Sunday, 25 January 2015

Give your home a winter warm-up

The cold temperatures are here to stay – so as you take cover indoors, it's the perfect time to put home improvement projects on your to-do list. Here are a few ideas to make your home feel and look fabulous very quickly:
From Boring to Bold
The bathroom is a great place to start improvements, so if yours is boring, basic, or just outdated, it's time to make a change – even on a budget.
Faucets are a simple and affordable way to instantly renew the look and functionality of this busy room. For example, the Darcy bathroom collection from Moen includes transitionally styled faucets that provide a soft-modern look and water-saving benefits to offer the best of form, function, and beauty in no time. The collection is also available in Spot Resist Brushed Nickel finish, so you'll save time cleaning, as it helps resist water spots and fingerprints.
Weather the Winter Wisely
 No one wants to spend money on high energy bills, so be sure your home isn't losing heat through windows and doors that aren't insulated properly. Updates such as weather stripping can keep the cool air out while keeping the warm air inside – all of which will prevent throwing money out the window.
And don't stop there. Simple tasks, such as replacing worn-out caulk, insulating your outlets, and prepping your windows with plastic cling for the winter months can significantly reduce heating bills.
Quick Kitchen Upgrade
 Cold weather keeps us inside with far more cooking and entertaining in the kitchen. Decor advisers at Moen Canada say that the quickest way to update the kitchen, much like the bathroom, is by installing a new faucet. From food preparation to clean-up, the faucet is a major workhorse – as well as a beauty focal point. Pulldown and pullout faucets are a popular choice, such as the company's new Brookshire kitchen faucet, which features decorative touches and classic styling with a pullout design for at-your-fingertips water delivery. It's equipped with the Reflex system, which offers self-retraction of the spray wand, as well as a wide range of motion, generous reach, and secure docking retraction.
Get Fired Up
 Nothing feels better on a cold night than getting cozy by a fire, but is your fireplace prepped for the season? For a wood-burning fireplace, inspect the chimney for nests or cracks. Next, clean it thoroughly to remove creosote (unburned fuel) to prevent unwanted fires. For gas-burning fireplaces, be sure the airways of the pilot and main burners are working properly and the blower is clean. Finally, be sure you have working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, as well as an operational fire extinguisher nearby. Now it's easy to relax and enjoy the warm glow safely.
Focus on Fixtures and Fans
 With shorter winter days, there's less natural light and so you may notice your fixtures a lot more. For added illumination and energy savings, update incandescent bulbs with brighter, Energy Star-rated bulbs which use about 75 percent less energy and last 10 to 25 times longer. Next, take a look at the ceiling fans in your home. Start by cleaning the blades with a gentle detergent and then switch the blades to rotate clockwise. Changing this setting pushes warm air down into the room, making it feel warmer.
Your home will operate more efficiently with these wintertime changes – and as importantly, it will look and feel fabulous.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

How to create a dream kitchen in less time than you think

NC) An updated kitchen does more than boost the value of your home. It is the central meeting place for most families. So no matter whether you make just a few changes or completely renovate the space, a kitchen that feels new is always refreshing and welcoming. From basic cooking to frequent entertaining, a dream kitchen should always look as good as it functions.
Since the modern kitchen design is ever evolving, so are the products available, say advisors in this field. Skip the fads and include features that are not only aesthetically pleasing but will withstand the test of time. Here are a few easy updates to turn your current space into the one you've been dreaming about:
Go Bold with Fixtures
When remodeling a kitchen, remember to top off the highly used sink area with a fashionable and functional kitchen faucet.
With a great number of faucets on the market, there's a design for everyone. For a sleek, contemporary look at the sink, try the new Tilt kitchen faucet from Moen Canada. It features a distinct, top-mount handle – allowing the faucet to occupy a small horizontal space for the utmost in urban minimalism. The thoughtfully designed faucet also combines the best of style and functionality with its innovative pullout design and integrated swivel ball joint to make it easier to maneuver the wand in and around the sink. 
Be Smart with Appliances
Unlike a rug or lamp, kitchen appliances are not simple to return, so be smart – not flashy –when upgrading these items. Before making a purchase, it's best to work with a professional for guidance, and to weigh all factors, such as who uses the kitchen, how many people are cooking at one time, and how often your family cooks.
If you're an aspiring chef, consider a gas range that allows you to control the flame with precision. If you're a busy mom, electric versions allow you to heat food and boil water faster. It's also important to consider finishes – if the rest of your fixtures are brushed nickel, you may want to opt for a stainless steel range, refrigerator and dishwasher for a coordinated look. 
Add an Island
Whether you're hoping for more storage, seating or cooking space, an island can do it all. Many homeowners choose to build an island within their kitchen as a place for family and friends to gather and socialize. A multi-level design with stools on one side can provide casual seating for guests, leaving the other side available for you to prepare food or serve appetizers.
If you like to cook and entertain, you may also want a design that includes a bar/prep sink and beverage faucet – this will aid in prep and provide fresh drinking water. The Sip beverage faucet from Moen offers a coordinating style for every decorating taste − traditional, transitional or modern. It provides cold, filtered water on demand, and with its high-arc rotating spout it delivers extra convenience when filling pitchers, coffee makers and more.
Amp up Lighting
Merely changing out the decorative lighting fixtures over the breakfast nook or centre island can have a significant visual impact, creating a fresher, more up-to-date design.
For a warm and inviting environment, combine four layers of lighting: task, ambient, accent and decorative. This will help you obtain your desired style while still providing the appropriate light. The ability to adjust light levels is also important. When cooking or cleaning up, a bright punch of illumination makes the job easier. For lingering over a meal and conversation, dimmed lights help create ambiance.
Whether your dream kitchen involves a complete overhaul or a simple spruce up, take the necessary steps, plan accordingly, and make your design dreams become a reality.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Condominium Apartment Market Summary Fourth Quarter 2014



