• Splurge vs. Save

    It’s funny, all I keep reading is Splurge vs. Save on every blog, magazine, you name it, design related.  Us, eternally happy canucks would never admit recession, so instead we make it cool to save. Love it!  I’ve always been a bit conservative, having grown up on a VERY tight budget, making the most out of what you can afford is kinda my shtick.  Now that Halina and I are partners it’s a fun adventure appeasing her need for luxury and my innate inability to spend frivolously.  Any who, we’ve been balancing client budgets whatever they may be, with a calculated mix of splurges and saves.  Below is a roundup of a few examples.  All the photos below are of spaces we designed.

    Save by keeping old cabinets and built-ins and painting them.  Here we used Farrow and Ball Lamp Room Grey for both the walls and cabinets giving a previously dated and tired room a modern refresh.

    In an open-concept where the floor is a major focal point, splurge on the floors and play up the impact.  Here we chose a Brazilian walnut, with a natural oil finish to really enhance the beauty of the wood.

    Save by using big box store cabinets in creative ways instead of doing custom built-ins.  Here, we designed using Ikea kitchen pantries to create sleek extra storage in their open-concept family dining room.

    Save on big box store kitchen cabinets and splurge on a custom stone counter.  Here we created a waterfall edge Carrera marble counter, over simple white generic Ikea kitchen cabinets.  By adding high-end finishes, you elevate an other wise budget cabinet.

    Save by keeping existing doors and upgrading with new paint and hardware.  Here we created a more current and high-end look by painting simple hollow core doors out in a rich black which tied in with the new ebony stained floors.

    Save by using common materials so that you can splurge on the details.  Here we created un almost slab clad wall effect by using a Carrera  Marble 12×12 tile, but installing it on all the walls, floors and window casing giving it a high-end look.  Marble is a luxurious material, however Carrera is a very readily available and in a 12×12 size is significantly less expensive than other marbles.

    Save by mixing high end and mid range materials in one kitchen.  Here we used an entry priced black granite counter with square edge on the main surfaces, allowing us to splurge on the Statuario marble island counter with an upgraded edge profile.

    Save by using a laminate floors in basements and high traffic areas like play rooms.  Here we used a 7.5” laminate from our PLANK collection which does not compromise on style and design, but is an extremely well priced material.  Laminate is perfect for over radiant heating, a very popular choice in most new basements.

    Save by doing applied panel molding instead of custom raised paneling.  Here we applied a simple 1 ½” profile trim, and painted it out the wall colour to give a modern interpretation of a classic look.

  • Buy Low, Look High

    Sometimes the best advice for a high end look, is to buy high end.  Obviously we can’t all afford to do this whenever our frugal hearts desire, so us regular folk have to wait for a sale.  These big warehouse sales usually require a bit of endurance, but you can save major bucks.  At 50-80% off, a dining credenza that was $3000 you could potentially snag for under $1000.  These are still investments pieces so take a fresh look through your design magazines for inspiration and go in looking for specific pieces at a set budget.  Buying 3 things on sale you don’t need, is not a savings had.  Happy discount shopping!

  • Condos Can Be Cool, and On-Budget

    We took this generic 706 sq ft condo and created a classic contemporary space perfect for this single mom and her young son to relax and entertain.

    A mix of vintage finds [ coffee table $120, teak credenza $800 ] and budget accessories [ west elm rug $169, CB2 candle sticks, Home Sense cushions and vases ]  offset the splurge here with the Montauk Sofa.  This was all about comfort, carefully concealed with otherwise more formal materials like carrara marble table and crystal candle sticks.
    In these smaller spaces people tend to buy tiny furniture, but more of it which quickly looks cluttered.  The key here was to maximize the areas we would use the most, one being a large table for entertaining.  We used Ikea Stuva cabinets designed for children’s spaces, but here used to created a 12′ long dining bench with ample storage below, with wall mounted storage above for wine glass, and serving dishes.
    To the left of the benches we used 2 low wardrobes from the same system, adding more storage for coats at the entry, as well as adjustable shelves for books and toys.  The table was made by Space Furniture with a black powder coated base and walnut veneered top in a generous 8′ x 3′ size.  All the chairs were also from Ikea.  The bench is the perfect solution to hide away extra kitchen supplies, children’s crafts and paper work, that can often become unmanageable in small spaces.
    Before Photos and Floor Plan
  • Trailer Trash to Treasure

    We headed up north with our friend Poppy to give her stinky, dated and (we’re not being rude if we say) butt-ugly, trailer a facelift.  Poppy is a single girl, living in the city, but longing to live the cottage life.  She, like many of us couldn’t afford a cottage and instead decided to get creative with her vision for a weekend getaway.

    The Back Story:  Poppy purchased a used trailer in a small, vacation season only park. That means it has an area for snow birds (seniors that winter down south) but was mostly made up of people like her that come on weekends and for holidays to chilax in nature and share beers around a camp fire.

    Purchase Price: $3000, including full deck and rear shed.  The yearly lot fees are an additional $2500 including hydro and water.

    Reno Budget: $1500


    What We Did:  Painted, painted and painted some more until everything mud brown was linen white, The end…….well, not quite.  After painting the wood paneled walls and general storage cabinets white, we painted the kitchen cabinets a french grey and the existing fridge front black chalk board paint.  We installed peel and stick vinyl backsplash in a subway pattern, in the kitchen and washroom.  We spray painted the cabinet hardware throughout a matte black and added a black storage rail in the kitchen from Ikea.

    New Teak laminate floors were installed throughout.  We removed the old curtains (which were stinky, trust) and installed new simple black rods for curtains Poppy sewed to save cash.  The living/dining/kitchen fabric was a large roll of tea towel fabric in white with a yellow band detail.  The bedroom and bathroom were a white weave sheer, all were from Designer Fabric Outlet.

    We (Poppy) recovered the existing futon with a new blue denim fabric and the dining benches in a combination of the denim and, a blue and white stripe fabric.  We decided to keep the existing wood-look table top and counters for budget, and frankly they didn’t look so ugly with everything else painted.  A simple clothe shade with plug-in cord kit from Ikea was hung over the dining table.

    In the bedroom we torn out the bunk beds and built a new double bed using 1 sheet of plywood and some 2×4’s.  We used another sheet of plywood cut-to-size by a helpful young man at The Home Depot. (they will cut to your specs that for a small fee) which was covered with 3″ foam and a blue botanical print fabric using a staple gun.  This became the headboard.

    Halina and Melissa went to the local Home Hardware and a funny little consignment shop to purchase all of the accessories and finishing touches.  The consignment shop was closed but the manager of the Mac’s Milk next door had a key (what?) and let us take what we want and offer her cash.  We filled the car for $50, literally. It may have been illegal but she claimed the shop owner worked part time at the Mac’s Milk, so it was all good.  #WhySmallTownsAreCool

    We were exhausted at the end of a whirlwind 2 day reno, and Poppy may have put in more work than she bargained for, but heck, that wee trailer puts Martha Stuarts Jail Cell to shame.

    We were rewarded with a cake, made by a neighbouring trailer-dweller, that was an exact replica of Poppy’s trailer. We were also given beer, and many many local men on foot and golf cart were more than willing to stop by offering their 2 cents while watching our team of 4 pretty girls work.  So friendly, them country folk.