Best Holiday Shopping in Downtown Bellingham

Christmas is just around the corner, which for me means, cue the gift giving anxiety! I never know what to give certain friends and family members who seem to already have everything, so over the last year I’ve been mentally taking note of some downtown Bellingham’s best gift shopping options. So here’s my list—and in no particular order!


1201 Cornwall #103

Plants are an instant way to breathe life into a dull space. And who doesn’t love a new gorgeous house plant? I actually cannot contain my excitement about BabyGreens, a tiny and magical store that offers a beautiful assortment of lush houseplants and a carefully curated collection of modern pots.


BabyGreens has a lot of adorable succulent plants, gorgeous hanging plants, and some really nice large fiddle head figs. Pretty much every on-trend stylish plant imaginable.


Don’t have a green thumb yourself? Don’t be intimidated. Owner Nick Meza and his staff can help answer questions related to the care preferences and requirements of each plant. There’s also quite a few fool-proof options to choose from — he can hook you up!


301 W Holly St.

For truly exceptional one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, Ormolulu can’t be beat. Located in the Bay St Village building, Ormolulu is one of the most entertaining and enjoyable places to shop. You can’t go in there necessarily expecting to find a specific thing… it’s way more fun to visit with open mindedness and wonder because you never know what amazing item you’ll find.


Ormolulu is known for their exceptional repurposed/rewired vintage lighting. They also rework vintage and antique furniture. Right now my absolute favorite items in stock are the selection of vintage Christmas decor! So many cute things (but be forewarned: their selection is flying out the door right now.)

Bonus: Ormolulu is open every single day until Christmas!


Old World Deli

1228 N State St

Old World Deli

Isn’t this a sandwich spot? It sure is. And an amazing one at that. But this deli is also stocked with an interesting array of gourmet foods, which make it the perfect holiday gift-buying spot for your foodie friends. From truffle polenta mix to gourmet spices and sauces, to interesting cocktail fixings, there’s definitely a delicious array of giftable treats. It’s the type of stuff that you wouldn’t necessarily buy for yourself (maybe you would..but I tend to not buy myself expensive salts and marinades), but you’d love to receive as a gift.

Old World Deli
Old World Deli

Apse Adorn

1307 Cornwall Ave.

This husband and wife duo design the most gorgeous and simple jewelry! They primarily sold online until the fall of 2017, when they opened up their brick and mortar location on Cornwall. What a delightful addition to downtown Bellingham! This is the perfect place to buy a gift for a person who appreciates stylish, modern accessories.


Every time I go in to this shop, I find a new piece that I love. Some of their pieces are very understated, and others are bold—but it’s never overdone. Their jewelry craft takes place in the back room, making it simple to size pieces for you. You can also browse their selection online.


Through the holidays, Apse is hosting a pop up shop from Makeworth Market, which will be opening a retail location and cafe in downtown Bellingham in early 2019. So currently there’s a nicely curated collection of PNW-worthy goods added to the mix.



1227 Cornwall Ave.

Ideal is a reliable go-to spot for unique and modern gifts primarily in the home and lifestyle categories. This is the perfect place to shop for the design enthusiast in your life. You’ll find cool trinkets, vessels and textiles—from well-known brands such as Marimekko and Chilewich to lesser known but equally as cool brands such as KLT Works, a local PNW artist. You can pick up a Stendig wall calendar, or a Tivoli Audio bluetooth radio speaker. They have interesting Scandinavian and Japanese glassware and other items of interest. Lots to choose from!

Ideal Bellingham

During my most recent visit, I was really obsessing over these gorgeous handmade bowls from KLT Works.

Ideal Bellingham

Hot Tip: Ideal also has a nice selection of baby and children’s gifts! I love their artsy children’s books.

Of course there are other fantastic shops in downtown Bellingham, but these are my 2018 picks for holiday gift giving in a pinch. I think you can find unique, gift-worthy items at each of these stores…and lots of potential items for the tough-to-buy-for people in your life. Have fun and good luck!

Is the real estate market slowing down?

My clients and friends keep asking me if the market is slowing down.

The answer is...yes and no.

Being a regional company with offices from the Portland area to a Bellingham is great because we get regional market updates that help us anticipate market shifts.

In this morning’s meeting, our CEO, Mike Grady, said, “We are still a long way from being a balanced market. We are still leaning towards being a seller's market over a buyer's market.”

Coldwell Banker Bain CEO Mike Grady in Bellevue on the big screen at a sales meeting in Bellingham.

