Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Zen by design

Every couple of years I have an itch to go back to school. It's been - ahem - some time since I graduated with a Journalism degree, but my quest for knowledge hasn't dampened in the slightest.

Maybe that's why I love the research part of any new novel, or why I scour the pages of magazines like Mental Floss or BBC Knowledge. Amazing the things you can learn.

A few years ago, I turned a love of learning into a part-time hobby. Interior design.

It's a perfect complement to my literary creativity. Not only do I have a better grasp on scene setting, but studying (and practicing) interior design has helped tremendously with my other creative pursuits. I can't draw worth crap (that's my handsome hubby's forte), but I love crafts, and photography, and graphic arts. Give me a glue gun and I'll make you a gorgeous Father Christmas. Put me in Hawaii and I'll capture the island's most spectacular sunsets.

And if you put me in front of a white wall, my mind starts buzzing with ideas. When my stepdaughter decided to spend a year with us, I dragged my hubby along for a redecoration project that began with good intentions but suffered some chaos along the way. Don't try and paint very old stippo ceiling, my friends. Just saying.

After some cursing, and a lot of beer, she ended up with a room complete with giant Tinkerbell images painted onto the wall (projected and then traced, because like I said, I can't draw...). I even found a "goth Tink" to cater to her "darker" side.

This was not my first bedroom renovation, and I can guarantee it won't be my last. Already she's hinted that Tink is a little juvenile for 13 (but Goth Tink can stay) and has suggested glow in the dark might be the way to go. Perfect. I'm up for the challenge.

And frankly, I miss it. I've scored a couple of interior design side jobs in the past few months and it's been great reconnecting with my dusty class notes. I'm too busy to look at it as a full time job - so I've been using those skills with something a little closer to home.

Fish tanks.

We have...a couple of them. Handsome hubby is a bit obsessed with fish, and now that I have...a few...I'm learning to love them almost as much. I cried (don't mock me!) when my larger Oscar (Groucho) welcomed Oskarella into his humble home - and scolded him when he pushed out Mr. Jack Dempsey. My heart blooms when my Angels take food from my hand. And I've fallen asleep more than once watching my shark tank buzz with activity.

But most of all, I've loved building their homes. Creating colour schemes that fit with the room the tank will be housed. Learning about each fish and determining the plant life that will work best, or how many hiding spots I'll need to make sure each has its own safe place. I've learned that the Raphael Striped Catfish doesn't like to come out during the day, but loves his driftwood log for cover. Monty and Vervain (my gorgeous and playful bala sharks) are fast swimmers and prefer not to treat the plant life like obstacle courses, but Pocahontas (a tiny green barb) loves to play in the bubbles of her bubble-blowing dragon, and hides from Cleo, Jet and Jagger (rainbow sharks) in the tall branches of a fake tree.

I don't own a home, but I do enjoy my creature comforts - the large yard for our gorgeous dogs, the garage, an office space to call my own, and a kitchen where I can stumble through learning to cook. I think my fish appreciate comforts as well - and I'm happy to use some of my interior design training to make them as happy as watching them makes me.

PS - No, the tank pictured is not in my home, but if I had unlimited funds, it would be. I suppose that tells you a lot about *my* interior design preferences, huh?

The Book In My Bag Today: Industrial Magic, Kelley Armstrong


  1. :) ! And i love the room , i didn't read it fully i just know i'm in it xp

  2. Nice! I knew you were into fish, but I didn't know you were into interior decorating!

  3. Every fish I've ever owned has died. Usually a slow, painful death. I ended the fish torture years ago. If I venture into it again maybe I'll throw a fish tank design project your way.

  4. Donna - definitely into interior design. Tough market in Edmonton as a career though. I've been lucky to hook up with a few realtors looking for "stagers" - but it's too unpredictable to be stable income.

    Random Thinker - Sadly, I've lost a couple fish and out of all of us in the family, I take it the hardest... I'd be happy to take on any fish design projects, though :-) Thanks for stopping by the blog today.

  5. i admire your gusto!

    i'm much more the sort of person to sit back and admire someone else's handy work, haha!

    and goth tink sounds cool.

  6. Thanks Mi. I'll try and get a decent picture of her - she IS cool.

  7. I agree Goth Tink sounds cool! And I too know better than painting a stippled ceiling, Boy! Was that a lot of work!Used up a ton of paint too!

    I love fish tanks too but they take so much work. We do though have a river system, which is way cool! Not sure if they make those anymore but you can put lizards and fish together in them!

  8. Your river system sounds awesome! And would be ideal for us since my hubby wants fish - lots and lots of fish. And my stepdaughter wants lizards. Indeed, tanks are a lot of work - we have, ahem, five.