Photography: Tracey Ayton
Lifestyle blogger Monika Hibbs layers classic style with the latest trends, combining looks that flock together like birds of a feather.
With its acres of farmland, grazing horses and mountain views, British Columbia’s Fraser Valley is a far cry from the seashore. But you’d never know that inside the local four-bedroom home that lifestyle blogger Monika Hibbs shares with her husband and their three young children. “It has a subtle coastal vibe,” she says of the space filled with watery blue and sandy beige accents.
In January and February, when the days begin to lengthen but winter still lingers, nothing could be more welcome than a breezy palette. “This time of year, I get the urge to clear out the post-Christmas clutter and start fresh,” says Monika. “All of a sudden, it’s so obvious that it’s time for a new table lamp and toss cushions, or to buy those larger items, such as a rug, that have been on my wish list.” Whether you’re feeling the post-holiday lull or the instinct to update at the start of a new year, this is a wonderful time to toss away things that aren’t working and bring in a little sunshine.
“When it comes to adding something small, trends are definitely your friends,” says Monika. “They let you bring in a new look without a big commitment or crazy spending.” Even in traditional homes like Monika’s, where classic materials and forever furnishings are given priority, trends brighten things up. “In no way am I a trendy decorator, but I love using new things to explore and experiment,” she says. “A few cool toss cushions, a vase or a row of wow-factor bar stools have the power to revive your entire home for a low price.” It’s best to test trends in small doses and see how they sit with you, because fads come and go, but a piece’s staying power rests on its comfort, as well as how it suits your overall style.
Coastal blue accents are a case in point. Shades of denim and indigo conjure sea and sky. “Deep blue and rich grey islands in otherwise white kitchens are hugely popular right now,” says Monika. “Since I’m cautious by nature, a big change like that seems intimidating. But, by bringing in some navy blue in smaller ways, I’ve gradually grown used to its boldness, and now it’s easy to imagine it appearing in my home on cabinetry or furniture.” (Maybe next time....)
“Ultimately, the most important investments are in things you’ll keep for decades,” says Monika. “Take the pendant lights hanging above my kitchen island. They’ve been with me since we built this house four years ago. They’re timeless.” The same is true of the bed in the master bedroom. “I designed that bed, and I still love it. The wings and tufting add a beautiful design element to the room,” she says of the cloud-like piece. “That’s definitely our forever bed.”
And that’s the whole idea. “Mix forever items with fresh details. Don’t be scared to try new things, in small doses or large,” says Monika, who is in the process of moving her family – and her favourite pieces – to a new house. “Remember that this is your home: It’s a reflection of you, your family, your lifestyle and your signature look. Do your thing, and own it. When you pour a lot of love into your space, you’ll be sure to get great results.”
Almost everything in the kitchen of this West Coast home has been here since it was built in 2015 – the pendant lights and bar stools are forever pieces blogger Monika Hibbs doesn’t see herself ever parting with. To break up all the white, she layers in a few fresh items, such as woven baskets and a trendy mix of metals.
While islands are always in style, “sinks are the new kitchen It piece,” says Monika. “It’s my sweet spot. Here, the kids help with dishes and I arrange flowers. I can also watch the kids from the window when they’re playing outside.”
Fun removable wall decals brighten the kids’ play kitchen, just off the adult one.
“This is where it all happens,” says Monika of the kitchen’s eat-in area. “Meals, gift-wrapping, cookie-making and card games.” The large wooden pedestal table and beaded jute chandelier are statement pieces that have stuck around through many room redesigns.
Natural light floods into the family room through large windows and is reflected in the oversized mirror on the mantel. The space’s vibe is classic and coastal, with plush linen-upholstered sofas and rattan accents balanced by nautical trend-forward black patterned toss cushions.
The dining table is well-sized for entertaining (she how she decks it for the holidays!), brainstorming and having birthday parties. Open shelving is great for displaying favourite serveware and trend pieces. Custom blue toss cushions on rattan-caned chairs reference the custom artwork, which was inspired by the blue hydrangeas that surround the house.
The landing at the top of the stairs en route to the kids’ rooms had always been empty. Since she walks by so often, Monika sought a little eye candy, so she bought the raw wood demilune console and uses it as a base to create pretty vignettes. “There’s always a fresh view when I climb the stairs,” she says.
“Just because a room is functional doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful,” says Monika. A statement tub with a living room-worthy light fixture and serene artwork amount to ultimate bath-time luxury. The runner brings in a hit of blue.
The focal point of the airy master bedroom is a button-tufted bed frame designed by Monika and The Cross Decor & Design, one of her favourite Vancouver stores. Alongside the woven rug and beaded chandelier, a custom bench upholstered in a blue floral fabric are in sync with the rest of the home.