Country crivens - we're on the turn. As previously committed city boys we're finding ourselves lured by all things rural. And you'll see our eminently simpler ways when 'Colin and Justin's Cabin Pressure' launches in just twelve short weeks on Cottage Life TV - we'll post all the deets presently. In the meantime, we're finding ourselves suddenly seduced by natural elements possessed of a crafty persuasion, by handmade artisan kit and by the notion of all things traditional. Hey, we recall a pottery lesson outside Guelph where, against an alternating soundtrack of Ghost and Anne Murray, we excitedly threw clay clods at a pottery wheel while endeavouring to create a tall-necked vase.
Okay, so our finished item was more baggy wizard's sleeve than cool homespun accessory ... but at least we tried. To get into the spirit, that is, of all things Canadian.
And so it came to pass that, with repeated exposure to needlework, petit point and hand carving, we're currently spiralling out of control. Show us a feather-clad dream catcher and we'll bag it to hang centre stage in our condo.
Hey, on a drive back from Muskoka, we were seduced by the visual charms of the Inukshuk and their cute, safe passage pointing arms. Which goes part of the way to explaining why, in a craft store halfway home to Toronto, we emptied our wallets to dress our downtown office with an Inuit concoction of rocks and driftwood. Gorgeous. To the power of ten.
Yup – we're becoming very outdoorsy. We're currently listening to folk music like it was the only music on earth.
Suitably inspired, we've just updated a load of budget kit to help one pal update her Lake Simcoe cottage. Our girl watched in wonder as we fastened nuggets of tree bark to dollar store ceramic vases and trimmed her basic kitchen blind with a row of horn-rimmed buttons sequenced neatly at the bottom edge.
So where will it stop? Will we go overboard? In a word, no. Restraint will remain our modus operandi. We'll steer clear of lamp bases fashioned from discarded hockey sticks and we'll stop short of hanging taxidermy loons over client fireplaces.
However, where there's an opportunity to tastefully titillate, we'll grab it by both horns. Horns which we'll hollow out, attach to mini wooden plinths and turn into delicate, elegant vases. Yup, we love a spot of reinvention.
But where can you get your hands on the best country inspired home kit? And will you have to spend a fortune? Panic not – as a great starting point, try the aisles of HomeSense. A recent personal haul included candlesticks built from pebbles plucked, by the look of them, from the shores of Lake Ontario; they're . fabulous and topped with cute feathered shades. We've positioned them on a naïve console, either side of a rustic drift wood mirror, both of which were unearthed in the same store for an incredible $125 and $90 respectively. Undeniably great prices for super decorating pieces.
For further inspiration, pop into Roots. No longer simply home to Canadian sartorial fashion, this retail gem also stock a boutique collection of homewards such as cushions and blankets, all of which proffer more than a dollop of North American buzz. And take it from us; don't let inspiration stop at what they actually sell. Roots shop fittings are atmospheric to the max, and the way in which the store teams "merchandise" is simply divine. Walking through larger stores is like taking a stroll through a back-to-basics farmyard. You'll find milk crates as stools, canoe sections as shelving and enough retro paraphernalia to make designers levitate with excitement.
To create a simple backdrop for your new look Canadiana home, try tongue and groove panelling to half height, dressed above with a simple ogee edged shelf. Paint timberwork antique grey (and walls above softest cream) to elicit true rural ambience. This done, go wild with mismatched wall hung plates and, before you know it, find yourself immersed in old world charm brought bang up to date.
For next step "layering," add basketry and wicker and prepare to move away from glossy finishes in favour of rougher hewn textiles and naïve ceramics. One of our favourite makers is Gypsy Potter who works out of Sudbury. She is, as far as we're concerned, one of Canada's brightest home accessory artisan starts.
Talking of next step layering, let's move onto upholstery. Bag yourself a chunky leather sofa in dark toffee or midtone chocolate. If you can find saddle-stitched options, then all the better, but don't worry about being too literal; good 'country' comes via auspicious dressing such as patchwork arm cuffs, home-knitted throws and homespun chunky pillows.
If you don't fancy brandishing your own jumbo needles, dash down to Sears and be inspired by a touchy freely selection of textural lovelies from around $25 a pop.
And, with sale time already here, there are some wicked deals to be had. Most Sundays you'll find us running amok in Bay Clearance – an outlet guaranteed to send us into cash-saving ecstasy – as we go wild in the "bargain bin'' aisles. For optimum deals be prepared to visit on a recurring basis.
For flooring with more than a whiff of country, search out solid timber or engineered boards. For big buy items such as flooring, it's much better to invest once in quality material rather than grab a budget buy that won't last the pace. Also a great scene setter for country styling is any type of jute, coir or natural weave flooring that'll add hard wearing detail to your scheme. Carpet One have the best deals - call 'em up or visit one of the company's well priced stores.
As far as rural chic case goods are concerned (chests, drawers and tables etc.) we recommend consignment stores, charity outlets and antique shops for high standard dovetailed carpentry. Frontier Furnishings in Toronto are hard to beat - yup, there are some awesome deals to be had.
Our own condo currently boasts the cutest wee dovetailed farm bench – we use it as a display shelf – and its $90 price tag provides so much more in perceived value. Bagged in St Lawrence Market it has pride of place at the end of our sofa.
And finally – lighting. This aspect will provide the perfect finishing detail to showcase that impulse buy painting of Canadian geese in flight. We absolutely love Sam The Chandelier Man, a hiddenToronto gem which overflows with hundreds of quaint wooden lamps and a plethora of objets trouve. If you'd prefer to shop online (with cross-Canada delivery) then visit CDN Antler for faux (but very realistic) antler lumieres which look like they've just fallen from the proudest stag.