Coldwell Banker Bain CEO Mike Grady in Bellevue on the big screen at a sales meeting in Bellingham.

What does a “balanced market” mean exactly?

A balanced market is one that doesn’t favor buyers or sellers, and has about 5-6 months of inventory.

Across the NWMLS, we had 1.9 months of inventory in June, and it was up to 2.9 months by September. By the end of the year we anticipate 3.5 months of inventory. So... inventory is creeping up giving buyers more options.

In Bellingham, our inventory has been inching up slightly throughout the year—but the key word is slightly. We’re still well below the 5 or 6 months mark that a balanced market requires.

Months of Real Estate Inventory in Bellingham

I’m personally competing against fewer offers when representing buyers lately. But I’m not sure we’re headed for a significant market correction.

Why? A big influencer is that the economy is still strong. Washington state is adding about 10,000 jobs per month. And only 3,000-4,000 building permits are being issued per month. The demand for housing is still there.

However, interest rates are ticking up, currently sitting right around 5%. There is no real way of knowing exactly what rates will do, but most lenders expect about a 3 rate increase over the next year. That could mean a rate of 5.5%, some say 5.75%, in 2019. Rising interest rates definitely reduce buying power so it it will be interesting to see how that impacts the market.

So, will it be as hot of a market as early 2018? Probably not. Will it drastically change? Probably not. According to Grady, “In Portland and Seattle and the entire I-5 corridor, we anticipate that it will be mostly the same kind of market through the end of 2018 and throughout 2019. Right now there’s no logical reason to believe we won’t lean more towards a seller's market for the next 18 months or so.”

Sold on South Hill

It was truly an honor to represent and sell this stunningly stylish view home in the South Hill neighborhood this summer.

Originally built in the 50’s, 420 17th St was renovated to perfection by a builder/designer duo. It offered all the fun stuff: Ann Sacks and Statements Tile, Miele and Viking appliances, Terrazzo epoxied garage floors. Every single corner was cool and cute. And it had a fantastically landscaped large yard, rare on South Hill.

I called it a unicorn. Homes this dialed in — and set up for modern day living — rarely exist in this neighborhood. That was definitely a reason why this sale was so successful.

Listed at $1,175,000, it sold for $1,212,000 in six days. That’s 103% of list price, the highest of any $1 million+ home in the South Hill neighborhood in the last 10 years.

The house was a show stopper in and of itself, but we also did our marketing. I did two professional photoshoots, aerial drone photography, and a video. I also built a custom website for this one. In addition, I sent direct mail and launched multiple social media promotions. This listing had over 15,000 impressions on Facebook alone!

Some of you know that I live in the South Hill neighborhood of Bellingham. I love this neighborhood. Living here helps me really understand this unique neighborhood market. I feel lucky to raise my children here. It’s a special community where people stay a long time. This seller raised her family here too. She was involved in the Lowell Elementary School PTA just like I am now. Which is why it was really special that I got to use Coldwell Banker Bain’s Community Partnership Program, and donate 10 percent of commissions to the PTA.

All around…a truly magical sale!

Bellingham's own architecture legend, George Bartholick

You may have heard me say that my work in real estate has been peppered with rather coincidental, if not inspired, experiences. (If not, I’d be happy to talk your ear off about all the strange and incredible situations that I’ve had in the last year.) So, here’s another one.

While antique shopping at one of my favorite PNW stores, Urban Marketplace, in the Manette neighborhood of Bremerton, I started chatting with one of the sales associates. I mentioned that I lived in Bellingham, and she said that she went to college there. She happened to mention the name of her college roommate…because, that’s normally what you bring up in a 30-second conversation with a stranger, right?

“I still keep in touch with my college roommate, Andrea Bartholick Pace, who’s now interior designer in the Bay area,” she said.

Bartholick. The name stuck. I said, “This is a long shot but…did her dad happen to be an architect?”

“Yes, he was!” she replied.

My eyes widened. I just put one of the late George Bartholick’s homes under contract: a beautiful 1960s home in the Edgemoor neighborhood of Bellingham. My clients and I had been researching him and his work. What are the odds?

Days later I had the opportunity to speak with his daughter Andrea about his life and his work, and I’m excited to be able to share a bit about it here.

A true creative

Born in 1921, George Bartholick grew up in Bellingham, where his family owned a shoe repair shop. He came from a creative family, as evidenced by this custom car his father had created by Ford for his personal use. 

