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4 Tips for clearing the clutter out of your home

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4 Tips for clearing the clutter out of your home

If you’re like most homes, you probably have a decent amount of clutter hanging around. Things just accumulate over time, and you never seem to find the time to get rid of any of it. Then, when you do happen to find time, you find a reason to not throw anything anyway. The result is a cluttered home, filled with things you no longer really need or want. If this sounds like you, it’s time to do something about it. Here are 4 tips you can use to help get rid of that clutter and bring some semblance of organization to your home.

Go Room by Room

One mistake a lot of people make when trying to declutter their homes is to try to do it all at once. You bounce around from room to room, moving things around and trying to decide what to get rid of. After spending a few hours doing this, you realize you’ve only made your home messier, and didn’t accomplish much.

A better strategy is to go room by room. Pick the room that is most cluttered, or the room you most want to get organized. Start there, and don’t move onto another room until you finish it. This will help to keep things simple, and hopefully keep you from becoming overwhelmed.

Separate Your Stuff into Piles

As you’re working on a room, separate everything into piles. By doing this you can clearly see what you want to do with each item and change your mind as you go along. Here are the piles that you should make.

First, a pile of the stuff you want to keep. It’s unlikely that you’re going to throw away everything in your home, so set aside the stuff that you want to keep. Try to be prejudicial and remember that the goal of this exercise is to remove clutter, not keep everything.

The next pile is stuff you want to move to storage. This is the stuff that you want to keep, but you don’t necessary have room for. Perhaps you have an old chest from your grandparents that you love, but that you just don’t have a place for. Putting things in storage is a great way to keep important things while still removing the clutter from your every day life.

After you’re done sorting your piles, you can find a good self-storage locker to keep everything in, where it will be kept safe until you need it. After that, make a pile of the things you think you can sell. Just because you no longer want something doesn’t mean someone else won’t. If you have things in good condition, try to get some money for them. Host a garage sale or put it up on eBay. You might not get much in return, but since the item was just taking up space anyway, it’s better than nothing.

Your fourth pile is things you can donate. Plenty of charities take unwanted items, and you can donate them here to help the charity and to get a tax write-off. Charities are typically looking for old clothes and furniture, but some places accept other things. Keep in mind that to donate something, it will typically need to be in good shape. According to Remove My Junk “Most donation companies won’t take furniture that has rips, tears, or stains in them. However, there are some companies that will take “well worn” furniture for refurbishing purposes”. For more on donating noncash items to charity, you can check out this guide.

Finally, the fifth pile is all the rest of the stuff – the stuff you’re going to throw away. Put in this pile anything you don’t want, and that you can’t give away. There’s no point in hanging onto things you don’t need, so cut the cord and get rid of it.

Buy Some Organizers

Once you have everything sorted and heading to the right places, it’s time to keep this problem from happening again. Buy yourself some good organizers and containers to store all the things you’re keeping. Removing clutter is great, but your home will look even better if the remaining stuff has a proper place and is stored in an orderly fashion.

Keep Up Your Habits

Finally, try to make decluttering a habit. Rather than going through this long process every few years, do it a little at a time. Make it a Spring cleaning habit to go through your stuff and see what you no longer need. By doing it each year you’ll make it less of a chore and help to keep your home organized year-round.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to declutter your home. Hopefully this few tips will help you out, and you’ll be well on your way to a less cluttered home.

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome

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Made in the shade: 4 ways to add backyard sun protection

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Made in the shade: 4 ways to add backyard sun protection

By: Darla Grant-Braid

Come rain or come shine, there’s one thing that every backyard needs and that’s shade. Whether lounging, BBQing, or gardening, a shade element is necessary to ensure your comfort and make it possible for extended enjoyment of your outdoor space. Shade elements come in all shapes, sizes and price points. Here are a few options:

Umbrellas

The classic patio umbrella has been a staple in backyards for generations. While the designs may have changed over the years, at its heart, this traditional shade element remains the same.

Whether supported by a center post or an offset design, patio umbrellas are a low-cost way to add colour and shade to your outdoor living space.

Additionally, they can be easily moved from place to place, and also offer excellent protection from the rain. Their relatively small size means that they are easier to store in the off-season than some other options.

