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Beyond just being me, I am a wife, mother and entrepreneur constantly on the hunt for new ideas on how to live my best life. Visit me at www.clementsinteriors.com.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Home Office: A Cultural Norm.

Long ago, in a not so far away place, I pondered whether or not to allocate a small space at the bottom of the basement stairs in our first semi-detached home for a pseudo “home office”.  At the time the concept of needing a specific place in your home dedicated solely to office work was relatively uncommon.  Unless you were a lawyer or a doctor with a home based practice, the concept of working regularly from the place you lived was largely an idea that people only spoke of.
At the time I was overwhelmed at the thought of trying to work full-time while raising in any sort of reasonable fashion, a challenging baby.  Email had just been introduced in our office, the internet was a new resource we were to consider and I had just received my first laptop at work, though it still required a docking station.  Enjoying the relative freedom my new computer allowed me, I went to my boss to plead my case in favour of working from home.  After being laughed out of his office, it occurred to me that the mere notion of not appearing in the office on a daily basis was perhaps too much for him to bear.  How would he get in touch with me?  How could he know for certain I was working?
Zoom ahead 15 or so years and at least that many wrinkles and you’ll find an office is not only common in homes, but that full blown businesses like my own are often run from the house. 
It’s interesting to me that most average homes built prior to the mid 80’s do not have a space allocated ANYWHERE for an office.  There’s the front hallway, the living room, the laundry room, the kitchen and 2 or 3 bedrooms.  Perhaps home builders prior to this time did not even consider the nature of one’s home to be such that it needed to accommodate for office work.  It might be difficult for some to imagine or remember, but there was a time when everything moved slower and working from home was all but unheard of.  Stores were closed on Sundays, people cooked BBQ over charcoal and work stayed in the office, which wasn’t in your home.  The term “don’t bring your work home with you” was an important value to which people held firm.
Post 1980’s home builders typically added some form of a home office in a centrally located space on the main floor, perhaps signifying a growing importance of the role of work in our lives.  Those who owned older homes looked to re-purpose a spare bedroom or a room in the basement solely for office use.  Over the years I have designed some sort of built-in to hold full libraries, filing systems, computer networks and book collections in almost every private home I have worked in.  The office migrated and took up permanent residence in our homes.   
Now well into the 21st century, the notion of not bringing your work home is a concept all but forgotten.  In fact, people bring their work home, on vacation and sometimes even to bed.  But as technology pushes us to work faster, leaner and smarter it’s been my experience that those who work from home are shedding off the confines of their home office and with the great strides of technology, are requiring less space not more. 
In fact, the kitchen office which has space enough for a laptop, a few hanging files and some storage for family paperwork is an idea whose time has likely come.  Work has drifted once again and is now out of the home office and taking root in the heart of our houses.  A centrally located work space allows for any family member to work while keeping the family computer(s) in a safe and easy to monitor common area in the home.
The nature of the home office spurred by changes in communication has seemingly undergone a cyclical metamorphosis.  Home designs while still fundamentally family-centred have been influenced by technology by allowing work to become more pervasive in our lives than ever before. 
I have to admit that when I close my eyes and picture the house of my dreams, the office is nowhere in my view; it’s not in the kitchen nor even a separate room.  But since work is still as important as ever, it might as well be somewhere it’s convenient for me to keep a watchful eye on it while I tend to our family’s busy life.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Get Creative with Pegboard!

Peg Board. Who knew?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Rush Job

It’s no surprise that we lead increasingly face paced lives. What I strive to do as a designer is to make it look like life hasn’t won the race over my clients. I relish the projects where there has been as much allocated to the ‘time budget’ as there has been to the ‘financial budget’. The renovations that really impact me do so because they are aesthetically pleasing and because they have evolved gradually over time, including thoughtful details of a life lived.

Several times in my career, I have been hired by someone who's in a rush to get a project started and completed. Getting the answer “Yesterday” when I ask about project timing is always a concern. I don't know of a tradesperson or contractor who hasn't experienced a client with an unreasonably short deadline. What I know for sure is that regardless of the investment, a rush job can in the end look just that, rushed.

When planning your next design project consider this stress-saving information:

1. Understanding the time factor can make the difference between a satisfying renovation experience and a miserable one. Done properly, a renovation should move at a reasonable pace. It should not be done hastily nor drag along endlessly. Your contractor should keep you apprised of his schedule.

2. Have an appreciation for the fact that it takes a GREAT deal of time for your contractor to pull pricing together. Unfortunately, the larger the job, the longer getting pricing can take. Good contractors and trades spend their days working on sites and often only have evenings in which to pull pricing together and see new clients. Requesting information from many different sources/trades and getting everyone to respond with quotes can be an arduous task. Be assured that during peak construction times it will take longer than you anticipate.

3. For major renovations, consider creating your design plan and budgets one year for implementation the next. Be on guard and ask for references from the trade who's available to start your renovation tomorrow.

4. As in life, Murphy's Law can apply to renovation work, so if you anticipate that there will be interruptions in the work, you won’t be shocked when they happen. Whether due to back-ordered products or trades delayed on other sites, delays do happen. Think about building a buffer into your deadline to allow for any extra time required to complete your project.

5. Like many of us, trades and their families take vacations. Often they've planned their time off the year before and can't change their schedules.

6. It might sound elementary, but ensure those working at your home have access to a washroom. If they have to go to the local coffee shop to use one, things are going to take longer than they should.

7. Renovating is a process. If one part of the process is delayed then a number of other elements of the project can be delayed. Letting the process run its course can make the difference between a quality job and a poor one.

8. Count on these timelines when ordering products: Natural stone counters will take 2 weeks from the date of template. Custom cabinetry generally requires 6 to 12 weeks depending on the manufacturer. Special order light fixtures require 4 weeks. Custom windows can take 6 to 8 weeks. Custom furnishings take 6 to12 weeks.

Look to your reliable contractor or designer to help you keep your project on track and help make your renovation project a satisfying one!

Cheers!  Janice

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Design Magazine Hell

I love design magazine's, really I do.  That said, I get frustrated with the propensity to show homes that are for the most of us, not real.  When reading these magazines, know that they, like fashion magazines show ideas and homes that don't necessarily reflect reality nor do they reflect the way people live today.  Like trying to fit into a size two dress shown on the model in the fashion mags, owning a home with towering 11 foot ceilings and room to spare for libraries and book ladders, is just not what the average Joe or Jane lives in.
Unfortunately they will never show the real deal.  The mess that needs cleaning up after Sunday dinner, the hairs on those nice white bathroom floors or the dust bunnies that collect on the beautifully polished dark walnut hardwood. 
This article by John Hill gives some wonderfully creative ideas on ceiling solutions.  I have only a handful of clients for whom these strategies will work and even fewer clients who own homes like these.  I can't help looking at the images and thinking, "where's all their stuff?!"  Picture perfect for sure, but functional and budget friendly?  Not so much.  Doesn't hurt to enjoy the view though!



Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Prepare for the future! Your TV and you.

Interesting article.  Hard to believe we've come so far.

Cheers!http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2242148/list?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u94&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery0  Janice

Monday, April 30, 2012

Hospice Care

A recent story about a cause dear to my sister-in-laws mom.  She's a trooper trying to get some important needs met.  Check out the link to the Globe article.



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Budget-friendly Design!

Amazing work proving once and for all that budget does not always drive good design.  Check out the link and be amazed!

Cheers!  Janice