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NKBA Ontario teams up with The Pinball Clemons Foundation

NKBA Ontario teams up with The Pinball Clemons Foundation

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NKBA Ontario teams up with The Pinball Clemons Foundation

The National Kitchen and Bath Association of Ontario and The Pinball Clemons Foundation are looking to make a difference to marginalized youth. The kitchen and bath industry faces a shortage of trades, so it is looking for volunteers in hopes of helping marginalized youth get off the streets. Thousands of kitchen and bath industry jobs go unfilled each month, yet many marginalized youths aren’t even aware that these lucrative and fulfilling career opportunities exist. That’s where the National Kitchen and Bath Association of Ontario and The Pinball Clemons Foundation come in. “Let’s build bridges, not walls,” says Michael Pinball Clemons, Founder of The Pinball Clemons Foundation.

Michael Pinball Clemons
Michael Pinball Clemons

NKBA Ontario is the first kitchen and bath association to embark on this very important endeavor to change marginalized youth’s lives – getting them from margins to mainstream.

About NKBA Ontario Chapter

The National Kitchen & Bath Association Ontario/Canada Chapter is a non-profit association that was established in 1977 to promotes professionalism in the kitchen and bath industry. It is our vision that everyone enjoys safe, beautiful and functional kitchen and bath spaces, to help make this happen we offer a creation of marketplaces, networks, affiliations and certifications courses that raise the level of professionalism by inspiring, leading and empowering each member in our community.

About The Pinball Clemons Foundation

The Pinball Clemons Foundation’s vision is to bring youth from the margins to the mainstream, through the power of education. It provides marginalized youth with educational resources and options to integrate into the mainstream of society. With the implementation of a customized mentorship program and financial support, we are removing the barriers that often hinder success. The ultimate goal is not a diploma or degree – we want to see youth successfully enter the workforce, sustainably employed in careers they desire.

If you are interested in joining the committee and/or mentoring, please contact Lucy Traetto at lucy.traetto@blum.com


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Create big impact in a small space

How to create big impact in a small space

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How to create big impact in a small space

Small space living has been a growing trend for quite some time with soaring real estate prices and people trading in size for location. Existing in forms such as tiny houses, micro apartments and simply smaller-scaled homes, finding ways to best design and maximize our space is all that more important. The idea of working with a small square footage is often daunting as it’s difficult to find the sweet spot between both form and function. And, in these challenging times, we rely on our homes more than ever to house our possessions, keep us sane and balance our emotional ethos.

Custom solutions

One of the most powerful ways to maximize a small space is by going custom. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, custom solutions (like millwork and drapery) are tailored to fit any space. With storage often being a challenge, incorporating floor-to-ceiling millwork uses a smaller footprint compared to freestanding pieces that can just add weight and take up room. In addition, custom millwork can be designed in any style to add depth and detail along with hiding clutter. Homes with children benefit especially from hidden shelving. Custom drapery is another way to elevate and add volume. By hanging drapery high at about one to two in. below the ceiling, it creates the illusion of heightened ceilings, lengthening the room and drawing the eye upwards. In a small space, custom is worth the investment.

Scale and proportion are critical components in small space design. When furniture and decor shopping, our brains often equate smaller items with smaller spaces… but this isn’t always the best solution. The more “things” that exist in a space the more cluttered it can look. Instead of opting for multiple arm chairs and an apartment sofa, sometimes a larger custom sectional is the better choice as it can create the illusion of a larger footprint. A common design mistake we encounter at Louis Duncan-He Designs is seeing clients with area rugs that are too small. Even in a large room, having a rug in the wrong scale tells us to “live” within that limited footprint as it dictates the overall usable space. The same line of “go big” thinking can also be applied to color. Don’t be afraid to scale up! Painting or wallpapering an entire room instead of a single wall helps define the space instead of splitting up an already modest room into even smaller sections. Going bigger in scale can lead to more confident and impactful designs.

Multi-functional and creative

Multi-functional is the name of the game when working in a limited area. An ottoman can extend seating, serve as a coffee table and create a focal point with the simple addition of a tray. Multi-functional furniture offers flexible performance and has since evolved to include transformative pieces which can quadruple your capacity within the same footprint. Companies have already done the heavy-lifting to create innovative pieces so make sure you’re taking full advantage of what’s available today. After all, one of the biggest goals for compact living is to find creative ways in maximizing space.