Cons: Can be dislodged by wind, minimal coverage.

This option does not require professional installation.

Portable Gazebo

Portable backyard gazebos have been a popular option for the past decade. They provide more coverage than umbrellas, typically enough to shelter an entire dining or lounging area.

Many of these portable gazebos also allow the option of insect protection, via screens. While costlier than umbrellas, the wide range of styles and construction materials make this an affordable option for most homeowners.

At the lower end of the price spectrum, there are gazebos that are either freestanding or meant to be held in place on grass through ground stakes, while at the higher end, there exist gazebos with sturdier frames, intended to be bolted to a hard surface.

Cons: Certain models may be unable to withstand storms without incurring damage. Some models must be stored over winter or may run the risk of rusting.

This option may require professional installation.

Pergola

A pergola is an architectural feature, traditionally constructed as a garden archway. In recent years, these wooden structures have gone from acting as simple archways to becoming the focal point on decks and patios.

The pergola is typically a frame, consisting of posts and crossbeams. This means that the “ceiling” is primarily open and will not provide complete sun protection. The shade provided by your pergola is determined by the size and spacing of the crossbeams. Although sun protection can be extended by adding canvas or other fabric to the beams.

Cons: Pergolas can be expensive to install, may require a building permit, and does not provide complete sun protection.

This option requires professional installation.

Awning

An awning is fabric stretched over a metal frame that is attached to the over, over a window or door. They can be fixed or retractable.

In addition to providing limited sun protection in the outdoor living space, awnings can have an impact within the home as well. Their position above a window of glass door means that they can help reduce a room’s internal temperature and also protect furnishings from the impact of direct sunlight.

If your awning is positioned over your grill or outdoor kitchen, they can allow for more comfortable outdoor cooking in both sun and rain.

Cons: Retractable models can be expensive, may be susceptible to wind damage if not retracted, may be prone to mold and mildew if not cleaned.

This option may require professional installation.

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome

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High ceilings… or are they?

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High ceilings… or are they?

Tricks to make your ceilings appear higher

One of your home’s defining features is its ceiling. High ceilings make a room feel more open and airy, while low ceilings can often result in a cosy, or sometimes cramped atmosphere.

As an interior decorator, I’m often tasked with making a space look and feel bigger than it actually is. Don’t be fooled, this is not magic. Just a few tricks of the trade. Short of a full-blown renovation, there are some optical illusions I like to employ to bring perceived height to a space.

One way to fool the eye is with floor-to-ceiling curtains. Purchase full-length curtains and hang them a few inches above your window frame to imply a larger window.

By the same token, low-profile furniture can also create the illusion of higher ceilings. Think uncomplicated pieces with vertical, tailored lines. Lower profile pieces can help emphasize the distance between the furniture and the ceiling, with uninterrupted sight lines from one end of the room to the other.

When it comes to the colour palette, think light, bright and airy. Darker colours tend to make a space feel cosier and yes, smaller.

DECORATOR’S PICKS: Check out Moonshine, Grey Owl and French Canvas by Benjamin Moore, or Decorator’s Grey by CIL.

Once your space is ready for furniture, arrange it to create “high corners.” Place tall items such as apartment plants and floor lamps in the corners of the room to draw the eye s far as possible and make the ceiling recede.

A “disappearing” ceiling is the easiest way to make it seem higher. Out of sight, out of mind right? In this case, I avoid ceiling fans or low-hanging lighting, which can draw unwanted attention to a low ceiling. Opt instead for streamlined pot lights, or layer floor and table lamps to ensure enough light where needed. If you have your heart set on a chandelier, suspend it a few inches higher than you normally would. Like your curtains, a higher chandelier will naturally draw the eye upward.

My final tip, though not as sexy as chandeliers and colour palettes, will truly make or break your space. I’m talking clutter. Nothing eats up visual space more than stuff on every surface. Ensure you incorporate sufficient storage when planning your space, so everything has a proper home. This can come in the form of built-in shelving, floor-to-ceiling bookcases, or nice wicker baskets to wrangle the chaos. The result is a room that looks and feels bigger, brighter and by all accounts, better!

