It’s WEDNESDAY and you know that means a new “In the Trenches” interview! I feel incredibly lucky to be able to share an interview with Kim, one of the great ladies from the blog, Desire to Inspire. If you’re familiar with Kim and her partner Jo’s blog, you already know that they have fantastic taste. That taste is reflected all through Kim’s home, and as I looked through pictures, I was making notes on all kinds of ideas that I want to borrow for my own home. The funny thing is, she almost didn’t agree to the interview because she only recently moved into a new home and thought it was too much of a work-in-progress to show. All I’m saying is that her work-in-progress makes quite a few homes look shabby!
I was so happy when you agreed to this interview, I squealed! I’m a big admirer of Desire to Inspire, the blog you share with fellow design enthusiast mid-century Jo, but I have to admit that the only thing I know about you is that you have FABULOUS taste. Would you share a little bit about yourself with me and my readers?
OK, you’ve got me blushing on the first question. I live in Ottawa, have all my life. By day I am a web developer/programmer for the government, and by night I am a blogger and online shopper. LOL. Funny but so true. I have 2 sisters, one being my identical twin. When I was little my twin sister and I used to rearrange our bedroom furniture just about every other weekend. So it’s no surprise that I love interior design. I am a NUT for animals. I have 5 cats: Milo, Mimin, Cheeks, Lucky and Phoebe. I move a lot. For no reason really. My current home I own, and moved there in December. I’m kind of proud of it – it’s close to downtown, but needs a lot of work…and I bought it myself. Since I live with only a plethora of cats, I can decorate it how I choose – hence my pink kitchen (and hence the cat furniture scattered throughout). The house is about 12 ft wide, probably 90 years old and around 900 sq ft.
How did you and Jo meet (with you being in Canada and her in Australia) and what inspired the two of you to begin Desire to Inspire?
Jo and I met on Flickr. There was a Flickr group that Jo and I used to post photos on all the time of rooms we loved, and when the group was removed, we were bummed and realized that to continue the fun, we could do the same thing on a blog. Jo and I have known each other for about a year and a half, and we’ve never met (I SO wish I could afford a trip to visit her), and we’ve never even spoken on the phone. Our only communication is via IM.
Ya’ll showcase quite a wide range of styles on Desire to Inspire… what would you say best describes your personal design style?
My personal style has changed drastically over the past few years. I’ve done it all, from modern, to shabby-chic and everything in between. I started to get into retro/vintage as I started to really appreciate the occasional funky item while out antiquing/thrifting and I realized how fulfilling it was finding gems amidst piles of crap. So for the past couple of years I’ve been hooked on anything and everything vintage. I love eclectic…specifically mixing different styles that are polar opposites. There is nothing better than an antique portrait in a gilded frame hanging above a modern bench, or a vintage crystal chandelier over a tulip table. I LOVE the unexpected.
One of the things I love about the photos of your previous home as well as your current work-in-progress home is that you are NOT afraid of color. Would you share your thoughts on how readers can incorporate more color into their homes? How do you decide what colors are complementary to one another and how do you determine when you’re using too much color?
I am not afraid of colour because it keeps things interesting. I could not live in an all-white house. It’s so uninspiring. But that’s just me. I love how easy it is to change up a room with a coat of paint. Forget doing a whole room – just one accent wall or a random square somewhere framing a grouping of art is just as effective. Best part is if you don’t like it, paint over it! In my opinion, colours are complementary if I hold up paint chips and they just seem to work. I love mixing different shades of the same colour. I don’t know if there is such a thing as too much colour – it’s a matter of taste. But I prefer bold colour in….chunks. I think a bright orange couch is awesome, when the wall behind it is white or grey.
A bright yellow wall is brilliant, but with mostly white or maybe teak furniture against it. I painted a room teal, and painted a rattan chair red to complement it, but the rest of the large pieces are wood. Take every opportunity to be bold with colour when you think you can handle it. I painted my kitchen bubblegum pink because it was ghastly and I have to live with it until I can renovate it. For resale purposes I would never install pink cabinets, but while I had the chance, I wanted to go all out.
