Tag Archives: renovation


Kitchen Planner

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Kitchen Planner

The faucet and sink are the focal point in the hardest working room in any home

The kitchen is the hub of any home, and the sink and faucet are probably the hardest working components in any kitchen. By focusing on those two interrelated components you can generate a lot of business working with clients ranging from budget-conscious, small-space dwellers, to affluent homeowners looking to create the luxurious kitchen of their dreams.

Tight spaces and tight budgets

Many homeowners are looking for a low-budget spruce up, either to refresh a dated but otherwise functional look, or to maximize resale value when putting their home on the market. A new sink and faucet is an affordable upgrade that doesn’t require any structural changes.


The reality for many is that condos have become the de facto “starter home.” Condo-sized kitchens required condo-sized thinking. The Prolific sink was designed with small spaces specifically in mind. The 33” x 17¾” basin comes with five accessories, including a bamboo cutting board and a dishwasher-safe colander, all of which you can store right in the sink basin when not in use.

Expansive upgrades

If space isn’t an issue, clients will appreciate a large double-basin sink that makes washing and rinsing easy. Kohler’s Whitehaven under-mount sink has a classic farmhouse style apron front that overlaps existing cabinetry. The 24”- to 36”-wide sinks have large- and medium-sized basins, separated by a low divider. Each is available in 16 different colours, from white to “Black Black,” and the durable enamelled cast-iron finish will last the lifetime of the kitchen.


Other upgrades clients might want to consider include a counter- or wall-mounted pot-filler faucet by the stove, a filtered-water faucet for drinking, and built-in soap dispensers that match the look of the faucet they’ve chosen.

Regardless of kitchen size, homeowners have a plethora of options to choose from. Sinks are available in enamelled cast-iron, stainless steel, and even composite materials, such as the Cairn, made of Kohler Neoroc. For faucets and other fixtures, the range of options expands to include brushed nickel and bronze.

Logistical planning

Large or small, you’ll want to plan the kitchen to maximize space while minimizing wasted effort. Designers often refer to the “work triangle” layout when planning kitchens, with the refrigerator, cooktop, and sink at the three points of the triangle. There are a few “rules” that come with this concept, including that no object – such as a cabinet – should block movement between the three points, household traffic should not flow through the triangle, and no point should be more than nine feet from any other.


With open-concept designs, owners often picture having their sink – or a secondary one – built into an island. This typically means running additional water and drainage lines. Before committing to a particular design, you’ll want to make sure there’s space to run the lines through the joists, and that you have sufficient slope to the stack to ensure proper drainage.

Visual cues

Even with 3D animations, many clients often find it difficult to visualize how all the components of a project will come together in their renovated space. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but actually being able to see and touch the fixtures before installation can save a lifetime of disappointment with an errant purchase.

Earlier this year, the first Canadian KOHLER Signature Store opened in Vancouver. The 5,000-sq.ft. space features dozens of different kitchen and bath displays and a wall-mounted display of faucets, with many of the fixtures fully functioning. It’s open to the public seven days a week, so you can send your clients to see their options firsthand, at their convenience, prior to making their final decision. (For more information on the KOHLER Signature Store, see the June/July 2017 issue of Renovation Contractor.) Elsewhere, the company has also partnered with dozens of specialty retailers across the country that have Kohler-focussed displays.

If you can’t make it to a Kohler showroom display, contractors and clients alike will appreciate the online Kitchen Planner. Start by perusing one of the many ready made designs, ranging from traditional to eclectic, then create your own custom space by choosing from various sink, faucet, countertop, cabinetry, and wall colour options.

Big budget or small, Kohler’s range of kitchen sinks and fixtures can help you fulfill any client’s needs.


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Decor Expert: Kimberley’s Guide To Lighting Power & Safety

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Decor Expert: Kimberley’s Guide To Lighting Power & Safety

Electrical considerations are an important part of any renovation but particularly in those rooms where power and water mix, like bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. If you’ve been dreaming of renovating one of these important spaces, then planning ahead is your most cost-effective resource.