Achieving the illusion of a higher ceiling can be as simple as arranging your existing furniture and accessories to accentuate the right features of your space, while drawing attention away from others. Think tall, think bright and set your sights high. That low ceilings is looking up already!

About the Author: Toronto-based, award-winning Interior Stylist, Red Barrinuevo is an Interior Decorator and Principal of Redesign4more, servicing clients in Toronto and the GTA. The firm’s known for enhancing and creating stylish yet functional spaces through their creative home staging and interior styling services. www.redesign4more.com

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome

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Make Deck Building Safety Priority #1

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Make Deck Building Safety Priority #1

By: Darla Grant-Braid

The temperature is warming (ever so slightly) and the sky is beautifully blue once again … spring is on the way. That means it’s time to get serious about planning backyard projects. For many Canadians, adding or repairing a deck is a top priority, with the age-old question being, should you hire a professional deck builder or build the deck yourself?

As tempting as it may be to try and build your own deck, the truth is that DIY decks can put the safety of your family and friends at risk. We spoke with Frank McGillan –Owner of Decks R Us, a renowned deck builder in Durham Region, Ontario about why safety should be the number one priority when it comes to building a deck.

Why You Shouldn’t DIY

Deck building is one of those projects that household handymen have been attempting for generations. Armed with rudimentary carpentry knowledge, a group of able-bodied friends, and usually too much beer/pop/pizza, they take on the task of building a structure intended to support hundreds or even thousands of pounds at any given time.

While it is possible for some home builders to have a working knowledge of framing and decking, there is much more involved in building a safe, reliable deck.

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“Many times, there is a building code that needs to be adhered to,” McGillan explains. “Most DIYers do not know the building code and have problems later.” In fact, he suggests that certain deck repairs should be left to the professionals as well. If the repairs are structural, such as beams, framing, or railings, the safest option is to hire a professional deck builder.

Understandably, most DIY deck building projects happen in an effort to save money. Unfortunately, this can result in the exact opposite. If a DIY deck build or repair should fail, it can end up costing more money to have it corrected. Even worse, if people are injured due to the failure of that deck, it can result in legal fees, reparation for the injured party, and even emotional costs.

Hiring a Deck Builder

When you’re ready to hire a deck builder, take time to do some research. Narrow your search down to at least three deck contractors. Take a look at websites, read reviews, and browse image galleries of their past projects.

It helps to have a few questions in mind when you contract your short list of contractors. “[Be sure to ask] how many years of experience they have, and if they have an eye for detail,” McGillan says.

Mr. McGillan also says to be on the look out for one very important thing. “If they tell you that you don’t need a permit, walk away! Only decks that are 24 inches or less don’t need permits.”

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Keep in mind that you’re going to be working closely with your deck builder, so be sure to access their customer service. For example, anyone looking for a deck builder in Durham will discover that Decks R Us has a strong believe in providing outstanding deck design, building, and unbeatable customer care.

“Decks R Us never asks for a deposit, and we never charge for permit drawings,” McGillan says. “When we start we stay and finish. No going from job to job.”

About Decksrus

Over the last 35 years, Frank McGillan and Decks R Us have built over 1,000 decks. They specialize in deck building an renovation, custom caps, an custom railings. To see galleries of their work and for more information, visit www.decksrus.ca.

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome

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Don’t Ignore These 4 Home Maintenance Issues

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Don’t Ignore These 4 Home Maintenance Issues

By Darla Grant-Braid

The cold weather is a hot topic this year. High winds, rain, snow, and freezing temperatures are punishing provinces from coast to coast. As a homeowner, there are certain safety issues that can arise when the temperature falls.  Maintaining the safety of your property and keeping yourself injury free should be considered a high priority when caring for your home in winter.

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Here Are 4 Things to Consider When Maintaining Your Home This Winter

Icicles and Ice Dams

Icicles may hold a certain romantic charm, but the truth is that they may pose a danger. Icicles can grow to considerable lengths and weights. If they grow from high up enough on a building, the force delivered by a falling icicle can be deadly. According to an article on Accuweather.com, a half-pound icicle, measuring three inches in diameter can exert 1,000-pound force on whatever it hits, if falling at a terminal velocity between 80 and 90 miles per hour.

