categories | articles | write a review | design your space
log in | sign up ARE YOU A HOME PRO?

Room Swapping

Like many Canadian families, the brood living here felt pushed for space in rooms that were disproportionately out of scale with their lifestyle needs. Downstairs, living quarters were tiny. Wandering upstairs, however, we discovered a large ‘spare’ bedroom (crammed with the possessions of a daughter who’d long since flown the coup) that we figured could easily transform into much needed living space for the entire family. An ‘upstairs downstairs’ no brainer, huh?

To prove a point, we performed a spot of Colin and Justin designer mathematics. Being that our clients’ modest suburban home was worth around $600,000, and measured 1,400 square feet, the cost per square foot was approximately $430. Calculating this bedroom as 170 square feet, we multiplied size by cost per square foot to apportion a value, in wasted space terms, of $73,100. Blimey – all of a sudden we’re not just designers, we’re domestic statisticians. Hey, we kinda like that new moniker. We should elevate our day rate accordingly.

Our next task, home calculations aside, was to hire a dumpster into which everything (that couldn’t be donated to Habitat for Humanity or the Salvation Army) was poured. Into its greedy bowels went broken drawer sets, old paperwork and moth-eaten sweaters that had lain, unloved, for the past decade.

While the dumpster overflowed, so too did ambition. Our chaps hoped for a space that would scream ‘jungle’ (to remind them of their world travels, apparently) with enough animal print to rival the local zoo. Oh dear. As interior diviners (not just interior designers) our remit is to translate mixed-up signals into coherent designer logic. What they really hoped for, we divined, was a somewhat Colonial feel. A low-key palette to visually warm their space with comfy furniture in neutral tones. Our paymasters in agreement, we set to work.














As designers whose TV shows broadcast around the globe, we’ve spent years, and a million and one column inches, debating whether wallpaper has or hasn’t gone away. Sure, wallpaper has been challenged by paint effects, battled by stencils and given a run for its money by reclaimed wood, but it remains a popular choice for those who like pattern or texture. Our sample books perpetually updated, we knew precisely where to look. Sourced from the Wallpaper Company our textural ‘grass’ choice provides the perfect jumping off point for an entirely new look.


The primary function of this lumber strip detail (basic trim from Home Depot) is to add an extra schematic layer. We reckon this stuff conjures up the look of travel chests from a bygone era. Stained rich, these straps are also a perfect quick fix trick to conceal seams that are in any way less than perfectly joined.


Having revealed unattractive chipboard panels, we had a couple of options: lay a new timber floor or specify carpet. Our clients and we settled on the latter: a biscuit-toned berber. Soft underfoot, it’ll last for years due to a man-made/wool mix that renders it almost indestructible with regular wear and tear.


Square-lined and lumbar supportive, this simple sofa actually hides a secret: it’s also a bed. Should additional overnight accommodation be required further down the line, the bespoke design provides flexibility. Try a custom manufacturer such as These guys have served our needs for years and never disappoint. Surprisingly, custom math’s often challenge price points proffered by standard retailers. So measure up, measure costs and measure your pleasure as you park your bum.


To create the illusion of real wood (we even did this on the new moulding) try a DIY store paint and grain kit. But take a tip: practice on paper until you get the hang of the rocker technique used to echo Mother Nature’s finest work. You’ll probably find it tricky to start with, but after a while your skills set will rocket. Give it a go!


Sometimes a painted accent wall will ‘pop’ one of our schemes. Other times we’ll use a dramatic piece of art or a strident floor rug. On this occasion we used decorative striped chairs from to add an unexpected twist, and their arrival creates immediate impact in terms of modern shape and colour.

All things considered, this week’s reno is proof perfect that sometimes, just sometimes, everything you need, spatially, is already under your nose. It just takes a little room reshuffling… to make your lifestyle match your homestyle. It really is that simple!

About the Author: Colin and Justin are interior designers, style commentators, Hollywood celebrity interviewers and lifestyle gurus.

Array ( [0] => 5 )