Jeff O’leary is the Village Guru. Keeping Real Estate Real! Is a series of real estate video blogs that get to teh root of the issue. Topics vary but can include anything from loaction, to what’s in the news, to anything worht talking about real estate related.

How to Buy a Big House on a Tight Budget

How to Buy a Big House you Can Actually Afford:

Normally, Jeff writes any article to do with real estate strategy, and he has touched on this topic in the past. But I wanted to weigh in with my specific viewpoint – which i’ll get into in a minute. But I was inspired to write this because I watch Jeff work ever so patiently with certain buyer clients, sometimes for months and months. These ideal-minded, hopeful clients slowly but surely, price themselves out of the market, waiting for their dream home to appear in their budget. He tries to show them options that would get them to their long term goals, but they just can’t “see it”. It’s not the dream they wanted. So they wait, and wait, and wait, until either a) they get creative about how to buy a big house on their tight budget or b) never realize they just want too much for the budget they have.

When trying to buy a big house on a tight budget, you had better believe that design and finishes come into play. I think we all know it, but we don’t want to admit it. Just like many women when looking at homes, I will head straight for what is most important to me. Of course, I want to see the kitchen. Followed by evaluating the layout of the home, and then other finishes like the floors and the bathrooms. These factors are what make the house sing, or make it cry for help. These are the things that give you that “feeling”, that sense about the home that you can’t quite put your finger on. Of course, when we are selling homes for clients, this is why we spend so much time and effort on the kitchen and other cosmetics so that buyers come in and get that “good vibe”. When you get buyers to connect emotionally with a home, you get the most money for the home.

But what about if you are the buyer? And what if, as is very common these days, you are a buyer on a very tight budget?

Option A: You Just Want a Finished, No-Fuss Home 

Your first instinct is likely to get that turn-key home, where everything is already done. You know you won’t have to fork out sums of money to fix it up; all those upgrades are on the price of the home and part of your mortgage. You can have and friends and family over right away to enjoy your purchase that you are so proud of. There is nothing wrong with this at all, and we all know, you’ll probably have to settle for a smaller house to fit all those beautiful finishes into your budget. You always pay a premium for a turn-key home, and the compromise, when budget is fixed, is the size. But if you are looking for the least stressful and most immediately gratifying option, this choice is for you.

Option B: You View Your Home as A Major Investment

However, if you are also concerned about your home as an investment, about gaining greater equity out of your home, and if you really do want the biggest house you can afford, there is an important type of home to consider. This is for people who see real estate as a long term play, and know that if you plan for 5-10 years down the road, certain strategies will earn you more money AND get you in your ideal home much faster.

  • Buying a bigger home reduces how often you will need to move as your family grows. If the process of selling/buying causes you major stress, then this is the first good reason to buy bigger
  • If you are planning on staying more than a few years, you can make smart, quality decisions about your home, as you will be the main benefactor. When people think they are moving soon anyways, they don’t often make the best investment/repair choices.
  • Buying the biggest home you can in the best neighbourhood you can, is just plain smart investing. The better the neighbourhood, the more it appreciates over time, thus netting you more money in the long run
  • After location, size is the biggest determination of value. If you can find a big home that is undervalued due to lack of demand, then you stand to gain better equity and make more money in the long run.

This Ain’t No “Fixer Upper”

When I start speaking about homes that need cosmetic work, most people beeline in their minds straight to money pit. The fear of getting in over your head, unforeseen problems, and draining of bank accounts mix around into a resolving: No, I can’t handle that! But I wanted to write this article specifically to address this fear. I don’t mean that money pit house either. Any home with water issues, structural problems, terrible layouts that would require removal of walls, or neglected homes that need windows, roof, a/c, furnace, siding etc replaced ON TOP OF full interior upgrades aren’t for your average Joe. Those homes could be great for some fearless buyers, but you don’t have to go to this extreme in order to tap into hidden equity.

The Diamond in the Rough

The home that I am talking about is a rather well loved, well taken care of home. The mechanics are good. The home is dry. It’s a good layout. It’s plenty big for you for years to come. The Problem? It’s Ugly As Sin. And you don’t get that “I-wanna-live-here!” feeling. When you find this house, and there always out there, begging to be loved,  this is your gem of a house. It’s the one that all the buyers are saying “meh” to.

This is the Checklist to see if You’ve Found your Diamond in the Rough:

Good Bones

  • A Great Layout that Works for You
  • Dry Basement/No Major Cracks
  • Newer Mechanics (Furnace, A/C, etc)
  • Good Natural Light
  • Newer Windows, Roof
  • Looks Well Maintained both on Interior and Exterior

Dated Finishes

  • Beige or Brown Square Foyer Tile
  • Carpet in Main Living Areas
  • 1980’s Wallpaper
  • Blue, Green, Pink, or Brown Bathrooms
  • Honey Oak Baseboards, Trim & Doors
  • Country Arched Wood Kitchen Cabinets or White Slab 1980’s Cabinets
  • Mirrored Walls
  • Ugly Brick Fireplace
  • Laminate on all Counters
  • Bland or Dated Paint Throughout

Buy a Big House dated rooms

Do these Photos Make you Feel “Meh”? or “Ugh!!!”? Good.

The reason you have the best chance of getting these homes undervalued is because most buyers are reacting emotionally to the home, instead of practically and logically. Everyone is thinking, “No way, I’d need 80k to fix that up before I could even step foot it in!!!!” Buyer demand is lower because most buyers have the same fears. They don’t want the headache. They don’t know how much it will cost. It’s not a house they can show off and entertain in. It’s too much work. With all of these negative emotions swirling and growing in buyers’ minds, these homes are not getting bought as quickly anymore. They are harder to sell, while “pretty homes” are still getting snapped up quickly. This gives you opportunity and advantage, if you are willing to put aside the emotions, and consider a practical strategy of attack.

But there’s no way I even have the time to take on a project! That may be very true for you, and then you need to assess your goals. But i’ll fess up about me. I waste time more often than I would like to admit. I find myself popping into Homesense to browse around, or I watch just a few extra episodes on Netflix. Or I check Facebook 1001 times some lazy Saturday afternoons. If you really think about it, most of us probably have 5 hours a week that we waste on nothing important. If we spent that time working on our house, how much could we accomplish? An incredible amount. With any goal; losing weight, eating healthier, learning a new skill, getting your dream home – we make time for what’s most important.

Step By Step Plan: Turning the Ugly Duckling into A Swan

Step 1: Build Your Strategy

If you are like most people, your major hang up will be not wanting to live with the old owner’s expired style. You want fresh and new, not dingy and dated. So, with a good plan, a schedule, and a lot of paint, you can turn that house into your dream home.

A) Talk to you Broker about Bridge Financing

This is an option if you have a house you are selling. This allows you to get ownership of the new house 1-2 weeks before you close on your old one. This will give you the time necessary to make the house livable before you have to move in.

B) Save your Vacation/Personal Days

I assume that you are reading this long before you’ve offered on a home. Talk to your boss, share your plans, an try to build up as much time as possible to use during that 1 or 2 week period. Can you work 1/2 hr longer each day, work through your lunch, build lieu time? Try to find ways to accrue time that you can use during that bridging period.

C) 6+ Month Budget

I know there’s a lot of costs for moving, hard cash costs that come straight out of your pocket. So the more time you give yourself to plan, the better off you will be. For your new home, if your cash is already tight, all you need are some Rona or Home Depot Gift Cards.

  • Use Credit Card Points: Loosen your cash flow by taking advantage of loyalty programs. I have the PC credit card and they are one of the best at point-to-dollar ratio. If you use 80 points to buy groceries, take the $$ you saved and buy a Home Depot gift card. Or if you trust yourself not to touch the money, open a separate account where the house savings goes into. If you are 4-6+ months away from your desired move, you have time to build this quite well
  • Garage Sale: Purge Purge Purge. I find the most successful locations for selling are Facebook Marketplace and Facebook Buy/Sell Groups. There is also Varage.ca. Actual garage sales and Kijiji have a lot more haggling, which I don’t like. I put my stuff for sale at 60% off retail value, and people buy it. Once you start selling, it can become addictive. Some days I find myself wandering around the house looking at my walls and in my closets……is there anything I can sell today?? If you have your bigger goal in mind, you will start wanting to sell things you’ve been hanging onto for no good reason.
  • Do you Have a Skill You Can Offer? Welcome to the part time economy! Practice carving out those 5 hours a week by selling crafts or offering services via a Facebook page/Facebook marketplace/word of mouth. Many of my friends take orders for custom wood signs, key hooks, children’s growth charts, custom pillow or bags, etc. Or they provide bookeeping, cleaning, senior companion, driving, or other services. Some friends sell duTerra, Arbonne, Avon, Sweetlegs or 31 bags on the side. Whatever your passion, you can start making a little extra money on the side. Not enough to necessarily increase your home buying budget, but enough to ease the costs of moving, which come as quite a painful event if you have not planned or saved for them.
  • Gift Obsessed: If you are a family that gives gifts for birthdays, Christmas, etc, then let all of your family know your plans and ask them to help you reach your goal. They can give you gift cards for Rona or Home Depot and that’s money you never would have had othwerwise. If you have Scottish family like me, who don’t like to give cash as gifts, then get them to buy you cans of plain paint, which you can have tinted later. Or brushes and trays and painters tape, etc. Sounds silly, but it all adds up. If buying a big home is your dream, then with some help from people who love you, you CAN make it happen.

Step 2: Schedule

Many people feel the need to take on life’s big challenges by themselves. It’s very hard for many of us to ask for help. But when you are reaching towards your goal, help can mean the difference between success and failure.

A) Announce Your Intentions

Let friends and family know about your goals. Share what you’re doing and why, and get people connected to your story. If the people who care about you better understand your journey and dreams and struggles, they will be far more interested in helping out. Ask ahead of time who can spare a day or two to help you with the house to get it ready. You don’t have to know what house. You could still be searching for a few months. But get it in their minds.

B) Firm up Plans with Dates

Once you do know the closing date, firm up with everyone you can. Getting people to actually put a date in their schedule makes it 100% more likely that they will follow through on it. Be sure to bribe them with promises of yummy food and drinks and treats.

C) Plan A Schedule

Chances are, most people will offer to help on a Saturday, which is wonderful, but having 30 people in your home in one day may create more chaos than help. You may luck out if can ask closer friends and family to come during the week. Once you know exactly when everyone can come, you can plan tasks accordingly and ask them what they can do best – clean, paint, etc. Most people will stand around without a clue what to do if you don’t instruct them. And no one will be happy if they set aside a day for you and they ended up feeling useless or unnecessary. So do everyone the respect of writing up a master list of tasks, plus any specifications around the task, (who, what, how, when, where) and cross out as you complete them.

