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3 ways to refresh your home for spring

3 ways to refresh your home for spring

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3 ways to refresh your home for spring

Looking to update your home for the season but don’t have time or budget for a major renovation? Do it right with these three easy DIY paint projects that can each be done in just a day.

“The seasonal transition from winter to spring is the perfect time to freshen up,” says Sharon Grech, colour and design expert for Benjamin Moore. “If you’re like me, you don’t have unlimited time to devote to working on your home, which is why small weekend projects are perfect because they’re quick, easy and affordable.”

DOOR: Night Train 1567, Aura® Grand Entrance, Satin TRIM: Plantation White, Aura® Grand Entrance, High Gloss EXTERIOR WALLS: Grant Beige HC-83, Aura® Exterior, Satin
DOOR: Night Train 1567, Aura® Grand Entrance, Satin TRIM: Plantation White, Aura® Grand Entrance, High Gloss EXTERIOR WALLS: Grant Beige HC-83, Aura® Exterior, Satin

Hit refresh with paint

Nothing says refresh quite like bringing new life to a tired piece of furniture. A fresh coat of paint is the perfect solution to make old, dated furniture seem trendy and new. Look for pieces that have solid construction and interesting shapes. Grech says headboards, wardrobes, chairs and side tables are all great pieces to transform. If you are unsure of the condition of the furniture or how to paint it, visit a local paint retailer to ensure you get the product that is right for your project.

Amaze with an accent wall

Feature walls are a great way to make an impactful change to a space. “Many people think accent walls need to be very bold and vibrant hues, when they can be neutral to create a more cohesive and harmonious feel,” says Grech. Explore painting the fifth wall, otherwise known as the ceiling, for a unique and modern look that can add dimension to a space.

Front door décor

The front door has the ability to instantly create an inviting impression before guests enter your home. “Applying a fresh coat of paint to your front door is a great DIY project that can be done quickly and can invigorate the look and feel of your home,” says Grech. “Because it’s so easy, you can even change your door colour seasonally.” Benjamin Moore’s Aura® Grand Entrance collection, inspired by European enamel finishes has more than 42 curated colours.

Find more informaiton at benjaminmoore.com.


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Yes, You Can Garden Now

Yes, You Can Garden Now

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Yes, You Can Garden Now

There is an opportunity to squeeze much more gardening from the month of April than you likely realize. By “squeeze” we mean enjoy, well before what has traditionally been the start of the gardening season in May.

Sow and Grow

Start vegetable and flowers seeds indoors now. Many garden seeds can be sown now indoors. Frost tender flowers like marigolds, alyssum, zinnias, cosmos and a host more should be started in the next couple of weeks either under grow lights or in a sunny window. Same with tubers of dahlias and tuberous begonias.

There are many opportunities to sow crops directly in your garden. Onions by seed and bulb, carrots, beets, kale, radishes, Swiss chard and peas can be sown now. Prepare the soil by turning it with a garden fork or spade once, bang the clumps out of it and add lots of compost. For root crops, add generous quantities of sharp (sand box) sand at least 30 cm deep to open the soil up and improve drainage.

Wait a few more weeks for flowers that are cold hardy, as we do expect frost for the next 6 weeks in the GTA (zone 6 and north of Highway 7, zone 5). Sow calendula (pot marigold), dusty miller and alyssum outdoors any time from April 15 onwards.


All woody, winter hardy plants are good to go for April planting.

If the plant is dormant and leafless when you buy it you know that it is in its natural state, versus forced in a greenhouse. It is important to know the difference. A plant that is in full leaf is soft and susceptible to frost damage. A dormant tree, shrub or rose plant is naturally protected from temperatures below 0 Celsius. It might not be as attractive but it will transplant more easily.

Perennial divisions

Perennial divisions from your own garden or that of a friend or neighbour, can be planted now. Again, if you are shopping for perennials and they have soft green foliage or flowers, it is best not to plant them yet as the new growth is frost tender. But a dormant hosta or rhubarb root is safe to dig and transplant now. This is the perfect time of year to move most herbaceous perennials around your yard or divide the mature ones and give away the divisions.

Prune fruit trees

Apples, peaches, plums, cherries: most fruit trees respond best to an early spring pruning. As a rule of thumb, we remove up to one third of the growth, concentrating on the upright growing water sprouts and the criss-crossing branches in the interior of the tree.