I repeat, a small space does not have to be an obstacle for good design. Larger spaces may allow for more room, but can also equate to more spaces to design. This can be daunting, labour intensive and expensive to perfect. Instead of thinking of it as a hindrance, see a small space as an opportunity to explore your imagination. Set guidelines can force us to think more clearly and beyond our creative comfort zones. With the aid of a creative compass, an artist can often create more impactful work when provided with the right parameters. And just like an artist, sometimes working small can lead to the biggest rewards.

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


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Designer Jo Alcorn updates a small kitchen with some big ideas

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Designer Jo Alcorn updates a small kitchen with some big ideas

Small spaces are always a design challenge. In my recent tiny kitchen refresh, I was tasked with creating a functional and efficient cooking space for a busy family who loves to cook and entertain, without sacrificing style. Here’s how I did it!

Countertops

The space already had relatively newer countertops that my clients wanted to salvage – this translates into massive savings! The existing countertops were black with flecks of greys, browns and taupe – it served as our starting point in the design process.

The engine of the kitchen

The appliances are the main engine of any kitchen, so choosing the right style, colour and functionality is key. For this space, I needed to play off the black countertops; this naturally led me to a Whirlpool black stainless-steel suite. Knowing how vital cooking is for this family, I wanted to give them appliances that had practical technology but didn’t compromise on design. Whirlpool’s fingerprint-resistant finishes hide fingerprints and smudges, and easily wipes clean, which is crucial for busy young families.

Chilling and grilling

I love the cool features that Whirlpool appliances now offer to help ease regular household chores and duties. Their new slide-in electric range has a “control from anywhere” feature that allows you to multitask with the Whirlpool app. Busy bathing the kids but need to preheat the oven or slow down cooking? Start it remotely or adjust the temperature with the keep warm technology from anywhere with a smartphone or tablet so it’s ready when you are. In a small space, I love to introduce a refrigerator with French doors. The dual-opening, side by side doors allow you to open the fridge without blocking the entire area. And this French Door Refrigerator’s features are amazing – everything from tuck away shelving, spill-proof shelves, and adjustable door bins. All these features make life for a family easier.

Clean-up crew

With a growing family, a full-size dishwasher is non-negotiable. My clients had an apartment sized dishwasher before this refresh. While the inclusion of a full-sized dishwasher did mean giving up some cabinet space, it was well worth it, especially for the one-hour wash cycle. And I was able to compensate for lost storage space with taller upper cabinets and the addition of a pantry next to the fridge, addressing one of the family’s biggest concerns – not enough storage space!

Cabinets cost

A significant cost in a kitchen renovation is cabinets. In this case, some of the cabinets were in good shape, so I decided to keep the lower cabinets as they were to create a trendy wood colour palette for a two-toned kitchen look. All I had to do was update them with new hardware. While I kept the lowers, I opted for replacing the upper cabinets. The uppers were replaced with a hardware-free, glossy white, flat front style. The gloss on these allows the light to bounce off them, creating the illusion of a larger space. Choosing to go without hardware kept the lines clean and simple, allowing the eye to travel over them.

Colour continuity

A little paint can go a long way to transform a room, and it’s very cost-efficient. This house is open concept, so we had to paint the entire main floor for a better visual flow. It was a pretty extensive paint job, including the kitchen, dining room and the entire first floor! A new coat of paint helped the whole space to have a fresh, clean look. Especially since we brought in white stark gloss cabinets, I wanted the walls to blend in.

A splash of colour

Another key to a sophisticated kitchen and an element that can make a huge design impact is tile. For this space, I went with a funky glass pattern backsplash from The Good Tile. My clients love to cook, so these tiles were perfect as there is no grout needed for installing, making them easier to clean. The glass retro backsplash is a genuine wow factor that draws your eye in creating more depth in this small space with another reflective material for more light to bounce off.

Let’s eat

In the dining space, I created a gorgeous picture wall with some of the clients’ favourite pieces of art. An antique sideboard was a perfect complement to the clients’ retro style. And, an ideal solution for additional storage so the table can be kept clean and open. The colour of their existing table and chairs was a perfect tie in with the upper cabinets for continuity.

The finishing

The final touches in this kitchen that tied everything together were the cabinet handles, lighting and the faucet. The cabinets had outdated handles, and I found replacement handles in black that took the cabinets to a whole new level of sophistication. The lighting went from functional to an integral part of the beauty of the space. And the faucet is stunning! This sleek black Delta faucet has every feature you can imagine from a pull-down nozzle to spray options, but it’s the design that makes it a showstopper.

