Top 10 Paint Colours

Top 10 Paint Colours

I have been on hundreds of staging consults over the years, and it seems that time and time again, there are some paint colours that just work. No matter the style of furniture, size of room, choosing the right paint colour always add a sense of elegance and style without being the star attraction. For the purpose of home staging, you want buyers to notice your best features, like wood floors, big windows, woodwork and fireplaces. These are the features of the home and we want to stand out. Think of paint in the role of Best Supporting Actor, as it helps to enrich the overall feeling without taking the lead. These Top 10 Paint Colours do just that.

Along that line of thinking, you’ll definitely notice there are no bright colours that hit the list of top ten paint colours for staging your home. We don’t want the paint colour to take over the house, or to be the first thing buyers notice. Often bright colours detract from the good features of your home, and that’s why for selling, they are a big NO-NO. Detach your personal style from your home and consider that your job is now to showcase your home as close to a model homes as you possibly can. The more neutrally elegant you can make your home, the more buyers you will attract.

Though I had to cut this list to Top 10 Paint Colours, I actually have 11, because I just couldn’t cut it down. And really, there’s more like  20-30 colours for selling your home that are fantastic. The colour you should choose will depend on your flooring and furniture finishes. I always recommend having a Staging/Paint Consultation done before you prepare your home for sale, so that you do it right the first time.

This article is always one of our most popular articles, and I have made some updates for this year. I have divided the colours into 3 categories: light shades, mid-tone shades and darker accent colours. Successful staging ISN’T about beige, beige and beige. So read on to see my updated Top 10 Paint Colours list.

All of these Colours are Benjamin Moore

Light and Airy Paint Colours

Top 10 Paint Colours Abalone

Abalone is a wonderful chameleon colour; sometimes it looks a little brown, sometimes a warm grey. It can work with light and dark floors and is a good all-around colour for hallways, living rooms and bedrooms. It looks great with light and dark tile or wood floors. It’s versatility is its greatest asset. I love pairing it with it’s darker sibling, Silver Fox (see later down in the article).

Edgecomb Gray is my next most popular colour, it works in almost any home. In darker homes, where natural light is an issue, this is a good choice as it helps to make the home feel as airy as possible. It works with almost any tone wood floor, and a variety of tiles as well. It looks great with tons of white as accents.

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Ashwood has much of the same properties of Edgecomb Gray, but can take on a green hue in certain lights. If there’s any cream or yellow in the room, it’s not ideal. But with darker wood, Ashwood can be the perfect hint of colour while still being a neutral.

I know grey gets a bad wrap sometimes, but it only looks cold when used in the wrong applications. I like grays that have a touch of warmth, but still do read as a grey. Metro gray looks best with warm mid-tone walnut wood, and white marbles – Calacatta, Carrara, Statuario, etc.

Horizon is the ultimate neutral that offers pale, calming colour. It’s blue, but can read slightly blueish-green in certain lights. Use it in bathrooms, laundry rooms, or any living areas with beige carpets. Every room needs colour and contrast, so if you have cream or beige on your floor, you do NOT want to put a similar tone on the walls. Opt for a neutral blue like Horizon.

Mid Tone Paint Colours

Silver Fox is a luxurious and rich colour that is not too dark for your walls. Most people often want to choose the lightest shade on the paint deck, but the lightest colours rarely translate well in listing photography. You need richness without being overpowering and that’s what Silver Fox is. If you were to choose Abalone for your hallway and/or kitchen, choose Silver Fox for your living and dining room for a coordinated, sophisticated look.

Revere Pewter had to make the list although I have to admit, I don’t use it all that often. But so many people do and you can see endless photos of this colour being used beautifully. It is best when you have brown tones you are trying to work with, but are looking to downplay it into a greyer shade. The picture with the white and brown marble is the ideal way to use Revere Pewter.

Silver Half Dollar is definitely blue, but has enough grey to keep it from looking juvenile. It is truly a very elegant colour. Not to be used in a 15 gallon bucket all over your house, but can be used strategically to break up too much neutral grey or brown. It always looks great in bathrooms, or any room that has lots of white architecture like an eat-in kitchen with white cabinets. In the bottom-left picture, Silver Half Dollar looks great in this living room because of the white stack-stone fireplace, white art and cream furniture. If you have a room with lots of white, and want to have some colour, this could be a great choice.

Dark Accent Paint Colours

I updated the article this year to include dark accents, because I fear too many houses miss those critical focal points that make listing photos attractive and interesting. If you have a gorgeous fireplace with built-ins, a coffered ceiling, wainscoting walls, or huge windows, then with a ton of white trim, a neutral wall works well enough. But what if your room is missing all of these things? What is the eye supposed to look at? This is where dark accent colours are ideal. They help to strengthen focal points, and are used in small but strategic ways. It might sound scary to choose a darker colour, but these three colours below are hands down winners used many times with great success.

I love using Barnwood to both highlight and camouflage. Its definitely brown but has enought grey that it doesn’t feel like the 1990’s chocolate brown. For listing photography, its important to know that electronic equipment NEVER looks good; often its distracting and looks messy. So for a TV wall, or an office wall where you have all of your electronics, this is the perfect colour to visually hide the mess. Alternatively, it also does a great job to highlight a light fireplace. Remember that we will layer furniture and art in front of the paint, so it will look rich and interesting. Don’t get caught in the feeling that it’s too risky or fear that buyers will hate it. Buyers always appreciate a well styled room that looks tailored and interesting.

Polo Blue is my absolute favourite colour right now. It’s neutral, it works with tan, beige, light grey and white. It adds the drama that you get from bright and bold colour but its sophisticated and deep. It’s sexy like black, but a little softer. I have used it quite a bit in white kitchens where there’s relatively little wall space. You get a punch of colour but its not overwhelming because of the white. My other favourite application is if you have a kitchen island or bathroom vanity that’s looking worse for wear. Painting out a cabinet in Polo Blue adds contrast, interest, and will look classic for many years to come.

New to the roster is the colour Stone. As mentioned, most people have grown weary of the charcoal grey and cement grey that can feel very cold. Stone is more of a dark mauve, with some grey added in to give it more neutrality. My favourite application is in a bedroom, because bedrooms are supposed to be romantic and restful and feel like a retreat. As long as you balance this colour with lots of white or cream, you can use it on all the walls. You can also use this colour as an accent on the bed wall, and then cut the other walls down by 50-75% white.

