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House Beautiful: Nautical theme gives cosy Fairfield condo a cottage vibe

This light-filled Fairfield condo is perfectly described as seaside chic, with a cottage vibe imported from the East Coast.

“It’s like walking into a warm hug,” is how a friend once described the home of retiree Anne Scrimger and the space she created in her light-filled Fairfield condo.

“I want people who enter my home to feel welcome, relaxed and peaceful,” Scrimger says.

Scrimger’s 1,000 square foot, cosy condo does just that and more, using hand-made elements to provide a personal touch and incorporating family heirlooms showing the owner’s history in Canada and Ireland, where she was born.

Scrimger lived most of her adult life travelling between Calgary, where she worked as a voice and speech coach, and her cottage in Nova Scotia, where she eventually first retired. However, with family on the West Coast she decided to make the move to Victoria and bought the condo in 2017 to be closer to her two children and grandchildren.

Scrimger naturally brought seaside chic from her East Coast cottage to her three-bedroom, corner unit condo here.

Her new home definitely has a cottage vibe, which is understandable since Scrimger’s family in Ireland had a cottage and she later did herself on the LaHave River in Nova Scotia.

“I like living in more than one place. You have your life in the [principal] house and your life in the cottage. It’s entering different environments,” she says.

Living so close to nature in Victoria, where Scrimger can just walk to the ocean, there really isn’t any need now for her to have a second home to get away. Instead, her love of the ocean is evident throughout her nautically inspired condo.

She’s decorated it in a classic white and blue palette, and brought other seaside touches inside the home, like a small, driftwood boat in the entryway, seashells and corral on display in the living room and plenty of art, featuring boats and lighthouses, throughout the home.

There’s also a striking work table in a guest bedroom with a hand-painted scene of colourful dories, another picture of a yellow dory over the kitchen table alongside a painting of sailboats and even sailboat folk art wooden ornaments on display.

All of Scrimger’s pieces tell a story, like the blue bottle collection that grew after a friend gave her one and others soon followed; the heart-shaped stones she found along the many beaches she’s walked and a painting of a rowboat, just like the one she owned in Nova Scotia.

Although she had to keep her belongings in storage for two years after selling her home in Nova Scotia, Scrimger says it was an easy move for her to come to Vancouver Island in 2017 when she finally made the decision to buy the condo.

“It’s all about the ocean and when you start out on an island you need to be near water,” she says. “That affinity for the sea never leaves you. There’s something different about the air. When you are standing at the ocean, regardless of what’s on your mind you can’t help but think this was here long before I was and will be here long after. And whatever angst you have you might as well let it go.”

Scrimger’s main goal when it comes to home design is comfort. This is why her main furniture pieces were selected for their cosiness factor, like the plush couches, white wicker chairs with thick padded cushions and a blue wooden coffee table, where guests are invited “to put your feet up.”

Equally important to Scrimger are the family pieces that recall childhood memories, like the mantle clock that once belonged to her grandfather and oil paintings done by her grandmother.

“Family heritage is really important,” she says.

Although she’s a fan of yard sales and Marketplac,e Scrimger smiles when she says she “probably needs to stop” now.

These days she spends a lot of her time playing bridge with friends, or time with her grandchildren in Victoria.

She kept busy after first moving to Victoria by being her own project manager when it came to the renovation of the condo.

She changed out all of the doors, had the wall-to-wall carpets ripped out and replaced with laminate wood flooring and redid the fireplace hearth. She also had workers take out one of the bedroom closets to create more space in the room and painted the entire condo in her favourite white — Cloud White from Benjamin Moore.

One of the main renovations was in the kitchen, where white shaker style cabinetry was installed and new appliances brought in.

Knowing it was a small space, Scrimger said when it came to the design it was important for it to flow, so this is why the same flooring was used throughout the condo.

And while she’s a fan of wide-plank pine flooring the more cost effective laminate flooring that resembles wood floor turned out to be the perfect and easy to maintain choice.

“I probably spent more time choosing my flooring than anything else and I honestly love it,” she says.

“I like to do a place up on a budget.”

Scrimger once dreamed of being a decorator and with all of her homes brought her own unique style to them.

Her first house in Nova Scotia was a two-bedroom cottage, where she knocked out walls and turned an attached garage into a den with a sleeping space.

Her second house there was an 1,800 sq. ft. heritage home that was 130 years old.

And while her condo, built in 1984, is definitely smaller, her maximalism style has allowed Scrimger to surround herself with the things she loves and celebrate the life she has lead elsewhere.

“I like that everywhere you look there’s something to see,” she says of her lovingly curated home.