In small city dwellings when you can’t change the footprint of a space, some clever attention to detail can make even the smallest space feel grand.

Jo Alcorn has more than 15 years of experience as a celebrity interior and home product designer, expert instructor, corporate ambassador, TV personality and entrepreneur. Her passion for design has been showcased on HGTV, Discovery Channel, Marilyn Denis, CBC’s Steven & Chris, CityTV, BT, CHCH, Global Morning and Noon, Rogers Stations, CP24 and more. alcornhome.com

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Appetizer recipes

Appetizer recipes

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Appetizer recipes

Just in time for the entertaining season, Canada’s baking superstar Anna Olson shares two great appetizer recipes from her latest book Baking Day with Anna Olson, Recipes to Bake Together.

Roasted carrot dip

* Simple *

The natural sweetness of carrots really comes through in this dip, and while the chickpeas give this dip some structure (and protein), they don’t overwhelm the carrot taste, so you won’t mistake this dip as hummus. I love roasting parsnips and carrots together in the fall; why not try a variation of this dip made with half carrots and half parsnips?

• serves 8 (Makes about 2 cups/500 ml) • prep time: 15 minutes • cook time: 45 minutes

1 lb (450 g) carrots, peeled and diced (about 3 cups/750 ml)

3 tbsp (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tsp chopped fresh thyme salt and ground black pepper

1 cup (250 ml) cooked chickpeas (or tinned, well drained and rinsed)

¼ cup (64 g) tahini (sesame paste)

2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

Dress up this colourful dip by adding a dollop or a swirl of plain yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of sesame seeds or pomegranate seeds – or all of these things!

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Toss the carrots with the olive oil, garlic cloves, thyme and a sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large baking dish. Roast the carrots, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Cool before making the dip.
  3. Puree the carrots in a food processor along with the now-roasted garlic cloves, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, cumin and coriander until smooth, adding a little water if needed (up to half-cup/125 mL) to make it smooth. Season to taste and chill until ready to serve. The dip will keep for up to 4 days, refrigerated.

********

Hummus crackers

** More Involved **

I love crackers. A strange admission, yes, but I would choose crackers over potato chips in a heartbeat (but don’t ask me to give up popcorn). These crispy crackers are a delicious savoury snack all on their own or as an addition to a cheese platter, and served with a roasted carrot dip (page 110) it’s as if you’ve reversed the traditional carrot sticks and hummus.

• Makes about 5 dozen crackers • prep time: 15 minutes, plus chilling • cook time: 8 minutes

¼ cup (60 ml) water

3 tbsp (24 g) ground flaxseed

1.5 cups (180 g) chickpea flour

3 tbsp (27 g) sesame seeds

2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

¾ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp fine salt

1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 tsp dried granulated garlic)

1 tbsp (30 ml) extravirgin olive oil

2 tbsp (32 g) tahini (sesame paste)

2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C) and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Stir the water and ground flaxseed together and set aside. Place the chickpea flour, sesame seeds, lemon zest, cumin, salt and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse once or twice to combine. Add the flaxseed water, oil, tahini and lemon juice and pulse until the dough comes together. If the dough feels sticky, wrap and chill for 10 minutes (to let the chickpea flour absorb some of the liquid) otherwise turn the dough out onto a rolling surface.
  3. Roll out the cracker dough to under quarter in. (6 mm) thick, dusting it and the work surface with chickpea flour as needed to prevent sticking. Use a 2-in. (5 cm) round cookie cutter to cut out crackers. Arrange them on the baking trays so they are close together but not touching. Re-roll the scraps and continue cutting until all of the dough has been used. Bake the crackers for about 8 minutes, until golden brown.
  4. Cool the crackers on the trays on cooling racks. The crackers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

These crackers are a perfect balance: substantial enough to hold up under a good scoop of dip but also delicate enough note to be enjoyed on their own.

Baking Day with Anna Olson

$28, indigo.ca

Visit annaolson.ca


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Sarah Richardson for Palliser

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Sarah Richardson for Palliser

How did you come up with the four design styles?

Whether someone chooses an entire room or just a single piece, we’ve designed four collections that feel well suited to any home. Some people have a more contemporary style, some gravitate to a lighter palette, and some prefer a coastal feel, so we wanted to offer an assortment of different design perspectives. My goal was to create a collection that’s foolproof and offers something for every taste and style!

