Thursday, 5 April 2018

Spring cleaning tips to organize your home and life
(NC) The end of winter and beginning of spring signal new beginnings, so use this time to breathe new life and freshen up the spaces and things you use every day. Here are some ideas to get started.  
For your living space. Get ready for spring and summer by decluttering the most commonly used areas in your home. Recycle or donate things you no longer need, and use shelving, baskets and decorative storage containers to tidy the items you do need on hand while eliminating visual clutter. Encourage your kids to do the same in their rooms.
For your wallet. An ordered wallet can save you time at checkout and make carrying it around a little lighter. Throw out old receipts and coupons, and ask yourself if you really need all the identity documents you keep in there. The more documents you have, the more vulnerable you are to having your identity stolen if you lose or get robbed of your wallet. Remove any documents you don't use regularly and store them in a secure place instead.
For your devices. Need more storage space and processing power? Ridding your laptop, computer, smartphone and tablets of unnecessary apps and large files can help with this, as well as make navigating your devices and finding documents easier. While you're at it, run a full system check using reliable security software and make sure your antivirus software is up to date.
For your office. Whether you work from home or at your organization's offices, an organized workspace can boost productivity and increase motivation. Set up your monitor, chair and keyboard so you don't have to strain or twist awkwardly to use any of them. Use document trays and create a “catch-all” space that you regularly review and sort so staying organized becomes part of your routine.  
Find more information on how to protect yourself from identity fraud at

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

2018 colour and design trends

Make Your Realty Dreams Reality!
(NC) Your home is a treasured place for living, relaxing and hosting guests. Give it new energy with these trending looks.
Lovely lavenders. Move over, millennial pink — this soft shade of violet is the “it colour” this year. Lavenders and lilacs are an evolution of the popular pink, and lend an air of royal sophistication to any space while bringing out beautiful, deeper tones in surrounding accents and furniture.
Statement lighting. Overhead light fixtures make for gorgeous focal points and help you set the ambiance for the room. Choose a stand-out piece that complements your décor, like an artisan chandelier or vintage sconces or pendants.
Warmer metals. Golden brass is becoming a surprisingly warm and subtle substitute for stainless steel and polished nickel. Stay on-trend with brass accents and décor, or dive in with faucet fixtures in your kitchen or bathroom in this unexpected tone.
Bold patterns. Big and bold is the way to go for patterns right now. If you want something more feminine and seasonal, go with boho-inspired florals that look like the work of an artist's paintbrush. Hard geometrics are a fun, modern alternative — think large circles in repetitive, balanced styles. Incorporate the trend with accent pillows or graphic wallpaper.
Intelligent design. Convenience is always in fashion, so look for elements that make life easier. Window treatments with PowerView motorization from Hunter Douglas allow you to operate your shades from anywhere in the world using your mobile device. This must-have feature seamlessly integrates with other whole-home automation systems, like Google Home and Alexa.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Your first home may not be your forever home
(NC) Home ownership is a goal for most of us, and millennials appear to be the most optimistic group. According to an RBC poll, two in five millennials said they intend to buy a home in the next two years. But the cost of home ownership and things like regulatory changes can make saving for a downpayment more difficult and, for many, put the dream of homeownership out of reach.
Sometimes, however, first-time buyers may not be looking at all their options. A little flexibility and compromise can help make ownership more accessible when considering the following:
Begin with a starter home. Few people spend 50 years in one home these days. Think about your lifestyle for the next five to 10 years and make a decision based on that. Your dream home in your dream neighborhood may still be yours, just a bit later in your life.
Get a renter. Could you afford the home you want if you rented out part of it? Many people create a basement apartment or rent out the second bedroom as a way to offset their mortgage payments.
Consider co-ownership. Buying a property with family or friends is a great way to get your foot in the door. Discuss options with your mortgage specialist and be sure to establish a solid contractual agreement that will help avoid or mediate any future disagreements when selling the property, renegotiating terms or buying each other out.
Be realistic. Don't expect perfection. Every home has some issues and you may have to compromise or decide what you can and can't live with. What is a permanent feature versus something that's an easy aesthetic fix? Set your priorities, but be realistic and flexible.
Be patient. Style your home slowly and resist the temptation to furnish it from top to bottom the day after you move in. Get creative with chic but less expensive, gently used furniture or pieces that may not last a lifetime but will save you money today.
Find more information online at

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The 7 Things You Need To Know About Duct Cleaning


The 7 Things You Need To Know About Duct Cleaning

How much do you really know about the importance of maintaining the ducts in your home? For many Canadian homeowners, the answer  is “very little”. That’s why sat down with duct cleaningextraordinaire Dave Reyes of Dave’s Duct Cleaning, a GTA industry leader in duct maintenance.
We asked Dave seven questions on the most pressing topics in duct cleaning to make sure that everyone leaves today’s article feeling educated and empowered on a topic that often goes under the radar.
All question responses courtesy of Dave Reyes – Dave’s Duct Cleaning.

