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Day 7, Winterscape Collage Photography

WINTERSCAPE COLLAGE
     For me, snapping photos is a daily occurance, however I probably take half the amount of photos  in the colder months that I do in the warmer ones. It's more of a dicipline thing for me to get out of the warm car into the snow. Today, I set out with a plan to shoot at least a dozen sites.  With cold hands and wet boots, I present my days snapshots.    
Perhapps you too are inspired by your surroundings and have a stack of photos that on their own, are not terrably impressive. Once clustered together in a collage; I created this collage with a free online editing program called Picassa; It becomes more dynamic and interesting.

Day 6 Nature Inspired Christmas

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     I had the privelage of decorating a GORGEOUS home for the Christmas season. Using mostly natural materials, I created several garlands for the stairwell and fireplaces.  While the 3 trips out into the woods to fill up my truck with greens of varying kinds and the actual creating was quite time consuming,  the product was nearly free.  Because I used natural materials, the arrangements were vary authentic and fragrant.  I must give credit where it is due, It's my EXCELLENT husband, Terry risking his life for these amazing moss covered branches.
 

Day 5. A kids COLOUR birthday party!

A 'COLOUR' Birthday party.
 
I always say that an artist is simply someone who can't help but to create"  My daughter Meila is an 'Artist' in the true sense of the word.
She creates before school, takes her sketch book out on recess break, and continues when she gets home. When I tell her she is a Great Artist she says with complete confidence "I KNOW". At 5 years old she was teaching her dad how the colour wheel works.  Last year we had an "Artist" party, this year to switch it up, we did a colour party.  Construction paper spirals hang from the chandelier. 3 one dollar rolls of solid colour wrapping paper create stripes across the dining table which also made Clean-up very easy!  I then cut polka-dots of other colours and placed them all around.   A cluster of clear vases filled with water and food colouring hold a bouquet of balloons. The table is set up with coloured play dough, crayons and colouring books, which become the goodie bags. Also there were bowls of froot loops with one tied to the end of a thin ribbon. The kids threaded the Froot Loops onto the ribbon making edible necklaces.  I tied 20 balloons to one long string and hung them from one end of the house to the other ( a reverse rainbow).  With washable kids paint I painted a rainbow across the glass patio doors.  Each of the chairs was wrapped repeatedly in different colors of yarn.   I made a layered rainbow barbie princess cake. Each layer a different color and a surprise between the layers, pudding, cookies, smarties.  I served 7-UP with blue heart ice, when it melted it made blue drinks. We played musical chairs with a twist... when the music stopped they would color on the canvas in front of them.  After each child got to take a piece of art home that all of their friends worked on.  There are lots of songs about rainbows and colors. I use GROOVE SHARK to create online playlists. You could also get craft paper and create a coloured hopscotch on the floor. For pennies there was a huge colourful impact, and all of the kids had fun. 
 
28/01 2012 ADDITIONAL IDEA. I found this fantastic idea the other day, that I wish I had found before the party. Let me know if you try it.  Might work with glow sticks too.

Day 4. Wallpaper

Day 4.  WALLPAPER
As I finish packing away the last stragglers of my Christmas decorations until next year, I carefully remove the wallpaper from the wrapped decorative gifts I used as props for the HOt HOliday HOmes tour. I, admittedly pat my own back as I reflect on how much I liked the idea of using wallpaper as wrapping paper. Here then is when I got inspired to share with you how versatile wallpaper can be.  Using images I compiled from google, I share with you some very creative and imaginative ideas.   
 
 

Day 3. Bright Idea.

Day 3.
Well today's inspiration may not be artistically related, but definatley the BRIGHT  IDEA of the day!
I was watching Steven and Chris;  (Steven and Chris is a Canadian television talk show, which debuted on CBC Television on January 14, 2008. The show is hosted by Steven Sabados and Chris Hyndman, formerly of the home renovation show Designer Guys, who host celebrity guests and talk about topics ranging from entertainment, cooking, fashion, health and home decor.
Returning guest; Frugalista shares her "Must-Dos"
To combat static cling, throw a ball of crumpled up tinfoil into the dryer with your laundry. The foil will attract static and combat any cling. You can reuse the same tinfoil ball at least 10 times before replacing.
To add a little festive odour to your clothes, add two cloves into the dryer as well.  This is a must try as I ran out of bounce sheets just this morning.  I will let you know how it works!
 
*** December 10th.. Update, the tinfoil really worked!. The Cloves, not so much. Perhaps if you added more.***

Day 2. Boxing week sales in Fabricland

 January 2nd... Boxing week sales at Fabricland.
 I picked up these fabulous fabrics for my 12 year old daughters room.
The focal fabric being the most expensive at $11.00 per meter, (regular $22.00/M) total cost for bed spread $33.00.  
I love that I can pull any number of colors from the focal fabric for paint colors and accessories. It's playful and yet sophisticated. This fabric story will grow with her.
 