Putting plans, elevations and reflected ceiling plans (so you’ll know where the light fixtures are going before your electrician asks) on paper allows you to thoughtfully consider all of the details you’ll want to get right. Floor plans provide guidance when it comes to placing outlets. If you know you have a favourite reading chair, you’ll want to make sure there is a plug nearby for your lamp.

Most homeowners prepare floor plans but fail to prepare elevations, which highlight what’s happening on walls. An elevation will show you where you want a light switch (as you enter the room) and where you don’t; in the exact spot a painting would look great. It will also help you place outlets along a kitchen countertop or near the ironing board. Remember to consider the colour of the wall outlets are appearing on. With a dark backsplash, for instance, you’ll want to choose dark (matching) outlet and switch covers. That way, the outlets won’t distract from the pretty tile you chose.


Dynamic lighting can enhance any room. Consider nighttime use as well as daytime use for kitchens and bathrooms. Low ambient, motion-sensored light options, potentially at baseboard level, can gently light the way if you need to get up in the middle of the night. Your morning coffee will taste a whole lot better when you have softly dimmed kitchen lights vs. harsh overhead pot lights. Create layered lighting options, like task lighting for eyebrow maintenance in the bathroom, clothes folding in the laundry room, or food prep in the kitchen. Choosing the wrong kind of lighting or not installing it correctly can pose a safety risk.


Pamper your feet with in-floor heating. Ensure the placement of your wall thermostat is practical without impeding your design. It has to be at least one metre from a bathtub or shower stall, or be GFCI-protected if within one metre. Manufacturers’ installation requirements vary, so hire a licensed electrical contractor who will ensure a permit is taken out.

Making electrical an afterthought when thinking about your dream renovation can be costly and dangerous. The benefit of hiring the right professionals—an interior designer, licensed and insured contractor and a licensed electrical contractor—means you’ll not only love your gorgeous new space, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing your family is safe. To find out if your electrician is a licensed electrical contractor, check out poweryourreno.ca

Kimberley Seldon


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January 2017 eNewsletter

Managing change during your home renovation

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Managing change during your home renovation

Managing change is an important skill to learn when taking on a home renovation project. With so many websites, magazines and TV shows filled with images of gorgeous homes, it can be easy to find yourself suddenly dizzied by inspiration.

Whether you are inspired by a daring paint colour, a stylish room design, or an incredible open-concept transformation, it’s important that you try not to let impulsive inspiration take control of your projects. Taking on too many projects at once, or making several last-minute design or finish changes can result in incomplete projects and also muddy the vision you have for your home. While whim-based project alterations can over inflate your budget, they can also lead to conflicts with other people involved with the project.

Here are a few ways that managing changes during your next home renovation can be made easier.

Consider your priorities

If the change will radically alter the direction of an in-progress remodel/redesign or if it will halt an existing project, take a moment to prioritize before you act. Confer with anyone else who may have a stake in your remodeling project and think about why you want to make this change.

Definitely look into the monetary impact of any change you would like to make. Will new products need to be ordered? Will any products you’ve already purchased go to waste? Are there any permits that will need to be acquired?

With all of these things in mind, you will need to decide where your priorities lie and if finishing on-budget and on-time is more or less important than making this change.

Think about the future

Sometimes, spending extra money to make a change during a renovation can actually end up saving you money in the future. For example, installing under-floor heating during your bathroom renovation will spare you the expense of having to rip out your flooring if you decide to have it installed a few years down the line. While similarly, opting for granite countertops over laminate could mean that you won’t need to redo your kitchen in a few years, after realizing that you really did prefer the higher end material.

Create a file dedicated to the inspiration

The goal should be to use your inspiration strategically and not impulsively. If you saw something on a home improvement show that you absolutely “must try” in your home, journal it, look for similar projects online and file it away. Allow the idea to develop into a solid goal, rather than what could turn out to be a flight of fancy.

Work with qualified professionals

When you work with an experienced professional contractor or design and build specialist, they can be a source of expert advice. Talk to them and tell them about your ideas. Your contractor can help you recognize the impact making your change will have on your project and help you make an educated decision.

