Tag Archives: Small Spaces

Choosing the right coffee table

Choosing the right coffee table

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Choosing the right coffee table

Choosing the right coffee table for your space seems simple enough: You walk into your favourite shop, select a piece you love, go home and voila! But wait a few hours, reflect a little more, and you may realize that you made the wrong choice. Like choosing the right couch, finding the right coffee table involves some bigger considerations. Size, height and width all matter, as does scale and proportion. Does it have to be kid-friendly or storage-friendly? Does it fit your lifestyle or your room?

Consider size first

Is there anything more awkward than an ill-fitting coffee table? One that’s too high or far too low? The general rule is that you should find a coffee table that is ideally standing at the same height as the cushions, or one to two inches lower. If you go too far on either side of that equation, it will just look off and throw the whole space into question.

Don’t forget proportion

Similarly, look for a coffee table that has the right length in relation to the width of your couch. In specific terms, this means your coffee table should be two-thirds the length of your couch. So, for a 96-in. couch, look for a coffee table that is 64 in. long. Also, think about distance, too: From the edge of your couch to the edge of the table should be 18 in. Why? You want it to be close enough to reach for your drink or put your book down, but far enough that you can stretch out your legs.

Balance your style

Find harmony between your couch style and your coffee table style. If you have a substantial couch in a solid block of colour, try pairing it with a lighter version of a coffee table that’s glass with a chrome frame. If your couch is more streamlined and smaller in frame, opt for a coffee table that has more weight to it, whether that’s a wooden piece or an entirely solid base.


Do you have pets or children? It might be best to opt for a coffee table that has an oval shape – no hard edges mean no possible injuries. Consider what the primary use of the table will be: Is it purely decorative, for storage, or for entertaining purposes? All of that comes into play. Some tables come with shelves or drawers, others with materials that may stain if a wet drink or food is placed on it. Pick a piece that works with your lifestyle.


There is a plethora of different materials to choose from, from woods to metal, marble and Lucite. Again, this depends on your overall room (and house) style. You want the coffee table to meld harmoniously with all of your other furnishings and not stand out like a sore thumb. Whether you favour contemporary or vintage, take a quick snap of your space to bring with you on your buying excursion. It will really help store clerks find the appropriate style for you, and you can also remind yourself of exactly how your space looks while out shopping.

Consider multiple mini-tables

Maybe a bit controversial for some, but sometimes a set of mini-tables works better in a space than one larger coffee table. This is especially true of smaller spaces because it offers a level of flexibility in terms of how you use the tables, and where you put them.

Lisa Rogers is Executive Vice-President of Design for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and design on CityTV’s Cityline.

Follow Lisa’s blog at craftedbylisa.ca.


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Deck decor - Make your outdoor space a distination oasis

How to make your outdoor space a hot destination oasis

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How to make your outdoor space a hot destination oasis

We Canadians love our backyards, and no wonder. We have been spending so much time at home with COVID-19 that we love to spend more time outside. And stay out there – listening to the birds, the burble of a water feature, watching the sun set, connecting with friends and family, even at a distance.

As the pace of life quickens and our homes shrink in size, the outdoors is literally the last frontier – and the reason why we’re spending so much more on making the backyard, or deck or balcony a destination oasis.

Out with the white plastic chairs and plexiglass tables, in with the fire pits and heaters giving us a much longer outdoor season, deep-seated sectional sofas, teak dining tables and chairs, and strings of lights. Outdoor furniture manufacturers have been eager to meet our need to linger outside with a wider range of furniture, with longer lasting frames, fabrics that retain their shape and water resistance, and cushion foam that stays comfortable.

Here’s what you need to know:

1) Plan out your space according to how you intend to use the deck. If you are a big reader or sun worshipper, but don’t like eating al fresco, set up your space with more living room type furnishings, and tuck a small dining table off to the side and out of the way.

