My name is Scott Parry. I was born and raised in Port Moody, BC as the youngest of four siblings and luckily my parents are still with us today. Mom and Dad bought a lot for $400 in 1957 on a street with two other houses erected on it which at that time was out in the middle of nowhere. They borrowed $8,000 from my mother’s father to build the family nest, which he and my mother constructed themselves and they still reside there to this day. The funny thing about real-estate is that BC assessment value of their home is over $1,000,000 today. Great long term investment!
As we grew up my mother always had a real flair for fashion and design. Although not formally trained she could always pull together a great look in every room with very little money. What this also meant is that we were a family of doers. We were taught from a very young age how to do many different things that gave us skills to keep with us throughout our lives. We were never a family that sat around the house on the weekend wondering what to do with ourselves. Mom and Dad ALWAYS had a list on the front of the refrigerator with all the chores that needed tending to. Before we could go out and hang out with our friends we had to do at least half of the chores on the list to keep Mom and Dad happy. The cool part of this was they taught us a lot of very useful trades along the way. I remember being about 12 years old and Mother saying to me, “I need you to wallpaper the downstairs bathroom today sweetie”, and I said to Mom, “I’ve never done wallpaper before, Mom”. “Oh don’t worry darling I’ll show you”. She pulled out a tube of wallpaper and quickly held it up to the wall and measured for size. Seconds later she was pulling a strip through the trough of water that she had previously filled and was applying paper to the wall. I stood with my mouth hanging open. Holy smokes. That’s it! That’s all you have to do? Gladly I took the wallpaper trowel from her and madly began the task of transforming the room into a whole new look. It took me a while that day to complete the task, but I did get it done. From that day onward I saw myself as a paper hanger. Ready for all projects. Big or small. She had empowered me. Over the years, my brother and I have installed thousands of rolls of wallpaper in many different applications but I always remember that morning when Mom convinced me how easy this was to do. And that is how most of my upbringing went. Mom and Dad showing us kids how to do a task and then letting us have at it.
Our parents wanted to have children that were useful so they never stopped training us. They taught us how to paint, build, mow a lawn, fix a lawnmower, sharpen a lawnmower; whatever the task was, they persevered to make sure we knew how to do it ourselves. To that note, when I was ten years old there used to be a list on the side of the oven with our names on it to identify whose turn it was to make dinner that night. We were responsible for getting an icy slab of meat from the freezer that morning and turning it into a delicious family meal by the time Mom got home from work, which used to be approximately 6:00 pm every week day. We would have already made most of the meal and then Mother would come in and put the finishing touches on it every night. Add some sauce; make gravy; the things that personalized the planned dinner. By the time I was twelve I knew how to cook a lot of different meals. To this day one of my hobbies is to watch many of the different cooking shows and try to replicate the meals I’ve seen on TV and, I must say, that I am serious home cook.
Mom and Dad didn’t have money to throw around, so many times we would re-purpose any item that might have cost us too much to go out and purchase brand new. One day Mom wanted a pair of matching love seats in the living room but of course there was no way that was in the family budget . . . we took the existing sofa, loveseat and chair and right there in middle of the living room we completely dismantled them so that we could salvage the required parts for Mom’s new dream set. My brother Mark was fourteen and I was twelve and we were tasked with engineering a way to make this happen. My Mom went out and got a fabulous new fabric, broke out the sewing machine and started sewing up the new upholstery. It seemed so funny that we had literally taken our furniture apart on one day and had begun the transformation right there in the room. Mom made all of her own piping for the edges while Dad taught Mark and I how to pull the fabric taut and use the staple gun to attach the new fabric making sure to pull it tight. Within two weeks we had two fabulous loveseats sitting in our living room! By doing it ourselves, there was enough money leftover in the budget for Mom to go out and acquire a new chair to match. It looked fantastic, but even more importantly; it was another of those moments for us kids to see what we could accomplish all by ourselves. We were empowered. Ready for all projects – big or small.