Published Darla Grant-Braid

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome


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Renovating for seniors’ safety

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Renovating for seniors’ safety


As adults approach their golden years, the homes they once thought of as sanctuaries can become unsafe. Families wrestle with the decision to keep parents and grandparents in their homes or move them into assisted living facilities or other senior residences.

Modifying seniors’ homes to make them safer is another option. The National Institute on Aging says that families might be able to have a senior stay at home by helping older relatives remain independent but safe. The following are a few ways to do just that.



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Renovating the Obamas’ new home

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Renovating the Obamas’ new home

Architectural Digest

The logistics of moving are a headache even under the best of circumstances, so we do not envy what the Obamas are going through right now. The outgoing First Family is preparing to trade the White House for some new digs in the nice Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, D.C., where they plan to stay until Sasha graduates high school in two years. But while former presidents don’t get all of the security measurements of a sitting POTUS, protection is still paramount. That means they can’t just move into any house. As such, the Obamas’ $5.3 million new home is getting some last-minute mandated security upgrades.



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Conquering your winter renovation

Conquering your winter renovation

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Conquering your winter renovation

By Bryan Tuckey
Building Industry and Land Development Association

Winter might seem like an unusual time to undertake a renovation but with the right knowledge and a bit of preparation it can be a great time to add value to your home.

The secret to a successful winter renovation is good planning and working closely with your renovator, says Sam Lapidus, RenoMark renovator and chair of BILD’s Renovation and Custom Builder Council.

Talking to your renovator in advance about potential challenges can help you save time and money in the long run. Snow and cold weather are two of the biggest factors in a winter renovation and they require precautionary measures so nothing is left to chance.

Major renovations often require you to move out of your home for a few weeks. To ensure that your contractor has easy access to and from your home you’ll need to make arrangements for shovelling snow and salting steps in your absence. Some renovation companies may offer the service but you’ll need to discuss it in advance. It may come at an added cost, so make sure it is noted in your renovation contract.

When you move out of your home it will likely cool down significantly, even if the heat is still on. This increases the chance of water freezing inside your pipes, which could cause them to burst. To minimize the risk, have a plumber heat the water line coming into your house or call your municipality to shut the water off at the street side.

Homeowners doing a winter renovation in semi-detached houses or townhomes need to be mindful of how it may affect their neighbours. These types of homes have shared walls, and if the temperature in your home drops significantly it can affect the comfort level of those living on the other side of the wall. If the shared wall is not properly insulated, talk to your renovator about installing some temporary insulation to prevent heat loss. This is another issue that should be discussed in advance as it may result in additional fees.

Special precautions may be required when renovating homes with flat roofs. Major renovations or additions may compromise the structural durability of the home. Snow can build up on the roof and if your home is not structurally finished it may not hold up the weight. For an added fee, your renovator can have someone shovel the snow or have an electrician install a specialized heater. After the renovation you can choose whether to remove the heater or leave it to prevent snow permanently.

It is very important that your contract outline the full scope of work and all associated costs. Avoid renovators who urge you to forego a written contract. It’s a sign that you are not working with a professional. Verbal agreements make it hard for you to hold your renovator accountable for sub-par work and you will not have a point of reference if there is a conflict over payment.

Make sure you always work with a professional renovator. There are hundreds of them across the GTA. A good place to find one is at renomark.ca – home of the national RenoMark program. All RenoMark renovators agree to abide by a Code of Conduct, which holds them to a number of obligations. In addition to providing a written contract, they offer a minimum two-year warranty, are covered by at least $2 million worth of liability insurance and carry all applicable licenses and permits.

Your home is your largest asset so it deserves a pro, no matter what time of year it is.

Bryan Tuckey is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

He can be found on Twitter (twitter.com/bildgta), Facebook (facebook.com/bildgta) and BILD’s official online blog (bildblogs.ca).


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Industry Expert

Industry Expert: Keep The Peace

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Industry Expert: Keep The Peace

by Bryan Tuckey

Best practices for good neighbour relations during a renovation

Renovating is a great way to add value to your home, increase your quality of life and enhance the look of your neighbourhood, but the process can be tough on your neighbours.