 

365 Days of Design, Decor and Artistic Inspiration

    
 
 
     While out and about or online looking for inspiration to beautify my next project; be it a home design project, a decorating installation or a artistic endeavour either in paint or photography; I expect, as is usually the case, to find joy in the simplest of things.  It is my intention to share with you my favourite inspirational moment of each day for the next 365 days.  Here's to looking forward to what 2013 will bring.
I invite you to join me on this journey of discovery and hope you will share your joyful moments with me
 
     As today is Day 1, NEW YEARS DAY, I have taken the opportunity to stay home and relax. Something I have not done in months as Christmas is a VERY busy season for us designers. Inspiration today came form the online source "PINTEREST"; which incidentally, I LOVE! If you haven't already, I highly recommend joining today.  To view my Pins, go ahead and click the link.
 
 
 
 
Today my joyful moment came when My Husband, Terry agreed to make a table like this for me.  So simple yet beautiful. The contrast of the raw natural material juxtaposed against the industrial metallic caster legs appeals greatly to me. I love even more that a conversational piece of furniture like this can be made so affordable and easily.
 
 

Contemporary Holiday Decorating

Home at Last Interiors teams up with the CATO Interior Design students to decorate a Contemporary Bed and Breakfast.
 : Dollar store letters sprayed silver, spray glued and dipped into sparkles
Dollar store letters sprayed silver, spray glued and dipped into sparkles
Simple but effective
Dollar store white vases and a dozen carnations. They last nearly 3 weeks in a cool window.
Simple but effective
 : The ice bucket is filled with crystals from an old chandilier
The ice bucket is filled with crystals from an old chandilier
As simple as a colored lightbulb
 : As simple as a colored lightbulb
 : Gifts wrapped in brightly colored paper and put at the base of a house plant
Gifts wrapped in brightly colored paper and put at the base of a house plant
Again colored lightbulb
 : Again colored lightbulb
 : Dried citrus fruit with the edges rolled in sparkles
Dried citrus fruit with the edges rolled in sparkles
Clear glass ball filled with a feather.
 : Clear glass ball filled with a feather.
 : A terrarium with battery operated snowflakes
A terrarium with battery operated snowflakes
Scrapbook letters glued to dollar store coffee mugs, rimmed in sugar and filled with marshmallows
 : Scrapbook letters glued to dollar store coffee mugs, rimmed in sugar and filled with marshmallows
 : London drugs re-usable gift boxes, a feather and handmade rub off lable
London drugs re-usable gift boxes, a feather and handmade rub off lable
Ornaments within ornaments
 : Ornaments within ornaments
 : Gifts wrapped in wallpaper
Gifts wrapped in wallpaper
 : Teal place setting includes inexpensive teal charger plates from London Drugs and dessert plates and then combined with heirloom hand painted 'Silver Lustre' dinnerplates
Teal place setting includes inexpensive teal charger plates from London Drugs and dessert plates and then combined with heirloom hand painted 'Silver Lustre' dinnerplates
Tree topper is a peacock from Kel Lake Garden centre
 : Tree topper is a peacock from Kel Lake Garden centre
 : Teal feathers and peacock feathers, acid green and royal blue ornaments
Teal feathers and peacock feathers, acid green and royal blue ornaments
These were table ornaments I glued an ornament hook to.
 : These were table ornaments I glued an ornament hook to.
 : Have any Christmas saying printed for a meer $100.00
Have any Christmas saying printed for a meer $100.00
If you are looking for contemporary decorating ideas you may find our use of unconventional colors and materials interesting.

Country Christmas Decorating Ideas

How to create a Country Christmas
 
     Recently the CATO interior design students and I, took on the challenge of decorating a 1909 craftsman style heritage house for the HOt HOliday HOmes Christmas tour.
We'd like to share a few of the hand made touches that helped add to the nostalgic traditional Christmas feeling. Perhaps you can borrow some of these ideas for your own interiors
 
