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Open shelving

Open shelving and why it’s worth taking a closer look

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Open shelving and why it’s worth taking a closer look

We have been seeing the trend of open shelving in kitchens for a few years now, and it doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon. We love the open shelf look in kitchens and try to incorporate often in our designs. It’s not a look that necessarily works for everyone, or for every space, but when possible, it’s a nice way to inject a little modern vibe to your space.

There are many benefits to introducing open shelving in your new kitchen plans. Eliminating stretches of closed-door cabinetry can visually create a more spacious and brighter look in your kitchen. Removing cabinetry, especially those around windows, can often allow for greater natural light to fill the room and produce a lovely look and feel. This all helps to create a warm and welcoming feel in your kitchen.

The one resistance I always encounter to open shelving has to do with clutter and the dust. However, once you commit to open shelving in the kitchen, you will likely quickly commit to decluttering and keeping them looking pretty. Closed door cabinetry hides your mess, so basically you end up not really noticing how disorganized and cluttered your kitchen really is. Clients often initially object to open shelves in the kitchen, then end up loving the simplicity, organization and functionality of their new approach. There’s simply no longer a hidden junk zone.

When planning your kitchen design, one thing to keep in mind also is that open shelving is a great budget friendly option to full cabinetry. It’s also useful if you just want to give your kitchen a quick facelift. Removing a few cabinets, introducing some open shelving and applying a quick coat of paint can be an economical way to add new life to your space, if a full renovation isn’t in the budget or part of the plan for a while.

If you’re a collector or have special mementos, the open shelving option is for you. Why keep your grandmother’s pretty serving pieces hidden in a cabinet, when you can see and enjoy them daily? Create stylish little vignettes on your shelves by incorporating heirloom or collector pieces with plants, artwork, glassware and your everyday pieces to personalize your space giving it a look all your own. You can also change these vignettes according to the seasons… A vintage Christmas cookie jar on display with some fresh greenery and various other festive pieces is the perfect way to add some holiday cheer to your kitchen.

Open shelving is also a great way to address functionality or any issues with odd corners and unusable space in your kitchen, instead of instead of trying to fit an awkwardly shaped, and likely under-used, cabinet. It also allows you to efficiently use a lot of wasted space that may not be conducive to cabinetry, especially when considering small space kitchen design. Open shelves can be installed just about anywhere to afford you additional storage space, for example, over windows and doorways.

Yes, open shelves are a trendy look in the kitchen, but its a look that affords many benefits. Take the opportunity to bring out those pretty dishes from behind closed doors to give your kitchen a personal touch!

Linda Mazur is an award-winning, nationally publicized designer and Principal of Linda Mazur Design Group.

With almost two decades of experience this in demand multi-disciplinary design firm is known for creating relaxed, stylish spaces and full-scale design builds within Toronto, the GTA and throughout Canada.

@LindaMazurGroup


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6 ways to modernize your kitchen on a budget

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6 ways to modernize your kitchen on a budget

By Jo Alcorn

Sometimes the best design decision is not to change things too much. Let me explain. I was recently working with a client who wanted to update her kitchen. She consulted with me to figure out how to spend her modest budget wisely while accomplishing a new look.

Storage

Like most people, her dream plan included replacing the cupboards to have more efficient storage. After an honest appraisal with a critical eye, I could see that wasn’t entirely necessary. She didn’t even need to paint them – she just needed to lighten the space up and get creative with functionality, and there were far less expensive and easier ways to do that. The overall footprint of the kitchen was good, so just a few adjustments to the cupboards were necessary. By adding Gliding Shelf Solutions (glidingshelf.ca) within the cabinets, we were able to solve the efficiency issue and add extra storage on a budget. Not having to do a full demolition of the existing kitchen put money back into the budget for what truly mattered, and splurging on the proper key elements.

Countertop

Changing out the countertops was mandatory. We needed to lighten up the space to make it feel more open, and to balance the darkness of the cabinet colour. We chose Caesarstone’s (caesarstone.ca) Empira White marble quartz because of its classic white base with deep grey veins to accent and complement the cabinet colour. This beautiful countertop modernized their kitchen instantly. Plus, it’s durable and easy to clean, so it’s a perfect balance of fashion and function for a busy household.