A Paint Colour Consultation is Critical

These are all lovely colours, but the truth is, any of them can go wrong if put in a space with the wrong lighting or against fixed elements that clash with the paints undertones. It’s fun to write this list, and if you have a nice white bathroom and you want to paint your vanity Polo Blue, then I can say with blind confidence that you should do it and it will look great. But the greys and taupes and neutrals are a tricky beast. Some have a green base, some will look too brown, or some will make your cabinets look dull. I urge you to contact us for a Paint Colour Consultation, which you can get for $250 if you mention this post, or it is included FREE in our long list of services when you list your home with The Village Guru. A good plan is the foundation of all success, and we are here to build you the best strategy in the industry.

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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, 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


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.


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


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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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!”

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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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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.

  • The Village Guru
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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.

When selling your home, deciding which Real Estate Agent to hire can be the most dreaded part of the process. The problem is that everyone sounds the same; they make the same claims, the same promises. They may each have their own bragging point, some secret weapon that ensures they are the best, be it years of experience, a huge database of buyers, territorial fame, having sold the most homes, or have the largest team. They are the same arguments that have been used since the genesis of our industry.

So how does all of this translate into the best sale for you? Or does it even have anything to do with it? I’m going to argue that no, it has nothing to do with a top dollar sale. Technology is moving this world faster and faster, and I find my industry is the last to keep up. In this age of the Internet and technology, a lot of what used to matter is about as relevant as the dinosaurs. If you want to achieve the best possible sales price,  here are the 2 critical skills a realtor must have to make that top dollar sale a reality:


1.  Internet Based Marketing Skills – Creating Maximum Buyer Exposure

Every agent has the potential to be able to do this, it has nothing to do with how many houses they sell or how famous they are. Buyers don’t give a crap who the listing agent is. It really means absolutely nothing to them. All buyers care about is hunting the Internet to find a house that A) meets their needs and B) they can fall in love with. Your agent must make sure your home is found by all possible buyers AND that they actually like what they see.

Although I will credit every agent for their potential ability to expose your home properly, very few actually do it. This skill definitely requires a few years of experience for sure, but also the unrelenting commitment to continuous learning. I see many agents of all experience levels having trouble integrating technology and becoming experts in Internet Based Marketing.

To find the most qualified buyers, it takes much more than just listing your home on The Village Guru Team uses our proven marketing system that focuses on High-Service Home Staging & Internet Based Marketing that maximizes every opportunity to attract buyers to your home. And as new technology opportunities evolve, we learn them and incorporate the best of it into our systems.

  • This includes Professional  Hands-On Staging Services, which are not even comparable to the basic consult that is standard across the industry. This ensures that all the buyers who would like the home are not turned off by cluttered rooms, poor layouts or dull decor. They see the home presented at its absolute best.  Read more Here.
  • This includes Professional Listing Photography that actually shows buyers the size of the rooms, the layout, and how the rooms flow into each other. There should be no questions in the buyer’s mind about the home’s size or layout. Read more Here. 


  • This includes Professional Videos (not picture slideshows) that we use to market your home to target buyers on Facebook, Linked in and other identified markets. We take the time to determine what groups of people are most likely to buy your home and we target them aggressively through paid advertisements. Click Here to See a Video Example
  • This Includes Open Advertising of Your Listing by Hundreds of Companies. I can’t tell you how many agents protect their listing and don’t allow others to advertise it or share in on data-feed websites. The mere thought of another agent getting a client off your listing instead of themselves is sheer selfish mentality. In the world of advertising, more is more. Don’t hide a listing in the hopes of grabbing that 10% of unrepresented buyers, share the listing so that more agents bring more buyers and drive up your sale price.
  • This includes Professional Open Houses that are safely managed by 2 agents, controlling flow and capturing visitor contact info to maximize every opportunity. What’s the point of letting nosy noodles in your home unless they are willing to prove they are legitimate buyers and are willing to be contacted for follow up.

It really is important that the Realtor you choose is an expert in Internet Based Marketing, which includes Home Staging, to ensure you have a great product to market.  Why? Because the Internet is where buyers begin their purchase decision. Lawn signs, word of mouth, “secret” buyer lists, flyers, billboards, and newsletters are all great tools to promote the real estate agent, but are very ineffective at promoting your home. You’ll always hear the story of that time someone’s sister’s co-worker happened across a lawn sign, called the agent and bought the house. It’s about as likely as winning a lottery. Here’s the real facts you need to focus on.

89% of buyers have their own representation, don’t be fooled by claims of special buyer databases and that the agent already has a buyer for your home. Focus on the 89% of buyers who have hired an agent to help them find their next home. This same group of people use the Internet. It’s the other 10% who look at newspapers and drive around all weekend looking for open houses. This 10% are working on their own trying to save money. They are not the ones who pay top dollar. This is also why I would argue that the last number has dropped far below 28% in the last 5 years, to closer to 10% as well. Be sure to ask extensive questions about Home Staging & Internet Based Marketing because this is what will get THE MOST qualified buyers interested in your home.

2. Client Protector and Negotiation Skills

The integrity and professionalism of the Realtor you hire is critical to your success. Sadly, there’s always a large group of agents who, generation after generation, continue to sully the reputation of us all. We are as liked as politicians and used car salesmen. I will agree that finding an agent with integrity is like finding a needle in a haystack, but we are out there. And integrity directly affects how well your agent will negotiate on your behalf and represent your interests. Negotiation and client protection skills can mean the difference of thousands of dollars in your pocket. The best way to find out who will put your interests first, is to do extensive research about the Realtors you are considering. Testimonials, agent websites and blog articles, and community involvement are good indicators of the type of Realtor you are dealing with.

Beware of agents who sell you the idea of “double-ending” a property as a great way to net you more money, by saving on the commissions you pay. In this hot sellers market, there is no benefit for you to have your agent represent both sides of the deal. It most often results in a lower offer price to you, but a higher commission to the agent, even with a commission cut. No one person can represent both sides of a deal with complete impartiality; can a lawyer represent both the plaintiff and defendant? Somebody will lose, and it will likely be you.

I have had several scenarios in the past year of this hot sellers market where buyers have offered GOOD money for homes, but when we refused to do a double-end deal, the owner ended up selling for tens of thousands more in a multiple offer presentation of 3+ buyers. More buyers always brings more money. I could have easily made more money for myself and lost 20-50K for my sellers through double ending. It’s the one thing I would like my industry to outright ban, but in the meantime, it’s seller beware.

Do your research to ensure you have a real estate agent who is:

  • Transparent
  • Honest
  • Uses Systems and Procedures to Operate their Business
  • Has Integrity
  • Can Provide Positive Referrals about their Personal Character

Take a tour around my website to learn about who I am, what I value, the principles of The Village Guru brand, and how my systems produce better results for my clients.

