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Watch renovation themed shows on Netflix – White Gold and Tin Men

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Watch renovation themed shows on Netflix – White Gold and Tin Men

White Gold is golden

First off, this BBC Two series now airing on Netflix is definitely NSFW (not safe for work), but if you’re looking for a funny, raunchy, industry related show to binge watch, White Gold could be for you.

Set in a small English town east of London in the mid-1980s, the white gold in the title refers to the framing material for vinyl windows, and the plot revolves around the shady – and sometimes revolting – dealings of a group of salesman who will do just about anything to close a deal.

Be warned, there’s lots of sex, drugs, and 80s rock-and-roll, but if you’re okay with that, there’s plenty of British wit and laugh-out-loud scenes. There are two seasons of six episodes each currently airing on Netflix.

Tin Men

Looking for something a little less raunchy – but still profanity-laced – that also takes a comical look at the sleazy side of home renovation salespeople? Then consider Tin Men.

This dark 1987 comedy stars much younger versions of Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito playing aluminum siding salesmen in 1960s Baltimore. The two work for rival siding companies and will do anything – legal or otherwise – to close the deal. And, of course, win the girl (played by Barbara Hershey). For a snippet, check out this profanity laced clip.

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Consumer show survival guide

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Consumer show survival guide

Fall Home show season is just around the corner. Setting up a booth at a consumer show can be a great way to generate business. It can also be an expensive, exhausting way to waste a weekend if you don’t prepare for it properly. Here are some tips to make your next show a success.

  • You’ll obviously deduct the cost of renting the booth space and any staff time or materials used to set up it, but remember to get receipts for parking, meals, and any other expenses incurred onsite.
  • Wear comfortable shoes – leave the sky high heels at home ladies – and change your shoes and socks at least a couple of times a day.
  • Drink lots of water, and use lip balm liberally.
  • Eat healthy foods. If you start your morning loading up on bacon from the breakfast buffet then spend the day topping up with chips and junk food you’ll feel lethargic by mid-afternoon. Snack on a piece of fruit or some nuts to tide you over, and drink more water.
  • Bring a “survival” kit to the show with you: along with the aforementioned change of footwear and healthy snacks, also pack some Advil or Tylenol, hand sanitizer, gum, eye drops or contact solution, and a charger for your phone.
  • Set some targets. If you go into a show without a plan there’s no way to know at the end of it was a success or not. Set hourly goals for how many people you’ll speak with and a target for how many solid leads you’ll walk away with.
  • Get people’s attention. If you’re not a natural showman you’ll need some way to stand out from the crowd. Contests, giveaways, videos showcasing your best work, or a standout display stand help prevent eyeballs glazing over as they pass your booth.
  • Go easy on the booze, particularly if there’s a hospitality bar at night. You’ve spent a lot of time and money to be at the show. You’re not going to find new clients if you’re sleeping off a hangover in your hotel room.
  • Sleep well. That starts will leaving the party early. But conference centre hotels can draw boisterous crowds. Pack a sleep mask and ear plugs to help block out the party scene.

 

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Save a Sample, Sept. 18-19, 2019

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Save a Sample, Sept. 18-19, 2019

Since 1999, the Save a Sample program has been collecting unused brochures, fabrics, and other samples from across North America and delivering them local design schools for the students to re-purpose into the assignments. This year, the Canadian event takes place in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg on September 18 and 19.

To participate, contact SAS2019@specsimple.com, or visit saveasample.ca for more information.

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GPS tracking of light/medium duty fleets – increasing profitability through driver accountability

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GPS tracking of light/medium duty fleets – increasing profitability through driver accountability

Drivers that are held to a clear, unbiased standard perform better for the company – and themselves

For any company with a fleet of light or medium duty vehicles, from service contractors to vendors and those in the transportation industry, increasing profitability often comes down to fostering an environment of greater employee accountability.

The concept of accountability is defined as “the obligation of an individual to account for his/her activities, accept responsibility for them and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.” Implied in this definition is the ability to verify tasks are completed as expected, on time, efficiently and per company policy. For fleet managers, this can only be accomplished through real-time GPS tracking devices on all vehicles.

