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Jim's Place - Eco-Conscious Design

Jim Caruk builds his own dream home in Toronto

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Jim Caruk builds his own dream home in Toronto

Photography by Alex Lukey

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

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

Jim’s style takes centre stage

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

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

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

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

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

Outdoor oasis

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

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

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

Next-level energy efficiency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Front porch makeover

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Front porch makeover

By Jaclyn Harper

Well friends, fall is officially here. Have you started your fall decorating yet? Personally, I think the best way to kick off the season is with an updated front porch or entry. With that said, today I’m giving you five tips to instantly transform your front porch.

Paint
This may seem daunting to a lot of you, but you’d be amazed at how much paint can transform your space. Last year, we painted the brick of our home. The transformation is honestly incredible. Our home went from old and dated to new and modern. Of course, getting your brick stained can be much more expensive than simply painting your front door. In fact, we did paint our front door and our garage, too.

When we purchased our home they were white and they looked dirty. We thought that this coffee brown colour looked amazing against our new grey brick and would hide the dirt as well. So why not give your front door a refresh? It’s simple, it’s inexpensive and it’s fun. Plus, it’s so simple to change the colour if you want to in the future.

If you pop into Lowe’s they have the new HGTV Home By Sherwin Williams line, which makes shopping for your paint colour really easy. I’m thinking I’m going to repaint our door a light blue to give it a burst of colour.

Texture
For fall you definitely want to incorporate different textures on your front porch to bring it to life. I’m talking about corn stalks, hay bales, birch logs, textured pillows and throw blankets. All of these things help to create a cozy and inviting entry to your home. These items are also a great way to play with different heights and will help add some dimension to your space.

Corn stalks can be really dramatic, which I love. Using hay bales to add height can be helpful, too. They make for great fall side tables, stools or pedestals for your fall accessories.

Accessories
Speaking of accessories, you can’t go wrong with pumpkins. But don’t go crazy — when you choose a lot of smaller accessories your space can look very cluttered very quickly. And make sure you’re choosing some larger elements so that people can see your items from the street. Stand on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street to see how it’s all coming together.

These days a lot of people are actually purchasing their accessories online. So, if you’re shopping online already, go to airmilesshops.ca and get miles at the same time! They’ve added a bunch of new brands like Etsy, Wayfair and Ticketmaster, in addition to the 175 brands they already have. In fact, the pillows, the black lanterns and the magnolia wreath are all ordered from Wayfair. Everything else on my front porch was picked up at Lowe’s. We found a really fun blue and black doormat there this year

Colour
The easiest way to add some colour is with flowers. Mums are great for this time of year, but there really are so many options to choose from. I think it’s important to start by figuring out what your colour palette is going to be. You can look on Pinterest or head to Lowe’s Ideas and Tips section to get inspired. Once you’ve decided on your palette — stick with three colours — then it’s time to pick out your flowers. This year I’ve chosen to use navy, white and green. Of course, you can also add colour in your throw pillows, your throw blankets, your doormat and in your flower pots.

Lighting
It’s really easy to update the look of your home with some new lighting. Whether it’s a wall sconce, ceiling light, solar lighting along the walkway, or just adding some lanterns, it’s easy to update your home. If you look outside and notice that you’ve had the same wall sconce for about five years, it’s probably time for a change.

At Lowe’s there is such a variety of lights to choose from. That’s where we found ours and it was only $22 at the time. Total bargain right?

Well, I really hope you get to try out these tips for yourself. I’d love to share your front porch makeover on my Instagram page and all you have to do is use the hashtag #jhdfrontporch. I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with.

Jaclyn Harper is a TV host, interior stylist and busy mother. http://jaclynharperdesigns.com/

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Keep It Together

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Keep It Together

Condo-living storage solutions

Condo living is a great option, especially if you’re always on the go. It’s convenient for homeowners who want a turnkey, hassle-free lifestyle. If you have the travel bug, there’s nothing like turning the key and not having to worry about outside maintenance, and the like, while you’re away. However, condo life can have its draw-backs when you are at home, and living with the baggage of everyday life. And when I say baggage, I don’t just mean the traveling kind.