People will tell you a lot of different things about what is important, but put yourself in the shoes of a buyer and think like them. What is important to them? It’s whether they can find and fall in love with a home that meets their needs. You need a Realtor who can market aggressively online to find and attract these buyers, and protect your interests from beginning to end. The rest, is just distracting noise that does nothing to help your sale.

Sign Up to Join our No-Obligation Home Sellers Program:

Home Sellers Program

Check out Our Home Staging & Marketing Strategies Here:

Home Staging Services

Listing Marketing Services

Are you interested in working with us to sell your home for Top Dollar? We are always looking to work with eager, positive-minded clients

Contact The Village Guru Today

Tell us about your home to sell and how you want us to provide an experience that exceeds all of your expectations. If you’re looking for real service, we’re looking for you.

No matter how the real estate market is performing, well maintained and upgraded homes sell for more, sometimes much more than similar homes that aren’t upgraded. The challenge for a home seller is that not all upgrades are created equal, and it can be hard to know what upgrades and improvements are worth the investment.

For many home owners reading this article, you may have already completed some of the upgrades on this list, which means you’re already several steps ahead. Most of these upgrades are not big jobs, rather they’re the small jobs that you can do over time. When you combine strategic upgrades with home staging, you will create an atmosphere that will have buyers lining up to buy your home.

If you’re looking to sell your home in the future and interested in investing in your home for a better return, read on as we share the Top 10 Upgrades to increase the value of your home.

List of Top 10 Upgrades to Increase the Value of Your Home

10) Spiff-Up Your Driveway

If your driveway asphalt is in good repair, nothing makes it ‘pop’ like a new top-coat. It dramatically impacts your curb appeal and makes a great first impression on how you take care of your home. If you share your driveway with a lazy neighbour, do yourself a favour and do their side for them as well, you don’t want it to look like you have neighbour problems.

If you have interlock brick, re-level and repair any wobbly bricks. Remove all weeds so there isn’t greenery growing in the cracks. Both of these jobs are weather-permitting, but they do help make a good first impression. If it’s too cold to tackle your driveway before you’re ready to sell, never fear, the inside of the home is what matters the most to the majority of buyers and that’s why your driveway is on the low end of our list.

9) Patch Holes in Drywall

Over the decades, pictures have moved and left anchor holes behind, a hockey stick sliced the wall, and moving the sofa left a dent in the hall. As you might guess, painting is also on the list, so go ahead now and patch all the holes scattered over all the walls. Sand and prime so that you’re ready for paint. If you don’t know how, many painters will do this as part of their prep work. Most small holes can usually be filled with some putty, but if it’s a bigger hole, the proper procedure should be followed. It’s important that it’s done well, so that the patch job is perfectly smooth to the wall, or else it will stand out once the paint goes on the wall.

8) Clean Your Windows (In & Out)

The easiest way to make your home feel bigger and brighter is to open up your blinds and let the light shine through. Dirty windows block the amount of light that can come through, making your home feel dull. The best way to clean windows is 1:1 vinegar & hot water solution, and wipe off with newsprint. If you have kids, this have them help out and be part of the process!

7) Replace the Faucets in your Kitchen & Baths

Many homes still have builder basic taps that have lost their lustre. They can date the home and make your most important rooms feel tired. If your taps don’t sparkle anymore, look for sales on some good quality, attractive pieces. Buyers want a home that feels new, even if it isn’t. This small step of installing 3-4 new taps in your kitchen and bathrooms can cost as little as few hundred dollars and will be the finishing touch if you have nice counters and sinks. Find out more about bathroom upgrades.

6) Replace Door & Cabinet Hardware

I find that replacing door knobs and hardware can be a hard sell for a lot of home owners, but the impact is enormous. This one upgrade can literally take 30 years off the age of a home, I like to call this the botox of home staging.

Article continues below

Older cabinet handles are another culprit that dates a home. If they’re plastic, wood, or a combination of wood and brass, it’s time for them to go. Replacing the knobs on your kitchen cabinets is a very cheap upgrade that makes a huge difference on how old the house feels. My all time favourite is Silver Nickel, though antique gold and black are very popular as alternatives and will be here to stay for some time. Avoid the 1980’s brass and antique rubbed bronze that can be found in abundance at the big box stores – but are already dated and falling out of vogue.

Replace This:

With This:

5) Kitchen Backsplash

It amazes me how many people still don’t have a kitchen backsplash. To see drywall behind a sink or an oven is both impractical and unfinished. Adding a kitchen back splash one of the best ways to differentiate your home from the competition, and show your home to be more upgraded and stylish.

If your backsplash area is less than 25 square feet, I urge you to choose marble. Kitchens are the #1 most important room to buyers, so if you give them what they love, your home will stand out. Going high end on the back splash is especially effective in a smaller space, where the biggest cost of the job is the labour. It doesn’t cost much more to use a better material and buyers will notice.

My suggestion is to choose the classic, always-loved, never-goes-out-of-style Calcatta, Carrarra, Statuario or Venetino Marble. Choose and interesting mosaic with subtle detail and variation, and you will have a backsplash that looks good for decades.


Photo Credits: unknown

If your kitchen backsplash is over 25 square feet, then I will concede that material cost might come into play a bit more. There are some new porcelain tiles that look like marble. If that doesn’t work, you can’t go wrong with simple white or cream subway tiles laid in an interesting pattern or in more modern dimensions. Budget should never stop you from getting the upgraded impact we’re looking for.

Find out more about upgrading your kitchen to sell.

Photo Credits: unknown


You might have noticed by now that this list is full of items that people love to have, but hate to do themselves. That’s why these tasks add 300-1000X their value. That’s right. If you invest $2000 in your home to ensure it looks polished and well maintained, you can get $6000+ back. We do a thorough market evaluation before making any plans or recommendations.

4) Upgrade Interior Lighting

If you have light fixtures with 1 or 2 bulbs, try replacing them with a 3-light fixture. This upgrade isn’t that expensive, and upgraded lighting goes a long way to increasing the value of your home. All homes feel darker than they should feel, unless you’ve already upgraded your lights. Flush mounts with a smooth clear bowl start around $25 and they’re great for halls, bedrooms, and utility areas.

For more formal spaces, I recommend 3-5 light chandeliers to be used over any table, and you can get some really nice ones in the $170-$250 range. Many rooms are lacking architectural interest like quality moulding, built-ins or fireplaces. An elegant and eye-catching light fixture can often become the room’s focal point for a small fraction of the price. You always get 300% return on moderately priced options (not the cheapest, builder-basic, dime-a-dozen styles). Even if you don’t know how to change light fixtures, I guarantee that if you ask around, you will find someone who does. Pay them or gift them for their time, it is well worth the effort.