As dangerous as icicles can be, the homeowner’s real enemy here is the ice dam. Ice dams are large chunks of ice that form along the edge of a roof and prevent the snow and water from properly draining. When rain and moisture settle behind the ice dam it can leak through the shingles and eventually into the home, causing considerable damage.

Healthy Shoveling Practices

Most Canadians know that it’s important to keep your property and any sidewalks in front of your property safely shoveled during the wintertime. It is also equally important to shovel in a way that does not endanger your physical health.

How to Ensure Safe Shoveling:

  • Get help from other members of your household
  • Choose the right shovel
  • Stretch before you shovel
  • Lift properly
  • Take breaks
  • Switch to a snow thrower

Fireplace Safety

Using your home’s fireplace can be a small pleasure during a particularly cold season. The warmth, scent and general ambiance can make the frigid temperatures much more bearable.

When using a wood burning fireplace, be sure to exercise certain precautions to keep your family safe from potential fireplace dangers. The primary areas of concern are ventilation and burn prevention.

Ventilation –To promote good ventilation, ensure that the flue is open before starting the fire. This will allow any smoke to be drawn out of the home. For added comfort, try keeping an adjacent window cracked.

Burn Prevention –Burn prevention is important whether you have a wood burning or gas fireplace. First and foremost, never leave a burning fire unattended. Additionally, put a safety screen in place to prevent small children or animals from burning themselves on either the hot glass or open flame. You’ll also need to ensure that there or no flammable décor items or materials placed too closely to the fireplace.

Slip and Fall Prevention

Keep driveways and pathways clear and safe. In addition to shoveling the snow, be sure to protect against slippery ice with a salt or sand application. You can also purchase ice melting mats for these areas. Don’t forget to ensure that the sidewalk in front of your property is properly cleared and salted as well.

Of course, winter fall prevention is also an indoor issue. This is particularly true if there are small children, seniors, or other individuals with mobility issues in the household. To keep everyone safe, place absorbent utility mats on the floor in front of all exit doors. Ensure that winter boots and other gear are safely stowed away to prevent tripping hazards, and immediately mop up any puddles of slush, ice, or water.

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome

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A Beginner’s Guide to Winter Firewood Storage

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A Beginner’s Guide to Winter Firewood Storage

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If the meteorologists are right, Canadians are in for a particularly daunting winter. Reports of extreme cold and tons of snow are in the air, all destined to arrive sooner than usual. But that’s ok, we’re Canadians. No one has to tell us that winter is coming. The question is, are you properly prepared?

If you own a wood burning fireplace, winter preparation definitely means proper firewood storage. While this practice may be second nature to those who’ve owned a wood-burning fireplace for years, for those who have just purchased a home that came equipped with a wood-burner, the ins and outs of firewood storage might not be obvious.

Here are some firewood storage essentials

  1. Choose a good location

Find a good spot in your yard to stack a wood pile. This should be someplace easily accessible, approximately 30 feet away from your house. If you wish to keep a few pieces of wood outside the back door, or on a deck, make sure that those pieces are only there for a short period of time.

Wondering why it’s a good idea to keep your firewood 30 feet from the house or stored on the deck for only a short period of time? Critter interlopers! Wood piles are notorious gathering places for rodents and insects. That means, if you’ve stacked your wood pile right next to the house, if could make it easier for those little creatures to find their way into your home.

  1. Keep it off the ground

When building your wood stack, be sure to start with a good base. This can be a store-bought firewood rack or even a few palettes. This will help keep your wood nice and dry.

  1. Keep it covered

Keep your firewood nice and dry with a good cover. While a basic tarp can certainly do the job, your best bet is to opt for a firewood storage rack cover. Choose one that property fits the size rack that you have. It should also feature access zippers, that allow your wood to remain easily accessible.

  1. Don’t store wood in the garage

Yes, many people do it, especially in places where the winter can get bitterly cold. However, a word to the wise, if you bring firewood into your garage, chances are, you’re also bringing pests that can find their way into your things, your car, or even your house.

