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If you can’t buy it, make it

Shopping for the right item to address a specific decorating dilemma can be a challenge. There are times when the item you need is so specific that it can’t be found in the mainstream stores, leaving you without a solution or having to pay top dollar for a custom item.

I’ve had this issue with my kitchen cabinets that has been bugging me for years now. Due to a small renovation project that was done, I was left with a gap between the lower cabinets and the fridge that was about six inches wide. It was a gaping hole that just collected dust bunnies and bread crumbs.

In leafing through a decorating magazine one day I happened upon a viable solution that would, in theory, fill the gap nicely. The space was a good spot to incorporate a wine rack. I don’t particularly need wine storage but it was a good way to fill that empty gap.

So, shopping I did go. First of all there weren’t a lot of items that would fit into that particular space, so I didn’t have any luck there. I wanted something in wood so that I could paint it the same colour as the cabinets. There really wasn’t anything out there so I kept my eyes open for options that could be retrofitted to work. Finally, I happened upon a wall shelving unit that was on clearance at a discount store that I thought could be reconfigured. The basic dimensions of the shelving unit were right for my needs and it was on sale for $9.99! It was black, which was a concern, but I knew with enough coats of cabinet paint it could work.

Because the unit was in pieces I was able to cut each flat shelf to the right width, and used that cut-off piece as a side lip, to keep the wine bottles from rolling off the end. After painting each piece with five coats of cabinet paint I put the unit together and installed it alongside the cabinet. It looks great and certainly finishes off that end of the cabinets. Not bad for a $10 investment.

Area rug project

I had the same frustration when looking for an area rug for the front foyer. The dimensions of the space weren’t standard so I would have had to spend way more money on a custom rug than I wanted to, so decided to make my own. I decided to latch hook a large area rug that would fit my situation, be less expensive and keep my hands out of the chip bowl when watching television.

I needed to buy the specific rug backing needed for latch hooking but found that it was quite expensive and was not non-skid. I happened upon some carpet underlay when visiting a flooring store that I thought would do the trick. It had the necessary open weave for the project, was already non-skid and could be cut to the size I needed.

I needed lots of yarn for this project so I headed to the thrift store as they usually had leftover yarn for a good price. I actually found yarn that was made for latch hooking for a few dollars and was well on my way. I ran out of yarn so just picked up a few more skeins at the thrift store and cut them to the needed lengths, using all sorts of colours and creating the pattern as I went along.

It took a year of on-and-off work for my rug to be completed but I love it. It’s colourful, cosy and unique.

So, although you can’t always find what you need, there are ways around this. Keep your mind open to unusual ideas to solve your specific dilemma. When they work, it’s quite rewarding.

About the author


Connie Oliver is an interior designer from Gimli, Manitoba.

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