2) Check materials carefully. There’s teak, treated pine, metal mixed with wood, solid aluminum, stainless and wrought iron. Of these, teak and aluminum last the longest, and are probably the most expensive. Teak you need to baby a bit, while aluminum just wipes clean.

3) Consider modular furniture – pieces that fit together as a sectional or stand alone as chairs – for flexibility. You can change the seating arrangement to suit the occasion or your mood.

4) Decks aren’t just for daytime. Small white lights are magical when strung from house to tree. Add candles around the edges of your deck or patio – flameless ones are safer. An ethanol fire pit not only creates mood, but keeps feet warm and can easily be moved around.

5) Music really adds to the ambience – not so loud that your guests can’t hear each other or the neighbours complain, but as background.

6) As for styles, the sky’s the limit, and they can reflect your dream destinations, or they can reflect the decor of your home. Fancy a week in the Hamptons? Check out sectionals in whitewashed and weathered greys – made from resin wicker – with East Coast fabrics such as navy and white stripes (in water repellant fabrics). Prefer life in a Park Avenue brownstone? Then wrought iron with deep charcoal cushions set amidst a row of boxwoods might be better for you.

7) Don’t forget the floor – wood flooring tiles are easy to install, and create an immediate room setting, especially with the concrete of a condo balcony. Add an outdoor rug to pull it all together.

8) There’s nothing like dining al fresco, and if you’re the type who likes tons of people over, an expandable table might be the best choice. Classic wrought iron tables look great and last forever but are pricey. There’s always teak, but it’s pricey, too, so check out budget-friendly teak alternatives that work equally well. If your deck is on the small side, go for stackable dining chairs.

9) Stow outdoor dining essentials – bright coloured table mats and napkins, covered lanterns or candle holders – near the back door or in a waterproof storage bench. Make sure to keep throws handy to ward off the evening chill.

10) An umbrella will shade the table from the sun and rain; one with a tilt arm that can be adjusted to follow the sun all day. The new pergolas do the same and more, especially when fitted with a retractable canopy system or screen to protect against bugs.

11) For privacy, especially on a condo balcony, you can create a privacy wall by positioning a row of evergreens in matching containers along the edges of your deck. Erect lattice or bamboo screening, then add wall mounted planters and a water feature for an instant retreat.

12) Depending on the space you have, hammocks are well worthwhile for the downtime they afford – snoozing or watching the stars. Add colourful pillows and a sea of planters for a cosy destination.

13) Containers are the way to go for gardening. They come in all shapes and sizes and materials (remember that resin is lighter and therefore easier to move). Depending on the direction they face, condo balconies are ideal for herbs and tomatoes, but they need a lot of water, so make sure you have proper drainage. Tropical plants love sun and add a festive air to your deck – you can also bring them in come fall. If you have less direct sunlight, fill tall tapered containers with ornamental grasses for a clean, modern and minimalist look.

14) Just like inside, the deck is made livelier with the addition of some artwork, such as wrought iron grills, architectural salvage, window frames (with or without mirrored glass).

In the end, if you choose any of these tips, who needs a cottage?

Lisa Rogers is Executive Vice-President of Design for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline, a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health, wellness and design.


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Little touches that make a huge difference

Little touches that make a huge difference

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Little touches that make a huge difference

Decorating a small space isn’t actually that different than decorating a large one: It just requires a bit of ingenuity and understanding what works in the space and what doesn’t. While your focus will be different when you’re working with less square footage, the basic rules of design are very much the same.

I’ve taken this challenge to task with a recent property development I’m working on in conjunction with Dunpar Homes – the Kingsway Village Square. This luxury building offers upscale condominium living in a carefully-crafted boutique rental residence, and as creative designer, it’s my job to decorate our first two model suites – with all the right interiors and finishes. It’s proven to be a really fun project to manage because it’s made me look at design differently. Naturally, I have less room to work with so it means I have to think about furniture, finishes and lighting in a way that works for a smaller space.

