Wednesday, July 18, 2012 4:16 PM EDT
I married a vacation addict. Fair enough: they say opposites attract. Mind you, I love the idea of vacations. But the packing, getting to the airport — this redhead does not do car trips — having a drama-free experience at said airport (not always the case for same said redhead) and arriving with one’s luggage fully intact (we’re talking 50-50 odds based on our travel experiences over the last five years)… All of the above qualifies as “easier said than done,” and often requires intervals of vodka or gin, dispersed throughout.
I am totally in favour of taking the money that we might spend on a vacation and investing it in our home, to make it more of a sanctuary. The problem comes down to one simple fact: I can’t finish anything in my house without the deadline of a photoshoot or television shoot. I mean, let’s call a spade a spade: my sofa/ bed/ the internet? Too distracting. (Related: I suffer from Dead Cow Syndrome. What is that, you ask? Simply put, there could be a dead cow lying in my doorway but if I want to lie down, surf the web or send just one more email, I’ll step over Bessie without blinking an eye and leave her there to fester. I’m certain my mother is beaming with pride at this admission right now. I mean, that is, if she actually read any of my blogs. Ahem.)
I’m going to assume that there are more people out there like me who can’t really take on a project in the space of time one would typically spend vacationing, and finish it. Which means: we need to go with larger but less-demanding projects that will create a sanctuary over time but still have impact in the short term. Here are 6 fab suggestions for your “Staycation sanctuary.”
Invest in real art for your home
Sorry folks, but prints from IKEA or Home Sense don’t count. I'm talking signed, numbered, original art for your home. If you aren’t away creating memories, then at least look at purchasing something to display in your home that speaks to you, causes you to emote something or inspires you. Countless art shows and festivals run in the summer months, and can introduce you to artists new and established. Deals can often be had at these events, because they are selling directly to you vs. through a profit-cutting gallery. You can also commission pieces more suited to your personal taste. I once attended a show at City Hall in Toronto with a client who fell in love with an artist only to find that all of her pieces were sold. We arranged a commission, which we were able to customize (a blue ribbon on the dress instead of a red ribbon, like the artwork display). This same client also found an oversized photograph of a donkey. I only wish I’d kept the name of the photographer, because I have not seen him since! Drat! The lesson: Pounce on art opportunities when they are right in front of you, as you will seldom get a second chance that is exactly the same.
"Chester"; image via The Chalford Donkey Project.
If you can’t travel to art shows, allow me to introduce you to a few of my favourite Canadian artists who are up-and-coming. Invest in them now, and sit back and wait for them to hit it big time.
Zoë Pawlak, "Winter in the Bay"
I may need to own this piece, though I have the perfect project for it.
Andrea Stajan Ferkul, “Puttin’ on the Ritz”
I’ve got a little postcard of this picture in my office. It is the perfect addition for a dressing room, non?
Janis Nicolay, “Picnic at Salton Sea” (pictured, top of post); I’m already discussing a custom size of one of Janice’s photographs, and I think I need to add this one to the quote.
If you don’t quite know what you’re looking for and just want to be wooed/inspired, check out Kathryn Markel Fine Arts. I became acquainted with this site through a mutual friend and took in some of its gorgeous pieces at Brimfield this past spring. I’ve got my eye on a few more right now.
Update your bedroom
Maybe art just isn’t on your agenda. Consider updating your bedroom. Why that room in particular? Because a bedroom is the easiest room to change over in one day.
Invest in new bedding. I frequently work with, and therefore recommend, Toile (pictured below) out of Montreal or Au Lit Fine Linens; their commitment to service and luxuriating in the bedroom is par excellence.
Other quick and easy ways to transform your bedroom are with lamps/lamp shades, fresh flowers (I recommend a little Nosegay), and expensive and decadent candles — to name but a few ideas. In the summer, I love a tasteful mini-fan on the night side table; not quite a tropical breeze, but luxuriant and atmospheric in its own way.
I may or may not hoard bedding. Photo by Meredith Heron.
Get floored by music
In the mood for a splurge? Clients of ours recently decided to spend the extra money during their renovation to add surround-sound to the ground floor of their house. The system is controlled entirely from their iPad and they are over the moon about what a change this has brought to how they enjoy their home.
Do something different in your kitchen
Shake up things in the kitchen — and I don’t mean your cupboards. (I mean, cupboards are fine for updating, as are counters, backsplash, lighting or hardware, if you want to spend the time you would normally take for a vacation, but this is a short-term feature.) I’m talking about trying something different — like juicing. Maybe embark on a three-day cleanse, à la Canyon Ranch? Better yet, book a private class with a Vegan Chef. (I can’t believe I just typed those words. Again, if my mother actually read my blogs, she would be on the phone, booking me for a 72-hour stay at the local mental health ward, certain I’ve suffered some sort of acute break.) If you happen to be based in Toronto, Marni Wasserman is a fabulous chef who offers both private and group classes. She’s easily one of the nicest people you will ever meet; I will be working on an amazing new project with her in the near future and can’t wait to share more about that in coming weeks!
Do some serious wining
Order a mixed case of wines from a local vineyard. Thirty Bench Wine Makers, in Niagara, and Sandbanks Estate Winery, in Prince Edward Country, are two of my current favourites. I’ll give a special shout out to Thirty Bench, because their Small Lot Chardonnay makes Chardonnay sexy.
Thirty Bench Small Lot Chardonnay: Vanilla undertones make this wonderful white even more amazing with Indian Spices. Photo by Meredith Heron.
Hire an interior designer
Of course, I’m entirely biased in suggesting that the perfect investment toward making your home a sanctuary is to hire an interior designer or professional decorator to consult on creating a plan that you can move forward with at your own pace. But, honestly, it’s always money well spent. It’s also great to get a vision of your own space through someone else’s eyes.
And if none of the above?
Just start your luxuriating at home with a Hendricks, St.Germain, cucumber and soda, the way I am about to, as of right…now!!
What are your own ideas for using Staycation money to make your house a sanctuary?