Open House: A Video Tour of the Condo

Just last week the Georgia Straight – the main weekly arts and culture paper here in Vancouver – did a video interview with me as part of their “Open House” series. Open House is a new feature aimed at looking inside the abodes of urban creatives. I qualify as creative because one time, I painted something.

The video turned out pretty well. Ironically, I could envision our landlord eventually using this video t sell the place out from under us, but c’est la vie… it’s just that good.

In any case, enjoy the tour of our cozy corner unit.

Many thanks to Amanda Siebert for interviewing, shooting and editing this piece! Was tons of fun to do.

Look for a few more upcoming video interviews as well. It seems to be that season.

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Adrian Crook is a father of five living in beautiful downtown Vancouver, Canada. When he's not mobbed by his brood, he runs a successful videogame design consulting business.

Latest posts by Adrian Crook (see all)

  • Hol

    This is great, Adrian! I’m a fairly new reader, but am already so impressed with your work and insight.

  • Stephanie Maurer

    Found this blog tonight and am loving it already, can’t wait to follow along!

    • Thanks a lot, Stephanie! I’d love to hear feedback as to what content you want more of. 🙂

      • Stephanie Maurer

        I love the ideas you are presenting on minimalism while having 5 kiddos! I would love to see how you go about leading this in their lives. I have one child still at home age 12, and while we do not watch TV, only DVD’s somehow the materialism sneaks in and we have bouts of the “gimmies” The area this is the biggest struggle is toys, I need this to go with that or I want to collect all of these….ahhhhhh!!!!!
        Since relatively new to minimalism and Kon Mari which I adore, tips on how to reel the kiddo in would be amazing!

        • Well yours is 12, so you’re in uncharted territory for me. Perhaps I won’t be able to encourage them to live as minimally by then. 😉

          One thing I stay away from doing is provided too much storage. The more shelves, drawers, closets, etc you have, the more they’ll be filled with forgotten stuff. I try to put the stuff we use on display, so we remember to use it, and the rest can be junked or donated.

          We also occasionally dump everything out and sort through it. That helps pare down.

          • Stephanie Maurer

            Ah yes less spaces to stash stuff! Hence why we have no dressers in our bedrooms or
            closets. Love the suggestion about display for often used items! Thanks for the tips.
            Curious about the family I think they were called spirit animals? Would love too see a post on those and how they came to be.
            Thanks much

  • Kelly Sangree

    So, you have your kids 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off. How do you think that impacts the minimalism at your house? Do you think it would be harder if they lived there full time?
    Without throwing your ex under the bus, do they have more stuff there? I ask because if there is “accessible abundance” outside the home, it’s easier to be minimalist inside your home.

    • No, quite frankly, I don’t think having the kids full time would be more difficult in any way more nuanced than having kids all the time would be more difficult in and of itself.

      I’ve heard this excuse for ages (the “if you had them full time you couldn’t do this!” excuse)… there’s nothing in our lives that is warehoused elsewhere. No off-site storage unit, no using their mom’s place as an overflow area, no abundance of stuff at their mom’s that isn’t found at my house. They have bikes at my place, they have bikes at their mom’s place. They have toys at my place, they have toys at their mom’s place. They have an Xbox One at their mom’s place, they have a PS4 at my place. They have full-sized beds at my place, they have full-sized beds at their mom’s place. The boys share a room at my place, the boys share a room at their mom’s place. The girls share a room at my place, the girls share a room at their mom’s place. And so on…

      And beyond that, is “more stuff” inherently good? I.e. if there was more stuff at their mom’s place, does that make it objectively better or worse? I’d argue that simply having more stuff that isn’t used – and is just stored/forgotten – is the broken part of our consumer culture that minimalism/simple living is meant to address. I couldn’t care less about the Dwell aesthetic of minimalism – I am all about focusing only on what matters, not worrying about consumer goods, and keeping life simple and not oversaturated with crap. The amount of re-use my kids get out of modular toys like Keva, Lego, Plus Plus, etc is in part a function of creativity/resourcefulness driven by not having hordes of throwaway single-purpose toys that get stored for far too long, then become landfill.

      In any case, I appreciate your comment but I often get comments like it. Yours, and the “just wait until they’re teenagers” comment are the two most common refrains among people looking for reasons why they can’t do this. But the most obvious reason they can’t do this is that they just don’t believe it’s possible.

      • Kelly Sangree

        I appreciate the thoughtful reply! I agree that more =/= better, but I was curious if there was the “overflow” at moms. Some “minimalists” do that, you know! And I’m sure you get tired of answering questions like that – I know it can get old.
        I like your method, but I’m not sure I could get the husband on board – he’s security-minded about stuff. I have a friend who does this by necessity, since they have 8 children in a house about the size of your condo (no basement, no attic), and I keep explaining to my husband that if they can live with less, we sure can too!

        • 8 kids!? Woah. Huge respect. I’m about to publish a guest post from friends of mine who live a few blocks away – they have 5 kids in 900sqft… full time. So it is of course possible. Whatever you want is possible. Question is whether you (or your partner) really want it. 😉 I know this isn’t something that would have happened when I was married, that’s for sure!

