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Do-it-yourself home inspires creativity, recycling

POLSON — When Eva Oruste moved into her 1920s home eight years ago, the backyard was a concrete parking lot and the home hadn’t been redone since the 1970s. 

It was an absolute disaster. 

The previous owners had been smokers, and the grime that comes with the nicotine addiction lined the walls and was absorbed into the carpet. The house had fake wood paneling, a drop down ceiling and tiny windows.

What appealed to Oruste was obviously not the 1970s décor, but the fact that she was looking at an empty palette — her own personal canvas to design some stunning creation. And this run-down house was in desperate need of some “artistic intervention” as she calls it. 

“When you move into a house where everything is OK … where is the inspiration?” Oruste asked.

Oruste has a degree in musical composition and it’s plain to see she is a creator and an artist at her very core. She is never bored. Whether it be her garden or her bedroom, she is always spilling over with new ideas that spawn fun creative projects to tackle.

Her garden is not a boring rectangle — every plant having its assigned space. Rather, her garden surrounds her house, leaving a limited amount of just plain grass. It produces an array of vegetables, fruits and flowers. From nectarines to peas, “Eva’s Garden of Eden” has it.

“I’m not a master gardener,” Oruste said. “It’s trial and error.”
 
Oruste is a network gardener — meaning she receives starter plants from friends and neighbors, and in return she is more than willing to share what her land produces with her fellow gardeners. 
 
Like almost everything in Eva’s life, gardening is not a drab chore. It’s fun and productive. 
 
“For me it’s about creativity and sustainability,” Oruste explains. “I like the idea of being able to sustain myself if I have to.”
 
Reused tile steps wind through the garden as a pathway that dances between the plants, which are mostly edible and will be stored and frozen for the long months of winter. 
 
Utilization of space, sustainability and recycling materials are three themes that have been prevalent throughout her eight-year long artistic endeavor — turning her shabby house into a creative extension of herself.
 
“If you look at how American houses are designed, they are not utilizing space very well,” Oruste said.
 
So she started with her “space-aged” bathroom. The dysfunctional bathroom became a narrow maze for three years as Oruste redesigned the wash closet to become a spacious, modern powder room. Oruste brought in professionals when necessary, but to keep costs low, the tried-and-true do-it-yourself gal took care of business herself and utilized the Home Resource Centers in Kalispell and Missoula. 
 
The result was a beautiful, pristine white and blue room, complete with tile and style that is both usable, creative and recycled. 
 
But the bathroom was only part of a bigger scheme to create a master bedroom suite. Originally, the bathroom abutted the closet wall which led to the dreary, wood-paneled, master bedroom.
 
But Oruste had other intentions. By moving the closet into the bedroom by six feet, and installing two doors — one on the wall to the bedroom and the other on the wall to bathroom, Oruste created a spacious walk-in closet that could contain everything a girl needs to keep her bedroom uncluttered and clean.
 
Almost. 
 
She needed to design the organizational aspect of the closet itself. For six months, Oruste pored over magazines and researched what would utilize space most efficiently, while still being cost-effective. Besides finding a $1,200 design, Oruste found nothing that was functional, not to mention cheap. 
 
So Oruste went back to the drawing board — her shed where she spied the four louver doors she had removed from the original closet.
 
Creativity struck and Oruste installed the louver doors as dividers within the closet. She added a few scraps of wood for shelves, a few wooden rods and reused screws she had lying around the house. She borrowed a table saw to cut the wooden pieces to fit, added a used dresser, mismatched paint, left a space for a clothes hamper, and voila! Oruste had turned the space into a walk-in closet and an artist’s organizational haven. 
 
Materials included, Oruste spent a total of $39. 
 
The bedroom is a story in and of itself. Oruste mixed used paint together until she produced a plum color, which she spread on the ceiling and walls. With a metallic trim along the doorframe and door, the result of her artistry creates a bold-yet-snuggly, warm feeling. 
“When I compose music, it’s the same thing,” Oruste explained.
 
The burnt orange walls on the windows’ side of the room are a sharp contrast to the purple hues of the other walls in the room. Bright, lime green accessories and a gecko painted on the center of the bare, sage floor serve as accents to the dramatic room.  
 
Oruste and her friend Carol Ausband, who helped paint the room, have successfully created a warm yet vibrant area that has as much bistro ambience as it does living room practicality.  
 
It’s a work in progress, but there is a tremendous amount of passion, dedication and most importantly elbow grease that Oruste pours into her home. There’s always a new project, and never a dull moment in her home — which bears the markings of almost a decade of artistic design and endeavors. 
 
An obvious proponent of recycling, Oruste has projects in the cooker that may help Lake County’s effort to recycle. She would like to open Polson’s own Building Resource Center, complete with tools, an expert and workshops. 
 
It would be just another way to let people enjoy their homes, while expressing their creativity and saving their hard-earned cash.
 
Oruste’s message?
 
“Do it yourself. It’s a joy and a pride issue and you have ownership (in what you create,)” she said.

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