My brother and I always have had a passion for furniture. At our junior and senior high schools we both enrolled in woodshop classes to learn more skills of the trade and, of course, to make furniture that we could bring home and use in our parents’ house. We made a whack of furniture for the house. Mark became very skilled with a lathe and making first-class joinery and I stuck with larger bulkier units and plastics. By the end of grade nine I had built my desk in my bedroom, had matching wall-hung bookshelves with glass doors, made a chair, and had re-purposed an old chest of drawers that Mark and I turned into my Captain’s bed, entirely in a matching wood finish. I was fourteen years old with a pretty groovy bedroom set all made by my brother and myself. Tres cool.
As I grew up I began to realize that I had a real passion for interiors, space, and furnishings. When I was old enough to start babysitting, one of the main sources of income for a kid, I found myself going to people’s houses and looking around at their layouts thinking, “you got this all wrong; the sofa should be here; the coffee table should be here; and the chair should be here”. I started to move people’s furniture around just to see if I could come up with a more effective use of their space. Just to tweak it a little bit. After I had moved everything into the ideal position I would look over my handy work and then put everything back. I did this for years and I was only caught once, but, it validated what I was doing. One of the nights that I was playing decorator, the couple came home far earlier than expected and indeed I was surprised when they walked into their living room. They were standing in the doorway looking at me like I was some kind of nut case when Mrs. Smith turned to me and said, “Bravo young man, I’ve been struggling with this layout for years”. We spent the next couple of hours moving other furniture around the room trying to create the ideal footprint and TA-DA. We had done it! I remember feeling that what I had done was so monumental at the time. I wanted the whole world to stop for just one second to see what the great Scott Parry had done. I had solved this couple’s space planning issues, and boy, did it feel good. From that day on I have always had a real passion for interiors and furniture and their placement in a room.
Mark and I started Parry Brothers Enterprises Ltd in the early eighties. We both had skills and wanted to see if we had what it took to run our own business. Turns out we did. Mark and I worked well together and each of us contributed our own gifts to the team. Once a potential customer contacted us we would go to the project site and put on our dog and pony show. I would do all of the talking while Mark would take measurements and knock on walls and rattle the tape measure around. This seemed to work rather well because we got really busy just doing painting, wallpapering, small renovations, and our personal favorite, the basement renos. Basement renos were so sweet because back in the old days nobody had a finished basement. Sometimes there would be one room finished off but most often we would get a wide open space ready for some walls. We became so competent at the basement suite/finished basement that we could finish one in four to six weeks. We also learned very early that the real key to doing this type of work was to FINISH THE JOB. I could not tell you how many times we would arrive at a potential project that was only half to three quarters done. We loved these because we could always charge a little more for the unfinished work of the previous contractors. Happily, we spent the next few years doing decorating jobs all over the lower mainland of Vancouver. We had become professionals.
As the years went on I realized that in order for people to take me seriously as an Interior Designer I needed that educational component that said, “Yes, this dude has gone to a qualified design school”. Well, I packed up my wife and our belongings and we drove out to Toronto, ON so I could attend a design school. We ended up buying a house in a town called Ajax which was about 20 minutes away from Durham College in Oshawa. So in 1988 I joined the ranks and began design school. In the first year there were 75 students, three men, and the balance were women. Only two others were mature students and all the rest were young women. It was a blast. I spent the next three years in the company of some very sweet and very lovely ladies. We had all kinds of fun doing our projects together and pulling all-nighters to complete the homework assignments. I was amazed with how much time and dedication was required to complete the course, considering how many people love to tell you that Interior Design is just cut and paste and picking out some furniture and paint colours. My studies at Durham really showed me that there is so much more to the field of Interior Design and how it impacts people’s lives on a day-to-day basis. And, I still love it to this day.
