Corky Design § The Great Room

WIKIPEDIA – Cork (material) is an impermeable, buoyant material, a prime-subset of bark tissue that is harvested for commercial use primarily from Quercus suber (the Cork Oak), which is endemic to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. Cork is composed of suberin, a hydrophobic substance, and because of its impermeability, buoyancy, elasticity, and fire resistance, it is used in a variety of products, the most common of which is for wine stoppers.

Back at the Homestead Lil’Sis and I have been redesigning The Great Room. I know that to my ear sounds rather pretentious, but I have no other word to describe it.


The defining feature is the old stone fireplace, and the fact the room once was two rooms. The front a parlour, the back a den/study/smoking room. There are now again two entrances; one off the front hallway, and one across from the kitchen. Light moves around and out those doorways. Energy flows, and there is a particular symmetry to the room you can’t ignore. I don’t know how the fireplace fit in back in the original design, since it has been one room for almost 70 years now. Yet the fireplace sits the dead centre of the two large windows on either side of it. It has a typical old mid-Victorian farmhouse layout, with its restored front porch that spans the entire front and thus shades those two front south-facing rooms, with windows on either side of the house catching the sun rise and sun set. The light meeting in the front hallway. There is a symmetry to the rooms, the light, the traffic flow.

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The Great Room can be dark. In nature, and in spirit. Mom died in that room, wakes for our ancestors held there. When I was young it was referred to as “the good livingroom”. Lil’Sis and I decided to make it more of a new-fashioned “family” room. Devoid of the technology that defines so many of the other rooms now.

With the fireplace in all its chunky grandeur holding court, you can’t just set piddly furniture here and there without that furniture looking insignificant. AND god help the one who paints that fireplace because I will rise from my grave and haunt you. This house has been in our family for over a hundred years and many of the pieces inside are a mix of the old and the new, just as it has always been. Each generation adding their own style and design to the rooms. Walls moved, doorways moved, painted, wallpapered and at its core is us, the people who live within its walls. Generation after generation adding their story, their touch.

When our first step-mom moved here she stripped it bare and painted and repaired the walls, laid the cork floor, opened doorways, made new doorways and all together wrecked havoc on our family. Lil’Sis and I set them up, and did WE ever learn our lesson. SHE wanted some 5th Avenue Farmhouse feel, with these touches of Japanese.

But the place got the overhaul it needed, as that woman stripped away every imperfection she found. She dismantled the core and glossed it up. Mom’s death was really hard and I guess we needed to be stirred up a bit, maybe, to get over that loss. Well the step-mom from hell did that and more.

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So Lil’Sis has been trying to find HER style amongst all that woman’s redesign. …and how to add her touch to what is now hers and SirB’s. It’s been alot of fun. On a tight budget she has worked at redefining this room. Certainly the blue flowered wing-back chairs Mom had re-upholstered in the late 80’s are a little garish to our eye, and there is no sense in painting what that woman did because these tall ceilings are a pain in the ass to paint. AND the colours are fairly neutral and only in need of a touch up or two here and there.

The next step is adding the dark Fuchsia accents. That was Lil’Sis’ idea, and I love it. I suggested red, but fushia is much bolder. It is time to have some fun with colour. A touch here and there of bright colours adds a wonderful air and brightness to an otherwise heavy space. Dark fireplace, dark wood furniture. Dark mood, same thing. Add colour to your life, add laughter, add warmth and love. Embrace what is – not what is not, or what is past, or what is sad. Can’t be happy-go-lucky all the time, so having a warm comfortable room to enjoy is essential. A room without electronics, without a TV. A room to play guitar in, to have nice dinners with friends and family. A room to read in, a room to be a family in. A room to be GREAT in.

Whiskey and Jinx

And of course the design must accommodate two Guinea Pigs – Whiskey & Jinx

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