Interiorssneak peeks

Making the Most of Small Town Living

by Amy Azzarito

Two dogs, one cat, a 7-month-old baby, two adults and a business all share this 1930s farmhouse in the town of Nelson in British Columbia, Canada. Nadine Boyd and Jeremy Kelly moved to tiny Nelson from Vancouver just a year ago when Nadine was eight months pregnant. Jeremy actually traveled to the town a few months before Nadine did to renovate the house. The couple used a muted color palette in their home – one that will evolve over the years. And since Nadine works with colors all day with her photography business – she creates moody fine art and commercial photography – it’s nice to have a visual break when she’s not working. Even though the couple misses the ocean breezes, salt air and sounds of the seagulls from the coast, their little family is settling right into small town life.-Amy

All images by Walter Helena Photography

Image above: “In our master bedroom we wanted to create a minimalist white oasis,” Nadine says. “As we did throughout the rest of the house, we tore up all the flooring (layer upon layer of carpet, tile, linoleum) and installed this imperfect country maple. We removed faded wallpaper from the back wall and installed cedar cladding. Everything got coat after coat of white paint. We left all the old door hardware. The bed frame and aluminum reading lights are IKEA. The bedside tables were a vintage find and came in a set of four. The bedside lamps are 28d from Bocci Design. The ceiling lamp was thrifted from our local market. The vintage window frame I’ve been carrying around with me for almost a decade – it was an alleyway find. Peeking out from behind the curtain is a metal gull sculpture that I purchased in California. The amount of times our son Sebastian slept in that bassinet I can count on one hand.”

Image above: “Sebastian’s nursery received much of the same treatment as our master bedroom – carpet ripped up, hardwood installed, blinds removed, cedar cladding installed on all the walls and white, white, white. The handmade wooden train set was from a market in Eugene, Oregon. The child’s chair was a vintage find in Ojai, California. The small desk is handmade and on top is a puzzle from my childhood that my parents saved for this very occasion. You can just see the edge of a beautiful rocking chair, which was my mother’s, and rocked me to sleep throughout my infancy. My parents had the rocking chair’s rattan restored in preparation for Sebastian’s arrival. The ceiling light was thrifted from our local market in Nelson. This room has the best view in the house – through the window you can see the lake and Elephant Mountain.”

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See more of this Canadian home after the jump!

Image above: “This is our front entrance and the darkest corner of the house. We initially left the ceiling beams their original dark stain, but thought better of it and applied a white gloss to them a few months ago. This is the only room that had original hardwood floors worth salvaging, and we have to bang down nails every once in a while – the hassle is worth the charm. The framed cardboard dinosaur image is by me (Walter Helena Photography) and the turquoise print in the bookshelf is from Frances Seward. The soapstone sculpture of two cresting dolphins was carved by my father for my high school graduation. Most of the furniture and details are vintage finds from Vancouver and Nelson. There is always lilac in our house right now, our property is rimmed in lilac trees.”


Image above: “The kitchen went through the biggest transformation. The biggest job was bringing in the fir post and beams from our local mill. Where the post and beams have been installed was originally a bank of closets and a wall, which didn’t allow for pass-through views to the lake and separated the kitchen from the rest of the house. We wanted to create an open-concept space for entertaining and keeping our eyes on Sebastian. We removed Bavarian beams that lined the kitchen ceiling and replaced all the existing fluorescent lights with vintage and thrifted fixtures. The doors were removed from the upper cabinets and all the dark wood was painted white. We left the counter tops and tiles to be tackled another day, and so far they’ve grown on me in an unexpected way. The gas range was a must when we were looking for property. The rug is a vintage find from Vancouver; often you’ll find all of us in the kitchen working away and all three animals splayed out on the warm rug.”

