediately went to the hello neighbour! post that featured John and Abi's house and promptly got a stomach ache. Their house was stunning, and tidy...and did I mention stunning? I love my house, I think it rocks, but it's like looking at your behind in a new pair of jeans...others may admire, but the flaws and places that need work really stand out - if only to you.
So, I spent the week pulling our place from the edge of chaos that it always seems to be teetering on (I recommend this trade idea to anyone, if only to get all your rooms in order at once). The following Friday John, Abi, their daughter Sheba, exchange student Roberto and dog Pippin rolled into Orono for a few days of small town living. They are lovely people, and in minutes I knew our house was in good hands.
We headed to the city and settled ourselves into their gorgeous three story Victorian. Filled with books, art and hand woven rugs it is as beautiful in person as it is online. Beautiful, but not fussy. It felt inviting and warm, a house that is truly lived in and not just for show. Although completely different layouts and acres more space on their end, I did feel that we share a similar eye. A love of textiles and patterns, wood and touches of quirky (bathtub in the kitchen - how awesome is that?!).
The weekend was perfect, and when we all met back up on Sunday it would seem things went well in the country too. Everyone was happy and well rested and completely thrilled with the whole experience. We all definitely agreed that this trade will happen again, sooner if not later.
Some shots of Abi and Johns lovely home (that my kids now refer to as "our other house")
House exchange is certainly not a new idea. There are websites that you can join and offer up your residence to folks from all over the world. The idea of the 100 mile exchange however is not one that I had ever heard of...perhaps we made it up. Whatever we did it worked and I think we are on to something. Want a taste of small town living for a day or two? Lets talk...xo