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Big Style for Small Spaces

...A HOUSE / A HOME...


I drove by our former house last week. It's been almost 4 years since I had the inclination to do so....couldn't bring myself to do it before. We had lived at 1169 R.... B... Cres. for 19 years. Our home had been witness to the growth of our 3 daughters....scraped knees, lost hamsters, bike riding lessons on the front lawn, countless birthdays, huge Christmas parties, first boyfriends .... and perhaps a ghost (would necessitate a very different post.


I very much disliked the house when we bought it and protested (not vocally enough obviously) that the kitchen was ugly and awkward, there was no family room, or gorgeous ensuite bathroom... the three top 'must haves on my next house wish list'. The house sat on 3 acres, in a quiet, 'country' neighbourhood. It had some fabulous features....an entire fireplace wall of reclaimed brick in the kitchen, medium toned oak hardwood floors, 4 huge bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, tons of Tamarack trees. This house also sported seven...yes seven deep dormer windows which from the outside looked charming, but on the inside were awkward and the bane of my existence. The kitchen had the requisite almond melamine kitchen cabinets with oak trim....cue the late 80's,  and disgusting off white vinyl flooring.

All of this could have been a deal breaker for me except the price was right. A compromise was struck...we would buy the house, but by golly we would renovate within 5 years, no IFs, ANDs or BUTs mister.

As a stay at home mommy/ frustrated wanna be decorator...I wanted it all done NOW. I came to understand that very few of us can realize that immediate satisfaction. Over time, we managed to  renovate the kitchen and four bathrooms, add built-ins to the study (which became our family room), added window seats to the dormers (what a difference), a screened in porch (an absolute necessity in the country during mosquito season), a pool and a deck, not to mention the window treatments, duvet covers, painting jobs and the decorating I undertook. Our house eventually became our home and in fact ... to me, a living entity ....watered, fed, and clothed. and deeply cared for.

When we downsized 4 years ago. It was the right decision as, our family of five was heading off in different directions. I did not look back, not once, until a few days ago.... and I wondered why the disconnect?
I realized that home is where your 'junk' is. It's not the outer shell, it's the meaningful possessions, the memory makers we choose to live with. The books, a favourite chair, a snuggly blanket, the kitchen plates and cutlery we eat off of everyday, the twisted rug in the hall with the countless winter boots, (OK...maybe not the boots)  the picture of Grandpa with all the grandchildren, an artisan bowl bought on a fabulous trip to Italy. When we packed up the boxes, we were packing our home .... it was the house we were leaving.

I'm no different when working with a client than I am when making my own decor decisions. I want to know about their 'junk'....which doesn't mean I necessarily want to utilize it all.... I just want to get a handle on the family. Do they have collections, meaningful art, photos, furniture that simply cannot be parted with. My job is to interpret their needs and include them in my design for their space.The process of turning a house into a home can sometimes be long, tiresome, dirty, frustrating. but when done right, you can bet my clients also feel the innards of their house, their own living, breathing home.