The suc­cess of a room rests with fi­nal fin­ish­ings, play of colour, light, tex­tures

The Prince George Citizen - The Citizen - Real Estate Weekly - - Real Estate Weekly - Daniel Dro­let Canwest News Ser­vice

Some say God is in the de­tails. Oth­ers say it’s the devil. Ei­ther way, says Ottawa de­signer Tim Davis, you’ve got to pay at­ten­tion to the de­tails, be­cause de­tail­ing of­ten can make or break your plans for home de­sign.

And if you’ve just shelled out a lot of cash for a re­ally nice home or a de­sign project, why risk un­der­min­ing its in­tegrity by not pay­ing at­ten­tion to the things that will fin­ish it off nicely?

De­tails, gen­er­ally speak­ing, are the things - small or not - that com­plete a project.

Davis, who trained as an ar­chi­tect in Bri­tain, is a de­signer whose work is found in Canada’s Na­tional Gallery in Ottawa, in many area stores and in pri­vate homes. De­tail­ing, says Davis, ba­si­cally in­volves fol­low­ing through with your de­sign con­cept to the end.

Fail­ure to fol­low through not only un­der­mines the con­cept, it can even com­pro­mise its struc­tural in­tegrity.

Ex­am­ples of failed de­tail­ing

Buy­ing a re­ally nice paint­ing and then hang­ing it on the wall with a small nail that can’t sup­port the weight.

Putting a cheap door­knob on an ex­pen­sive door.

Do­ing a room over in an or­nate, baroque style - and then adding plain, un­adorned base­boards or mould­ings be­cause that’s all you could find. The project will be com­plete, but it won’t look right.

“Un­less the de­tail­ing fol­lows through with your orig­i­nal con­cept, you will de­stroy your con­cept,” says Davis, owner of Tim Davis De­sign in Ottawa.

With that in mind, Davis of­fers th­ese hints to keep the de­tails on track:

Bud­get for it

Davis says lack of time and money is the main rea­son peo­ple skimp on de­tail­ing. He sug­gests bud­get­ing for de­tails right from the start.

“It’s a gen­eral fact of life that you get what you pay for,” says Davis.

“If you want some­thing that’s care­fully crafted, you have to have a re­al­is­tic ex­pecta- tion of what you are go­ing to pay.”

If you’ve bought an ex­pen­sive paint­ing, it’s wise to spend a bit more to make sure it’s prop­erly hung and to take the time to make sure it’s in the best set­ting.

If you’ve spent money on beau­ti­ful built-in cup­boards or cab­i­netry, don’t fin­ish them off with cheap knobs or pulls, in an at­tempt to save money.

Less may be more, but less doesn’t al­ways cost less.

Think unique

Davis says de­tail­ing is a great way to per­son­al­ize a space. It is, he says, the op­po­site of stan­dard.

Say you’ve just bought a de­vel­oper’s house with stan­dard fea­tures. Adding de­tail­ing will al­low you to per­son­al­ize the house and give it char­ac­ter.

It can be as sim­ple as chang­ing the doors, door frames, hinges and door­knobs. A stan­dard home be­comes unique - and ul­ti­mately more sell­able down the road - when stan­dard fea­tures are up­graded or some­how made dis­tinc­tive.

Un­der­stated works

Good de­tail­ing doesn’t mean you have to go all ro­coco and add scroll­work and angels and col­umns to your de­sign. It can be un­der­stated and sub­tle.

It can be about choos­ing spe­cific fin­ishes for your doors or win­dows or ap­pli­ances. It can be about adding tex­tures rather than just colours. It can be about choos­ing very few ma­te­ri­als or colours, but pay­ing strict at­ten­tion to how they work with each other.

In other words, de­tail­ing is not about mak­ing a splash; it’s about mak­ing things come to­gether.

Davis likes to re­fer to the work of Lud­wig Mies van der Rohe, an in­flu­en­tial mod­ernist ar­chi­tect of the early 20th cen­tury.

“If you see one of his build­ings, the colour pal­ette is lim­ited and the num­ber of ma­te­ri­als he uses is lim­ited,” says Davis.

“But when two ma­te­ri­als come to­gether, it’s very con­sid­ered. So what you get is an en­vi­ron­ment that stands the test of time and isn’t dif­fi­cult to live in.”

Think how, as well as what

Say you want to tile a floor.

How you lay the tile will in­flu­ence the look. Davis says a sim­ple 12-inch-by-12-inch tile used alone will give a crisp, mod­ern look. But start adding trims and bor­ders, and the same tile sud­denly looks or­nate. Be ap­pro­pri­ate Some de­sign­ers have what might be called a “house style” and try to im­pose it on clients. William Pahlmann, an in­flu­en­tial Amer­i­can dec­o­ra­tor who died in 1987, once fa­mously said that when it comes to de­sign, “the cus­tomer is usu­ally wrong.”

Davis re­jects the no­tion, say­ing any de­sign project has to be ap­pro­pri­ate for the peo­ple who are go­ing to live with it. The de­tails have to be ap­pro­pri­ate for the project. If a client has a lot of art­work to dis­play, a home’s fin­ishes have to high­light the art, not com­pete with it, in­sists Davis.

Canwest photo

A combo of bright red, steel riv­ets and a round win­dow suc­cess­fully cre­ate a dis­tinc­tive door that could eas­ily be at home in an in­dus­trial condo or by the sea.

Canwest photo

Good de­tail­ing is about neat spa­tial think­ing, in­clud­ing this mir­rored wardrobe that is set into a cor­ner.

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