George Bartholick, age 4, (to the right of the steering wheel) in a Bellingham parade.

George Bartholick, age 4, (to the right of the steering wheel) in a Bellingham parade.

He was an adventurous spirit and he lived all over the world.

He was best friends with prominent PNW architects Fred Bassetti and Ibsen Nelson. "They ruled the Seattle art scene in the 70s and 80s," Andrea said. "They were all tall, dressed beautifully, and supported the arts and changes in Seattle's development."

He was crazy, wild and mischievous. She told me a hilarious story about how he designed a contemporary house called the “House of the Future” for the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, and then got arrested for sleeping in it before opening day.

After traveling Europe, and living in Finland and France, Bartholick came home in 1956 to Bellingham.

“He loved Bellingham, especially Lake Whatcom."

Andrea grew up with her two siblings in a one-bedroom log cabin with an outhouse at the end of Northshore Dr, until she was 11 years old when the family moved into the home that he was slowly building on the property.

"The lake reminded him of the fiords of Norway,” she said.

Bartholick designed much of Western Washington University’s campus. He also restored the old city hall (for the former town, New Whatcom) after a fire, which today houses the Whatcom Museum. His work laid the groundwork for what is now the Woodland Park Zoo. But he was most known for his work restoring Pike Place Market, which earned him an American Institute of Architects award in 1985.

Bartholick only designed a handful of residential projects in his lifetime, but the homes that he did design were special for all of those who got to live in them.

“He was always very close with his clients, and they typically kept the homes for the rest of their lives.”

A portrait of George Bartholick during the 1990s when he was living and teaching architecture in Guanajuato, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Andrea Bartholick Pace.

A portrait of George Bartholick during the 1990s when he was living and teaching architecture in Guanajuato, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Andrea Bartholick Pace.

615 Bayside, Edgemoor

My lucky clients are design enthusiasts, and they immediately fell in love with this home, which features floor to ceiling windows and the unique floor plan that playfully winds around a courtyard and pool, with walls of sliding doors creating natural indoor-outdoor living spaces.

“He hated cutting down trees to make room for a home, so would design around them," Andrea noted.

Bartholick’s influences were Japanese architecture, nature, and natural light.

When we walked into this home, it immediately felt cultured and inspired, much like its creator.


Bartholick died in 1998 at the age of 77.

In his Seattle Times obituary, a fellow architect Jim Leong, said "He was one of the characters of Seattle, a living legend. He could be a cantankerous reprobate on one hand, and a gentle, guiding soul on the other. He definitely designed some marvelous buildings."

And we are fortunate to have a bit of his legacy here in Bellingham.


Like what you're reading? Here's how to get more of it...

Just listed: mid-century marvel on South Hill

I've recently listed a mid-century dream home, loaded with original charm and style. Please join me on a tour of 400 17th St.—starting with this awesome video that we created to showcase the home in its best light.

Mid-century home in Bellingham

This home features large windows in every room. There's a wading pool with a spraying fountain in the back, plus a swimming pool deep enough for diving! 

Mid century home with pool in Bellingham

The large, light and bright living room features beamed ceilings and a wall of windows. The sliding doors lead to a large covered patio.

Mid-century home in Bellingham

A gorgeous stone entry way leads to large living area with parquet flooring. Original light fixtures and decorative iron paneling give a Hollywood Regency vibe.

Mid-century home in Bellingham

The dining room boasts a view of Bellingham Bay, and opens to a covered patio with recently updated slate floor and aluminum/glass panels.

Mid-century homes in Bellingham

The eat-in kitchen has charming original fixtures including globe light fixtures and Heywood-Wakefield style cabinets.

Mid century kitchen in Bellingham

Original working sound and intercomm system with pull-out wall devices including a functional record player. Original scalloped pink anodized aluminum range hood. Immaculately maintained time capsule home...these are what mid-century dreams are made of!

Mid century homes in Bellingham

A spacious, light-filled main floor master bedroom with vaulted ceilings. Door leads to a room with dual cedar-lined closets and a built-in marble topped vanity, and then to the master bathroom.

Mid century home in Bellingham

The blush pink drapes are so epic!

Hollywood Regency in Bellingham

Gorgeous views from the master bedroom.

Bellingham Bay views

Master suite perks include a marble-topped vanity and built-in armoires!

Mid century vanity and armoires

Dual sinks, marble countertops, and crystal fixtures combine to make a luxuriously retro master bath.

