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Five ways to spruce up your cottage on a budget

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Five ways to spruce up your cottage on a budget

As your cottage is likely your second home, you may be reticent to invest the time and money required for a full interior renovation, complete with brand new furniture. Instead, you may consider revamping your cottage space with some new accent pieces and DIY projects. Even the smallest updates can have a dramatic effect on the look and feel of your city-escape, breathing new life into it as you sip your Niagara wine and lounge on your Muskoka chairs.

There are plenty of foolproof and inexpensive ways to instantly refresh your space (cottage or otherwise) that you can start implementing today. Here are five budget-friendly tips and tricks to get you started.

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Vintage vibes

Whether you bought your own cottage, inherited it from family, or renting with friends, it’s likely that the space came with much of its own furniture. While this certainly makes furnishing your home-away-from-home easier, the furniture may not be to your taste. In the spirit of recycling and saving money, you can opt to re-finish some classic, staple pieces such as an old dining table or re-upholster an old sofa. If, however, you’re keen on keeping the vintage vibe, but with new furniture, you can easily purchase home décor pieces made in a similar antique style. While there’s always the option of purchasing these pieces second-hand from charity shops or lawn sales, there are many new pieces on the market made to simulate the past. When shopping for these pieces, look out for antique, rustic and vintage styles that complement your current decor.

With your new array of vintage (or vintage-inspired) pieces, you can decoratively arrange them upon an accent table or cabinet. These pieces can be new purchases, or even simple everyday objects, such as: a collection of pitchers or carafes, glass jars or vases, some candles or candle holders, even a collection of mirrors and photo frames arranged in a gallery-style wall will do the trick.

Under cover

Slipcovers have received a bad rep over the years, but rest assured that these new options aren’t your grandmother’s slipcovers! These handy fabric options have come a long way in fabric and design, and are a great (and inexpensive) way to refresh old sofas, armchairs or dining chairs. There are many options when it comes to slipcovers: you can choose to purchase a new piece complete with its own slipcover; purchase a stand-alone slipcover; or have one custom-made for a piece you already own. They’re washable and durable, and because of this, practical even in light, neutral colours. In fact, light-coloured slipcovers work well if you want to achieve a laid-back, beachy vibe for your space. You may even choose to purchase a few different kinds with different colours or patterns to transition your furniture seasonally, or change up your style every summer.

Slipcovers can also easily be used on outdoor furniture, providing comfortable seating for large parties or solo lounging. Their low maintenance makes them especially suitable for outdoor furniture, as they can easily be thrown in the wash and are durable against the elements.

In addition to slipcovers, accent pillows, throw blankets, decorative rugs and tablecloths are other inexpensive textiles you can purchase (or make yourself) to instantly refresh your space, both indoors and outdoors.

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Flower power

Flowers and other greenery are great and budget-friendly ways to instantly add style to your indoor space. They also work to bring outdoor elements inside to give your cottage a cozier, more natural feel. You can opt to use flowers and greenery purchased at your local florist, or simply use those picked on your morning walk. Rather than using a traditional vase, opt for a glass jar or other decorative vessel.

In addition to flowers, other natural elements such as: sea shells, foliage, wood and sand can also be incorporated indoors to impart a rustic, relaxed vibe. In the spirit of bringing the outdoors in, you may also decide to incorporate patio furniture, wicker and outdoor lighting into your interiors.

Simplicity is key

Regardless of the theme or aesthetic you’re going for, ensuring to keep the design simple is key to creating a relaxing oasis away from the city. Making use of accent pieces, such as cushions, colours and textures are great ways to evoke a theme or style without being over-the-top. Mismatched pieces, such as chairs, bunk beds, plates, tables or glasses are all part of the charm of a rustic cottage and allow you to re-purpose pieces you may already have. If, however, you decide to buy new furniture, be mindful of choosing neutral tones, clean lines and all-purpose material, especially for your outdoor space.