I was very dedicated to doing well in my education while at Durham and I spent countless hours studying and practicing what they had taught me. This led to me receiving a scholarship for outstanding achievement and highest grade point average. Now I was empowered. Someone else out there thought I was good at this stuff. I joined the provincial design association, ARIDO, Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario and became a student volunteer. In 1988 there wasn`t much to say about being a student member of the association so I took it upon myself to change that. I created a student membership package for all design students to give them a sense of purpose and belonging to ARIDO while in school. We would volunteer for all kinds of events and we held events just for the students. In two years, we took our student membership from approximately 100 members to 1100. A team of students worked together to create a dog & pony show about the association (what it does, what it represents) to all the design schools in Ontario. For the first year I would go with another volunteer from ARIDO (a registered member) to all the provincial design schools to deliver the message about ARIDO and what we stood for. The following year things changed a little bit. I was driving to a nearby college called Georgian College when I received a phone call from one of my colleagues saying that he couldn’t make it to the presentation we were doing that day. “Holy crap, I`m on my own”. This turned out to be a wonderfully empowering day for me because it gave me the opportunity to personalize the presentation. I thought it would be more relevant for other design students to hear the information from another design student just like them. I always remember that day as I drove down the highway thinking how nervous I was to speak in front of 150 design students but the second I began my presentation, the fear was gone and I was the champion of a new cause. I ended up delivering that speech over the next five or so years to hundreds of design students and I still miss it to this day.
Because of my intense involvement with ARIDO I became the Student Co-ordinator for the province of Ontario. I was now responsible for all 1100 student members and their activities, especially at the annual design show called IIDEX, International Interior Design Exhibition. This annual exhibition was a great resource for ARIDO but it took countless volunteers to make it all happen. My job was to work with these design school volunteers and slot them into all the tasks that needed to be done to put on the show every year. It was also in 1989 that I was asked to work with the special events committee to put on any of the side events such as large scale parties, the Gala Dinner and the Awards night. For the next ten years I worked with the committee to create and install all the props for the big ARIDO events. This took thousands of volunteer hours and the commitment of students to get all the work done every year. To this day I am truly grateful to all of the students that stood by me to pull off so many terrific events. As time passed I became a Board Member of ARIDO but I always maintained a closeness to the student volunteers and the professional members who each brought different skills to the table; their ability to get their hands on money, prizes, giveaways; whatever was required, they managed to make it happen.
In 1998 I became the Chair of the IIDEX show. I was the Big Kahuna. After all the years of working on the show with different committees, I was now on the hot seat. As usual with ARIDO, the support that I got from the Board of Management and the Steering Committee was abundant and made the task a wonderful and enlightening experience. I was thrilled to have been given this great honour and we all tried to make it a fantastic show. One of the wonderful things that came out of this position was during the Awards Presentation that year the Association gave me an Honorary Membership to recognize all of my work over the years. It was a wonderful honour.
When I graduated in 1991 from Durham College I joined Canada`s largest furniture manufacturer to work with Architects and Designers trying to get their product brand specified on major projects. Well for that matter, any projects. This company gave me free rein to get their name and products out to the specifying community in a big way. One of first tasks was to create scholarship programs at all the design schools in Ontario so that when students were graduating from design schools they would know who we were and what we did. With the support of the company and their management this became a big success. I would attend all of the design schools Awards Night`s and was able to present the winning recipients their awards in person, which was such a thrill see how excited they were to receive a little extra money as a reward for applying themselves to their studies. As a result of this program my Alma Matter, Durham College, awarded me the Alumni of Distinction Award in 1996 for my efforts. It was very humbling to achieve this honour.
