Interior Design and Decorating Services In Guelph and Surrounding Areas

Copyright Ocean Bottega

Thought for Food
Pick something inexpensive up from a thrift store, the cheaper the better, especially if this is a first. Transform it in some way creating something new. Think paint or refinishing, add on or lop off, put a design or fabric on it, add a new material to it, take it all apart and reconstruct it. Stumped for ideas or afraid to wreck something? Look to craft boards such as Pinterest DIY to help you get started. Copy something you've seen to get more comfortable. When you're feeling more adventurous try something original.

This is where mistakes can be amazing things. Like a recipe that goes off the rails but produces something new and delightful so too can a design mistake take you to divine places no one has been before. I once hemmed a set of curtains and they came out too long, a few inches too long?!? It happens. So I took them up at the top instead of the bottom and came up with a whole new look. I knew it was a hit when friends did their own repeat version of it. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery!



Many a time I've heard clients lament about  'champagne taste but only having a beer budget' leaving me to ponder why they think they need scads of money to achieve a great design. I can appreciate that when you believe you have little creative skill, buying your way into a beautiful and unique space may seem like your only option. Actually the opposite is often more true.

I'm reminded of Apollo 13, the seventh manned mission of the American Apollo Space Program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The spacecraft was launched on April 11, 1970 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida { I was 6 at the time } but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later. The explosion crippled the Service Module and in turn the Command Module causing the spacecraft to experience the loss of its cabin heat, a shortage of potable water and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system.

Nasa's engineers used materials they knew to be onboard the spacecraft to create an air filter to reduce CO2 levels in the cabin in an attempt to save the lives of the crew. The materials used? Plastic moon rock bags, cardboard log book covers, space suit hoses, bungee cords, CO2 filters, and, of course, Duct Tape. "Necessity is the mother of invention." says an old english proverb thought to originate from the 1500's. It suggests that the motivating force behind new inventions is a need of some kind.

This proverb holds true when it comes to Interior Decorating too. There are often limiting circumstances surrounding design situations similar, though not as dramatic, as the one that occurred on Apollo 13.  Typically they involve budget and material constraints. The need to work within your constraints is usually your most pressing concern and I can tell you I've yet to meet a budget that didn't have a cap. Sometimes you have to work with what you've got.

My husband and I decided we wanted a fireplace in our living room. I spent many hours creating a design that met both our demands. Our home is not large and so building a fireplace that didn't physically overtake the space was a challenge. I didn't want the television in our living room to become the first thing you noticed so it was decided we would build a cabinet to house the TV above the fireplace. I wanted the fireplace to reflect our personalities but still be in keeping with the rest of the house. And I wanted it to be harmonious with any style changes that might take place in the future.

Being practical we chose to stick with traditional materials by using wood and ceramic tile. Wanting to take advantage of government rebates we even purchased the stone tile well ahead of construction. Finally the time had come to begin and then my dear husband changed his mind! Nothing would do but the fireplace surround had to be marble. A shopping we went and the chosen marble was both stunning in looks and price. Alas, circumstances changed and we considered large porcelin tiles that looked like marble. Eventually, we settled on a wood surround knowing we could be sure to acheive a finished look.  I had an ornate frame that we mounted with Command 3 strips on the cabinetry for added interest. If I want to change things up in the future we won't be left with marked or damaged cabinets.

Painted white, all the elements look cohesive, fresh and clean providing a nice balance to the rich colour in other areas in the room. Even though we plan to stay in our home for many years, taking into consideration the nature of our house, the neighbourhood we live in and resale values, a less expensive design was a much better decision. Our new fireplace cost $2000 compared to the marble version that would have been on the north side of $8000.

I was thrilled with the design; traditional with a fun twist, and we were both pleased with the finished look and the final cost. A win-win for everyone and a saved marriage. Though so tempting, spending for the sake of spending can lead to predictable and mundane designs or even worse, Run Away Train Syndrome, where layers upon layers of design elements, randomly chosen features and bling bling can lead to a confused and underwhelming design. When faced with constraints take heart and embrace them.

I often say to clients, "Your budget is your best friend." Have patience when creating or shopping for the perfect solution. Take some time to ask yourself if you can do the job in a different manner from what you've already seen around and about. When faced with using ordinary and less expensive materials, look for ways to create new arrangements with different colours, sizes and shapes or orientation of the same items. Are there inexpensive or unwanted materials hanging around that could be used in a new way?

Setting priorities can help you focus on what's most important forcing you to exercise that fundamental design principle "less is more". Having to think outside the box or look at a problem from a fresh perspective challenges us to come up with new and creative solutions. So the next time you're tempted to complain about your Champagne Taste, thank your Brewmaster and remember, Beer is your Best Buddy. Being forced to use your creative chops can be your ace in the hole when it comes to having innovative and beautiful interiors.

Layered interiors, colourful style, relaxed living, fun attitude, timeless life

Ocean Bottega Interiors

Musings on Design

Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

paula clarke

Love the Home You're In