Interior designer Valerie Rowley and her husband Chris took a big risk in 1993 when they bought their future home. For one thing, the countryside house north of Toronto was quite run-down.
“We immediately saw the potential but we hadn’t sold our existing house and it was during the recession. So did we play it safe and wait? Nah! We bought it and just fervently hoped our other one sold (we were up against another bidder so really had no choice).”
The other house sold, in the nick of time.
Looking at the house today, you wouldn’t know all the work Val and Chris took on. “We virtually rebuilt the interior of this home. And made the garden almost from scratch – unless you count the few scrubby six-foot cedars that we inherited. It took many years which is why we feel we have so much of ourselves invested in it.” Val’s favourite interior spaces are the kitchen and sunroom. “The sunroom is full of light all year round. It’s also where I raise my vegetable and flower seedlings, grow watercress, herbs and salads through the winter, take cuttings of summer geraniums. To have this area full of pink, salmon and red blooms through the snow season makes the monochrome of winter bearable.” Favourite outdoor spaces?
The garden is an important part of “home” for Val and Chris. “Luckily, Chris enjoys physical work a lot more than I do, so it’s a good partnership. I grow things and prune and he digs holes and chops down branches. And we have a young weeding lady who is also a budding opera singer!” In late summer and early fall, there’s the harvest.
It takes work. But as you can see from Chris’ smile, it’s work they love doing. They plan to keep doing it for as long as possible.
Many people today are drawn to houses that look like they belong in a glossy interior design magazine. Valerie, an interior designer, and her husband Chris, a TV producer, didn’t do that. They bought a run-down place and worked hard at it for 20 years. Today, for this couple, this place is — quite simply — home.
“I guess because everywhere I look, what I see is immensely satisfying to me,” says Valerie. “The flowers (growing, not cut) that I always have everywhere, the artifacts that Chris and I have accumulated from numerous foreign countries over the years, the carefully chosen furnishings and the general knowledge that we have constructed a home that is very personal and comforting to the two of us. It all works.”
“We have no intention of leaving,” says Val, “ until we physically can’t handle the work it entails – and it does entail work!”
“It’s about staying as healthy as one can as one ages,” says Val. “I think it’s important for everyone to realize life doesn’t have to stop when the wrinkles and aches and pains start. “
Bravo, Val and Chris. You’re an inspiration.
48 thoughts on “At Home With Valerie Rowley – Pt. 2”
Gosh, they really are inspiring.
Wonderful home & gardens!
Indeed, Brad. and it was a delight to sit in her sunroom having lunch, and realize that the salad fixings were grown right there on her ledge!
Wonderful. I bet they were tasty right out of the garden!
Such a beautiful place – it’s given me the urge to head out and plant more things. 🙂
I’m still waiting for a photo of the stuff you already have growing…. I’m betting you’re another one of those green thumb people who can grow roses…. Sniff, sniff.
We did the same after telling ourselves we would never buy before selling again, or in a recession – we did both! Some of us never learn 🙂
It’s a nail-biting experience, isn’t it?
Oh yes! I would say never again…..
Wow – it’s amazing! Thank you so much Cynthia!
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You’re most welcome, Val. What a pleasure for me to produce a story about you and Chris and your lovely place.
What a great house! And Val and Chris sound like uber dudes.
They’re really remarkable, MT.
Yeh, I can believe that. 🙂
20 years to get the house looking the way they wanted! There’s hope for houses like mine…..
My Mum and Dad were a bit like that. Getting the main stuff done so we could move in and then doing little bits here and there.
Wow! Gorgeous home and gardens! And I can’t believe they are 70 and 72! They are so young looking! Thank you for sharing their story. Delightful!
Thank you for stopping in and reading the stories. I’m glad you enjoyed them.
Oh Cynthia, what a beautiful post! And what a house and garden! It is like paradise. But, yes, there would be so much work involved in maintaining it all. I do hope that they can stay fit and healthy and able to cope with all the work.
Gardening is a passion of mine too. Thank you so much for visiting my blog.
I’m so glad to have visited your very interesting blog, and that you visited mine. Thank you, Karen.
The sunroom and patio are beautiful! Gorgeous garden 🙂
So true. I wish my garden were that well-cared!
Thank you for sharing, Cynthia!
You’re welcome, Amy.
Reblogged this on Cynthia Reyes.
in twenty years my house will look just like that!
I’d sure like to have that sunroom!
Me too, me too.
Such hard work involved but what a lovely result! I don’t know that I have the energy for it but it would be lovely to be living in a house that I had made my own instead of putting up with someone else’s fixtures. Thank-you for Part 2, Cynthia!
They are so happy there, and their place is so much a home. Gorgeous, but very comforting.
How wonderful! An ideal home then?
Yes, bravo to Val and Chris! Keeping up a place like that does take work. They are lucky to have an operatic young weeder!
I imagine the opera singer’s voice carrying down the hill and across the valley as she weeds Val and Chris’ lovely garden….
A beautiful house and I love their attitude. I always get depressed by people who downsize as they get older, ready for old age. So negative. Once you start to think old, you are old. Chris and Val will keep themselves going.
They do keep themselves going and she runs classes for seniors to help keep themselves healthy. They’re very interesting people.
Who would ever want to leave that house and property. You can see the amount of hard work and their hearts in every picture. Stunning!!!
Indeed. A lot of hard work and great ideas. Every part is interesting and they all go together well.
What a beautiful home and gardens!
It really is, Linda. Really lovely and comforting.
I just love the sunroom being used for the seedlings! The grounds and garden are wonderful …
They really are, Julie. Hope your weekend goes well.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I agree, having a house and garden is work, especially one that size, and it is true to keep working to stay healthy. Great inspiration.
So true, Lucinda. Humans need to work at something, don’t you think?
Lovely house, that sunroom is gorgeous, I can just see myself lying on one of those loungers…