Hollywood Regency bathroom

Lower level bedroom. Wake up to an everyday vacation!

South Hill Bellingham Home for Sale

Lower level bathroom. Light, neutral colors. Once again, just immaculately maintained.

Mid-century home for sale in Bellingham

The lower level has a three bedrooms -- and this one below was used as a craft room. I just love the original globe fixtures.

Home for sale in South Hill, Bellingham

Pink bathroom on the lower level.  #millenialpink! It's back in style, you guys!

Mid-century bathroom in Bellingham

Lower level bedroom or office which opens up to the pool area.

Mid-century home in Bellingham

Covered outdoor grilling area. The original speakers and sound system are functional.

Covered outdoor area in Bellingham mid-century home

Imagine the pool parties, everybody! (And please invite me!)

South Hill Bellingham pool

One of the biggest perks of this property is its sheer size -- rare on South Hill! The sprawling home sits on two parcels, and there's an additional parcel the right that's full of mature, flowering trees. 

South Hill Bellingham home for sale.

The additional lot offers beauty and privacy, and the opportunity for cozy outdoor fires!

Lot on South Hill for sale with home

All in all, this home is a total dream. Offered at $1,100,000. I created a property website which gives more details. 

See Instagram for more #40017thSt

Making it Work in Bellingham: Lisa Staton, interior designer

I grew up in Whatcom County but have lived the majority of my adult life in Seattle. Three years ago, we moved to Bellingham for a better pace of life. My husband is a creative director and product designer in the tech industry, so as you can imagine, more job opportunities for him exist in Seattle. However, Seattle developed just a bit of a frenzy that just didn't jive with our lifestyle after having kids. I know a lot of people must feel this way because lately when I do open houses, the majority of people are people trying to leave Seattle. 

What do people do for work in Bellingham?

That's the big question, am I right? Since moving to Bellingham, I've met so many interesting professionals who have built amazing careers for themselves in Bellingham. A lot of people have finagled remote work opportunities, and many also work for themselves. I love learning about creative and entrepreneurial people in this small town, so I'm starting a blog series called Making it Work in Bellingham. I'll be interviewing inspiring people who love Bellingham and have made beautiful lives and homes here in our community. I hope these stories inspire people that you can work where you love to live!

My first interview is with Lisa Staton, who lives right down the street from me on South Hill. I first met Lisa through our kids who both go to the same elementary school. I was excited to learn that she also moved to Bellingham from Seattle in the last few years. I've since learned that Lisa is a sought after interior designer who has garnered quite a reputation in Seattle and beyond.

The first time I went to her home, I just about fainted from pure minimalist delight. She's completely reworked a gorgeous Tudor home that I remember touring and falling in love with for its potential – and to see it now after her refresh is quite inspiring. If I could describe her home's aesthetic, I would say modern meets comfortable, natural meets refined, traditional meets unexpected. Enjoy this first interview in an ongoing series!

South Hill homes Bellingham
South Hill Homes Bellingham

Coming from Seattle and other urban places, what do you love most about Bellingham?

I grew up on the East Coast and spent my summers in Maine.  The ocean, the islands, the rocky coast. It reminds me a lot of Maine.  The pace here is different. Bellingham slows me down, reminds me to take a deep breath, and get out and enjoy nature. But I am also very much a "city girl" at heart, and so the quick access to Seattle and Vancouver satisfies that "fix."  

We also loved the idea of the kids growing up in a "college town" with the cultural and educational influences that a school like Western brings to a community.  

Did anything surprise you about this town?

We had made a quick trip to Bellingham before moving here, and of course I knew it was on the water, but the days we visited before moving happened to be especially rainy and foggy (even by Northwest standards).  So I did not fully grasp just how amazing the natural surroundings are.  This sounds dorky, but I literally feel taken by surprise often by the scenic views...and those sunsets! 

Bellingham historic homes
South Hill homes Bellingham

What do you love about the South Hill neighborhood? Did you consider any other neighborhoods when you moved here?

My husband is a professor at WWU, and so we really wanted to live on South Hill so he could walk to campus. We also loved that the neighborhood  elementary school is tucked in amongst the houses, and that our children could walk to school through high school.  (That is one of the things I really love about Bellingham, there is not a big private school culture here. And I feel that means families of all backgrounds and interests stay involved and engaged in the public school system which keeps it strong and well supported both fiscally and at the grass roots level with the PTA and lots of parental involvement and volunteering.) 