Step 3: Getting the Work Done

That 1 – 2 weeks bridging period is your best shot at making some major visual changes. I offer my design services as gift to our buyer clients, and I make a detailed makeover plan that will transform your home. Contact us at any time to learn how we help you every step of the way on your home buying journey.  In most cases, the easiest and cheapest way to immediately transform your home is to use various white paint products to hide all the ugly stuff, and then bring in colour through wall paint and accents. Depending on how much you saved and what your new house needs, here is a list of what you can do to immediately transform your new home. Think Young House Love, Remodelaholic, and Centsational Style You can do this!!!!

1) Paint Ugly Wall Tiles

Rustoleum has a great tile product that will cover over any and every hideous tile you have. It lasts for about 2 years and then will require touching up. This product is GENIUS in being able to extend the life of a bathroom or kitchen until you want to do a gut job. Stick to white, as it is the most realistic looking (because of the grout lines), and then add colour elsewhere. Check out this blog from Pink Little Notebook to see how they fared using the Rustoleum Tile Transformations.

Buy a Big House tile transformations

 

Here are 2 Before & Afters of what you can Achieve with some White Tile Paint

Buy a Big House painted tile

 

2) Paint Ugly Floor Tiles

Most people don’t realize you can also paint floor tile. I wouldn’t recommend this all the time, anything on a horizontal plane will get more wear and tear and break down over time. In a heavy-use bathroom, I would sooner throw down a cool geometric or floral entry mat, that covers as much of the tile as possible. Choose one that can handle the moisture and not grow bacteria.

However, the tile in the front foyer might be just hideous and you can’t help thinking how terrible it is. Maybe you have a powder room you’d never want your guests to see. If this tile is becoming a deal breaker for wanting this otherwise great house, then go ahead and paint it out. This is a good project for a workday AFTER all the big helping crowds have come and gone. The more you can allow the products to cure before regular use, the better. Expect the finish to last about 2 years until you need to touch up worn areas. Put down mats where the floor will likely get intense wear. Often, tile runs from the foyer to the kitchen, meaning that if you want to get rid of the floor, you’re also messing with the kitchen cabinets. If they both need to be replaced eventually, budget to do them at the same time.

Buy a Big House painted floor1

You can use Rustoleum Tile Transformations on the floor. Choosing black or white are usually the best modern options, depending on the other floors and elements in the home. But this product is expensive for the square feet it covers. Take a minute to read this post by Remington Avenue, and another from Design Sponge where the floor was painted with high adhesion paint and a Polyurethane topcoat. I think this is the best option, and if you’re willing to go that extra step and do the stencil pattern, even better. Modern cement tiles are all the rage right now and it will give you that fresh look until you’re ready to tear the tiles out for good.

Below are some more inspirational photos. With 1-2 people on a quiet day, you will transform any space that has horrible tile, and make it look fresh and very stylish. 

Buy a Big House painted floor2

3) Paint Ugly Cabinets

Never be thrown off by honey oak, pickled pink, black walnut or pine cabinets. For any kitchen in need of renovation, a buyer will assumes a cost of at least 30k to fix up. But if you have $300 in supplies, and 2-3 people working over 2 days, you can give any kitchen a fantastic first impression. Especially when refinishing cabinets is combined with other suggestions such as painting tiles, new lights, and a countertop refresh.

If you have the budget, it’s wonderful to have the cabinet doors professionally sprayed, from companies such as Paint it Like New. You will get a top notch sprayed finish. But, the second best option is to find one friend who is a sanding phenom, and one friend who is a meticulous painter. These two people are worth their weight in gold, because the only thing that will disappoint you about a painted kitchen is a sloppy finish.

Take a look a these DIY blogs on how to get a great painted cabinet finish: The Turquoise Home – Cabinet Painting Tips , The Spruce – Spray Painting Cabinets & Lowes – How To Paint Cabinets 

Buy a Big House painted cabinets

 

Buy a Big House painted bathroom cabinets

Buy a Big House painted kitchen cabinets1

Job You can tackle once a week after the crowds are gone. 

A) Remove Carpet on Stairs. No matter whether you have oak or pine underneath, you can stain the treads a dark walnut and they will look great. Remove all the staples and do a light sanding to remove paint splatters on the treads. This is a low skill job that requires

 

Why White Kitchens Are Best

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Article about designing a white kitchen

Article about designing a white kitchen

White Kitchens Win the Real Estate Equity Game

I wasn’t planning on writing another article about kitchens (or white kitchens) this morning, because if you haven’t read them yet, I’ve already written several kitchen articles that you can see here, and here, and here. My plan this morning was to go to houzz.com, and look for an inspiring picture that I could break down into its parts, to show you how to achieve a similar look in your home. So I chose to filter the photos by “all time popular”, and this is what happened:

White Kitchens Houzz all time popular images

The top photo of all time was…….a white kitchen. Scrolling through the list, about 30% of all top photos were variations of white kitchens. So then, I filtered “top photos of a time for kitchens”, and this is what I got:

Houzz all time popular kitchen photo white kitchens

White Kitchens. White Kitchens everywhere. So where does that leave you if you don’t love white kitchens? You are certainly not alone, I’ve heard the same concerns many times over: they mark easily, they always look dirty, white feels too cold and stark, white kitchens are bland and boring. What about these points? If you are designing for living in your home for the next 25 years, feel free to choose whatever makes you happiest. But if there is ANY chance you have even the SLIGHTEST notion of selling your home in the near future, choosing a white kitchen is without argument, the best investment you can make in your home. Read on to learn how to build a white kitchen you can enjoy, and capitalize on as much equity as possible when you do sell.

Building Blocks of White Kitchens for Resale

The Cabinet Style

The key to a successful door style is one that has a little detail, but not too much. Right now, slab doors (with no applied moulding) are all the rage in the design world, but this fad will pass. Before this, designers had an obsession with Tuscany, and for much of the early 2000’s, ornate details and oil rubbed crevices were all the rage. Now, people sigh with disappointment when they see these finishes. The trick to longevity and universal appeal is to be interesting, without being too loud. This is why a simple shaker door wins every single time.

And you can still add different details depending on the overall vibe of your home. Add a bead-board detail – it looks a little country. Add frosted glass – it looks modern. Add mullions in an x-detail, you get a refined traditional feel. Any way you chose, this simple profile is the most universally appealing.

The key is to make it look like you spent a lot more money than you actually did, so be sure to step one level above the cheapest option, and then we’ll dress it up later with some gorgeous finishes. There are some thermafoil options that don’t look like really cheap plastic, IKEA Grimslov for example. However, if you can budget painted wood/MDF, that is always the better option than thermafoil. Door Style White Kitchens

Avoid the Big Box Store cheap white thermafoil option, the one with the rounded edges, because everyone knows this is the cheap big box store option.

white kitchens thermafoil

AVOID these plastic rounded doors

Where to Find Good Shaker Cabinets:

I don’t want to give big box stores a bad wrap, they do have some very nice cabinet options. But if you know you’re going to walk by their cheapest prefab option and can’t resist the temptation, just don’t go there. IKEA has a classic white kitchen that can be dressed up with amazing interior options. However, there are only so many sizes, so in a tight kitchen, you might lose a lot of inches to filler strips and dead space. If you have a more open layout, you can get great value with IKEA. It serves you best to search the industrial strip malls in your city for those small kitchen companies. There are an incredible amount of them and they know they are in high competition for your job. Often, you can get quite good cabinets for a very fair price.

Be sure to check for references and examples of past work – because pretty web photos can be purchased off stock photo websites, so get real references of real people.

The Cabinet Colour

When I say white, I don’t necessarily mean pure white. I do love pure white, mixed with greys or navy blue. It’s a beautiful look. Moreover, its the cheapest look because every store stocks white as a base colour; no need to custom paint anything. But, if you have other fixed elements that you have to work with, a taupe-white or grey-white might best. A kitchen consultation is always the best first step before you spend a dime, to ensure that you have a plan that won’t go off the rails down the road. We offer this as part of our services, even if you’re not thinking of selling for many months from now. If you are at all curious as to how we do this, feel free to send us an email or give us a call, and we can tell you more about it. 

How to Make White Kitchens Interesting with Added Colour

Option 1: Use white on all your outer wall cabinets, and then use a contrasting colour or wood on your island. This look has been going strong for over 10 years and shows no sign of stopping. It’s an attractive option because its makes the kitchen feel less utilitarian and more like there’s a furniture piece in the room. It warms up the white and provides contrast.

Option 2: Use a darker colour on all of your lower cabinets and use white on all your uppers and floor to ceiling cabinets. This is another look that, while some people worry is a trend, it seems to be sticking around. It keeps re-inventing itself with different colour combinations. In some situations, especially if there’s a dark, unattractive floor that cannot be changed, it’s the perfect solution to make the kitchen shine.

Option 3: Use 2 shades of grey or a mix of wood and white to break up a long boring wall. Accenting a beautiful range with a darker colour can create a stunning focal point. Or use the contrasting colour on a pantry area and the island. The more you learn to mix just a few different elements in a thoughtful way, you will end up with an amazing look that no one would ever think was for an economical price.

white kitchens with dark accents 4
Photo by – unknown

The Countertop

There are many options for counters, all depending on your budget. If your budget is very tight, we have written many articles, here, and here, about how to use laminate without disappointing buyers. But if you can budget stone, it’s what buyers love. The same rule applies to counters as cabinet style. Try to find options that have some interest to them, without being too bland. A plain white, grey, or brown counter with no texture or variation at all can really let down the look of a kitchen. But then, some granites are incredibly wild in pattern and colour. The safest zone are the quartz options that subtly mimic stone patterns, with a subtle mix of shades, and veining or a mottled look. Here are some of my favourite quartz, most of which look like marble. If you want your counter to stand out against light cabinets, the options on the second row will add more drama and interest.

White Kitchens Statuary Classique Quartz Countertop

Statuary Classique

White Kitchens Calcatta Verona Quartz Countertop

Calcatta Verona

White Kitchens Calcatta Venice Quartz Countertop

Calcatta Venice

White Kitchens Calcatta Laza Quartz Countertop

Calcatta Laza

White Kitchens abylon Gray Concrete Finish Quartz Countertop

Babylon Gray

White Kitchens Pacific Salt Quartz Countertop

Pacific Salt

White Kitchens Silestone Charcoal Soapstone Quartz

“Soapstone” Quartz

White Kitchens Montclair White Quartz Countertop

Montclair White

If you have an island, you can absolutely choose a different countertop, as this is another opportunity to make the kitchen feel warm and soft, instead of hard and utilitarian. For a tighter budget, you can opt for butcher block, especially if your island doesn’t have a sink in it. A warm rich walnut tone will add warmth and contrast and will stand up well. It’s tricker to successfully mix 2 stones, and we highly recommend a kitchen consultation if this is something you want to do; contact us for more information. 

