By Lin Stranberg
The fabulous pair on this month’s cover, Sebastian Sevallo and Karen KhunKhun, are local broadcast personalities who give back to the greater Vancouver community in a generous and openhearted way. Sebastian is a full-time Vancouver fire fighter as well as co-host of HGTV renovation show Worst to First, and Karen, a well-known radio personality, is currently co-host of the Jeff O’Neil morning show on CFOX.
As spokespersons for the Hometown Heroes Lottery, Karen and Sebastian are dedicated champions of the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation and the B.C. Professional Fire fighters’ Burn Fund, which are supported by the Lottery. They deserve to be considered hometown heroes in their own right.
Karen has been a Hometown Heroes spokesperson for two years. She is justifiably proud of her role. “I love being a part of the Hometown Heroes Lottery,” she said. “It was a bit of a no-brainer for me, because community outreach is the backbone of my radio station. And the Hometown Heroes Lottery does so much amazing work. We’ve met people first-hand who have benefited from the Burn Fund – not just from big, disastrous fires but from smaller accidents that happen all the time. The lottery raises funds for the reconstructive surgery that helps people recover from these burn incidents.”
Sebastian is in his fourth year as a Lottery spokesperson. Being a fire fighter was his enduring childhood dream and today he is a shining example of the firefighter persona he respected and admired – and still does. “We love to help out, whether on-duty or off-duty, and our goal is to maintain happiness and peace. We’re hard-working, reliable, and we’re good at handling stressful situations. We know what to do in an emergency. Fire fighters care about the community, and the people involved in traumatic events,” he said, “and I’m proud to be part of something that supports these ideals. The Burn Camp for kids is a really great cause, where young burn survivors can go to camp with other kids who have had the same experience. The staff and medical team are volunteers, and the Hometown Heroes Lottery supports it.”
Karen’s admiration for fire fighters is heartfelt and genuine. “It’s inspiring to see what our fire fighters can do. When we need someone the most, they are there for us. It’s an honour to support their cause.”
Being part of the fashion shoot at the beautiful 2019 Hometown Heroes Lottery Grand Prize Home was all in a day’s work for her. She is always happy to promote the lottery and its cause. “With the Hometown Heroes Lottery, you’re not only supporting a great cause but you can actually win a great prize,” Karen said.
The lucky ticket purchaser who wins this year’s Grand Prize Home Package, valued at more than $2.5 million, will get the gorgeous 4,585 sq. ft. lottery home in our photographs, including $85,000 in furnishings and electronics, a 2019 BMW cabriolet and $50,000 cash. The home is in the very desirable Ocean Park community of South Surrey, not far from Crescent Beach.
Builder Ryan Thorpe, co-founder of nearby Ryder Creek Homes, believes Ocean Park to be one of the top communities in B.C. It’s heavily treed, family-friendly and is generally opposed to redevelopment. “Ocean Park protects its low density and its neighbourhood values,” he said. He chose the lot because it was the last one on the street and right next door to a green space that will never be built out.
In this house, Ryan’s first lottery home, he set out to create a difference that was memorable without being showy or ostentatious, that would be timeless and not become dated, and that would provide a lasting appeal for the people or families who lived there.
With its simple lines, soaring 10 ft. ceilings, and clean Scandinavian feel, the home offers understated luxury on three levels. Its only feature wall is ungimmicky and looks like it will never go out of style. Finished in a beautiful white shiplap, it’s visible from the entryway, positioned just beneath the glass-railed staircase leading to the five bedrooms upstairs.
The real stars are the abundance of natural light and the contemporary calm in the streamlined spaces. “The goal was to create a living space that was as open as possible,” Ryan said. In the great room, the kitchen area has a low-key white chevron backsplash that’s echoed in the flat chevron marble tiling of the modern fireplace in the room’s opposite end. The streamlined gourmet kitchen is sleek and clean, with wood cabinet facings that play off the Scandinavian feel of the wide-plank flooring. Just off to the side, the spice kitchen provides an additional space for food prep. Large sliders open to an outdoor entertaining area with seating and fire table.
More space for entertaining is on the lower level, with a large and very comfortable media room, a smaller room for more intimate gatherings, complete with a walk-in wine room, and a flex room that can be used as an extra bedroom or a home gym. A family could easily adapt the downstairs entertainment rooms to accommodate family lifestyles and children’s play spaces.
The restraint with which Ryan built this home has paid off in the quiet, relaxed and fuss-free luxe he has achieved here. Interior designer Jen O’Donnell of Jen O’Donnell Designs, who is an Ocean Park resident, understood Ryan’s lifestyle vision right away and she echoed his restraint in her choice of furnishings and accessories.
“I wanted to create a casual, comfortable home that felt luxurious but not extravagant,” she said. “It’s more down to earth and family-friendly, reflecting my own personal style and what I like to do with my own spaces.” She furnished the home with contemporary items in neutral tones from Urban Barn and used many natural wood pieces, respecting the clean lines, airy spaciousness and understated luxe of the home as a whole. Natural decorative elements lend an organic feel to the spaces – a wall of baskets in the dining area of the great room that’s echoed in varied basketry throughout the home; greenery; tribal themes; textured wool toss cushions, poufs and throws.
Like the house itself, Jen’s décor will withstand the test of time. “The easy and neutral furnishings are the constants; the artwork, cushions, lamps and other accessories can be easily changed up every few years to remain fresh,” she said. “I designed it to be classic with a twist: for example, I used safe colours in riskier, more exciting textures and prints. You can always change things like accessory groupings, curtains and throws, and bring in extra interest with bohemian touches.” In her opinion, the important thing is to create a home that feels collected, not store-bought. “That way, it has meaning and history.”
“It’s been a great experience to be part of the Hometown Heroes Lottery team,” Jen said. “Before I was a designer, I worked in healthcare and I have witnessed firsthand the valuable accomplishments of the burns and plastic unit. It’s been nice to make this home look pretty, but at the end of the day, it’s all for a great cause. This lottery home happens to be about fire fighters and the burn unit—but every lottery home is created for a really worthy cause.”
The 2019 Hometown Heroes Lottery Grand Prize Home is at 1912 Laronde Drive, South Surrey, and can be visited daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. heroeslottery.com n