Be considerate of the people who live around you when planning a renovation, as you could be subjecting them to months of dirt, noise and additional vehicles. Before the hammers start swinging, be sure to discuss your renovation plans with those next door, behind you, across from you and further down the street.

Spend some time going door to door to talk about your building plans. Whether you are building a deck, adding a second storey or rebuilding your home, your neighbours will appreciate knowing how long the renovation will take and who to contact if potential issues arise.

A professional renovator can accompany you on these visits and help guide you through working with neighbours. The national RenoMark program is a great resource to find a professional. Visit the RenoMark website (renomark.ca) to locate a RenoMark contractor in your area.

All RenoMark renovators agreed to a renovation-specific code of conduct, which includes providing a written contract; offering a minimum $2 million in liability insurance; having two years warranty on all work; and carrying all applicable licenses and certificates.

A professional renovator can help answer any questions your neighbours may have, from architectural design to zoning bylaw compliance. Keeping your neighbours fully informed will make them more supportive of the renovation. The city of Toronto recommends posting your building permit in a prominent area on your property.

A common concern for people is curb appeal so bring your drawings to show what the final product will look like. A good design will put a lot of people at ease.

Another great way to avoid disturbing your neighbours is to ensure you adhere to your municipality’s noise bylaws, rules that restrict the hours of operation for construction equipment or activity.

Your professional renovator will follow a proper waste removal process and keep the construction site clean to avoid fines and prevent health and safety hazards.

Some municipalities require you to obtain a Street Occupation Permit should your dumpsters or construction bins extend beyond your property line. A professional renovator will be familiar with all bylaws and requirements.

The most important part of any renovation for you, your renovator and your neighbours is safety. Every municipality has its own unique set of Property Standards and Property Maintenance bylaws. These may include things like putting a fence around the property, placing portable toilets far away from your neighbour’s homes and ensuring that proper safety equipment is worn by all workers. Professional renovators know to comply with these bylaws and avoid potential fines from the municipality.

Bryan Tuckey is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association and a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial governments.

Follow him on Twitter @bildgta, facebook.com/bildgta, and bildblogs.ca.


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Design/Build Expert

Design/Build Expert: The Million Dollar Question

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Design/Build Expert: The Million Dollar Question

by Brendan Charters

Photography by Andrew Snow Photography

An in-depth look at the variables which determine whether you should be renovating or tearing down and building new

This question is one of the most common we receive when people are taking stock of their old (60- to 100-year-old) city homes and weighing their domicile options. This question is second only to “do we renovate or move,” a topic we just recently covered in an earlier issue. While they often say “never answer a question with a question,” in this instance, it is necessary to delve a bit deeper into the core issues with the existing home— or pain points—in order to arrive at your answer. What is driving the need for change? More space? Greater efficiency? A nicer esthetic or just general repair and upkeep?

FRESH AND CLEAN A new build means every facet of the home from the foundation to the roof is brand new and designed to today’s building code standards.
FRESH AND CLEAN – A new build means every facet of the home from the foundation to the roof is brand new and designed to today’s building code standards.

First off, it should be understood that adding new space to a home always costs more per square foot than building new (assuming you are building with the identical methods and finishes—all things being equal). One loses the economy of scale in a larger project when adding to an existing structure and tying the two spaces together carries costs unto themselves, which skew the equation. Also, the labour component on the demolition side is much higher as you are not just smashing with a machine to remove and dispose of the building, but rather working to preserve and later tie into a part of it.

OUT WITH THE OLD Demolishing an existing home can also take away unique features such as property setbacks and building features which may be irreplaceable.
OUT WITH THE OLD Demolishing an existing home can also take away unique features such as property setbacks and building features which may be irreplaceable.

