All posts by Dave Gray


Creative ideas for DIY bookshelves

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Creative ideas for DIY bookshelves

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Welcome fellow bookworms! If you’re looking for a DIY bookshelf project, look no more because here are some creative ideas that will catch your attention.

A bookshelf is a staple in the house of an avid reader (one who prefers real books with pages and covers). But you may not want to adorn your home with a traditional bookshelf; you want something special. The good news is that bookshelves come in countless sizes and shapes. And if you build it yourself, it costs little or nothing at all. There’s no reason to buy an expensive furniture item because chances are you have plenty of materials to create one.

If you’re a beginner crafter, glue together crates or hang a set of wall mount shelves above your desk. But if you’re a pro, you can create something truly extraordinary like the dreamy bookshelf you’ve read about in your books.

Come here little bookworm, let’s discover some creative ideas together.


Your bed frame can serve as a bookshelf

What is your favourite reading spot? If you’re like many of us, you prefer the comfort of your bed when you dive into a plot in the Seelie Court. So why not creating a bookshelf close to the bed to keep your treasures at hand? To fill an awkward space between the bed and a wall, build a bookshelf from honeycomb crates into the bed frame. It gives the room an aesthetic boost and provides you with easy access to before-bed reading material.

If you don’t like hexagonal boxes, you can build a classical shelf.

Bright coloured crate bookshelf

Do you know why people use crates to build everything from bed frames to shelves? They’re cheap and look stylish when you assemble them into furniture items. For the bookshelf fuse wood crates in different sizes together to make a standing item you can place in any room. Before building the bookshelf, measure the spot where you want to install it to ensure it fits. After you fuse the wood crates together (with glue or nails) spray they with a bright coloured paint to make the items stand out from the rest of decorations. If you want to paint each box in a different colour, do it before fusing them to prevent the product from spilling on neighbouring elements.

Hexagon shelves

If you have an empty wall, you want to convert into a bookshelf you can play with honeycomb shelves. You can purchase prebuilt ones from the local store. Stores such as Ikea sell these items at affordable prices so you can buy multiple ones to cover the entire walls in hexagons. If you have wood pieces you no longer use, build the hexagon boxes at home. This way you can diversify the sizes and play with the models. For a white room choose bright coloured honeycomb boxes to cheer up the space. Fill a couple of them with decorations and succulents to give the room a cosy feeling.

One interesting idea to give the shelves a funny twist is to use sugru mouldable glue to attach jars on the combs’ bottom. You can transform them into tiny terrariums filled with succulents. Your bookshelf will look as extracted from an elfland where plants take over buildings and make them part of nature.

Built-in shelves

Most times, people don’t give their living room walls a purpose, they limit their use to placing the TV on one of the walls, and maybe some works of art on others. But this is not the case for a book worm’s house because they can convert any free space into an intricate system to store their books.

Roll up your sleeves because we’re going to tell you how to build a bookshelf around your TV set. Gather all wood materials you no longer use and start building cabinets because you have plenty of space to fill. You don’t need to experiment too much with the form because even traditional bookshelves painted in different colours can do the trick. Use chalk paint to give them a vintage look.

Tree bookshelf

If you plan to build a bookshelf you’ve probably browsed through Pinterest ideas a couple of times lately. And if we know Pinterest, it definitely suggested building a tree bookshelf. Now, there are various ways to create this type of furniture item, and it depends on the materials you want to use and the skills you possess. The simplest way to construct a tree-shaped shelf is to paint the three on the wall and insert some wooden plants in the spots where you draw the branches.

But if you prefer a more intricate model, then you may want to build the entire tree from wooden planks. And this task requires skills because you need to cut, fit, and fuse the branches together to make a shelf sturdy enough to hold your books. After you paint the tree hang it on the designed wall and use reinforcements to secure it.

Triangle shelves

This model serves both as bookshelf and decoration. Depending on its size, it can look like a dollhouse or mountain. If you opt for a larger shelf, create an intricate pattern of triangles inside to make it look more interesting and provide multiple functions. You need only some wood planks and a couple of nails to fuse the pieces for this project. Start with the frame, and add one small triangle at a time. Besides books, use plants, jars, and other accessories to decorate the shelf. If you want to make it look more like a mountain, add some green plants on its sides.

