Homes - Interiors

Interior: Scandinavian style on a budget

Style at Home style and food editor Tara Ballantyne creates a budget-friendly look that’s all her own.

Ever notice how you can do something for years, then all of a sudden – eureka! – it truly becomes your own? That’s what happened to Style at Home style and food editor Tara Ballantyne following a two-year stint in Norway. “I’d been drawn to Scandinavian design for years,” she says, “but it took actually living in Oslo for it to really become part of my style.” And by the time Tara returned home to Waterloo, Ont., it all clicked: She saw all the ways that Canadian and Scandinavian design approaches actually overlap. In both countries, interior design alludes to landscapes that are rich in lakes, forests, rivers and mountains. And in both places, coziness – especially during the winter – is key. “There are differences,” says Tara.

“Canadian design tends to be fuller and draw on deeper hues for comfort, while Scandinavian design is cleaner and relies on lighter tones to combat darkness when the sun goes down so early.” But bringing together these two styles in her own home wasn’t Tara’s only goal: She wanted the entire home makeover of her rickety 900-square-foot 1980s duplex for under $10,000 – including the construction of a new kitchen!

Living room feature
Tara’s style is modern and clean, but it’s also delightfully clever. Who else would see ugly bright purple lockers from the YMCA as a potential feature in a pale, spare living room? “Under the purple paint was more paint – in yellow!” she says. “I spent all my free time sanding them.” She had seen a similar pre-sanded set in London, England, for $6,000. “But I wanted the look, not the expense.”

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