It’s no big secret in this area that Fine Line Home Design isn’t the cheapest option when you need a set of permit/construction drawings for a house or an addition. For clients who just need drawings to add a room, a rectangular deck, or a basic house, it’s smart to find someone who can economically generate a simple set of plans to obtain the permit. There’s not a lot of back-and-forth needed between client and drafter with jobs like these, because such straightforward projects don’t typically require a lot of creative problem solving.
My clients typically have some general ideas of what they need but are unsure how to pull all of their thoughts together. They come to me to help them organize their wish lists, I’ll listen to all of their likes and dislikes, I’ll ask them a million questions about how they want to utilize the new space, and I’ll suggest some unique solutions to their needs. Nothing brings me joy quite like the moment when I propose a previously unconceived concept to a client, then see their eyes light up in comprehension as they grin, delighted that I even pulled it out of my brain in the first place. If I get a high five it’s a bonus!
Thinking outside of the box comes second nature to me, not just in my professional life but also personally. My own historic but slightly shabby 1939 brick Colonial has given me many opportunities to let my creativity run amok. Before carpal tunnel syndrome put the kibosh on it, I used to do a lot of stained glass. I’ve recently been dabbling in painting. I dreamed up and created a “camping room” in my house, complete with a cloud lamp that flashes like lightning, and a knotted rope rug that includes a creek and a campfire with “embers”. I’ve dreamed up some unusual themed party ideas in which I let myself go hog wild creating custom trophies.
As I make these things, and even as I just come up with the ideas to make these things, I’m working my creative muscles. The focus and dedication I put into bringing these things to life are also what I bring to the table when I begin imagining YOUR house or addition. This brain here is always at work: pondering your sunroom, or someone else’s in-law suite, or a potential concept for making a huge rug out of braided strips of old bath towels to go in front of my hot tub.
Here are just a few examples of my problem-solving and imagination skills in creating funky personal things, skills which naturally translate into my professional projects too.
Vintage Yardsticks, both decorative and functional
The staircase to my office, when we bought the home, had no balusters. It had only a painted 4x4 newel at the bottom, with two sloped rails and an exposed stringer. To dress it up in a fun, economical, and DIY way, I bought many vintage yardsticks at local antique stores. I kept my eyes peeled for ones that advertised local house-related businesses (plumbers, furniture stores, electricians, etc.). I built a box for the top of the newel post, and carefully cut sticks to cover it and to provide architectural interest. Also I enclosed the stair stringer and dressed it up on a budget with stacked 1x wood trim. Note how precisely I spaced out the natural wood sticks and the painted ones! This is one of the first examples of creativity that clients see when they visit my office.
I also decided to dress up the display ledge running around the perimeter of my office by fastening continuous yardsticks beneath it. They look awesome, plus are a well-used visual aid when I’m sitting here discussing room sizes with clients. For example, I can show them, on my own walls, how large their walk-in closet will be, and they can stand up and move around in the space defined by the yardsticks to see if they feel comfortable with the dimensions.
Repurposing Built-in Ironing Board Cabinet
This being a 1939 brick Colonial, largely original, the kitchen’s built-in ironing board was still in the wall when we bought it. In case you’ve never seen one of these clever inventions, here’s a picture of one from someone else’s house (I can’t find a “before” photo of my own):
Anyway, I don’t do too much ironing and when I do it’s definitely not in my kitchen. But I DO love to cook with a wide variety of spices. And you know how difficult it can be to keep track of where you put the cardamom, and knowing whether or not you’re almost out of fennel. Therefore we converted our ironing board cabinet into spice storage, alphabetically ordered spice storage no less. I put several coats of magnetic paint on the doors so it’s become a good spot to hang notes to ourselves before we head out the back door. I will be painting the inside of it, and probably will add a few more coats of magnetic paint too. (And yes, I’ll also be painting the trim!)
The “Camping Room”
A love of the outdoors and a desire to enjoy that feeling all year long led me to do some unique things with a spare bedroom. I turned it into a spot where I could lounge in the hammock and enjoy a good book while enjoying a beautiful forest, even in snowy January. The floor of this room was in absolutely terrible shape but I didn’t have the money or skills myself to refinish the floor. After finding some rope knot tutorials on Pinterest I got it into my head that I could make a few hundred knots, then glue them onto a backing to make my own version of a very abstract forest floor using the colors of the mural (unfortunately became expensive to find purple rope and I kept running out of yellow, so the design was a function of what I could easily purchase, which was mostly brown rope). I ended up making probably a few thousand knots altogether over the course of about 8 months - and I could have purchased a rug for the cost of the rope! - but it came together in a fun and unexpected way. Plus, the rope rug feels amazing under your feet!
The remote controlled cloud light (which flashes) was made from a paper lantern which I built up using quilt batting and spray adhesive. The local antique shop paid off again when I found two old walking sticks, which I hung from the ceiling with bungee cords so they could used as curtain rods. The curtains are halves of shower curtain. I created my own “colorforms” window leaves with latex paint on clear plastic, which I peeled off when dried and stuck to the glass (they pull off easily enough if I want to change the room at some point). The shelves are salvaged from an old barn. And the plants are overwintering from my back yard, giving the space even more of an outdoor vibe.
I LOVE my little 24/7 slice of the woods, where it never rains and there are no mosquitoes.
These are only a few examples of my creative endeavors — the rest will have to wait for another post. Thanks for sticking with me to the end. Hopefully you enjoyed seeing how I’ve enhanced my own home and office, and feel confident I can bring the same enthusiasm to improving your living space as well.