Coffee table bookshelf

If your living room lacks a coffee table, and your book collection is still young, a coffee table that features storage space is perfect for exposing your jewelry. You can build the coffee table from wood planks and shape it in a form that complements the surroundings. This bookshelf is ideal for keeping the books you’re currently reading at hand, and grab them every time you relax on the couch.

Do you have other creative ideas on how to build a bookshelf? Please share it with us!


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The hottest hues you can expect for 2021

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The hottest hues you can expect for 2021

We can all agree 2020 was not the start to the decade that any of us expected. With all its unpredictability, there’s been a renewed emphasis and appreciation for the power of the home. We now expect our home to do more for us than ever. They need to be schools for our children, a new workplace for parents and ultimately serve as a sanctuary, shielding us from the world outside.

At the core of it all, colour is an essential component in helping to form its metaphorical armour. It can change the way we think, impact the actions we take and significantly shift the way we feel. I can think of many moments where the colour of a specific space has lowered my heart rate and provided an extra hit of dopamine. Colour is one of the most natural and powerful ways to transform a space and temper our emotions.

The hottest hues you can expect for the new year

The desire for “spa-like” spaces has gained significant traction in the past year. At Louis Duncan-He Designs, we’ve had more and more clients ask for not just bathrooms, but also bedrooms to be designed with a focused Zen sensibility. And Benjamin Moore’s Colour of the Year for 2021, Agean Teal, demonstrates this trend. Our bedroom palette boards are filled with panelled and feature walls in soft teals, calming blues and subtle pastel greens. Clients want bedrooms that are designed to make it virtually impossible to carry any remnants of the day’s stressors into them, and this will surely be a trend that will transition into 2021.

As a result of more people working from home, we’ve also noticed a natural shift in common living and working spaces. Bold and energetic jewell tones have become staple choices for those striving to harness creativity and make a statement in offices, dining rooms and kitchens. Jewelled tones and yellows pair perfectly with Benjamin Moore’s 2021 palette favourites, Chestertown Buff and Potters Clay, to create the perfect mix of understated drama. They work incredibly well with natural elements such as moss, black iron and natural brick. Layering richer and more vibrant accents such as Pantone’s Marigold hue, add the perfect bohemian look, injecting life and personality. There will always be the desire to create vibrancy and depth; however, a more understated and thoughtful set of jewelled tones feed our senses and the soul.

Being housebound means bringing the outdoors in is exponentially more important, providing us with the calming effects of nature and wanderlust. A strong ode to nature has been a popular trend that the design community continues to embrace. Sherwin-Williams Colour of the year for 2021, Urbane Bronze, serves as the perfect backdrop for soft earth tones such as sand, and blues and greens, blending the timeless mix of elegance and organic. Pairing them with natural textures such as unfinished wood and touches of rattan and wicker help actualize the indoor/outdoor effect, creating spaces that are serene, meditative and grounded in the familiar.

We all eagerly await what the next 12 months will bring, and all we can do is try to fortify our homes in ways that will elicit joy, spark growth and ultimately make us feel safe. And that’s the magic of colour. It’s one of the few aspects in the world that can communicate everything we need without having to actually say anything. With a future that is currently so much in the grey, think of ways to reinvigorate your space and make sure to dream in full colour.

Designer Louis Duncan-He is Creative Director and Principal of Louis Duncan-He Designs. This notable Calgary-tand Montreal-based boutique design firm offers complete residential design services throughout Canada. With a distinct timeless perspective, they create unified authentic designs.


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A stylish shared room with space saving solutions

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A stylish shared room with space saving solutions



Designing a room can be difficult, especially one that is shared, as this requires twice the furniture and storage. To create a cohesive room, select bedding and furniture that is identical. Keeping the furniture layout symmetrical is a great way to maximize space.

Keep it Zen

Natural elements were brought in; a tree stump was added for artistic detail in place of a nightstand. Similarly, an indoor swing offered opportunity to bring the outdoors in. Adding natural wood in your decor can give warmth and texture. However, when incorporating wood, it is important to consider the type of wood and colour. Lastly, storage baskets offer a stylish solution to keep the room organized.

Add interest

To add unique personality to the space, a wall mural was designed and installed – this brings a playfulness to an otherwise boring wall. A wall mural is a digital photographic image with less symmetry and much larger repeats. Typically, it is used as an accent on one wall. The application for the mural is simple, it has an adhesive backing that peels and sticks to the wall.