Below are inspirational pictures; I know some of them are more than $250. In premier homes it’s worth stretching to $500, but Home Depot, Rona and Lowe’s are constantly bringing in better and better well-priced options. If you plan properly, and give yourself the time to order online, the sky is the limit for the beautiful lights you will find.

3) Replace Flooring

Upgrading your flooring is clearly a more expensive job than replacing door handles or cleaning windows. We only consider replacing floors if:

a) you have the funds

b) if the floor is in rather poor repair

c) only when we are certain (through market analysis) that you will make money for the effort.

It’s not like the buyers would ever know that you even did the work, but if a floor is in poor condition, it can detract buyers offering on a home so it’s worth considering.

The good news is if your tile is dated but neutral, or your wood is in good repair but is an older honey oak colour, we don’t recommend changing it. However, if your floors are cracked, worn or out of date, we can provide options, including refinishing or replacing. As with anything we recommend, our goal is to ensure your home sells for a higher price than if you left the old floors. 

 Photo Credit Bottom Left: Parkyn Design

2) Replace Counters

Counters are the second surface that can make a big difference to the feel of the space. Luckily, a new counter is a lot cheaper than replacing floors, and combined with a marble backsplash, you can get real bang for your buck.

In executive homes we recommending installing stone counters, but only if the cabinets are in great condition and the kitchen is a good layout. Once you install stone, you should never need or want to replace it so if there’s any possibility that the cabinets could be replaced in the near future, don’t bother with a stone counter. Instead you should go with a more affordable option such as butcher block or laminate.

A good coloured laminate counter with no attached kick-back, combined with a gorgeous backsplash, can make any kitchen look elegant and livable, without having spent a fortune. If you want to read more about how we upgrade kitchens, click to read about a Kitchen Reno and our Top Kitchen Tips


Photo Credits: unknown

1) Interior Painting

And now, the number #1 thing you can do to make your home more appealing; paint your walls and trim!!! Nothing makes your home feel fresh and clean like a new coat of paint. At minimum, repaint all your trim and doors (white, if not already) with a semi-gloss. Take that paint over your cabinets as well if your wood is looking shabby or dated. (No buyer likes pickled pink or black walnut). Then, paint any walls that need to be toned down; stick to soft greens, blues & taupes. This truly takes your home to a new level, it just gives your home a brand new feeling like nothing else.

We always recommend (and provide as part of our listing services) a colour consultation to get the right colour for you home, because the colours should compliment your fixed elements such as flooring and cabinets. If you want to know about more paint colours we use often, check out our guide to choosing the right paint colour when selling your home.



Here are some of my favourite rooms that use these colours. I hope that this puts to rest once and for all the question about keeping everything beige. It actually misses the mark on creating that Top Dollar look. Below are soft shades of blue, and green and taupe that highlight the wood floors and make the white moulding pop. The more you can make your home look like a designer, model home, the better you will be. Again, it’s not about spending a lot of money, its about spending a little money very wisely.

Photo Credits: unknown

Take Your Time & Make a Plan

Of course, if you decide you want to sell and have the home listed next week, there’s very little chance you can complete most of the suggestions in this article. However, most people know for months before that they’re going to sell so use this time to get ready.

We often work with clients for 1 to 4 months before the home actually gets listed for sale, as part of our standard fee. That’s right, you pay no premium percentage for receiving hours of extra hands-on advice, planning and sourcing. If you want to go for a Top Dollar sale, I encourage you to contact as soon as you plan to sell, so we have the proper time to make a plan that fits your goals, budget and resources – at no extra cost to you.

We’re here to provide the best service on the market and to get you the most money from the sale of your home. If a Top Dollar sale is what you want, then contact us to find out how we sell homes the better way.

  • The Village Guru
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I was recently asked the question. “Why do you make real estate videos in your car?”

My answer is: I don’t do video blogging just to increase my business, but to create a record of my thoughts and my experiences as they happen. Hopefully in 100 years from now my great grand kids can look back and see what I was like in 2017. Never before have we had the opportunity to create a legacy and leave evidence of everything we choose to share.

The other day I had a moment of appreciation on how much opportunity exists for people who are motivated in today’s world. For example, the fact that I am able to create, edit and share this video with the world is amazing. Just a generation ago, it would have been next to impossible to do this.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the negativity that exist out there, but as a whole, we have never had more opportunity to make a difference as we do today.

Article giving advice on what to do to buy a house under $500,000

Article giving advice on what to do to buy a house under $500,000

I received some good feedback about a recent article about home buying in the GTA, which confirmed home buyer’s frustrations if you don’t have a million dollars to spend on a home. There are tons of articles right now saying you should move to Hamilton, change jobs, or suck up the commute, but really, I don’t think these are the best solutions for most people. Upheaving your life or suffering a terrible commute is not the kind of lifestyle I advocate if there are any other viable options. So what do you do if your home buying budget is under $500k…and you actually want to stay in the GTA?

Before we take a look at what I would suggest you buy in this market, we need to discuss two points about buying property that every first time home buyer must consider.

Point 1: Renting will Become the New Normal

Even though this market can be scary and unnerving for us Canadians, you have to step back and see how this has happened in countless other world class cities over the last 30+ years. Toronto and Vancouver are just the most recent additions to the list. Speak to anyone from Sydney, Melbourne, Berlin, London, Paris, Amsterdam, San Francisco, New York, etc., and you will see that most people rent; buying is just not an option. These people have accepted this about the city in which they live. Mark my words, in 1 or 2 generations, we will be in this scenario as well.

Now you must be thinking, how does this apply to me today? It’s your generation –  today’s typical first time home buyer, with a decent yet average salary, and a decent yet average down payment –  who may have the last chance to own a home in the GTA with relative ease.

Without access to significant sums of money or exceptionally high incomes, most people in future generations will be priced out. It has already started for those at the very bottom of the property ladder, thanks to the tightening of lending rules, so I urge you not to lose this opportunity if home ownership is something you want. Yes, you can live a perfectly normal life if you rent. Millions of people rent, they invest their money elsewhere, and they get on just fine. So this is not a plea for everyone to buy property beyond their means because they simply must buy. Not at all. This article is for the person who does want to own property and is probably very despondent that they wont be able to roll into a 3 bed detached home they way buyers did when our suburbs were first built.

Point 2: Why Are You Even Looking to Buy?

The main purpose of home ownership is to build equity. Yes, it’s a roof over your head and a place to build family memories, but you can also achieve this by renting. After interest costs, maintenance costs and taxes, renting can be less expensive. So with that in mind, why do you even want to buy a home?

You should buy a home because you are looking to build equity and watch your asset’s value appreciate over time.

