Tag Archives: Fine Finishes Design

What you should know before digging in

What you should know before digging in

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What you should know before digging in

I have many prospective clients reaching out to me at this time of year, with lofty renovation goals and big dreams that their efforts will pay off. A home renovation can indeed offer a great return on investment – unless it’s not done correctly from the get-go.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is that this isn’t the time to start skimping. If you can’t do it right, don’t do it. Maybe put it off until your budget meets your needs. Cutting corners to save a few bucks will end up costing you more in the long run, because you’ll likely end up having to pay again to repair or redo the work.

Renovations can be daunting territory for many, and there is no doubt that this process can be overwhelming. Selecting materials, sourcing products (and making the right decisions!) and executing the project is a dance best left to a professional. A designer will perfectly choreograph your renovation project without missing a beat, and you can bet that there will be many beats in this process. When the renovation is complete, most of my clients agree that the result is worth the effort and temporary inconvenience of it all.

Now, before you get too excited about what will undoubtedly become Instagram-worthy interiors, let me give you another important renovation tip: Be realistic. Be realistic about the project (is your plan even possible?), the process (how long will it take, and what will it all entail?) and the price. Here are some things to keep in mind before you dig in.

1. There will be dust

Prepare yourself for the general feeling that you and everything you own will be a little dirty. All. The. Time. This also lasts months after the renovation wraps, as the dust quite literally settles. Cover your vents with plastic and turn off the furnace and air-conditioning systems in advance, to avoid circulating dust throughout your home.

2. There will be disagreements and compromises

Inevitably, you and your housemate/renovation partner will have different priorities. I ask my clients to prepare separate lists, each noting their own needs and personal preferences. Then we can put them side-by-side and find the commonalities. Compromise on the small stuff is easier when we feel like we agree on something big – usually, a functional and fabulous space.

3. There will be (costly) issues

Especially in residential construction projects, you need to plan ahead and budget for any number of wonderments that may be found lurking behind the walls. Set aside 20 per cent of your budget as a buffer zone. I typically keep this amount “in the bank,” and when the project is nearing completion and I can see that we’re in the clear, I can reallocate the remaining amount for splurges appearing on my clients’ wish list.

One or two less-than-ideal byproducts accompany most renovations, whether they come in the form of construction dust or budget-busting “surprises.” However, by enlisting the right professional and planning well in advance, you can minimize the negative impacts of a renovation and maximize the positive.

Andrea Colman is Principal of Fine Finishes Design Inc..

With almost two decades of reno and design experience, her full service firm serves clientele throughout the GTA.


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By Design - Custom Storage Solutions

By design – custom storage solutions

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By design – custom storage solutions

As an interior designer I ask lots of questions, and I always look at how to best use a space from a functional perspective. How much stuff needs to be stored? Does it have to be readily accessible? Does the space have any barriers? Storage, almost always, factors into a design. After all, everyone has stuff. The secret to a really great space, is finding where to put it all.


Cabinets are great option if you’ve got particular storage needs, and unique room configurations or restrictions. A custom built-in allows you to maximize the storage system to fit the room – meaning no wasted space. Compact suites, large family homes and busy lives will all benefit from a well-planned custom storage area. It’s little wonder that custom cabinetry is one of the more popular requests.


Step one is knowing that not all storage systems are created equal, and not every room has the same functional requirements. Closets and pantries are often overflowing. So, in these areas I prioritize function and organization. In kitchens and family rooms, storage must be balanced with style.

What are the storage objectives? Should the cabinetry blend in or stand out? Is the aim to conceal items or to display them? Knowing the expectations will help to narrow down the vast array of choices.


A range of standard colours and finishes, as well as custom options, are available from every brand or cabinet maker. The choices can be overwhelming, but we remind our clients that cabinets are a big-ticket item. Often we advise them against following trends, but to look for an overall, timeless look that will offer longevity, as well as visual appeal. Current trends can be added with moveable back panels and unique hardware, if so desired.