Keep it light and airy

To elevate the space, panelling details were added, the colour palette is bright and airy making the room feel breathable. Window treatments were kept soft to keep the natural light flowing. And, for the final touches, a colourful rug and cheerful artwork were added to tie the entire space together.

Brenda Danso, a California native turned Toronto resident brings her educational background in mental health to her interior design practice. Her projects range from home staging and residential design to commercial design.


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How to decorate with plants

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How to decorate with plants

Real or faux, plant lover or plant serial killer, or in between, one thing is for sure: We have an innate longing to connect to the great outdoors. Also known as biophilia, it implies that our need to connect with nature affects our physical, mental and social needs which ultimately improves our wellbeing and productivity. This concept is used in interior design by introducing aspects such as plants, water, natural light as well as elements such as wood and natural stone to simulate nature indoors.


How do interior decorators and designers do it? By adding greenery into their design schemes. Plants have been proven to not only reduce stress but also increase happiness and help purify the air. They also improve our clarity of thought, as well as acting as a natural mood booster. Now more than ever, as the world continues to urbanize and a lot of our time is spent indoors, it is not only necessary but essential to create indoor environments that reference nature in different ways.

Which brings us to these questions: Are real plants better than artificial plants? What about wallpaper? Is it a tangible enough presence that can improve our connection to the great outdoors? I am here to tell you that all plants can have a good effect on you.

The 90s style wallpaper that featured plants and flowers is back but with an updated modern twist. Using an oversized botanical motif, cascading foliage, succulent leaves and intricate tapestry detail, wallpaper can be one way to connect to the great outdoors without the effort and commitment.

You can create an indoor oasis that will serve as a refuge from the outside world, whether you live in a condo or house, and if you choose real or faux plants. The positive effects of any greenery will add to your well-being.


Bilha Kangethe is the Founder and Creative Director of The Lifestyle Loft. As a certified designer and interior decorator, she has created a company that focuses on the needs of each client and customer and helps them curate a lifestyle that is comfortable and economical.



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8 expert organizing tips to make your move easier

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8 expert organizing tips to make your move easier

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For most people, moving can be described as painfully stressful and difficult. At the same time, others may find it the most interesting part of the moving process.

Even though each type denies the existence of the other type, one thing is certain – both need to know how to organize their items for a faster and more efficient move.

The professionals at Montreal Movers say that, even though they do their best to fit your furniture and boxes in the truck, it is up to you to make sure that everything inside those items is well organized. If not, you may need more than one truck – and this means more to pay.

Start early

We really can’t get more expert than this, to be fully honest. If you start early, you have enough time to go through all your possessions and put them in the right place.

In fact, early prepping allows you to even make a list of everything you have, for better organization.


You don’t have to move literally everything you own into your new house. Keep everything that you love, use or want to keep as a memory, but throw every piece of clutter away.

Make sure to consider donating what you don’t need.

Room by room

Don’t start packing randomly. Come up with a plan before you find yourself in the basement, and then in the bedroom, and then back in the basement.

In short, don’t leave a room until you’re fully done with it or else you risk losing some items as well.

The power of labels

People that have a lot of tiny items – for example, arts and crafts enthusiasts – shouldn’t underestimate the power of labels. Moving out is also the best reason for you to persuade your significant other to buy a label machine.

Labeled boxes make everything so much easier – from storing certain clothing to storing documents and so on.

Organization goals

When packing things in your current home, think about the way things will be organized in your new home as well. Why?

Well, if you want a tidy bathroom with neatly folded towels, then you may not want to bring all your 20 towels with you. What we mean is that you should determine which items are important or not and which items you won’t be able to live without in your new home.

Don’t rush the unpacking

Even though you have a proper plan in your head regarding the unpacking, it is advised to never rush it, even by professional movers such as Montreal Moving. They might be in a rush, but they will never hurry your items off the truck.

As such, don’t just unpack your things in the middle of the house. Instead, take things room by room and organize as you unpack.

Organizing plan

We also recommend you come up with an organizing plan before you actually start unpacking. The last thing you want is to run through the entire house at once, trying to find the best spot for a certain item.

Determine where your items, clothing, and such will find their home before you reach your new home!