 : Nothing speaks to comfort like the smell of a home made apple pie.
Nothing speaks to comfort like the smell of a home made apple pie.
Pickle jars painted white on the inside and hung from the ceiling with battery operated tealights
 : Pickle jars painted white on the inside and hung from the ceiling with battery operated tealights
Christmas Card display
Christmas Card display
Hang Christmas cards or photos of Christmas past from this hand made display made of an old kilt and a bed sheet ripped into strips
A stack of vintage suitcases are re-purposed into a bed side table.
 : A stack of vintage suitcases are re-purposed into a bed side table.
Christmas phrases hand painted on scraps of weathered wood
Christmas phrases hand painted on scraps of weathered wood
Paper cone trees, a charlie brown tree and a photo printed from Google Images and framed in a flea market frame
Paper cone trees, a charlie brown tree and a photo printed from Google Images and framed in a flea market frame
Potted trees on either side of the bed to hang wooden stars from
 : Potted trees on either side of the bed to hang wooden stars from
 : Burlap sacks become pillows
Burlap sacks become pillows
Fill the bathtub with pinecones, top with weathered wood and candles
 : Fill the bathtub with pinecones, top with weathered wood and candles
Use a ladder in the bathroom for towel rack
Use a ladder in the bathroom for towel rack
 : Decorate a tree in the kitchen with dried cranberry and popcorn strings, utencils, hand painted cookies and top with a cheese grader
Decorate a tree in the kitchen with dried cranberry and popcorn strings, utencils, hand painted cookies and top with a cheese grader
Fill a large jar with battery operated lights, pinecones, nuts, and cinnamon sticks
Fill a large jar with battery operated lights, pinecones, nuts, and cinnamon sticks
Paint eggcorns gold and use in place settings, turn a wine glass upside down and place a small tree under it
 : Paint eggcorns gold and use in place settings, turn a wine glass upside down and place a small tree under it
 : Wrap gifts in unusual coverings.  A flour bag, sugar bag, brown paper, burlap, music paper, children's books, internet images, news paper etc.
Wrap gifts in unusual coverings. A flour bag, sugar bag, brown paper, burlap, music paper, children's books, internet images, news paper etc.
 : The gifts become more interesting when placed in unique containers under the tree.
The gifts become more interesting when placed in unique containers under the tree.
Common garden branches become a photo display
Common garden branches become a photo display
Hand painted signs on rustic wood and drawn on chalk boards framed in barn wood
Hand painted signs on rustic wood and drawn on chalk boards framed in barn wood
 : An old bike basket carries a Christmas tree
An old bike basket carries a Christmas tree
Tin buckets with assorted apples and wire baskets filled with nuts on the porch staircase
 : Tin buckets with assorted apples and wire baskets filled with nuts on the porch staircase
Hand made ornaments
 : Hand made ornaments
 : A wodden ladder gets clear and blue glass jars hung from the rungs and  stuffed with greens and aeromatics and a few battery tealights.
A wodden ladder gets clear and blue glass jars hung from the rungs and stuffed with greens and aeromatics and a few battery tealights.

White, Wonderful White

White...is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black...God paints in many colours; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white. - G. K. Chesterton
 
I find my self inspired by the season to write about my favourite colour, which incidentally isn't a colour at all, but rather the manifestation of the presence of all colour. WHITE
 
After writing my opening sentence, I realized I had been thought in art school that white was not a colour but made up all colours yet; I didn't recall how exactly that worked. While I could  probably have gone through life quite comfortably not knowing how but just trusting my professors teaching, I decided I should look into it. An undertaking beyond my understanding, as the websites I googled took me to scientific descriptions beyond my comprehension.  After reading long winded explanation after explanation, I now understand why I didn't recall the details of that lesson.  I am after all, an artist and a right brained thinker.  Still not having the tools to sum it up for my readers, I went to a website for children's studies. Here then, is what I learned in as close to laymen terms as I could find. (http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/optics/activities/teachers/prisms.html)
 
    Sir Issac Newton discovered that pure white light can be split into many colours -- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet -- by using a prism. White light is composed of all the visible colours in the electromagnetic spectrum, a fact that can be easily  produce a spectrum known as a rainbow proven through the use of a prism. As light passes through a prism, it is bent, or refracted, by the angles and plane faces of the prism and each wavelength of light is refracted by a slightly different amount. Violet has the highest frequency and is refracted the most. Red has the lowest frequency and is refracted the least. Because each colour is refracted differently, each bends at a different angle, resulting in a fanning out and separation of white light into the colours of the spectrum.  
 
Rainbow photo taken by yours truly, 'Tina Knooihuizen'
Water droplets in the air can act in a manner similar to that of a prism, separating the colours of sunlight.  To be able to see a rainbow, you must be standing with the sun behind you. The sunlight shines into the water droplets in the air, bending as it moves from the air into the water, reflecting off the sides the drops, and bending again as it exits the drops. As a result, all of the colours in the white light of the sun separate into the individual bands of colour characteristic of a rainbow.
 