Whether you’re looking to update a condominium, studio apartment or small home, check out these tips on ways to optimize your space.

Find the right light

First, if you have plenty of natural light, let it shine through! Keep window treatments airy with sheer fabrics so light can come through easily, and you’re not weighing down your space with heavy curtains or blinds. Add additional lighting throughout your space but avoid any big floor or table lamps – they just add “bulk” – and opt for wall sconces, pendant lights or string lights that don’t take up too much real estate.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

If you aren’t blessed with a lot of natural light in a room, mirrors can add additional light and the feeling of additional space by reflecting back any natural and non-natural lighting you do have. It will give the illusion of more square footage, so think about using one large mirror in your room or arrange a few smaller ones throughout.

Try ‘floating’ pieces

Shelves and nightstands that are built into the walls can keep your floor clear of any cluttering obstacles and free up some extra space as well.

The bigger the rug, the better

Believe it or not, you don’t want to skimp on size with your rug. A tiny rug just makes the room feel equally as small, so pick a floor covering that’s large enough so most of the furniture will sit on it, or go wall-to-wall.

Avoid heavy furniture

When dressing a small space, your furniture has to look light. For example, instead of investing in a sturdy, block of a coffee table, opt for a piece that has legs on it. Why? It helps carry the eye in and around your space, which gives the impression of a bigger room.

Keep colours neutral

This feels fairly obvious, but lighter walls give the illusion of a bigger space, where darker walls do the opposite. My favourite hues are from Benjamin Moore: CC40 or Chantilly Lace. I use both of them in design often.

Use furniture that is multi-purpose

For the Kingsway Village Square, I also picked pieces that are multi-purpose, such as a high top table that I put in the kitchen area that acts as a work station as well as an eating area. You can get creative with storage options, too: Ottomans that can store your linens, or built-in cabinetry under your bed. Nowadays, there are so many chic storage options that work double-duty as a piece of decor.

Add some colour

Yes, you can! Use colour for your pillows, bedding, artwork or carpets, but I always caution about going too overboard with really bold patterns of palettes. You want to minimize the “noise,” as it were, so my advice is to add your colour, but keep it fresh, light and harmonious.

Lisa Rogers is Executive Vice-President of Design for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel. Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline, a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health, wellness and design.


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Tips for designing your ideal home office

Tips for designing your ideal home office

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Tips for designing your ideal home office

During the coronavirus pandemic, many companies have implemented mandatory work-from-home policies. If we are still reducing new cases and trying to limit community spread, these new rules may exist for a long while before any of us return to a commute to the office. That means a lot of us are experiencing a pretty unique challenge: Working from home for the first time, full-time.

Even if you worked from home intermittently in the past, this could feel entirely different because of how significant (and sudden) the change is. Not only are we trying to balance our nine to five workdays, we also have to take into consideration our family being at home full-time as well. One of the best solutions in managing this new normal is to create a space that’s entirely devoted to working. Here are some of my best tips to make sure you’re successful in getting the job done.

Start by getting dressed

You grab your phone, and you look at something, and you think you need to answer it right away, so you start working. The next thing you know, it’s almost lunchtime, and you’re still in your pyjamas, you haven’t showered, and you feel like your entire day is thrown off. Try your best to stick to a routine when you are home, and that doesn’t mean rolling out of bed and connecting to work. Wake up, have your regular coffee and breakfast, take a shower, and get dressed as if you were still planning on leaving the house for work. You will feel better and more empowered to put your best foot forward.

Keep your work life and home life separate

Pre-pandemic, most of us were used to the separation that came between our work life and home life. We had particular schedules to follow that helped us maintain that work-life balance. Now that’s all gone out the window, and it can be tricky to disconnect from work when you’re in your home each day, every day.

A separate room that you can designate solely as your office space is the ideal scenario. However, if that’s not an option, you can still create that workspace in an existing room, whether that’s a specific corner in your living room, a section of your kitchen table or your dining room.