It’s critically important to focus on this fact, and prioritize your wish list. Yes, you may want the 2000 square foot detached home. But perhaps all you can afford (and need) is a 1200 square foot town home, because it will get you on the property ladder. It might not be glamorous, but this is the way the real estate game is played. Don’t think for a minute that most people our parents’ age are living in million dollar homes because they paid a million dollars for them. They started out small, made sacrifices, and by paying down the debt and gaining market appreciation, they were able to move up to the homes they are in now.

It’s also important for me to touch on the fact that the type of home you can afford right now is NO reflection on you as a person or how successful you are, it’s simply a reflection of the market. It’s very easy to get frustrated about what others have been able to buy in the past for the same amount of money, or what your friends may currently own, but remember that many people higher up the property ladder were simply in the right place at the right time to take advantage of the given opportunities. It’s hard (but critical) to focus on this moment and remember that the primary purpose of your first home is to start building equity.

Your guiding principle must be that this first home is a STEPPING STONE to future purchases. Getting to your ideal home will not be a 1 or 2 purchase process, so you need to move your expectations from the dream home wish list, to starter home asset. This purchase is about owning something for 3-5 years, building equity and appreciation, and then re-assess. This means purchasing a home within your means so that your budget isn’t so stretched that you have to pull equity out of your home to pay bills. Pulling out your equity defeats the entire purpose of ownership. So any home that provides the minimum required living space, is solid and sound, and is well within your means, is a home you should consider. Only after those core needs are satisfied, should you be thinking about the physical characteristics of the home.

What I Would Buy if I were in Your Shoes

A Single Person:  I would focus on getting the best kept, most affordable condo around downtown/urban areas. 1+ bed with hopefully a parking space and locker. Re-sale should be on the top of your mind, because chances are your life will be much different in 5 years and you want to ensure your home will appeal to the most amount of buyers.  Amenities, transit, safety, upkeep, desirability and quality all play a huge role in whether you made a sound investment in your future value. In Mississauga, Port Credit is already over this price range, but you can find quality condo’s in City Centre, Streetsville, and by Erin Mills Town Centre. If you can extend a little further west to Oakville, consider the Uptown Core of River Oaks, Kerr Village, or Downtown Burlington off Brant Street. This will ensure that you have as much disposable income as possible, because it is important to also invest in other things like short term savings, RRSP’s, TFSA’s etc. Starting these young and maintaining your contributions is the best gift you can give to your future self.

A family of 2, maybe +1

You might not have kids YET, but if you are planning on having any within 3-5 years, you must take this into consideration before buying. I personally wouldn’t focus on school areas just yet, because the goal would be to move up after 3-5 years. Also, unlike what a lot of websites say, there are very few (if any) terrible schools that will ruin a child for life. So I would focus on getting the best property I can for the best price so that I am not financially stretched. You may have a year of maternity leave or want to start putting money away in RRSP’s or RESP’s or bump up your medical plan. Get something that is JUST big enough for a family of 2 and possibly 3, that will leave you as much disposable income as possible.

Most important, do not fear the word condo. Focusing on a low-rise condo or a condo town home will make getting a baby out for walks and storing the strollers and baby gear much easier than an apartment. But if you can only afford an apartment, then that is what you can afford and you can make it work. (See commentary about storage at the end of the article). There are also many newer builds that are 2 bed, which will offer more affordability and is really all the space you need. Again, keep your cash flow as large as possible. Given your possible future expenses, a condo is actually a benefit because things like roofs and windows will be replaced without a huge up-front bill to you. I can guide you in how to determine if the condo corp is being run properly, and if you’re worried about future problems, get on the board yourself. There are neighbourhoods across Mississauga, Oakville, Milton and Burlington that would work, and I can show you areas that have your desired amenities: transit, parks, shopping, etc.

A Family of 4+

If your budget is extremely tight, you can still buy a 2 bed with 2 kids if you want to be a property owner. You can buy a 3 bed with 3 kids. Your kids just need to share a room. This used to happen all the time; it’s only when large suburban homes were so affordable that we all got used to separate bedrooms, and multiple living rooms and eating areas. My aunt grew up with 3 siblings in a 2 bedroom row house in Toronto. 6 people, 2 bedrooms…….now, that is NOT ideal, but the point being that you are not ruining your children if they have to share a room.

I personally have a 3 bedroom home with 3 kids and my father lives in an apartment in the basement. The real estate term would be “cozy & charming” lol. We spend a lot of time together, it gets loud and messy, but I’ve learned to be thankful for these times where I get to be close with my children. During the early years when my wife and I kept getting pregnant, while trying to build our business at the same time, we were certainly jealous of others who had corporate jobs and were buying large detached homes for $480,000. Our lives and income were too chaotic to be able to do it then. But now, I’m damn thankful I have a home and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m also accepting the fact that the $480k house is now a $1 million dollar house and that’s life. We’re saving up for it and I’ll let you know when we can go out and buy it. My wife will be so excited that she’ll probably write her own blog series about it.

When buying smaller, the compromise is personal space. Since we all share a living area, we set rules like the kids don’t sleep in our room and bedtime is a strict 8pm. This gives us boundaries and time together as adults. Now that our youngest is 4 and the baby gear is gone, the kids only have enough toys that will fit in their rooms. They can bring toys into the living room to play with, but they go right back to their rooms at the end of the day. This keeps the visual clutter to a minimum and we can feel like we live in a house and not a daycare. My wife is a designer, so she has found ways to work every available space for hidden storage and she LOVES to purge. We are always encountering new storage issues and we proactively find ways to solve them. IKEA loves us. And we make it work.

Hamilton, You Say?

If you really feel strongly about staying in the GTA because it keeps you close to work, or because you’ll have more time with your kids, or your family support is near by, focus on taking a look at your lifestyle and what adjustments you are willing to make to stay here. Nothing is impossible, you just have to have the desire and a good plan.

Once you go through this exercise, you might realize that staying in the GTA is NOT the top priority you thought it was. There is a lot of opportunity growing from Hamilton to Niagara Falls, and if you can do it, you will do well. We are connected with Brokers throughout the region if you are curious about this option.

Taking the Plunge

This is not a market to try to DIY your home purchase. Working with a realtor to buy a home costs you nothing. But working with a great realtor can save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of going in circles, endlessly searching at random, missing good houses because they sell quickly. Working with a great realtor, whom you can trust and who advises you effectively, well, that is priceless in this market. Do your research online to see who demonstrates a high level of knowledge, and meet with a few until you find someone you are comfortable working with. Any good realtor will meet with you without forcing you into a buyer representation agreement before you know if you want to work with them or not.

Now, you are ready to buy your next home and get on the property ladder!

Are you looking to work with a buyer agent who will provide you sound advice and a systemized approach to buying your next home? 