All hands on deck

Given that entire teams of movers show up when you call them, it goes without saying that you could really use all the possible hands when it comes to packing and moving.

If you have friends or family that want to lend a hand, don’t say no! Invite them over, buy some pizzas and soda, explain to them the packing strategy, and you’re set.

The bottom line

If you want an easy, stress-free move, follow these tips. However, if you’re the other type of mover, these tips will make moving more exciting, so be sure to check at least some of them!


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How to take care of your tropical plant babies

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How to take care of your tropical plant babies


Light requirements

Observing the growth and changes in your tropical plants allows you to determine if they are receiving enough light. Plants that don’t get enough light will usually look pale, have longer than normal stems, and smaller than normal leaves. Sometimes, a plant will look as if it is reaching for light: A sure sign that it needs to either be placed in a sunnier window or the natural light augmented with artificial light. Plants with colourful foliage will often lose colour when they do not get enough light and revert to green leaves.

Plants that are receiving too much light often develop burn spots on the leaves. In some cases, the leaves will turn pale and watery before wilting and drying up. These symptoms can have other causes, but if a plant is sitting in the hot sun on a south-facing windowsill when these symptoms occur, it is a good bet that too much light is the problem. Move it away from the window at least during mid-day, and give it a couple of weeks to determine if that makes a difference. Note that a south-facing window will produce less than 200-foot candles of light in winter and more than 2,000-foot candles in early summer. A plant that is happy in a sunny window this time year may not be so happy come summer.


Fertilizing indoor plants in winter is necessary only when you see new growth developing, or the plant is in bloom. Otherwise, your tropical plants are “resting” this time of year and will not benefit from a fertilizer application. It is best to err on the side of caution and give plants a little less than the amount the instructions call for.

There are several forms of fertilizer available: Granular, slow-release granules and spikes, and water-soluble. In our opinion, the best choice for houseplants is a water-soluble formula. The elements in it are readily available for the plant’s use and you will be able to see the effect right away. Choose from synthetic plant food such as 20-20-20 or an organic such as Pro Mix Liquid plant food.

The final step in choosing your houseplant fertilizer is determined by the plants you have. Some, such as African violets and geraniums, have fertilizers formulated specifically for them. African violet fertilizer, for instance, often is a 10-30-30 with traces of boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc.

Do not fertilize plants when they are wilted, dry or dormant – in other words, not growing.


At this time of year, the air in most Canadian homes is very dry and conditions are perfect for insects to thrive. To raise the humidity around your plants, place a tray filled with pebbles and water under your plants. The water should not touch the bottom of the pots. The pebble/tray will create a humid atmosphere due to evaporation.

Keep the leaves free from dust accumulation by washing them with a soft cloth that has been sprayed with insecticidal soap. African violets and other “hairy” leafed plants should not be misted or washed with a cloth. They should be washed in lukewarm, soapy water. Just hold the soil in place with your fingers while inverting the plant, swish the plant in the soapy water and rinse twice in clear water.

Here in Canada, we endure a long, cold winter that encourages us to reach for tropical plants for good reason. There is literally no better way to introduce humidity and oxygen into the indoor environment. With the right care and located in the right place, your indoor plants will live a good long life and you will reap many benefits from them.

Mark Cullen is a Member of the Order of Canada. He reaches more than two million Canadians with his gardening/environment messages every week. Ben Cullen is a professional gardener with a keen interest in food gardening and the environment. You can follow both Mark and Ben on Twitter (@MarkCullen4), Facebook ( and Instagram ( Receive their free monthly newsletter at


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How much condo insurance I need?

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How much condo insurance I need?


When you think about buying insurance for your home, the amount of coverage will depend on your type of property. In case you are living in a condo, there are two kinds of policies you will need. The master policy, which will cover all common areas and external structure and personal insurance. As a condo owner, you will combine both policies. Then, you might be wondering: How much insurance do I need? In this article, you will find the answer.

Whenever you ask an agent how much insurance you need for your condo, they will tell you that it depends. This is because both policies have to work together to give you complete coverage. However, the main difference is that the master policy is mandatory for every resident, while personal insurance is optional.In this regard, there are different types of mandatory policies available depending on the condominium you choose. That’s why first, we will explain the coverage of commercial condo insurance. After, we will break down how you can complement your protection with personal condo insurance.