Make your office space comfortable

This seems intuitive, but think about how many hours you are going to spend working each day, whether it’s a regular eight-hour schedule or a few hours in the morning and afternoon, it should be comfortable. If you can, invest in a good, ergonomic office chair that will give you proper support, and try to find a space that will offer up as much natural light as possible. That’s an immediate mood booster, in my opinion. If you’re in a windowless space, position your desk where you can stare at something (a beautiful picture hanging on a wall, for example) when you glance up from your computer.

Set your work hours

I recognize this is easier said than done, but the more you can be clear about when you’re working and when you’re not, you will genuinely optimize your time and get some of your best work done. Have you ever tried to “finish up” some work after dinner? Or when the kids go to bed? You don’t have the same level of focus, or attention to detail when you’re trying to cram in work in between regular life schedules. It can be challenging, and it requires a certain level of accountability, but it’s far better to establish those boundaries early on, so you’re not feeling like you’re in this constant mode of catching up. Having separate time to work will help you be more present in your regular life outside the office.

Don’t get distracted by the news cycle

Distraction is one of the biggest hurdles people face when working from home. While you likely took a few breaks during the day when you were in the office, you can still mimic the same at home (whether that’s making the kids a snack or having a coffee break), but be mindful of how long you’re taking. The longer the break, the harder it will feel to get back into work mode.

Lisa Rogers is Executive Vice-President of Design for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and design.


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Outdoor decor

Love your time outdoors with these simple decor tips

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Love your time outdoors with these simple decor tips

With our harsh long winters, it’s no surprise that Canadians are dying to get into the back yard come spring. Which is why we’re spending more and more on making that small patch of real estate into a heavenly oasis. Long gone are the white plastic chairs circling like wagons around a plexiglass table, and in their place are fire pits and heaters, deep-seated sectional sofas, teak dining tables and chairs, and lights, lots of lights.

All of this exponentially increases the time you spend outdoors listening to the birds, or the burble of a water feature, watching the sun set, and connecting with friends and family.

Even if you don’t really have a back yard, you can create the same experience on that deck or balcony. And furniture manufacturers are eager to provide all your needs for making that possible.

The outdoor furnishings of today are higher quality for better looks and durability. The frames last longer, the fabrics retain their shape and water resistance, and the cushion foam stays comfortable. And if you mix high and low within a good quality line you’ll get more bang for your buck.

There’s also greater choice in materials and styles. In the wood family, there’s teak, ipe or treated pine, but you can also get metal mixed with wood, or solid aluminum, stainless or iron for a clean contemporary look. Of these, teak and aluminum last the longest. Teak needs a little more babying, but wipes clean in a jiffy.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to change things up from time to time, consider modular furniture – pieces that fit together as a sectional or stand alone as chairs which allows you to change the seating arrangement however and whenever you like.

Loose flooring tiles in teak alternative wood is easy to install, and creates an immediate room setting, especially on the concrete of a condo balcony. Add a rug to pull the look together – there are plenty of outdoor carpets to choose from.

And when it comes time to place the furniture, think about where your eye will rest when you sit in a particular spot. If the view isn’t great, reorient the sightlines by moving the furniture around.

Outdoor living room

Comfort is king when it comes to furniture and that includes being waterproof – nothing worse than sitting down in a chair that oozes moisture from the most recent thunderstorm.

A hammock is a worthwhile investment for the afternoon naps or evenings spent gazing at the stars. Add bright colourful pillows and surround the area with container plants and you have a vacation destination right on your deck.

Anything that adds the sound of water is welcome in the back yard – like a fountain that’s powered by a recirculating pump.

Dining alfresco

You’re short on space, and while there’s usually just two for dinner, you still like to entertain friends and family for dinner occasionally. So when shopping for a table, look at the expandable ones. Materials range from classic wrought iron to teak (both pretty pricey) to wood and metal – all great looking but distinctly different in style. Chairs should complement the table, though they don’t have to match exactly, and if your deck is on the small side, get the stackable kind.