Perennial food plants

Asparagus, grapes, raspberries, strawberries, and the like, are best planted in April, while they are dormant. Buy strawberry plants as one year old roots and plant in compost-rich soil about 30 cm apart.

Raspberries are usually sold as rooted cuttings, about 30 cm high. Plant them out about 50 cm apart. Don’t wait for May, get out in the garden now.

Mark Cullen
Mark Cullen
Ben Cullen
Ben Cullen

Mark and Ben Cullen, professional gardeners, are broadcasters, writers, and public speakers.

Check out their latest podcast.


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Why a builder's online decor centre is key to your success

Why a builder’s online decor centre is key to your success

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Why a builder’s online decor centre is key to your success

The unique challenges we all have faced over the last year due to COVID-19 have made us seriously reconsider our own in-person shopping habits. More than 30 per cent of all retail sales in the last year were online. This is a tremendous increase that shows no signs of slowing down. There is no doubt that online shopping is here to stay. We have grown accustom to researching, investigating and making decisions in the privacy and comfort of our own homes.

While many homebuilders have successfully started to use resources and tools like renderings, visualizers and interactive tours to engage home shoppers before closing on a new home, they continue to be reliant on old school, in-person practices to help homebuyers choose finishes post-purchase.

Easing the process

Historically, the decor process has been known to be the most painful part of the homebuying process and creates fear in even the strongest of builder’s hearts. Specifying the various upgrade options, pricing, product library, samples and documentation needed for a successful decor appointment can be a tremendous job. The buyer primarily reviews their options at their multiple four- to six-hour in person decor appointments. It’s easy to see that the current method for decor selections can be very overwhelming.

New technology in the design space makes the process of selecting finishes simple, interactive, informative, easy to understand and use. Virtual kitchen and bathroom renders allow buyers to see what their new space will look like when they customize their selections in the comfort of their own home. By be able to view the information online, at any time from any location, not only gives the buyer confidence in their decisions, but also drastically cuts down on design centre appointments. Fewer appointments at the decor centre translates to saving the builder both time and money resulting in increases to the bottom line. With the additional benefit of the buyer engaging with your product for a longer period of time, it generally translates to them spending more on upgrades. A win-win solution.

Tangible process

While digital technology is helping to cut back on the use of the traditional design centre, it will still be important to have a physical and inspiring space for buyers to have the option to touch and feel their finishes and interact with a professional consultant. There is something tangible about this process that is incredibly difficult to replicate digitally. The online centre’s role helps to augment the overall experience to the buyer and create efficiencies for the builder.

Online decor centres are now easily accessible. There are various versions that are available with a solution that will fit your requirements and goals. You could be up and running in 30 days or less. If you would like to learn more about how My Design Studio can help you, please contact us at info@my-designstudio.com

About My Design Studio

Yasmine Goodwin is Principal at My Design Studio provides decor management services to builders requiring one stop solution for their decor program.

Whether online virtually or in-person at our 8,000-sq.-ft. centre, it develops solutions that work for home builders and owners.


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Fresh start with seven spring looks to love

7 spring looks to love

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7 spring looks to love

Soft earthy paint palette

COOL CURRENT 6199-42 by Sico. sico.ca



MINTY AQUA (DLX1147-3) by Dulux. dulux.ca

Light wood accents

Monarch BED. $1,149. eq3.com

Redonda wood upholstered DINING CHAIR. $579. crateandbarrel.ca

Voxlov dining TABLE in light bamboo. $300. ikea.ca

Coloured sofas

DALU SOFA in hibiscus pink and oak. $1,149. article.com

Fany tufted 3SEATER SOFA in yellow. $499. structube.com

Morabo LOVESEAT in light green and wood. $600. ikea.ca

Natural elements

Rudy VASE. $30. eltemkt.com

Rattan PLANTER with wood stand. $35. homesense.ca

Turquoise druzy KNOB. $20. cb2.ca

The hand-crafted look

Linen throw PILLOW. $59. zarahome.ca

Pink seagrass BASKET. $35. homesense.ca

Stoneware SERVING BOWL. $15. hm.com

Delicate floral print

Mini floral DUVET COVER. $99-$139. zarahome.ca

Statement rugs

Patterned COTTON RUG. $35. hm.com

Colca WOOL RUG. $300-$1,800. westelm.ca

OMA RUG. $500. article.com


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NKBA reveals top kitchen and bathroom trends

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NKBA reveals top kitchen and bathroom trends

A few recent surveys polled various groups working in the kitchen and bathroom trades for their thoughts and trends and the state of the industry.