The Backsplash

You only ever want to do a backsplash once. It is a pain to install and a paint to take out. Since it is on a vertical plane, it most definitely will catch the eye of the viewer. A lot of people go quite bold on the backsplash, as it is a natural focal point. But I will argue that because of its permanence,  you should stay away from too much contrast of colour or pattern. You spend ten times the amount on your stone counter than a backsplash, and so the counter should be the natural focal point; the piece of art that is the centre of the show. I always recommend choosing a backsplash that enhances your counter but doesn’t fight it for attention.

For this reason, I steer people towards one of two options; marble, or an interesting cut ceramic. You will get a lot of texture and elegance, but avoid contrasting colours and bold pattern. You can absolutely choose a solid colour backsplash, stick to muted grey, taupe, grey-blue or green-grey, especially of you have chosen white cabinets and white veined counters. If you choose a dark counter, a white marble or ceramic will look beautiful. Getting the right combination can feel overwhelming, when there are so many options. We encourage you to take advantage of our kitchen consultation process, even if you are 4-6 months away from listing your home. Contact us today to learn more

White Kitchens Ceramic Fish Scale Mosaic

White Kitchens Ceramic Penny Round

White Kitchens Ceramic Beveled Subway

White Kitchens Ceramic Wave Subway

White Kitchens Calacatta Blanco Mosaic

White Kitchens Calacatta Cressa Leaf Mosaic

White Kitchens Calacatta Arabesque Mosaic

White Kitchens Calacatta Herringbone Mosaic

White Kitchens Grecian White Interlock Mosaic

White Kitchens Greecian White Hexagone Mosaic

White Kitchens Greecian White Herringbone Mosaic

White Kitchens Greecian White Beveled Subway Mosaic

White Kitchens Blue Grey Ceramic Arabesque Mosaic

White Kitchens Blue Grey Ceramic Subway Mosaic

White Kitchens Blue Grey Ceramic Ogee Mosaic

White Kitchens Calacatta Gold Subway Mosaic

White Kitchens Green Glass Large Subway

White Kitchens Cracked Glass Blanco Mosaic

White Kitchens Carrara Whie Trapezoid Mosaic

White Kitchens Savoy Mosaic

White Kitchens Statuario Hexagon Mosaic

White Kitchens Statuario Celano Subway

White Kitchens Statuario Pietra Subway

White Kitchens Statuario Celano Interlock Mosaic

White Kitchens Dove Grey Ceramic Beveled Subway

White Kitchens Dove Grey Ceramic Arabesque

White Kitchens Dove Grey Ceramic Long Subway

White Kitchens Dove Grey Ceramic Herringbone Mosaic

Appliances

With a white kitchen, the best appliances are the ones you don’t see at all. In this new world of open concept living, where the kitchen is open to the living area, we want the kitchen to feel as integrated and soft as possible. Imagine your laundry room on full display to your guests…..there aren’t many people who would want their washer and dryer on display all the time. So why are dishwashers and fridges any different? It can be pricey to panel all of your appliances, although more an more options are coming out all the time. At the very least, aim to conceal your dishwasher, and if you can also hide your fridge, even better.

We Don’t Need Stainless Steel Anymore

After going strong for 15+ years, I have been sick of stainless for at least 5, and the general public is slowly coming to the same conclusion. Black and white appliances have been reinvented with new finishes, and metals have moved to black stainless and more brown tones as well. The goal is to conceal as many of your appliances as possible, and allowing the oven/range to be your strong focal point area. This means you can have a stunning black or stainless range, with a white fridge tucked inconspicuously into a bank of white pantry cabinets. Think outside of the big box store “sets”.

Use “colour camouflage” to conceal what’s not pretty, and “colour contrast” to highlight what you want people to look at

Especially in smaller spaces, even an all white suite with white cabinets do a better job at making the kitchen look big, instead of chopping the cabinets up with blocks of stainless steel.

white kitchens concealed appliances

 

Sinks, Faucet & Door Handles

Here is another area where you can branch out of white metals like chrome and nickel. Yes, it does look nice with white cabinets, and if you love it, you can absolutely do one of these finishes. If you have chosen some stainless appliances, using white metal for at least the faucet is a good way to repeat common elements.

Sinks

They have come a long way, and a newer option is a granite sink. They maintain their look better than stainless steel, and can blend into their surroundings, allowing a gorgeous faucet to sparkle and draw attention. Along the same vein is a white farmhouse sink that blends into a white counter and allows the eye to flow easily around the room without interruption.

Faucets & Door Handles

I like to speak of these as a set, because it’s the nicest look when both of these are the same material. They are small but impactful elements dotted all over the kitchen, so repetition of material helps to avoid a chaotic or mix-mashed look. If you are still loving white metal, then choose chrome or nickel faucets and handles; they are more appealing looking than flat stainless. It will help them to stand out and look elegant.

white kitchens nickel handles

If you are growing weary of white metal, chose a flat black. Not oil rubbed bronze, not copper aged black, or any rubbed finish at all. A solid flat black. this will ensure it looks timeless and YES, choose a black faucet as well, the same flat finish as the door handles.

 

white kitchens black handles
Gold is popular for now, and I truly love it, but I can’t in good faith recommend it since in 5-10 years, I think it will look just as dated as the brass from the 80’s. But take a look that this picture anyways, because it is gorgeous. If you were willing to change the handles down the road if need be, then it’s still worth enjoying for now. 🙂

Last but Not Least, is LIGHTING

Save some money for lights. And no matter how much your contractor LOVES pot lights, do not let him sway you into doing pot lights alone. Pot lights are accent lights, not overall lighting solutions. It’s also another way I can often spot a flip because all house flippers seem to have a pot light obsession. For the best lighting function, be sure to install lights over an island or peninsula, over a table, and depending on the size of the room, a semi-flush light centred in your “work triangle”.

Style-wise, lights also offer the chance to repeat materials, give a clear example of the rooms style, and add architectural interest. There is no situation where installing overhead lights DOESN’T improve the look and function of a kitchen. I have written a few articles about lighting as well, you can read them here & here. Below are some beautiful examples of kitchens that wouldn’t be the same without their beautiful lights.

 

white kitchens beautiful lights 1
white kitchens beautiful lights 2
white kitchens beautiful lights 3
white kitchens beautiful lights 4
white kitchens beautiful lights 5

Summary

A kitchen project is a huge job, even if you are keeping the layout and just focusing on finishes. By breaking down all the decisions into step by step pieces, you can ensure you have created the best possible look for your life and for resale. We offer our design services months before you are ready to list your home, because we want to make sure the job not just gets done, but gets done RIGHT to command the most money. For home buyers who don’t mind a little work, we also offer a program designed to find you the diamond in the rough! Ask us how!
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Mississauga Rotary Clubs Donate $22,000 to Armagh House

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Jeffrey O'Leary and members of the Rotary Club of Meadowvale presenting a donation of $22,000 to Armagh House
Jeffrey O'Leary and members of the Rotary Club of Meadowvale presenting a donation of $22,000 to Armagh House

Here I am with other members of the Rotary Club of Meadowvale presenting a cheque for $22,000 to Armagh House

On February 6th, 2018, I had the pleasure of attending the Rotary Club of Mississauga West weekly dinner at The University of Toronto Mississauga Campus to present a donation for $22,000 to Armagh House, the only second-stage supportive housing program serving the Region of Peel.

The donation was a combined effort by The Rotary Club of Mississauga-Meadowvale, The Rotary Club of Streetsville, The Rotary Club of Mississauga and The Rotary Club of Mississauga-West to assist Armagh house with the renovation of their conservatory that will provide more space to the residents of the home.

An enjoyable night was had by all, and I wish Armagh House a speedy renovation!

Rotary Dinner for Armagh House

About Armagh House

Armagh House provides second stage housing, which is transitional housing for women and children leaving abusive relationships. As the only facility for second stage housing in Mississauga, Brampton and Peel Region, the staff do an excellent service for the community. If you want to get involved with Armagh, click here for more information on how to donate or volunteer.

Website: http://armaghhouse.ca/

About Rotary

Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbours, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.

Locally, there are 7 Rotary Clubs in Mississauga, where members meet on a regular basis to donate their time, volunteer and make a difference in our local community and the world at large. Rotarians also like to have fun, and make connections in the community. If Rotary is something that interests you feel free to contact me.

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Ontario Foreign Home Buyers Tax Explained

Ontario Non-Resident Speculation Tax otherwise known as the foreign home buyers tax

Ontario Non-Resident Speculation Tax otherwise known as the foreign home buyers tax

In late 2016 and early 2017, The City of Toronto and the surrounding areas such as Mississauga experienced an unprecedented growth in housing prices. By the spring of 2017 we were looking at over a 30% increase in prices from the prior year and this was creating a dangerous economic situation. In response to public opinion and as an attempt to cool rising prices, the Government introduced the Non-Resident Speculation Tax, commonly known as the Foreign Home Buyers Tax.

What is the Foreign Home Buyers Tax?

The Non-Resident Speculation Tax is a 15 per cent tax on the purchase or acquisition of an interest in residential property located in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region (GGH) by individuals who are not citizens or permanent residents of Canada or by foreign corporations (foreign entities) and taxable trustees.

Who Does the Non-Resident Speculation Tax Apply Too?

According the Ontario Ministry of Finance Website the tax applies to Foreign Entities and Taxable Trustees who purchase residential property in the Golden Horse Shoe area, which includes the City or Toronto and suburbs such as Mississauga and Oakville.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Finance, the highlighted areas on the map are subject to the Non-Resident Speculation Tax. See the Ministry of Finance Website for more information on the Resident Speculation Tax

A foreign entity includes foreign nationals, who are not Canadian Citizens or permanent residents. The good news, is that Permanent residents are not affected by this new tax. See the Canadian definitions of a Foreign National and Permanent Resident as found on the Ontario Ministry of Finance Website:

Exemptions to the Non-Resident Speculation Tax

The good news is that in some cases, there are exceptions to the rule. According to the Ontario Ministry of Finance Website, the following people MAY be exempt.

  • Nominee – A foreign national who is nominated under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (nominee) at the time of the purchase or acquisition, and the foreign national has applied or certifies that they will apply to become a permanent resident of Canada
  • Protected person – A foreign national on whom refugee protection is conferred (protected person) under section 95 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) at the time of the purchase or acquisition, or
  • Spouse – A foreign national who jointly purchases residential property with a spouse, who is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada, nominee or protected person.

