Tag Archives: Vanessa Bellemare


The smart trends to add value where it counts

Latest News

The smart trends to add value where it counts

Even with the rise of home makeover tv shows and savvy online real estate advice, many homebuyers still need to be shown the potential for a new home purchase.

Whether you’re looking to get max value for your home, or you just want to create a wow-factor for your own enjoyment, keeping on top of trends is a must.

In 2019, there are excellent trends to add style and value throughout your home. Find the ones that feel like the right choices to enhance your space below.


Two toned kitchen colour pallets are going to be big in 2019. Consider a warm neutral for your primary colour and use bold splashes on the cabinetry and trim to create a space that is simply unforgettable.

You can tone down your accent colour by using a matte finish, which is another hot trend for the year.

Quartz countertops are timeless, but add a prestigious presence to any kitchen that is just lacking that special something.

In a move toward clean minimalism, open storage gives a fresh, airy feel and a better sense of what is in your panty at the same time. Finally, integrated kitchen appliances such as built-in stovetops, or refrigerators that match your cabinetry, are also great options this year!


Consider re-organizing the bathroom to that your soaker tub and glass shower enclosure can sit side-by-side. This creates a spa-like ambiance that you’ll appreciate whether you’re selling your home, or just looking to pamper yourself.

Many designers are also bringing more wood elements into the bathroom this year. This creates an organic, zen-like atmosphere that helps cultivate the sense of tranquility that so many of us have been looking for.

Continuing the theme of tranquility is the predominance of neutral whites and greys for the bathroom colour scheme. These low-key colour choices have a Scandinavian energy that exudes understated elegance and intelligence.


The Great Room is where most families come together to watch movies, play board games or just enjoy quiet time together. Any trend for this room would do well to create a sense of vibrancy and openness, to welcome everyone in the family into their shared space.

Light natural flooring is one excellent current trend to cultivate the fresh, open vibe. Add a pop of energy with bold jewel tones as your accent colours, such as emerald green and navy.

More families are also choosing to bring in a minimal, eclectic look throughout the space, incorporating artisanal light fixtures, mixing period styles and having statement pieces that reflect your unique personality.

Vanessa Bellemare is  Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, at International Home Marketing Group.


Featured Products


Perspectives: Is A Custom Home The Right Choice?

Latest News

Perspectives: Is A Custom Home The Right Choice?

It’s becoming a more popular option, just be sure you know what you’re getting into

Many people have been asking what to do with their homes given how volatile the Toronto housing market has been for the last number of years. Most are opting to just stay in a home that no longer works the way they want rather than risk moving somewhere else. However, just because you decide that it’s better to stay put than to jump into the ever-fluctuating market, you don’t need to stay in a house that isn’t for you.

I’m going to explain some of the different options you have available to you that will allow you to stay in the house and neighbourhood you’re comfortable with that includes all amenities you’ve grown to know and love, without sacrificing the home that you truly wish you lived in.

Recently, I have noticed many new “smaller owned” custom homebuilders pop up in and around the city, paving the way for homeowners to make their dreams come true.

I’ve spoken to a number of people who chose to stay put and build rather than move and I’d like to share a few of those experiences with you. There are two things to keep in mind before you start:

  • A custom home renovation can truly be a blank slate. If you have specific ideas in mind, they can always be realized. If you are more comfortable leaving things in the hands of professionals that can be an option, too. If, however, you are really risk averse, the best option might be to consider buying an existing home.
  • Always make sure you find a reputable custom homebuilder who can take you through the entire building process from the initial draft to the final stages.

My first story comes from a woman who loved her neighbourhood and simply wanted to upgrade the home she already lived in. The builder allowed her to help in the design phase so the house would be exactly what she wanted. She lived in the home for the first six months during demolition and then had to move to a rented space while the project was completed.

It’s important to factor these potential costs in when beginning a project. Also, if you’re going to take a handson approach, be prepared to take time off work to help pick out flooring, tiles, paint, etc. so timelines stay intact. In the end, the woman fell in love with the addition and says that she would try and better prepare herself for any added stresses if she were to do it again.

My second story comes from a very hands-off homeowner. He met with an architect and they agreed on a budget and a style. The owner and his family moved out for two years while the house was rebuilt using designs, styles and innovations adopted by the architect. When construction was complete, the owner was thrilled with the results and had no stress issues.

