RE:Style Studio is the answer to that hideous inherited floral loveseat that just refuses to cooperate with a tidy modern decor aesthetic. It's an anti-IKEA. It's a hub of DIY activity and a lifeline for trash-bound treasures. Owner Andrea Ford knows her way around a cordless drill but she won't shy away from glitter either. An interior guru by trade, she aims to spread her how-to skill-set to the design-challenged and not-so-handy masses.
Ford is a girl after my own heart. I've been accused of DIY overkill, crafting my way through any task sometimes for the love of it but mostly because I am either frugal (cheap) or broke, depending on the day. My life is held together with hot glue. Had I come up with the idea to turn it into a business, I might have envisioned something like RE:Style. Ford's space is airy industrial reno, its all-white decor flooded with natural light. The space itself is one big blank canvas, and I am inspired to paint or sew or glue or sand something (anything!). Studio mascot/resident-furball, Massi, is another source of tail-wagging inspiration. I realize that when I return to my windowless "workshop" (a table wedged between an electric piano and a fridge in the corner of my kitchen), my motivation would take a serious hit. We all start somewhere, I guess.
Ford is no stranger to starting from scratch (isn't that really the heart of DIY anyway?). She upgraded from basements, to home studios and finally to a dedicated space just north of Bloorcourt. Prior to RE:Style, Ford lent her design prowess to several magazines, including Chatelaine, while taking on residential interior design clients and teaching courses at Lee Valley.
She's still working with private clients, though, and the space doubles as prop storage and a meeting place. The rest of the time, Ford welcomes DIY enthusiasts to soak in a little inspiration through her workshops and events.
I am a garbage picker. Half of my apartment dĂŠcor was gleaned streetside, refreshed with paint or re-upholstered, and given new life. I am therefore quite enthusiastic about RE:Style's buying trips. Groups pay for van shuttle service and Ford's expertise on antique hunting expeditions (at legit markets, not the garbage-day curb), with the ultimate goal of finding and customizing a fixer-upper. Back in the studio, participants learn skills like refinishing, upholstery, and wielding tools in a group setting. Private sessions are also available.
I visited RE:Style last week, while many of Ford's works-in-progress sit pretty atop a row of sawhorse tables, confirming my assertion that, yes, this is a productive space. One particular piece - an antique wooden settee painted black and upholstered in bold stripes - looked as if it might have a future on a Tim Burton set. Its past, though, was much more interesting. Ford explained that the piece had been rescued from a fire. That's what I love about antiques - they have war-stories - you can't get that from a plywood IKEA table. Knowing how to give new breath to these old pieces can be a valuable skill. And in Ford's case, a profitable one.
I'll get over the "Why didn't I think of that?" and probably take advantage of some of RE:Style's workshops and events to add more knowledge to my DIY toolkit. To my neighbours, who frequently and stupidly toss furniture with serious potential, there's hope for you as well. Although, for my benefit, I hope you'll remain clueless.