  1. Don’t store wood in the house

Have you seen those gorgeous, built-in firewood installations that are popping up on home reno shows and in magazines? Picture this, a floor to ceiling recess beside the fireplace, stylishly stacked high with wood, in all of its rustic glory. Now picture sitting in that same space one evening, by the roaring fire and imagine an army of beetles pouring out of the wood pile, or termites making their way to the other tasty areas of your home.

This same thought goes for wood stored in the basement or any other place inside your house. You can store a few pieces in a fireside log rack, but plan to use them as quickly as possible.

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome

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Your Kitchen: Today and Tomorrow

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Your Kitchen: Today and Tomorrow

Considering a renovation to improve the value of your home? Two of the best and most common places to start are adding an additional bathroom (which will be the topic of my next column), and upgrading the heart of the home: the kitchen. Here’s my top tips for getting the best of your kitchen renovation in both the long term, and in your everyday enjoyment.

Think Twice:

-Before starting any kitchen reno, it’s important to consider both the short term costs and the possible long term gains. A slick renovation can add value to your home, but if you use materials that aren’t made to last, this value will disappear over time.

-Estimate how long you will live in this space before selling, and use materials that will last at least this long. For example, spending an extra 30% on cabinets now could make the difference between recouping your renovation investment later, or having to upgrade again when buyers only see dinged doors in need of replacement. Better to spend well than spend twice!

Good Basics

-Ultimately, optimizing resale value comes down to good basics rather than lots of superficial details. Kitchens are always a key feature of a home, but overspending on a reno won’t make sense if it doesn’t fit the value of your home. A budget of about 10%-15% of your home’s value usually achieves the best return on investment.

-Consider this when adding luxury features, such as heated floors or high end tile. In a first home, it might make more sense to invest in basics that all homeowners crave at any price point, such as a more storage space or good lighting. Look for: tall upper cabinets, undercabinet lights, quality appliances and hardwearing floors.

Live in the Moment

-Don’t forget the other side of the investment coin, which is the value your reno will add to your every day life! Consider resale, but don’t feel pressure to play everything safe. If you love a bold or trendy look, you can balance it with more timeless fixed elements for the best of both worlds.

-For example, consider using plain white, durable cabinet bases dressed up with fun modern door fronts (such as an exotic wood, which may not still be fashionable in 5 years). Replacing just the doors before selling is a more reasonable cost than fully gutting the kitchen.

Accessorize for Success

-Once you’ve planned out your budget for the key basics, put the rest of your budget into non-committal items or pieces you can remove. After all, personalizing with accessories means you can take the look you love with you!

-This can include small items like cabinet knobs and pulls, or more substantial pieces like a great faucet or even pendant lights—this is a smart area to try trendier finishes like copper, brass, or coloured enamel. Any of these can be taken into a new home and replaced with a more plain option if your realtor suggests they don’t suit your market.

Good Basics Part 2

Here’s a few more go-tos for a designer look that stands the test of time.

-White subway tile: it makes a beautiful and classic backsplash without a huge investment, and people will be able to imagine if fitting with their own style.

-A great dining table: In an eat-in kitchen, a beautiful tabletop will feel add to the look of the finishes, but you’ll be able to take it with you when you go. (It’s a smart place to add some must-have marble.)

-Use whatever wild and wonderful shade of paint you love, and plan at the time of your renovation to set aside a little money for a repainting later. No matter what paint you choose now, there will be a more in-demand colour in the future that you can apply to inspire a sale.

Quick Bites

  1. Invest in quality materials that will hold up until after you sell, or your renovation budget will be wasted in the long term.
  2. Budget approximately 10-15% of your home’s value for a kitchen renovation with a good return on investment.
  3. Focus on great basics like tall, durable upper cabinets with plenty of storage before luxury details.
  4. Personalize a space with moveable pieces like knobs or faucets and you’ll be able to reset the look for resale and take your favourites with you.
  5. Try plain white subway tile for a classic backsplash and a marble top dining table to bring in luxury you won’t have to leave behind

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About the author:  Yanic Simard is principal designer at Toronto Interior Design Group and TV design expert on Cityline.
*Article courtesy of EiEiHome

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