Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful,
or believe to be beautiful.
William Morris' philosophy should guide your life and sanity. For most, the race is to fill one's home with stuff to make it feel homey. Foreign goods made of inelegant materials that have little personal meaning or value but fill the space are pushed at us from every decor magazine or mindless HGTV interior decorating program. Just a reminder, the origins of media revolve around making sales, so the design specialists who are pushing the trend of the moment are really just selling you more stuff that you don't need.
Better to live with an interior which reflects the vintage of your home and acquiring possessions which are accumulated over time with love and sensitivity. If you really need something to brighten up your home, a colourful bunch of flowers will do the trick in the meantime.
Another way to reflect your personality in your home is original artwork. Leave the Homesense and IKEA mass produced knick knacks and prints behind (although both of these stores are valuable for storage solutions to house all the stuff) and take advantage of the plethora of local artists and their wares.
Take a day trip to one of the many art and craft shows which fill our Ontario summer weekends. The Toronto Outdoor Art exhibition takes place at Nathan Phillips Square on the July 4th weekend. It attracts some of the best painters, potters, glassmakers, jewellers and other artisans in the area. Other favourite shows are Artfest at the Distillery, Guelph Art on the Street and our own Stratford Art in the Park. These only touch on the many options available to add art to your home. Spend a short time on the internet and you will discover galleries, open studio tours, online shops like Etsy, and artist's guilds. Challenge yourself to thoughtfully decorate and resist the urge to fill your home with objects of the moment and you will be richer in so many ways.
Catherine Cassidy is a Designer with Build, a construction firm in Stratford, Ontario, specializing in new custom homes and renovations.
Build's Spring 2014 newsletter is hot off the inter-press! Catch up on what we have been doing and what will be coming up next.
What we do is expensive. Good materials, thoughtful design and detailing, not to mention the labour costs in completing a job properly all adds up. Anything that can be done to increase the life span of the work we do just makes good sense over the life of a house.
Following are a few found examples of what not to do:
Doesn't look too bad, but the flat edge on the top of the base blocks, and the opening vertical mitre is a tip off that water is getting in.
Removed the baseblocks and found that the pressure treated 4x4 was set directly on the pine porch floor boards – it has been wicking up water for some time and turned to mush. The pine post claddings were carrying the structural load. It is important to never set the end grain of wood on a surface that can be wet.
These posts have been "repaired" at least once before but not properly detailed, so they will fail again prematurely. To get these details right costs little more – slope horizontal surfaces, separate end grain from water, inspect and touch up caulking and paint once a year and exterior woodwork will last a long time. I finished taking these photos and looked across the street to see another contractor rebuilding a porch with unpainted knotty pine and similarly poor detailing. Perhaps I will be featuring it here in the not so distant future.
Rory McDonnell is a General Contractor, Licensed Carpenter and Architectural Designer with Build, a construction firm in Stratford, Ontario, specializing in new custom homes and renovations.
I am a licensed carpenter,