Contact The Village Guru Today

Tell us about your home buying goals how you want us to provide an experience that exceeds all of your expectations. If you’re looking for real service, we’re looking for you.

A Birthday Breakfast Turned Into a Business Lesson

It was my birthday several weeks ago, and my wife wanted to treat me to a relaxing morning. She let me sleep in, got the kids ready for school and after dropping them off we went to have my favourite breakfast at a local greasy spoon. As always, I ordered 3 scrambled eggs with bacon and home fries. When it comes to breakfast, I like it simple and consistent. You don’t have to be fancy with bacon and eggs; you just have to make it well.

When our meals came, I looked down and noticed my bacon looked like 3 pieces of charred leather. I picked up a piece and it instantly crumbled in my hand. As a rule, I tend not to send back food if I’m not bothered by the error, but with this meal, half the order was wrong and let’s face it, eggs just don’t taste the same without the bacon!

I managed to flag the waitress down and asked her to bring me some new pieces of bacon. She hesitated but put on the smile, said “of course” and took my plate away. Since she took all of my food away, I assumed that this would be replaced immediately, since my wife had her food and wasn’t going to let it sit and go cold.

20 minutes later, my wife was finishing up her breakfast and we were both very annoyed at this point. My new breakfast finally arrived, and the waitress apologized for the delay and said that there was another customer who complained about the bacon as well. They had a large group come in and she thinks the cooks pre-made a lot of bacon in advance to be prepared.

Of course, this apology did nothing to make me feel better or repair my experience, and this whole issue could have been avoided if any of the staff had been more proactive about the situation. Before having our children, my wife was a Human Resources Associate, and she had much to say about culture and how this was a perfect example of culture gone wrong. We had a long discussion about how it applies to all businesses and to my industry, in particular.

In the current situation, the staff clearly felt they were just there to do their job with a minimum amount of effort. Now, mistakes happen, but when you see a series of errors made by more than one person, there’s more to it. These errors are a reflection on the managers of the restaurant and the culture they’ve created. Below is a play-by-play of the miss-steps involved in my birthday breakfast, which demonstrated that the staff did not belong to a service-driven culture.

  1. The cook knowingly served crusty old bacon. Whether he had learned in the past that wasting food would bring negative consequences to himself, or whether he was careless about the quality of food he was serving is a mystery. Either way, he chose to put out bad food.
  2. The waitress did not quality-check the plates before bringing them to the guests. She admitted she knew of the quality issues with another guest. This suggests that she didn’t feel it was her responsibility or didn’t have any desire to repair the problem on her own before it had a chance of happening again.
  3. Our food was delivered and the server walked away. She didn’t stay to give us the chance to inspect our meals to ensure they were satisfactory to us. It’s one thing to bring bad food and ask (hope) if the client likes it. Leaving before we could say anything suggests the server wanted us to just accept the food, eat it, and not give her any hassle.
  4. When I complained, the server took all of my food but left my wife’s. In my opinion, you take it all or you leave what’s good and quickly replace the bad bacon. It’s Hospitality 101 that all guests should have their food at the same time. We came for the experience of eating together, not to take turns watching each other eat.
  5. A meal sent back should become top priority on the kitchen line. It’s a red flag that someone is not happy and it’s the kitchen’s fault. Instead of my new food coming out within minutes, my complaint got put to the back of the line and I waited longer for my second plate than I did for my first. If that’s not a passive-aggressive statement of “don’t bother me with your complaints”, I don’t know what is.


The Forgotten Role of Culture in Business

Culture is the life-blood and identity of a business. Everything from branding, training, staffing, service, products and marketing must stem from culture. It must be led, fed and exemplified by management, and tended to at all times to ensure every single staff member believes they are a part of this vision. The staff must believe that maintaining these attitudes and behaviours is critical to the company’s success. Staff must feel empowered to take ownership of their jobs, make them better, and know they will be recognized for their efforts. If management fails to live by example and breathe these values into their staff, neglect and indifference begin to spread like a disease.

For those organizations who don’t set out with their desired culture, a negative culture will set in by default.


The Culture in a Sales Office

In most sales offices, the goal is naturally to make more sales. This is logical; all companies want to generate more revenue. Greasy spoons want to sell more bacon and eggs and real estate companies want to sell more homes. But when the goal of “more sales” is so obsessed over that it becomes the company’s default culture, a whole host of service problems are created. Whatever management says is important in the terms of recognition or reward is what staff will focus on. It’s pretty simple. You can talk a good talk about quality, service, teamwork and initiative all you want, but if these things never get recognized in any established way, then it’s nothing but empty words with no actions. Those who care about client relationships will slowly leave, and slowly the company will attract more sales sharks.

Culture is always at work, impacting the company, it’s whether management is steering this activity or if it’s happening by default.

The rub is that most customers want really good service. Companies like Starbucks & Whole Foods prove that people are willing to pay a fair price for good service. It’s when the service becomes notoriously poor that customers demand rock bottom prices. So when your default culture is to “make more sales” instead of “knock the socks off your client’s expectations”, you enter into a race to the bottom where no on wins, especially the customer.


Real Estate Culture

Whether we are talking about an entire brokerage or a smaller team with 1 leader, most fall victim to the “more sales” goal, which has defaulted into their culture. Quantity and volume are critical, because this is what is being recognized as a success. Quality is spoken of, of course. Yes, we strive to provide THE BEST service to our clients. But this talk of “best service” isn’t written into any of their standard practices, their Key Performance Indicators, their systems, or processes. Their staff receive no rewards or recognition for the relationships they build that are deeper than a Facebook like or a cold call.

Culture is an incredibly difficult thing to get right, and an incredibly easy thing to get wrong.

I truly believe that a company’s culture must be founded on the customer experience and empowering staff to take ownership over this process. This requires ensuring there is no negative impact for trying to do the right thing, and no positive reward for cutting corners. Whether you run a greasy spoon or a real estate team, if you focus on creating a culture of empowerment and service, the happy customers and greater sales will naturally come.

tips on preparing your kitchen for sale

tips on preparing your kitchen for sale

Lately, I’ve been working with a lot of home owners who have older homes and are wanting to update their kitchen in order to sell their home. Whenever I find someone who is willing to update their kitchen, it’s music to my ears, as your kitchen is the most valuable and interesting room to work on.

To be fair, I totally understand that there are situations where a home owner just doesn’t have the time, resources or desire to update their kitchen, and that is no problem at all. In that case, we make the best of whatever you have when selling your home. However, if you have a kitchen that looks anything like these pictures AND you want top dollar for your home, I would love to talk to you about a stylish update.