After all, it is an established fact that drivers that know they are being monitored by such systems are less likely to make unnecessary detours or stops for personal reasons, may avoid spending unnecessary time at jobsites, and/or avoid idling the engine while filling out paperwork in the vehicle. But accountability is not about discovering what a driver is doing “wrong,” it is actually more about what the driver is doing right. Through GPS tracking, drivers can take more ownership for their jobs, have more clarity of tasks and results, can self-correct, improve, and do not have to be micromanaged.

Even well-intentioned drivers may discover that there are areas of improvement and efficiencies that could make them more productive.

There are also indirect benefits as well. When all drivers are monitored, those not pulling their weight are more easily identified so faster, more productive employees do not have to pick up the slack with extra deliveries or service visits.

Finally, with greater accountability, higher performing employees are more likely to be recognized and rewarded (raises anyone?) based on verifiable performance.

So, with a host of benefits for the employee, fleet managers that have avoided the “leap” to GPS tracking are missing out on a win-win scenario. After all, more accountable drivers lead to greater efficiency overall, which means increased profits. It’s an argument that is hard to deny, particularly as GPS tracking continues to improve while the cost of entry plummets.

Holding drivers to a higher standard

Although GPS trackers have been around for some time, advances in the technology allows for more real-time tracking and simplified reporting. Fleet managers, after all, don’t want to spend all day on their computers sifting through complex analytical data. Instead, they want simplified, easy to read reports that summarize what they need to know. Fortunately, such systems exist today and at rates less than $20 per vehicle.

The advanced units today allow real-time and historical tracking of each vehicle in a fleet. This allows dispatchers to assign the closest vehicle to a job, which expedites the service work or delivery and saves gas, labour, and vehicle wear-and-tear. It also allows historical routing analysis, which enables even greater routing efficiencies to be determined on an individual or fleet-wide basis.

However, the greatest improvements in fleet management occur when GPS tracking devices are used to hold drivers to a clear, unbiased standard to encourage better performance for the company and themselves.

As an example, when Reilly Construction & Development implemented their first GPS tracking system last year, the Florida-based residential and commercial construction company benefited from significant productivity gains and operational efficiencies.

The construction company has installed Shadow Tracker Vision III GPS tracking devices from Advanced Tracking Technologies (ATTI), a Houston, Tex.-based designer and manufacturer of GPS tracking products, on two of their construction trucks.

Compared with typical GPS tracking devices that may only update every few minutes, the device provides real-time location updates every 10-seconds, as well as location, speed, and idle time alerts if something is amiss. This data is transmitted via satellite and cellular networks to a smartphone or PC on a 24/7 basis.

With such accountability for how every minute of each day is spent, employees know they are always “on the clock.” This helps to eliminate frivolous or unnecessary stops during the workday, and decreases wasted time during a stop.

“Now we know exactly where our vehicles and drivers are in real time,” says Sharon Arnold, office and assistant project manager at Reilly Construction & Development. “We can spot check our drivers to make sure they are where they are supposed to be and not at unauthorized places because some people will take advantage. That has saved us a few thousand dollars in salary alone. The system more than pays for itself in enhanced productivity.”

On the plus side for employees, the use of such GPS tracking systems helps verify on-time arrival at customer sites. And automated reporting such as that provided by the ATTI system can virtually eliminate the reporting burden for employee and employer in regard to driving logs. Automated exception reporting can also flag potential issues that need to be corrected, such as excess vehicle mileage or idling. “We are trying to work smarter, not harder,” says Arnold.

“We are trying to make things simple and straight forward. With everything out in the open, people know what to expect.”

Once drivers and the work crew know they are accountable for their actions, it is amazing how much more they will accomplish. Using such an approach with advanced GPS tracking commonly improves productivity 10-20 percent while reducing fuel costs 10-15 percent, as drivers start to pay attention to their driving and work habits throughout the day.