It’s important that before purchasing a home, that you do your research and get legal advice on the matter. This article is for information purposes only and is not an official policy. The author of this post is not an expert in, or qualified to give any advice what so ever on a person’s residency status or their status under the Non-Resident Speculation Tax.

For more information go to:

https://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/bulletins/nrst/

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Why You Should Live in Meadowvale

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An article about living in Meadowvale, Mississauga

My recent article about What to do if your Home Buying Budget is under $500,000 resonated with lot of people and as a result of the response, I decided to follow up with more articles showing you where you can buy a good home on a decent budget. Although you can search this website and find factual pages about each neighbourhood in Mississauga, I wanted to write this piece as if we were sitting down together for a cup of coffee, and tell you my personal thoughts about each area. In this instalment, let’s turn our focus on why you should live in Meadowvale.

Why Meadowvale?

I wanted to start with Meadowvale because it’s one of the best kept secrets of Mississauga. It has always less thought about when compared to  more popular communities such as Streetsville, so if you ever have heard of Meadowvale, you probably didn’t hear anything that stood out. In fact, when I was a kid growing up in Erin Mills in the 80s and 90s, I believed the same thing. My experience was that Meadowvale was a community located in the north west section of the city, surrounded by farm fields. At at a time when most other neighbourhoods in Mississauga were also affordable, most people chose to live closer to Toronto or the lake.

‘Why You Should Live in Meadowvale’ continued below

Young Families are Changing the Scene

Fast forward 20 years, and Meadowvale has been experiencing a rebirth and a new energy. Many of the original owners are cashing out and moving away, while hundreds of young families are moving in. Over the last 5 years, I have watched countless homes receive new love with exterior facelifts and dumpsters placed in driveways while kitchens and baths are being gutted and updated. Prices have risen dramatically but they are still affordable compared to the rest of the city. Given the development on the Meadowvale Business centre and improved transit links has meant that Meadowvale has only just begun to rise in desirability.

It is a high density area, with many apartment rentals and condo town homes. What you will see though, if you drive around, is that they are extremely well maintained. Many of the apartments have received the modern glass balconies and full gardens have been planted throughout. The owners of Meadowvale have a fresh energy and desire to make it the best it can be.

 

Are You Feeling a little Cramped for Space?

One of the best things about Meadowvale is the larger lots, endless walking trails and 2 lakes that are almost completely unknown to most. The new Meadowvale Community Centre serves as the centre of the community and is a strong example of modern planning and design.

Nestled on the edge of lake Aquitaine, you can take advantage a fitness circuit around the lake. Bike trails connect you to Lake Wabukayne further south.

Newer Houses

Since homes in Meadwovale are on average 40 years old, many buyers who want a newer constructed home will pass on the neighbourhood. Located close by is the newer area of Lisgar, and although technically a different neighbourhood, Meadowvale and Lisgar enjoy the same amenities, parks and recreation. For instance, the new Union Park ocated at Aquitaine and Tenth Line is a fantastic spot for kids young and old, with ever-busy skateboard ramps, basketball courts, splash pad and playground. My kids have enjoyed playing Lisgar Fields for many summers, using the splash pad, sand pit and climbing gym. If you’re looking to have an active outdoor lifestyle, Meadowvale is one of the best areas of the entire city to do so.

Meadowvale Schools

All of the schools in Meadowvale are fine, and no matter where you live in the community, your child can join clubs, participate in activities and get accepted into any University with the right marks. But there are a few little know advantages to the south east end of Meadowvale. If you live east of Glen Erin and South of Montevideo, which is quite a small section, your child is eligible to attend Streetsville Secondary School which has always performed well year over year. If you live south of Montevideo road and east of Winston Churchill, your child can attend St Aloysius Gonzaga, which year after is a top school for all of Mississauga. And any student can apply to attend Catholic High School, it is not restricted to those in the Catholic School Board.

Meadowvale Demographics

One of the best things I love about Meadowvale is that it’s a warm, welcoming place for all. I personally don’t think it’s ideal when neighbourhoods are heavily populated by any one ethnic group; be that Europeans, Asians or any other group. Meadowvale is mix of many cultures including Portuguese, Eastern European, West Indian, Middle Eastern, South East Asian, Latin American and long time Canadian.

 

Is My Bias Showing?

Yes, I am a little biased about Meadowvale, because this is where I call home…for the same reason you might decide to call it home too. At the time we bought as a couple, we weren’t thinking schools, or trees, or big backyards, or quiet streets. We just wanted to own something. However, now that I have children, the benefits of this area keep growing. My wife and I have friends in Burlington, Oakville and other areas of Mississauga, and we are the only family who can send our kids outside to find neighbour kids to play with until dinner. It reminds me of my childhood and I’m so happy my kids get to experience it as well. We thought we’d be in and out of Meadowvale in 3 years, and 10 years later, we are the ones welcoming the new young families on our street.

So this article is not just what I know as a real estate broker, but what I know as a resident. I have no regrets living here, and getting to know all of the wonderful friends and neighbours we have met along the way. So if you’re a young family, perhaps willing to roll up your sleeves to do a little cosmetic work on a home, Meadowvale is a great option for you.

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The Ultimate Guide to Cheap and Stylish Lighting

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Ultimate guide to find cheap and stylish lighting for your house

Ultimate guide to find cheap and stylish lighting for your house

Cheap and Stylish Lighting Will Transform your Home

I love shopping for light fixtures. Aside from tile, lights are my absolute favourite item to source. What is so great about lighting? These days, unlike a decade ago, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get amazingly beautiful lights, especially if you are willing to shop online. In this article, we’re going to go over Cheap and Stylish Lighting options that are accessible to everyone when preparing your home for sale.

For most home owners, changing a light is not on the to-do list, especially when working with electricity is involved. Most home owners just accept whatever light fixtures they have, since the function of most lights are pretty much the same. When I do a home decor or home staging consultation, I completely understand this; there are so many other things in life that to take priority over a new dining room light.

However, once you’re ready to sell, it’s a whole new game. When you work with us for our service package, we provide the labour to change out any light in your home. We do this because we know that, aside from painting, upgrading your lights is the most effective method to add a lot of value to your home for relatively little cost. The return of investment is fantastic. This is for 2 reasons:

  1. For almost every standard builder home built after 1940, there was a serious downgrade in architectural details. Ceilings got lower for decades, crown mouldings, transom windows, framed doorways, wainscoting, marble inlays……anything that would add interest to the room disappeared. In most homes, you’ll find a lot of drywall rooms with 3 1/2 inch baseboards instead. Often, there really is nothing much to look at, and so the best way to give a buyer something to look at is to install a glorious light fixture.
  2. Even more than design impact, most homes are lacking sufficient lighting to create a positive first impression. A home that feels dark doesn’t impress buyers, and it makes the home feel smaller than it is. As a general rule, when you increase the number of lights and fixtures in the home, you’re creating greater perceived space and value for the buyer. Make those lights good looking, and you’ve hit all the right notes for making buyers fall in love with your home.

Let’s quickly look at the lights I’m constantly asking owners to remove, and which are in almost every home. The reasons are mostly functional, but the style could be improved as well.

Article continues below.
  1. The Spot Light/Track Light/Directional Light

unattractive cheap lighting

unattractive cheap lighting

These lights are a great challenge because they provide a strong light in a 1 foot square area, but provide no overall lighting for the whole room. They actually create more shadows, thus making the room feel darker than it even is. This is the opposite of what you want when selling a home. Even if you have pot lights, which is a very nice upgrade, they don’t replace a general light fixture, because pot lights create mood and effect, but cannot illuminate the entire room.

2. The “Boob” Light

unattractive cheap lighting

unattractive cheap lighting

A great Canadian designer, Tommy Smythe, coined the phrase ‘boob light’ many years back, and since then, I truly cannot look at these lights the same way. The lights are functional, but are the builder standard. You can find them hanging from millions of ceilings in homes across the country. Many of these lights also have the added disadvantage of yellowed or marbled glass. As a rule, any bowl that distorts the colours of the light, or reduces the actual amount of light emitted from the fixture, is useless for staging a home. The ‘boob light’ makes your lighting situation worse, not better.

3. Builder Basics – we’ve all seen this light 1000 times

unattractive cheap lighting

unattractive cheap lighting

The goal of upgrading lighting is to catch the buyers attention, to give them a light that’s elegant, stylish and unique. One that adds to the appeal and architecture of the home. These builder basic lights can’t do this. There are so many gorgeous lights that are only marginally more expensive, and so it’s well worth the extra $50-$100 to get a real showstopper.

Now lets have some fun shopping for some cheap and stylish lighting. Here’s the one trick to keep in mind, you can mix metals. If you have a lot of stainless steel in your home, you can stick with silver metal, or you can add in black metal lighting. If you have a lot of black, in your appliances or tiles, you can stick with black metal, or choose a gold fixture.

Cheap and Stylish Lighting Options for Every Taste

If your Home is Traditional:

There are all of the classic styles, but even with being traditional, they are simplified a little; a few less crystals, a few less curves and embellishments. This will ensure your light respects the traditional elegant style yet still feels suited to today’s less pretentious lifestyle.

Black Iron Chandelier with clear crystals cheap and stylish lighting

French inspired crystal chandelier cheap and stylish lighting

simplified gold crystal chandelier cheap and stylish lighting

Library style drum pendant chandelier cheap and stylish lighting

Chrystal chandelier with modern drum shade cheap and stylish lighting

3 tier traditional crystal chandelier cheap and stylish lighting

 

If your Home is Transitional (not too fancy, not too modern):

Look for pieces that reference traditional style, but their lines have been dramatically simplified. The use of black draws the eye and creates an unexpected layer, and makes the light a focal point of the room. However any metal will work as long as there is some modern element to the light fixture.

modern coach light pendant cheap and stylish lighting

simplified chandelier with black metal cheap and stylish lighting

modern rectangular crystal chandelier cheap and stylish lighting

geometric silver pendant light cheap and stylish lighting

modern brass drum pendant light cheap and stylish lighting

gold globe pendant light cheap and stylish lighting

 

If your Home is Industrial/Craftsman/Modern:

The focus is on craftsmanship because of the sheer simplicity of the light. It is graphic. It is edgy. It is well executed design. These lights will make people take a second look because they are not common to every house on the street. And much like a piece of art, you choose the one that stops you dead in your tracks and you know “that’s the one”.

gold spoke pendant light with globe bulbs cheap and stylish lighting

black spoke pendant light with globe bulbs cheap and stylish lighting

three ring led floating pendant light cheap and stylish lighting

modern nordic glass bubble pendant light cheap and stylish lighting

10 globe simple modern pendant light cheap and stylish lighting

black sputnik light cheap and stylish lighting

Notice in the examples for all designs, there are never any light bulb “hat” shades;  neither fabric nor glass. Those mini-shades date your light and house to make it feel older than necessary. Allow the bulbs to be exposed, and choose frosted bulbs and lower wattage LED’s for a soft glow without the shades.

