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5 Landscaping ideas and tips to help you reinvent your backyard

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5 Landscaping ideas and tips to help you reinvent your backyard

It’s a beautiful day when the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. You go outside to enjoy the natural setting but your backyard is nothing like a welcoming place where you can reconnect with nature. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, your backyard most likely needs a complete refresh. Here are 5 landscaping ideas and tips to help you reinvent your backyard:

Get to know your property

First things first, before you even start to plan your landscaping project, you need to get to know your property. There are a number of characteristics that you must determine before you start planning the outdoor space of your property.

First of all, you need to determine the size of your backyard. Then, you need to see how much free space you can use in your project. For example, if there is an old huge tree in the middle of your outdoor space, you need to determine whether your landscaping project will be around the tree or whether you want to cut it down.

However, landscaping experts advise homeowners to avoid destroying the natural elements that already exist in their outdoor space. Instead, it is recommended to find a way to integrate them nicely in their landscaping projects.

Secondly, once you have determined the available space you can work with, it is time to decide what can be done about the gardening area. Start by determining what type of soil you have in your garden. For example, not all types of soils are suitable for grass, especially in sand wet areas. So, depending on the type of plants you want to have in your garden and the type of soil you need for them to grow, you need to use a topsoil volume and price calculator to determine how much soil you will need for your gardening project.

Next, another factor that will influence the gardening area of your outdoor space is the climate of your area. So, when choosing the plants for your gardening project, make sure you choose plants that can grow in an environment with your type of climate.

Use borrowed views

This is a pro tip and may sound more complicated than it is in reality. However, all that it takes is to take a look at your immediate surroundings and see if there is any spectacular view that you can include in your landscaping project.

For example, does your neighbor have a spectacular big old tree in their yard that is also visible from your backyard? If yes, you should certainly avoid to cover that view but rather use it in your project.

Using surrounding elements in your landscaping project can make a huge difference in the final results. If your surroundings already offer you such amazing elements, why not include them in your project? So, don’t raise that high brick fence but rather let the view be part of your outdoor experience.

Build pallets furniture

Pallet furniture is one of the newest and most popular trends in the landscaping industry. pallets are not only extremely cheap and easy to use in your outdoor projects, but they can also look extremely fashionable in your yard if you customize them properly. You can find a number of DIY projects on how to build outdoor furniture using pallets.

You can even build a fun swing for your kids and hang it on that large tree you have in your yard. Every garden needs a seating area in order for you to enjoy spending time in nature in your own backyard. So, you can use pallets to build benches and a table where you can have your breakfast or morning coffee.

If you also have a pool in your backyard, you can also use pallets to build a bar which can be extremely useful if you are planning to host a few pool parties this summer.

There is no limit to how many things you can build using pallets for your outdoor area. All you have to do is to use your imagination and create outdoor elements in a cheap and sustainable way.

Create an experience

Go outside in your backyard and close your eyes for a few seconds. Imagine what you would like to hear or what you would like to see when you open your eyes. Would you like to hear the calming sound of water? Then, you should certainly add a water feature in your garden. Would you like to think of your backyard as a corner where you can connect with nature in the concrete jungle? Then, you should plant more trees and flowers. That’s how you manage to make an outdoor space that gives a full experience of senses, not just a visual one.

There are several elements that you can include in your landscaping project such as a swimming pool, fountains, retaining walls, or fire pits that will create a full experience for the senses. There will be nothing more relaxing after a stressful day at work than to sit in your backyard with your family and enjoy the experience of natural elements that you have created.

Use outdoor lighting

Although lighting is hardly your priority in your landscaping project, you should really take this idea seriously. Outdoor lighting can contribute to the experience you create in your backyard more than you would even imagine right now.

Outdoor lighting isn’t only necessary to be able to see the walking path during dark nights. It can also enhance the way your garden looks offering a spectacular experience during the nighttime.

Whether you choose to use LED fairy lights, solar spotlights, or string lights, you need to calculate how much are you want to illuminate. Also, you can choose subtle lighting for the seating area of your outdoor which will create a more private setting for romantic dinners in your backyard.

Landscaping can seem intimidating when you are not a pro and you are just starting your first project. However, with a little bit of research and tips from experts, you can reshape the way your backyard will look.


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Which Canadian bank offers the lowest mortgage rate?

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Which Canadian bank offers the lowest mortgage rate?

The answer, “it depends,” is not of much help here but it is accurate as the bank that offers the lowest rate changes all the time. To complicate matters, the mortgage rates shown on the banks’ websites are not necessarily the lowest ones that they offer and it is difficult to figure out what the lowest rates actually are.

Here are a few pieces of advice that will help you search out the lowest mortgage rates around.


At the moment (November 2019), HSBC is trying to grab market share and customers from the other banks. The HSBC mortgage rate is lower than the advertised rate of the other major banks. Keep a look out for other under-cutting of competitors’ rates that may go on from time to time.