The best storage system must make the most of every inch. Wall space is often overlooked and under-used. Think extra-high, floor-to-ceiling cabinets, and custom corner cabinets that are tucked out of the way. Versatility is the beauty of custom cabinetry. The benefits often out-way the costs for the clients. Make use of valuable storage real estate. Items can be discreetly hidden, or a room can be enhanced with built-ins and lighting accents.


Technology has worked its way into every aspect of our lives, including storage areas. Custom shelving is being outfitted with lights, as well as a docking stations that help to eliminate unsightly cord clutter. Don’t forget to add in hidden charging stations for all life’s wireless items.

The secret to a successful design is providing clients with what they want – and need. By asking the right questions and getting to know the homeowner’s requirements, you’ll be able to create a tailored space that looks as good as it works. With the right custom storage system in place, they’ll wonder how they ever got along without it.

ANDREA COLMAN is Principal of Fine Finishes Design Inc..

With almost two decades of reno & design experience her full service firm, service clientele throughout GTA, Ontario. The growing boutique design firm is known for creating stylish, harmonious, livable environments.


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Spotlight: Hardwood Flooring

What’s best for hardwood floors – solid or engineered?

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What’s best for hardwood floors – solid or engineered?

Stylish, hard-wearing flooring options are everywhere these days, and for some people, it can be hard for many to decide which product is best suited. Solid wood has long been the preferred option, and it still is among the purists. But for those who consider practicality and price equally, engineered wood floors have carved out a notch in the interiors industry – and it’s a deep one. Modern engineered wood makes up the majority of wood flooring products on the market, and gives its solid wood counterparts a run for their money. Here’s how these different hardwoods stack up.

With solid hardwood, what you see is what you get – a single, solid piece of wood, through and through. This also means that solid hardwood floors are susceptible to expansion and contraction due to changing temperatures and humidity levels, and can cause floors to shift and buckle, if not installed properly. Engineered wood is made with a plywood base, glued and topped by a thin veneer of hardwood, giving you the look of solid hardwood at a fraction of the price. Engineered wood can also be installed over different surfaces, such as existing wood. Cost aside, there are some other big differences to consider.

When it comes to finishes, both solid hardwood and engineered wood floors can be pre-finished, or finished on site. However, one benefit to solid hardwood over engineered wood is that it can be sanded and refinished numerous times, whereas engineered wood can only be sanded twice, before the veneer wears through. Keep this in mind. Most of us will refinish a floor only once or twice in our occupancy of a particular home, so this isn’t typically a deal-breaker.

In terms of durability, the battle between hardwood and engineered wood is a draw. When making your decision, consider how you intend to wear – and tear – your floors. Because engineered wood only consists of a thin top layer, it’s easier to chip or scratch than hardwood. When it comes to water, engineered wood wins, withstanding exposure to moderate moisture better than hardwood. This means in hallways and living rooms, solid wood works. In a kitchen, powder room or bathroom, engineered wood is more practical.

I seem to be singing the praises of engineered wood floors thus far, but remember that not all are created equal – “created” being the operative word. Engineered floors are manufactured, and quality can vary. If you’re considering engineered wood, ensure you’re sourcing a quality product from a trusted manufacturer.

One of my go-to choices for quality, colour and style options is Canadian brand Fuzion Flooring. I love working with this brand for their engineered woods, and many of my clients today have opted for this alternative, thanks to its price, practicality and beauty. Engineered wood now comes in a range of types, such as oak, maple, birch, cherry, as well as more exotic options. All wood products, solid and engineered, have their pros and cons. Make an informed decision and work with a professional to ensure you’re selecting the best product for your home and lifestyle.

Andrea Colman is Principal of Fine Finishes Design Inc.

With almost two decades of reno and design experience, her firm services clientele throughout the GTA. The growing boutique design firm is known for creating stylish, harmonious, livable environments.


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