Real estate: Move or improve?
Is it time to move or simply improve your home? Consider these factors before packing up those boxes.
Take a peek inside this renovated schoolhouse.
What better place to spend the winter than in an old schoolhouse in an idyllic rural setting?
Growing up in Toronto and then living in Vancouver for 21 years, Janet Appleton, owner of The Dog Tack Shop, was a devoted city girl with a low-maintenance condo as her dwelling of choice. Then one fateful date, she happened upon a real-estate listing for a converted heritage schoolhouse on eight acres in Schomberg, Ont. "I saw it online and fell completely in love," she confesses. "It was all purple inside with shag carpeting everywhere. Everyone tried to talk me out of it, but I had a vision."
Moving back to Ontario meant being closer to family and many of the craftspeople she works with for her business. So in a lifestyle-changing move, she bought the place, taking possession of the property more than three years ago with her two boxers, Marco and Benny, in tow.
Nestled into eight acres of bucolic countryside, the Old Deacon Schoolhouse is a well-preserved example of a typical rural Ontario schoolhouse.
Although the schoolhouse isn't designated a heritage building, Janet was determined to design the interior with an environmentally aware decor approach that respected its history.
Janet with her two boxers, Marco and Benny, on the steps of the schoolhouse. Many bricks on the home's exterior have children's initials etched into them.
A few boughs of natural greenery adorn the entryway door. Homeowner Janet Appleton has no idea what the numbers at the entrance might have meant but she and her guests love to speculate.
An iron staircase salvaged from Toronto's first telegram building leads to the loft. Janet ripped shag carpeting off its treads to reveal the maker's mark from St.Lawrence Foundry.
Antique books include her great-grandfather's bible and her great-grandmother's hymnal. The bench, marked 1954, was a gift from her grandfather to her mother.
In the main living room, the doors flanking the fireplace mantel are the original boys' and girls' entrances to the school. Stained-glass windows were added in a previous renovation. Janet's mother, Judith, lovingly helped source many of the home's furnishings, including the dark grey Louis-style armchair.
The harvest table in the dining area was one of the many pieces left behind by the previous owners that Janet was able to incorporate into the new design. Huge barn beams were left intact and exposed to lend warmth to the predominantly white interior.
During the winter, Janet decorates with a light touch, utilizing the natural materials found in abundance on her property.
Learn how to add art to your space on a budget.
Art is always in style, no matter the season. Here are 10 simple ways to add art to your home on a budget.
Individuality is in, cookie-cutter is out. Need a surefire way to add personality and verve to your home? Original art is the easy and enjoyable way to do it. But if the recession’s given you the blues -- or put you into the red -- here are 10 simple ways to add art on a budget.
1 Get 'em while they're young
The most affordable artwork comes from emerging artists, often for three figures or less. If you want your collection to include "name”"artists, expect to pay more -- a lot more -- due to supply and demand, and because costs must recoup expenses like a dealer’s cut, studio maintenance, assistant salaries etc.
If you're keen to buy art you love, which is the approach you should take because your chances of making a future killing on "investment" pieces aren’t great, truth be told, browse the local gallery circuit to see what’s on display at the independent galleries.
Check the websites of galleries in your city and subscribe to their e-newsletters so you’ll know whenever a group show is coming up. Bring your cash or checkbook and strike if you see something you love: it may go fast.
2 Buy art books
Art books are another option. If you love browsing, keep your books in an accessible spot on the coffee table. Or if you're not averse to a bit of slicing, cut out a page and frame it so you can enjoy it all the time. Carte Blanche, V.2: Painting came out in 2008 and features a juried selection of work from Canada’s top emerging, mid-career and established painters. (Volume 1 focuses on photographers.)
3 Turn your vacation shots into wall art
Print your digital vacation snapshots onto photo transfer paper and transfer them onto a canvas. Mount the canvases onto the wall, unframed.
4 Enlist the kids
Frame your kids' paintings. Or give them a canvas or board and glue gun (if they're old enough), and let them go nuts on a mixed media project. Who knows, maybe Jr.'s the next Marla Olmstead, a child prodigy artist featured in the doc My Kid Could Paint That. Olmstead's abstract canvases, compared by The New York Times and BBC to Jackson Pollock and Wassily Kandinsky, have sold for thousands of dollars!
5 Skip the canvas and button up
Toronto's Gallery TPW offers a set of 10 buttons featuring the photo-, text- or found-art based designs of 10 up-and-coming artists in Button Glutton 2006. Mount them inside a shadow box, or take a more creative approach by pinning them onto cushions or upholstery. The cost? A mere $50 plus $5 shipping.
