So Canadian eh? : Colleen Sawatsky

My guest this week has some serious talent, yet she is so humble and modest, it was like pulling teeth to agree her to be interviewed. She felt she was not up to the calibre of my past guests. When you see her photos you will shake your head at that! Not only is she such a vibrant person she is stunning and so down to earth, you can't help but feel drawn to her.

Please welcome the beautiful...

Colleen Sawatsky from The Vintage Home

She is ...

Colleen is a purveyor of all things vintage. I have had the pleasure of being in her home for a blogger brunch this past summer, her home knocked my socks off! Everywhere you looked it was perfectly styled and there was something so pretty to look at.

 No surprise that Colleen is a stylist as well! Many items from her home and collections are used by local stylists for magazine shoots. 

 As a long time decor magazine addict you start to recognize spaces and know who designed them. Colleen's spaces have always stood out with her unique vintage style, so when I first met her, I felt I was meeting design royalty!

Her portfolio speaks for itself, her love of beautiful things and creating beautiful vignettes is so evident.

Colleen's Home:

Sharalee Prang Photography 

Sharalee Prang Photography 

 Sharalee Prang Photography 

Sharalee Prang Photography 

Sharalee Prang Photography 

A Beach Cottage, her "stuff" used as props, styled by Heather Cameron.
  Janis Nicolay Photography 
Styled by Heather Cameron

 Janis Nicolay Photography
Styled by Heather Cameron

  Janis Nicolay Photography
Styled by Heather Cameron

  Janis Nicolay Photography
Styled by Heather Cameron

 Colleen's pantry - yes, her pantry full of goodies!

Colleen Sawatsky

A shoot she styled for BC Bride.

Tell us a bit about your background? Your education? Has design always beenin your blood? 

Our home growing up was a way my parents used their creative gifts and antiques played a part in that. In my 30's I went to Interior Design School (BCIT). Bob & I both had antiques when we married and they blended together well. Then we got the collecting bug, and some of it had to go! That is how we began, friends liked our look and it grew from there. I have clients referred from friends, and businesses & designers that buy our pieces. We also have a booth @ Village Antiques Mall in Fort Langley.

How would you describe your design style?

 Eclectic eclectic & eclectic! Sorry, but we love most everything but are drawn to the mix! Our home is mostly traditional, but our look that we sell is very French/Shabby!
We love mid century modern art deco and Hollywood Glam, but sadly those pieces can be hard to get and pricey.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs? 

I really enjoy magazines in print or online! Blogs are amazing sources of inspiration! As much as I love architecture/decor tension I also find some homes are bossy, you just have to give it what it wants sometimes!

Other inspiration can come from a piece of furniture you or your client loves, it can be a jumping off point & that is always a great start! I really try to see how much of the clients inventory we can use, reuse or redo. I am crazy for dressers used as hall pieces, beside a fireplace, kitchen islands, a bathroom vanity, or bedside tables! Move it about, you'll be surprised

What tips do you have for aspiring designers in getting their design work published or to hone their skills?

Hone your skills...well sometimes you have to work for family & friends for free, or start @ a big or small firm or store. Stick with it!  Getting your work published... well I say, "Know your audience". The published work I am drawn to is called "Life Style" stories! We have been in Style At Home, Canadian House and Home, and Country Living and O Magazine. We still have a story to be published.

I've had the privilege of working with Heather Cameron, I read her article for Victoria Magazine, and went to her Organic farm to introduce myself. I followed her print career.  Years later I had some projects in mind and blessedly for me Heather liked them, it all worked from there. Heather did the work with the magazines so I can't give myself credit there. Janis Nicolay was the photographer for all the stories.... amazing work! 
If you want to be published jut submit some of your work to a magazine and see where it goes!  Magazines have departments that highlight products, or a "store watch" that gives a shout out to businesses. 

I do know you should be careful how much you put out online yourself, if you are interested in publishing some of your work don't put it on your blog!

You are known in our parts as the queen of fabulous vintage finds, what makes you decide to grab something to re-vamp or walk away?

Well to be honest my husband is my "picker". Yes I do buy some stuff but Bob does most of the buying he has a great eye and great style! He will phone me sometimes if he is in doubt about whether I think it will sell or maybe discuss the price. we have clients that could be looking for a certain piece and I am the one that has the pulse on that!
We...woops, he, spends a lot of time looking at garage sales thrift stores flea markets auctions & referrals. It is very time consuming, but its his "golf", I just have to sell everything! People wonder why they don't find the stuff...and its all about time, you have to be out there to find the treasures! And what comes home with us or what doesn't usually has to be boiled down to cost! If we can't sell it for a profit we don't buy it! Some pieces we can't pass up for reasons only your heart can tell and they usually stay in our home, that is till someone begs to buy it (and sometimes that takes years for us to part with it!)

 What is one design faux pas that you wish could be banished?

 Oh boy...hmmmmm.well I have to say not trying! (Probably not considered a faux pas) There are so many resources out there for anyone to tap into.  Either hire someone, it’s cheaper than a mistake, or try to educate yourself.  I know budget is a concern for most of us but we all need to feel warmth & joy at home, how we decorate can help, and we can do it well at any price point

You have such an eye for details and styling, what quick and easy tips do you have that anyone can do to give their home a bit of chutzpah?

Quick & easy: Paint & proportion. Not so really need to have an anchor or focal point, sofa or bed, to start the process. Once you have determined your priorities the small stuff falls into place. Have a paper file or e-file of inspiration, this is so helpful. I am the first to admit I have a roving eye, our home is always in flux, if that’s not for you pick your targets and stay on course.

As a mother to 3 children, how do you balance your family life and your work?