      • MotherR

        Ha! “Just wait until they are teenagers”? Even easier, I would have thought. The Lego gets put aside, and all they need is a screen and a phone! Quite compact. The other thing that gets easier is that you can just send them out the door into the city for exercise and recreation, without having to go yourself. So much more for them to do in the city.

  • Miteymiss

    Hi Adrian – After having been Twitter peeps as fellow condo-dwellers, it was nice to finally “meet” you through this new video. And yes–huge respect. 🙂

    • Hey thanks! I appreciate you coming here, even though I hardly ever update it. Will have to get back to that! For now, let’s chat on twitter. 🙂

  • qianna

    Who’s the Koala family mascot?

    • My oldest daughter!

      • qianna

        Nice. Koala’s are my favorite.

        I know many have said it but thanks again for sharing your minimalist living strategies!

  • L. A. McDonough

    We have been minimalists for decades and chose to be child free, several other couples we know likewise. I like smaller living quarters and compact suv’s we drive. I was oldest of four and realized later minimalist living is harder with kids and their stuff.

  • Elaine Shanks

    Hi Adrian. Just discovered your blog. Wonderful. I am a 69 year old married woman who just this year downsized from 2200 square feet of townhouse with my disabled husband where we raised 2 kids and cared for elderly mothers … to a 1360 square foot senior condo. In downsizing I followed many of the minimalist ideas I have read about in other blogs such as yours. Now that we are settled here I believe completely that less is so much easier to take care of – and in fact, we could have lived in a smaller dwelling than we have moved to. I am enjoying your blog and as I continue to shed stuff (don’t want to leave 1360 square feet of stuff for my kids to sort through some day) I gain inspiration from your story.

    • Sounds like a positive change! Thanks for reaching out. I totally share your feelings when it comes to less-is-more: less means more time for those we love, instead of maintaining things and stuff. Love it! Take care!

  • Emmy Archer

    Eek! My husband and I are making the move in the next year to a condo lifestyle downtown with two littles (4.5 and 3; they will be able to walk to school once they begin). We are excited about the minimization and the lifestyle for our kids, yet slightly anxious about the transition. You don’t see much of this type of transition in Knoxville, TN, but we are sure it will give us much more freedom in many ways! Thanks for the inspiration..

    • I’ve been to Knoxville! I imagine you’re quite the heretic there, for choosing a condo in a place that’s so dominated by country style single family homes.

      I think when the novelty of a new place wears off, the kids might occasionally express a desire to be in a bigger place (in my experience, usually when they’re mad and trying to say hurtful things), but what they don’t easily grasp are the intangible benefits of minimalist/lean living: more time with family, less stressed parents (due to no commute), greater proximity to cultural areas (if you’re downtown), increased health benefits of walking more, and so forth.

      So enjoy!

  • Lily

    I just found your blog yesterday and have been binge-reading. It’s fantastic, and I love the philosophical aspects! I do have kind of an odd question though–you guys seem really settled in, but those bedrooms also look really short and they seem to have really short beds too. Are they big enough to accommodate two/three teenagers in terms of bed length, or will you all have to move at that point (I hope not!)?

    • Thanks for reading! Their beds are regular sized – 38Wx75L – so they’d have to be about 6 feet tall before they started to reach the end of the mattress.

      • Lily

        Oh yay, I’m really glad to hear that! That would be a super frustrating reason to have to move.

  • Ken Stobbs

    Your children will survive. Day 1 Grade 1 my dad walked me to school, tested me 3-4 time with my combination padlock on my locker and I got myself to school from then on. Age 10, I asked my mother to drive me to the PNE. She said I had to take the bus, I asked how, she said I had to call BC Hydro (they ran the buses then) and ask, I said what is the number, she said look it up. At any rate, I have traveled the word since, I am 62 now. I have been lost many times but never once felt lost. My parents did everything for me but not that much when they knew I could manage alone. I wasn’t alone. I knew NO ONE who was driven to school.

  • Kim

    Just discovered your site. One question and one tip you might like to check into….

    Where do you store the bikes? Do Vancouver condos have storage areas for them? In a similar situation, but just 2 kids and I in a 2 bedroom condo – and biggest issue is that we can’t have our bikes there, nowhere to put them.

    And a “might want to consider” tip – I have a son and daughter sharing a room, as it’s a 2 bedroom condo. While that’s normal in all sorts of urban places, it was a concern for some in my world and my two are older than yours. Discovered Privacy Pop tents to stick over their beds (there are bunk bed models too). Might work for yours too if they start to want their own space more as they get older, creates a little getaway for each. My two love them.

  • Matthew Michaud

    Hi Adrian, sent you a Tweet earlier re how to best find rentals. Really like the blog, we are 4 in a tiny 1bd (and yup w no den as most ask), but we are in dire need of at least a 2bd. We are mulling over leaving the Westend, or venturing elsewhere and it’s a really tough decision. This morning we spent hours at Second Beach Parks, strolled through Stan Park. I liked what you said, it is easier to work with what you have then always want more, but in our case we need at least one more separate space 😉 All the best.