Design Rules: It’s not necessarily about the money

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Last month I attended an opening for Lucy Slivinski and Janet Mesic Mackie at interior designer Michael Del Piero’s Bucktown boutique.  Slivinski has outdone herself with her new line of salvaged metal chandeliers, which are strange, spiky beautiful works of art.  And photographer Janet Mesic Mackie’s foray into fine art photography is a success, particularly her sepia-toned Mehendi Hands series featuring the hands and arms of women with henna tattoos.  So be sure to visit Michael Del Piero Good Design at 1914 N. Damen.

However despite the abundance of good design at Michael Del Piero Good Design, today I’m writing about the boutique’s bathroom.  Del Piero had her work cut out for her when she took over the retail space in 2007, so she focused on the public areas, paneling a wall niche with horizontal boards and wallpapering the opposite wall in a custom cream textured wallpaper.  Rather than spending time and money gutting the decidedly bla but functional bathroom with its 4 x 4 white standard commercial tiles and white walls, Del Piero painted them with Ralph Lauren metallic paint (in gunmetal) and glued a seagrass rug atop the existing floor tiles.  After installing a frameless mirror and a sleek Home Depot light fixture, Del Piero called it a day.  The result is gorgeous – a prime example that it’s not about the money.  At least it doesn’t have to be.

Continued . . .

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Sure, spending a little dough can help pull a room together more quickly.  And of course, wealthy people have access to the most prominent designers and to the finest in high-end design.  On the other hand, wealthy people are the only kind of people we label by the deliciously trashy term nouveau riche.  Am I right?

I realize this sounds very HGTV, but it’s true that things like paint, fabric and lighting, when used right, are inexpensive ways to transform a room.  And imagination’s literally priceless. (Trademark MasterCard).  Imagination! Get some.  (Trademark Strange Closets).  The bathroom at Michael Del Piero’s Bucktown boutique prompted me to move up the timetable to add a bathroom to my now nearly finished baseme . . . lower level, which still lacks, well, everything, including plumbing.  I can swing the cost of the pipes and labor, but Kohler’s promises of a more relaxing tomorrow had seduced me into believing I needed four kinds of tile, a heated stone floor, a steam shower, double vanities (with a TV in the mirror) and an over-sized infinity soaking tub.  But at this freelance but fancy free time, holding out for such luxuries would indefinitely delay my Calgon life.

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Fortunately, Del Piero’s own pragmatism helped me put things into context.  And what I concluded is that no matter how much wall-to-wall I install, it’s still going to be a basement.  So I’m going to take a page from Michael Del Piero’s book and think about low-cost ways to finish this project.

Such a realization is momentous for me, who’d spend ten grand on an end table if I had the money.  I most certainly believe there’s a place for high design.  Creating a classic furniture design, for example, costs more than you’d think, and the artisans involved often toil away unrecognized for years.  They and artists like Lucy Slivinski, Janet Mesic Mackie and Del Piero herself deserve to be compensated for their efforts.  But as evidenced by Michael Del Piero’s bathroom renovation, high design can be accomplished at relatively low cost.  All it takes is a little creativity and good credit (joke).

Thanks to Michael Del Piero for allowing me to run this photo despite the fact that she hadn’t styled the bathroom.  It looks terrific Michael.  Thanks for the inspiration.

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Click here to see more of Janet Mesic Mackie’s art and here to see Lucy Slivinski’s lighting now at Michael Del Piero Good Design.  Or just keep reading for my favorites.

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One Response to “Design Rules: It’s not necessarily about the money”

  1. Janet Mesic-Mackie 23. Nov, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Thank you Tate for the very kind words.