1. What is the #1 reason why someone should have their duct cleans? What are some of the secondary reasons?

a)  Prevention – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says if not properly installed, maintained, and operated, components of forced air systems may become contaminated with particles of dust, pollen or other debris. When moisture is present, the potential for microbiological growth, mold, increases and spores from such growth may be released into the home’s living space. Some of these contaminants may cause allergic reactions or other symptoms in people if they are exposed to them.  Our customers have their air ducts cleaned typically after a major renovation or when they assume new ownership of their home.  They don’t know what type of cleanliness existed prior to occupancy and would like to have peace of mind that whatever they can’t see is clean and more importantly – allows for their equipment to operate as designed.
b) Maintenance –If there is debris or contamination within the HVAC system; your HVAC equipment isn’t operating at its optimal or peak efficiency.  For example, if there is accumulation of dirt anywhere that the air stream touches, then air flow becomes restricted.  Areas of your home may not receive sufficient air flow because of this buildup of debris.  Over time, debris will accumulate in the duct work of your workplace or home.  Just like an oil change in your car, it’s ideal to maintain the delivery system of heating and cooling in your home as well.

 2. Can duct cleaning improve the air quality in a home?

Yes.  However, in order to maintain a high level of clean air – other filtration products would need to be introduced.  At the onset, a proper and thorough air duct cleaning service by NADCA* certified technicians would improve the air quality of your home as all dirt and debris would be removed.  Over time, contamination is inevitable but the rate of contamination could always be mitigated with the introduction of HEPA filtration.
*NADCA – North American Duct Cleaning Association

3. How much does the average job cost?

Our rate is $349 + HST up to 16 vents with each additional vent is $5.  We always send 2 NADCA certified technicians and always take before/after pictures.

4. How long does a job take, what’s involved?

Every job site is different, however – on average, with 2 NADCA certified technicians, we budget approx. 1 hr for every 1000 sq ft.  There is typically 1 vent for every 100 sq ft.  Therefore, if your home is 2000 sq ft, it would take approx. 2 hours to complete with 2 NADCA certified technicians.  This also depends on accessibility.  Finished basements typically take longer than unfinished basements due to access.

5. What should I look for when hiring a duct cleaner?

The technicians providing the service should have earned their own NADCA certifications.  The team should be taking before/after pictures to illustrate to their customer the level of cleanliness they were able to achieve.  And online sentiment is important.  Is the company reputable and what do other customers have to say.

6. What are some of the benefits ( financial or otherwise) of annual duct cleaning? 

None. When done properly, air duct cleaning is a service that need not be done again for at least 5-7 years per NADCA standards.  In fact, if clean air is important to you then introducing a regular cleaning routine and HEPA filtration products should prolong the need for air duct cleaning up to 9-10 years depending on environmental factors such as mature trees and proximity to high traffic areas (highways, major intersections etc).

 7. Anything else you want people to know about duct cleaning or your company in particular?

The company was started as a direct result of being scammed by an unscrupulous air duct cleaning company that held no certifications or had any integrity regarding the services they claimed to be doing – it’s been the goal of this company ever since to educate and to simply provide an honest and professional experience to those customers looking for a proper and thorough air duct cleaning service.  In the past 6 years, I believe we’re doing that.