Backsplash

This kitchen needed a new backsplash. We chose white, beveled edge subway tile for its timeless-simplicity, and to play off the new countertops. By using larger tiles, this kitchen kept its clean lines, but the tapered edge offered elegant detailing. The custom range hood became the focal point of this space. We removed the small useless cabinet above the metal range hood that was more of an eye-sore than a focal point. By making it white, it pulled the colour scheme of the kitchen together perfectly.

New appliances

A Whirlpool black stainless-steel kitchen suite (whirlpool.ca) kept the continuity of colour in this kitchen. I love to match cabinet colours and appliances whenever I can; making your appliances blend into the shades of the kitchen gives the illusion of a larger space. The appliances are fingerprint resistant, which helps keep things looking sleek and fresh with minimal upkeep. Having the counter-depth refrigerator further made the space more open and accessible. On top of that, the French door option allows for more clearance when the door is open, which makes it easier to have two people in the kitchen at once. While the kitchen used to have a microwave stand to the right of the range, replacing it with a custom wine rack, colourmatched to the cupboards, was far more visually appealing. Fear not, they still have a microwave – it’s tucked out of sight and utilizing a wasted corner.

Shelving with purpose

Notice the floating shelves? I removed the closed cabinets to modernize the look. By tiling that whole wall and adding the natural wood tone of the shelving it creates a more up to date, open look. I wanted to replace the tan floor tiles, but the cost, timing and mess didn’t warrant it. Instead, I used the shelves, chairs and accessories to tie it all together, making the floor seem more purposeful, instead of like the elephant in the room. It’s also nice to have an element from nature (wood) to help ground the space and add an organic feel to the design.

Finishing details

While the cupboards were able to be used, the hardware had to go. The new, modernized, brass handles were the perfect accents. And I was able to include a pendant light over the sink to match. I would have liked to include pendant lighting all around the kitchen, but the light locations didn’t align with the table, so this was a perfect compromise. As I shopped for the appliances, I found an ultra-useful stand mixer in blue, and I knew it would be so useful and fun for this busy family. I choose accent pieces like the dishware and vase in a coordinating blue. The floor runners also have a blue tie accent. While many people hesitate to include a runner in a kitchen, I love it. They keep your feet warm, add softness to the space and tie colours in. The secret is to buy ones that are machine washable.

I know this once basic builder kitchen has transformed into a kitchen that suits the family’s modern lifestyle. Remember, don’t be too quick to replace your entire kitchen; sometimes, a strategic update is the better way. And it can save you a bundle!

HGTV Jo Alcorn is an interior and product designer for Alcorn Home, she has a full home furnishing and pet line collection displayed and sold across Canada and the U.S. She is known for her clean line savvy design concepts. Alcornhome.com

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3 tips to make your home chic, functional and family-friendly

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3 tips to make your home chic, functional and family-friendly

Every young family dreams of having it all – a chic home that does double duty as a kid-friendly environment. But for most bustling households, a sophisticated design aesthetic can often be overlooked in favour of elements that can survive the wear and tear of a family. It may be a daunting task to try and combine the best of both worlds – fashion and function – but it is possible to create a family-friendly living space that is sophisticated and still accommodates a range of ages, activities and interests.

How can a growing family create a sophisticated and stylish home environment that is sippy-cup friendly? Scavolini Toronto’s design team takes us through a recent redesign that is chic, liveable, and highly functional, and shares their top designer tips for replicating the look at home.

1 Consider a multi-functional open floorplan

Apart from making a home look more spacious, the benefits of an open floorplan are endless. To accommodate a bustling family’s lifestyle, an open concept kitchen and living area can serve as a multipurpose space. It’s great for weeknight cooking and dining, playing and after school homework, and can also easily transition into hosting and entertaining mode on weekends.

