Building & Renovating: A love Story Full of Demolition

Vancouver interior designer Chrissy Cottrell

Down the rabbit hole of exploration, a little over a year and a half ago I decide to go on a grand adventure.

I decide to renovate my life and up the wow factor in how I was living. I decided to make some big changes and it's amazing to see where my journey has taken me.

I've been in the design industry for over 10 years now and believe me when I say I truly know the power that comes with tearing down the old to create something new.

I know what potential a space has and how much investment it warrants. Let's be honest here, not all homes merit the same TLC. Some just don't have what it takes to justify at $50,000+ chandelier. Not to say that they don't have a charm of their own but my job as an interior designer is to know when a $3,000 chandelier will do just fine and when it's simply not enough. My job is to decide if a luxurious Italian velvet tufted sofa is the way to go or if a classic cotton simple silhouette is best. When it comes to designing homes and creating beautifully transformational spaces, I rock that shit like no ones business but when it comes to love, I've always been a bit of a klutz. Yes, I just said shit because frankly, nothing else sufficed and I appreciate keeping it real and I hope you do to. If there's one thing I learned over my journey of renewal it's that you have to do what resonates with you.

Keeping it real is a value I've always held dear.

Honesty is the foundation of any relationship and when I found out my marriage was not what I thought it was, it broke my heart. Sadly I spent more time in a dim state for longer than I would like to admit. Trying to make something beautiful out of bad bones with a heart half empty but full of disappointment. I like to equate my previous marriage to that of purchasing an antique home. I fell in love with the initial charm of it all and it wasn't until the pipes started leaking and the foundation started sinking that I realized that I poured too much equity into a house built on sand.

Sometimes it takes the melancholy of mediocrity and sadness to really set in before you find enough contempt to make a change. It's easy to get comfortable in a bad space especially when you feel like you've already invested so much. Sometimes we forget that our home is our heart and the simple truth is, if you're not happy, something needs to change. 

When it comes to building or renovating, I know how to navigate those waters like a pro and I pride myself on my balanced approach of equitable and beautiful design. I know exactly how to put my ducks in a row to get the most out a home but in love, I've often felt like a fledgling always struggling to learn how to fly.  Luckily for me however, the journey I've embarked upon to find that happiness I was searching for has taught me so much.

I've learned that the best blueprints to build a beautiful life are those that are drawn from the desires of your heart. 

All to often we can get stuck thinking that we have to adhere to the structure that we are given; working tirelessly trying to make the most out of 'it' and all the while we begin to loose our passion and vision trying to complete a set of plans that don't work for us.

I see this in construction all the time where clients  come to me late in the game after they are given a mediocre set of plans and it's not until the roof is on that they realize the layout of their home doesn't work as well as they had hope. I see it in peoples careers where it's not until they've completed their PHD that they wish they would have taken a different path. Then of course there are the relationships where you feel like you're trudging along trying to build a life you love but weary from the constant struggle of trying to hold all the broken pieces together pretending the they will one day be whole.

It's not until I let the pieces fall apart that I realized how whole I was without them.

Here's the thing about building a life and a home that will truly inspire you. It all starts with taking a really good look at yourself and the desires of your heart. It's about getting real about what you can live with and what just can't live without. Building a home and building a marriage both require a sturdy foundation of trust, respect and inspiration. To build something truly beautiful we must be willing to put in the work where we can to make improvements and likewise, we have to know when to let go of what is obstructing the beautiful vision you have for your life. 

It's amazing how much light can come into a space when you're willing to bring out the sledge hammer and tear down walls that don't sever you and I'm not just talking about drywall. 

It's an inconvenient truth that you have to put in some serious resources to have something worthy of excellence.

It takes knowing that you deserve nothing less. It takes the grace and love to get yourself through one heck of a mess in order to achieve the life and home you want. Building and renovating are messy but it can be beautiful journey if learn to let go of what doesn't sever you and you're willing to build a bigger vision. 

We aren't powerless. Wether is a marriage, a career or a home that feels too dim, try and find a way to bring some more light into your life. If the structure can't handle what your heart truly desires, realized that lip stick and paint can't fix everything and you may have to go for the sledge hammer.

Yes, renovations are messy and building a new can feel daunting but having come out of both a huge renovation and build of my own, I can only say how incredibly invigorating it is to create something beautiful that you can truly be proud of.

For me it's having an incredible shop and team that I adore and having a more grounded sense of self. I found a greater sense of joy in my life by having the courage to follow my heart and I found a deeper sense of gratitude.

My career has reached greater heights, I couldn't be more proud of my shop. Having just received a huge shipment of stunning Parisian gilded mirrors,  it's feeling like everything is coming full circle as that's how my whole shop started. I had a disastrous trip to Paris with my X and ended up Antique hunting in the midst of a storm and brought a small container of guided pieces back to Vancouver.

I always dreamt that I would to one day have my own design studio, line of furniture, art gallery and team of my own.  I'm giddy sometimes when I'm all by myself in my store and I see how far I have come without any help. 

That's right, don't think that I walked away from a broken marriage with a financial silver lining, it was quite the contrary but we don't need to get into those gritty details. All I can say is post nuptial agreements (don't forget to get an ILA, yes they're a thing) are important when you have big dreams and your partner doesn't. 

My love life has been completely transformed. I'm not saying life is perfect, far from it really but the older I get the more I see how overrated it is to be a perfectionist (except when it comes to design of course). I had a whirlwind romance last summer that made me realize that I wasn't broken and I've recently been deep diving into a relationship that has taught me that I've had a lot of walls of my own to tear down. One of which was building walls. I guess when you've had your heart broken a few times, trust issues are inevitable. I'm also learning to communicate my desires and needs more clearly and to set boundaries. 

I'm learning a lot but most of all I'm learning how to let more light in and I'm learning that as long as you don't get so attached to a structure and you can allow your heart to build a new vision, life can be pretty beautiful.

Like I say to my clients, the biggest element to living beautifully is to live authentically.

Find what inspires you, hold on tight to what brings you joy and be willing to have a design adventure set to seduce your senses and inspire your soul. It's about creating a spirit of collaboration not compromise. If you're in a project where compromise is the foundation that you choose to build upon, it will only lead to dissatisfaction. 

Just like you don't have to live in a grey on grey home, you don't have to live in a grey on grey marriage. 

Listen to the desires of your heart and be willing to tear down the old when it no longer serves you. When you can, mend the broken pieces together but don't make holding them all together your story. You have too many beautiful chapters to write to have your hands full of shattered pieces.

Let go, let love in and live boldly and when your feeling lost, remember that your heart alone will always be your home, take good care of it.

A year a half later, my heart is full and I can wait to see where this continual journey of following my heart will take me.