Classic homes in South Hill Bellingham

I often tell my clients that there's a certain feeling when you're in the right home. Did you immediately see the vision with your home?

I agree. We all start with a list of number of bedrooms, size of yard, garage, etc. But there is a certain emotion that can't be quantified when house shopping. That said, for myself, I am actually pretty pragmatic when buying a house. It's my job to solve the "puzzle" of making a home live well and be beautiful on a daily basis. I work in a range of styles (both modern and traditional). But the bones must be good. I would much rather take on a house that has not yet been renovated but has good bones than one that has had a poorly planned renovation or cheaply added on layers.  

We have moved many times and renovated many old houses. When this house came on the market we were in the planning stages of adding on to an old Victorian home two blocks down the street. My husband gets full credit for our buying this house. He loved it the day it went on the market, but I knew the amount of work that had to be done and was hesitant to take it on until the price dropped to a point where it made sense. It's good to remember that sometimes it's time to buy another house then try to make a current house more than it can easily (or fiscally) be. 

South Hill Bellingham real estate
South Hill Bellingham real estate

As an interior designer (and someone with an obvious touch for making a home what I like to call a "heart home") what would you advise a home shopper to focus on when looking? 

Location, location location first!  And then be really clear on the parts of the home where you spend most of your time and shop for a house that meets those needs. Many clients think they need big huge houses, when the majority of families only really actively live in smaller percentage of their house, even if the house is much bigger. Also, don't be afraid of renovating, and also doing it in stages. As long as you have a "plan," it can be done over time. If the basics are in good shape (foundation, roof, electrical and plumbing), all the rest can happen over time. 

Thank you to Lisa Staton for the fun interview, and to the Seattle-duo Belathée Photography for the beautiful photography.

If you need help finding your perfect home in Bellingham, please reach out!

Like what you're reading? Here's how to get more of it...

12 home decluttering resources in Bellingham and Whatcom County


Every January 1, I have an incredible urge to simplify and declutter my home. Here’s the problem. I just bought our kids 5 million new toys, with increasingly smaller parts. I literally spent the majority of winter break picking up teeny tiny toy parts only to find them scattered about five minutes later. It's crazy-making!

But it’s not just my kids' fault. I am going to admit a secret. I'm not a natural organizer of my space. I blame it on working so much. I blame it on being a creative person. I blame it on having more important things to do. Here are my internal struggles, brought to you via the inside of my brain.  

  • “This could come in handy later.”
  • “Remember when….?” (this object came into my life in a very enjoyable moment in time.)
  • “Where should this go?”
  • "Whose is this?!?"
  • “If I leave this here, I'll remember.”
  • “What the hell do I do with THIS? I'll figure it out later.”
  • “I bet I could get $40 on eBay for this. I’ll just put it here until I have time to post it.” 
  • “I need to get to Target to buy more bins.”  MORE BINS!!!! 

It’s 2017 and I’m resolving to conquer these useless internal thoughts. I want my sanity back. And that requires less stuff.

Our family of four spends 99 percent of our time on the 1700 sq ft main floor of our house. We should be able to manage in this amount of space. But our stuff keeps growing in numbers. The sheer volume stresses me out!

So, I’m resolving to be ruthless in my decluttering. Bye-bye vintage dessert dishes that I’ll actually never use because - just admit it - I don’t make beautiful homemade desserts. See ya later tiny college t-shirts that remind me of my hipper days but actually don’t fit on my mom-bod. Nice to know you lotions and potions that carry the promise to make me more beautiful but don’t actually inspire me to use with any consistency.

If you’re in the same boat, here are twelve local decluttering resources that you might find helpful in your purge and re-organization.


  • Goodwill – 1115 E Sunset Dr. , Bellingham, WA 98226
  • YWCA Bellingham - especially likes professional women’s clothing, twin or full-sized blankets, quilts and comforters, pillows, kitchen towels, silverware, dishes, and small refrigerators. 1026 N. Forest St. Bellingham.
  • Wise Buys Thrift Store, run by Lydia’s Place, a homeless center for women and children. Takes gently used clothes and household items. 1224 North State St., Bellingham.
  • Arc of Washington State – will pick up clothing, bedding, books, camping equipment, and more. Pick up!
  • Lynden Christian Second Chance Thrift Store

dispose of old ELECTRONics



  • RE-Store -  accepts a wide variety of building supplies, business furniture, home decor, yard and garden items, architectural salvage, and occasionally unique antiques. 2309 Meridian St., Bellingham.