STORED AWAY

A condo-sized home often correlates with living with less. Whether you’ve downsized from a large household to a smaller space, or like me, you just prefer the maintenance-free condo lifestyle, it can take some creative solutions to make room for all of your stuff.

I’m a big fan of built-in cabinets, as these pieces offer the most versatility. I know a couple who looked at the plans for their condo unit during construction and realized that there just wasn’t enough storage. Their solution was to line an entire wall, floor-to-ceiling, with custom-made cabinetry. They chose flat panels with no visible hardware so that it resembled a regular panelled wall.

Drawers are an easy way to access stored objects, because you can see everything at once when opened. Remember that the inside of each door offers more valuable surface space where you can incorporate hooks for long jewelry storage, keys, bulletin boards or a mirror. In fact, hooks are a great addition throughout your home. You’ll gain more towel storage in the bathroom, and extend your closet space for coats, clothing, keys, a dog leash, etc.

Many buildings are touting architectural details like high ceilings, so be sure to take cabinets as high as possible to provide compartments for infrequently used items like wrapping paper, seasonal decorations, linen, dishware, etc. For higher cabinets, install flip-up doors, rather than those with side hinges, for easier accessibility.

ORGANIZATION IS THE KEY

NEW & IMPROVED

Not to take away from the always handy step stool, but new ideas are always being introduced, like pull-down clothing racks. Japanese appliance and home goods manufacturer, Panasonic, offers an entire line of unique space-saving products. They’ve introduced a soft pull-down shelf system that brings everyday items to you. With a simple pull, the entire shelf lowers. They’ve also created a mechanized rotating system for hanging clothes – similar to what you would see at the dry cleaners. You can store, view and remove clothes with little effort, and it’s designed for narrow, deep, often wasted spaces. Adding a pullout or pull-down shelving to deep cabinets, as well as turntables to upper cabinets, and pull-down, ceiling-mounted laundry drying racks that tuck away when not in use, all help to simplify life’s storage dilemmas.

“When we clear the
physical clutter from
our lives, we make
room for inspiration
to enter. ”
– JANE LOCKHART

DOUBLE DUTY

A Murphy-style bed can be custom designed to fit with your decorating style, and to include added storage space built around it. Built-in storage drawers, or rolling boxes that fit snugly underneath, are included on select bed designs. The bottom cushions of some sofas lift to hold storage within the base frame.

Convert the den in the classic ‘one-bedroom plus den floor plan’ into a walk-in closet or an office, and add more floor-to-ceiling storage. However, I do need to add a caveat – make sure that it’s attractive, as well as functional. You don’t want to look like you live in a warehouse.

I love my condo and all the benefits that go along with it. Having multiple storage solutions helps me to feel organized, which helps me to enjoy my time at home.

Jane Lockhart, B.A.A.I.D., Founder & Principal Designer Jane Lockhart Interior Design. Jane is a multi-award winning designer, spokesperson, author and television personality, including six successful seasons as creative director and host of W Networks’ top ranked Colour Confidential, currently in reruns and airing on HGTV U.S. JaneLockhart.com

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Designer Tips – Sensible Style

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Designer Tips – Sensible Style

A mix of high and low features offer improved function in this classic & contemporary kitchen.

Photography By Stephani Buchman

When a young family of five set out to update their kitchen, they wanted an opportunity to enlarge the existing footprint and brighten up their space. Their old kitchen was dated, dark and their cabinets were falling apart; this kitchen space needed a major overhaul. My design team and I were asked to create a classic and elegant kitchen that would stand the test of time, and would become the central area for the family and friends to gather in. Carefully playing with a combination of low and high finishes, materials and appliances, allowed us to achieve a striking kitchen on a budget.

WARM & WHITE

Clean and simple is the cornerstone for contemporary design, which is why I love to use classic cabinetry with clean lines adding both texture and warmth with hits of colour throughout. The custom range hood and the island in their contemporary ash-brown hue of natural wood break up the crisp white envelope and warm up the space while offering a distinctive and sophisticated character to the kitchen.