Storing your outdoor dining essentials – bright coloured table mats and napkins, covered lanterns or candle holders (so they don’t get rain damaged) and cushions – is important if you don’t want guests sitting down to a wet bottom. Either stow in a cubbie by the back door, or keep in one of those waterproof deck chests that doubles as a bench. Don’t forget to keep extra throws on hand for guests on chilly evenings.

An umbrella will shade the table from sun and rain but if there’s enough space, check out a pergola. It works as a nice architectural feature, shade for a living area – especially fitted with a retractable canopy system – and can be screened in against bugs.

Lisa Rogers is Executive Vice-President of Design for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and design.


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Here's how to get your garden ready for the warmer months ahead

Here’s how to get your garden ready for the warmer months ahead

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Here’s how to get your garden ready for the warmer months ahead

A new season requires some fresh landscaping: From planting to fertilizing and lawn care, here’s how to get your garden ready for the warmer months ahead. Warmer temperatures are coming, and this is the perfect time to devote a little attention to our gardens and lawn, so when spring does hit, we’re able to enjoy the outdoors without being plagued by all of those weekend chores. Here are a few tips to get you started!

Weed control

When temperatures start to rise, weeds pop up like, well, weeds. Get at them right away with pre-emergent weed control to get rid of them before they’ve had their time to germinate, or use a post-emergent if they’re already active and growing. Remember to be responsible with the earth around you: If you’re going to use chemicals, use only those that target your particular problem area, and always remember to follow the product directions carefully.

When is it safe to plant annuals?

Annuals can be quite delicate, and they don’t like frost, so all of this depends on your local frost dates, and that will determine when it is safe to plant your annuals and vegetables. For annuals, you will be transplanting from pots, flats, or six-packs at the garden centre, so it’s safe to plant when the last frost date has passed. In southern Ontario, that’s typically after the May long weekend.

Order summer-flowering bulbs and seeds

Now is a great time to order your summer-flowering bulbs and seeds such as lilies, gladioli, and ranunculi – all can be ordered ahead of time for early spring planting.

Set up your compost

If you haven’t done so already, set up a compost area in your garden. Whether you decide to build your own with some spare wood around your house or you opt to buy a ready-made compost bin, this area is essential for you to store your organic waste. Once it has broken down, you will get this rich compost that your plants will thrive on. Remember to have a decent mixture of vegetable peels, wood prunings, paper, and grass clippings, and don’t forget to help the process along by turning your compost with a garden fork every month to keep it aerated.

Clean your tools

Not only will maintaining your garden tools help save you money in the long term, it will also help prevent the spread of disease (dirty secateurs love bringing bacteria and fungi to fresh pruning). Use detergent, hot water, and a brush to give your bladed tools a good clean, and then have them sharpened at your local garden store so you can get cleaner pruning cuts.

Lisa Rogers is Executive Vice-President of Design for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and design.


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Home decor trends - The key looks for updating your interiors

Home decor trends – The key looks for updating your interiors

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Home decor trends – The key looks for updating your interiors

As with the new season fashion trends, we also see emerging home decor trends each season that tempt us to update our homes. While trends do come and go, there are subtle ways you can switch up your existing space so it feels fresh and new for this coming year. Here are some of my favourite suggestions:

Go monochrome

Monochromatic shouldn’t be restricted to just pale shades (such as, taupe, grey, or white). Colours such as aubergine, cobalt blue, even kelly greens can also go monochrome in a way that’s full of energy and personality, while remaining very elegant.

Mix and match

What goes around comes around, especially when it comes to home decor. And while this may be a new trend for 2020, it’s a design philosophy I’ve believed in ever since I started in this business. I love layering old and new and mixing and matching vintage with my more modern pieces. I’ve never been a big believer in the one-stop-shop for everything in my home. I pick up great finds all over the place.