 
Another interesting tidbit that frankly has nothing to do with the colour white specifically but I thought was worthy of sharing is summed up by this web article:  
     A rainbow is most often viewed as a circular arc in the sky. An observer on the ground observes a half-circle of colour with red being the colour perceived on the outside or top of the bow. Those who are fortunate enough to have seen a rainbow from an air plane in the sky may know that a rainbow can actually be a complete circle.  
 
 
Well, now we all have a clear understanding of dispersion of white light through prisms. If you want to further explore light refraction, I recommend visiting:http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/refry/u14l4a.cfm
 
Before I get into the meat of how white is best used in interior design, I'd like to talk about the psychology of white. Knowing the symbolism behind the shade, helps us to understand it's appeal.  The obvious associations with white are light, sunshine, purity, innocence, wedding dresses and virginity. The phrase 'White as snow' comes to mind. One also thinks of hygienic cleanliness and security . Doctors don white coats giving us a sense of sterility, safety strength and healing.  So also do chefs wear white, again the image of cleanliness and perfection.  
I recall reading a reference to the ideal image of a white picket fence surrounding our home in safety and happiness.
All colours are said to cause a psychological reaction, Visit this website for an interesting and in depth read on the effects of colour on the psyche.
 
 
 
White mentally encourages clarity, purifies thought and actions and suggests fresh starts, new beginnings or blank slates.
The Christian community talks of the divine light of Jesus Christ. 'The light of the world', white being made of light, I suppose then, it could also be said that Jesus the white of the world.  Images of white robes, heaven and angels on fluffy white clouds, all come to mind.
 
 
Artistically speaking, a blank canvas is an invitation to the imagination. Nothing either good nor bad exists. Its neutral, which finally brings me to talking about something far less intellectual; my love of white in interior design. Being that white is neutral, it goes with anything, any one, any place any time.  If and I do mean IF, a room is successfully decorated with white, it can create a sense of space,  light and cleanliness, leaving one feel relaxed and refreshed. If not executed correctly, it can also seem sterile, cold, bland, empty and unfriendly. So how does one create a wonderful monochromatic white room?  Well here are some suggestions:
 
  • -White comes in a multitude of shades and tones, combine them.
  • -Find fabrics, wall coverings rugs and other floor treatments and accessories that have interesting textures and patterns using white.
  • -If you can't bring yourself to stick strictly to white, you can add touches of cream, and or grey. --Add sparingly natural elements, such as light woods.
  • -Like on a blank canvas, with a white room, any addition of colour creates drama. A dash of red  pops like a snowman's bright orange carrot nose. Art galleries paint the walls white to the focus is on the art work and everything else sort of disappears.
  •  -Add interesting lighting, experiment with different kinds of light bulbs and change the ambiance of a space.
  • - Add some sparkle, crystals, glass, mirror.
  • - Distressed white furniture also adds a sense of time to a space.
 
In conclusion I ask, why do I love white?  Because it usually has positive connotations and associations. I feel alive in white spaces.
 
Perhaps you too, like white spaces but have decided you can't decorate with it due to having kids or pets.  I'm here to tell you that you can! Here's how...
  • Use outdoor fabric to upholster a chair or sofa. They are virtually indestructible, spill resistant, and washable.  These days they are even beautiful.
  • White vinyl is also washable
  • Hi gloss panelling, also.....washable
  • White lighting, accessories, and enamel painted furniture are all additions that work with kids.
  • Maybe you won't go all the way white, but I think you can definitely get that bright airy feel. 
 
Here are some white room photos that I love, none of which are my work but rather found online.
 
 
 
 

Creating is a thing of the spirit.

Inspiration from the Master of Masters.
A Profile of Leonardo Da Vinci.
 
     Everyone and their dog has heard the name and seen some reproduction of the work of Leonardo Da Vinci. Most would say they know who he was. But do we really?  My son Steffen had a homework assignment requiring him to describe what sights and sounds he might have seen and heard, were he in Da Vinci's home.  So in an attempt to help him with his project, I dug out and dusted off an old book I had on my studio shelf entitled  the "New standard encyclopedia of art" published in 1939.   I found myself curiously engrossed in the material.  The old adage " Jack of all trades, master of none", most certainly does NOT apply to this man.  For he was the MASTER of all.  Italian painter; known for works such as the 'Mona Lisa', and the 'Last Supper'; sculptor, architect; designing flying machines, bridges, cannons and other offensive machines; he was a  musician and composer, who could sing extremely well, play instruments and even made a lute in the shape of a horses head, which he played. As if being incredibly artistically talented wasn't enough, he was an intellect, studying all branches of science, mathematics, geology, and anatomy. Thus Making Leonardo Da Vinci the ULTIMATE master.   As an artist myself creating in many mediums such as paint and interior design,  I of course aspire to be more Da Vinci like.  So, to do so, I decided I must be the pupil and  further study the master.
 