What are some of the fabrics and materials you used?

The Shore collection uses whitewashed oak with cream lacquer, woven rattan elements, and is finished with brass accents for a casually elegant yet sophisticated collection that celebrates layered textures.

The Annex collection celebrates the natural character, and wood grain in ash swirl veneer applied in a checkerboard pattern on several pieces for a look that is equal parts rich and restrained while the lines are thoroughly modern.

The Vista collection speaks to consumers who are drawn to the elegance of updated transitional style dressed in light neutrals. With refined parquetry details and pale oyster-hued veneer, the Vista collection has contemporary silhouettes that embrace old world techniques and can easily integrate into any home.

The Boulevard collection takes inspiration from the rounded silhouettes, timeless walnut finish and warm brass tones synonymous with the enduring appeal of 20th century Art Deco design.

What piece or pieces are you most excited for consumers to see?

Shore

I designed the Silhouette chair and sofa for my own home to blend a curvaceous profile and deep, lounge-y comfort. I always want even the most inviting upholstered pieces to be streamlined and elegant, which these are thanks to the sleek frame, rounded corners, and tapered legs. I also love the woven rattan featured in a number of the Shore case pieces. Working with artisans is one of the most fulfilling aspects of what I do, and I got to see craftspeople hand-weaving the rattan in Indonesia.

Vista

With its curved back, arched arm profile, compact proportions and octagonal block legs, the Pier chair is one of my all-time favourite chairs in the Vista collection. I designed it over 15 years ago, and it remains one of the most adaptable chair profiles to date for its go-anywhere flexibility. I’m excited about the Vista bedside and occasional tables with their crisp mitered frames – and the DIY enthusiast in me loves that I mixed the pale oyster stain myself in the factory in Indonesia.

Boulevard

I’m partial to the Avenue sofa and chair silhouettes in this collection, especially on the optional plinth base since this is what I have in my living room at home in the city. It’s a sleek, modern frame that works in any room. There are so many interesting and unique design details incorporated into the Boulevard collection occasional pieces that it’s hard to pick a favourite. Still, the banded profile of the salon tables, the pedestal dining table and the console make these pieces signature style standouts!

Annex

The Promenade sectional is on the top of my list with its innovative design and softly curved lines. It’s comfortable without looking messy, plus it can be configured in a multitude of ways – from a cosy two-chaise grouping to the biggest sectional imaginable. In the case pieces, it’s all about the dynamic effect achieved by using ash swirl veneer in a hand-applied checkerboard pattern that’s scaled to fit each piece perfectly.

I noticed a lot of neutral tones, beiges, creams, ivory and light wood. Is this a trend that homeowners can expect going into the new year?

Absolutely. At my core, I’m somebody who loves to live with the beauty of naturally neutral materials. Cream on cream, mixed with oyster, flax, linen and shell tones are my happy place. Everything in the natural realm is what I could live with until the end of time and never tire of, and that’s why you’ll see a real celebration of naturally neutral tones in every part of my four collections.

With people working and spending more time at home during the pandemic, how do you think this has changed furniture design?

One of the hardest things about 2020 is that we’ve all been at home for longer than we ever could have expected or thought possible. Because of this, adaptability and flexibility in furniture design are more important than ever – you might need a desk to also function as a console table, or a sofa table that has storage and can become a bar or buffet. Although the collection was designed before the pandemic, we wanted everything to be able to go into a multitude of locations, so height, width, depth was thoroughly considered making sure versatility and practicality were always top of mind.

For more information, visit sarahrichardson.palliser.com

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DIY Garland

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DIY Garland

Don’t leave your mantle naked this season! Dress it up with a beautiful and easy to make garland from lifestyle blogger Rebecca Heart of Mike and Me

Instructions

  • Start with a faux piece of garland. Use Command hooks by 3M to hold it up (holds strong, easy to use, removes cleanly). The piece I used in this picture was only $3 from a thrift store.
  • Now using bunches of real greenery ($5 each at the hardware store, I used two) cut small pieces and start filling in the greenery, adding to the faux strand. It’s best to do one type of greenery at a time to make sure it’s even and balanced throughout.
  • Use floral wire or clips to attach it to the faux piece and secure it into place.
  • You can also use the faux wired garland to help wrap around pieces to hold it and shape it the way you want.
  • Go over it to cut any stray or lose looking pieces.
  • Mist it every couple days to keep it alive and voila!