We discussed that you recently moved into a new home; in fact, the night you agreed to the interview, you were in the process of demolition work in your bedroom. After living in another space and getting it decorated just right, was it hard to start from scratch again? Do you have a planning process to determine how you’re going to decorate your new home? How do you decide what areas and which projects to start without getting overwhelmed?
This is my second owned home. The first one was in the suburbs, and on the opposite side of the city from where I grew up. I really didn’t like living out there – my boyfriend and I only bought the house because the price was right. So I knew we weren’t going to last long. And we didn’t, we were there a little over a year. Like I said before, I get bored easily, so the idea of started fresh was thrilling. And will be the next time I decide to sell. My planning process is not really a process. I just spend every spare moment thinking about how I want the rooms to look, and what functions the rooms will serve, and how I can maximize the small space that I have. When an idea sticks with me longer than a couple days, I know it (in some form or another), is a keeper. And when a photo really appeals to me, and I can’t get it out of my head, I save it in an inspiration folder to refer to. Your last question is a tough one. My last house only needed minor renovations and cosmetic work done – so I actually find this house a bit overwhelming. Everywhere I turn, there’s something else driving me nuts that I want to change. So far I have stuck to the small stuff – but haven’t actually completed anything major. I’m not going to rush into anything until I know EXACTLY what I want. I will make sure to do all my research before I touch anything, because I can’t afford to renovate twice.
Some of my readers know me as the “Queen of Craigslist” because it’s the first place I turn to find pretty much anything I need for my townhouse. I would call you the “Queen of Ebay.” Do you have any tips you could share with my readers and I about buying collectibles and home decor on Ebay?
Queen of Craigslist eh? I might battle you for that title. Except it would have to be Craigslist/Kijiji. (I’m also Etsy-obsessed). I picked up a rattan patio set this weekend for my backyard deck that I found on Kijiji.
Ebay is addictive. It’s my favourite source for fabric. There are so many amazing fabrics, especially vintage ones, on Ebay. And cowhide rugs. I have been checking out cowhides for a while now and last week finally purchased one for my living room, and will eventually get another for my dressing room. I bought my mom a gorgeous original oil painting for Christmas. My tips would be to check and double check measurements. Sometimes the price seems reasonable until you realize how small the item is. And always ask for the shipping price. Especially if you don’t live in the States. The shipping usually helps me set my max price. Some sellers will charge based on your postal/zip code, which I think is great, but others will charge a flat rate which I often find unreasonable. I stick to small stuff when I shop online, on Ebay or anywhere, because I hate paying for shipping.
Another thing I love when reviewing photos of your homes is how your look evolves over time. I see objects rearranged, furniture moved, items painted… you seem to have no fear of change when it comes to getting your home to look right for you. If you had to give someone five tips for creating a style in their home that feels right to them, what would you tell them?
1 – Move your furniture around. Then move it again. And then, move it again. You’ll get that feeling in your gut when you’ve got it right.
2 – Buy furniture that is adaptable to your potentially ever-changing style. That’s why I’ve recently realized the incredible potential of rattan furniture. It’s easy to paint, and when I tire of it, I can paint it another colour, reupholster the cushions, and give it a brand new look.
3 – This goes along with the last point. Buy lots and lots of spray paint. One minute you may love shabby chic and go out and buy all sorts of white furniture and accessories, and when you change your mind, you can whip out a can of spray paint and you’ve got a whole new look.
4 – Don’t listen to the hype. My house doesn’t look mainstream. I don’t follow all the trends I see in magazines. I just go with what makes me feel comfortable. Vintage for me equates to comfort. If modern or country does it for you, then go for it.
5 – Give some thought to what you have to work with. My house is very old, and vintage furnishings suit this house. All modern furnishings would look out of place. The architecture should help you figure out what style to go with.
Aren’t you glad she agreed to the interview? The photos featured are a mix of ones from her new home and her previous home. Every week it’s incredibly hard to choose which photos to use with the interviews… this time, it was almost impossible to narrow it down. So do yourself a favor and go visit Kim’s flickr set. And don’t forget to leave a comment here to let her know how much we appreciate her for sharing with us!
Until next time, happy budget decorating!