Condo master policy

If you decide to live in a condo, you will have to purchase a homeowner’s association policy. All types of condo master policies will cover all the common areas such as the gym, swimming pool and games room. As part of the association, you will have to contribute every month to this insurance. Here are the condo master policies that you could find in the market.

  • All-in

These policies cover the exterior structure, fixture repairs and liability. Also, it will protect the internal structure, including any renovations you made to the unit. But, all your personal property is not part of the policy.

  • Bare walls

This one covers only the external structure and common areas. This means you will need to ensure all the contents of your home, appliances, flooring and fixtures, among others.

  • Single entity

With the single entity policy, you will have more coverage than with the bare walls, but less compared to all-in. Single entity protects all the exterior structures of the building, common areas and internal fixtures. However, for any repairs or upgrades, you will have to protect through a different policy.

Remember that the homeowner’s association would decide which type of master policy you buy. The purchase of this insurance will even be a condition to be a resident of the building. It is important to carefully read all the conditions of the master policy and find out everything that is excluded. Once you know which one is your homeowner’s association insurance, it’s time to take a look at the condo insurance.


How much condo insurance do I need?

Some people think that the master policy and the condo insurance are the same things. But, they are wrong. The master policy is the coverage that the homeowner’s association mandates. Condo insurance is a personal coverage that most residents purchase to protect their personal property, plus everything excluded in the master policy. If you want to find the top condo or home insurance in the market, visit Surex.

Now, you might be wondering how much insurance do you need for your condo? Well, that depends on the master policy. For instance, if you have all-in coverage, you will need to purchase condo insurance to cover renovations. However, there are other factors you need to consider, such as the age of the structure, location and size. You can talk about all this with your insurance agent, and they will help you determine which coverage you need.

But, before you call your insurance company, there are some values you need to know.

  • 1. Personal items

Apart from complementing what’s missing from the master policy, condo insurance also protects your personal items. This insurance will kick in in case your items are damaged, lost or stolen. To have an average value for the coverage of your items, you need to do an inventory.

When you start asking for condo insurance quotes, one of the first questions they will ask you is for an estimated value of your personal property. It is easy to underestimate the cost of elements you have in your house. That’s why an inventory of your clothes, furniture, appliances and electronics will ensure you come up with an accurate amount.

Today many apps can help you with the inventory, plus you can edit it to keep it up to date. If you have any high-value items such as jewelry or musical instruments. You’ll have to add these elements to the policy through floaters.

  • 2. Liability coverage

Make sure that your condo insurance policy includes liability coverage. This part of the policy will protect you in case someone gets injured inside your property. The insurance company will take care of all the medical bills, up to a determined amount, plus any legal fees.

Before deciding how much liability coverage you will need, asses all the possible hazards in your home.

  • 3. Living expenses

In case the is a fire, leaving your unit completely destroyed and you can’t live there while it is being repaired. Where would you go? Even though this is an extreme scenario, you must prepare for unexpected situations. To determine the living expenses of your policy, you need to think about your daily life.

Consider you might be living in a hotel for a couple of months. How much money will you expend? What is the cost of food for you and your family? Once you have an amount, you can include it in your policy.

After taking a look at how much condo insurance you might need, we will talk about how much should condo insurance cost.

How much should condo insurance cost?

On average, condo insurance costs $488, but the final amount depends on several factors. The insurance company will calculate your premium considering your master policy, the state of your unit and your location. However, the coverage for personal items, liability and living expenses will increase the price of your policy. If you feel lost at any point, contact your provider or insurance agent.


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A functional and inspiring laundry room

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A functional and inspiring laundry room

Like other utilitarian areas in the home, the laundry room has evolved in recent years. No longer just a place to wash, dry and fold, the laundry room has taken on new life, becoming a place to indulge in “laundry therapy,” as some people call it. Indeed, something is soothing about freshly laundered linens, soft sheets and crisp collars. Whether you love it or hate it, laundry can’t be avoided, but it can be less of a chore. Here are some of our favourite tips to bring beauty and brawn, for a room you’ll actually look forward to spending time in.

