Buying your first home can be stressful. Moving in together for the first time and having different ideas of how much of a “fixer upper” you’re willing to take on adds an extra level of challenge.
After living in the heart of downtown for many years, my clients were ready to take the plunge and move to the city limits to settle into a groovy 60s side-split with room to spread out and start a family. As a newly engaged couple with a wedding on the horizon and a laundry list of projects to tackle, my task was to whip their dated and drab living/dining room into a sleek space for entertaining – in a hurry and on a budget.
Highlight your best features
No matter how dated and unappealing the current state of your room seems, it’s important to look at the overall space with an optimistic eye. Forget the tattered broadloom, the stucco ceiling, the overbearing brick fireplace and the terrible paint colour, and train your eye to see the potential that lies within your home. If you’re starting off with an open concept plan, like this L shaped room, you’re saving dollars right out of the gate and won’t need to expend precious resources to knock down walls and make structural changes.
In the pursuit of contemporary style, the man of the house put an all-out ban on chandeliers. Perhaps it was a knee-jerk reaction to the woefully under-scaled chandelier that was hanging in the dining room when they purchased the house, but whatever the reason, a solution was needed. Instead of the standard single light in the ceiling, why not embrace a more playful approach and hang a collection of pendants as a group? If you shop wisely, you may just find that you can create a more dynamic look with greater impact for less than the cost of a single pendant.
Maximize your measurements
Before committing to any new furniture pieces, it’s worth investing some time to plot their dimensions onto a scale floor plan. You can whip it up on the computer with the help of Google SketchUp, or go the old-fashioned route and map it out on graph paper with simple cutouts to represent the sizes of the furnishings you are considering. A little time spent fitting the pieces into the floor plan puzzle will help you make the most of the space you are working with. By flipping the sideboard onto the wall under the window, I was able to continue down the contemporary road for my clients with a striking chrome and glass dining table for eight. Scoring inexpensive citrus-fresh chairs with sleek chrome legs to round out the dining room arrangement was an added bonus.
Give your fire a facelift
The long, lean lines of mid-century style are endlessly appealing, but not every feature in your home will be dressed to perfection. If dated brick or Flintstone-esque stone is currently cladding your fireplace, refacing it with a sleek new material is relatively easy. By knocking off the existing fireplace surround, I was able to redefine the proportions, centre the opening of the firebox on the surround, and extend the hearth. To work within the confines of our budget, I sourced large-format marble tiles with minimal veining to create the effect of a slab marble install without the heavyweight price-tag.
All that’s old is chic again
Some ideas are good enough that they bear repeating. In 1951, Ikea featured its MK wing chair on their first catalogue cover, and 62 years on they reintroduced it – renamed Strandmon – with a deal that’s comparable to the value price point of their iconic meatballs. At $299 per chair, you can kick up your feet and relax fireside in this sleek and stylish nod to yesteryear.
Sarah Richardson’s Real Potential can be seen Thursday nights on HGTV.
Leather sofa & winged armchairs: Ikea www.ikea.ca
Hardwood flooring: Home Depot www.homedepot.ca
Fireplace & foyer tile: Saltillo Imports www.saltillo-tiles.com
Dining table & dining chairs: Structube www.structube.com
Rug: ELTE www.elte.com
Root console table & mirror in dining room: Casalife www.casalife.com
Drapery and pillow fabric: Thibaut Inc. www.thibautdesign.com
Coffee table: Rich Brilliant Willing www.richbrilliantwilling.com
Side tables: Kijiji www.kijiji.ca
Sideboard, pendant lights, accessories: Homesense www.homesense.ca
Art over fireplace:Studio Pazo www.studiopazo.com
Table settings: CB2 www.cb2.com
Glass bubble lamp: Chair Table Lamp www.chairtablelamp.com
Picture frames: Indigo www.chapters.indigo.ca
Poufs: Urban Barn www.urbanbarn.com
Grey lamps & metal table lamp: Eclectisaurus www.eclectisaurus.com
Umbrella stand: Around the Block www.aroundtheblock.com
Paint colours and wallpaper
Living room/dining room ceiling & trim: Natural White 50YY 83/029 Dulux Paint www.dulux.ca
Living room/dining room walls: Winter Bird 30YY 78/018
Foyer walls: Icon Grey 00NN 31/000
Foyer ceiling: Antarctic Ice 70YY 73/083
Front door: Lichen Green 70YY 55/299
Wallpaper:Tahitian Weave in Green T5072 Thibaut Inc. www.thibautdesign.com