“WE MAXIMIZED OUR SPACE BY PLACING ALL THE APPLIANCES ON ONE WALL.”

STORAGE SUPREME

Not only does a large island function as a major storage component in a kitchen but it also acts as a focal point in the space. Going from a kitchen that once had a peninsula, with a lot of wasted square footage in the centre, to incorporating an island with extra storage was at the top of the homeowners’ wish list. The island has pullout drawers and mesh doors perfect for storing fruits and veggies.

PROBLEM SOLVING

Smart storage also means that bulky, built-in appliances seamlessly merge with pantry cabinets and other millwork to maximize space. In this renovation, we borrowed a few inches from the adjacent room in order to widen the existing area, but most importantly, it allowed the extra-deep fridge to recess into the wall cavity while still having it look flush with the other cabinets.

“A BACKSPLASH IS ALWAYS AT EYE LEVEL AND HAS ONE OF THE LARGEST IMPACTS IN A KITCHEN.”

SEAMLESS SPACE-SAVING SOLUTIONS

Remember, every inch counts when space is a consideration. From sleek wall ovens and microwaves, to refrigerators, built-in appliances look custom and offer up more space. Even if certain appliances are not meant to be built-in, you can still make them look the part. In this kitchen, we maximized our space by placing all the appliances on one wall.

Adjacent to the appliance wall, we included an appliance garage. This specialty cabinet is a great way to store small, yet bulky appliances without visual clutter like: mixers, blenders and food processors. Tucked away, they remain accessible, yet out of sight. When properly planning a storage solution of this sort, it is imperative that the interior cabinets are finished, and multiple electrical outlets are added prior to cabinet installation.

BULKHEAD BE GONE

Turning a problem into a solution gave us one of this kitchen’s most attractive features. Flanking the hood, we designed two decorative glass-front cabinets that go right down to the counter, this feature was developed because of a vertical bulkhead that would be too costly to move, so we came up with a solution that would conceal the bulkhead behind the tall cabinets while still allowing for a shallow display cabinet in front.

POWERING UP

Extending just past the kitchen was a wide wall where we added a full-height pantry cabinet. This extra space was high on the homeowner’s wish list to ensure ample storage for additional appliances, drinking glasses and bar stock. We also incorporated charging stations within the drawers to be able to charge tablets, cell phone and other devices while having them neatly tucked away. Getting to know our clients’ lifestyle and daily requirements in advance grants us the opportunity to accurately detail small items such as power supply in the very specific areas of the cabinets. The design of the pantry called out for something a little more unique, we wanted it to feel more like a furniture piece while still blending into the landscape of the kitchen. Inspired by an apothecary cabinet, we included a series of drawers to give the cabinet character. Playing with cabinetry hardware allowed us to shape the design, it’s truly an affordable way to add character to any kitchen while making a big statement.

KITCHEN JEWELRY

Knowing when to splurge is key to a successful design. A backsplash is always at eye level and has one of the largest impacts in a kitchen; it’s worth setting a generous portion of your budget to make your mark with specialty features. The homeowner was adamant about the backsplash being unique without being too bold. A 2″x4″ natural stone set in a herringbone pattern was our backsplash of choice; the composition and material presents a classic detail that adds texture and interest without overpowering the rest of kitchen. Its colour and smooth texture also complements the oversized 30″x 30″ Italian porcelain floor tiles, which mimick the look of natural stone. This crisp white floor brightens the kitchen and is in sharp contrast to the former darkness that predominated.

Function and esthetics go hand in hand, nevertheless, understanding the functions of a kitchen drives the design. The result is a vibrant, contemporary kitchen with classic elements.

