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Dawna Friesen of Global National on her recent move from London to Vancouver
Dawna Friesen has carpeted her North Vancouver home with rugs from her travels
Previously, NBC’s foreign correspondent and anchor in London, she travelled to cover the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the decade’s top stories.
Now Friesen talks about leaving London and setting up her home in Vancouver
I moved from London to a quiet North Vancouver neighbourhood. Basing it on my own needs, I would have moved to the West End, where I loved living years ago. However, priorities are different with a young child: I wanted a larger space outside of the city where we can walk in nature. We live right across from my son’s school that has a soccer field and basketball court, so he’s been wondering when it will stop raining.
We kept the London home because I’d just purchased it before learning about the opportunity at Global TV. It’s a cozy Victorian house with small rooms, so a very different setting than the spacious Craftsman-style home I chose here.
My new house has high ceilings, large windows and an open-concept great room. A north-facing window wall offers a view of the mountains and a backyard facing a greenbelt with large trees. It was exciting to look for a new home, but as a friend aptly said, “You bought houses in two of the most expensive cities in the world.”
I shipped my furniture from London, but bought new kitchen appliances and a TV due to the voltage incompatibility, an expense I hadn’t really considered. I also bought a king-size bed, which I couldn’t have fit in my small British bedroom.
We spend lots of time in the living room. I call the sofa there “the magic couch” because as soon as you lie on it, you fall asleep. It’s a maroon overstuffed style from London. Here, I read to my son and watch TV. I was tempted to put the TV in the basement, but relented. In London, our one TV was in the “reception room,” as it’s called there, for appointment viewing, meaning that you made a particular trip into that room to watch. I bought a new Sony flat screen, and my son is already bemoaning the fact that it isn’t big enough. Being in the media, I must tune into the world. Every night before going to bed, I watch TV news, search news websites and read newspapers, and then I wake up early the next morning and do the same thing to find out what happened overnight.
When I come home from work, I love to cook; it’s a relaxing outlet. My contemporary kitchen has lots of space, with Caesarstone countertops and stainless steel appliances. There’s a patio extending from the kitchen, where I will soon put a barbecue. I love the access to fresh fish here, like halibut and black cod.
I have a carpet collection from my travels. I often went shopping just to see the stunningly beautiful carpets throughout the Middle East. I bought carpets in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Iraq, following Saddam Hussein’s fall, people anxiously sold wares to Western buyers as the market suddenly opened. My favourite is a Qashqai carpet from Iraq in reds, blues, green and gold, which is now in the living room beneath my couch.
I haven’t completely unpacked. The media world has been busy – the election, royal wedding and Middle East issues – so that hasn’t left time to take a breath, glance around the home to reconsider placement of objects or to hang pictures.
I must get my beautiful translucent photographs by Nick Veasey framed. He’s a British artist who enlarges X-rays of objects including shells and plants to reveal their inner structure. I featured a story on him and love his work, so my London colleagues gave me pieces as a going-away gift.
1. A tea cozy. My favourite is knitted by my great aunt. I’ve had it for many years. I use it when I make tea with PG Tips teabags.
2. A silicon whisk. I use it all the time.
3. My Apple iPod Touch. It has all of my favourite music and family photos on it so I always carry it with me.
4. A stovetop espresso maker. I use this very regularly.
5. A good book: The Cinnamon Peeler by Michael Ondaatje.
Originally published in BC Home magazine. For monthly updates, subscribe to the free BC Home e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the bi-monthly magazine.