One thing you should know upfront, I’m obsessed with making sure that no kitchen project of mine ends up looking like a Big Box Store Special. It’s not an easy thing to do, since we usually have a crunch timeline of 3-5 weeks to do the work. But I love a good challenge, and the main restriction is that we usually have to work with in-stock items. The goal is to set a classic base of elements that will stand the test of time, and then introduce fresh ideas that are stylish and current. Sorry Home Depot, but the in-stock counter options you sell just don’t make the cut. And frankly, I can get better for CHEAPER.

The reason I can create a stylish, interesting and updated look in less than a month is because you’re hiring all of my past experience, my leg-work for researching suppliers and knowing where the best prices are for everything. I’ve spent hundred of hours sourcing and re-sourcing available items that are priced well and provide the interest and sparkle that every kitchen needs.

Classic Foundation

Cabinets are a major part of the cost of a kitchen, and if you have a lot of them, we work with them and make them the best they can be. This might mean painting them out, or re-facing them. If they are in excellent condition, we might even be able to keep them as-is. Decade over decade, the most popular kitchen cabinet colour is white. You serve yourself best to avoid trend colours from past decades and stay as neutral and classic as you can. In certain situations, I also recommend other shades of taupe or grey, depending on the fixed elements of the room we need to work with, like appliances or the floor. The exception to this is having a contrasting island is a great way to break up a long line of cabinets and create a more custom feel.

Here are some inspiration pictures of what buyers are looking for:


Flooring, unless it is in poor condition, is usually something I try to work with. Some home owners have no problem removing all of their lower cabinets to install new floors, but for many owners, this idea is far too stressful and uncertain. Sometimes all a floor needs is a good scrub or new grout job to make it look fresh and clean. It also keeps the budget in check so I will try my best to work with a floor whenever possible.

Counters are the trickiest part to the equation because no one wants laminate any more. EVERYONE wants stone. But for staging, often installing stone just doesn’t make sense. I only recommend stone when it’s a high-end home, with good cabinets already in place. But if the cabinets are old, or the cost of the stone can’t be obtained out of the sale price of the home, you’re just losing money. I’ve been using a lot of butcher block lately as a cost-effective alternative. It’s relatively cheap, adds a sense of warmth, looks great with white cabinets, and is very popular right now even in the design world.

If I do recommend laminate, it is with very specific rules:

  1. There are only about 5 laminate patterns that are even kind of OK, and none of them are brown. That’s why white/grey kitchens work well.
  2. The counter has to be specially made without the attached back splash; this way it has the same profile and shape of a stone counter.
  3. And finally, you must install a beautiful tile back splash so that you have an attractive focal point that allows the counter to become just part of the background image.


Speaking of Backsplashes, they are the single most effective upgrade you can do for your kitchen. For the extremely budget-weary, a white or cream subway tile is an eternal classic and always looks good. To make it look more modern we can play with the dimensions of the tile to have a fresh vibe. But otherwise I recommend only one option. Marble. I can get it for $10-$14 a square foot and once you calculate your square footage, you will see that the price difference of the tile isn’t really that much. You are paying for labour more than anything, so I argue get the most beautiful tile you can. This is what makes buyers start to drool.


Light fixtures are the last component of the kitchen that really make the kitchen sing. if you have an eat in table, island or pendant over a peninsula, I insist it must be GORGEOUS. No one ever buys pretty lights but they love having them. Such a small thing makes a remarkable difference and really is the finishing touch to all your hard work. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Cheap and Stylish Lighting.

So if you’re planning to sell your home and know you need to upgrade, make sure you call The Village Guru, so that you don’t have to make all of these little decisions on your own. We can help you plan your project, even design a new layout if required, and help your source all of the products to make sure you have a room that all buyers will love and pay you good money for. Have a question or want to find out more? Fill out the form below.

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I was recently interviewed by Point2Homes about the current real estate Market and what advice for Home Buyers I had. They were particularly interested if I saw any difference between a Mississauga Home Buyer and an Oakville Home Buyer. Given the prices across the GTA, there’s no great savings moving west, especially to Oakville with their endless high quality neighbourhoods and where every school ranks 8/10 or higher on Fraser School Rankings. The reason most people stay in Mississauga is if they want more cultural activities, amenities and access to Toronto. So lifestyle still does factor into my client’s search, but budget has no doubt risen to the top of the list. People are getting priced out of many many neighbourhoods, and if you want to buy property, it’s time to get a solid plan together, which includes working with a highly skilled realtor. Read the full article below:

Real Estate Agent Advice for First-Time Home Buyers (Expert Interview Series)

“Point2 Homes is a real estate marketplace serving the United States, Canada and numerous international locations. We are helping home buyers find the right home and sellers find the right buyer.”


Are you looking to work with a buyer agent who will provide you sound advice and a systemized approach to buying your next home? 

Contact The Village Guru Today

Tell us about your home buying goals how you want us to provide an experience that exceeds all of your expectations. If you’re looking for real service, we’re looking for you.


before and after kitchen remodel for selling

In this case study, we examine the steps we took in this Kitchen Remodel to transform a kitchen on a very tight budget. Learn the classic techniques we use to make a space feel fresh and contemporary, while keep costs in check.

Have you ever been to a fancy restaurant, had a fancy meal and thought to yourself, ‘This is the best meal I ever had!‘ Have you ever ordered a bottle of wine and thought ‘this wine tastes so good, it goes perfectly with this meal….’
If you did you aren’t alone. In fact, you went to a restaurant that knows what they are doing by creating the perfect atmosphere.
Modern decor, highly trained staff, ambient lighting… Just a few of the factors designed to enhance the atmosphere. Happy customers spend more – it’s a fact.
Do you remember the last time you visited a luxury jewellery store, complete with is impeccably decorated with plush velvet seating and millions lights shining down on all those sparkling diamonds and rolex watches- they all look flawless. I don’t know about you, but how come my watch never looks as bright or as shiny as the day I tried it on in the store?
That’s because the experience was designed that way…
In sales, the key to success is creating an atmosphere where a buyer expects better. When someone expects better, their mind has a way of focusing on all the aspects (meal, watch, house…) that are pleasing to them, and over looking things that might not be. It’s the way our mind is hardwired,
Subconsciously we see only what we expect to see. 
The setting in which you are doing something and your current mindset affects how you experience it. Think about this in terms of real estate. If you’re selling your home wouldn’t it be wise to create an atmosphere that will encourage a positive mindset in a home buyer? You bet! In fact, what if I told you there is a way to create this atmosphere and bank thousands more on the sale of your home?
Over the years our team has developed a procedure where we focus on creating the best atmosphere possible for home buyers. Instead of relying on hard selling, we believe that investing the time and effort upfront to focus on a home’s presentation will always get our sellers more money for the sale of their home and a better experience. Just like when you sit down for an expensive meal, you expect the best. By giving your buyers exactly that you’ll always comet a winner!
Thoughts, comments, I’d love to hear them.

