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Be Green

Redecorate... on a shoestring!

Can you imagine this vanity sitting forlornly in a landfill somewhere instead of being in D&D's B&B. The "D" we're talking about is Dorothy Kryworuchko. She's a CBC viewer who wrote to me with stories of her adventures saving lovely vintage furniture from the trash pile.

Dorothy's story:
When Dorothy and her husband, David bought their charming B&B in St Henri, the had to gut the building. They spent so much on renovations that they literally didn't have any money to furnish the place. Can you imagine? Several bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, etc and nothing to put it them! So Dorothy, who's always been a crafty sort of lady, decided that she didn't need the big bucks. All she needed was some time, creativity and a good eye.


Among the many treasures at D&D's is the Mother-in-Law Door
Do you know about this tradition? You can read more about it here. It's ideas like these that make her space so incredibly charming. I swear, I wanted to take off my boots and curl up with a book and never leave! Too many of us kill ourselves to make the money to buy matching everything. One look at Dorothy's B&B and you'll be off new furniture for life. The fact that NOTHING matches lends the rooms extra charm. So here are some of her secrets:

* Use fabric to pull the room together: If you watch the video, you'll notice that while none of the furniture items match, it all looks like on big happy family. A few matching pieces of fabric (or even mismatches in co-ordinated colours go a long way in achieving this effect)

* Use your imagination:
The mother-in-law door is case in point. Who says a door has to separate two rooms or lead to anywhere? Dorothy has converted crystal decanters into lights, doors into wall-hangings; she's replaced window panes with artwork. Try to think like a child. Bend the rules. Paint a purple cat, if you know what I mean.
* Use your hands: I don't just mean in terms of craftiness. Dorothy literally goes by feel. While scouting for furniture to save, she'll pick up each piece and move it about. Broken legs or laminate are OUT! But if something's a little loose, a little creaky or just in need of a sandjob and a good coat of paint, it ends up finding a new life chez Dorothy (or one of her clients).
* Get a sander: Dorothy recommends using both hands and intuition when deciding how much sanding is enough. She recommends using an electric sander for the big, rough stuff and then sponge or paper sanders for the fine details. Dorothy also sands between coats of paint or varnish!
Take the time: Finding treasures in other people's idea of trash is time consuming. It takes patience and skill. But it's totally worth it.

Why Dorothy does it
Dorothy sees her mother getting old. She sees the lines on her own face and she thinks... there's so much love and life left to give. She sees furniture the same way. So much old furniture is essentially solid. With a little "makeup" and some TLC, most will outlive their cheaper, synthethic modern counterparts.

* Electric sander and various grades of sand paper
* Good paint brushes (she uses synthetic bristles--just get various sizes)
* Good primer
* Good paint (Sadly, Dorothy says she's not a big fan of recycled paint. She says it doesn't stick as well... what do you think? Have you used recycled paint and loved it or do you agree with Dorothy?) Her favourite brand for custom paint is Ralph Lauren. She also recommends water based paint. It makes cleaning easier and more eco-friendly.

Do you have stories of furniture that you've rescued? Better yet, do you have pictures? Send them to me at geeta.nadkarni@cbc.ca
And of course, you can always call our Talkback Line and tell me what you think: (514) 597-5626

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Comments (2)

Yana Gorbulsky


Geeta, this was sooo interesting to watch, thank you! This B&B is on the corner of my street...I've always wondered what the inside looked like!

Posted April 1, 2009 05:40 PM

Pam Kelahear


Other than the sidwewalk and Salvation Army, where in the Montreal area can people find good, sturdy old pieces to work on?

Thanks - very interesting!

Geeta says: You might want to try estate sales (The Gazette and your local free newspaper will have details) as well as flea markets. Also, I've found some wonderful pieces on craigslist.com and kijiji.com
Good luck! And thanks for writing.

Posted June 11, 2009 10:24 AM

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