Indiana-based Gordon Plumbing Inc., which offers services ranging from small fixes to remodeling and construction, currently uses ATTI’s GPS tracking system on 54 vehicles, and has used three different tracking systems over the last decade.

“The [ATTI] system not only expedites job dispatching but also enhances accountability and profitability while reducing costs,” says Shannon Allen, Gordon Plumbing’s service coordinator. Allen points out that being able to access a vehicle’s position in real time means “our vehicles can reach customers very quickly when there are emergencies.” She adds, “If our drivers on the job need help from a tech specialist, we can immediately find one in their area and dispatch them to that address.”

According to Allen, the system provides one link for all the covered vehicles. “The GPS tracking system puts our vehicles on a map, so I can see all of them at once,” she says, noting that the view can be narrowed to any department or [geographic] area, as desired. “It is so accurate that it lets me see exactly where a vehicle is parked.”

Because the GPS system is automated, reports are delivered without anyone having to open software. In addition to the real time views of the activity taking place, next day reports are delivered by email, documenting everything that happened the day before. The reports can be customized, for example, to show how many drivers idled for more than 30 minutes or how many miles were put on a vehicle.

Allen emphasizes that the system can quickly spot driver habits that need correction, such as a driver stopping for five or 10 minutes between jobs several times a day.

“With the GPS system, we are able to notice and point out that even five to ten minutes stops between jobs each day adds up to a lot of lost productivity,” says Allen. She concludes, however, that her drivers are quite used to the system and even appreciate it when it proves that they are getting to and doing their jobs as required.

For a free demo, visit advantrack.com/free-demo/. For more information contact Advanced Tracking Technologies: advantrack.com; 800-279-0035; sales@advantrack.com.

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Meghan Markle’s LA house – before Harry and royalty – up for sale

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Meghan Markle’s LA house – before Harry and royalty – up for sale

Megan Markle’s former LA home where she lived when she was an actress and before her marriage to Prince Harry, is up for sale.

When Markle, now Duchess of Sussex and a princess of the United Kingdom, first got her acting part in Suits in 2011, she was married to Trevor Engelson and they rented a home in L.A.’s Hancock Park neighborhood, close to downtown Hollywood. Though it was necessary for her to live in Toronto nine months of the year while filming, this is where she would return between filming and where she called home until her divorce in 2013. It was recently put on the market staged in pure Markle style, priced at US$1.8 million.

Filled with sunlight bouncing off of white walls and bright minimalist decor, the 1924 Colonial measures 2,262-sq.-ft. with four bedrooms, three baths, family room, living room with fireplace and dining area, all on an open plan. The eat-in kitchen is also filled with natural light and white cabinets are covered with marble countertops. The dining room opens onto a patio for entertaining and there is a two-car garage with additional parking.

Although romantics love to believe that Markle’s marriage to Prince Harry was a real life Cinderella story, she had been starring in Suits for six years and was paid, at what Fortune estimates, US$450,000 per show. In addition, her two clothing lines were popular, selling out quickly and her fashion-lifestyle blog was also pulling in about US$80,000 annually. By the time Markle became engaged to Prince Harry, her estimated wealth was already hovering at US$5 million.

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Detached home sales and prices roar back to life in first half of 2019 – ReMax

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Detached home sales and prices roar back to life in first half of 2019 – ReMax

The bounce-back in single-detached home sales is contributing to an uptick in average price, with more than 50 per cent of neighbourhoods in the Greater Toronto Area reporting an increase in detached housing values the first half of 2019, according to a new report from Re/Max of Ontario-Atlantic Canada.

Re/Max examined trends and developments in 65 Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) districts, finding that detached home sales were up in almost 88 per cent of markets, while prices were up in 51 per cent of markets between January and June 2019, compared to the same period one year ago. The 905 area saw the greatest increase in homebuying activity, with all 30 areas reporting rising detached home sales, and 43 per cent of 905 communities experiencing price appreciation. Meanwhile, in the 416, just 20 of the 35 districts experienced an uptick in sales, while detached home prices increased in 57 per cent of neighbourhoods.