In order to come to a conclusion on which is best for your specific situation, I need to ask some key questions that apply to every case:

  1. What problems exist in the home that need repair (i.e. leaky foundation, old wiring, mould, drafts, just plain ugly).
  2. What is the main structure composition? (i.e. solid masonry, steel frame, wood frame, straw, etc.) Start thinking about lifespan of the original home, and could there be any hidden issues within the structure?
  3. How much of what you are planning is cosmetic and how many changes are major structural alterations? (i.e. blowing out load-bearing walls versus refinishing hardwood floors)
  4. How afraid are you of the unknown? Renovations typically have the ability to produce a surprise or two, more so than when building new. We need to factor that into the comparison.

People always want to know where costs are currently running per square foot in residential construction. Those numbers are almost impossible to accurately estimate without a plan and a detailed scope of finishes. Our new construction home projects typically fall in the $250 to $350 per-square-foot range, plus the cost of the lot itself and finish landscaping. Recently, the lowest I have heard quoted from other firms was $190 per s.f. and the highest, at $450 per sq.ft. I am sure some people have built for less, and we all know there are homes which cost more than this, but based on a mid-range of typical systems and finishes, this is a current rough guide. The average GTA custom build would be in and around $275-$300 per sq.ft. for loose budget purposes. Therefore if you are looking for the average 2,500- to 3,000-square-foot home, you should assume the average range to be between $700,000 to $900,000. Site conditions, access and other challenges could adjust these numbers up. Adding new space to an existing home is generally 15 to 30 per cent higher per sq.ft. than new construction for larger additions, and could easily be 50 per cent higher if the addition is small (like a mudroom or front vestibule).

CHOP CHOP With the right designer and renovator, an older home can be made to flow and function better through less costly renovations.
CHOP CHOP – With the right designer and renovator, an older home can be made to flow and function better through less costly renovations.

It should be stated that there is usually value in the existing home that you have, which should not be immediately discounted. To rip it down and dispose of it will add roughly $20,000 to $30,000 to the budget… and that’s just to get rid of the old. One of the big tipping points of shifting away from renovation and undertaking a new build is if you are looking to completely gut and remodel the interior, add significantly to the existing footprint and begin to either waterproof from the exterior or affect ceiling heights of the existing home (either underpinning a basement or raising a floor or roof structure for example). A good exercise is to list out everything you want changed, fixed or worked on and work backwards to create the list of what’s left of the original home. The value of the remaining structure will help lead you to the financial difference of the two options. If comparing similar-sized, system-outfitted and finished spaces—one new and the other an addition/remodel, we have found the new build is usually about $100k to $150k more in fees and costs, but at the end absolutely everything is new—which could be better—but may also not be.

RAISE THE ROOF Difficult to do in a renovation, setting new, much higher ceiling heights in a new build is relatively easy, making spaces feel grand.
RAISE THE ROOF – Difficult to do in a renovation, setting new, much higher ceiling heights in a new build is relatively easy, making spaces feel grand.

There is also the matter of zoning approvals, permits and taxation. Renovations are inherently different than a new home in that regard. Do some research in your local municipality on the impact of tearing down the existing home. You don’t want to lose some of the privileges the existing home may have ‘grandfathered’ to it by way of its current positioning on a lot. Changing to a new home can mean a whole new set of rules and regulations and fees to the various government bodies involved, some of which continue in perpetuity (like property taxes!).

WHAT’S IN A NAME? This former living room was cut up into a spacious front foyer and formal dining room for more frequent use.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? This former living room was cut up into a spacious front foyer and formal dining room for more frequent use.


IT’S A FORMALITY Converting unused spaces into the home into functional and useable spaces requires a creative eye.
IT’S A FORMALITY Converting unused spaces into the home into functional and useable spaces requires a creative eye.

Photography by Eurodale Developments Inc. (Before Image)

At the end of the day, there are numerous additional factors that will need to be weighed to make your final decision. Some include architectural style or significance of the existing home (historical preservation), environmental impact, sentimental value, and others. Strict, financially driven decisions don’t always provide the best answers. Go through the questions above and you will come closer to your decision. Ultimately, you will be the one living in the home and it needs to be the right choice for you and your family.

Either way you decide to go—be sure to start with a professional designer or architect and speak with professional builders. Either a renovation or new build can be an awful experience if you don’t pick the right crew to create your new or remodelled space.