All of these cheap and stylish lights are excellent options for adding a real sense of style and presence to your home. And as always, we offer design consult services long before you are ready to list your home, because these decisions can’t be made at the last minute. Take a look at our portfolio to see our past work, or ask us a question below. We have a NO hassle policy so feel free to contact us below and get started on the right path with NO pressure.

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Get the Look: Mid Century Modern Dining Room

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How to decorate a Mid Century Modern Dining Room

How to decorate a Mid Century Modern Dining Room

What’s Old is New Again: Mid Century Modern Dining Room

The topic of mid century modern design makes a lot of designers cringe. The popularity of the look was reborn over 10 years ago, as we watched HGTV designers hunt through vintage shops to find that special piece to add a statement to their design. We were inheriting furniture pieces from grandmothers and aunts, and eagerly refinished them to mix in with our current possessions. Many of us were watching the show “Mad Men” and liking the clean, sleek lines of the furniture on set. Like many fresh trends, the mid century modern look was expected to come, be enjoyed…..and then go. But it didn’t go. It just kept growing. Retailers started selling new versions of 1950’s and 60’s classics so you didn’t even have to hunt in dusty basements to find your treasure. With one tap on your laptop, that teak credenza would be shipped promptly to your door.

So what is going on? Why is this MID-MOD look still blazing forward?

The beauty of the the mid century mod look is that feels very modern, without feeling cold and hard. Warm woods, textured fabric and interesting lines all work together to create a look that is equally appealing to men and women alike. And that is no easy accomplishment. There is an architectural element to the pieces that make them so interesting to look at, but also have high function for any family – whether you are a collector, or a parent with endless children’s “stuff”, your home can still look cool. The first time around, these items were extremely expensive, designed and constructed by notable designers such as Eames and Saarinen, and were icons of good taste and stature. Today, there are endless reproductions which make the look accessible to everyone. So if you have been thinking about creating a mid century modern room, but worry you’re too late to the party, fear not, this look is proving to be a timeless classic.

Mid Century Modern Dining Room: Inspiration Photo

Let’s Take a Look at Each Piece that is Essential To Creating This Look

1) The Eiffel Chair

This is the iconic dining chair for a mid century modern dining room. Available at all price points, colours and bases, there is great variety to choose from. Comfortable and sturdy, it especially serves families with kids very well, because the seats are easy to wipe (no stains) and the the legs are nice and wide.

Although you can get any rainbow of colours, you are safest to stick to a white or black seat with birch or walnut legs. You can buy the chairs in singles, pairs, sets of 4 or even 6. However many you need, keep them all consistent for the best look.

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2) The Dining Table

Teak is the classic material of choice, however this can push your budget up fast, especially with solid wood pieces. Feel free to branch into walnut wood, or even glass with an architectural wood base. Finally, although it doesn’t get the look in the above inspirational picture, we would be amiss not to mention the classic Saarinen table, that often is paired with matching chairs but can be far more interesting with contrasting chairs in black or grey.

 

 

3) The Statement Light Fixture

Mid Century Modern Dining Room The Village Guru

With this look, it is important to have a light fixture that doesn’t fade into the background. Its an opportunity to add new materials, contrast and architectural interest. However, you will find that the vast majority of lights that fit this description are usually well into the $1000’s of dollars. Here is a round up of statement mid century modern lights that won’t break the bank.

The modern interpretation of a mid century dining room is usually monochromatic: the rusty oranges, olive green and acid yellow have for the most part fallen to the wayside. So when building this room with whites, creams, tans, browns, and greys, texture becomes absolutely critical. It is essential that your light fixture feels like a piece of art and makes people stop and go “wow!”

When you click the article links that refer you to Amazon, the prices are the same as normal. If you purchase one of our recommended items, we just get a small commission which we dedicate to writing more valuable content for the website.

4) The Statement Art Piece

Speaking of art, this is another area where you need to put all other opinions aside, and choose something bold that speaks to you. You have to love your art. The mid century modern dining room is about artistic expressions of form, line, composition and balance. Art is a critical element. And when in doubt, choose fewer large pieces over more, smaller pieces.

5) Window Treatments

How to cover your windows is more open to interpretation and what your light and privacy needs are. But I’ll say right now, there are no California Shutters in mid century modern design. And nothing plastic. Again, the goal is to showcase beautiful materials, simply made, with the highest possible quality. In a perfect world, this would be fully lined custom linen drapery. But, for those of you who don’t want to spend more on your drapes than the rest of the entire room, we can expand options to find some pretty decent pre-fabs.

Option A) If you have found some stop-you-in-your-tracks, AH-mazing lights and art, then you can go more subtle with your drapery. The colour can be similar to your wall colour, to act more as texture in the room.

Option B) If you are still on the hunt for gorgeous artistic pieces, you can have a little more fun with your drapes and bring in some character this way. Of course, you can use more pattern in either scenario, but for a plain room, pattern on the drapes will be more critical.

Summary about Mid Century Modern Dining Rooms

In this article, we have focused on the most key elements for building a mid century modern dining room. You can then layer in other items of interest, such as sideboards, rugs, and accessories. But if you start with these pieces first, you will be well on your way to a dream look. Below are just a few more photos of mid century modern dining rooms to inspire you.

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Get The Look: Monochromatic Living Room

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Decorating in monochromatic style

Decorating in monochromatic style

Making Your Monochromatic Living Room Pop

People who know me, know that I love colour. I have a green sofa in my living room that I was so excited to buy 2 years ago, and I’m constantly adding new and different accent cushions. Right now I have watercolour printed cushions of little orange birds perched on green bamboo. And everyone who sees my sofa for the first time, still stops and says, “Wow!!!……You have a GREEN sofa!??!?!” As in, Good for you, but I would NEVER do that. 

I have come to accept that most people enjoy and prefer a monochromatic pallet; or in other words, many shades of one colour. I have also come to appreciate the beauty of this look, when it is executed properly. Here is where the challenge lies. Every room needs contrast and variation to be interesting. Colour is a very easy way to do this, so if you take colour out of the equation, it is actually more difficult to pull off an interesting monochromatic scheme. And here you thought you were taking the safe, easy road of decorating, didn’t you?  However, there’s a good chance you already have some of these elements in your room, so it’s just a matter of adding a few key pieces to get that “designer look”.

Monochromatic Living Room: Inspiration Photo

Monochromatic Living Room Inspiration picture- open concept living space

Let’s break this room down into it’s key elements:

  1. Contrast
  2. Pattern & Texture
  3. Materials Mix

Monochromatic Living Room Element 1: Contrast

At first glance, the room feels very calm and serene, but this space offers a lot of contrast between light and dark that you might not immediately notice. The floors are a dark walnut brown, which is also repeated in the kitchen island. This contrasts off the cream which is repeated on the walls, trim and kitchen cabinets. Dark wood planks were applied to the ceiling inset, to contrast off the white coffered moulding. This high contrast highlights a wonderful feature and adds interest. If you have high ceilings, this look can also be achieved with paint: because ceilings need only be white if it enhances the design.

Instead of red and green, or blue and orange, this monochromatic look ranges from warm white, all the way along the scale to dark brown. You could also achieve this with charcoal grey, navy or black, depending on what set of neutrals you want to work with.

The key is to balance light and dark as your backdrop. If all of your floors, walls and cabinets are the same shade of colour, the room will fall flat and loose dimension.

Monochromatic Living Room Element 2: Pattern & Texture

With monochromatic schemes, you have to be willing to go WILD on pattern and texture. Since everything in the room is shades of the same colour, each element needs to have a special detail, whether its pattern or texture or both. You cannot “over-do” it; in fact you should be stepping well out of your comfort zone here to ensure you have used enough. Let’s take a closer look at some of the room’s elements:

wide horizontal striped drapes in a monochromatic living room and dining room

Geometric pattern rug in a monochromatic living room design

Bold patterned accent pillows in a monochromatic living room



On the windows, bold horizontal stripes were created with 2 tones of solid colour. They pop off the wall colour to highlight the beautiful windows, and add pattern where it was needed. Notice the strong pattern in the rug, accentuated in relief detail, so that regardless of the colour, it’s a rug that holds its weight and adds interest. Looking at the sofa, even the simple linen fabric was dressed up with a nailhead detail, so that there are interesting views from every angle. The pillows offer more contrast and pattern, which is essential to breaking up the plain sofa fabric. These are just a few examples of how to get pattern and texture into your room.

Monochromatic Living Room Element 3: Material Mix

Finally, one of the best things you can do for a monochromatic look is to NOT buy “matching” furniture. This may sound risky, when box stores love to sell you a no-brainer “set”, but with a good plan ahead of time, there’s no need to fear making a wrong move. In the inspiration picture, they have used 2 identical sofas which is excellent for symmetry and repetition, and is a good reason for matching fabric. But if you need a sofa and a chair, it’s far more interesting to choose an accent chair over matching fabric on both.

Other areas to focus on mixing materials are for your woods and metals. Avoid 3 piece coffee sets or using the same light in 3 different size variations. You can step beyond what stores are trying to sell you.

This is a simple, fail-safe strategy:

  1. Choose 2 shades of wood that aren’t too close in tone and repeat them evenly throughout the room.
  2. Choose 2 metal finishes you like and repeat them evenly throughout the room.

With these 2 rules, you will get the repetition required to have design flow, but will also have enough variety to ensure your room feels like it was collected artfully over time.

The floors in our inspiration photo are dark walnut, and so that element was repeated on the island for consistency. But then a mid tone wood was introduced on the front door, buffet, chair legs and coffee table, which all blend together and repeat.

Pair of identical cream sofas in a monochromatic living room

The kitchen pendant lights are silver, which complement the stainless appliances, and then this metal was repeated on the base of the leather bench ottoman. Second, a warm copper brown metal was used for both chandeliers, and on the accent tables.

Silver Metal Finishes in a monochromatic living room

Copper metal finishes in a monochromatic living room

Spending the time to blend and repeat a small selection of materials will take your look to an all-new level. All it requires is for you to decide ahead of time which elements you want to use in your room to ensure they mix and repeat.

Summary about Monochromatic Living Rooms

It may be quite surprising how many different elements go into a well designed scheme. Step one is to find a picture that inspires you and guides your look. Then, decide the elements you want in your room, and then this will focus your eye when out shopping – whether that be this week or 2 years from now. No matter what your style, having an inspiration and plan will always keep you on the right path. Especially if you are thinking of building a monochromatic scheme, be fearless and be bold – I promise you will thank yourself afterwards.