Image above: “This is the nook off the kitchen where we eat breakfast and take tea with visitors. It also doubles as a drying and shipping work space for Walter Helena Photography. The table is vintage and tulip-inspired and the family it came from used it as the kids’ craft table. A couple of coats of white paint covered most of the crayon and scuffs on the heavy metal base. Those that we can still see will be the foundation for many more crayon marks, I’m sure. The chairs are vintage and the one pop of colour I invested in that felt right. The artwork is by Kevin Flood. The chandelier is series 14 by Bocci Design.”

Image above: “I wanted to create a cottage feel in the living room so we incorporated lots of natural woods and darker greys along with touches of copper. The black and white image on the mantle was taken on the East Shore of Kootenay lake by Jeremy’s father and printed in his darkroom; it has beautiful scuffs from years of age. The oversized 28d light on the mantle was a custom piece from Bocci Design, handblown in a small glassblowing studio in Vancouver, BC. The sofa is from Bensen and the throw from Coyuchi. The coffee table is a midcentury teak Craigslist purchase and the chairs are re-upholstered France & Son.”

Image above: “This sitting area gets the most action in the house, it’s situated in the large open space between the kitchen and the eating nook. The wool bench is series 25 by Bocci Design. The side table is a vintage doctor’s office find. The Tivoli radio gets us through the days. Each door frame throughout the house is a different size. We have some tall relatives who nearly have to double to stoop beneath the low, arched doorway leading to the basement.”

Image above: “The dining room was an extension to the original small house and had unfinished plywood floors, so it was an easy decision to carry the maple into this room. French doors open to the patio with views of the lake and hills. We kept all window coverings out of this room to maximize the natural light and vistas. The chairs are a vintage Craigslist find and the walnut dining table is by Riva and can extend to seat 12 guests, which is a wonderful prospect considering we moved to this home from a 600-square-foot apartment. The driftwood mobile is made from collected pieces from coastal adventures and then selectively wrapped in yarn. The two framed pieces of artwork beneath it are from more recent series from Walter Helena Photography. The blown glass chandelier is series 28 by Bocci Design.”

Image above: “Another hand-hewn train graces the windowsill overlooking our plum tree. The yellow and black measuring stick was washed up on the shores of Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver and salvaged on one of our hikes to the area. It was a long walk out for Jeremy, who fashioned a found rope through the heavy board to get it from the ocean through the forest to the car. Totally worth the sweat. The left side is covered in the remnants of barnacles.”

Image above: “The offices of Walter Helena Photography. Jeremy made a custom table that spans the length of the room and paired it with a shelf for all my printing, packing and shipping needs. The gardener’s stool was a vintage gift from our friend Mims in Vancouver. It is likely the single most multipurpose item in our household since it serves as side table and a seat, and transports so easily. The tulip chair was a must since I have an aesthetic aversion to ergonomic office chairs – every girl needs a sexy swivel chair at her desk. The three muted artworks hanging on the back wall are hand-coloured pages from an antique butterfly field guide.”

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Image above: “I chose this room for my office because it’s one of the brightest rooms in the house and it’s now a favorite space to work on images and manuscripts for my clients. The door is always open and a rotation of animals, babies and extended family come and go. I learned early on that I needed upright paper drying racks so that my images wouldn’t wind up with kitty paw prints. I can’t work in the same way I could before becoming a mother, but I am now entirely grateful for the short periods I do have to myself with the coos from the household filtering in to me.”

Image above: “We kept the nursery minimal and light so we could add colour and update the space throughout Sebastian’s childhood with accessories and artwork. The crib is IKEA. The blue bird pillow in the crib is handmade from salvaged wool by Three Bad Seeds. The artwork is an older landscape series from Walter Helena Photography. Sebastian loves anything shiny and sparkly – his favourite thing is to stare the disco ball above his changing table. So I brought a little disco to his nursery via the tiny mirrors on a string in the left corner. The raw porcelain chandelier is series 21 by Bocci Design.”