  
How is it then, that Leonardo Da Vinci was an expert at everything he put his hand to?  In my experience, It is uncommon to find creative type people who are also intellectual scholars.  Something to do with right brain and left brain thinking.  This is a little tidbit I found online to describe the right brain vs left brain phenomenon:
 
"The Right Brain / Left Brain Theory has it that our brain has two hemispheres (commonly called the right brain and left brain) which think in different ways. Our right brain is visual and processes information by looking first at the whole picture then the details. Our left brain is verbal and processes information by looking first at the pieces then putting them together to get the whole. Our right brain is more intuitive; our left is analytical and sequential. Here is a little quiz to determine how you think
Right brain left brain QUIZ  for artists."
 
Most artists are Right brain thinkers, as I am no exception,  I am not a critical thinker preferring to exist in the abstract world, as it is more enjoyable and comes more easily to me. My career required mathematics and reading, research, reporting and communication skills.  Learning these skills were by discipline;  Tempted to leave it at that,  yet knowing Leonardo would not approve of this lame explanation, I reluctantly continue to investigate  how Leonardo Da Vinci was able to be a critical thinker and a creative mind leads me to this online article which makes perfect sense.
 
 
"MindFire Press Article
Critical Thinking by Robert E. Levasseur, Ph.D. Doctoral Series MindFire Press (www.mindfirepress.com
 
  -... To explore the nature of critical thinking, we begin by examining the concept of left and right brain thinking. Left and Right Brain Thinking Brain research suggests that the left and right sides of the brain have distinct and complementary functions. Simply put, the left brain is the seat of logic and, hence, analytical thinking, and the right brain is the seat of intuition and, hence, system thinking. So, is critical thinking left-brained, analytical thinking, or is it right-brained, system thinking? Perhaps by examining the thinking of a few great scholars we can answer this important question.
 
 Everyone knows that Einstein was one of the great minds of all time. Clearly, Einstein’s theory of relativity qualifies him as a left-brained, analytical person. Leonardo Da Vinci, as the painter of the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, clearly qualifies as one of the great creative thinkers of all time, a truly right-brained, artistic, systemic person. But, wait a minute you say. Wasn’t Einstein also a concert-level violinist and Da Vinci also a brilliant inventor and the chief engineer of the Duke of Milan? Apparently, the great thinkers were really both left and right brained; that is, whole-brained. When confronted with a complex problem, they first used their right brain to get the big picture, systemic view of it; then they used their left brain to break it into manageable subproblems which they analyzed for insight into the solution of the original problem. And so on and so forth. As we have seen, the alternating use of the left and right sides of the brain, called whole-brain thinking, is the hallmark of great thinkers...-
 
As I imagine being in the presence of Leonardo Da Vinci, I cant help but wonder if he would have been friendly and approachable. Or would he have been proud and conceited. I wonder if I'd have understood his conversation. I find myself wishing I could have apprenticed under his tutelage. While this incredible man has been gone from this world since 1519 still he teaches us today.   He drew constantly, sketching the moments of daily life; giving each moment value. He  filled vast quantities of notebooks with sketches, notes and calculations.   Practise makes perfect they say.  More importantly, my take away from this study are his words.  "Painting is a thing of the spirit" said the Master.   I couldn't agree more.  Only I'd say, "CREATING is a thing of the spirit".  If nothing else, I am Da Vinci like in this respect. Every painting I paint, photograph I take, word I write, and room I design is a piece of my spirit.

Christmas Decor

Christmas Decor
Inexpensive and effective christmas decor with charm
 
    Anyone can spend a ton of cash and create a dreamy christmas space, this blog is for those of us who decorate on a dime.   My husband would passionately debait what good christmas decore looks like.  To him, a Charlie Brown tree found after a long snowy search and cut down and drug out of the forest  by his own hand, makes for a perfect start. He would argue that it is infact a "beautiful natural tree from the forest". It is then smothered by dozens of colorful flashing lights and decorated by the kids, and finally, covered in tincil. This to many is the description of  a perfect tree.  I on the other hand prefer a cultured or better yet, artificial prelit number, where by ornaments are carefully chosen and placed. I shamefully admit, I have been known to un-decorate and re-dress the tree while the family was out.   See, good decore is in the eye of the beholder. 
These are my top favorite decorating ideas for 2011
 
1.Tree shirt? I think not.  be creative when it comes to the base of the tree.  Any number of containers can contain the tree.  Here a 15 litre crock is used. below an old tin bucket. How about a wooden crate, a wagon, wheel barrow or a trunk? Perhaps a large wrapped box.  you are limited only to your imagination.
 
