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Published: Thursday, 2/17/2005

Ingenious Interiors

After a four-year stint helping Arhaus Furniture clients complete livable interior spaces, lifelong friends and native Toledoans Sandi Fields and Suzi Thibert forged a partnership for home enhancement. They have learned a few things along the way: how to have fun, compromise is important, and you don t have to spend a lot of money to make your habitat drop-dead gorgeous.

Builders have fallen in love with their way of doing things and have kept them very busy designing and furnishing the interiors of their model homes. Thibert and Fields savvy staging of the Forrester-Wehrle home in the 2004 HBA Sky Bank Fall Parade of Homes garnered the coveted People s Choice Award.

The developers of Park Place in Sylvania utilized Thibert-Fields Interiors to give an I could live here feel to their model units to great success. Most recently, real estate developer Keith Brown engaged this talented duo to tackle his Bartley Lofts condominium project in Toledo s Warehouse District.

According to Thibert and Fields, the basic elements of good interior design are themes, colors, style, and balance.

One of the first things this fun duo does is to get their clients to rethink what things are for. Vases can become end table bases and placemats can become wall art. Remember, it wasn t until just recently that ottomans found a second life as coffee tables. This new way of thinking about things makes clearance rooms in area furniture stores a treasure trove of furnishings.

Sandi and Suzi have their favorite haunts in addition to such retailers as T.J. Maxx, Value City, Big Lots, and A.J. Wright. To save money, they do not pay delivery charges if they can get away with it. Suzi quips, Have bungee cords, will travel. When framing found objects, they do it themselves at American Frame in Maumee. Their imaginations have transformed mundane items found on the end caps at large chain stores into stunning accent pieces and accessories.

In the Bartley Lofts model, you can find many examples of Thibert and Fields ingenuity. For one, a framed Tonsa poster, a bon march of drastic reductions, drove the color scheme of reds, oranges, browns and greens for the model loft condominium.

Dealing with an architectural element, such as a very high, curvilinear wall, could be daunting. What it needed, as decided by Thibert and Fields, was tall, narrow rectangular wall art. A pair of very unique, long bamboo and handmade paper placemats ($12 each from Lily s on Main) became framed works of art. In the kitchen over the sink, a scratch and dent stainless steel frame found on an end cap becomes home to what looks like an oil pastel of a parrot. Actually, the art was formerly a wallpaper sample found in one of the many sample books they recycle.

When designing for the open spaces prevalent in today s lofts and homes, it s important to carry design elements throughout the areas while still defining the spaces. The black, taupe and garnet of the granite countertops in the kitchen and on the work island coordinated so well with the dark cherry kitchen cabinets that Thibert and Fields decided to carry it forward into the dining area.

They purchased the table base and six chairs from Arhaus and had Kitchen Design Plus cut a matching granite tabletop. They mixed the linear wood side chairs with upholstered end chairs and placed them on a very inexpensive striped area rug to soften the look.

Two green ottomans make a bold transition between the dining and living areas. Would you believe that all the furniture and accessories in the living room cost less than the dining room table and chairs? It s all possible: the sectional was a markdown, as were the deep, comfy occasional chairs, the pillowed chair (less than $100), end table ($30), table lamp ($20), and the rattan ottoman/coffee table. The beige area rug is a remnant, and the mobile was crafted from oversized, decorative holiday bulbs soon to be replaced with glass globes some wire and a stainless steel band.

The multilevel tables next to the sectional look as if they must have cost a good bundle, but in actuality they cost less than $50. To make this dramatic statement, Thibert and Fields topped a trio of tin urns with glass shelves from the entertainment center that weren t being used.

Each bit of ingenuity conspires to create a total environment of comfort and style that anyone and any budget can live with.



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