Monday, 15 January 2018

These 4 Mistakes are Costing You Vital Storage Space
At this time, just as a new year lies before us, organizing the house is a high priority for many people. You’re probably thinking about cleaning, clearing and decluttering. As you work, there’s a strong chance that you may be wishing that your home had more storage.  The good news is that you might have more storage space than you think.
Here are 4 common mistakes that could be preventing you from maximizing your home’s storage space.
storage space
Source: Country Living
  1. Empty Walls – Your walls are filled with potential storage space. It’s tucked in between the studs and under the stairs, just waiting to be used. Adding recessed built-ins is a fantastic way to increase the storage in homes of all sizes. You can add small closets, built-in drawers, and cubbies, or even create a small nook for reading or computer use. If you aren’t an experienced DIYer with some construction know-how, contact a contractor to learn more about your options.
storage space
Source: Structube
  1. Single Purpose Furniture –Whenever possible, make your furniture do double duty. When shopping for a new ottoman or bench, select a piece with either a hinged top or lift off the top. You can use it to store blankets, books, or even children’s toys. Your bed can provide extra storage, either in the form of a design that incorporates things like bookcase and cubbies or with the help of flat storage containers, specially designed to fit under the bed.
storage space
Source: HomesFeed
  1. Bare Door Backs – The backs of your interior doors, closet doors, and even cupboard doors are fantastic spots to store small things. Don’t leave them bare. Instead, make use of coated wire hanging systems for larger things like wrapping paper, umbrellas, and pantry items. Fabric shoe organizers are perfect for keeping toiletries in order behind bathroom doors or in a hall closet. Try placing hooks mounted with removable adhesive on the backs of cupboard doors. This is a great way to hang utensils, kitchen wrap, foil, tea towels, and even pot lids.

  1. Mistaking Hording for Curating –One of the biggest clutter-causing mistakes people make is confusing hording for curating. While both involve acquiring possessions for their aesthetics and enjoyment, curation is highly selective and prioritizes quality. Conversely, hording places the priority on quantity. Whether someone favors figurines, sports memorabilia, or even shoes, the best way to minimize excess is to add only high-quality pieces to your collection.

Friday, 29 December 2017

5 ways to prevent break-ins during the holidays

Happy Holidays!
(NC) A season filled with travel both near and afar makes a prime time for home break-ins. To minimize your home's risk, follow these security tips.
1. Out of sight, out of mind. Wherever you choose to gather your gifts this holiday season, make sure that they are out of any sightlines to the street. Showcasing the goodies stocked under your tree will easily pique the interest of a potential thief.
2. Time your lights. If you're proudly displaying your outdoor lights all season, one sure-fire way to compromise your home security is to turn them off. Put your lights on a timer so they go on and off at the same time each day, giving the illusion you're at home.
3. Stop the presses. Nothing screams you're not home more than a bursting mailbox. Plan to suspend your mail service while away, or ask a trusted friend or neighbour to collect it while you're gone.
4. Take to technology. Invest in home security accessories such as a video doorbell or an outdoor light with a built-in security camera. These stealthy gadgets allow you to keep an eye on your home and will even send alerts to your phone when sensing motion or a ringing alarm, providing comfort and peace of mind.
5. Lock it down. Verify that all your home's doors and windows have functioning locks and latches and that they're in place prior to leaving. Faulty closures make home burglaries a breeze.
One final tip — make sure your home insurance is up-to-date before your holidays begin. Esurance allows you to revise your policy online, making insurance easy so you can get back to what matters most, spending time with family and friends.

10 easy tips for holiday safety

Happy Holidays
(NC) Don't let the hustle and bustle of the holidays lead to distraction and accidents. Whether you're hosting a holiday bake-off or an adults-only cocktail party, it's important to remember that safety comes first. To safeguard your home from potential fire hazards, follow these tips and protect your family and guests:
1. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms regularly to make sure they are working. Replace the battery as needed. If the alarms are more than 10 years old, replace them.
2. Have an exit plan in case of fire, and make sure you identify multiple exit points.
3. Check all of your lights before hanging them on the tree or around the house. Throw out any sets that have been damaged or frayed. When purchasing new lights, look for the certification mark so you know the product complies with applicable standards for safety and performance.
4. Use a timer for outdoor lights so they aren't left on overnight.
5. Don't overload power strips with too many appliances or lightstrings. Make sure they aren't covered by fabrics or rugs, and don't leave the wire exposed in areas where it can be damaged.
6. Blow out candles when you are done with them, especially when leaving the room or house. When lit, keep them out of reach of children and pets and never walk with them.
7. Be careful when cooking and don't leave the kitchen if you're using the stovetop. Never leave the house if the oven is on and keep countertop appliances unplugged when you are not using them.
8. Have your chimney swept if you have a wood-burning fireplace, and make sure to use the safety screen when there's a fire going.
9. Fresh is best if you purchase a tree or any green garland. Freshly cut trees are more resistant to ignition and smell wonderful, adding to the entertaining vibe.
10. Keep a fire extinguisher in the house. Hopefully, you won't need it, but it's best to be safe.
For complete peace of mind, consult your insurance provider to make sure you have the appropriate home coverage. Companies like Belairdirect can guide you to assess and understand your coverage needs. Find more information online at