SOURCES – KITCHEN CABINETRY: Dvira Interiors TILES: 24″x24″ Floor tiles- Earthstone Bianco Polished Cercan tile Herringbone, Backsplash- Oriental White 2″x4″Cercan tile APPLIANCES, COOKTOP: Thermador cooktop WALL OVEN, SPEED OVEN & DISHWASHER: Bosch FRIDGE: Electrolux HARDWARE: Berenson MARBLE ON KITCHEN ISLAND: Sea Pearl, New Age Marble QUARTZ FOR PERIMETER: Simply White, Quartex Surfaces Inc WINDOW COVERINGS: Cinzia Designs LIGHTING: Royal Lighting SINK: Blanco FAUCET: Hansgrohe

Dvira Ovadia, Living by Design Toronto-based celebrity and award-winning designer Dvira Ovadia, Principal of Dvira Interiors, is known for her appearances and design work on various HGTV shows. Dvira and her team use their profound understanding of design to create stylishly smart spaces. Servicing clientele throughout Ontario and the GTA. dvira.com @DVIRAdesigner

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Design Sense – Stellar Storage

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Design Sense – Stellar Storage

At work or at home, these design tips will help you create stylish and functional storage solutions in your work space.

Photography By Stephani Buchman

Striking the perfect balance between practical use, function and clever storage solutions is tricky. I’ve recently relocated my design studio and it was perhaps my greatest challenge yet. I tend towards a minimalist esthetic in my personal spaces and opt for clear surfaces devoid of clutter. This new studio is a bit of a unique animal. In the spirit of creative collaboration, my friend and owner of Analogue Gallery, Lucia Graca Remedios and I decided to join forces, creating a hub of art and design. Canada’s foremost source for Rock photography, it seemed like a natural marriage; I create the space, they adorn the walls, and we work and exist in a sort of creative synergy. We both possess our own inherent stock of ‘stuff’ to run our respective businesses so we needed to create solutions that would house everything without that function being too prominent. The exercise offered a case study of sorts with a few fun ideas you can incorporate in your own home or office. Here are my top five tips for unconventional form-meets- function storage.

GO VINTAGE

The design studio tends to keep samples of our go-to products on-hand, making our initial design scheme creation more efficient. With that there are lots of tiny samples, everything from tiles, fabrics, paint chips to countertops and flooring. It’s nearly impossible to make piles of small items look tidy with any day-to-day use. I sourced a vintage teak dresser, giving me nine equal drawers perfectly suited to sorting products by category, colour and use. These pieces come up often on Kijiji for as little as a few hundred dollars. Consider this idea for craft rooms, kids’ play areas to sort LEGO, puzzles and toys into categories, making playtime—and more importantly—cleanup time a breeze.

WALL-TO-WALL

Next to keeping things out of view, there are the practicalities of the office like: files, staplers, paper and the necessary stock of coffee. Rather than doing a series of individual storage pieces, purposely built for each need, we opted for wall-to-wall built-in cabinetry, topped with a counter for an über functional work surface. By using Ikea’s SEKTION kitchen cabinets, and white SALJAN counters, we have a slick outer look, with a very clean overall design. A series of small items create more visual clutter, whereas larger but consistent units make a space look bigger and tidier. This is a great affordable solution for a home office, dining room side credenza or basement rec room.

CURATE AND DISPLAY

Some things simply need to be accessible and hiding them away doesn’t make sense for how you use them. For us that’s the beverage station, and extra books that the gallery sells. By creating specific spots and bases to house them, there’s more of a purpose to the placement and they become part of the overall esthetic in the process. For kitchen items, consider putting them on an oversized tray like this SVARTAN tray table from Ikea. Books, tools and utensils fit perfectly in vessels and crates like these wooden ones. Group several together and create a functional vignette.

FLOATING WALL

There simply isn’t any way around the need to store extra boxes, brooms and supplies and small storage units won’t cut it. We opted to pull a wall surface 3 feet from the rear wall smack in the middle of our main reception room. Seemingly the last place you’d think to hide the unsightly stuff, but this is an approach that I often use in my residential designs. It was an opportunity to create a feature wall front and centre, which serves form as much as function. When guests visit the space, they are greeted with a statement piece from the gallery, and tucked away out of view are our functional supplies.