“Detached housing is finally back on track, with year-to-date sales almost 17 per cent ahead of last year’s levels, signaling a return to more normal levels of home-buying activity,” says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Market share is also climbing, with detached homes now representing 45.7 per cent of all home sales in the Greater Toronto Area, up from 43.1 per cent one year ago.”

While improving affordability is the catalyst in the uptick in detached home sales, Re/Max says location is equally important, as first-time and trade-up buyers move to secure prime real estate before values are on the move again.

Top 5 detached home markets in 416 by price growth, first half of 2019

Neighbourhoods

Average price

% increase

1. (E01)
North Riverdale
South Riverdale
Blake-Jones
Greenwood-Coxwell

$1.38M

15.2

2. (C01)
Trinity-Bellwoods
Palmerston-Little Italy
Niagara
Little Portugal
Kensington-Chinatown
Dufferin Grove

$1.95M

12.8

3. (C11)
Leaside
Thorncliffe Park

$2.19M

11.2

4. (E04)
Dorset Park
Wexford-Maryvale
Clairlea-Birchmount
Ionview
Kennedy Park

$836,585

7.8

5. (W02)
Junction
High Park North
Runnymede-Bloor,
West Village
Lambton-Baby Point
Dovercourt-Wallace
Emerson-Junction

$1.41M

7.1

Source: Re/Max of Ontario-Atlantic Canada; E01, C01, C11, E04, W02
are TREB market districts (trebhome.com)

Top 5 detached home markets in 905 by price growth first half of 2019

Neighbourhoods Average price % increase
1. Uxbridge
2. Milton
3. Halton Hills
4. Brampton
5. Ajax
$895,490
$903,359
$842,864
$835,435
$728,923
6
4.3
3.6
2.8
2.5

Source: Re/Max of Ontario-Atlantic Canada

Despite strong demand in these hot-pocket areas, approximately 45 per cent of districts within the 416 are in a technical buyers’ market, with a good selection of homes listed for sale. ReMax says select neighbourhoods north of Bloor offered greater flexibility in terms of negotiation – this is especially true when average price topped $2 million – while market conditions were tightest south of Bloor Street.

“Heated demand clearly exists for single-detached housing south of Bloor Street, but there are pockets throughout the 416 that are scorching hot,” says Alexander. “The Oakwood-Vaughan area in C03, where homes can still be had for just over the $1-million price point, is one of those neighbourhoods, while C10, comprised of Sherwood Park, Mount Pleasant West, Mount Pleasant East, is another. The Junction Area, High Park North, and Runnymede-Bloor West Village (W02) in the west end, and Leslieville (E01) and the Beach (E02) in the east, are also highly sought-after, with proximity to transportation and vibrant shopping avenues the common denominators drawing younger buyers.”

Top performers in terms of unit sales were markets offering single-detached homes at less than the $1-million price point. Scarborough’s L’Amoreaux, Tam O’Shanter-Sullivan, Steeles neighbourhood (E05) saw the most significant upswing in terms of percentage increase in sales, with the number of homes sold up 76.2 per cent to 148 units.

“With recovery well underway in the detached housing segment, the residential real estate market is starting to fire on all cylinders,” says Alexander. “The possibility of more relaxed mortgage rules down the road – in conjunction with today’s low interest rate environment – may serve to spark up the GTA housing market yet again.”

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Cloverdale Mall

Cloverdale Mall area set for major community development

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Cloverdale Mall area set for major community development

Prospective homebuyers looking for new opportunities in the west end of Toronto might want to keep an eye out for developments around Cloverdale Mall in Etobicoke.

Property owner QuadReal Property Group of Vancouver has big plans for the area that extend well beyond a major redevelopment of the shopping mall itself, which dates back to 1956 when it first opened as an open-air plaza.

