A White Rock woman is selling her “whimsical fairy tale” home so she can buy a castle in France.
Susan Strangway has listed her house at 14635 Marine Dr. – which could very well be one of the most recognizable properties on the waterfront strip – for $3,998,000.
At first glance, the outside of the home is fairly unassuming. French-inspired wrought-iron details the roofline of a southern-style house, which features floor-to-ceiling columns. A beautiful garden with bright pink roses adds a welcome splash of colour to the white-on-white scheme.
However, the longer one looks at the property, the more peculiar it becomes. Questions one might ask include, why are there three mannequins standing on the balcony? Or what’s the deal with the Ferris wheel on the roof?
It’s only when one takes a step inside the house that they begin to find some answers. Or, more accurately, perhaps, find themselves with even more questions.
Walking through Strangway’s front door is a little like stepping through the looking glass.
A visitor is transported into another world, where every room is unlike the last, but each shares a common theme – an explosion of colour.
From pink ceilings and orange-striped walls, to green counter tops and checkerboard floors, every turn of the head reveals some new wonder.
Plastic legs in striped tights dangle from the ceiling, an electric train pulled by a BNSF engine runs overhead, and more dolls and Nutcrackers than there are residents of White Rock line shelves throughout the house.
There’s a lot to take in.
Every mannequin has a name. Tatiana, purchased for $100 on eBay, is the one wearing a yellow macrame bikini and fur boots.
If space seems relatively tight inside the house, it’s not due to a lack of floor area, but rather to the number of decorations and artifacts Strangway has collected, including a pair of life-sized polar bears.
In one of the bathrooms, men will find themselves within kissing distance of a yellow plastic horse head while they do their business. But if that same man wanted a quick bath, he’d need to exit the bathroom and head to the living-room.
That’s right, the bathtub sits in the open concept living-room. It’s located beside the bed, because, of course it is.
“It’s just my husband and myself, so when we’re in the bath, you don’t have people over. So walls don’t mean anything,” Strangway explained of the unorthodox floor plan.
If showers are preferable, guests will have to wait their turn while the six-foot-tall flamingo sculpture finishes up. That might take a while; the flamingo didn’t seem to be in a rush.
Strangway uses a portion of the home to host a bed-and-breakfast. While acknowledging that the decor is “not everybody’s cup of tea,” many are attracted to it, she said.
The 3,579 sq.ft. home features fours bedrooms and four baths. It comes with two full kitchens, a secondary suite, two studios – one for arts, the other for music – a couple fire places and an elevator.
If the money is right, Strangway said, she’ll even sell the contents of the house.
Real estate agent Cindy Russell, who has been in the business for 25 years, said the house is by far the most unique she’s ever listed.
She is confident the house will sell, and the ideal buyer, she said, is probably someone looking for a trophy property.
“When you think of White Rock, you think of this house. A lot of people have said that to me, it’s a landmark property. Some people like to have showsy types of properties,” Russell said.
Strangway built the house in 2010. Her vision at the time, she said, was that “we wanted it to be fantastic.”
“I had all of this stuff, so we didn’t want it to be a normal house, and we wanted a certain amount of dividability,” she said. “You could really have one family in here and have everything open, but it’s so divided.”
Strangway listed her influences for the decor as New Orleans, France and Mexico. Her educational background is in theatre.
“I’ve always loved the props, not that I had anything to do with that. But I love the sets and the props.”
The mannequins standing watch on the front balcony, she said, were extras in X-Files, so she’s been told.
“I’ve always meant to watch X-Files and find them… different people have called and said, ‘Hey, your mannequins are on.”
As for the ceiling train, Strangway said that was her husband’s idea.
“We love the train, it’s so charming that there’s a train that goes right by here on the water. Where do you find that? I’ve only seen that in a few places in the world.”
Strangway said she’s selling the house so that she and her husband can move to a castle in France.
She said her friend Madonna, a singer, has provided a few leads for her. Not that Madonna, she clarified.
“I feel like we can start over and do it all again, and do a B&B,” Strangway said of her upcoming adventure.
Strangway is ready for France. The real question might be, is France ready for Strangway?