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Cranberry Cove Port Credit

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the neighbourhood of cranberry cove in port credit

the neighbourhood of cranberry cove in port credit

Cranberry Cove

Nestled along the lakefront just west of the Village of Port Credit is the hamlet of Cranberry Cove. Made up of only a handful of streets that feel more like country lanes, Cranberry Cove is a quaint, lakefront getaway from the hustle and bustle of modern day Mississauga.

South of Lakeshore Rd W, between the Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens and the old Imperial Oil Lands, Cranberry Cove is a throwback to days gone by when the area was considered “country living”. While real estate is expensive in the community, homes are more modest in size when compared to other nearby luxury communities such as Lorne Park and Mineola.

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Country Charm

At over 100 years old, Cranberry Cove feels like a little English countryside Village. Homes in the community are a mix of historic homes, small cottages and custom homes. The streets are tree covered, so the pictures below were taken in the fall so that you would actually be able to get a glimpse of the homes. In the summer, the lush greenery of mature foliage is part of the charm of the area.

There are also larger custom homes in Cranberry Cove however, most of them still conform to the overall look of the community. If you’re looking for a mega mansion, this isn’t the area for you.

Parklane town houses in Cranberry Cove, port credit

The newly constructed ParkLane Town Houses in Cranberry Cove, Port Credit.

Below is a street view of Ben Machree Drive taken in the summer time. Many of the homes feature traditional exteriors of brick or siding, adding to the country feel of the neighbourhood.

Community Vibe

Don’t let Cranberry Cove’s quiet, country feel fool you, this is an active community with its own ratepayers association that works closely with all levels of government on behalf of the home owners. Port Credit is an exciting community with a lot of change happening so it’s important to be active.

Nearby Amenities

Aside from the shops, restaurants and community vibe of Port Credit, residents have easy access to the waterfront trail and the Rhododendron Gardens , making it a great community for active people who like to be outdoors. A quick commute to downtown Toronto either by GO Train or the QEW makes it an excellent location.

Have a question about Port Credit or Mississauga Real Estate? Leave us a message below.

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The Ultimate Guide to Town Houses in Mississauga

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The ultimate guide to town houses in mississauga

The ultimate guide to town houses in mississauga

Since the 1970’s, the town house has been a very popular style of home in Mississauga and you can find them in nearly every neighbourhood in the city. Appealing to everyone from entry level home buyers to luxury seeking village buyers, the design of town houses in Mississauga has evolved over the years to reflect the style trends and market demand of the time they were built. In this guide we will cover the most popular types of town houses in Mississauga, including the Family Style Town House, the Stacked Town House, Luxury Town Homes, Adult Lifestyle Town Houses and Free Hold Town Homes.

History of Town Houses in Mississauga

Having been a popular choice of housing for centuries in large urban centres, town houses didn’t start to appear in Mississauga until the late 1960’s, and it wasn’t until the 1970’s that the ‘town home’ as we know it was developed on a large scale.

The Suburban Boom (1970’s to early 1980’s)

The 1970’s was the great suburban boom for Mississauga, land was cheap and the subdivision was the way of the future. Large communities such as Erin Mills, Meadowvale and Rathwood were all built during this time period and these were the areas with the largest concentration of town houses. Originally, town houses were built as a more affordable version of the semi-detached or detached house. Most of the town homes from the 1970’s are larger then what is being built today, came with basements, 3 or 4 bedrooms and had good sized backyards. Many of the complexes were large, and had amenities such as outdoor pools and playgrounds, and many were integrated with the surrounding communities via parks and path systems.

a historic image of a town house complex in Mississauga taken in the 1970's

A photo of a newly constructed town house complex in the late 1970’s. Source: Mississauga Library Historical Images www.mississauga.ca

Over the years, town houses in Mississauga have become more sophisticated, with various styles and options available for all ranges of home buyers. Below is the Ultimate Guide to Town Houses in Mississauga, broken down by lifestyle.

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The Family Style Town House

The original and most common style of town house in Mississauga is the traditional Family Town House, a more affordable option compared to a detached or semi-detached house. Over the past 40 years, town homes have become more sophisticated and luxurious as home prices have risen but the purpose of the family town house remains the same, to provide a less expensive option for families to own a home. Below are the 3 main categories of family town houses by decade.

town houses in east credit

Multiple gables, large windows and an all brick exterior make these newer town homes a popular choice for today’s sophisticated buyer.

1970’s & 80’s Town Homes

Town houses that were built in the 1970’s offered more affordable options to buy a family home. Most town houses from this era have the same features of houses including basements and backyards. Older town homes and are a good option for price conscious buyers looking for the most size for the money. Due to their age, older family town homes also provide an opportunity for renovators and younger buyers who want to renovate add their own sweat equity.

1990’s Family Town Homes

The 1990’s represented the second suburban ‘boom’ for Mississauga. Large communities such as Central Erin Mills and Hurontario were developed at this time and there’s a noticeable difference in the style and design of homes from this period. Town homes in this era were built with more amenities such as ensuite bathrooms, and entrances from the garage. Architecturally, builders used more brick and roofs became more streamlined.

2000- Present Town Homes

Brick and stone details, casement windows and energy efficient construction make today’s town house vastly superior to homes of the past. Newer homes have open concept floor plans and high end finished such as pot lights, stone counters and upgraded cabinets. These town homes are turn key and move in ready. Small upgrades such as painting, upgrading the builder light fixtures, adding a dining room chandelier and stylish kitchen back splash will go a long way to personalizing the space to suit the most sophisticated buyer. Click here to see all of the new town houses for sale in Mississauga.



Stacked Town Homes

Due to skyrocketing price of real estate and land in the GTA, stacked town homes have become wildly popular with home builders and buyers over the past decade. Unlike the traditional family town house, stacked town homes in Mississauga feel like a mix between a house and a condo, but without the high condos fees making them a good option for first time home buyers and singles.

Stacked town houses in Central Erin Mills

Daniels built stacked town houses in Central Erin Mills. Larger units take the 2nd & 3rd floors while the smaller units are located below.

Most designs have units stacked 2 high so chances are you’ll have neighbours above or below you. Below are examples of stacked town house complexes in Churchill Meadows, Central Erin Mills and Cooksville.



Luxury Town Houses in Mississauga

High end finishes, superior floor plans, striking architectural features and the best locations are just some of the features that a discriminating owner expects from a Luxury Town Home in Mississauga. It’s not just the home, it’s a lifestyle choice. See all the Luxury Town Houses For Sale in Mississauga here.

 

Luxury Town Homes in Port Credit

The FRAM built Town Houses in Port Credit are some of the best known luxury town houses in Mississauga


Adult Lifestyle Town Homes

Located in a handful of boutique lifestyle communities spread throughout the city, these homes are designed to appeal to active buyers who would rather be golfing than mowing the lawn, or in Florida instead of shovelling snow. Top notch landscaping, snow removal and exterior maintenance give these communities an exclusive feel, and owners are willing to pay for it.

Many newer adult lifestyle town houses are being designed in bungalow, bungaloft, and split level styles, with the intent of minimizing stairs making them very desirable with baby boomers and down sizers.

Rivergate place town houses streetsville mississauga

Highly sought after Bungalow Town Homes in Rivergate Place Streetsville



Freehold Town Homes

Relatively new on the scene, freehold town houses have become very popular as builders try to balance consumers desire to keep maintenance fees low, with government development policies and the fact that land is much more expensive. Unlike the traditional condo town house, Freehold means that owners are responsible for all maintenance to their property- just like a regular house. Where they differ from ‘row style housing’ is that they are located in a complex, on private roads so there is still a condo corporation in place to handle basic services such as snow clearing, road maintenance and landscaping. The biggest advantage is that condo fees should remain relatively low. If you’re wondering if condo maintenance fees are worth it, check out our review of Freehold Town Houses versus Condo Town Homes.

 


Conclusion

Whether you’re interested in an affordable town house to get on the property ladder, or in finding the perfect home to fit your lifestyle, there are plenty of options to choose from when looking at town houses in Mississauga. I hope you enjoyed this guide, and if you’d like to discuss how we can work together, be sure to contact us. or fill out he form below!

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Port Credit Trick or Treat Event

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Halloween in Port Credit

Halloween in Port Credit

Port Credit BIA was very busy this Halloween, hosting two events, including a Zombie Walking Tour at Adamson House and a good ol’ fashioned trick or treat event, which was coined “Treats in our East” a Port Credit Trick or Treat Event. Now that Halloween is serious business in Port Credit, the Clarkson Village BIA now officially has some stiff competition with their Trick or Treat event, as the BIA’s undoubtedly will vie for biggest and best Halloween event for the years to come.

For its inaugural year, the event gained a lot of local support, with a long list merchants opening their doors and offering goodies to local residents. Around forty shops participated in this ‘Trick-or-Treat’ event in total.

The BIA had a smart idea of showcasing a “Treat Stop” pumpkin as the symbol of the participation, so that children quickly knew where to haunt. Every participating business decorated their shop in Halloween theme, and it really added to the atmosphere.

Despite of the rain, wind, and cold weather, local residents came out, dressed up in a variety of costumes, then covered in winter and rain gear. But nothing could dampen the spirit of the children and the opportunity for extra candy a few days before the 31st.

The most notable part of the festival is the BIA’s planning to bring in a variety of entertainers to walk the streets and keep the spirits of the residents high. They were greeting and entertaining children at every turn, although many of the kids were intent on their candy mission. They were busy with their pumpkin shape goodie bag to collect gifts visiting shop after shop.

The Port Credit Trick or Treat Event was definitely an event for all ages, and it was especially beneficial for the younger kids who might want to trick or treat but waiting until it gets dark and cold on Halloween night might not be ideal. Events like these allow kids of all ages to participate in Halloween, and enjoy the fun and good spirit.

Of course, the added benefit of the event was for the parents to meander down the street and encounter many of the local shops that they might have never known about. All of the participating shop keepers took much effort to decorate their store fronts to draw in passers-by, in the hopes of boosting awareness and sales.

By the end of the day, everyone was certainly in the Halloween spirit, and well prepared for a festive weekend, wrapping up with more trick or treating on the 31st.

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Port Credit Zombie Walk

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Zombie Walk at the Adamson Estate

It was a pitch-dark night, spine-chillingly cold, and windy. A herd of zombies roamed through the Adamson Estate, situated along the waters of Lake Ontario in Port Credit. After drizzling rain the whole day, it was a very dark sky with not even any moonlight to guide the way. There were only the distant street lights, dim like candles, glowing behind the trees.

The Port Credit BIA organizes several walking tours throughout the year, and this year’s October installment started at la Villa Bakery and Café, and proceeded towards the famed Adamson Estate. It is a waterfront park located east of the mouth of the Credit River. The grounds and gardens are open to the public and even have a unique pet cemetery.