How to get your home holiday-ready

Happy Holidays!
(NC) Prep your home for a flurry of activity with these simple steps.
1. Incorporate magical seasonal scents. Fill your space with holiday-scented aromas from candles, or simmer your own potpourri with ingredients like vanilla, cinnamon, pine or bitter orange.
2. Build a fire to create a warm and comfortable atmosphere. Keep fuzzy blankets and pillows on hand for both decoration and functionality and bring out a board game for a little entertainment. If you need extra warmth, cozy up in a Denver Hayes fleece robe from Mark's and make some hot chocolate.
3. Be the best host and stock up on supplies that guests will use if they stop by. Essentials include towels, sheets, pillows and shower supplies. Make sure you keep these items accessible close to where guests are staying.
4. Make a grand entrance. Welcome your guests at the door with a fresh wreath and add holiday touches such as an entrance table with lighted tinsel trees, candles and ornaments. These details make a great first impression.
5. Don't forget to make space in your home. Clear out your closet to make room for the influx of coats and winter boots and make space in your fridge and freezer for leftover food and beverages. Adding extra storage space will help keep you organized.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Radon is a threat all homeowners should know about

Radon is a threat all homeowners should know about

While it may sound more like a villain from the Transformers movie, radon is a threat you won’t see on the big screen. Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas, produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rocks and water. It is present in all homes across Canada but at different concentrations.
Radioactive gas in a home can pose serious health risks if left untreated. However, the good news is radon testing is simple and accessible for all homeowners, and fixing the problem is generally inexpensive.
How do you make sure your clients are effectively testing for radon?
The most important thing is selecting the right type of test. Long-term testing, a test that occurs over a three-month period during the fall and winter months, is the most effective method, according to Health Canada because it provides a more representative annual average exposure.
Once the test is complete, the results are sent for analysis by certified radon professionals to determine radon levels (your clients can find all of this information in their test kit).
If the radon concentration exceeds 200 Bq/m3 (becquerels per cubic meter), a mitigation system should be implemented by a radon professional to reduce the radon levels in their home. Remind your clients to always get estimates, ask questions and check references before selecting a radon professional.
This year, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) along with boards and associations across the country will be undertaking radon testing in our own buildings. To see the results, make sure to visit the CREA Café next spring.
Radon tests are widely available across Canada. To find a retailer near you, visit
Looking for more information about Radon? I am here to help you. In the comment section, ask for a complimentary copy of  A Homeowner’s Guide to Radon 

How to peak appliances for your dream home?
(NC) With so many options to consider, shopping for appliances can sometimes feel overwhelming. Function, size and design — it's about finding the right model for your lifestyle. Here are a few helpful insights from The Home Depot Canada to consider before making your next appliance purchase.


The sky's the limit when it comes to configuration — top-mount, bottom-mount and side-by-side are just the beginning. Review your daily needs and consider special features such as easy access doors, multi-tier freezer sections, icemakers, second refrigerator drawer options, convertible freezer sections, wine chillers and even smart home-connected capabilities.

Think outside traditional white or stainless-steel finishes. Instead, bring a contemporary feel to your kitchen with slate, glossy or matte black stainless or even a warm, gold-hued veneer.


 New designs have a host of convenient options available, like double ovens that cook at two different temperatures simultaneously and warming and baking drawers to help with multi-tasking and entertaining. If space is tight, also consider installing a separate cooktop for maximum flexibility in your kitchen.

Cooking requirements.
 If take-out is your regular go-to, a standard electric model will work for your needs. However, if you are an aspiring chef take it up a notch and consider going with either gas or induction, which both deliver intense heat for quick cooking and boiling. If you have small children, induction cooking is a safer alternative because the coils are underneath glass, protecting little hands.


Take the work out of washing dishes by opting for a dishwasher with multiple tiers and washer arms for full water coverage. To ensure your cycle doesn't stop until your dishes are clean, look for models with new sensor technology that monitor food debris in the water. Ensure the model you choose considers future changes to your family size so it grows with you, and look into getting a model with a third rack.