TORONTO, January 16, 2015 -- Toronto Real Estate
Board President Paul Etherington announced that there were 4,975
condominium apartment sales reported through the TorontoMLS system in
the fourth quarter of 2014. This result was up by 8.3 per cent compared
to the fourth quarter of 2013.

“Demand for condominium apartments remained strong in the
fourth quarter of 2014.  While the supply of condominium apartments
listed for sale grew in the fourth quarter, including a large number of
newly completed units, the number of sales grew at a faster pace. 
Competition between buyers increased in the condo market over the past
year,” said Mr. Etherington.

“Interest in ownership housing in the GTA, including demand
from first-time buyers in the condo market, is extremely strong.  The
majority of households understand that a home purchase represents a
quality long-term investment,” said Mr. Etherington.

The average TorontoMLS selling price for a condominium
apartment in the fourth quarter of 2014 was $367,199 – up 3.8 per cent
compared to the average of $353,799 reported for the same period in

“Despite very strong condominium apartment completions over
the last two years, we have not experienced a glut in inventory.  The
number of buyers has more than kept up with the number of units
available for sale.  This is why we continued to experience
above-inflation average price growth in the condo segment,” said Jason
Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

Condominium Apartment
Market Summary

Fourth Quarter 2014




Average Price


Average Price

Total TREB





Halton Region





Peel Region





City of Toronto





York Region





Durham Region





Other Areas





Sunday, 11 January 2015

6 tips for sensational entertaining

Don't let an upcoming party or get-together stress you out. Follow these quick tips to make entertaining simple and easy: 

• Start early, create a budget, make a list and prepare everything you can in advance. Not only will this reduce stress, it will also give you more time to spend with guests.

• Keep food and drinks simple. Look for recipes that can be made ahead of time. If you want to try something new, make sure to do a trial run first. 

• Use a single serve brewer to easily offer beverages to suit everyone's taste. At the touch of a button, dazzle your guests with restaurant favourites like the sweet and creamy French Vanilla Cappuccino from Tim Hortons, as well as the classic flavour of their Steeped Tea.

• Determine where you would like to serve food and drinks, and double-check the layout of each room. Creating the ideal flow will make it easy for guests to move about and mingle. 

• Set the mood with a great playlist. Create a list ahead of time to last throughout the evening so you can set it and forget it. 
• Don't rush to clean up. Make sure any leftovers are safely stored in the fridge and consider soaking dirty dishes, but leave the rest of the cleanup until after your guests go home.
Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the evening because your guests definitely will.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Stay cozy and safe with these fireplace tips

It goes without saying that last winter was hard to endure. The ice storms that hit Southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes last December made it difficult for thousands to stay warm. Some residents found refuge in warming centres, while others decided to hunker down in their cold and dark homes. A few lucky families huddled together into one room that thankfully had a fireplace or wood-burning stove. Hopefully the 2014 Farmer's Almanac is right and this winter won't be as severe. But if your memories from last year still have you thinking about buying a fireplace or wood-burning stove, the experts from Desjardins Insurance have some suggestions on how you can keep everyone safe, warm and protected.

Fire prevention:

• Equip your home with smoke detectors. If they are well located and maintained, they can save your life. Clean them regularly and replace the batteries twice a year, typically in March and November when the clocks are reset. Also consider equipping your home with a fire alarm system connected to a remote monitoring center.

• Place one or more fire extinguishers in locations that all family members can easily access and be sure they know how to use them properly.

• Maintain your furnace and hot water heater on a regular basis. This should also include replacing your furnace filter every 90 days.

• Hire a professional to clean your furnace and/or fireplace chimney regularly to prevent creosote build-up. Also make sure that your flue vents are in good working order.

• If you regularly use a fireplace or stove, only burn well-seasoned wood or special fire logs. Burning other material like cardboard, garbage and plastics will bring chemicals into your home and will create dangerous buildup in your chimney.

• When starting your fire, only use matches and open the damper. This should remain open until your fire is well out and cool.

• While your fire burns, put up a screen to keep kids and pets away from the flame, and to keep the logs and embers in the fireplace.

• Once your fire is out and cooled, keep the ashes in a metal container until they're cold enough to throw out.

CO2 Protection:

• Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colourless gas that is produced by burning fuels. Because it can't be detected by regular means, this gas can make you ill or can kill you.

• As evidenced by the recent ice storm, make sure your home is equipped with a carbon monoxide detector with a battery back-up. These alarms are affordable and can be found in most hardware stores.

• To prevent a CO2 leak, make sure that there is proper air circulation in your home, never use your BBQ inside and if your house has a connected garage, never run your car with the garage door closed.

Yes, even resale homes can come with a warranty

(NC) Are you looking to buy – or have you just bought – a resale house or condominium unit that is less than seven years old? If so, there...