You are in a good position to negotiate with the banks for their lowest mortgage rate if you have a regular income and a very good credit score. The first step is to find out what the lowest rate is and your experienced real estate agent will help you with that. Another way is to ask friends, family and anyone else you know if they know someone who works for the bank and gets the employee mortgage rate – that will be the lowest rate too. With this valuable information in hand, it is time to go to the bank and negotiate with them for that rate.

Widen your search

You are not limited to banks in your search for the lowest mortgage rate – consider credit unions and other lenders as well. As at Nov. 20, 2019, HSBC had the lowest published bank rate of 2.49 per cent (high ratio) for a five-year fixed-rate mortgage. However, brokerages that do buy downs (decreasing the rate by lowering commissions) beat this number: Mortgauge-Wowa advertised a rate of 2.41 per cent. On a $500,000 mortgage, this could save you $2,000 in five-year period.

Down payment

For the best interest rate, your down payment should be less than 20 per cent (high ratio mortgage) or greater than 35 per cent of the selling price. If you put down less than 20 per cent, in Canada you should take out CMHC-insurance so that there is almost no risk for the lender but it would cost you 2.8 to four per cent of the entire mortgage amount and unlike US mortgage insurances could not be cancelled later. Conversely, if you put down more than 35 per cent of the selling price, there is also little risk to the lender if the borrower defaults since this means in the default case, if the property being sold by the lender in the price that is not lower than 70 per cent of the original price, there would be almost no loss for the lender. In both cases, with little risk to the lender they can give you lower rates without jeopardy to themselves.

Terms and conditions

With whatever mortgage you get – lowest rate or not – you should check all the terms and conditions associated with it. Consider especially the termination penalty, the dollar amount that you have to pay if you pay your mortgage off early or if you sell your home within the mortgage term. This may be significant enough for you to consider not taking that particular mortgage.


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How to design a master chef kitchen

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How to design a master chef kitchen

You may have mastered the art of creating a culinary masterpiece out of just about anything but without an efficient “workstation,” cooking can be a hassle. When you have limited space, barely any storage, and are ill-equipped with the right appliances and tools, you become frustrated and uninspired to cook. The best way to resolve the matter (if you have the budget for it) is to redesign your kitchen to suit your needs.


Start with the layout

Want to know how master chefs can seamlessly move throughout their kitchen without even thinking about it (or so it seems)? The layout of the kitchen is conducive to their movements. While you don’t want to feel cramped in the kitchen, you also don’t want to have to move too much from one area to another trying to prepare a meal.

You can look at photos on social media, home improvement blogs, and even house plans (like those found at monsterhouseplans.com) to get an idea of how you’d like to set things up in your new kitchen. As you view images and floorplans as inspiration, just remember to keep your pattern or routine of cooking in mind.

Divide into stations

If you’ve ever watched a master or top chef show you realize their kitchens are divided into sections or stations. When deciding on a layout for your kitchen, you can make things easier by doing the same. Decide the best area for prepping, cooking (stove and oven), cleaning, and storage. You might place seasonings next to the cooking or prep station while dishes would be stored in cabinets on top of or beneath the cleaning station. If you have a larger kitchen, you might even like the idea of adding an eating area such as a kitchen nook and a place for storage like a pantry.

Don’t forget about storage

When redesigning your kitchen for more efficient cooking don’t forget about the importance of storage. Clutter and disorganization only slow you down and cause frustration for something that should be therapeutic and fun. So, you want to make sure that the new design has a space for everything you use in the kitchen. Take a survey of your kitchen and get rid of anything you won’t need or use once the design is complete. For everything else, make sure you’ve made a selection on the type of storage. From cabinets and drawers for food, silverware, and dishes, shelves and hooks for pots, pans, and cooking utensils everything needs it’s own space.


Invest in high-quality appliances

They say an artist is only as good as the tools they use. The same is true for a chef. It is your skills, experience, and culinary style that allow you to make such great dishes but the quality of the appliances you use matters. You may not be able to spring for industrial or commercial-sized ovens, microwaves, and stoves, but you do want appliances that can withstand the frequency of use and enhance your cooking experiences. There are a lot of energy-efficient high-tech appliances to choose from. Look at not only the style and brand name but the features and overall quality to decide which items are best for your new kitchen.


Colors, texture and decor

The last step to remodeling your kitchen to make it more efficient for cooking is the colors, textures, and decor. You want an inviting space the inspires your creativity while also making you feel comfortable. Most popular kitchen colors right now are gray and white with stainless steel appliances. You can, however, go off the grid choosing a vibrant yellow and a soft gray or a dark navy blue paired with beige. Try to bring in some texture and decor into your kitchen as well. You can create a feature wall, add a unique backsplash pattern, or decorate with common houseplants, flowers, and bowls of fruit.

Anyone who loves to cook or cooks with a passion deserves to have space where they can do so without the frustration. Whether you’re making a stir fry or looking to make more advanced dishes you’ll love how much easier and more enjoyable it is when you’ve designed a kitchen that is just as aesthetically appealing as it is functional and efficient.