The NKBA’s 2021 Kitchen & Bath Market Outlook provides a comprehensive review of current kitchen and bath industry conditions and the macroeconomic factors that are expected to impact the industry in 2021.

Key findings include:

  • Residential kitchen and bath remodeling spend is poised for growth in 2021, based on a mix-shift to bigger, more expensive and PRO-heavy interior remodels.
  • Pent-up demand for more PRO-intensive projects is a tailwind for spending growth in 2021.
  • New construction spending is to benefit from the timing of starts in 2020 anticipated to dollarize in 2021.
  • Strong housing starts in the latter half of 2020 and longer build times to favorably impact new construction spending in 2021.
  • Total residential kitchen and bath spending is to increase 16.6 per cent in 2021, from $136 billion to $158.6 billion. This is driven by a 9.9- per-cent increase in kitchen and bath remodeling spending and a 22.3- per-cent increase in kitchen and bath new construction spending.
  • Of the total $158.6 billion in total residential kitchen and bath spending, $68.6 billion represents residential remodeling spending (43 per cent) and $90 billion residential new construction (57 per cent). This represents a two-percentage point mix-shift away from residential remodeling towards new construction spending, driven by faster growth in new construction.
  • The overall dollar spend allocation between residential kitchen spending (48 per cent) and residential bathroom spending (52 per cent) in 2021 is unchanged compared to the 2020 period.

Homeowners indicate the kitchen and bathroom rank two times more important compared to other parts of the home. The pandemic has reinforced this perception, as the kitchen slightly gained status since the pandemic. Due to COVID-19, budgets for kitchen remodels fell faster than all other areas of home improvement, which is a unique backdrop for faster growth in 2021, when the health-risks associated with a PRO inside the home are diminished.

Acceleration in activity

One key learning from the study is that kitchen remodels lead to future bathroom remodels, supporting an acceleration in bathroom remodeling activity. In addition, growth in cabinets, drives more widespread spending to other parts of the kitchen: Product attachment cascades from cabinets to the remodeling of other parts of the kitchen. As COVID-19 behavior diminishes, reverting wallet share to services consumption is not likely to hurt kitchen and bath; desire to save (given economic uncertainty) and health risks are the most influential motivations; higher household precautionary savings is a potential source of financing for an anticipated rebound in 2021 kitchen and bath spending. These factors support a pronounced rebound in overall industry growth, from -5.9 per cent in 2020 to 16.6 per cent in 2021.

Consistent with mix-shift away from less expensive remodels (pent-up COVID-19 related demand), the high price-point for residential kitchen and bath spending is anticipated to lead growth (19.8 per cent), followed by the mid-price point (18.5 per cent), with the low-price point posting strong, but lower rates of growth (9.7 per cent).



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Introducing the Decorator and Designers Association of Canada

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Introducing the Decorator and Designers Association of Canada

For more than 25 years, designers and decorators across Canada have had an extra boost when it comes to connecting with suppliers and clients, improving and upgrading their skills, and growing their businesses. Formed in 1992 by a group of soon-to-be-graduates from Seneca College’s interior decorating program that wanted to maintain its professional network, DDA Canada (formerly CDECA) has grown to become the most influential association for the decor and design profession in Canada. The association has and continues to foster the growth of the industry by connecting people across the country and elevating the decorating and design industry through member education, events, training and community building. With members from coast to coast, DDA Canada provides a large professional network that supports designers and decorators throughout their career.

In addition to professional development and support, DDA advocates for the profession on policy matters, promotes a positive image of the industry through proactive activities and events and upholds ethical service through government compliance and qualification standards within the industry.

Rewarding experience

Regardless of what stage its members are at in their decor and design career, a DDA Canada membership provides a rich, rewarding experience. Whether you’re still in school studying decorating or design or currently working in the industry, membership can provide the professional development, support and connections you need to grow your business and succeed. Accredited members have access to a range of member benefits that include: Savings on business software services, a Member Referral Program, discounted magazine offers and perhaps one of the most significant to DDA Members’ – an insurance package offered at very competitive rates.