Rebecca Heart is a decor-obsessed, bargain enthusiast based in Toronto. She and her husband Mike run a full-time home renovation and decor blog called mikeandme.ca which follows their journey updating a century-old Craftsman home. From styling tips to decor hacks to full-blown do-it-yourself renovations, this comical and down-to-earth duo provides thoughtful inspiration for re-imagining home decor and loving the space you are in.

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Invite the sunshine into your bathroom with a skylight

Invite the sunshine into your bathroom with a
skylight

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Invite the sunshine into your bathroom with a
skylight

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Bathroom renovations can be fun, exciting and sometimes even stressful. Over the years, we have seen bathrooms morph from only functional spaces to highly stylized rooms of function that speak not only of personal style but also in customized luxury. It may be a “spa-like” retreat or a simple, classic look, a bold, colourful tile or the elegance of book-matched marble on your shower walls. Whatever you desire, today’s bathrooms are delivering large on glam, luxury and functionality. And no matter what your design tastes are, your bathroom is the first room you see in the morning and the last you see at night, and it should reflect a bright start or a relaxational end to your day.

Design trends may come and go, but one thing that does remain consistent when planning a renovation is maximizing lighting – a definite must for a bathroom. When I’m designing a bathroom, I look to add layers of lighting options, and one of them should be natural light – the perfect way to start your day. Adding natural light to a bathroom offers many benefits, starting with our own physical and mental health and well-being to the health of your home. Windows paired with skylights will maximize the amount of natural light in your bathroom and can become the primary source of natural lighting.

Photo by Jeff Mindell
Photo by Jeff Mindell

Installing a skylight in your bathroom will undoubtedly improve the look and feel of your overall design aesthetic, brightening the room and making it feel like a much larger space. The bathroom is also a perfect place to add a skylight or sun tunnels, as you will gain the additional natural light without compromising your privacy.

If you’re wondering how skylights can improve your home’s health, this is where the venting skylight comes into play. VELUX’s programmable skylights will open and help prevent trapped moisture from producing mould or mildew by letting out the humid air and bringing in the fresh air – which is perfect for your bathroom. These are skylights that open to provide fresh air in your room. As hot air rises, this seems a natural addition to the bathroom to assist in the circulation of air and help to prevent trapped moisture from producing mould or mildew.

In the end, be inspired by all that you see in colour, finishes and design, but also be realistic about your space and budget. Good bathroom design should bring together all that is best of what you envision. It should deliver the maximum of light, storage, usage and aesthetics for you while creating a wonderfully luxurious and inviting room that reflects your individuality. Your bathroom should offer you optimal convenience and relaxation for years to come – adding a key element like a skylight to the mix will make it seem like the “icing on the cake.”

If you’re planning to give your bathroom a whole new look by adding a skylight or sun tunnel, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Set a realistic budget. Once you start looking at all the finishes and fixture options available, you may be surprised at the costs involved.
  • Depending on your bathroom size, a series of skylights or sun tunnels can be a complementary design feature.
  • Be sure that when you’re positioning your skylight or sun tunnels, you are also considering the placement of other lighting in the room. Whether it’s pot lights or surface mounted lights, you want to make sure that your ceiling does not appear chaotic or messy in design.
  • Remember, a vented skylight is an excellent option for increased ventilation in the bathroom.
  • Good quality porcelain tile is durable and doesn’t fade from increased amounts of sunlight. If you are south facing, you may be concerned about too much natural light or heat in the summer, consider adding a built-in blind, a perfect option to diffuse the light.

Known for creating innovative, stylish interiors and full-scale design builds, Linda Mazur Design Group is a multi-discipline design firm with more than 15 years of experience in both residential and commercial design.


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4 colour decorating tips from designer Rebecca Hay

4 colour decorating tips from designer Rebecca Hay

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4 colour decorating tips from designer Rebecca Hay

As a designer, I love to infuse a healthy amount of colour in the spaces I design. And, when it came to decorating my own home, I made no exceptions. With two young kids and a small furry dog, I wanted a space that felt friendly, yet looked polished – a place for neighbours to gather and kids to play.