In order to ensure this kitchen was highly functional, two separate seating areas were designed to offer flexible dining areas for various occasions. A large island takes centre stage here, creating a place to entertain, relax and gather as a family – or for parents to sip wine while dinner simmers nearby when guests visit. A beautiful stone bench was also added to offer more casual seating, while a formal glass table is nestled along the kitchen wall to host both sit down family-style dinners, or dinner parties.

The integrated living room helps extend this transitional space, creating a nearby lounge area for TV watching or a play area for the kids, and then can transform into a cocktail or hosting space after bedtime. By bringing in design elements of the kitchen, like keeping the look of the cabinets consistent, extra storage is added so the living area can be multi-functional, while hiding clutter in a flash. Flexible, hardworking cabinetry is a great way add style and conceal mess.

Thanks to an open concept living and kitchen area, a family really can do it all in a space that is sophisticated enough to host social gatherings, yet functional enough to withstand playtime.

2 Choose a colour palette and decor that can transition and grow with you

Keeping your colour palette, furniture and decor minimal help to maintain a great looking space that is organized and clutter-free – and ensure that it can transition well as a family grows and needs change.

Deciding on your colour palette should be one of your first considerations when renovating or redecorating. From old world charm to a more modern look, a neutral colour scheme is timeless and can survive constantly evolving trends. It is also easy to retouch in the event of an occasional crayon or marker drawing incident.

Our top tip? Start with a neutral base and add in smaller colour pops through accents or accessories – like the bright yellow chairs in this dining area. These accents can be easily swapped in or out as your style needs grow and change, or as your children age. Plus, neutral walls and floors can be paired with beautiful artwork, helping to highlight favourites in your collection, or even your child’s own work.

To add in an element of old world charm, this kitchen’s backsplash and an entire wall was clad in brick, which was whitewashed to keep it feeling fresh and modern so that decor accents could take centre stage. Stainless steel accessories, including faucets and appliances, add cool factor while rich wood flooring and shelves add warmth and personality.

With accents of personal style and pops of colour, a home design can have a neutral, kid-friendly colour palette, yet still incorporate some edgy finishes. Crisp white walls reflect natural light and help make a space appear larger, while biophilic elements can provide a lively – and wellness improving – mood boost. Add in treasured accessories, like kids’ artwork or collectibles, to create stylish eye-catching accents.

3 Create smart storage solutions

Storage can make or break a family home. Not only can strategic storage solutions create a really specific and custom space, it can also ensure that clutter is non-existent. There’s no catch or loophole – it is possible to have kids and a clutter free house without going full Marie Kondo!

Struggling with where to start? Begin by taking an inventory of everything you own, especially toys, and ask yourself not only what types of things you need to store, but also how you want to live with them. What toys do you really need out in the open for easy access every day? What toys can be stored away for later use, and how much space do you need to do so?

In this particular space, a large grey and white island becomes a focal point in the kitchen, but also does double duty as a genius storage solution that clears clutter thanks to concealed shelving. The kitchen appliances are all built in, which makes for a far less bulky appearance as well. Table wears are stored in sleek drawers rather than hidden away in enclosed cabinets, and toys can be whisked away in a flash thanks to the cabinetry in the living area.

We’re big believers that having little ones doesn’t mean you have to give up your individual style – or get rid of fancy decor items (unless they have sharp corners – then you may need to compromise). Rather, it just means you may have to make some keen design decisions to create a space that’s both chic and family friendly.

By Roxane Lolos, Senior Designer at Scavolini Toronto

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Kitchen refresh, seamless function and next-level upgrades

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Kitchen refresh, seamless function and next-level upgrades

Photography by Stephani Buchman

Seamless function and next-level upgrades enhance this sophisticated contemporary space

Have you ever walked through your home and suddenly felt like everything that used to make you happy just isn’t doing it for you anymore? Over time, our needs and tastes change and that once interesting trends may leave you feeling less than inspired and yearning for something new.

TIP
Certain elements, like the stove, combine all the finishes we worked with, allowing for the use of brass, chrome and black throughout the rest of the space.