A number of opportunities exist for members to promote their business and members are encouraged to compete in the annual DDA Canada decorating and design competition which recognizes decor and design excellence in a variety of categories. The contest is open to all Accredited members and students enrolled in recognized decorating programs in Canada. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase their designs and promote their skills and talents as a decorator and designer.

For businesses that provide products or services to the decor and design industry, an Affiliate membership provides an opportunity to connect with the decorators and designers in the organization through a local chapter, specific province or across the country. This connection can be through an educational event, a trade program, hosting a networking event in their show room or direct mailing to members.

Quick to adapt

While the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged many associations and organizations, DDA Canada was able to quickly adapt to an online environment and has continued to provide professional support to our members with numerous educational and networking opportunities. The number of virtual educational events hosted by DDA Canada or the Affiliate members have greatly increased, making it easy for members to earn their required CEUs. This has also benefited our Affiliate members as they have direct access to decor and design members outside their immediate geographic area. Networking events have gone virtual and are a great way to expand your professional network as you can now participate in events outside your region and meet other decorators and designers across Canada.

As an association, DDA Canada continually seeks ways to improve the organization, but more importantly bring greater value to its members. DDA is planning the addition of more chapters across Canada to facilitate greater connectivity among Accredited and Affiliate members in those areas as well as increased professional development, networking and educational opportunities for our members. As an organization, it is also analyzing its operational processes and practices to ensure it is facilitating the development of a diverse membership that is representative of the communities in which it lives and works.

DDA Canada continues to be dedicated to helping its members be the best that they can be for their clients and themselves by providing growth, networking and educational opportunities. The association gives its members’ businesses an advantage in our highly competitive design industry because a DDA membership is the easiest way to connect with suppliers and peers and grow your business.



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Five tips to make your front entrance pop

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Five tips to make your front entrance pop

The landscape: Set your gardens with depth of field

Don’t jam all your planting right against the house. Start from the front of your home, work your way down towards the street, don’t be shy, and come out toward the sidewalk. Front-yard gardens provide a friendly buffer, colourful edging and visual interest to the pedestrians and drivers alike.


The front wall of the house: Change the architectural look by merely adjusting the proportion of materials

Who says that if a door is made of wood, you cannot carry that onto the adjacent wall? This is a fantastic trick to make the front entrance appear grander. The smaller the home, the bolder your move should be. The new material’s proportion should be in harmony with the other elements of your front wall, such as windows and porch roof.

These days you can choose from many finishes that can be applied even on top of the materials you have, making this a mid-budget renovation. For example, adding wood composite panels to a brick facade will instantly modernize the home and be much cheaper than removing the brick and replacing it with something else.


The front doors: Change the entrance door and while at it, consider a better garage door as well

Garage doors are often left out of the curb-appeal discussion, yet they take up substantial frontwall space, implicitly having a significant visual impact. This is an opportunity to really spruce up your curb-appeal by cleverly installing a more appealing door.

If you choose to do so, make sure the colour and style are integrated with the rest of the home’s front since, after all, you don’t want this to stand out in the wrong way.

Lights: Always have them… or at least one

Wall lights next to your front door can be attractive both in daylight and at night. Choose a piece that reads well through its shape and combination of materials. Consider how the light shines out from it and the shadows and light shapes that it will leave on the wall at night.

Decorate: Add outdoor furniture and planting but all within the style of the architecture.

If you have a front porch, for instance, add conversational seating. There is something so neighbourly about having two chairs on a porch. Especially now, having a friendly-looking front is pleasant, positive and embracing. With so much time at home, we might as well engage in curb-talk, and curb appeal is all about a breezy, friendly chatter.


