Summer is always the time to get away, travel the countryside and to see what is happening in other parts of your world. This summer if you have the opportunity to visit the city of Sudbury located in northeastern Ontario you will be pleasantly surprised. Sudbury’s history began in the late 1800’s with the development of the Canadian Pacific railway. Initially planned as only a temporary work camp for the railway workers, Sudbury has grown into a diversified regional urban centre with strengths in technology, education, health and government. The focus of Sudbury in the last many years has been its ‘transformation’ with land reclamation and municipal amalgamation. But Sudbury’s present ‘transformation’ is about focusing on its people. With a population of more than 160,000, the city of Sudbury is ‘tapping’ into the power of local institutions, businesses, community groups and citizens. One of the items that the people spoke about and were heard was new bike racks along the downtown streets. And I must say these are the coolest bike racks I have ever seen. They are bike-shaped bike racks! I am loving them. Truly the ‘transformation’ of the utilitarian into art! Bravo Sudbury.
Image via Jenny Jelen
This weekend I had the good fortune of being able to ‘plunk’ myself in a chair on the dock at the cottage and just watch the world go by. To just sit by myself and gaze out at the lake and listen, watch and ponder. To listen to the call of loons, watch the boats and water skiers go by and think about something, anything or nothing at all. It is a rare moment when we truly can zone out and leave our busy lives turned off for a moment. (Actually there is no cell phone or Internet coverage available here!) From this comfortable perch I look towards a cottage on an island, one of the sights that my eyes always come to rest upon. For years I have admired this cottage from afar with its nostalgic laid-back appearance. The cottage was built almost 70 years ago and is still occupied by the original homesteader. It was erected atop a huge rock and seems to just hug the water’s edge. I have never been inside this charming cottage but the ‘decorator’ in me often wonders what the interior would look like? But that I think is the biggest appeal of all, of not knowing but continually pondering and coming up with all kinds of different décor ideas. My favourite design would be of weathered woods with natural fibres and a soft muted palette. Although the ‘white cabana’ feel could be a great style also. Maybe it is more of a nautical feel with stripes of blue and white and accents in red. Whatever it is I am happy in never knowing because as a wise man once said “Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and seeing something different.”
After venturing down memory lane yesterday and blogging about my first home, I found I had a deluge of memories come flooding back. Writing about my first date with Mr. Renovate, who later became my hubby, I was reminded of another funny incident. After refinishing the hardwood floors I decided that the living/dining room needed painting (again!). My colour choices were inspired by a charming old brick building I had noticed on my daily journey to work via public transit. The building had aged terra-cotta coloured bricks and trim work painted a wonderful deep historical blue. Popular colours in the 80’s. I thought that with my hardwood floors, white trim, blue/white striped sofa the historical blue and deep terra-cotta paint colours would complement well. So my date (now bumped up to boyfriend status) and I painted the blue on all the walls except the stair wall which was to be painted as a feature wall in terra-cotta. But that darned feature wall was giving us problems. The first time we painted it – not good, second time we painted it – streaked with white. So the third time (days later) when we painted this terra-cotta feature wall we purchased new rollers, brushes and another can of paint. I told boyfriend “OK, this is the last time – let’s get this right”. He was going to paint and I was going to make some popcorn to celebrate the successful completion. So out to the kitchen I go and just as I was bending over getting the pot out of the bottom cupboard I felt something hit me. Something wet and runny! My date/Mr. Renovate/boyfriend had followed me into the kitchen and had been vigorously shaking the paint can when the lid popped off and I was now covered in terra-cotta paint from head to toe!!! We never did have our popcorn nor was the painting completed that night but we still laugh about the time I became the painted feature!
- Eating Popcorn with Mr. Renovate!
Many years ago I went on a date with a nice man. He had phoned me up and asked if I would like to join him for a game of tennis. Sure, sounds fun. After our game of tennis we went out for ‘wings and a beer’ and shared a bunch of laughs. The evening was going well so after dinner I asked if he would like to see my house. I had just bought my first home and I was a little proud. The home was a ‘starter home’ complete with yellow shag carpet and yellow-flowered wallpaper. I had removed the wallpaper and painted but the yellow shag carpet still remained. After having the tour of the house my date stated “you know there is hardwood under this [butt ugly, decades old] carpet” and then proceeded to persuade me to rip that carpet up right there and then. That was a Thursday night and garbage pick-up was the next day so out went that yellow shag carpet! But then I started to panic as I looked at the hardwood floor and realized OMG the floor needs repair and refinishing. I had three tenants in the house that had no intention of becoming renovators. This was the ‘80’s and my mortgage was at 13 ¾ % and I had no money to hire someone to refinish the floors. So I looked at my date and said “you better stick around to help me refinish these floors!” Well my date stuck around and helped me refinish the floors, add new baseboard, repaint the room, renovate the bathroom, repair a fence etc., etc., etc. My date (who sketched me a picture of my first house – see below) certainly did stick around, in fact we have been married for 20 years and we have never stopped renovating. My love of ripping, refinishing and renovating began on a Thursday evening after a game of tennis, wings and beer because the next day was garbage day. Or did my date have an ulterior motive??!!
We often make choices based upon labels. I am referring to the labels on consumer products. A lot of time and creative energy go into designing a products image, the visual appeal, its brand. As consumers we often reach for a product and buy that product based on the label. Just the same with interiors when our eyes rest on a room’s focal point so to do our eyes stop at a product on the shelf that has a great label. The colours, the patterns, the artwork, just the same as a room’s décor! Every summer we are bombarded with new and catchy labels at the liquor/beer store influencing us to make the purchase. The label that has caught my eye this summer is the very colourful and artistically graphic Corona® beer bottle; there are 6 different unique labels in all. The entire long-neck bottle is wrapped in a ‘beach cover-up’ of a tropical setting. I like these summer labels with their great colours and beautiful graphics and in fact I find myself colour coordinating my bottle choice to my clothing! One of the labels has graphics that would make a great piece of framed art. (See photo 2 below) I have had a few conversations with other summer imbibers, some like the labels and some do not like the labels. Those who do not explain that the classic yellow and blue label is fine the way it was and feel a change was not necessary. I can’t argue with that as I am also a big fan of classic pieces i.e. Furniture, but this summer I am just having fun with these labels and their riot of colour.
During the summer I am very fortunate to be able to spend time at the cottage which is located in the Kawarthas. Everything at the cottage is ideal; the views, the magnificent pines, the calm water, the sunsets. We have a lakefront cottage with a flat sandy shoreline that is great for setting up chaise lounges, tables, beach blankets or whatever is needed for a day of lounging. Perfect, right? Well a few years ago when our dock needed replacing the master builder (my husband) was persuaded that what we really needed (read wanted) was a large new dock that would allow for us to set up a lounging and entertaining area right on top of the water. The sandy beach was nice but the appeal of the water was greater. There is nothing quite like having a ‘room’ sitting on top of water. We built a 12 ft. X 24 ft. dock that sits just a few inches above the water (not a floater) and one that is easily removed for winter. Brilliant design. Kudos to hubby. Of course now that we had this large dock or as my FIL (father-in-law) coined it ‘Michele’s Living Room’, it had to be decorated. Several Muskoka chairs, comfy cushions, tables, foot stools, pots of flowers and of course the large market umbrella. Just as there should always be an umbrella in your drink there should be one on your cottage dock to create that ‘I am on holiday’ ambiance! Some evenings we have even set up a dining table and chairs on the dock to dine alfresco underneath the stars with the sound of the water lapping underneath. Pure paradise. As I stated in a previous post, neither man nor woman can improve on Nature, but we certainly can enjoy it.