In a world inundated with visual noise, more and more homeowners are looking for simplicity in design — from function to colour choices, door styles and trim. With so many design options nowadays, the job of a designer is to interpret those desires and turn them into tangible solutions with the right products to fulfill the homeowners’ esthetic and lifestyle needs.

Function first

This kitchen underwent a facelift, it was upgraded to improve function and esthetically shown some love circa the new millennium. The original space was in good shape and the floor plan worked but there were some serious issues that needed to be addressed.

TIP
When combining styles and mixing metals, focus on which metals look best on the chosen backdrop.

The original floor tiles were dated, however since the homeowners would be living on-site through the renovation, to minimize the mess, we opted for a new 6mm-thin, 30″ square porcelain tile with a subtle metallic sheen from Italy, which was expertly installed on top of the existing floor.

Contrast & finishes

The new perimeter white cabinets play against the rift-cut oak, flat-panelled cabinet doors of the island and fan hood, which were stained a dark grey to add visual contrast and depth. The darker elements were accented with chrome and the white cabinets feature brass hardware. Mixing metals and the juxtaposition of the black, brass and chrome against white and dark wood was incorporated with great care along with LED accent glass uppers, new fan hood and light fixtures.

Drawer dreams

To increase function and storage, new pot drawer cabinets were incorporated and equipped with drawer slides accented with glass to add elegance to everyday kitchen storage needs.

Cabinetry details & clearance

The upper cabinets, which once featured space for what we affectionately refer to as “dust-collectors” above the crown, were finished up to the ceiling with small, clear glass uppers inserted above the solid units to add visual interest and elegance. The depth of the coffee station was decreased, and the existing wine bar was moved into the island to allow for a more spacious and comfortable passage between the drink station and island seating. This allowed for further storage with both a decorative and functional display area above. The design for the hood was also brought to the ceiling, and the combustible materials that once sat far too close to the gas cooktop, were eliminated and streamlined for a sleeker, safer design.

Clutter-free counters

Quartz counters were added throughout and on the backsplash to provide a clean backdrop for the other elements in the space. The quartz provides an easy-to-care-for solution that doesn’t add visual clutter in the space.

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The light fixtures are a nod to the dark finishes that were accented with chrome, while the white cabinets were given some warmth with the brass hardware.

The all-important details

Two statement pendants are centered over the island where a single chandelier once lived, and a soft graphic roman shade is centered over a new, clean black-framed picture window over the sink.

When undergoing a renovation, however small you may anticipate your needs to be, there are many moving parts and details to consider that may take more time and money than you originally anticipated. A seemingly small detail like continuing the existing crown across the uppers, for example, can require very detail-oriented design work and talented tradespeople to make it look seamless.

It’s important to trust the professionals you hire to make your dream a reality, then sit back and watch (as patiently as possible) while your dreams come true.

Cynthia Soda is owner, principal interior designer of Soda Pop Design Inc., a multi-disciplinary interior design firm providing complete custom renovation and design services for residential and commercial clients throughout the GTA. Soda Pop Design Inc. focuses on merging the client’s lifestyle, personality and architecture to create customized, liveable luxury. sodapopdesign.ca Instagram: @csodapop, Twitter: @sodapopdesign

SOURCES CABINETRY/MILLWORK, Pure Kitchens CABINET SYSTEMS, Grass FLOORS, Celebre Tile FRIDGE/ MICROWAVE, LG ISLAND BAR FRIDGE, Danby MARBLE HARDWARE, DRINK STATION/PANTRY, Berenson COUNTERS AND BACKSPLASH, Quartz Master Calacutta Paris & Alpine Grey GENERAL HARDWARE, Upper Canada Hardware LIGHTING, Hudson Valley LIGHTING SOUND PANELS, Control4 ESPRESSO COFFEE MACHINE/ TOASTER / SMALL APPLIANCES, Breville STOVE, Supreme FIREPLACES, Kastle Fireplaces CUSTOM WINDOWS & DOORS, Fieldstone Windows ISLAND CHAIR FABRIC, Alendel WINDOW COVERINGS, Starlight Drapery / Maxwell Fabrics CROWN, Classic Mouldings Inc. PAINTING, Final touch – Gray Owl 2137-60 Benjamin Moore ART WORK, PI Fine Art. Sodapop Construction Co., Jeff Baker Woodworks Custom Hood Fabrication

