'Like walking into Disneyland': The story behind the whimsical $4M home for sale in White Rock, B.C.
VANCOUVER -- Outside, there are life-sized dolls perched along the railing of the upstairs balcony. Inside, a miniature train moves from one flamboyantly colourful room to the next, passing through holes in the walls on a track hanging from the ceiling.
Needless to say, the two-storey home for sale on Marine Drive in White Rock, B.C. – which an onlooker might fairly describe as a human-scale dollhouse – is unlike any of the other multi-million dollar properties that line the city's waterfront.
"It's beyond your imagination," said Cindy Russell, the realtor representing the property. "To be quite honest, it's like walking into Disneyland somewhat. It gives you that feeling."
There's the miniature ferris wheel on the rooftop. The iron bathtub in the living room. The sea of pink walls, patio umbrellas, bedspreads and upholstery – not to mention the pink water fountain.
Then there are the countless eye-catching knickknacks and keepsakes that adorn the walls, mantles and cabinets – much of it collected during the owner's lifetime of travel.
"It's just the most amazing, unique, artsy, flamboyant place you'll ever see," Russell said. "This house is alive."
With an asking price of just under $4 million, any potential buyer will need to have deep pockets – and Russell acknowledged that might come with expensive tastes that don't quite align with the current owner's penchant for whimsy.
"It's not everyone's décor," she said. "But it would be shame to see it cleared out. It was a labour of love, down to every fixture."
The owner, Susan Strangway, did not want to be interviewed about the property, but was happy to share some of its history. She moved in back in the 1990s, after her father – Dr. David Strangway, former chief of geophysics for NASA and longtime president of the University of British Columbia – asked her to come care for one of his aunts in White Rock.
Over the years, Strangway and her partner Weave Cleveland made the property their own, gradually turning it into an eccentrically iconic part of the waterfront area. Their philosophy, Russell said, was to buck the boring norms of interior design in a way that would bring instant joy to those who stepped inside.
"And it's true, you can't be unhappy in that house," the realtor added.
Russell was approached about representing the property after meeting the owner at a block party. The two clicked instantly, and it's not hard to see why – Russell is known to get around town in a pink range rover, and holds a magic wand in her advertisements.
Naturally, she jumped at the chance to list the home.
"I've been selling real estate for 25 years, it's the most unique house ever, bar none," she said. "I would not change anything about it if I bought it."
So why is Strangway leaving after all these years? The answer is as fanciful as the home itself.
"Everyone's asking why is she moving, because it's such an incredible property," Russell said. "It's because she wants to move to France. Her dream is to move to France and buy a castle."