 
 
 
 
2. Here a few follars spent on oranges become beautiful organic tree decorations.
3. Continuing on the fruit theme, how about classic sugared fruit? For a few dollars you can have a stunning centrepiece.  Dip apple into eggwhite and then sugar and voilla
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4.Who says you can only have 1 tree, how about clustering several together? 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5. FLORALS! New to me this year is the idea of using silk flowers in the tree. It is so elegant and has a big impact.  Here we used bare tree brances tucked in too.      
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
6. Red and green scream Christmas...
 Why not decorate in unexpected colors? Pretty in pink,
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Or rust and saffron?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  7.Unique tree decorations.  What is one to do with moms spoon collection? Why not have a tree in the kitchen?

Electrical Nightmare.

This is a WHAT NOT TO DO advice blog. 
     I have recently come across a scenario that sounds like an outrageously exaggerated nightmare. Let me assure you that this is a true story that would hold it own on a 'Holmes on Homes' edition.  An electrition; who we will call Larry for the purpose of this article; who was a hired professional; I use the word professional loosely;  by a client, as a family friend, to wire their  new build, botched the job horrendously!  For starters, this man put the project two weeks behind schedule, claiming there was no way he could start on the scheduled start date. When he finally did come onto the job he claimed to have his clients back, and was adamant they recieve only the best.  Sounds good right?  The difficulty with that, is that the 'BEST' is widely open to interpretation.  The client, never having built a home before, put their trust into their relationship with their friend Larry; against the advice of the general contractor I might add.   FIRST MISTAKE.  Just because someone is your friend does not make them trustworthy or good at their profession.  I'm not suggesting you never hire friends, but rather, always, always , always get and check refrences.  Turns out Larry has a long list of disgruntled clients.  This problematic situation could have been avoided before it began.  Instead, they gave him rope to do as he insisted.  Larry became obstinate in the pursuit of creating an electrical scheme that met his requirements rather than what suited his clients wishes.   Infact Larry flat out refused to do what his clients asked for, to the point of writing and underlining the word NO on the master bedroom wall.  Not because of code issues or inability to create the desired look, but rather because he did not like it.  All the while going around the job site raging at contractors, trades, designers and homeowners alike.  Right... at this point you may be thinking you would have fired Larry.  Yes!  That would in retrospect have been the best thing to do, but not as easily done as said, as Larry has been paid a deposit, and has the only electrical permit to work on the project.  Anyone new taking over the project would have to go to district and pull a new permit.  This costs the client money and puts the entire project even further behind schedule.  Every trade from this point on would have had to be rescheduled. Further more, Larry threatened to have the inspector come and tear out his work if any one else worked on his permit. MISTAKE NUMBER 2.  A good tradesman should do everything in their power to do as you, the client asks.  Even if it is the stupidest idea in the world.  You are the paying client... YES is the only word you should accept with the exception of code conflicts, or impossibility.  You may solicit advice, but should always get what you ask for in the end. Unfortunately in this senario, the client felt pressured by budget restraints, timelines and threats, thus choosing to allow Larry to continue.  They took what they thought was the road of least resistance, allowing him to finish was the less of two evils.  They sacrificed their lighting desires and wishes, believing finished is better than perfect. The project was finished to a point where the hydro company was called in to turn on the power. The clients were billed by the electrition as per usual practice.  The bill however came in ridiculously over budget.  The reason for the billing increase...  "If I told you how much it would have cost you to do the project the way I knew it needed to be done, you would have stopped me" said Larry. 
 When the hydro company came to inspect before turning the power on, they discovered that the job was not done to code in the least! Also aesthetic mistakes that should be common sense were a mess.  Pot lights cut off by cabinetry crown molding, lights on either side of closets installed at different heights and distances from the trim, Lights placed in entirely the wrong places, switches that do nothing and others that turn the fan on rather than the light, plugs on the same wall ALL placed at different heights, and much much more.  All of this putting the project behind schedule yet again.  ALL trades from this point are put on hold until the power was turned on.  Flooring, tile, power tools, can't be laid or used in the cold weather or in the dark.    Worse than the inevitable delay in occupation dates,  these mistakes put the clients a thousand dollars more over budget.  Larry tells the clients he will NOT waste his time moving the asthetic mistakes. Regarding the code discrepencies he tells them "it's a good thing were friends, any other client would have been furious with me.  I can't afford to cover this mistake." MISTAKE NUMBER 3.  Do not pay for trade damage or mistakes !  When the clients voiced their concerns to Larry, believe it or not, this supposed family friend called his clients parents, as though it were preschool.  In the end, the electrition cost the clients so much financial, emotional and stress related physical anguish that they wound up ending the long term relationship and firing him before completion anyway.  They were forced to take out another permit on the project, hire another electrician and because the walls were drywalled and painted around the mistakes, the drywaller and painters had to be called back too.   It cost them more money and time in the end trying to avoid confrontation than face it. IF YOU HAVE A RED FLAG MOMENT IN YOUR PROJECT, DO WHAT EVER IT TAKES TO RESOLVE IT IN THE BEGINNING!  DON'T WAIT.