Earth tones

Cool tones have been in circulation for so many years now, so I love this new push towards earth tones. It’s refreshing, and also really warm for the home. I’m mainly into chocolate brown, burgundy, olive green, and yellow ochre and imagine using them in a couch, a wall, or draperies.

Quirky bathroom designs

I’ve always said that if you’re going to play and have some fun with your home decor, then your bathroom (or powder room) is the best place to start. In this space, I would go big with fun, patterned wallpapers, materials, and colour.

Real plants

When you embellish interior spaces with houseplants, you’re not just adding greenery. These living organisms interact with your body, mind, and home in ways that enhance the quality of life. Going green with some of your favourite indoor plants helps to give your home personality while adding another layer to your space.

European-inspired details

Furniture with European-inspired detailing is trending right now. Italian and German influences can be seen in the relaxed, sloping arms of couches, metal legs, and more. Even more traditional furniture brands are catching on offering European-inspired silhouettes and features.

Invest in better bedding

Given we spend half our lives in bed, and also how critical our sleep is to our overall health, it’s time to splurge in your bedding. Invest in a quality mattress and a beautiful set of sheets and throws this year. Investing in these items also means you’re investing in yourself.

Wicker is back

I love that wicker (and rattan, incidentally) is experiencing a resurgence. Not only does it harken back to my days in my childhood home, but it still has this chameleon quality to adapt to any house setting while always looking fresh and exciting. There are so many different styles of tables, chairs, even lighting right now, to choose from.

Faux marble

People may not want to deal with the upkeep of real stone, so this year we are going to see a shift to faux marbles (man-made materials and porcelains) on their kitchen countertops. With so many different designs and looks, you can easily find a faux marble that works in your existing space, and you wouldn’t even guess it’s not real stone.

Back to the 1980s

The 1980s are having a moment right now, especially in fashion, but we also see this trend trickle down into home design. While most of the trends coming out of that decade I’d prefer to leave there, what I do love is the more tubular forms happening in furniture design, particularly in couches, chairs, and tables. I think there is a way you can inject the 1980s into your home in a modern and tasteful way.

Navy blue

The 2020 Pantone Colour of the Year is Classic Blue (a navy shade), which means you will see a lot of this colour in the new year. Luckily, its versatility can work in traditional and modern home styles. Whether you use it as a wall paint colour or inject the shade into some accessories, the colour adds a lovely contrast.

Accent with patina

One of the more prominent emerging design trends is actually in the appreciation of age and patina. In addition to adding more vintage pieces into your home, you can also see this trend played out in colours: Clay, terracotta, as well as decorative dishware such as earthenware and ceramics – my favourite!


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7 small reno tips with a big impact

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7 small reno tips with a big impact

Always dreamed of turning your living space into your dream home or condo, but feel limited by your small space? The GTA condo craze means building up and sizing down, but this doesn’t have to mean limiting your creative capacity.

DIY and reno experts Mark Rason, Shawn Monteith and Jordan Spear will be at the 2020 GTA Home and Reno Show sharing tips and tricks to transform small spaces. Here’s a sneak peek at a few tips to try for yourself.

1 The wall pocket shelf

Adding some depth to your space is the perfect weekend project, according to Canada’s Handyman, Shawn Monteith. “A wall pocket shelf is extra shelving that is cut into an interior wall to maximize space, without actually taking up any precious living space.”

After checking for electrical and plumbing in the wall to make sure it’s safe to proceed, Monteith tells us this is also great option for small washroom walls that could use extra storage. In-wall medicine cabinets or in-shower shelving helps keep things organized without taking up too much space. “But remember,” says Monteith, “never do this to an exterior wall!”

2 Find space in unlikely places

Monteith also recommends using the back of doors to hold hangers for extra storage that is out of the way or installing chains from the ceiling to hang new shelves. “Make sure you screw into a truss for maximum support, which will let you keep the floor space under it open.”

Other ideas include renovating under the stairs to frame in shelving for maximum storage or making use of an odd wall connection with a corner shelf.