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By Design - Custom Storage Solutions

By design – custom storage solutions

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By design – custom storage solutions

As an interior designer I ask lots of questions, and I always look at how to best use a space from a functional perspective. How much stuff needs to be stored? Does it have to be readily accessible? Does the space have any barriers? Storage, almost always, factors into a design. After all, everyone has stuff. The secret to a really great space, is finding where to put it all.

Cabinetry

Cabinets are great option if you’ve got particular storage needs, and unique room configurations or restrictions. A custom built-in allows you to maximize the storage system to fit the room – meaning no wasted space. Compact suites, large family homes and busy lives will all benefit from a well-planned custom storage area. It’s little wonder that custom cabinetry is one of the more popular requests.

Assessment

Step one is knowing that not all storage systems are created equal, and not every room has the same functional requirements. Closets and pantries are often overflowing. So, in these areas I prioritize function and organization. In kitchens and family rooms, storage must be balanced with style.

What are the storage objectives? Should the cabinetry blend in or stand out? Is the aim to conceal items or to display them? Knowing the expectations will help to narrow down the vast array of choices.

Style

A range of standard colours and finishes, as well as custom options, are available from every brand or cabinet maker. The choices can be overwhelming, but we remind our clients that cabinets are a big-ticket item. Often we advise them against following trends, but to look for an overall, timeless look that will offer longevity, as well as visual appeal. Current trends can be added with moveable back panels and unique hardware, if so desired.

Function

The best storage system must make the most of every inch. Wall space is often overlooked and under-used. Think extra-high, floor-to-ceiling cabinets, and custom corner cabinets that are tucked out of the way. Versatility is the beauty of custom cabinetry. The benefits often out-way the costs for the clients. Make use of valuable storage real estate. Items can be discreetly hidden, or a room can be enhanced with built-ins and lighting accents.

Technology

Technology has worked its way into every aspect of our lives, including storage areas. Custom shelving is being outfitted with lights, as well as a docking stations that help to eliminate unsightly cord clutter. Don’t forget to add in hidden charging stations for all life’s wireless items.

The secret to a successful design is providing clients with what they want – and need. By asking the right questions and getting to know the homeowner’s requirements, you’ll be able to create a tailored space that looks as good as it works. With the right custom storage system in place, they’ll wonder how they ever got along without it.

ANDREA COLMAN is Principal of Fine Finishes Design Inc..

With almost two decades of reno & design experience her full service firm, service clientele throughout GTA, Ontario. The growing boutique design firm is known for creating stylish, harmonious, livable environments.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Make the holidays merry and think ahead

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Make the holidays merry and think ahead

Holiday preparations such as tree trimming, present wrapping and hanging lights help get us in the holiday spirit and are lots of fun. But thoughtful packing of seasonal decorations and materials at the end of the holidays for the next year can keep the fun in what is for some a stressful time.

In other words, it pays to plan, even 12 months ahead.

Careful packing and organization prevents damage and breakage and ensures you can find everything next year. It is worth taking the extra time to organize and preserve your decorations for next year.

Here are some tips from Two Men and a Truck to keep in mind while packing away holiday decorations:

Delicate items

Wrap breakables in paper or bubble wrap. Do not use newspaper — the print may wear off on ornaments. Use tissue or packing paper. Instead of throwing away used paper or junk mail, run it through a paper shredder, it makes great packing filler.

Decorations that contain photographs or food should be sealed in an air-tight bag to keep them safe. Sealing photos preserves them and the scent from any food item will attract insects or mice wherever they are stored.

Boxes with dividers are best to pack ornaments in. There are cardboard boxes made especially for fragile items. They come with adjustable inserts that forms individual cells for delicate items. These “dish pack” boxes are very popular at all our branches.