Decorating on a Dime

These are a few of my favourite things.
Flea Market Style 
Who says you have to spend a fortune on decor?  Sometimes it's the bargain find that adds the most character to your space. 
 Read my blog called "The Thrill is in the Hunt" to get my take on character pieces.
Run your mouse over the picture to read about each treasure.
My all time favorite find is this antique sign that I purchased right off a wall of an antique store in Vernon.  I had admired it for years and was fortunate enough to convince the store owner to sell it to me for $100.00.  IT NEVER HURTS TO ASK!  The chairs were $40.00 from a castanet ad, even my rubber boots become decorative.  The red handled tools to the right, $1.00 a piece at a yard sale. Table in the middle, My son made it for me when he was 8.
 
Character bike : Flea market styleBarn Wood. : Build any number of beautiful things.  Tables, waineskoting, headboards. The sky is the limit!Gumball Machine : Auction find for $35.00.  Vintage Robin Hood Flower poster $5.00, hung with a wooden hanger for pants.Butcher Block : Free find, Tin of paint and a tin of varnish, I already had on hand.  Oh and a little bit of elbow grease.  This piece houses spices and potatoes.
Kitchen Herb Garden : Wooden tool box: found at a garage sale for $5.00.  Filled with $8.00 worth of herbs.
Glass Candy Jars with metal lids were a garage sale find for $ 5.00 for all.
Freshly picked bouquet of flowers: free.

Vintage and Character Suitcases : All free from different sources.Fileing cabinet come phone desk. : Castanet ad.  $50.00Romantic White on White Bedroom Suite : Farm house windows and an old door from  a yard sale and castanet ad, become a headboard. Total cost for both $20.00
Chandilier, an heirloom.
Distressed white washed dresser. : Was free from a friend.  A paint technique applied makes it look 100 years old.  It's a Sign : No, really it is, or they are.  Found at different fruit stands. Paid $5.00 for each.  Love to hunt for these!
China Hutch $35.00 at auction. Lick of paint and voilla!Bathroom Medicine Cabinet : Cabinet itself came from an old auto wreckers. Vintage glass knob added for $10.00.  Leaded glass custom made for $30.00.
Total cost $40.00Antique Wash Board : Western Star Auctions for $10.00
Magazine Stack : Makes a graphic visual statement.
Vintage scates hanging above.  Found at an antique store for $12.00Whimsical Light Fixture : $45.00 at auction.  Casts beautiful shadows.Storage via Tin Buckets.   : These beauties were $3.00 each at the dollar store.  Pull up a Chair : Auction find $5.00. Solid wood, sturdy and full of character.
Basket of extra towels, garage sale $2.00
Mason Jars : Make excellent storage containers for CHEAP!  Here they house cotton balls and the like, but you could use them for collections such as buttons or marbles etc. Use your imagination.Wash Basin and Stool : $15.00 for both at auction.
The wash basin has been used as an ice bucket at BBQ's Latrines : Add a touch of humor.  Sign from an antique store.  came from a military base. : Cluster like objects with like color schemes. Lantern, and tool box were my fathers.  Gasoline can was $5.00 at a yard sale.
Aged to Perfection : Auction purchases.  $10.00 each.Licence plate : Found for $10.00 at a second hand store.Vintage Cameras : Auction and Antique store
Dining Alfresco : Sanctified, solid wood, church phew, $20.00 at a yard sale.  Seats up to 6. The table is a Duncan Fife antique table that extends to 8 feet with leafs.  Paid $20.00 at auction.  Antique light fixture come candlelabra was priced at $65.00 I got it for $45.00.  Red chairs to the right were free.  Sprayed them red, and recovered the seats in a red floral fabric I got from Hawaii.  Added a few throw pillows in the same fabric.
Painted and reuphoulstered chair : Flea Market StyleWhite on White Dining for Two : The table and the legs were purchased separately for a total of $20.00.  Chairs were found objects. I Paid nothing for them.  I love wooden crates of any kind!  there are endless purposes for them. : One of the above farm house windows, sits above the fire place after being given a makeover with red paint and tin for this doctors home.
 
