DIY Home Tour: Marisa

Marisa's Artfully Moody Apartment 

artist / mother / barkeep

ottawa / centretown

I've called this amazing place home for almost three years now.

It's an old, expansive, oddly divided but charming 4bedroom that I share with my 14yr old son, Trae (best / worst roommate a girl could ask for).

We live in Centretown, on a dodgy strip of it, which suits us well. I love the diversity of our neighbours: middle-eastern grocers, sketchy tchotchka shops, gourmet foodie boutiques, crusty punks, hip citizens...weirdos of all brands.

I used to collect a lot of design and interiors magazines - i love looking at spaces and thinking about them - so I had some pretty lofty ideas about what a gorgeous, well-appointed room should like. These usually included modern Italian furniture, sculptural light fixtures, stunning wood floors, bold large-scale artwork. And while I still get excited about such features in a photo editorial, the development of my artistic practice and the logistics of living real life prompted a cool evolution in my aesthetic.

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When the weather's nice, my back stoop is favourite place to be. I can see a lot of sky. Overall, l must admit that lying in my bed is the best feeling in the world. My bedroom is a bit cavernous -- low-ceilinged, dark and warm. But I'm surrounded by books, globes, art and gifts.

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My parents let me have a cow-hide from their home that came from my grandparents' butcher shop in the Philippines. It hangs on a wall in my bedroom, it's a pretty special hand-me-down. Raw and earthy and connected to where I come from.

Globes and books displayed in Marisa's bedroom.

Globes and books displayed in Marisa's bedroom.

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Bedside items.

Bedside items.

Looking around I realize that there's a lot of stuff in here that has been handmade -- so much art that friends have made, pottery from when I took a course a few years back, hand-written notes...

A mug, a hug, and some pastries.

A mug, a hug, and some pastries.

Marisa's studio.

Marisa's studio.

The first sculptural piece I ever made is a large black wing constructed from bike tube 'feathers' and a metal armature. It hangs in a corner of the living room and it marks a really important time in my life, a time of flux. I think it's called 'Escape', I can't really remember. The work is a monument to the beginning of my life as I know it now, although I didn't realize at the time that it would be the first of a bunch of sculptural things that I would create.

"Escape", or something. Marisa isn't sure of the name of her first piece.

"Escape", or something. Marisa isn't sure of the name of her first piece.

But the best homemade thing in this place is a piece of art that Trae made when he was little. It's a pencil drawing on canvas -- he drew the palm of his hand and wrote above it in Sharpie, "Give people a hand". I coated it in resin and it hangs over my bed.

Sculpture made by Marisa: art made by her son, Trae.

Sculpture made by Marisa: art made by her son, Trae.

Our bathrooms are weird and old, which is a bummer, but they work well enough. The linoleum is atrocious! I am continually in the process of trying to embrace their ugliness.

Marisa's eclectic downstairs bathroom.

Marisa's eclectic downstairs bathroom.

The stairs to the basement.

The stairs to the basement.

Wabi Sabi is the Japanese term for the beauty of imperfection. It's a concept that I refer to whenever anything feels too precious. It also allows for electronics cords to remain exposed, for things to look a little askew and for me to still witness the beauty. (Back story: I have some neat-freak / OCD tendencies, so giving up 90 degree angles can be a struggle for me)

Marisa's studio.

Marisa's studio.

Above the fridge.

Above the fridge.

Her cozy kitchen.

Her cozy kitchen.

Also, history. Most of my sculptures are constructed from detritus; old bike tubes, discarded packaging, souvenirs from past events. So much of my furniture is pre-owned or has been discarded by someone else. Each of these items has its own history, a life lived before me. This idea is fascinating to me.

Sculpture made from takeout chopsticks.

Sculpture made from takeout chopsticks.

When I first moved in here, I splurged on the most striking and unique loveseat from an antiques shop on the outskirts of Ottawa. It's scroll-armed and lion paw-footed mahogany with zebra upholstery. Jungle, but regal and elegant. Beyonce would approve.

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I'm dreaming of painting Trae's giant bedroom and transforming it into the perfect teenage boy's lounge. I want him to have a place set up where he and his pals can hangout, play instruments, play vids, be stinky and gross.

Teenage boy stuff.

Teenage boy stuff.

My dream home would be flooded with natural light, something we have little of here. I love the dark calm of this place, but sunlight is a powerful mood adjustor. Also airy and big, but not too big to do a proper clean, you know? I have no skills and I'm terrified of electrical currents, so I will always leave finicky things like electrical and plumbing to the experts. I love making things, though, so decisions about how my space will look / feel will always be informed somehow by incorporating objects that I have made, or by makers that I know and love. DIY: always important!

Marisa's favourite wall.

Marisa's favourite wall.

A corner of the living room.

A corner of the living room.

At the end of the day, it's just stuff. But given the choice, I choose to surround myself with things that are steeped in some kind of good energy: nostalgia, history, youth, imagination, courage, love...whatever. I think this sets the tone for what happens in these rooms -- belly laughs, real talk, loving people, making cool shit.

Marisa (right) and Taline (left) enjoying real talk in Marisa's living room.

Marisa (right) and Taline (left) enjoying real talk in Marisa's living room.

Thanks for sharing your home with Spoiled Rotten, Marisa! Click here if you'd like your digs to be featured next, or hit me up at spoiledrottenlife@gmail.com.