If you take a walk through Doc’s Studio, you’ll pass by an Irish Viking pub, a Beatles-themed corner, a wall of personal family memorabilia, a Second World War bar, and other intricately detailed areas.
Though each section in the Promontory basement studio is completely different from the one beside it, when you step into each space, it feels like you’ve stepped back into that era and everything else around you seems nonexistent.
This is the work of Dr. Rob Forde, a semi-retired chiropractor. He has a passion for creating unique, personalized rooms and spaces for people in their own homes. He renovates existing rooms, builds completely new rooms, and creates projects in smaller areas too like a section of a wall.
“There are so many different ways you can go,” he says.
It can be a place, like an entire room, where someone can sit surrounded by their favourite things, be it trains, books, horses, or hockey. It can be as simple as a feature wall with pieces of their family history, or as small as a shelf with a handful of precious memories of a loved one who’s passed.
Forde’s basement is his own ongoing work of art.
It started with his Irish Viking pub that he recently finished — a dark, wood-filled pub that has both Irish decor and 1000 AD Viking details throughout. Though it may be technically ‘finished’ as far as the structure itself goes, it is an ongoing project — everything in his basement is. He’s constantly adding or removing details to each themed area.
He just added a poster to the ceiling of ‘The Cavern Club’, his 1960s Beatles-themed corner. He’s working on some lamps to brighten the walkway to his Irish Viking pub. And he recently found a small Second World War themed missile, made by a man he knows, that he hung above his 1940s bar.
“It’s amazing how many people have junk but it’s all stuck in boxes and closets. I’m all about trying to get that stuff out and make it fun,” says Forde.
Many people don’t even know this type of service exists, until they walk into his basement.
“It gives people an idea that you don’t have to have a big space to do something creative if there’s something important in your life,” he says.
After touring Doc’s Studio, people realize that it doesn’t have to be a whole room, it can just be a corner of their rec room with a few things, for example. Home pubs, libraries, wall shelves, carvings and custom signs are some of his most popular projects.
“Sometimes they want the collectibles, sometimes they just want the structure, and sometimes they want both,” he says. “I like to operate on a low budget. I won’t go out and spend a lot of money on something just to have it. I’m a very frugal person. I’m proud of it because it’s a skill to find the thing and negotiate a good price. It’s always low-budget.”
He goes on Craigslist every day to find items to add to his collection. He’s at garage sales every weekend and various antique stores regularly.
Doc’s Studio is not only Forde’s personal space and a gallery for visitors, but it’s also a place for customers to shop for items and ideas.
Forde has a storage area, which is surprisingly neat and organized, where he keeps all his “stuff.” Lots of stuff — things that catch his eye when he’s out hunting for treasures. He knows that each item he finds might not yet have a home, but it will one day.
Also throughout his basement are a handful of large, wooden chainsaw carvings, many from his days as a former chainsaw carver from when he was living in Hope. He has a wooden chainsaw-carved Indigenous woman, an RCMP officer, a hockey player, and a dog.
“I like doing more creative stuff and thinking, ‘how am I going to accomplish that effect?’ That’s why the worn wood appeals [to me] because you’re trying to show aging which is not easy to do. It’s very hard to recreate,” he says.
But he’s good at it — really good at it. One of the wood carvings he’s done is a jacket which hangs on the nail of a fence post. It’s a replica of his father’s old corduroy farm coat. The detail is unreal. When you run your fingers over the wood, it actually feels like corduroy.
Working with wood is his specialty and he’s thrilled to share that and his thousands of other design ideas with others.
“I want to do this for other people. Some day I’ll retire completely and that will be my retirement gig that will be exciting,” he says.
“The most important thing is getting a theme we’re both excited about and getting them on board to do something with their home, not just think about it,” says Forde.
People can visit Doc’s Studio to get ideas on what they can do with their space, have a unique shopping experience (80 per cent of the items in his basement are for sale), and rent props and decor. Rob Forde can be reached at 604-997-2885.