Brendan Charters is co-owner of Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments – 2016 BILD Renovator of the Year.

Visit eurodale.ca or follow Brendan on Twitter @EurodaleHomes


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Video : HOMES Publishing Group Areas to Update

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Video : HOMES Publishing Group Areas to Update


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When city & cottage collide – Jun/Jul2016

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When city & cottage collide – Jun/Jul2016

Photography By Sarjoun Faour

How to invite some cottage charm into a slick urban space.

There is a certain feeling you get when you walk into a cottage. It starts right when you open the front door and are greeted with the smell of the wood beams. It continues as you collapse onto the comfortable couch and take in the view from the lake. The cottage is all about comfort with a connection to nature. It is where you go to relax and reconnect.

The city, on the other hand, is fast, elegant and modern. Dominated by chrome and glass, it has charms of its own. It is where things happen, where life is exciting.

Most people separate the two worlds, compartmentalizing their city lives and cottage lives into two diverse categories—one for the rush, the other for relaxation. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to combine these worlds, bringing pockets of relaxation to the chaos. By adding rustic elements to city living, you’ll create a space that feels like an escape while your home remains modern and clean.

By adding rustic elements to city living, you’ll create a space that feels like an escape while your home remains modern and clean.


The main difference in design between a city apartment and a cottage getaway lies not in the amount of food consumed, the location, or any particular furniture piece, but rather in how each piece was manufactured. Although this does not sound particularly interesting, it explains the overall feel of each environment. In a typical urban apartment, most elements are manmade. Polished chrome fixtures, microfibre sofas, crystal accessories, and plastic chairs are all commonplace in a city but none of those materials can be found in nature.

In contrast to that, the cottage is comprised of natural elements, mostly wood. Large pieces of lumber, cowhide rugs and stone fireplaces are the norm.

Having said that, it’s not about wood-beam ceilings and fireplaces. Covering your walls with wood is not going to make it feel like an escape.

Instead, it’s about letting each existing element breathe and express itself. Rather than covering concrete, let the veins and texture show. Instead of polishing the wood to perfection, let it be crooked and full of grooves. On a smaller scale, an unglazed ceramic pot, a fur pillow or an unpolished metal light fixture can have the same effect. These pieces lightly hint at their original forms, and thus bring us a bit closer to nature.


Knowing the feeling you want to achieve is important with any design undertaking, and arguably even more crucial in this case. What is it about the cottage that prompts you to go there? Is it that hammock by the lake? The long walks in the forest or the family dinners? These personal memories should lead to your focal point. If you enjoy bike rides, place your bike on the wall; if it’s the hammock, hang a cocoon chair from a rope; if family dinners are important, consider investing in a long wooden dining table. It is not just any cottage that you want to bring into the city, but your experience of it.

These personal memories should lead to your focal point. If you enjoy bike rides, place your bike on the wall.

THE 80/20 RULE

We have all heard of the 80/20 rule as it applies to work, and it applies to this design as well. The space should be 80 per cent city and 20 per cent cottage. The key to bringing in rustic elements tastefully, without overpowering the modern and clean esthetic of urban living, is to maintain the contrast between them.

Keep the palette (the 80 per cent) clean and glamorous. Then bring in the cottage (20 per cent) as accents—a few furniture pieces, plants, landscape photography, focal points. The balance between the two works like complementary colours; each element is emphasized and brightened by the proximity of the other.

Having said that, there does need to be one unifying element: colour. In order for the rustic elements to blend into the space, it needs a neutral backdrop. Bright pink and a live-edge dining table should never be found in the same room. For this look, keep to colours abundant in nature. Deep ocean blues, forest greens, greys, browns and off-whites all work as the main palette.

There is still a certain type of magic in going to the cottage that cannot be bottled up and brought to the city. But you can bring back little pockets of memories, moments of relaxation and calm. You can get a little closer to nature every time you enter your home, closing the door on the hectic and exciting rush of the city streets, and breathe in a little tranquility.


Isabelle Boba is the Founder of LUX Design, an interior design firm specializing in commercial and residential spaces. luxdesign.ca


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