Keep extra hangers, hooks and ornament parts in a labeled bag or box.

Lights

To prevent tangles, wrap lights around empty gift-wrapping paper tubes. Leave the plug accessible by taping the ends of the light strands to the end of the tube. Next year you can quickly test the lights before unwinding them.

Store coloured lights in a dark place to prevent fading –- especially blues, greens and purples.

Wrapping paper

Hanging garment bags provides good storage for wrapping paper rolls. Use outside pockets for gift tags, cards and tissue paper.

To protect used rolls of paper, cut an empty wrapping paper tube from end to end and slide it over the roll.

Ribbons and bows can be saved and reused, pack loosely so they keep their shape.

Other considerations

Wrap holiday candles individually in cellophane and store in a cool place so they do not melt together.

Pack an “open first” box. Place the decorations you use first in here with essentials such as extension cords.

Use a wardrobe box to hang and store seasonal clothing that you only wear twice a year like that special snowman sweater from your mother-in-law or that flashing Christmas tie. This way you can find it, wear it, and store it away on a hanger easily.

If you haven’t used a decoration in a few years donate it. If it is damaged, get rid of it.

Take special care if you are storing your items in a damp area like your basement.

Don’t store boxes near sources of heat and moisture.

The most important tip is to label every box. The more detailed the description, the easier it will be to find things. Use different colours to distinguish different holidays. For example, use orange for Halloween, brown for Thanksgiving and red or green for Christmas.

Take a digital photo of special care items like snow globes or wreaths, print them off on regular paper and tape the photo to the outside of the box as an easy description of what’s inside.

All Two Men and a Truck branches offer a variety of storage boxes and packing supplies suitable to store all your decorative treasures.

Chuck Resnick is vice president, marketing and operation at Two Men and a Truck. https://twomenandatruck.ca/

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Big Style, Small Spaces: Home Work

Big Style, Small Spaces: Home Work

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Big Style, Small Spaces: Home Work

Make sure your home office is efficient but also reflects your personality

Working from home has lots of advantages – the office commute is about 30 seconds, you can stick a load of laundry in between conference calls, and you can wear PJs for most of the day. The downside is you’re too close to it to get away, you don’t want to be doing laundry all day, and PJs are really a fashion crime. Whether you work for yourself, or for a company that allows for some work from home, you still need a proper office. To start with, plan by making a list of everything you need in order to work well — natural light, tons of storage space and miles of countertop.

Where you work is important — preferably a dedicated office space in the guest bedroom, a main floor den, or the basement. This also depends on the kind of work you do; clients dropping in need a place to sit. Laptops and WiFi make it easy to move your office around, even to the back deck. Once you’ve picked a spot, try a space planner to see where the furniture should go, making sure electrical outlets and phone jacks – if you still use a landline – are close to the workspace. Include space for a printer, phone and resource materials. Rarely used items can be stored in the basement or a closet.

CHAIR

You’ll be sitting in this for six to eight hours a day, so get one that adjusts to your specific ergonomics. As pretty as leather is, refrain from buying it because you need something breathable. Chairs range in price from $150 to $2,000, but you can get a decent one for about $300.

DESK

Standard desks are 29 inches high, but 27 inches high is actually ergonomically better for where your arms and hands are while using a laptop. If the desk isn’t adjustable, raise your chair a little. You also need enough workspace to spread out papers; if one desk won’t do, add a second.

A writing desk is preferable to those clunky mid-century office desks – much lighter and easier to move around. Place your desk so you have a view of the room and away from the outdoors. Remember to place it so that light falls over your shoulder.

STORAGE

Drawers in the desk – or in stackable containers on top – are good for having stationery, paper clips, pens, pencils and staplers close at hand. Wallmounted storage minimizes physical and visual clutter.

Wherever you keep your files – on the computer, or an external hard drive, or in file folders – make a habit of culling regularly. If you haven’t used something in a year, toss it. (Except taxes. Those you need to keep for seven years.)