Energy efficient options can provide long-term savings to your monthly bills. For example, two-drawer dishwashers operate like separate dishwashers in one unit, offering increased flexibility and efficiency. To save you time, look for bonus features like quiet operation or advanced cleaning functions.

Get older trees inspected before ice storms

Get older trees inspected before ice storms

Protect your dream home!
(NC) In many Canadian neighbourhoods, older trees add character and a sense of heritage to streets and homes. But during severe weather, these trees often show their age and can break or fall, causing damage to property and even injury to people. Don't wait until after a major ice storm hits to inspect your trees — use this guide to spot signs of trouble and protect your family and neighbours.
Inspect. Check your trees for dead branches, peeling bark, cracks in the trunk, fungus near the roots and cracked or raised soil. Take a step back to look at the tree as a whole to see if it's leaning; trees leaning towards the East are more likely to fall because most winds blow from the West.
Prune. Tackle damaged limbs and branches to help balance leaning trees and distribute their weight more evenly. Pruning also opens up tree canopies to let in more light and air for a healthier tree.
Brace. Add some support to weaker trees with cables or bracing rods on either side of the tree. Protect tender bark with padding before attaching the cables.
Prevent. Keep trees healthy and stop problems like damaged branches before they start with year-round gardening and maintenance. Use appropriate treatments for pests and fungus, and water, fertilize and mulch regularly. Don't be afraid to call in a professional arborist or landscaper for help and expertise.
Find more information from your insurance broker or online at

Products to stretch your small space


Products to stretch your small space

Music to my ears

With the advent of music streaming services and the digitization of our own collections, the footprint devoted to creating spectacular sound has shrunk. There is no more need for expensive and inflexible wiring. Wireless speakers from Sonos come in a variety of sizes (match to the size of your space), and can be paired together for stereo sound. Best of all, they only need to be plugged in where you want them, and can be controlled from your computer or device. Never has it been so easy to have music flow through your entire space!

Freezer magic

Appliances in small spaces often come in more diminutive sizes, putting pressure on how much food we can keep. Even if you live in a petite place, buying food at its freshest or when it’s on sale never loses its appeal. The FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer goes a long way to maximizing not only what you can store in your freezer because you’re not wasting any space on oxidizing air, but it also means your food will keep fresher up to five times as long. The clear bags not only let you see everything easily (critical for any effectively organized space), they are sturdy enough to transfer from freezer to hot water without compromising. Space savings, money savings and efficiency make for a win-win-win solution!

Storage space super tools

To get the most out of every closet and cupboard in your place, you’ll want to think first about which items belong in each space. Ideally this will be based on proximity to use, but if space is really tight, then grouping like shapes can also be helpful. Tools such as the Harmony Twill line of organizers from Neatfreak make it easy to divide your closets to organize what you need to store. Work from the bottom up and install shelving on the floor for footwear or paperwork. Hang a lower closet bar to double short hanging space. Add hanging sweater or shoe organizers to hold clothing and accessories or even office supplies. Neatclips provide versatility on to hook on boots, belts, purses and more. Use bins and drawers on the top shelf to keep things tidy and manageable, and from falling on your head!

Kitchen space savers

Condo kitchens seem to be getting smaller and smaller. If you enjoy eating and entertaining at home, you’ll want to look to Joseph Joseph who cater to small, design savvy kitchens. You’ll find everything from the smallest can opener, to simplified scissors, to a twist whisk and graters which store flat. As well, new in their Intelligent Waste line is the Stack system which allows you to build the garbage, recycling and compost centre you need stacked in the open, or tucked into a cupboard.

Multifunction furniture

Look for smartly designed furniture to meet more of your functional needs. Examples include ottomans that serve as seating and storage and coffee tables that lift up to serve as dining tables. If you’re trying to combine an office and guest bedroom, consider the Hemnes bed from Ikea. It appears to be a simple day bed, yet offers built-in deep draw
Photo: Dann Taers (a great place to store the bedding), and surprisingly can expand its full width to become a king size bed! This allows you to preserve some floor space in the office yet turn it into an ultra-comfortable sleeping space when guests arrive.rdif

Spring cleaning tips to organize your home and life (NC) The end of winter and beginning of spring signal new beginnings, so use this time to breathe new life a...