 
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Get the most for your money.

Money is like manure. You have to spread it around or it smells.
 
~J. Paul Getty
 
And that's just what were going to do here on the farm with The Weintz 'Modern Country Farm House'.  Leanne and Chris were faced with the all important question  "Where are the best places to invest their money in their new home?"
 Leanne and I sat in her builders show home office and listened to him ask  about budgets and interior finishes, lighting, faucets, flooring and appliances, gas, electric or dual?  Even the toilet posed it's own list of questions. High eficiency, regular or comfort height, dual or single flush, round or elongated bowl?   As she waded through the barrage of questions she could feel her anxiety creap up her spine.  To her this was an over wealming and daunting task.   Without having a clue, she turned to the advice of both myself; her designer and her builder.   Your builder, should you have chosen correctly, is a valuable resource to tap into.  You should be able to discuss your dreams and fears comfortably with him.  He should have the ability to put your desires in check and your fears to rest.  To this builders credit, he advised Leanne not to panic, and not to buy anything until the time was right.  He then told a story about a previous client that went looking  in a fixture store and became awe struck with a beautiful faucet.  She was assured by the sales rep that the faucet of her dreams was a mere $25.00 more than her budget allowed for. So she bought it.  Little did she know that the fittings to install this particular faucet would cost her another $75.00.   
There is a Moen ad where a room is designed around a faucet. Unless your budget is limitless, I don't recommend it. I am not suggesting you don't get the tap set or light fixture you daydream about, but rather hold off until the time is right.  
So where does one spend their money if not on the faucet?  Well, first and foremost, I say spend it on the permanent fixtures in your home.  For example, if you dream of having in floor heating, now is the time.  Yes it is an extra expense but, you wouldn't put it in a few years down the road after the tile has already been laid.  If it's your desire to have the house wired for sound, again before the gyp rock is hung, now is the time.  Leanne's budget allowed for a tub surround in the ensuite, but she desperately wanted a fully tiled dual head shower.  It was my recommendation that she go for it!  Bathrooms and kitchen's offer the best return for the investment.  Although her budget did not allow for it,  I felt that we could definitely cut costs in another areas of the house so as to splurge on the shower.  
 Another example of extra costs worth incurring was in Leanne's kitchen.  I discovered that the floor plan that she brought to me had only one window in the kitchen and it was under a covered deck.  As Leanne loves a sun soaked room I explored other options for inserting natural light into the kitchen.  Option A was a window behind the range and option B was a skylight above the island.  While a window definitely would have been a beautiful addition and served the purpose of bringing sunshine in, it wouldn't be facing much of a view.  The builder calculated the cost to add the window to be  double the cost of option B's skylight;  due to the type of glass and vent hood  that would need to be purchased.  Weighing out the benefit  verses cost, we decided a skylight it was to be.     
Once you have budgeted in all of your permanent  fixtures you can then see if there is any budget left to splurge on the removable finishes like faucets and lighting.  These things can always be upgraded down the road.   However I think it's possible to save enough money in other places that Leanne won't have to make any big compromises at all.   We will look at and compare both new and vintage lighting to cut some costs and infuse character.  Chris and Leanne are fortunate enough to have barn wood and equipment at their disposal.  We intend to use many of these things as interior finishes and accessories.  You may not have the same fortune but if it's a farm house style home you are building, I highly recommend shopping around for old barn wood.  
Other ways Leanne and Chris will save some money is by doing some of the work them selves.   Tasks such as painting the walls, and staining wooden beams will be done by a group of their friends.  Perhaps you are fortunate enough to know someone in the trades who will give you a deal.  Although I caution you in this regard. Business and friendship don't always mix well.   
 
So to recap
  • Tap into your builders and designers wealth of knowledge
  • Don't buy until you have confirmed specs with your builder
  • Always shop and compare prices.
  • Spend your money on the permanent fixtures first, even if it means settling for the on sale light fixtures for the short term.  Up grade down the road.
  • Invest in your kitchens and bathrooms. They offer best return for investment. 
  • Compare vintage to new prices to save a buck and infuse character.
  • Use what you have. ie: barn wood. 
  • Employ friends or family in the trades to save costs  (Use your discretion)
  • Your designer is the advocate for your desires.  If you do not have a designer, ask the question what can I cut to get the ____________ I dream of. 
  • Last of all... spread your money around.
 
 
SHARE YOUR BUILDING SUCCESSES  OR NIGHTMARES  WITH US!  
Tell us where you invested your money, both good decisions and bad.  
WHERE WERE YOU ABLE TO SAVE A BUCK? 
    We'd love to hear from you!
 
Home Builder Greg Vinton
 
 
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