LIGHTING

Natural light is best, especially since windows also provide good ventilation. But if that’s not possible, bump up the overhead and task lighting and add a reading lamp. If there’s no room on the desk, have it wall mounted.

DECORATE

If your home office is visible from the rest of the main floor, try to tie it in decoratively so that it blends in style, colour and theme.

Don’t be afraid of colour, or at least adding colourful accessories. I love white space, but I still like to add colour through accessories – a Navajo blanket, or beautiful pillows on a chair. Incorporate colour as well into stationery, magazine racks, storage containers and so on. Colour affects the way you feel; orange is considered a colour that stimulates creativity, green is restful, blue is calming and yellow makes you happy.

This isn’t the corporate office, it’s your home, so get creative in making it yours, and making a place you look forward to working in. Incorporate art, lamps and accessories that convey your personality. Use what you have – turn a vase into a pen holder, wicker baskets for scrap paper, the dining sideboard for printer, phone and other supplies. Splurge on a chaise – go modern with Eames or Mies, or traditional like a fainting couch — for naps and reading breaks.

SCHEDULE

When you work alone, getting down to work can sometimes be hard; it’s far easier to check out the fridge, stare into space, or run the vacuum through the main floor. Most successful people say that having a consistent routine, one that triggers the brain to get into think mode, is the only way to get things accomplished.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes (DunparHomes.com).

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 interior design.


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Reno Expert: Think Small

Reno Expert: Think Small

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Reno Expert: Think Small

by Jim Caruk

Condo and tiny-home dwellers need to find compact or multi-tasking appliances and furniture

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the growing trend of tiny houses: Residences that are only a few hundred square feet in total, often built on wheels. Cost-effective, yes, but not very practical for most people.

But even with the recent decline in housing prices, the average detached home in Toronto still goes for more than $1-million, and semi-detached homes aren’t far behind. As a result, for many people, condos have become the default starter home.

Another recent trend has been that the condos they build today keep getting smaller than the ones built in the past. While some of Toronto’s older condos have three bedrooms spread across 1,200 sq.ft. or more, most new condos are one-bedroom or bachelor units crammed into half that space, or less.

PRODUCTS THAT MEASURE UP

All of which adds up to having to think compact—or multi-purpose—when renovating small spaces. Luckily, appliance manufacturers have recognized this trend and are making products to fit the bill. And condo-sized doesn’t have to mean no-name, budget offerings. Home-chef favourite, Wolf has 24″-wide ovens and induction cooktops in its lineup, while Bosch boasts an 18″-wide fridge.

Other appliances are true multi-taskers, such as Panasonic’s four-in-one 1.2-cu.ft. stainless-steel oven that combines steam, convection, microwave, and grill cooking all-in-one built-in unit. There are also two-in-one washer-dryers that handle both tasks in one unit.

Even the kitchen sink can be a multi-tasker. Kohler designed its Prolific sink with small spaces specifically in mind. The 33″ x 17¾” basin comes with five accessories, including a bamboo cutting board and a dishwasher-safe colander, all of which you can store right in the sink basin when not in use.

JIM’S PICK

I recently toured Panasonic Canada’s office and showroom to check out their lineup of products. Perfect for a small space and out-of-view storage are these revolving racks that can hold up to 56 pairs of shoes.

https://go.panasonic.ca/storageandorganization.html

 

 

 

CAPTION: photography courtesy of Panasonic

MURPHY MAKES A COMEBACK

Efficient use of space extends beyond the kitchen. People of my generation may remember Murphy beds as a part of the punchline from old black-and-white comedies where someone gets folded up into the wall. But by saving (extremely) valuable floor space during the day, Murphy beds have again become a popular and practical sleeping option.

And it’s not just beds that tuck away. I’ve seen sideboards that fold out into extra serving space, dining tables with extensions that slide away when not in use, and closet organizers that can hold dozens of pairs of shoes in a relatively small space. Finally, don’t forget the space that sliding pocket doors can save.

Designing and furnishing a small space requires careful planning. But if it’s done right, you can really live large.