Double duty

Whether you’re purchasing a new piece of furniture or repurposing an old one, ensuring that it can serve a double purpose is key. Furniture that serves more than one function is a worthwhile investment, especially in small quarters. For example, ottomans that serve as seating and storage are great living room and outdoor patio options. Sofas and pull-out couches are great for lounging and accommodating overnight guests. Tables can serve as decorative benches, coffee tables and even dining tables, if table height can be adjusted. Daybeds are great for turning a room into a spare bedroom, or double as an extra room for lounging, or as a studio or library.

Many of your re-purposed accents can also be used as clever storage spaces: wicker or wire baskets can be placed underneath a desk or table. Old pieces of wood can be installed as shelves, and old cabinets can be sanded, refinished and used as storage devices throughout your space.

Re-decorating your cottage doesn’t have to become an expensive undertaking. There are a number of small, yet worthwhile, investments you can make that will instantly inject new life and style into your space. See a wide selection of affordable furniture and accent pieces, perfect for your cottage.

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Boho bathroom on a budget

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Boho bathroom on a budget

Photography By Larry Arnal

I’m always up for a design challenge. Fortunately, pushing the budget boundaries to prove that it is possible to achieve high style at a low cost just happens to be my forte. But occasionally, a project comes along that forces my creativity to a whole new DIY level, and that was certainly the case with this once-tired mauve and melamine bathroom that had a modest makeover budget of only $500.

Now, since I always preach that great style has little to do with how much money you have, but rather how creative you can be with your budget, I was determined to put that $500 where my mouth is and show that if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and put in a little good ‘ol fashion elbow grease, you can save BIG without sacrificing quality and style.

Here are the five ways that I achieved a champagne bathroom on a beer budget…

1. Give your existing cabinets a splash of personality

If your existing cabinets are in good condition, then why bother going to the expense of replacing them when you can affordably transform what you already have with a few DIY ingredients? I reused the existing flatpanel laminate doors with wood handrail, and simply added some shaker-style applied mouldings to the fronts to create instant architectural detail. Then, I painted the entire door, including the handrail, using Chalked paint from Rust-Oleum in a fresh hue called Tidal Pond to turn the vanity into a focal point full of eye-catching personality.

If you’re planning to tackle a DIY cabinet overhaul of your own, the key is to invest in the right products. Chalked paint is a great option because it doesn’t require a primer coat beforehand on most surfaces, it can be easily brushed or aerosol sprayed, and the two-coat application dries very quickly, leaving a smooth, velvety finish. But, the most important step is to apply a clear protective matte coat to the cabinets after painting to ensure their durability and longevity.

2. Update your hardware with a fresh metallic finish

I always think of hardware as the jewelry in a bathroom, but if new handles or knobs aren’t in the budget, then give your existing ones an instant, inexpensive makeover with a coat of trendy, metallic paint. In the case of this bathroom, I scored a pre-loved brass set at the ReStore, painted them with Universal metallic spray paint in brushed nickel, and then attached them to the door fronts. One of my favourite DIY tricks is to buy budget lighting and knobs in a less expensive brass finish, and then transform them myself to the finish of my choice. It’s an easy way to get a high-end look for little investment, and no one will ever know the difference.

3. Dated bathtub or tile? Yes, you can paint it!

Although mauve bathtubs and floral wall tiles were all the rage in decades past, it was time to give this throwback bathroom a fresh face. The only problem was that removing the old elements and replacing them with new simply wasn’t in the budget. So, after doing some DIY research, I discovered an affordable epoxy acrylic product appropriately called “Tub & Tile Refinishing Kit,” that would allow me to quite literally brush on a smooth, porcelain-like finish in just a few hours. I have to tell you, I was a bit skeptical, but the results far exceeded my expectations.

And as with all successful do-it-yourself projects, I took the necessary steps to prepare the surfaces before painting, which included using an etching solution to dull the original glossy finish, removing all caulking, and thoroughly cleaning the tiles and tub before the refinishing fun began. After the new finish dried, I re-caulked the surround and the tub was back in use within a few short days.