First things first – location. Where you plan your laundry room in the home will affect its style, your lifestyle and your budget, so consult a design professional so you’re aware of the implications of your choices. An upper-level laundry room is a popular option for those who have some room to spare upstairs. It’s brighter than the basement and eliminates the need to lug loads up and down flights of stairs. If you’re adding a brand new laundry room, tying it into the existing plumbing from a nearby bathroom will be cheaper and easier overall. On the other hand, if you’re working with an existing laundry room or you don’t have space to spare on an upper floor, basements offer their own distinct (and completely functional) benefits. It acts as an out-of-the-way work area, a great buffer zone for machine noise, and less damage in the event of a flood (yes, it happens).

With your laundry room placed, now you can start to think about how you will use it. This room has an important job to do, so start with the appliances. Your washer and dryer are the crux of this space, and you’ll quickly find that the right ones can make your day-to-day run that much smoother. Consider drum size in addition to any special features you’d like to have: Top or front-loading, sanitizing, noise level and energy rating, programmable settings… the list goes on.

Storage is another essential element in a high-functioning laundry room. Incorporate a mix of open and closed shelves, which offer a blend of out-of-sight storage (for the messy stuff) as well as easy access and display areas that can enhance function and add visual interest.

TIP: If you’re working with limited space, a stacking set is a popular option in condos and smaller homes. Meanwhile, a side-by-side washer and dryer offer a nice, large surface for folding clothes.

My third laundry room must have is good lighting. Generally speaking, the brighter, the better. Amplify natural light in the room with semi-transparent blinds or sheers on windows and light colours on walls, cabinets and countertops. Also be sure to layer in bright ambient lighting and task lighting in key areas, such as above counters, machines, laundry sink and ironing area, as well as accent lighting for all the lovely details.

While function needs to be top of mind in the laundry room, don’t discount the importance of the aesthetic details that will bring the space to life. After all, you won’t want to spend time in a room that sucks the energy out of you. Add some fun to your laundry room through colour, pattern and texture. Tile and wallpaper are an excellent way to infuse pops of personality without compromising function or spending a lot. Choose something that makes a statement, be it subtle or bold.

Despite the laundry room’s principal role as a workspace, there’s still room to play. When planning your laundry room, be mindful of what makes you feel good, and what will make chores more comfortable. Often, it’s all about finding that balance between beauty and brawn.

WASHER DRYER PAIR – LG | FAUCET – Rubi | WALLPAPER – Metro Wallcoverings | LIGHTING – Montreal Lighting | ARTWORK – Hibou Home | BASKETS – Homesense | SHELVING & CABINETRY – Designed by Hibou Design & Co., produced by Braam’s Custom Cabinetry

Designers Eugenia Triandos and Korina Khamis are Co-Founders at Hibou Design & Co. with more than a decade of experience this Montreal-based multi-disciplinary design firm has become known for creating both stylish and well curated interiors. The firm provides complete bespoke residential design services throughout Canada & North America.


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Modern mudroom tips

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Modern mudroom tips


Make it ‘niche’

Organization in this room is key, and a system that works for you is one that’s made for you. When designing a mudroom for a client, it never ceases to amaze me how different and unique each client’s organizational and lifestyle needs are. A system tailored to their specific needs and wants will never disappoint.

When designing an organizational space for your home, be mindful of your lifestyle and consider other members of your household. Who will be using the space, how often, and for what? And equally importantly, what will they have in tow? Pets with food bowls, beds, leashes and toys? Children with backpacks, hockey bags and swimming gear? Snow pants and winter boots? What about your own needs and wants?

If you have really unique needs, such as having to accommodate a lot of people (and stuff) or your space has atypical dimensions, such as very high ceilings, a custom storage system will be the best use of your space. This will create dedicated areas to hang coats, store bags, shoes, dog essentials, sports equipment and the like. The nice thing about custom cabinetry is that you can tailor it to your needs. Custom is the more expensive option, but I’d argue it’s well worth the price.

If you choose to go custom, work with a designer to avoid costly mistakes; they will inform you of all your options. There are amazing and innovative products that maximize every inch of space. Think pullout shoe racks, speciality drawers for keys and electronic devices, or adjustable rods and shelves you can change as your child grows. With the skills of an experienced cabinet maker, you could have an organized mudroom within a reasonable timeline.

If budget is of primary concern, there are also some great budget-conscious products available at big box retailers.

With thoughtful design, stock cabinetry can look fabulous. However, this cabinetry comes only in standard sizes, and it can be labour-intensive to assemble and install.