Adriana is a multiple award-winning designer and founder of Dochia Interior Design in Toronto. She is known for her practical creativity and a unique talent that builds refined and beautiful connections between people and their surroundings. Contact her at: 416.492.7451×105



Photos: Chris Harrison
Design and Architecture by Dochia Interior Design


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Dark and dramatic kitchen appliances

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Dark and dramatic kitchen appliances


We are swooning over Bosch’s line of black stainless-steel kitchen appliances. Not only does the contemporary finish guard against scratches and fingerprints, but it also looks sleek and modern when paired with a neutral-coloured kitchen. The French Door refrigeration line boasts an all-new FarmFresh System that keeps your food fresher for longer, a Home Connect app that helps you monitor and control your fridge via a smartphone or tablet, LED lights that guarantee glare-free illumination while using less electricity and more. Bosch’s industrial-style ranges (800 series) include features such as more flame control for precise simmering and melting, easy to clean black enameled cooking surface that is scratch and stain resistant, high-efficiency burners and more. The collection is sure to bring a dramatic effect and modern innovation to your cooking space.


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Ikea art event 2021

Ikea art event 2021

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Ikea art event 2021

Since 2015 Ikea has been collaborating with contemporary artists and designers worldwide to bring art to the masses at affordable prices. This year Ikea has teamed up with five artists who explore the line between art and functional design. The artists this year include Daniel Arsham, Gelchop, Humans since 1982, Sabine Marcelis and Stefan Marx. These visionaries have taken recognizable objects and added their unique artistic spin, shifting our view of what a simple clock or lamp, torch or throw, vase or picture can be. Each of these pieces has a vision of its own, elevating the ordinary into the extraordinary.

The collection is available in store and online starting May 1, 2021. For more information visit ikea.ca.


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Cool and colourful

Cool and colourful cooking space

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Cool and colourful cooking space

Photography by Heather Dunbar Photography

Designing a modern kitchen for this busy family was truly a joy. But, with every project, there are also design hurdles to overcome. Since the main floor flowed from the kitchen into the living and dining rooms, achieving the right flow was key. I never view a challenge as a pain point, but rather an opportunity to create something truly unique and reflective of our homeowner’s combined tastes.

The starting point came when the homeowners agreed to have their upper cabinets painted in a vibrant hue, Benjamin Moore’s Fair Isle Blue. From there, it was just a balancing act of transitioning one design element to the next. I chose darker walnut-stained lowers cabinets that would stand up to the vibrant upper cabinets. A subtle off-white and veined backsplash and countertop paid homage to the white colour applied to the walls. Playing off the bold upper cabinets, we added richness and playfulness by incorporating warm and confident brasses and golds within the lighting choices.

A key component in pulling the room together was finding moments where I could add a natural fluidity. This was especially effective with the pendant lights and their subtle ombre fade from brass, silver to clear. Having a strong metallic accent with this finish added depth and softness to the room’s overall palette, balancing polish with organic elements. This principle of harmonious dichotomies is one of my design philosophies.

The open concept dining room directly adjacent to the kitchen required flexibility between both formal and casual settings, with three rambunctious girls in the household. Starting with a matching bold and brass light fixture, I added a beautiful English brown-stained white oak dining table with clean and natural lines. Mixing the table with mid-century modern inspired leather dining chairs hit the perfect amount of tempered luxury. Adding a matching bench on the opposite side of the table allowed us to emphasize the space without creating a break in the flow.

Lastly, adding an oversized area rug underneath the dining area helped define the space while also echoing the kitchen cabinets’ familiar blue and teal accents.

From the project’s inception, we knew the kitchen would be the home’s natural focal point with its confident hues and bold accent metals. By choosing slightly lower height furniture pieces throughout the space, this seamlessly leads the eye back towards the kitchen from every vantage point of the floor.

Before you fully commit to making significant changes to your kitchen (whether it be bold and dynamic or subtle and modest), make sure to explore the depths of your own palette and understand its flavours. Because ultimately, with design being so subjective, there isn’t a right or wrong. It’s just a question of personal taste and, of course, balance.


Countertop + Backsplash by Baystone Quartz

Hardware by Richelieu Hardware

Faucets from Delta Trinsic

Barn Door from Urban Woodcraft

Upper Cabinet in Fair Isle Blue (CSP-715), walls in Silver Satin (OC-26), trim in Chantilly Lace (OC-65) by Benjamin Moore

Kitchen Pendant lights and dining room pendant lights from West Elm

Dining Table from Pottery Barn

Dining Chairs, Bench and living room sofa by from Crate & Barrel

Carpet by Brayden Studio

Counter Stools by George Oliver

Floor Lamp by Williston Forge

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


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