Following a year of community consultation, QuadReal plans to submit a rezoning application to the City of Toronto in December, proposing a comprehensive master plan to redevelop the existing 32-acre mall property into an innovative, dynamic and sustainable mixed-use urban community. The plan is to integrate the mall within the surrounding neighbourhoods, providing greenspace, as well as mixed residential, retail and community amenities.

Multi-generational residences

QuadReal says it plans to incorporate feedback from the community, including local residents, business owners and shoppers. To ensure the development is reflective of community values, the company has built a 4,000-sq.-ft. space called the Cloverdale Common within the existing Cloverdale space, which hosts arts and culture programming, events and open houses to discuss the proposed plans. The resulting feedback will be considered in developing the property to include shopping, but also multi-generational residences, all-season parkland, arts and culture programming, fitness and wellness facilities, restaurants and more.

“The new Cloverdale community will offer a diverse mix of residential types, to create housing for all stages of life – from young professionals to seniors, students to families,” Ben Gilbank, director of development at QuadReal, told HOMES Publishing. “A variety of residential types will be provided, including rental, condo and affordable units, enabling cross-generational opportunities for housing. Units will range in size from smaller to larger, family-style units.

Once the proposal is submitted to the City in December, the next few years will be dedicated toward obtaining planning approvals, prior to commencing the first phase of construction, Gilbank adds.

Infrastructure development

Cloverdale is located in the Etobicoke Centre, an area popular for its proximity to the QEW and Hwy 427, the Islington-City Centre West central business district and established neighbourhoods, and which itself is undergoing significant redevelopment. Several new housing developments are in the works along Dundas St. W. between Islington and 427, and more planned for south side of Dundas just west of Kipling subway. New condos are also springing up along the 427 near Burnhamthorpe.

The nearby Six Points intersection, a complicated interchange where Kipling, Bloor and Dundas all intersect, is seeing tens of millions of dollars spent by the City over the next two years to modernize the roads and surrounding infrastructure, to accommodate future development in the area.

RELATED READING

Etobicoke is development central, literally


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Sidewalk Labs

Oct. 31 deadline for Sidewalk Labs transformation a scary proposition

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Oct. 31 deadline for Sidewalk Labs transformation a scary proposition

An Oct. 31 Halloween deadline to resolve major issues with Waterfront Toronto has been set for the game-changing Sidewalk Labs development proposal – a date some consider a scary proposition. If a deal can move forward, another six-month period will be allowed to finalize the biggest and most advanced redevelopment project in North America. If agreement isn’t reached, another partner may be sought.

Sidewalk is the developer and sister company of Google chosen in 2017 by Waterfront Toronto to develop a 12-acre, smart-city site at downtown Toronto’s eastern waterfront called Quayside. The new community would include a mix of housing types (including tall wood construction), financing for light-rail transit and walkable, bicycle-friendly streets.

IDEA district

Part of the proposal is the Innovative Development and Economic Acceleration district (IDEA) district, a 190-acre project on the eastern waterfront that builds on Quayside. It would include a new Canadian headquarters for Google and an $80-million pre-fabricated construction manufacturing hub to build its mass-timber neighbourhood.

According to Sidewalk, its proposal would create an estimated 93,000 jobs and $4 billion in annual tax revenue by 2040.

“But Toronto has had challenges in making big-vision projects a reality to take it to another level, as well as streamlining a clogged development and building approvals process,” says Richard Lyall, president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario. “It’s not surprising that the two big issues in the last Toronto election were transit and housing. We are not developing enough of either to support our population growth.”

Critical innovations

As it stands, the Toronto region is second only to Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington as the fastest growing major metropolitan area in North America, Lyall adds.

Sidewalk can introduce critical innovations in building information modelling, supply chain management and the regulatory approvals process, Lyall says, and it holds the promise for environmentally friendly affordable housing.


