Monday, September 5, 2011

Vacation Revolution...

A few weeks ago Emma from themarionhousebook messaged me with a bit of an odd request. Friends of hers (who had also been featured in one of her hello neighbour! posts) had contacted her wondering if we would be interested in a weekend of house trading. 
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


  1. super nice experience! we did something like that few year ago and was great. I hope this summer we can repeat the ride.



  2. We women are bananas. Certifiably batshit. And that's what makes us so amazing. Take the fact that we BOTH angsted the week prior about these supposedly glossy, superclean, zero clutter environments shot for The Marion House Book and therefore strove to re-create the unbesmirched wondrousness in our own, obviously much more compromised dens...only to find that the same was happening on the other side! Too funny. (As I look around tonight I see Play Doh out of its tubs on our coffee table, piles of dry laundry on the chaise, and a green potty (is it empty? possibly not) in the kitchen...that's the norm, my friend, but you shall never see it: I'm too house-vain). Listen: it was such a sweet time, we had. And the reminder that there is still trust in this world was equally sweet and maybe even more important than 2 blissful smalltown days (tho' they were pretty badly needed). I think I met many of the key members of your community, and was invited into the backyard of one (they live behind that divine gazebo at the library). So much goodness: did I tell you I met a lady who is raising her GREAT GRANDSON? He and Sheba played in the park. And coulda chatted with Jude all day. (Ah, the lace bunting outside her house: I want some so much.) So...tell Georgia her 'other house' is there when she needs it- and perhaps, regardless, see you at T'giving?