Image above: “The lettering for Sebastian’s name I found in Portland, Oregon at a tiny type and paper shop. I bought the tin letters when we were only halfway through the pregnancy and Jeremy and I had just found out we were having a boy. We had gone out to dinner to celebrate and choose a list of boys names and we only came up with one, so it didn’t feel terribly premature to etch his name in tin before we had ever even met him. And then he was born and he was a perfect Sebastian. His swaddle was handmade by my sister-in- law’s mother. She gave us a stack of beauties when Sebastian was born and we’ve used them every day. The sword is handmade by Tidal Toys out of Victoria, British Columbia and was gifted to Sebastian by our dear friend Bronwyn.”



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Image above: “Sebastian is involved in most Walter Helena Photography pursuits in one way or another; either from the stroller while I undertake photo shoots, from the floor as I edit images, from my chest as I cut and finish the prints or as we walk together to the post office to ship around the world.”


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  • Pretty!

    After years and years of sitting at a desk and using a mouse, I’m happy to ditch a good-looking chair for one that actually works …

  • So fun, this house is only a half hour from where I live. The Kootenays (this area of BC) don’t come up much on blogs like this :)

  • Love this whole tour. Exactly the clean, calming, minimal feel we are trying to achieve in our new home- an 1890’s farmhouse. Love the bright walls and windows!

  • Nelson is an awesome place and a very vibrant and active “small town.”
    And you get to ski at Whitewater.

  • I will never tire of a space that is crisp and white and layered beautifully with texture and subtle pops of art and color. Well done!!

  • Lovely space! Being pregnant, I admire how Nadine manages motherhood and working. Does anyone know where the bassinet and stand are from in the master bedroom?

  • Beautiful sunny place…one thing, my experience w feng shui is that it really works…maybe turn the point of the sword UP and not toward baby’s HEAD (!)

  • Lovely home. I adore all the white and natural light that flows through. While I’m not familiar with the town of Nelson, I have been to Victoria, BC and loved it! Such a beautiful city, so lush and green.

  • @Gloria: I’m up and down so often back and forth to the printer that my body is likely more forgiving. If I was pulling eight-hour stints in the chair, I would definitely defer to ergonomic over sexy ;)

    @Emily: 1890’s farmhouse! I’m jealous of your undertaking, we had so much fun and likely didn’t have half the amazing quirks you’ll come across….

    @Irina Bond: Thank you! Not all days are as productive as they may appear…the one thing I never let go of is time with my son. I treasure it more than any amount of work fulfillment could offer. The bassinet is from Jolly Jumper I believe and the stand it rests on is a vintage coffee table. Wishing you all our best in welcoming your child. x.

    @Noemie: Thank you, I hope you have a lifetime enjoyment from your prints when you bring them into your home.

    @HMH: Good point! The sword has since moved, but facing it upwards is a charming (and safe) idea.

    @Kris: I feel very lucky to call British Columbia my home.

  • I am looking into building a small home and this makes me think a lot of what I am looking at doing. It would be amazing to see drawings of the floor plans of these houses on the Sneak Peeks sometimes! I love this!

  • It’s so lovely Nadine. I love your wood features and your colours accents. You made white feel warm which is so hard to do.

  • Lovely. As another recent Nelson immigrant (also previously from Vancouver) who lives in a 1930s farmhouse, it’s so cool to see what someone else has done with their space. And I have to admit that I spent a long time looking at the photos that show a bit of the view from your windows, wondering if we’re neighbours. ;)

  • I know this is a weird question, but what type of printer do you use for your photography prints? I’m looking for one that I can do prints from my watercolor paintings. Thanks!

  • @Saffron: I know the variants of white can be overwhelming so I chose to make my work easy and just bought the simplest white base off the shelf of our local paint shop. The fellow kept asking me what colour drops he could mix in to create the perfect shade of white, and I kept saying I preferred it as it was…. And it’s perfect.

    @Tammy: Wonderful! I think everyone in Nelson is neighbours regardless, yes? ;)

    @Julie: I’ve been happy with my Epson R1900 printer. I’m sure there’s an updated version by now, but this oldy still does a beautiful job of printing on my favourite Hahnemuhle paper up to 13 inches wide.

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