Well, it’s taken nearly 35 years; but I think I’m finally ready to laugh about my interior design days.
The handwriting was on the wall right from the start: I wanted to take engineering, but my mom suggested interior design instead, “So that when you get married you can make a nice home for your husband and family”.
So this country-bumpkin kid moved to the Big City (Winnipeg, Manitoba – a veritable mecca of highbrow sophistication) and attempted to obtain a degree in interior design.
It didn’t go well.
Let’s just say I was at a bit of a disadvantage, since I’d never even heard of Architectural Digest (or any design magazine) and I’d never been inside any professionally designed home or office. Far from it:
Our house on the farm started out as a 16’ x 20’ shed that my dad bought for $450 in 1957. He and Mom gradually enlarged it into a comfortable and modern home, but they didn’t have a lot of budget for extras (like indoor plumbing, which we got around 1970). The “interior design features” consisted of sparkles in the sprayed-on ceiling texture and a long strip of finished plywood that concealed the fluorescent lighting tubes in the living room. (That lighting valance was the pinnacle of discerning taste. We always referred to it in capital letters: “The Valance”.)
Imagine, if you will, our first interior design assignment at the University of Manitoba: “Design your dream bathroom”.
For me, a “dream bathroom” was any bathroom with a flush toilet. A “fantasy bathroom” would be one in which the shower pressure stayed constant instead of diminishing to a trickle before blasting out with enough force to peel the skin off your body when the pressure pump kicked in.
So I picked out some nice brown tile that looked as though it wouldn’t cost too much, and drew up a bathroom with… *gasp* an infrared heat lamp in the ceiling! It was the most decadent thing I could imagine. And my bathroom had a separate shower stall in addition to a standard 30” x 60” bathtub. What luxury! The brown tile seemed like a practical choice, so I used it on the floor, ceiling, and all the walls. My coloured drawing elevations looked like giant chocolate bars (or some other brown substance).
The interior design department had a sadistic tradition of displaying all the finished projects on the studio walls so we could learn from each other’s work. In addition, particularly good and/or bad projects were held up by the professor for discussion at the front of the class.
My bathroom didn’t make the ‘particularly bad’ list (though I did make the shit list on a couple of other occasions, to be confessed in future posts).
But the ‘particularly good’ bathroom that was held up as an example? Mind = blown!
It had acres of creamy tile accented with green and purple, and a giant sunken tub surrounded by pillars. There was probably a toilet in there, too, but I don’t remember it. I was too stunned by the grandeur of the tub. I couldn’t conceive of such an extravagance of money and space.
I think I got a ‘C’ on that project, which I’m pretty sure was given out of pity. But there was much worse to come…
…Stay tuned for Fail! Part Deux (or is that ‘Duh’?)