We have plans to work on a bunch of rooms in her home, but we’re focusing on three specifically at the moment. I’ve been loading up my truck with her furniture and taking it back to my basement to be trimmed and sanded and painted and stained. I’ve been piling lumber in the back of the truck and heading home to build her totally custom pieces. I’ve been taking thrift store finds — excitedly discussed over Facebook Messenger — and tweaking them so they’re perfect for the spaces.
I’ve been taking a TON of photos of the progress and I can’t wait to show them to you once the rooms are finished.
There is something about this entire experience that just feels RIGHT. Sometimes I dream about being able to do something like this all of the time. Put the kids on the school bus, hop into the truck, head out to somebody’s house, tour around and make notes while we chat about ideas, and then go home and start turning those sketches into REAL rooms.
I’m a person who buys old furniture on Kijiji (and happily accepts free hand-me-downs) and gets out her paint brush.
I’m an amateur woodworker who builds furniture using basic pine and incorporates scrap wood whenever possible.
I’m a thrifter who buys secondhand lamps (and then paints them and replaces the shades) because new lamps are too overpriced.
I’m an art-lover who makes her own pieces, frames postcards and greeting cards, buys discounted frames, and builds photo ledges so she can keep changing it out without making a million holes in the wall.
I’m a fabric hoarder who sews curtains, cushions, quilts, and throw pillows because it’s much cheaper. (And you get exactly what you want.)
I’m a mom who understands toy clutter (SO MUCH TOY CLUTTER) and the struggle of clothing organization, and comes up with inexpensive ways to deal with it.
I’m an organizer who’s always trying to figure out ways to store, organize, and display what our family needs (while still making it look nice).
I’m a fully-grown child who loves surprising her own children (and their friends) with the stuff she would have LOVED when she was younger, like canopy beds, loft beds, Beauty and the Beast-inspired shelves, and custom monkey bars.
For starters, they buy FULL-PRICE lamps! They buy brand-new furniture and curtains and probably pay ridiculous prices like $50 for a single throw pillow. They karate-chop pillows to make them look fancier in photos, and buy real flowers (achoo — no thanks) to stage their rooms. If a client turned me loose in a RETAIL STORE to buy nothing but BRAND-NEW things, I wonder if I’d even know what to do … other than zip over to the clearance section instinctively.
I never went to school to learn to design rooms. I went to journalism school! True, I’ve been writing about interior design/decorating since I was 21, working my first real job at a newspaper, but I don’t have credentials or real-world experience (outside of my own home, and the homes of my family/friends/neighbours). I don’t own paint swatches. I don’t use fancy design words like “colour theory” and “monochromatic.”
I am not an interior designer, but — whatever I am — there’s a pattern to what I do, if I look back at all of my past projects: inexpensive, functional, attractive — in that order, I think.
Cost is always at the forefront, because we are not a family that can afford to buy brand-new everything. (I don’t think there are more than a handful of brand-new, non-gifted pieces in our entire house. Um … our sectional and … my desk chair?)
I love being able to redo rooms on a VERY small budget. I love that I’ve been able to help my client take lots of her existing furniture (some of which was gathering dust in her basement!) and make it into something wonderful. She isn’t going to end up with a slick HGTV-worthy space full of vases and trays and $3,000 rugs. She’s going to have comfortable, functional, beautiful, AFFORDABLE rooms put together from pieces she’s had for years, refinished thrift store pieces, and pieces I’m making just for her.
Maybe there will be someone with an old bedroom set in their basement that they’re not sure how to redo. Someone with unused guest rooms packed with stuff and they’re not sure where to start. Someone who’s sick of their cluttered kitchen counters and needs a fresh perspective on how to get organized. Someone who wants to refresh their child’s bedroom without spending a fortune. Someone who hates their living room but needs to work with the furniture they already have.