4. No quartz? No problem!

If you’re living with outdated, worn or damaged laminate, and new natural stone countertops simply aren’t in the budget, why not roll on a fresh, durable coating that will give you the look of quartz without the hefty price? RustOleum’s Countertop Transformations collection offers a paintable solution in a selection of neutral colours that has just about everything you need in a DIY-friendly kit, including a protective topcoat with mica flecks that made the once-bland bathroom counters glisten like quartz. It’s the perfect weekend project if you’re craving an affordable cosmetic countertop refresh.

5. Custom shelving without the custom price tag

Adding shelving in a bathroom is a great way to pepper in additional storage and make use of vertical space, but if you truly want to create a customized look, head straight to your local home improvement store for some stock lumber and stain. I wanted to add teak wood shelves in the Boho-inspired bathroom, but didn’t want to pay the teak wood price tag, so I had pine boards cut at the store to a custom length and then picked up a pint of “Early American” Varathane stain to create my own luxe-for-less finish. I affixed the boards to some inexpensive brackets, and voilá… custom without the custom price tag.

If you’re looking to tackle a budgetfriendly bathroom makeover, then just remember that all you truly need is the right products for the project, a little sweat equity, and a splash of creativity to turn your design dreams into an affordable reno reality.

A self-proclaimed DIY ninja, Leigh-Ann believes that great design has little to do with how much money you spend, but rather how creative you can be with your budget. As an expert on CityTV’s Cityline, Leigh-Ann embraces every opportunity to spark creativity and instill confidence in others who strive to “DO IT YOURSELF.” For more information, visit huelala.com @leighannallai

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BIG STYLE, SMALL SPACES: Crafted

How to select a floorplan for your home

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How to select a floorplan for your home

It’s so exciting when you’re in the process of choosing a home! John and I are giddy over the place we’re building in Arizona, and although it’s taking a lot (a lot!) of work, we know it will be worth it in the end. In saying that, it’s also a major decision and one you can’t take lightly, so before you decide on anything else when it comes to your new home, it’s important to think about the floorplan first: this is what truly shapes how you experience your house, from the size and shape to where the rooms are located.

Here I take a look at some factors in choosing the right floorplan for you:

WHAT SIZE OF HOME BEST SUITS YOUR FAMILY?

Every family home doesn’t need to be this mammoth, sprawling compound, nor will every family feel comfortable in a two-bedroom abode. Choosing a floorplan should start with how large a home will fit your lifestyle: assess how many bedrooms you will need and how many bathrooms are enough for you – and for visiting guests.

WHAT’S YOUR DESIGN STYLE?

Every homeowner has their own design style, so choosing a floorplan is also about deciding which plan meets those needs, too. Do you like traditional, or prefer a more modern, open-floor concept? Take a moment to think about your furnishings and how you foresee decorating your space.

Typically coordinated colours are the most important when designing an open floorplan – so it’s best to keep this in mind.

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS?

I’m going to tell you that there’s no such thing as a perfect floorplan – it doesn’t exist – so there will always be a bit of give or take (and some compromise) on your ideal floorplan situation. Say, for example, you have a large window in your living room: That will eat up energy, so your cooling and heating bills will be higher. What if you have an open, spacious floorplan that doesn’t allow for much privacy between a family room and an office? These are the things you have to discuss ahead of time. How you live in your home, what your routines are and how that will impact layout. You need to base decisions on how the home flows and how functional it is for daily life.

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

Yes, this is true. You have the ability to know when a space feels right, comfortable and fits the family’s needs. There are plenty of floorplans out there, so just take your time and assess how your whole family will move throughout your house.

KNOW YOUR BUDGET

This goes without saying, but stay on course with a realistic floorplan, not one that’s heavily idealized (and heavily priced). Ask a contractor or builder to help you determine the costs associated with different types of floorplans so you know what fits in your overall budget.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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How to host Christmas dinner in your condo – for cheap!

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How to host Christmas dinner in your condo – for cheap!

