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Front entrance ideas

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Front entrance ideas

Exterior landscape design by Samantha Kleinknecht • Photos: Alex Lukey

Toronto, and pretty much all of Ontario for that matter, is a sellers’ market. Demand is high, housing stock is low, and competition is cut-throat – and that’s putting it mildly. If you’re selling your home, you have the upper hand, but you should still do what you can to increase your investment value – and your overall selling price.

Did you know? According to a recent survey by the Ontario Real Estate Association, only two per cent of homebuyers said a home’s exterior and landscaping didn’t factor into their buying decision. That’s a whopping 98 per cent of people who consider a home’s curb appeal when shopping the market. Interesting, right?

Curb appeal is all about creating a desirable and inviting exterior, to catch people’s eye and make that first positive impression from the curb. Decades ago, most home-hunters would pile into their car every Saturday and Sunday, from 1 to 4 p.m., and drive around looking for open houses. When something caught their eye, it was a must-see. That’s curb appeal. Today, curb appeal is more about attracting buyers online with great listings photos. Whether we’re talking in person or online, your home’s exterior is the first impression people get, and it will be a big factor in their decision to take a closer look or keep moving to the next, perhaps slightly nicer listing.

Here are some of my strategies to attract more buyers – and offers!

Paint

Depending on your home and its condition, this could be a big or a small job. but all things considered, it’s the most cost-effective way to freshen up your home. When it comes to choosing colours, don’t be too trendy. As we all know, trends come and go. Instead, opt for longevity and choose something in line with the neighbourhood aesthetic. Also, consider what’s happening next door. Avoid duplicating your neighbours’ colour schemes, which can make homes look odd side-by-side. Anything that’s peeling or appears discoloured will benefit from a fresh coat, including your front door and porch, shutters, window trim and garage.

Entrance area

Create an instant stylish welcome to the porch area with a new mailbox, light fixture and house numbers. make a seasonal vignette with planters flanking the door and walkway leading to the front door and porch.

Landscaping

When assessing your home’s curb appeal, don’t discount the importance of the yard. Outdoor space has become even more critical in the wake of the pandemic, which has prompted many homebuyers to look for homes with outdoor amenities. Manicured gardens, patios and decks have become huge selling features, especially in some inner-city neighbourhoods where access to green space is limited. Furthermore, landscaping is an upgrade that immediately increases your property value, and that value increases as your trees grow. During the warmer months, ensure the lawn is mowed, flowers planted, bushes and trees trimmed. Consider planting some hearty, cold-weather plants to bring life and detail to that bleak, wintery scene. Add outdoor lighting to highlight different areas and unique features.

Driveway

Admittedly, this upgrade is less sexy than the others, but it’s just as important. nothing ages a home at first glance like a cracked driveway, broken front steps or displaced patio stones. If the exterior is uncared for, potential buyers may assume interior elements have not been well maintained. Furthermore, don’t risk deterring buyers or tempting them to lower their offers in anticipation of repairs. Correct these issues before putting your home on the market. Curb appeal is a critical part of the home selling process, and paying a little attention to your home’s exterior can go a long way to attracting more interested buyers and higher offers. Especially now, with in-person showings limited and more house-hunting being conducted online or from the street, curb appeal can be just the thing to tip the scales in your favour.

Heather Hadden, Principal at Hadden Homes, notable top real estate professional in the GTA is focused on providing comprehensive full-service support for all new and existing homeowners.


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Jim's Place - Eco-Conscious Design

Jim Caruk builds his own dream home in Toronto

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Jim Caruk builds his own dream home in Toronto

Photography by Alex Lukey

There’s an old line about the cobbler’s kids going barefoot, the idea being that he or she is too busy repairing shoes for their customers to make shoes for their own children. Lucky for Jim Caruk’s daughters, this was never the case. The homebuilder and star of HGTV’s Real Renos (among other shows) has always viewed his own house as a showcase for the high-quality design and craftsmanship he always puts into the homes he builds for his clients, and his latest home is no exception.

Jim Caruk designed his home with an intentionally masculine, industrial look. The exterior features a mix of red brick, limestone, and black-accent panelling, capped with a Vicwest metal roof that has a 50-year warranty.
Jim Caruk designed his home with an intentionally masculine, industrial look. The exterior features a mix of red brick, limestone, and black-accent panelling, capped with a Vicwest metal roof that has a 50-year warranty.

