Decor goes on hol­i­day

Vacation prop­erty’s look should re­flect its lo­ca­tion

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Ruth Myles

LO­CA­TION, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion is the mantra we all live by when it comes to buy­ing real es­tate, whether it’s a pri­mary res­i­dence in the city or a vacation pad on a golden coast be­side a never-end­ing ex­panse of skyblue wa­ter.

And the ad­vice holds true when it comes to dec­o­rat­ing, too. Just as it makes no sense to use a Santa Fe theme in a liv­ing room set amid the lush green­ery of Van­cou­ver, parachut­ing our Prairie pal­ette into a Costa Ri­can condo doesn’t com­pute.

Take Sarah Richardson’s sec­ond home, for ex­am­ple. The Toronto-based de­signer and TV host re­cently ren­o­vated the two-bed­room cot­tage she shares with her hus­band and two young chil­dren. Rather than trans­port­ing the es­thetic of her city home to her is­land get­away, Richardson looked through the cot­tage win­dows and found in­spi­ra­tion in the shim­mer­ing wa­ter, the tac­tile bark of the birch trees and even the grey-green lichen cov­er­ing the rocks at the wa­ter’s edge.

“I think about want­ing it to feel cool and wa­tery and re­fresh­ing. I want it to be crisp, so I wasn’t look­ing to use any heavy tex­tures. My idea of cosy in sum­mer is flop­ping onto a lux­u­ri­ously com­fort­able sofa and curl­ing up with an an­tique cot­ton quilt that has been washed a mil­lion times,” Richardson says. (Trans­form­ing that util­i­tar­ian cot­tage into a fam­ily re­treat was doc­u­mented on the HGTV se­ries Sarah’s Cot­tage.)

“I’m happy to have our place in the city. It’s more mod­ern and the pace moves so fast, but when I go to the coun­try, I want to feel like I’ve just ar­rived at some­body’s fam­ily es­tate that has been around for gen­er­a­tions.”

Un­less you and yours are lucky enough to be in pos­ses­sion of a sec­ond res­i­dence that comes fully fur­nished with fam­ily heir­looms, it’s up to you to cre­ate that lived-in feel. Richardson cau­tions that be­fore crack­ing a book of swatches or pick­ing up a deck of paint chips, own­ers should put on their think­ing caps.

“I would ad­vise any­one look­ing at a recre­ation project to con­sider when will you be us­ing it, how will you be us­ing it, what will the weather be like out­side and how you want it to feel in­side.” The goal is to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that is re­flec­tive of “the spirit and the mood of when you will be us­ing it.”

In ad­di­tion to ex­am­in­ing the how of us­ing a recre­ation prop­erty, there is the ques­tion of who.

“I say that you should look at renters and fam­ily much the same way. ... That means se­lect­ing long-last­ing, ver­sa­tile pieces made to with­stand plenty of use.

“When dec­o­rat­ing, it’s no more ex­pen­sive to be prac­ti­cal than it is to be ridicu­lous. Choose pieces of fur­ni­ture that are well-built and well-made. That is a huge part of the rea­son why I go for vin­tage or an­tiques — ta­bles, dressers, side ta­bles, ev­ery­thing — a lot of the time.”

While pe­rus­ing an­tique mar­kets in the coun­try may have more al­lure than trolling thrift stores and sec­ond-hand mar­kets, each will surely yield a trea­sure or two. And bonus points if you can find items that speak to the his­tory and her­itage of the lo­ca­tion of the vacation prop­erty.

Richardson is adamant on the value of tried-and-true pieces made of solid wood. They add more charm, de­sign depth and per­son­al­ity than a fur­ni­ture pack­age se­lected over the course of an af­ter­noon at the lo­cal big-box store, she says.

“Keep in mind pieces that are made of solid wood, which may have de­vel­oped a patina over 100 years, aren’t go­ing to show the age. No­body is go­ing to no­tice the wear and tear on them. It ac­tu­ally helps make it look bet­ter.”

Steer clear of eas­ily marked ve­neers and highly pol­ished sur­faces, she warns, in­clud­ing the espresso fin­ish so pop­u­lar these days.

“One scratch from one renter and the thing is ru­ined for­ever. How­ever, if you spent the same money, you could have got a vin­tage piece and it will look as good in 10 years as it did 40 years ago,” Richardson main­tains.

And when it comes to re­cov­er­ing that up­hol­stered chair you picked up for a song at the garage sale around the corner, se­lect the bar­gain-base­ment-priced fab­ric first, then build the colour and dec­o­rat­ing scheme around it.

“I’m re­ally prac­ti­cal in my se­lec­tion of tex­tiles. I am a cot­ton girl at heart. I like any­thing that is bathing-suit friendly and wash­able, whether that is sum­mer or win­ter. In win­ter, that can be vel­vets that can be thrown into the wash­ing ma­chine and then thrown into the dryer.”

— Postmedia News

Rather than trans­port­ing the es­thetic of her city home to her is­land get­away, Sarah Richardson looked through the cot­tage win­dows and found in­spi­ra­tion in the shim­mer­ing wa­ter, the tac­tile bark of the birch trees and even the grey-green lichen cov­er­ing the rocks at the wa­ter’s edge.

Richardson is adamant on the value of tried-and-true pieces made of solid wood. They add more charm, de­sign depth and per­son­al­ity than a fur­ni­ture pack­age se

lected over the course of an af­ter­noon at the lo­cal big-box store, she says.

Sarah Richardson is the host of De­sign Inc. on HGTV. The Toronto-based de­signer re­cently ren­o­vated the two-bed­room cot­tage she shares with her hus­band and two

young chil­dren.

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