1 Trust your instincts

Before designing any space, think about the mood you want to convey. Is it a calm, relaxed space or a warm, inviting space where dinner parties evolve? You don’t need a degree in psychology to figure out what colours are right for you. Trust your gut, and you will never go wrong, but it’s important to be mindful of the mood and energy you are trying to evoke. There’s no surprise that yellow is a cheerful colour that promotes optimism. While blue is associated with tranquility, it also happens to be the preferred colour by men. I incorporated a little bit of navy for the men in my own home.

For the living room, I wanted it to be bright and energizing, as this is the main sitting and socializing area of the home. The drapery fabric was my inspiration and starting point. I knew we wanted to energize the space with yellow. We already had the retro navy chairs to work with, so I chose to balance the navy of the chairs with bright yellow custom drapery.

2 Balance

Colour is an integral element to creating the right mood. When decorating with colour, it’s important to balance any bold colours with lots of neutrals. A little trick I use is the 60-30-10 rule. When decorating a particular room, divide the colours into percentages: 60 per cent of a dominant colour, 30 per cent of a secondary colour, 10 per cent of an accent colour and you will never go wrong.

3 Complementary colours

The dominant colours in our living/dining space are beige, yellow and navy. I also chose to complement the blues with hints of orange in the living room. Adding a few “bonus” colours adds further interest. I found an old traditional wingback armchair on the curb once. It was in desperate need of TLC, and so I had it stripped down and recovered with a piece of bold contemporary orange fabric. It’s cosy, warm and inviting while adding some traditional sophistication to the space.

4 Repetition

Repetition is key to any successfully designed home. By repeating a colour multiple times in a space, it feels purposeful and comforting. We repeated the orange in the custom toss cushions and with smaller accessories. By having the same colour layered throughout the space, it creates a unified design.

It’s a family space that is now an inviting and fun place for social gatherings or curling up by the fire. It’s proof that by taking the plunge and designing with colour, you can create a space that is visually beautiful, intriguing and sometimes surprising.

Designer Rebecca Hay is principal of Rebecca Hay Designs Inc., a Toronto based Design firm specializing in classically livable family homes.

Offering complete decorating and renovating services for over a decade Rebecca and her team manage all of the details from start to finish.


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Available and affordable: How our online dispute resolution model served condo communities during COVID-19

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Available and affordable: How our online dispute resolution model served condo communities during COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the government of Ontario’s ensuing emergency order shuttered most forms of face-to-face interaction across the province, which left many organizations scrambling to usher in new forms of service delivery. For tribunals and dispute resolution professionals in particular, this meant a widescale effort to move adjudication and mediation online.

The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), which was launched in 2017, is Canada’s first fully online tribunal. As the Chair, I would like to share a few lessons to help owners and condominium communities understand how to proceed into a new era of online dispute resolution.

First, some background. The CAT is an online tribunal that currently helps owners and condo communities across Ontario resolve and decide records related disputes. We developed an online dispute resolution system (CATODR) to help people settle issues conveniently, quickly and affordably, while encouraging users to work together to build harmonious condo communities.

The first stop for owners and condo community members with a problem is Guided Steps to Common Issues, which is available on the Condominium Authority of Ontario’s (CAO) website. If they are unable to resolve their problems with that resource, they can submit a case to the CAT. The tribunal features a three-stage process of Negotiation, Mediation and Tribunal Decision. If parties cannot reach a solution amongst themselves in Negotiation, then a tribunal member can help to resolve the dispute in Mediation. If the issue remains unresolved, they can proceed to the final stage, Tribunal Decision, where an adjudicator will issue a binding decision to close the case.

We designed the CAT to be user centric. Their needs and experiences guide the design, implementation and continuous improvement of the CAT-ODR system. It also supports information and dispute prevention activities; administrative assistance for parties; and mediation and adjudication approaches.

CAT processes are almost entirely asynchronous, meaning that they do not all occur at the same time. This allows parties to participate on their own schedule. Most interactions take place in the afternoon and evening, outside of traditional work hours, which means that our users do not have to take time away from other priorities to participate in their case. We have received cases from Windsor to Ottawa, and Niagara Falls to Elliot Lake. This flexibility is key in promoting and enhancing access to justice across the entire province.

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Being user-centric also means adapting to the changing circumstances of those who we serve, particularly during the uncertainty of the current pandemic. In one case, an owner was unable to access their local library computer due to COVID-19 restrictions, so we processed and resolved their case entirely over the phone. In other cases, the CAT accommodated the scheduling requests of front-line workers, and the needs of condo corporations, both of whom continued to provide their services during Ontario’s emergency order.