3 Add floor space with pocket or barn doors

Pocket doors can be tricky, but an easy way to remove the space that a swing door takes up. Reno expert Jordan Spear suggests cutting into the unused space between wall cavities to create a more streamlined opening. “Try adding glass to the doors – frosted if you require privacy – to allow light to pass from room to room. This helps make the room feel less closed off.”

4 Consider removing walls

Daring enough for a demolition? Consider removing non load-bearing partition walls to create an open-concept space, adding in light and flow between rooms. “Opening up two rooms into one will make the space feel larger, reducing the feeling of confinement in two smaller rooms,” says Spear. “Think a shared kitchen-dining room instead of two separate rooms.”

5 Creative custom closets

Upgrading your designated storage spaces can be a snap with custom closet installations, or even a simple reinforcement to keep things looking sharp and sturdy. Expert carpenter Mark Rason suggests replacing bowed shelves in closets, a common problem with aged properties, and is a relatively easy fix. “I always recommend using a thick, 3/4-inch melamine material in order to prevent bowing.”

Monteith also recommends adding a shelf eight to 12 inches off the floor in a small closet. “This gives you double the space to store things like shoes and boxes.”

6 Colours and painting to open up spaces

In small spaces everything matters, down to the paint colour. Soft tones like off-white, blue and green will open up small rooms, making them look bigger. This will give the illusion that the walls are farther back, while dark colours like purple and deep greys will fool the eye into thinking a space is smaller than it is.

7 Build up, not out

Just as condos are getting taller and taller, follow suit by also elevating your storage. Try installing an over-the-sink shelf, an easy and quick DIY project for people of any skill level. You can even use upcycled materials such as scrap pellet wood for an eco-friendly installation. Make sure to stabilize the shelf by placing the heaviest items on either end of the shelf, rather than the middle.

As GTA housing demand rises, so are properties. Builders are building up instead of out, and Toronto’s crowded skyline is creating the “vertical city,” giving people less and less space. Open up your space by implementing these tips recommended by DIY experts.

For more tips and organization inspiration, check out the GTA Home and Reno Show running from Feb. 14-17, 2020, at the International Centre in Mississauga. DIY and renovation masters Mark Rason, Shawn Monteith, Jordan Spear and other professional renovators will be on hand to answer questions and provide expert advice for your next project, big or small. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit gtahomeandrenoshow.com.


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Five tips for small spaces

Five tips for small spaces

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Five tips for small spaces

Let’s face it; whether by choice (downsizing) or geographical location (downtown Toronto), so many more of us are living in smaller spaces. I delight in designing small spaces because slight square footage means every decision you make is that much more important. Here are five tips I use when designing small spaces you can implement in your home:

1. Be consistent

If you have a small space, too many colours and patterns can create visual clutter, but if you’re looking to create a homey space, multiple patterns and colours work well to help make the space feel smaller and cosy. If you entertain a lot, stick to a consistent colour palette throughout your home as this will help make it feel larger. When planning your colour scheme, treat your whole home as one large space. If you’re looking for more variety between your spaces, consider using pops of colour and pattern in each space instead of changing up the whole colour palette room to room.

Photography: Bigstock.com
Photography: Bigstock.com

2. Get organized

This one is two-fold. First, get yourself organized and use this opportunity to get rid of things that either don’t serve a purpose or make you happy (I mean REALLY happy, not mildly pleasing). There are so many charities that would be happy to receive items that you no longer need, or many items can be recycled (less to store means more room). Second, think about closed storage. Clutter always makes things look smaller than they are, so for major pieces of storage, look for items with doors and resist the pull of chachkas or knick-knacks for the sake of decor. In small spaces, keep items that are meaningful to you or make you happy.