ARIDO had developed an award over the years for the Sales Representative of the Year that the members deemed as their favorite sales rep. This was an award that I always dreamed of attaining – to be considered the best sales rep in the industry by the say-so of the people we call on a day-to-day basis. I remember sitting at a table the night of the Awards Gala thinking to myself, who will it be this year? There are so many wonderful candidates for this prestigious position. I sat there looking around the room waiting for the announcement, holding my breath and saying to myself, please be me …please be me. Then the MC belted out, “and this year’s winner is Mr. Scott Parry”. I sat in seat for a moment thinking “did I hear that right or did I just wish for that happen”. The smiling faces at my table all stood up and cheered gleefully for me saying “you won Scott”. Go up and make your speech. To this day I’ve always remembered that I thanked my dear friend and the current Executive Director of ARIDO, Reva Karstadt, and my company and their management team. They had been so fantastic to me by allowing so much freedom to do my job on a daily basis, while they also allowed me to be deeply involved with the association and the goings on. It was such a huge thrill. The bonus to that was, I actually went on to win the Sales Representative of the Year two more years in a row. It was such a pleasure to be recognized by the membership in that way. During my time in Ontario with ARIDO they also awarded me The Presidents Citation twelve times for my participation and the volunteer work that I was lucky to be a part of over those years.
In 1999 my wife had decided it was time to return back to our roots and reside again in Vancouver. This came as a major shock to me but I have always had one simple rule when it comes to my wife, just do what she says. So we packed up our house and moved back to Vancouver to attempt to recreate what I had done in the Toronto design community. I quickly got involved with the IDIBC, Interior Designers Institute of British Columbia, and participated in their committees and events. I became the President of the DRA, Design Resource Alliance, and Chaired the local Interior Designer’s event, Design Northwest. It was another wonderful opportunity to meet so many great people and hardworking volunteers. I also received the Presidents Citation from the IDIBC for the work that I had done with them.
In 2000 I was ready for a new challenge. I wanted to be my own boss and run my own company. So I went out and bought a percentage of an existing furniture dealership in Vancouver called Concept Business Furnishings. I had a partner that I worked with for the next four years and upon his retirement, acquired ownership of the company. This was such a fantastic feeling. To hold your own destiny. To make it the company that I envisioned it to be. Such an awesome experience! The company flourished as we built a hardworking sales team and enjoyed the synergy of customers and staff. But, the time came when I was ready to move on to other endeavours. We did consulting for a couple of years for furniture companies but never enjoyed it the way we had in the past. It just wasn’t the same.
I thought I would try my hand at retail furniture sales so I joined one Vancouver’s top furniture stores. They had an awesome reputation and an 80,000 square foot showroom with a great selection of top name brands in the residential side of the industry. While it was a great store and a good learning experience, it still wasn’t the right fit for me.
But, this is where I had my epiphany. I discovered that so many people who go out to purchase home furnishings really don’t have a clue as to what they are looking for. Some people would come into the store, pick out a sofa and say, “I like this one”. Then if you asked them a couple of quick questions like, “Who is going to be using this sofa? What room will be placed in? Will you be watching TV on this sofa? Will the dog or cat be sitting on this with you?” These questions would inevitably be met with the blank stare that so many customers would have . . . “I don’t know”. They had never really thought about these factors or given them much importance in the whole buying process. It is still amazing to me that two people who are both 5’-8” tall can have such completely different proportions. One person has long legs, a short torso and the other has short legs and long body, but they are both the same height. Hence the dilemma in buying a suitable sized sofa to fit both persons comfortably for the intended use in their home.
The purpose of this blog is exactly that. To aid and assist the home furniture consumers to go out and acquire furniture that fits them and their needs. How high should the seat be? How deep should the seat be? How high should the back be? How high should the arms be? The quest of this blog is to answer these basic questions so that when you go to your favorite furniture store you have a better idea of what you should be looking for. It does not matter which style of furniture you like. Modern or Country or French Provincial – that is your personal taste and is up to the consumer. What does matter is that once you get the product home, it will fulfill your personal requirements for fit and function.
So, hopefully you will find this blog to be a useful tool when you head out to buy household or office furniture. We want you to be empowered!