FILL THE WALLS

Traditional galleries select a few key works to display, storing the balance away out of sight. With space at a premium, we hatched the idea to display it all. We filled the walls with photography. The result is an unconventional but seemingly more fitting way to view the collection. Seeing the pieces in groupings better lends the impression to how we might hang them in our homes. There are wonderful hanging systems on the market that allow you to install a simple rail, and have the flexibility to change the work, as often as the mood strikes. This is a terrific approach for gallery walls in your family room, or better yet, a place to display your child’s artwork.

Sometimes the best solutions are born of the biggest challenges. We designers tend to look to the odd and often unrelated for ideas, leading to the most innovative results.

 

Toronto-based designer and contractor Melissa Davis is known for her appearances, creative design and reno work produced for various HGTV shows. Her work has also been profiled nationally in print publications. With almost two decades of reno and design experience her firm continues to service clientele throughout Ontario & GTA, specializing in value-adding ROI and resale consultations. melissadavis.com @melissadavis

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Professional handyman saves big on reno

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Professional handyman saves big on reno

By Chris Palmer

Much to my wife’s chagrin, jobs around my house are often last on my list. However, this New Year I have resolved to transform my boring builder’s kitchen into a thing of beauty with improved, family-friendly functionality. I am going for a complete overhaul, but will be saving thousands of dollars on labour with things that I – and most readers – can probably do themselves.

Here are my DIY tips for projects big and small.

Visualize the look and functionality

Before you go knocking down walls, take time to envision how your kitchen will not only look, but work. Countertop space, traffic flow and what the kitchen will be used for other than cooking are all important questions. For example, my son is a toddler but eventually the kitchen could be a good place for him to do his homework. For me, I want the kitchen table to act as an alternative office space for invoicing and project planning, that’s why I’ve added a small desk nook on my pantry wall.

Know Your Limits

You can save thousands of dollars on hours associated with labour by handling manual tasks and finishing touches yourself. Before you go smashing down a loadbearing wall or bursting a hidden pipe, call in the licensed trades to make sure you are clear to proceed. Trade professionals have provided me with a lot of valued guidance. Their expertise has allowed me to use my time more efficiently because I won’t end up wasting time on jobs out of my skill set.

Tricks of the trade

Interior designers and renovators have a few crafty tricks to make kitchens look like something out of a glossy home decor magazine. Finishing touches can make a kitchen look expensive, but are easy to do. Hardware is like adding jewelry. While it’s readily available at many big box stores, specialty retailers like Lee Valley carry a comprehensive selection so you don’t have to settle for anything other than what your Pinterest-worthy vision originally entailed. Other simple upgrades I recommend anyone to do in a renovation are to go for a bigger baseboard and fatter crown molding. Personally, I won’t waste time with 4-inch trim. For a professional look, I will be installing a 5.5-inch baseboards throughout my kitchen. One other tip I like to recommend is to use a semi-gloss paint on your baseboards and crown moulding as this added sheen makes it all look that much richer.

Don’t underestimate under-mount lighting

It’s very rare that you can walk into a home and find good lighting. It typically needs improvement and requires a plan. One of the simplest things you can do to increase the functionally and improve the look of your kitchen is under-mount lighting. It makes a kitchen look if you spent thousands on a professional. The good news is that you can buy do-it-yourself customizable LED lighting from several retailers like Lee Valley and you don’t need to hire an electrician to install them.

Save vs. spend

Every minute I put into my kitchen myself adds up to money in my wallet. Most trades charge anywhere from $75 to $125 an hour. But there are a few things that I will be investing in. A double farmhouse style sink is one of them because it plays a major role in increasing work efficiency in the kitchen as you can wash, chop and clean in an organized manner. Quality appliances means less costs in repairs in the long run. However, you can save by purchasing the fridge, stove and dishwasher all together as most retailers offer an extra discount if you buy multiple appliances at once.

Chris Palmer is the founder and owner of Hand Crafted by Chris Palmer. He produces one-of-a-kind pieces for a wide range of commercial and residential clients. He also appeared on HGTV’s Canada’s Handyman Challenge and regularly shares his expertise with audiences across Canada through speaking engagements and media like Global TV, Cityline and more.

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