3. Less is much more

The less-is-more adage also extends to furniture. In locations where space is at a premium, the perception of space in a home is a luxury. This means that in small spaces you need to resist the urge to pack a room with the furniture you would normally put in a larger space. Make sure items are in proportion to your room, and always ask yourself these two questions: Do I need that or do I just want that? And second question: How much do I use that? Remember to measure the space and the furniture you’re bringing in before you buy! I never just look at a piece before I purchase it for a client, I always check that it fits the area as well as the other items going into the space.

4. Do double duty

When possible, choose furniture pieces that serve multiple purposes. One great example is seating that also provides storage or beds that lift up with storage area beneath, or ottomans that double as storage. Do you really need a bed for guests or will a sofa-bed or a sofa long enough to sleep on do? Maybe you could get a murphy bed that doubles as a desk in your office, a bed for guests when you need it, but doesn’t clutter up the space when you don’t.

5. Choose “light” furniture

I mean, what does the weight of the furniture have to do with anything? When I say light, I mean visually. Choose sofas and armchairs that are off the ground on legs, the space under the sofa makes it appear lighter. It’s also easier to clean under. Choose tables that are open on the sides with legs or a slender frame. The more floor you can see, the more spacious the room seems. You can also use glass or acrylic in larger pieces, like coffee tables or dining tables. This is always an easy way for these pieces to disappear visually and help create the look of more space.

Melissa brings a “white glove” approach to every project she handles, taking pleasure in project coordination, interior design, permit drawings and submission, and everything in between. She enjoys pushing clients past their comfort zone to design and execute spaces they love with custom designs tailored to her clients and their tastes and lifestyle.

Melissa Tossell, NCIDQ, BCIN, ARIDO Owner and Registered Interior Designer of Sanura Design.

Courtesy of ARIDO


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Hardwood flooring – Choose the right option for your home

Hardwood flooring – Choose the right option for your home

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Hardwood flooring – Choose the right option for your home

Now that we’re in the dead of winter, it’s a great time to think about changing or installing new hardwood floors. There are so many to choose from, and it’s not only the type of wood, but the layout that is also important. Hardwood is the foundation for your whole house: It’s what warms up your space and adds harmony to each room, tying everything together. I run hardwood everywhere, even my bathrooms, which sometimes shocks people, but to me, it counterbalances cold surfaces and adds a real depth of feel and comfort to my home.

So many options

Herringbone is a timeless hardwood, and it’s also quite trendy right now. If I were to use this particular hardwood, I would save it for one special room in my house, whether that be a foyer or a sitting room. Because it’s a bold pattern, you wouldn’t want to run it throughout too many areas as it can overwhelm your space. It’s also a little more expensive to lay herringbone, so you want to consider that as well.

From oak to black walnut (my personal favourite) and maple, you can choose several different hardwoods, but what you want to think about is the overall style and design of your home. Hardwood is a significant investment, and it’s something you will have to live with for the entire duration you stay in that home, so you want to make sure you take your time and select a hardwood that will stand the test of time, as well as your tastes. The hardwood is your base layer from which you layer everything else on top: Furniture, your soft furnishings, lighting, everything.

Types of finishes

There is a vast spectrum of finishing products, from penetrating oil to oil-like hybrids to polyurethanes, and most finishes fall into one of two categories: Oil or poly.

The oil penetrates the wood and has a soft, matte and natural feel – which is always my preference – but know that because of this, it won’t be impervious to damage or stains like a polyurethane, which creates this hard topcoat on the surface of the wood, making it much more resilient.

Even though oil finishes typically scratch more quickly, they’re straightforward to touch up compared to polyurethane. You would generally need to replace the whole board or buff and recoat the entire section of the floor, which is time-consuming and costly.

Decide the width

You can also select the width of your planks for your wood floor. Many homeowners are gravitating towards wider planks because it can give a sense of luxury: When you go beyond the standard size, it can make it feel somewhat special and unique. But, generally speaking, you need to take into consideration the size of your room: The bigger the room and the higher the ceilings, the wider the plank you should choose.

Lisa Rogers is EVP of Design for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and design.


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