6 Make like Andy Warhol
The Pop Art provocateur was right: commercial packaging design can be beautiful. The next time you find yourself admiring some packaging, mount it. Or take a cool can (Chinese water chestnuts, Italian pasta sauce, artisanal coffee) and use it as a cool, recycled flower pot.
7 Buy student work
Many art and design colleges and universities have end-of-the-year studio sales. They're a great way to pick up paintings, prints, mixed-media and textile pieces from the next generation of emerging artists at cut-rate prices. Search your local institution’s website for details.
8 Frame your old LPs
CDs and digital music files are convenient. But the golden age of album-cover art definitely was during vinyl’s heyday. (This may be one of the reasons why vinyl's currently undergoing a resurgence among music fans these days.) Got some great album covers kicking around? Display them in custom frames.
9 Rent before you buy
Ultimately, the best way to support living artists is to buy their work. But if you're not sure you can live with an expenditure in the up-to thousands of dollars, consider "testing" the goods by renting them first. The Art Gallery of Ontario, for instance, rents pieces for as little as $20/month. A portion of rent can usually be applied towards the purchase of a piece if you realize you can't live without it. And if you're commitment-phobic, renting lets you enjoy art while supporting your local gallery.
10 Give some, get some
And now for something a bit different: If you're thinking now's the time to bust some taboos or confront your body-image issues, consider signing up to be a nude figure model. (Journalist Emily Yoffe of Slate.com did it to humourous effect here). For safety's sake, only work in a studio setting at an established art college or school. See a sketch of yourself that you like? Speak up: chances are you can either buy it cheap or get it for free from the student artist. Bonus: getting paid to hold those poses!
Image by: Stacey Brandford | Styling: Morgan Lindsay & Stacy Begg
A PR maven updates her Toronto kitchen to create a chic space with staying power.
Christine Faulhaber is no stranger to trends. “It’s my job to be on the pulse of what’s new and now,” says the head of Faulhaber Communications, a PR and marketing firm in Toronto. When this in-the-know gal’s kitchen got an update last year, it was destined to have a covetable current look. But first, the 420-square-foot space – which hadn’t seen more than a coat of paint since the ’80s — needed to be brought into this decade.
Seeking help to gut the room and start over, the well-connected homeowner pulled out her loaded Rolodex and called in designer Amy Dillon of AyA Kitchens and Baths. “For the most part, we kept the layout pretty similar,” says Amy. “But we tweaked things to improve usability.” The upgrades included replacing cabinets with space-saving pullouts, swapping bulky appliances for sleek, well-integrated options and supplanting the old island with a longer narrower one that accommodates seating without impeding flow.
With function taken care of, Amy focused on the finishes, opting for elements befitting this fashion-forward professional. She cites the sleek two-tone cabinetry, open storage and a feature wall sans uppers as examples. “Trends can date themselves down the line,” says Amy, “so I incorporated them in a subtle way, using a neutral palette.” The über-popular encaustic-look backsplash tiles are case in point. “The slew of prints is a bit aggressive,” admits Christine. “But they’re monotone, so it’s a safe choice.” Time-tested additions, such as Mid-Century Modern-style seating, grasscloth accent wallpaper and copper accessories round out the room, cementing its staying power.
Designer Amy Dillon grounded the white cabinetry with dark grey accents — but only a few. “I wanted the space to age gracefully, not look like that typical two-tone kitchen you see so much,” she says. Marble-look Caesarstone countertops, which flow into a waterfall edge on the island, help achieve that goal.
For the dining area, Christine went with one of the hottest trends — Mid-Century Modern furniture — and chose chairs in a punchy shade of blue.
Though Amy chose minimal modern flat-panelled cabinetry, she varied the look by incorporating some open storage. “Display space is important to me,” says Christine, who showcases cookbooks and collectibles, such as her grandmother’s porcelain teacups. “These types of pieces give the space character and make it feel more like the rest of the rooms in the house.”
Christine fell for the bold encaustic-look backsplash tiles immediately. “The prints — there are 33 in total — are mostly traditional, so they have long legs,” she says. For a slightly more current effect, she had her contractor double up on the watery pattern, the only contemporary motif in the bunch. “The backsplash is a safe place to try a trend,” she advises. “Worst-case scenario, I tire of it in 10 years. I’d probably want to change my kitchen by then anyway!”
Christine incorporated touches of copper, the metal du jour, starting with a Tom Dixon pendant light in the eat-in area. The zone received the same space-smart treatment as the rest of the kitchen with dual-tone built-ins.
The whimsical artwork printed on Plexiglas is actually an image from a photo shoot Christine produced five years ago to mark the 10th anniversary of her PR and marketing agency, Faulhaber Communications. She used classic grass-cloth wallpaper as a backdrop to amplify the piece.