While you’re poring over all your storage options, think beyond traditional cabinetry. Maybe you even have a piece that you can up-cycle for use in this space. A large antique armoire or dresser can serve as an attractive statement piece in the entrance or hallway while doubling as extra shoe or bag storage.

When it comes to selecting products and materials, always opt for durability. For flooring, choose a material that is slip and stain-resistant, and can withstand the wear and tear typical of high-traffic areas. Avoid using softer stones that are susceptible to scratches from dirt tracked in on people’s shoes. Add even more style and function with a washable, water-resistant rug. I love the indoor/outdoor rugs from Dash & Albert, which are easily washable, stain-resistant, and protect your floors while collecting dirt so it doesn’t get tracked into your home.

Make it fabulous

If you’re working with a designer such as myself, style is likely already part of your plan. Don’t discount the importance of aesthetics, art and accessories in this space. How do you want to feel as you come and go? Ideally, your mudroom is as warm, welcoming and inspiring as the rest of your home. Tile, wallpaper, texture, colour and the right lighting can really make this once-utilitarian room really stand out.

As a designer and mum of three small children, I can speak from experience that with a little forethought, a home can be equally functional and fabulous. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life can get crazy, and “home” is our haven. Approach the hectic transitional rooms in your home – and the chaos happening there – with serenity, simplicity and of course, some stylish organization.

Kate Davidson is the Founder and Principal Designer of Kate + Co Design. For more than a decade, the multidisciplinary interior design firm has been providing complete residential and commercial design services throughout North America. Kate + Co is known for creating luxurious livable interiors. @kateandcodesigninc


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How can you reduce condo insurance rates?

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How can you reduce condo insurance rates?

Buying a condo is a major investment. Just like how you want to feel safe within the comforts of your new home, it’s also ideal to assure the value of your asset. And a way to achieve that is through insurance.

Condo insurance can save you from costs that you did not expect. Usually, condominium establishments offer that but only for the unit itself and the common spaces. Separate entities such as condo insurance companies in Toronto can cover other assets like self-initiated improvements and personal possessions, among many other things. If you’re keen on getting a condo unit within your area, you may see it here.

However, condo insurance rates constitute a big part of an owner’s budget. Finding ways to minimize that can guarantee big savings. Thus, here are some tips to reduce your condo insurance rates.

  • Reporting renovation and improvements

Condo corporations usually retouch or upgrade some parts of the building. For instance, they decide to boost the security by installing additional cameras or even just adding guard patrol. If they do this, you can potentially get credit for it when you cross-check with your insurer.

  • Reducing disaster risks

An aspect covered by insurance is loss management from disasters, such as earthquakes. If the area is safe from seismic activity, you may decide on eliminating this portion of your contract. Check with your city’s seismic map if there are potential sources of quakes such as nearby fault lines.

If there are recent developments about disaster mitigation within the vicinity, you will benefit from that as well. An example would be a new fire station or hydrant nearby. If you can also improve your condo’s disaster response by yourself, it may pose a possible decrease in your rates. For instance, you can put up smoke detectors if your condo unit has none.

  • Improving your lifestyle

Your lifestyle can also affect your insurance rates. Avoiding smoking can reduce your dues since this lowers the risk of fire in your unit. If you’re part of a special group, such as a student or senior citizen, you may ask if you can avail of discounts. Being part of an exclusive association such as Ivy League school alumni associations or professional clubs may also earn you benefit from some insurers.

  • Maintaining competent paying activity

Another related aspect of your lifestyle is your purchasing and credit activity. At times, insurance companies offer better rates if you have a great credit score. So, make sure you pay your dues on time and avoid overspending. In relation to paying off bills, some insurers provide discounted rates to customers who have paid off their mortgages. You may consider accelerating your payments to clear your mortgages faster.

  • Building relationship with insurer

Maintaining a good working relationship with your insurer may reap some good things too. Staying with an insurance company for a long time can garner you a loyal discount. Paying in bigger amounts, such as annual contributions, will lessen the work for your insurers as well. This will encourage them to transfer the savings they made along the process to you.

  • Checking the market regularly

Though being loyal to an insurance company may provide you benefits, it is still wise to check other insurers periodically. Before renewing a contract, make sure you’re getting the most optimal rate available in the market.


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