It’s hard to know what Carey Hulshof has collected more of: clothes or books.
On the one hand, she’s a style star—the founder of Vancouver luxury concept shopSecret Location, the woman who comes dressed perfectly (and uniquely) for every occasion. The woman who has a shoe collection that could be in a museum (including vintage velvet Chanels, the famed Ferragamo rainbow wedge, and a boot from Alexander McQueen’s last collection before he died); she’s the woman who has a hand-beaded Fendi bag now worth thousands, and a slim black skirt gifted to her by the former CEO of Versace (given to the CEO from the late Gianni himself). She’s got a vintage Coca-Cola delivery shirt; a shirt made out of denim; a shirt made out of paper.
On the other hand, she’s obsessive about books. They’re stacked under her bed, under the guest bed, under the banquette, along the windowsill in her living room, on shelves, plus more in storage. Art books, books on being an entrepreneur, books of fiction—she reads for at least an hour each night before bed. Just the other night, in fact, she and her husband Edward were both up until 1 a.m. because they were so enveloped in their books. She’s the type to scribble in the margins, jotting down notes and thoughts and things to come back to. That’s why she has such a hard time letting them go—they’re not just a pastime, they’re points of reference. Vehicles of information.
All of this collecting, though, it’s not excess and it’s not showy—rather, it’s a deep, almost nerdy adoration and appetite for culture. And there’s no space in her home that combines these two passions more than her bedroom. Located on the second floor of her Gastown apartment, it’s a high-ceilinged ode to French-art-deco-meets-French-Polynesian style—two of her favourite aesthetics.
“I really love Moroccan or French Polynesian, that vibe. Edward calls it ‘Very Hemingway.’ That’s what he says about his dresser,” she says, pointing to a piece that does indeed look like it belongs in 1960s Tahiti. “He feels like he should stick his fedora on it. He has tried to fight me to put his humidor on there, and I was like, ‘No, this is the bedroom!’” A bedroom, after all, should strike a calmer tone—it should be a place where its dwellers feel truly relaxed and primed for sleep.
“Because of my work, I find it’s really difficult to turn off at the end of the day. And I find that I use different scents to tell my body that it’s time to relax and unwind and get ready to go to bed. So I use scent at different times of the day for different purposes,” Hulshof says, citing Lavender, Cedarwood, Frankincense, and Bergamot essential oils her favourites come evening. “I feel like it’s the routine of it and having a similar scent every night so that your body knows what’s going on, what’s happening. That, alongside no phone time—spending at least an hour and a half away from any screens. Hence reading.” She is also enjoying spraying vitruvi’s Sleep Mist on her pillows before bed, and drinkingYogi’s bedtime tea orFour Sigmatic’s Mushroom Hot Cacao with Reishi.
“Listening to myself talk, I’m realizing how much of an old couple we sound like. We just read and drink tea,” she jokes. That might be the reality of how she spends her evenings at home, but Hulshof’s life is anything but boring; she is frequently on the move, heading to Paris or Milan on buying trips for Secret Location. Her adorable, non-shedding cat Kiddo often goes to Europe with her, so he has become quite fond of nice hotels, though their at-home California king bed—required because of Edward’s towering six-foot-eight frame—isn’t so bad either. She and Edward love to travel for fun, too, and recently spent some glorious time in Morocco on their honeymoon (where they picked up the gorgeous woven blue rug that lives on the floor of their closet area). Most of the cherished items in their bedroom are from their travels, actually—from the vintage books Hulshof picked up from a vendor along the Seine in Paris (“because Edward is trying to learn French”), to the Murano blown-glass horse that they bought while they were in Italy for their wedding (their “first big purchase” as husband and wife).
Much like the items in her store—which range from up-and-coming designers, to rare luxury vintage accessories, to skincare and magazines—Hulshof’s home is meticulously sourced and styled. Her discerning eye lends itself especially to her bedroom, from the aroma in her diffuser to the antique wares on her shelves. So between books and clothes, what does she collect more of? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that she truly cherishes them all—every single one.