Jim Caruk, Renovation Editor

We look forward to hearing from you and welcome your feedback. Do you have a reno or decor question for our team of experts?

Email editorial@renoanddecor.com


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Storage planning is the key to a successful home renovation project

Storage planning is the key to a successful home renovation project

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Storage planning is the key to a successful home renovation project

by Jason Siebenga

Spring has arrived and it’s time to tackle the home renovation project you’ve been planning all winter long.

You also may have noticed a lot of friends and family are taking on home renovations, and that’s for one reason: as house prices continue to rise in several Canadian real estate markets, many homeowners are choosing to upgrade instead of buying new.

As a result, we’re not only seeing an increase in dollars being spent on home renovation projects, but we’re also seeing a rising number of people needing an on-site storage solution while a renovation takes place.

At BigSteelBox, we’ve seen it all when it comes to home improvement. Some homeowners prefer to do everything themselves. From knocking down walls, to putting up drywall, and completing DIY projects, many take pride in taking on a big project. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the homeowners who put all the control into the hands of designers and contractors. Aside from choosing tiles and paint colours, they aren’t interested in the getting their hands dirty and prefer to leave it to the professionals. What we’ve found is that the majority of homeowners are somewhere in the middle.

Regardless whether you are a DIYer or not, every renovation project poses one question: “What should I do with my belongings while the renovation is taking place?”

At BigSteelBox we provide homeowners with a convenient, flexible way to store their belongings any length of time. A steel storage container is delivered to you, which you can either keep on your property, or have stored at one of our secure locations.

We’ve been helping Canadians execute their home renovation projects for almost 20 years. After everything we’ve seen, we’re always happy to offer a few tips on how to make a renovation go as smoothly as possible.

Plan ahead to reduce stress during and after your home renovation

First and foremost, do your homework. Assess what sort of condition your home is in before the renovation begins. Since you’ll be emptying out room(s) in your house, you’ll need to figure out how long you’re going to be displaced.

Be aware that even if you empty out rooms thinking it’s only going to be a couple of weeks, those weeks can turn into months, and you could be storing your belongings longer than anticipated. This means that items you thought you could go without for a few weeks, you’ll now need to access.

The option of storing your items right outside of your front door means you’ll always have easy access to them, resulting in less stress over the long term. In addition, knowing your belongings are secure and protected from the elements means they will be clean and ready to move when it’s time to put them back into your home.

Determine your storage needs and declutter

Before your renovation begins, take stock of everything you’ll need out of your home during construction and determine how many items you’ll need to store. Most homeowners don’t realize how much stuff they have accumulated over the years. When it comes to clearing out a room, many are overwhelmed by how many possessions they actually have.

When your storage container arrives on site, a good rule of thumb is to only store what you plan on keeping. That way you’re maximizing your storage space and increasing efficiency. In addition, taking inventory is a great way to declutter your home and ensure every item you have is one you truly want.

If certain decorative items or furniture won’t fit in your new design, look at selling or donating them. When the renovation is complete, you’ll be amazed by how much more space you have.


Maximize the space in your storage container

A storage container can serve a number of purposes during a home renovation. Firstly, it’s a great place to keep household items safe and clean during construction. Additionally, if you’re doing the renovation yourself, the storage container can also be used to store tools and equipment. These items are often expensive and having a secure place to store and protect them is important.

Once you’ve moved all of your belongings into storage, it’s important to keep them organized. This way you can access them quickly and easily during and after the renovation. When it comes to making sure your space is organized, we can provide tips on keeping it in order and even provide brackets for shelving inside your container.

Now your tool belt is loaded with tips and storage solutions, so you’re ready to get to work. Whether you have the power drill in hand or plan on kicking your feet up and watching someone else do the work, the question of what to do with your belongings while the renovation takes place has been solved. Happy renovating!

Jason Siebenga is the president of BigSteelBox. The company has been offering Canadians a better way to move and store their belongings since 1999. By bringing the storage to the customer, BigSteelBox has eliminated some of the most stressful aspects of moving and storage.

bigsteelbox.com


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