The event invite encouraged the attendees to come with their best efforts. Enthusiasts did not disappoint; masks, painted faces, tattered clothes, and generally scary costumes all created a night of the living dead.

The herd of zombies followed the storyteller on the guided tour, and listened intently to the story of the century-old estate buildings. In traditional fairy tales, the forest is the place for mystery, adventure and often the unexpected. This was certainly the feeling about the surroundings this night.

Adamson Estate has historic significance and heritage value. The iconic Derry house, is associated with the memory of Anthony Adamson for his remarkable contribution to Canadian architecture. The century old property backs onto Lake Ontario and creates a beautiful, mesmerizing scene at night.

The guide continued with many stories from the graves of those old buildings. The hostel building, and the student who heard a cry in the middle of the night. What did he see through the window? There were many hair-raising stories to entertain us.

The Port Credit Zombie walk was absolutely worthwhile experience for anyone who likes to be a little scared, a little creeped out and also very interested in the curious history of Port Credit. Hope to see you next year!

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Eagle Ridge

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Eagle Ridge

Built in 1990, The Eagle Ridge condominium community in Erin Mills is a gated condominium community consisting of 2 high rise buildings and a number of executive town houses. Close to shopping , transit and amenities, the community is a favourite destination for people looking to downsize and still live in luxury.

Eagle Ridge is one of only a handful of communities in that has 24 hour gated security

Eagle Ridge is one of only a handful of communities in that has 24 hour gated security.

 

Eagle Ridge has 2 high rise condominium buildings located at 2155 & 2177 Burnhamthorpe Rd W, and a series of executive town homes at 2199 Burnhamthorpe Rd W. The gated community is surrounded by forest trails on three sides and is directly across from South Common Mall, which is convenient for shopping and transit. Residents from both the high rise buildings and town homes have access to the recreation centre located in the centre of the complex.

Arial view of Eagle Ridge, Mississauga

Arial view of the Eagle Ridge Condominium Community, Erin Mills, Mississauga

Buyers Who Should Consider Eagle Ridge:

1) The Downsizer

Eagle Ridge is a great option for someone looking to downsize from a larger home but still stay in the Erin Mills area. Many residents like Eagle Ridge because everything is taken care of which allows them to travel and spend less time looking after a home. The size of the units at Eagle Ridge are larger on average than what you’ll find in most newer condo buildings in Mississauga and this is appealing for someone who’s downsizing from a large home but not quite ready to live in a shoe box.

2177 Burnhamthorpe Rd W, Eagle Ridge Condos, Mississauga

Entrance to 2177 Burnhamthorpe Rd W, Eagle Ridge Condos, Mississauga

2) The Outdoorsy Type & Health Conscious:

Eagle Ridge has a fantastic recreation centre that has a pool, exercise room, billiards and other activities. Located in the middle of the complex, the recreation centre also has well manicured outdoor spaces that are great for relaxing on a nice day. The complex also backs onto the trail system, which connects you to the Glen Erin and Sawmill Valley trail systems. As a kid I used to go biking on these trails all the time, so I can speak from experience that they’re great for strolling or biking through nature.

3) The Home Improvement Enthusiast

Unlike newer condos that have more modern finishes, units at Eagle Ridge are over 20 years old and many are in need of cosmetic upgrading, so this is a great opportunity for someone who wants to add their personal touch to a space. On average, the price per square foot in Eagle Ridge is less than newer buildings in the area, while at the same time condos and town houses that have been cosmetically updated can sell for quite a bit more than ones in original condition.

4) Security

Security at Eagle Ridge is very good and it’s one of the community’s best features. One of only a handful of gated communities in Mississauga, guests to the complex must check in at the security gate before being allowed on the property. The area and buildings are also monitored by closed circuit cameras so you can feel safe in your home. Many of the town home residents choose Eagle Ridge because they can travel and not worry about their home while they are away.

Buyer Who Might not Love Eagle Ridge:

Just like ANY neighbourhood, Eagle Ridge is not for everyone, and I think it’s very important to know the downsides so that you can make a fully informed decision.

1) Families with young children

While there are no rules and children are welcome, I haven’t seen too many children on my many visits to Eagle Ridge. The complex is quiet and geared more towards adult lifestyle living.

Children's Playground Eagle Ridge

Children’s Playground at Eagle Ridge is a great place to take the grandchildren when they visit

2) Newer Home Seekers

As mentioned previously on this page, Eagle Ridge is over 20 years old now and buyers looking for a newer condo with more modern finishes will probably want to pass on this community. Also, due to the age of the community and the abundance of amenities, condo fees are typically higher at Eagle Ridge than many newer buildings. Having said that, I believe you get what you pay for and when you add up the additional amenities such as hydro and cable TV, combined with larger floor plans (which you won’t get included in a newer condo) the fees are actually reasonable. Still, to a buyer looking to save as much as possible they will probably look elsewhere.

Looking to sell your home in Eagle Ridge? Do you want to buy a condo at Eagle Ridge? Leave us a message below!

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Essential Home Lighting Tips

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Essential Home Lighting Tips to get your home out of the dark ages.

When you think of the rules of real estate, what commands more money? First is always location, which we cannot change. Second, is the size of home, which is also very difficult. While it can be very difficult to renovate to make the space bigger, we can play with how big the space FEELS by improving home lighting.

Perceived value is just as good as real value when it comes to the sale price of your home. The goal is to have buyers feeling that your home is more spacious than other homes for sale, and a great trick to make this happen is lighting.

Bright rooms feel bigger; they eliminate dark shadows and dreary corners. It’s a psychological effect where buyers FEEL your space is nicer, fresher, newer, and bigger. Below are some expert home lighting tips for improving your home’s lighting situation.

1) Natural Light

natural light is nature's greatest gift to home sellers. Make sure all window coverings are open at all times to allow the maximum amount of light in the home. Home lighting tips

natural light is nature’s greatest gift to home sellers. Make sure all window coverings are open at all times to allow the maximum amount of light in the home.

Natural light is king, and the first and cheapest step is to ensure you are getting maximum light from your windows. Even if you have the most beautiful California Shutters, now is not the time to keep them closed. Pull up your blinds, open up our shutters and draw open your drapes. For pictures and showings you want every last drop of natural light to get into your home.

2) Ceiling Fixtures

Upgraded lighting is a small investment that can add a big return on your investment. Home Lighting Tips

Upgraded lighting is a small investment that can add a big return on your investment.

No builder in the history of North America has ever installed the proper amount of lighting in a home. Why? Because installing the minimum possible is the cheapest option. Many homes built in the 1970’s and early 1980’s are especially lacking, where there might only be 1 ceiling fixture in the kitchen and 1 in the dining room. If the majority of your rooms do NOT have a ceiling fixture, it would be a good idea to get a quote from electrician to see the cost of wiring lights in the bedrooms and living room.

If you have ceiling fixtures in most rooms, upgrade the lights to fixtures with more light bulbs in each. This is not a costly proposition. For ceiling flush-mounts, you can get 2 for $20, and chandeliers cost $150 – $250 for elegant statement pieces. Lighting is both practical and artistic: make sure it’s beautiful!

The Room By Room Breakdown

It is very likely that most of your rooms need an upgrade in lighting as it’s something most people never do. Many sellers ask if they can just buy a lamp set instead of dealing with ceiling fixtures, but that’s just putting money in the wrong place. 99% of agents don’t turn on lamps when showing a home to their clients, so it’s wasted money. Take the time and effort to put money where it will actually make the difference.

When considering lighting in any space, stick to fixtures with white shades or glass, nothing yellow. It casts a better light. Avoid glass that is leaded, beveled or mottled, as this refracts light and casts a dimmer, poorer light.

  • Hallways, Living Rooms & Bedrooms. Save money here by using the Home Depot, tried and true, flush mount. I recommend the same light over and over because it has 3 lights, white glass and is a clean modern line.

flushmount light

3) Master Bedroom, Eat-In Kitchen & Dining Room. Invest $150-$250 for these 3 light fixtures, as we want both more light and a beautiful element. Many homes built in the 70’s and 80’s are lacking any distinguishing features; often these rooms feel like square boxes. Lighting can become an architectural focal point that adds tons of character to these rooms. Stylish fixtures grab the attention of the buyer and offer a lot of value to them. For the master bedroom and kitchen, you can choose a 3 light fixture. For the dining room, choose a minimum of 4-6 light fixture. Below are just a few examples of affordable lighting fixtures you can find at a big box home improvement store. Our team works with you to find the most affordable option that will best suit your space.

4) Bathrooms. Many owners still have the original light from the builder. So it works, but probably doesn’t offer the ideal amount of light and definitely doesn’t command top dollar. Choose the biggest fixture you can, not to exceed the size of the vanity. Ideally this is at least 4 -6 lights.

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Halloween in Clarkson Village

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Halloween in Clarkson Village

It’s that time of year again, Halloween in Clarkson Village! Every year, the Clarkson Village BIA hosts an annual Halloween event for local residents, and every year it gets bigger and better. If you don’t know about the Clarkson BIA, they are the local business improvement association for the cluster of businesses located on Lakeshore Rd in Clarkson Village. They BIA has been instrumental in the redevelopment of the business section of Clarkson over the last several years, and it’s events like this that bring the businesses and the community together.

On this day, Lakeshore Road was full of little characters collecting gifts from local vendors. There were cute and scary costumes, balloons, chocolates, gifts and lots of happy faces.

Littlw kids going trick or treating on Lakeshore Rd Clarkson Village

Trick or Treater’s visiting the local businesses on Lakeshore Rd in Clarkson

Although the day was cloudy and drizzling with rain, none of the children seemed to mind much. Little cats and dogs walked cheerfully along the street, holding treat bags, wearing rain boots, protected from the drizzle.

Kids with their parents at Halloween in Clarkson Village

Halloween in Clarkson Village is a family event that gives the really little kids a chance to trick or treat.

On the other side, a little princess glided cheerfully down the street, with her crown shining on her head, as she held her flouncy red gown. Her mother followed behind her, trying to cover her with umbrella.

There were colourful face paintings, masks, balloons, minions, Donald Trumps, dogs dressed as lions, and many, many happy faces. Kids carried their goody bags from one vendor to the next, filling them to the brim with candy.

The community spirit of Clarkson definitely shone through on this grey day, as residents made this year’s event another grand success. Halloween in Clarkson Village is just one of a number of ‘spooky’ events that take place at this time of year in Mississauga, be sure to check out our article on the Port Credit’s Zombie Walk at the Adamson Estate and Port Credit’s own Halloween Trick or Treat in the Village.