Well our eldest daughter and her husband live very close by. Our youngest daughter is a university student and lives at home, we make it a priority to spend time together. I am blessed to have a job where I can set a lot of my hours to work around family. When your kids are younger the time demands are different. I have a huge respect for the families that do it well.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Free time is an oxymoron in a home based business, free time for my husband and  I may include looking for treasures! We love to entertain, volunteer, and I enjoy helping our daughter with her horse. I enjoy reading, spending time with friends and family.

What goals or aspirations do you have for your design business and/or your blog?

Just to keep selling wonderful furniture. I love it when someone "gets" the patina of an aged piece, or sees the details revealed with a bit of paint. I know "vintage" is not for everyone, in this regard we were "green" before it was a buzzword! 
As for my blog, well everyone knows that a good one takes a lot of time, so I hope to put more into mine.  Blogs are an endless supply of creativity and talent, I am constantly reminded of the support and generosity of fellow bloggers, I wish to do better at all of these!

If you could meet anyone or do anything who or what would it be?  

 Do anything...hmmmm.... maybe rest! Seriously, go on holidays with my family more often. The five of us spent 5 days alone over the summer and it was pure joy to have those days together.

What are your views on the role of Canadian design on the world stage? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style, the way we design and decorate our homes? If so, what do you think sets us apart?

There is so much talent in this country! Its been said before but worth repeating, we aren't outspoken in promoting ourselves. There is now a well-deserved shift in attitude about showing what we are capable of! Our amazing designers and  accessibility to wonderful homegrown products, and the ability to get the ideas and info out there has changed the landscape of design in the last 20 years. I believe that the unique sense of style we Canadians have, at times, is determined by cultural and regional input. What is unique in us is the willingness to take chances and to have fun! Decorate with what you love, honor you’re home by living the best you can in it. I would rather go for better than bigger.We embrace welcoming warmth and hip design!  

Wow Barb, thanks for the opportunity, I am so honored to be on the roster of your "so Canadian, eh".
Barb you have, since the time I met you, showed organization great energy, enthusiasm, creativity caring and great spirit. I truly mean it when I say the generosity of fellow designers and bloggers is amazing.
I was born before TV and have witnessed the generations of creativity grow stronger with each decade. Technology does not replace good old get down there and do it, yet it enhances our choices & educates us. 
Good design still needs the human heart & spirit to create a memorable idea, and a welcoming home.


Well thank-you Colleen.
 It was such an honour to have finally met you after admiring your work for a few years! 
You are such a warm and exuberant woman with such a zest for life and for seeing beauty in everything.
Thanks-you for making me feel so special every time we meet.

XO Barbara


  1. How pretty is that sun room? Great interview.

  2. Colleen is one of the sweetest and most humble people I've met and I love, love, love visiting her home! It is one serious treasure trove and never looks the same twice! So great to see Colleen and her amazing work featured here...thanks Barbara :)

  3. Great interview. Proud to read about a Canadian. WOW Colleen.

  4. What GREAT answers Colleen!! You completely deserve your moment in the spotlight! I'm thrilled to have met you... and to have been able to peek into your amazing home in person! ;)

  5. I have such a wonderful and talented Mama! Thank you for sharing her talent in such a lovely way :)

  6. Yes, I'm pretty sure when I first stepped into Colleen's home I spent the first half hour wandering around with my mouth gaping open. It was that beautiful and I was in awe! Thank you for a fantastic interview Barbara and Colleen.

  7. Great interview. She has amazing things and thank you for sharing some pictures of your beautiful home.

  8. Yet another fabulous interview Barbara! I just love Colleen's passion and it shows in her style. The fact that she has a devoted husband that helps her is fantastic. I would absolutely love to have a stroll in her house, this is why I blog ... to meet wonderful people like Colleen.

  9. Love it, thanks for sharing. Keep up the great work, Colleen and we love your blog, Barbara.

  10. This is my first visit to your blog (found via Janis N's) and I love this series!!
    It's awesome to see fellow Canadians being featured, and now I have new blogs to read!
    Thanks a bunch, hope your weekend was fab,

  11. Wow, what a stock room! Wonderful interview!

    Colleen is one amazing, funny upbeat gal and I know she'll continue to succeed in anything she touches. :)


  12. What an amazing portfolio (and pantry!!). So great to learn more about this talented Canadian. I'm glad Colleen agreed!!

  13. Lovely interview. It's sooo nice to know a bit more about Colleen. So glad you convinced her to be a part of this fabulous series. She's so deserving!

  14. Great interview, Barbara and Colleen. Thanks for sharing those photos of your pantry, Colleen - I'd take a pantry stocked with beautiful goodies over canned soup any day ;)

    *Tania @

  15. Great interview Barb, so funny her husband gets in on the "finding" of antiques!! That is great, thanks to both of you for sharing! You Canadians rock!

  16. I've loved working with Colleen over the years. She's so unbelievably sweet and humble. I absolutely loved poking around her vintage china collection. I agree with Colleen as well, when she says how supportive you are of your fellow bloggers. It's so lovely!

  17. What a great interview, Barbara. I love that picking is Colleen's husband's form of golf! What a great team.

    Colleen, I LOVE your pantry and your sun room, especially the chandelier! I think you have the perfect job!

  18. I have missed out on meeting Colleen so far but I can tell from her blog and her comments that she is a very warm person. I look forward to meeting her in the future. How great it must have been to get a first hand peek into her home:)

  19. Loved reading all about Colleen. I WANT THAT PANTRY!

  20. Awesome interview ladies!! I hope we get to meet soon Colleen :) These vignettes above just make my knees week!!
    Nancy xo

  21. Oh my gosh, to have a pantry full of props! What a dream. That and having a husband who is a picker!

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