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Top 5 luxurious cruise ships with the best suite interior

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Top 5 luxurious cruise ships with the best suite interior

Living lavish has its perks, and one can never have more than enough. One of the things that can give you a taste of the high-life is an expedition on a cruise ship. When speaking about cruise ships, it is essential to note the excellent work interior designers are doing to model suites on cruise ships. Doing so ensures that the cruise ship stays on top of the game. Here are some of the top luxurious cruise ships with the best suite interiors;

1. Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Serenity

Top Suite: Crystal Penthouse

Spending just one night in this 1345 square foot space of accommodation is something you will live to remember. The suite has unique floor-to-ceiling windows that allow you to have a clear view of the ocean. The floor is made of natural wood which is then beautifully matched with Italian mosaic tile accents. The suite also comes with elegant pieces of furniture for both the living and dining rooms.

2. Silversea Cruises’ Silver Spirit

Top Suite: Owner’s Suite

It is no surprise that the owner’s suite on Silversea cruises is on this list. The 1292 square foot apartment at sea has classy and modern furniture and a large wallpaper that matches perfectly with the rest of the room. The suite gives you a unique vibe similar to a first-class penthouse in Copenhagen. The master bedroom is breathtaking. It is home to a queen-size bed that cannot miss a Serta air mattress to help you sleep comfortably through the night.

3. Viking Ocean Cruises

Top Suite: Owner’s Cruise

Viking’s owner’s suite is a work of art. One of the unique things about it is that when guests enter, they get a stunning view of beautiful paintings by great artists from different parts of the world. The 1319 suite comes with a large living room that has a lovely dining area, a wine cooler, and a guest bathroom.

Moreover, the living area adjoins a board room that can sit up to 12 people. The suite also features a balcony that is furnished with lounge chairs and a nook with a well-set sofa. Let us not forget the private sauna with a magnificent oceanic view.

4. Regent Seven Seas Explorer

Top Suite: Regent Suite

The regent suite is arguably one of the most exquisite suites at sea. The suite covers over 2900 square feet. It is characterized by floor-to-ceiling glass windows that offer a great view of the sea. All around the suite, you will find high-end touches of wood and marble. The Regent Suite also comes with Murano glass bowls, limited handcrafted materials and a custom Steinway Arabesque piano that costs over $250,000.

5. Disney’s Magic and Wonder

Top Suite: Concierge Royal Suite

The Concierge Royal Suite is known to provide a fairytale vibe to the guests. For people with kids, this 1029 square feet piece of accommodation is probably the best choice. The suite comes with two bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms.

Parents can choose to sleep in the room with a queen-size bed while the kids go for the other room with twin beds or the Murphy bed that pulls out in the living room. The suite brings together the Disney spirit for the kids. Elegance is also brought out in this suite as it comes with separate living areas, pantry and whirlpool tubs for the older guests.


Cruise ships have always been known to welcome you to a world of luxury. Spectacular suites that feature glass-walled showers, elegant marble bathtubs, private decks, and first-class services are some of the things that you will find once you step into one of these vessels. Different cruise ships have different suites. You can choose any suite that you would like depending on your taste and preference.


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4 things you can do to change the look of your house

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4 things you can do to change the look of your house

You may feel the need to renovate your house every once in a while to make it look more beautiful and comfortable. Even some simple changes in the exterior and interior can make your house seem new.

Changes as simple as upgrading moving the furniture around or hanging a new picture on the wall can dramatically change the atmosphere of your place. For a more drastic change, you can consider some structural changes such as changing roof structure and replacing windows.

Here are some creative ideas to give your home a brand new look without spending too much money.

Upgrade the lightning

Brighten up your home with new light arrangements to update your home’s style. Replace your old light fixtures and wall mounts with decorative lighting. Install light switches with dimmers to control the lighting according to requirements. Use stylish metal can up-lights to brighten up the dark corners of your home.

It may be a good idea to choose LEDs as they are a good investment. They last longer than typical lights and also help save energy.

Restyle your bookshelf with a decorative lamp to brighten up your bookcase. Decorate your artwork, pictures with string lights.

You can use a variety of styles that blend well with the overall theme of your house.

Update your front door

If the idea of a new exterior is overwhelming, consider upgrading the front door only. This is the easiest way to freshen up the overall look and feel of your home.

You can replace the door, paint it new, or use a mix of accessories to decorate it. Choose the right option according to your budget and requirements.

Decorate your walls with artworks

You can get creative while decorating your home with your family photos and framed artworks. It can give a nice personal touch to your home and also leave a message. Anyone who visits your home would know you love your family.

If the idea of pictures sounds bland to you, then it’s time to get creative. Choose attractive frames and set up the photos in a creative manner. Plus, you may also show a bit of your creativity by hanging your own artwork.

Other than this, murals from MuraleDesign can also enhance the overall look of your home. You only need to find the right way to use them.

Declutter and rearrange all the existing stuff

Deep clean your house by cleaning the windows, light fixtures and doors. Every corner of your room should appear neat and clean. It will not only make the house look better but more spacious as well.

Also, consider getting rid of items you don’t need. You can hold a garage sale to sell them. This way, you can make a little money that you can use to buy new items for your home.

Follow these tips and enhance the look of your house.


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