Wishing you a Happy Halloween and we hope to see you next year in Clarkson!

Lake Wabukayne 2017 Stewardship Event

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On Saturday June 3rd at 11am the Lake Wabukayne Stewardship Committee will be hosting our annual BBQ at Lake Wabukayne. Stop by and enjoy a free BBQ and live entertainment, visit the community program booths, learn CPR, explore the lake and meet your neighbours!

Location: 2630 Inlake Court, Mississauga. L5N 2A7

Below are some pictures from past events and of the lake.

 

 

The Butterfly Garden at Lake Wabukayne in #Meadowvale #Mississauga. Is it just me or does anyone else agree that spring can’t come soon enough? ☀

View on my run today! #meadowvale #mississauga #lakewabukayne

Hardy plants for sale

Lake Wabukayne with the Mayor

Here I am with Ward 9 City Councillor Pat Saito and the rest of the Lake Wabukayne Stewardship comittee for a few quick words

My son getting his face painted

Live music always makes an event more lively!

Lake Wabukayne Stewardship Comittee member A.Q Mufti getting his exercise planting trees

Lake Wabukayne, Meadowvale, Mississauga.

 

Protecting Your Interests When Selling a Home

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I want to share a story about a home I recently sold in Mississauga, and how it gives a good example of the ethical dilemma’s faced by real estate professionals every day.

The Background

Just recently I listed and sold a 3 bedroom, detached house located in Central Mississauga. The home showed pride of ownership, but aside from that it was a typical house for the area. It wasn’t the largest, and it wasn’t the most upgraded.

Our first step in the home selling process was to research the property and comparable sales.

What we discovered was that on average, similar homes were being listed just under $700,000 and selling for $720,000-$740,000.

Whenever I list a home, the first step is to determine market value of the home ‘as is’ meaning what it will sell for today without doing anything. Once the baseline value is established, an important part of our documented approach is to identify areas where we can raise the perceived value of the home and help our sellers make more money on the sale.

Over the years, we’ve developed a proven system that when implemented, allows for our sellers to easily make an extra $30,000+ on the sale that they otherwise wouldn’t have. In this case, I was confident that if our seller followed the plan we created for her, she would get her a top dollar sale, with my goal being closer to $770,000.

Our seller was all-in; she agreed to take care of all minor repairs and upgrades we identified in the initial assessment, do some paint touch ups, have the kitchen cabinets updated, change light fixtures and do a massive declutter. Once that was complete Stephanie came in and staged the home with furniture and props in order to prepare it for sale.

When it came to a pricing strategy, we decided to list the home at $699,000 with the goal of maximizing the exposure that a competitively priced home would get.

The Unrepresented Buyer

Within an hour of the home being listed for sale on the MLS, I received a call from a prospective buyer named ‘Bob’ (name changed for privacy reasons) who wanted to see the property. Since I was going to be stopping by the home later in the day to drop off feature sheets, I agreed to meet ‘Bob’ and his wife at the home.

Bob and his wife were a nice couple in their mid 30’s, educated and currently owned a freehold townhouse. We chatted for a bit, and then proceeded to tour the home. They were financially qualified, and both had good jobs. They loved the home, and wanted to put in an offer immediately.

“Jeff, let’s go back to your office a write up an offer for $735,000, no conditions”

Bob didn’t have a real estate agent, and wanted to use this to his advantage in negotiations. The only reason he contacted me directly was the hope that I would work harder for him, to ‘double end’ the sale and earn an extra commission.

It’s important to note that ‘double ending’ is how many real estate agents make a living. They use their client’s listings to barter more business for themselves. This is a common practice taught by many trainers and coaches in the industry, however it can easily lead to misrepresentation on the part of the real estate agent.

Aside from the verbal offer Bob made, within 2 hours of listing the home on MLS, we already had 15 home showings booked by other real estate agents. To be fair and transparent, I explained to Bob that the home had very high amount interest but that I would talk to my seller and call him later that afternoon with an answer.

I called my client and told her exactly what Bob discussed with me what he was offering. Not only is keeping our client informed the right thing to do, but as a Realtor we are obligated to do so. One of the fundamental duties in a client relationship is full disclosure, while at the same time protecting our client’s personal information and motivation from others.

Taking into account the high level of interest on the home, my client instructed me to continue with the showings and that she would not look at offers until the offer presentation date as originally planned. I also explained the potential conflict of me representing both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction, and my client indicated she did not feel comfortable with me representing both her and the buyer.

I then called Bob and let him know my client’s wishes. I encouraged him to bring his offer on offer day and referred him to a very good realtor that would be more than happy to assist him in submitting an offer on the house.

2 Days Later

The showings were going extremely well, our advertisements were bringing in buyers and agents from all over the GTA. That evening I received another call from ‘Bob’. He wanted to level with me; he didn’t need the agent I referred him to speak on his behalf.

“Jeff, we are prepared to offer $745k right now, so your client gets 45k over asking price, and you get the double commission. Also, we have a house to sell and if we get this home we will use you to list our house for sale…”

Bob knew what he was doing, he was now dangling the possibility of 3 commissions, hoping my desire for more money would get me to ignore my duty to protect the best interests of my client. 

Now before I continue with the story, I receive ‘offers’ like this almost every time I list a home for sale, which tells me that this strategy works well on most listing agents. It’s sad that this is a strategy being employed by many realtors but the fact is that the average real estate agent only sells a handful of houses a year, so the temptation of 3 deals would be too much to resist.

For me, I would sooner quit the business and do something else over selling out my integrity. I was raised to be ethical and I just couldn’t live with myself knowing that I’m short-changing my clients.

I believe that the number one job of a real estate agent is to protect the interests of their clients above everyone else including their own. 

I thanked Bob for his continued interest, but reiterated from our previous conversation that my client would not entertain a verbal bully offer and that she was not comfortable with me representing both parties.

The Outcome

On offer day, my client was rewarded for her patience, and we ended up selling the house for $835,000. That’s $90,000 more than if she took the bully offer being proposed by Bob.

Bob did bring in an offer with a completely different agent, one who is known in the area for bait and switch tactics and unethical business practices, however it fell well short at $745,000.

On a daily basis, real estate agents are confronted with situations where they have the choice to act ethical, or to act in their self-interest. My job was to get my client the most money possible on the sale of her home and that’s exactly what I did, and what I do with every one of my clients.

The Meadowvale Community Centre

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Meadowvale Community Centre in Mississauga

Today was a nice, slightly overcast day, and so I decided to take a walk around the newly-built Meadowvale Community Centre, as I have been wanting to take some photos of the centre since it opened last fall. I have been a few times, but with all the mad excitement of this modern and well received building, it was constantly filled with people. And as much as I love taking photos, I was sure to look like a sad little tourist with my big fat camera hanging around my neck and snapping photos all over the place.

So today was a perfect day, without the crowds, but the grass is now green and all of the plants are finally starting to burst with  foliage. I think everyone knows what the front of the building now looks like, and it really does make quite a dominant impression. If you know Meadowvale, it is lush with trees and paths and greenery. And then out of the green, springs this great white modern facade. The contrast is quite striking and impressive. Originally developed in the 70’s, the architecture of Meadowvale is quite angular and bold, and so I think the Community Centre has interpreted this style in a modern way. The mix of wood, concrete and and natural elements offers contrast of shape and dynamic lines.

The formal garden out front are quite attractive, but is the only thing a little of out place in reference to Meadowvale. When you drive down the streets of Meadowvale and even into the parks, you will get a natural, woodsy feel. Nothing is too contrived; wild, country-style gardens are the norm, and yards are mostly landscaped with trees and wild bushes. The area was never formal, so very few homes have restrained their gardens with linear plantings or defined lines.

But I will still say, I do like the design of the front gardens and it’s very similar in vibe to those on the Sheridan College Campus in downtown Mississauga. And even though it feels modern, these are timeless designs that were used back in France and all over Europe hundreds of years ago. So I do think that the look of this centre has a timeless appeal. The concept is high contrast between materials and linear plantings.

My only concern is what happens to the large, colourful banners as they start to fade and degrade…..10 years down the road if the city coffers are dry and the needs out-strip funding. I worry that this aspect of the building could make the whole frontage look quite shabby if they cannot be properly maintained. Only time will tell.

The best surprises are at the back of the building. I truly enjoy the lines of the building from the back end even more than the front, with different planes and levels to add visual interest. The landscaping of the grounds is top notch, mixing hardscape and green space in creative ways. Your eye is drawn along the paths from one area to the next, and there’s a sense of discovery around every turn. There is a basketball court, splash pad, kids climbing area, interconnected paths, and numerous lookouts to the lake.

The greatest advantage of the Meadowvale Community Centre is that its on the lake. The view are spectacular and the designers made sure every view was the best it could be. The new boardwalk is gorgeous itself, and allows many people to sit and enjoy the view to the lake. There are many apartments and homes nestled all around the large lake, and they all have path access to this serene habitat. You will see all kinds of birds and water fowl, and other wild animals. You can take a long stroll all the way around the lake, or power your way through the various exercise stations situated along the path. Many people in Mississauga know nothing of this lake, and this lake is the reason why people in Meadowvale aren’t clamouring down to Lake Ontario and those parks all the time; we have our own to enjoy.

Moving inside the centre, I still didn’t take too many pictures in case I would draw too much attention to myself, but there is a good size weight room, mid size pool (it’s smaller than the pool at Erin Meadows) and modern family change rooms. One entire wall of the two story pool is glass, so there is an upper and lower level gallery to watch the swimmers. There are many community rooms with lovely views to the back gardens and lake, including a cooking studio for City Rec scheduled classes. On the upper level is the gymnasium and library, which both have full window walls to the front gardens. They have done an excellent job creating an indoor-outdoor feeling with stunning exterior views from all angles.

What is the best hidden gem of all, is the outdoor patio, equipped with tables and loungers. It overlooks the lake in the back, and so you can’t see that it exists from the front of the building. Upon entrance through the front doors of the Centre, there’s no signage that I saw that would lead you to the deck. You have to go into the library and up a ramp to find the door to the back patio. Im actually hesitating as a write this thinking…..do I really want everyone to know about this now?………but I want to show you what it looks like so let’s just keep it a secret between you and I then.

Overall, I think the Meadowvale Community Centre is a long awaited and well deserved upgrade to the Village of Meadowvale. Even thought I often disagree with the spending decisions of the City, the old Community Centre was run down and no longer a desired gathering place for residents, and needed repair. While the rest of the city was rewarded with brand new centres, we waited steadfast, hoping for some notice. The City repaid us ten-fold for our patience. It is a stunning building that makes us all proud, and can once again be a place to  learn, socialize, and play.

Meadowvale Community Centre Website

Meadowvale Community Centre Facebook Page