Jim’s style takes centre stage

The four-bedroom, 3,800-sq.-ft. home is located in Humber Valley in the west end of Toronto. Now that his daughters are grown and have families of their own, (Caruk’s known as “Papa Jim-Jim” to his four grandchildren) he was free to indulge in some of the more masculine, industrial touches he favours. The exterior façade features a mix of red brick, limestone, and black-accent panelling. The lofty, industrial-looking windows bring in plenty of light, while the Vicwest metal roof will withstand the elements for decades with its 50-year warranty.

The maple and leather bench in the entrance foyer is from Toronto-based Objects & Ideas (ObjectsAndIdeas.com). All their pieces are designed and made in Toronto, using Canadian materials. The floor-to-ceiling wainscotting is typical of Caruk's "tricked out" trim.
The maple and leather bench in the entrance foyer is from Toronto-based Objects & Ideas (objectsandideas.com). All their pieces are designed and made in Toronto, using Canadian materials. The floor-to-ceiling wainscotting is typical of Caruk’s “tricked out” trim.

Inside, Toronto-based design company and retail outlet, 36 Knots helped burnish and furnish the look. “We were going for a contemporary, masculine look,” says 36 Knots’ Yvonne Tristani. “We used solid pieces, such as the heavier-set walnut chairs with blackened steel panels in the living room, offset with light leather cushions and very neutral carpets.”

The imposing piano converted into a coffee table in the living room is actually a double salvage. Caruk picked it up from a former client who was going to throw it out.

Jim Caruk’s favourite space in the home is the combined kitchen and dining room that span across the entire rear of the house, and leads to the covered back porch.

Outdoor oasis

“My favourite space is the dining room/kitchen. It’s the entire back of the house, and it leads out to the covered porch,” says Caruk.

The porch is a cosy covered seating area that looks out over the surprisingly secluded, tree-shrouded yard. The tongue-and-groove ceiling features embedded pot lights and a ceiling fan over the dining table. Glass railings provide an unobstructed view of the 12-by-20-ft. in-ground pool. In the basement, there is a guest room, or nanny room, with an ensuite bathroom.

The covered rear porch looks out on to the secluded, tree-shrouded yard with an in-ground pool. A ceiling fan over the dining table and a gas fireplace provide three-season comfort.
The covered rear porch looks out on to the secluded, tree-shrouded yard with an in-ground pool. A ceiling fan over the dining table and a gas fireplace provide three-season comfort.

Next-level energy efficiency

While the design, finishes and furniture reflect Caruk’s personal tastes, it’s what is behind the walls that he feels makes the biggest impact.

“The best feature of the house was working with Owens Corning to create a net-zero ready home,” says Caruk. Net-zero ready homes use the latest in building materials and design to minimize energy consumption. These features include insulation with R-values exceeding the current building code as well as sealing all the air gaps inside and out to prevent wasting heating and cooling energy. By adding a sufficient amount of solar panels, or other green energy options, a home can be classified as net-zero, meaning that it produces at least as much energy as it consumes every year.

The solid walnut and blackened steel living room chairs are contrasted with light leather cushions and very neutral carpets. Jim Caruk salvaged the coffee table made from the guts of a piano from a past client who was going to get rid of it.
The solid walnut and blackened steel living room chairs are contrasted with light leather cushions and very neutral carpets. Jim Caruk salvaged the coffee table made from the guts of a piano from a past client who was going to get rid of it.

“Building net-zero is still in the fairly new stages and it costs more upfront. But, in the long run, you’ll get that money back,” says Caruk. “My gas bill was cut almost in half.”

With more than 45 years’ experience building high-end homes for himself and his clients, Caruk has spent just as long learning how to build better homes from the inside out. His latest personal project showcases how you can combine attractive esthetics – matched to the homeowner’s particular tastes – with the latest innovations in energy efficiency.

Freelance writer Allan Britnell is the managing editor of our sister publication Renovation Contractor, and the editor of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s members’ magazine, Building Excellence.

SOURCES:
Builder and Designer: Jim Caruk, Caruk Hall Construction, Architect: David Small Designs, Styling: Christine Hanlon, Carpets and Furnishings: 36 Knots The Style and Staging House


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