While these are just two people’s experiences, hopefully you can learn a thing or two from them and apply them to your own views. Plus, before you start making any major changes to your living situation, here is a list of eight key things to consider first:

  • Know what you are getting into.
  • Hire the right people.
  • A designer is a must; knowing how much furniture and the placement early in the design phase is key.
  • Plan, plan and plan some more. Communicate everything and never assume.
  • Things look worse before they look better.
  • Mistakes will happen; have a backup plan.
  • Get to know your trades, they are on your team.
  • Listen to the professionals but know when to trust your gut.

If you think this list is manageable, maybe a custom home is the right choice for you. Just remember that the right team will make all the difference as to whether your custom home experience is a dream come true or a renovation nightmare. When you do select a builder and architect, make sure to ask for references, see examples of previous work and do a little bit of research online to make sure that there are no major red flags. When you follow these tips, you dramatically increase your chances of creating the home you’ve always wanted.

Vanessa Bellemare is the vice president, sales and marketing, of International Home Marketing Group (IHMG), a fully integrated sales manage and marketing company.



Featured Products


Perspectives: A Baby Boomer Shaped Hole

Latest News

Perspectives: A Baby Boomer Shaped Hole

Shrinking condo sizes and skyrocketing prices are pricing downsizers out of the market

For the first time in the history of Canada, the number of people aged 65 years or over now surpasses the number of children aged 14 years or under. This unprecedented demographic shift means that the market is beginning to be flooded with affluent 65-plus baby boomers looking to downsize from their large family homes.

In the next five to ten years, even more baby boomers will be retiring and looking to downsize, so in many ways the baby boomer is the perfect customer for savvy developers to be targeting right now. Unfortunately, a combination of poorly designed policies and untimely market forces have severely limited the affordable options available to this highly coveted buyer.

While the idea of maintaining a two-storey home in retirement seems like a viable option for some retirees, home upkeep and mobility concerns in homes with flights of stairs are driving many baby boomers towards large-sized condominiums.

There’s just one problem: trying to find an affordable living space that can comfortably accommodate a downsizer is still almost impossible. This is true not only for the existing stock of condominiums, but also for new developments coming to market.

As a condominium sales and marketing consultant, I have the opportunity to meet with several developers on a weekly basis to see firsthand what the current market trends are. While many developers are doing an excellent job at creating products to meet the needs of young professionals, the current design and suite mix across the city is simply not well situated to meet the needs of the baby boomer demographic.

Ironically, a large part of the problem stems from the way the city has been pushing for more multi-bedroom suites. At first this might sound like a good thing until you look at how they are doing it.

It all starts with development fees. They are a huge source of revenue for the city, and they are levied based on how many bedrooms a suite has. The difference in development fees between a one- and two-bedroom suite can be as much as $10,000.

Under the current system, a developer may design a 650-square-foot onebedroom- plus-den suite, only to have the city come back and tell them that they will be charged a two-bedroom suite development fee for that suite layout. This means that the developer will have to redesign that suite so that it can be marketed as a two-bedroom unit.

Because this trend of pushing for more bedrooms is happening across the city, it means the average square footage for one- and two-bedroom suites is going down. At the same time, suite pricing is strongly tied to the number of bedrooms, so this phenomenon is also driving the cost per square foot up. The end result of these market and policy forces is that the average baby boomer is getting pushed out of the condo market.

Imagine you are a retired couple currently living in a 3,000-square-foot home worth $1.5 million. You want to downsize to a 1,500-square-foot condo that is easier to maintain but still gives you enough space to have the kids come to visit. The average cost for a downtown condo of 1,500 square feet is almost exactly the same price as their current home. This means that they are getting half the square footage for the same price. Not much of an incentive.

I recently met one downsizing couple who did the math and thought it would be better value to spend $50,000 installing an elevator so they can stay in their home as they age.

A related issue in the lowrise market is that developers are not building bungalows, either. This is mainly because the cost of land has increased so much, a 2,400-square-foot home in King Township would cost in upwards of $1.2 million. Land has now become so much of the cost of building that a two-storey detached home in the same community, on the same lot size, would cost essentially the same. Where can one retiring find money to live on if they are paying so much more to downsize?

Back in Toronto’s highrise market, we see another problem. The current inventory of larger luxury condo suites are simply not priced to sell. There are some developments that have suites over 2,000 square feet priced anywhere from $3 million to $5 million, plus the cost of monthly maintenance fees. This is simply not an appealing option to many people who could own a very nice Toronto home for much less than this.

The solutions to these problems are complex, but developers and municipalities will be wise to consider them carefully. With over 23 per cent of the population retiring in the next 10 years, the time is now to find solutions that will appeal to this near ideal target buyer.

Vanessa Bellemare is vice president of sales and marketing at International Home Marketing Group. IHMG.ca


Featured Products