One of the biggest challenges condo owners face is lack of space. Many who choose condo living do so to minimize maintenance costs and live close to where they work and play. That often means a smaller unit where every single square inch has a purpose. For day-to-day living this is an excellent solution, but for hosting a large gathering it can be challenging. With Christmas coming up condo owners might feel like their only choice is to attend a party at a larger home, but with some careful planning, you too you can host a great party in your home and not break the bank.

Book the party room

The easiest and most obvious choice is to book your condominium party room. Most of these spaces come with food prep rooms, a lounge area and of course a spacious place to seat all your guests. With only a few weeks before the holidays the best dates may be gone already, but inquire about Christmas 2019. Maybe you can book now for the year ahead and let guests know that next year the holiday meal will be hosted by you. As a courtesy let your doorman know your plans to minimize delays of your dinner guests getting in. Go a step further and make signs that lead to the room, as some condo buildings are difficult to navigate.

Rent it

Most condo owners don’t have a table that will seat eight to ten guests. If you’re hosting in your unit look into renting a dining table with chairs. Turn your condo into a restaurant like feel. Move all the unnecessary furniture out of your main space into your bedroom. Leave only the long table and chairs and a few seats for guests to lounge. Keep the focus on the table and encourage guests to claim their seats as they arrive. This way, like a restaurant, they can stand during cocktail time and know there is a seat available right way if they need it. In some cases you can rent a dining set for as low as $200 and this includes set up. Some companies will provide the china and flatware, too.

Pot luck

The easiest way to keep costs (and efforts low) is to make your holiday dinner a potluck. After all if you’re spending money on renting furniture or a party room to accommodate your guests you may already be looking at a few hundred dollars to put on your party. As host commit to making the main dish. Ask your guests to bring dessert and the fixings. Also, for a big Turkey dinner skip the appetizers. When guests arrive already having your first course on the go, like a soup or salad. This will keep guests occupied and save you the hassle and money of making extra appetizers.

Prep

Having a small space means there is little room to do any work once guests arrive. After all you should be talking to them and not stuck in the kitchen. Make all you dishes ahead. In fact, except for dressing the salad, don’t leave anything to the last minute. The joy of holiday cooking is that casseroles and can be cooked ahead and kept warming in the oven.

Saving money

Planning ahead will make sure you don’t blow your budget. Make a list early of what you want to buy, search the flyers to get food ahead of time on sale. Make conscious choices to not cook meals that have complicated ingredients that you’ll have to go out and buy; use what you have at home first. Christmas is about getting together and enjoying a great meal with family and friends. A small space and small budget should not sway you from hosting.

Rubina ahmed-haq is a journalist and personal finance expert. She is HPG’s Finance Editor. She regularly appears on CBC Radio and TV. She is a contributor on CTV Your Morning and Global Toronto. She has a BA from York University, received her post graduate journalism diploma from Humber College and has completed the CSC. Follow her on Twitter @alwayssavemoney.

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Less really is more: Tips for decorating on a dime

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Less really is more: Tips for decorating on a dime

When it comes to a luxurious-looking home, budget is only part of the picture. The rest is about maximizing those dollars using colour, creativity and these tricks of the trade.

As a designer, colour is my most powerful decorating tool. I use it to make a big impact, for the low cost of a can of paint. To incorporate colour without the commitment, infuse the hottest hues through your artwork, accessories and pillows. This lets you stay on top of the trends without breaking the bank.

Scrimping and saving is one thing, but even the most frugal makeovers benefit from a splurge or two. Flooring and countertops tend to be high-impact, because they occupy big visual areas. In these cases, it’s worth spending a little more on something you love. The same applies to kitchen cabinets and bathroom tile. But buyer beware, there are varying degrees of “splurges” so shop around, wait for sales, and work with a knowledge able designer like myself who knows where to purchase the leading products today.

When choosing your finishes, consider their staying power. Simple, crisp lines and classic details have longevity, and they will remain a great asset to your home for many years to come, regardless of what’s trending that season.

My Design Tip : For kitchens and bathrooms, white is a widespread palette of choice, and for good reason! It boasts wide appeal, which is great for resale value. It’s also versatile, and easy to work with and accessorize as trends evolve over time.

