STYLE

'Cabin Pressure' stars Colin and Justin share tips to spruce up cottage decor

03/20/2015 03:24 EDT | Updated 05/20/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - As Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan set out to refurbish their own country cabin, their latest foray into cottage renovation proved significantly tougher than the first.

The Scottish design duo documented their transformation of an A-frame log cabin in "essentially good condition" in the debut season of "Colin and Justin's Cabin Pressure."

The series returns Sunday at 9 p.m. ET and PT on Cottage Life.

Season 2 sees the pair renovate a tiny rustic lakefront property in Haliburton, Ont., which Ryan described as a "really rough fixer-upper."

"We had to deal with every type of problem you could imagine," he said, seated alongside McAllister during a recent interview. "Everything went wrong. The house had been infested by every type of entomological creature.

"We found dead mice. We found dead beavers. We found dead animals everywhere. Pigeons, birds, the lot. Raccoons, everything.

"However, we love the challenge more than anything that we do in our professional lives. We love the drive to beautify."

The duo acknowledged not everyone wants or aspires to live in cottage country. However, McAllister and Ryan said there are decorative tips homeowners can apply to their cosy homes away from home as well as city dwellings.

1. CLEAN HOUSE

"Get rid of the things you don't like, things that annoy you, things that are broken. You're never going to use these items," said McAllister.

"Things you have duplicates of, get rid of them, and actually clear out some space so that you actually have some breathing space."

2. CREATE A DESIGN PLAN

"The mantra we say time and time again: to fail to plan is to plan to fail," said Ryan.

In addition to having a budget and list of tasks that need to be accomplished, he suggested combing magazines or watching TV for creative inspiration, then assemble a mood board to help zero in on a design direction.

3. SEEK OUT VINTAGE FINDS

Ryan said they find garage sales and charity and thrift stores are ripe sources for items that can be reinvented.

"We find amazing things that we can repurpose, and I think that's what it's all about for us."

4. TRANSFORM EXISTING PIECES

Items which may seemed destined for the Dumpster could have a second life, provided homeowners are willing to use a little imagination — and some elbow grease.

"You can then look at the pieces that remain and think to yourself: 'OK, maybe I can use that table in that room. Maybe a lick of paint can transform that into something else,'" McAllister said.

He recalled in Season 1 of "Cabin Pressure," they painted a TV bench which they covered with a stone top. With a sink placed on it, the piece was transformed into a "swanky upscale" bathroom vanity which cost "virtually nothing."

Ryan said they took just under two metres off the top of a 10-metre-tall antenna to create a floor lamp.

"We run a lighting cable up through it, we build a base, and we put a lovely Edison bulb on there and a big black lampshade.

"All of a sudden, we've got something that cost us $25 or $30 which looks like we found it in an art gallery."

5. INCORPORATE NATURAL ELEMENTS

"We've used birch bark that we've found lying on the forest floor. (When) framed it looks gorgeous," said Ryan.

"We've found old pieces of timber lying in the water, like driftwood, that we've brought in that we've mounted on casters. Hey, presto! An instant coffee table.

"We've used old building pallets to decorate walls. We've used small crates fastened to the wall as shelves. We're all about the free."

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