The CAT also works towards timely resolutions. Cases move at the speed of the parties. One time-sensitive case progressed through all three stages towards a resolution in less than a month, while another case saw a negotiation settled in as little as nine minutes.

Overall, the CAT has been able to proceed through the pandemic without a hitch, which is a testament to the effectiveness of the fully online model as an accessible, affordable and easy-to-use dispute resolution service to weather such unpredictable circumstances.

In these difficult times of social distancing and isolation, it is especially important for all who own and live in condos to adopt a mindset of promoting a positive culture and togetherness in your community.

Owners are encouraged to consult the CAO’s Guided Steps to Common Issues first, which can help resolve issues early before they escalate to disputes. Then, if you still need to file a case with the CAT, you can use the CAT’s Negotiation or Mediation stages to continue to work towards a collaborative solution.

Ian Darling is Chair of the Condominium Authority Tribunal

In our efforts to connect with owners across the province, we encourage you to share this article with other owners and members of your own condo community. They can subscribe by emailing subscriptions@condoauthorityontario.ca

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Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

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Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

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For the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO), which recently embarked on its third full year of operations, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is as unique a challenge as we have faced in our journey together with Ontario’s condominium communities thus far.

Yet, as chair of the CAO’s Board of Directors, I am proud of the steps our organization is taking in light of the current situation, and I remain optimistic about what lies ahead. Our vision has always been to promote harmonious condo communities across the province and to be of value to condo owners. By empowering the growing number of Ontarian’s who take part in this unique form of homeownership, we remain committed to achieving these goals.

We operate under the Condominium Act, 1998 (the Act), and we have a mandate to support consumer protection by providing services and resources for condo owners, buyers and directors across Ontario. This mandate remains our priority, even as we proceed through the uncertainty created by the current situation, which has had a significant impact on our province.

Suite of resources

I take great pride in announcing that we continue to deliver our full suite of resources and services throughout the pandemic to the more than 1.6 million condo residents in the 11,000-plus condo communities across Ontario. Ever since we were identified as an essential service by the provincial government in March, our dedicated team has not missed a beat, transitioning to a work-from-home business continuity plan, and maintaining the service standards that owners, directors and all our users have come to appreciate.

Our website is updated regularly and is where users can continue to access all our digital resources. Our information services team remains available by email or phone to help users and answer questions and concerns directly. The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), Canada’s first fully online tribunal, has also stayed active throughout the pandemic, accepting cases and resolving disputes.

What’s more, we recognize the unprecedented challenges that the COVID-19 situation poses for condo communities, and have responded accordingly with new measures to provide additional support during this difficult time.

In addition to the 25-per-cent assessment fee reduction already implemented for the year, all late fees were suspended until June 30, 2020. We have also been ramping up our efforts to help condo directors meet the six-month deadline to complete director training. We want to keep directors active on their boards, so that they can continue to operate on behalf of owners and provide their corporation with governance and guidance, which are especially needed in this uncertain period.

Unique pressures

Condo owners in particular face a unique set of financial pressures, which may prevent them from making their common expense payments. With this in mind, our staff developed resources to help corporations consider various factors when trying to strike a balance between the collective owners’ interests and an individual unit owner’s circumstance.

Our team is also hard at work developing new resources to help owners navigate the constantly evolving ways that business must be conducted now and in the future. One example is in-person owners’ meetings, which are now a health and safety concern. To lessen the need for face-to-face contact, we created a guide to help condo corporations establish a bylaw for holding owners’ meetings and/or voting by telephonic or electronic means. We also provided an overview of the subsequent temporary changes to the Act, introduced through the Government of Ontario’s Emergency Order, to provide temporary relief for how and when owners’ meetings can be held.

With social distancing becoming our new collective reality, the place that we each call home has never been more important. For us at the CAO, this means doing everything in our power to ensure that Ontario’s condo communities can continue in a manner that respects their collective responsibility for addressing the current situation, while still striving towards harmonious condo living for each and every member.

In our efforts to connect with owners across the province, we encourage you to subscribe to subscriptions@condoauthorityontario.ca for further updates from the CAO, and to share this article with other owners and members of your own condo community.

Heather Zordel is Chair, Board of Directors, of the Condominium Authority of Ontario, Toronto.


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