The next step in the decorating process is furnishing your home. Be selective and consider the scale of your selections. The popularity of condo living has given rise to a new problem in the world of interiors: oversized furnishings. Pieces that are too large make a room feel cramped . On the flip side, pieces that are too small will make your home look under-furnished and, not luxurious. Properly scale and sized furniture will give your home that made-to-measure look without breaking the bank.

Last but not least, pay attention to the details. Give your home a carefully curated look with collections of art and accessories that you love. Line your shelves with beautiful books and cherished mementos; show off your mantel with your favourite photos; dress your tabletops with fresh flowers and greens. Remember every detail counts, so don’t leave anything overlooked.

About the Author: Kate Davidson is Designer, Principal of Kate + Co. Design inc. For more then a decade this design firm has focused on being a multi disciplinary interior design firm providing complete residential & commercial design services throughout Toronto, GTA. and North America. Known and respected for envisioning and creating stylish adaptable livable spaces www.kateandcodesign.com Instagram: kateandcodesigninc

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome

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Condo Finance

Finance: Condo Is The New Starter Home

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Finance: Condo Is The New Starter Home

Home prices in the GTA have been consistently rising.

Currently the cost of a single detached home in Toronto, for example, is more than $1.8 million, a price tag far out of reach for many families.

With home prices up significantly many couples with kids are now looking towards condominium living as a more convenient and economical option. No doubt condo living has perks that many families recognized years ago, but rising home prices have encouraged others, who may not have seen it as an option, to think beyond the typical detached home as a place to raise kids.

According to the latest data from Statistics Canada one out of eight Canadian dwellings were condos. More than 42 per cent of them were occupied by couples, many with children.

Family friendly condos are available across the country at every price point. Many feature dedicated play rooms, kid friendly swimming pools and easy access to childcare. Raising kids is expensive, and the added bonus of the cost effectiveness of communal living is attractive to many couples with kids. Here are some things to consider when making condo living a choice for your family.

Smaller space

A condo is not going to have the same elbow room as a detached home. It may also not have direct access to greenspace, like a backyard. But smaller space means a lot less to furnish and that is a money saver. Pick a condo that has easy access to parks and libraries to keep kids occupied and outside. When searching for your new home ask if the condo has any dedicated places for kids to play. This can make your small space feel much bigger once you move in.

Lower utility costs

One of the biggest money savers is your utility costs, which will be much lower than if you lived in a detached home. Hydro, water and gas will all be less. Condominium living comes with a monthly maintenance fee that should be figured into your overall budget. This often covers the cost of maintaining the communal areas, paying for concierge service and upkeep of the parking lot. This is no different than maintenance costs on a home that owners would pay out of pocket.

Community

One of the most overlooked aspects of condominium living for families is the sense of community. Living in close quarters means you meet your neighbours regularly, in the hallway, in the lobby, in the communal fitness and entertainment areas. This can make it easy for parents to arrange play dates with other parents, find out what family friendly events are happening and even arrange your own family focused parties. There is an intrinsic benefit in knowing there are people just like you in such close proximity.

Greater security

Condo living can give families a sense of security that a single detached home may not. Most condos have a security system that you need to ring before you can get it. Many have a security guard or concierge around the clock. These features means no one who doesn’t live in the building or is their guest can get access inside. This in and of itself can create a sense of security, not only for your kids but also for you. Also, when you take a long family holiday, as many do over the Christmas break, you know there is always someone keeping a watchful eye on your home.

Living in a condominium can be a huge money saver for families. It’s not for everyone. But with more builders focusing on larger units with kid friendly spaces, it is becoming a possible option for many families with kids.

RUBINA AHMED-HAQ is a journalist and personal finance expert. She is HPG’s Finance Editor. She regularly appears on CBC Radio and TV. She is a contributor on CTV Your Morning and Global Toronto. She has a BA from York University, received her post graduate journalism diploma from Humber College and has completed the CSC.

Follow her on Twitter @alwayssavemoney.

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