One of the best things about working in interior design is getting paid to shop and you do it with someone else's money! Sometimes the client doesn't really enjoy the retail experience. I work very hard at covering up my amazement when they say this. Usually, though, they are more interested in tapping into our expertise. We are always out there sourcing new product, developing volume discounts and establishing accounts with trade only wholesalers.
We know the questions to ask about furniture construction, fabric wearability, installation regulations, uv durability, warranties and so on. Your decorator is there to save you from costly mistakes on investment items, such as sofas, appliances, flooring and window coverings.
In the shopping section of this blog, I'll pass along that knowledge and take you on tours of our favourite haunts. We usually shop in southern Ontario but you can find similar outlets in any city. It just takes a little digging to find them.
Some of the stores we regularly check out are lovely little boutiques that carry handmade and unique items. Others are vast warehouses, flea markets, antique stores, discount retailers and consignment stores. The boutiques, retail oriented kitchen and bath stores and furniture stores are easy shopping! All the rest take practice, know how and a willingness to get dirty on occasion. They take some imagination, some digging around and an ability to see what something can be.
It's a good idea to take a stroll through high end stores. Top notch designers have put together the show room looks. Once you've absorbed all their ideas, go looking for a better deal or something that can be altered to look the same.
The first place you have to hit, and my idea of a good time, is the Ottawa Street Fabric district in Hamilton. The area developed in the 1920's as outlets for local textile mills. It's had ups and downs over the decades but now is revitalized and worth taking a day trip. This is Canada's largest textile district and there are over a dozen fabric stores; some of them huge! There are plenty of consignment and antique stores and good restaurants. On Saturdays there is a farmer's market. And, it's the home of the first Tim Horton's!
My favourite store on the street is Ottawa Textiles.
Mmmm - miles of bolts of fabrics ~
Oooooo - fabulous drapery hardware ~
Awww - tassels and trims ~
Best of all - the sale section upstairs ~
Fabrics that upholsterers or seamstresses charge $80 - $200 a yard for can be found for under $25. The service is excellent in this family run business and the staff is always happy to help you with advice on yardage amounts and what type of fabric will wear best for your application. They even cut you a small sample if you need to take it home to try out!
If you are redecorating any time soon, you can't afford not to make the trip to Ottawa Street!