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After two years, we reveal our master bathroom reno

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After two years, we reveal our master bathroom reno

Two years ago, when we purchased our home, we knew that ONE day we’d get to our master bathroom. It was dated and needed a good reno, but we felt we could ‘live with it’ for a few years. Well, that one day finally came and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

The Plan

When planning out our space, I looked at a few different configurations. Ultimately, I was thinking I’d put a shower at the far end of our bathroom, install a smaller vanity, move the toilet over and put a claw-foot tub where the existing bath was. I think this would have made for a really functional space. The plan changed quickly over the course of a weekend when we bought a new house. Surprise…WE’RE MOVING AGAIN!! With that said, we still wanted to undertake this reno on a tight budget. Things would stay where they were so that we wouldn’t need to move any plumbing and we could get things started right away.

Tile

First off, I fell in love with these tiles from Stone Impressions. They were a quick ship option; I LOVED the pattern and they were unlike anything I had seen before. I started playing with the idea of using the Avery tile as a feature wall and didn’t look back. I reached out to Stone Impressions and was over the moon when they wanted to collaborate on our project. They shipped us the hand-selected Carrara marble tiles all the way from San Diego. When I opened up the package, I seriously couldn’t believe my eyes. The pattern on each individual tile looked so handcrafted and luxurious. I swear, we’re going to miss them in our new home.

Vanity

Next up, the vanity. We went with the 60″ Ashburn Vanity from Foremost available online at The Home Depot Canada. It was the perfect size for our space and the colour is GORGEOUS! My favourite part? That it has feet. It really looks like a piece of furniture. We decided to add an additional sink and it’s so functional for us. Before, we had so much counter space that we really didn’t use. We ordered the vanity online and it was shipped to our door (countertop, sinks and all).

Faucets & Hardware

When it came to our faucets I decided to go with matte black. I really love that the faucets don’t match the hardware on the vanity. The mixed metals work so well in our bathroom. This also allowed me to incorporate a polished nickel showerhead and some polished nickel in our vanity light. We ordered towel racks and our toilet paper holder in the same matte-black collection from Pfister. They’re stunning! The accents of black really work so well with everything else we have going on in the space. The collection is exclusive to The Home Depot Canada and I couldn’t be more thrilled to recommend it. The water ribbons as it pours, the design works with any bathroom esthetic, it came with an easy-to-install, push-to-seal drain, it has a lifetime warranty AND there are other finishes to choose from. Major win!

Saniflo

When planning our bathroom reno, we thought we’d be able to incorporate Saniflo into our project. When they explained to me how it worked, I jumped on the opportunity for a collaboration. In the end, we didn’t end up moving any plumbing and didn’t need to use their system, but I can assure you, we’ll be using it in our new home and I’ll be telling my friends about it. What is it exactly? Let me explain: The Saniflo Sanicompact macerating toilet is the system that I’m referring to. If you’re looking to install a toilet in a trailer, a cottage, a basement, or anywhere else that typically requires you to move plumbing, the Sanicompact allows you to quickly and easily add a new bathroom without any major construction. There is no need to break the concrete or move plumbing lines because the Sanicompact can tie into your existing lines. The best part about this system is the tankless design, which makes it great for smaller spaces, and it looks very modern too. Sounds pretty great right? Well, that’s a wrap. Thanks so much for checking out our Master Bathroom Reno. We love it! Stay tuned for future renos in our new house. I can’t wait to start planning and creating.

Shop my Bathroom:

Tiles: StoneImpressions | Faucet: The Home Depot | Tub: The Home Depot | Towel Bar: The Home Depot | Hand Towel Bar: The Home Depot | Toilet Paper Holder: The Home Depot | Vanity: The Home Depot | Turkish Towels: House of Jude

Jaclyn_Harper_EyeCandy_Aug_1

Jaclyn Harper is a TV host, interior stylist and new mom living in Burlington, Ontario. You may recognize her from shows like Tiny Talent Time, Morning Live First Edition and The Shopping Channel. She has also worked behind the scenes for the Property Brothers’ Show, Buying And Selling. When Jaclyn’s not on TV or creating beautiful designs, you’ll find her latest projects on her blog jaclynharperdesigns.com. From DIYs, design projects to life as a new mom, her lifestyle blog and YouTube channel give her fans a peek into her family life.

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