Are you interested in working with us to sell your home for Top Dollar? We are always looking to work with eager, positive-minded clients

Contact The Village Guru Today

Tell us about your home to sell and how you want us to provide an experience that exceeds all of your expectations. If you’re looking for real service, we’re looking for you.


Parent Teacher Interviews

The other week was parent teacher interviews for my 3 boys. As I’m sure all parents out there can relate, they can be stressful, especially if there are some points of improvements that your kids need to work on.

For my wife Stephanie and I, we were a little nervous this time around because our youngest just started kindergarten and you never know what type of feedback you will receive at the first meeting. Luckily for us, the teachers really like him and he is getting along well in class. Just a little more focus on better problem solving and getting used to the routine, but aside from that he is progressing along fine.

The interviews for the older two boys still always makes us nervous but we’d been down this road before. After 3 and 4 years of school, we already knew what they excelled in and what their challenges were. We received their report cards a few days prior to the interviews, and it was good to see that the teachers’ evaluations were the same as our perceptions as well. Their observations showed me they had taken the time to really get to know and understand our boys, and how they learn. They saw their strengths and weaknesses and were confident in how we could world together to further build up our boys’ skills.

You Can do it Right, or You Can do it Easy, but Not Both

I thought about all my hard working teacher friends out there and I’m sure it would be much easier to tell every parent that their kid is doing “great” and gloss over any weaker areas. It would save teachers from having those difficult conversations with parents that can risk defensive reactions or disagreement. And in the end, the parents might not even find out till the next year, if ever, that there was something amiss. Or at least, it wouldn’t be that teacher’s problem anymore.

But that would be taking the easy way out, and in the long run, it isn’t in a child’s best interest to ignore away the issues. A good teacher wants to see their students improve and grow, and takes pride in being part of the process.

I think that same line of thought should apply to real estate as well, but sadly in most cases it doesn’t. When it comes to selling your home, most realtors are not focused on a client’s long term success, but instead, on the short term opportunity.

Let’s Compare the School Process with the Real Estate Process

School: you first receive your child’s report card so you can see how they are progressing. Second, you have an interview to go over the marks, identify improvement areas, and clarify any points. Finally, a plan is made with both the teacher and the parents with action items to help the child become the best student they can be.

Real Estate: First, there’s often “no report card”, or any research done about the home, the neighbourhood or relative value. Often the home owner will tell the agent what they think the home is worth, and the agent agrees to the price so that the owner is happy. Second, there is no truthful conversation about any shortcomings of the home, and how addressing these issues could improve value. Everything about the home is “great”, and the agent will only validate issues that are brought up by the owner so as not to offend. Last, there is no plan to work towards to create the most successful listing. They will tell the owner whatever they think they want to hear, pull out the listing paperwork and push to get it signed. This is how it’s done. 1,2,3 closed!

I’m going to share an inside secret with you, it’s common practice to teach real estate agents that if they leave your home without the listing signed, then they aren’t getting it. So instead of being objective, and offering advice that will get the home owner more money, most agents rely on telling the owners exactly what they want to hear, which is referred to as ‘buying your listing’.

Or put another way, it’s the poor assumption that if they tell you what you need to hear, then they will loose the listing to another agent who will tell you what you want to hear. This is not the way it should be done.


Following a Standardized Process Gets Better Results

This is The Village Guru documented approach: Assess, Plan and Implement (API). Our API system has been developed over years of selling homes and is designed to raise the value of homes to their maximum potential. Below is a brief outline of what this involves.

ASSESS:  We meet assess the owners goals, plans, limitations, budget, ability and interest. At this time we also identify all positive selling points and identify any potential challenges.

PLAN:  We work with the owner to plan what is reasonable and feasible to prepare the home together. Our plan outlines options to maximize the home’s salability and save you tens of thousands in lost profit, or the money “left on the table”

IMPLEMENT:  We work with you to carry out the work of preparing and staging your home. This includes professional photography. We also implement our proven marketing plan to bring buyers and top offers to the table.

Is this the easy way? No. Does it take fearlessness to tell the whole truth? Yep. Do I lose some listings for being honest? You bet. But there’s even more people out there who want to work with professionals – whether it’s teachers, realtors or ANY profession – who have the knowledge, skills and integrity to get the best results; who use a system that identifies opportunities, monitors progress and achieves results.

These are the home sellers who win at real estate. The more informed you are and the better plan we have, the greater the value we glean out of your home. So if you have a child who’s had a really good teacher, and you were appreciative that your child was able to learn and grow from their time with that teacher, this is the kind of experience I strive to provide to each and every one of my clients.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost? 

Over the years, “Home Staging” has taken on a variety of definitions and meanings. Many billboards will advertise “Free Staging” with listing services, but what does that REALLY include? I’ve seen the full spectrum of “staging” in listings over the years and some of it isn’t very effective. You really do need to know what questions to ask to ensure you are getting quality services. Whether you decide to pay for it up front, or if it’s rolled into your commission fee, there is no such thing as free. There are many things you can do yourself to prepare your home for almost no money, but if you are receiving services of a home stager, mover, contractor, etc, there is a cost associated with that. Let’s break it down into it’s parts so you can know what to expect and what is fair.

1) Home Staging Consultation $250-$350

What is it?

A Home Staging Consultation is an appointment where a professional will walk through your home (hopefully long before it is listed for sale) and they will give you tips and advice on how to improve the marketability of your home for sale. This is not a decor rampage, or a chance to spend lots of your money. The Home Staging Professional should be asking you questions about your timeline, capabilities, budget and goals, so that the plan is actually reasonable and feasible to carry out. The only purpose of any level of home staging is to achieve these 3 goals:

  1. To make your home look as big as possible
  2. To make your home look as bright as possible
  3. To make your home look as updated as possible

A superior consultation will also include a detailed step by step plan for the home owners to follow. See an example of a home staging plan.

Who Pays?

If you decide to hire a full-service realtor, they will often include this consult as part of their services, but not necessarily, be sure to ask.  If you are choosing a flat fee or a low-commission realtor, you may have to cover this cost yourself. Also ask for the qualifications of the Home Stager. It shouldn’t be a decorator who has time to kill, or a realtor who is playing jack-of-all-trades. A professional home stager is skilled at creating a strategic plan that will add THE MOST value and appeal to your home for THE LEAST amount of money. 

Who is it Good For?

All Home Sellers. It is incredibly difficult for any home owner to look at their home with the critical eye necessary to build a proper, strategic plan. Home owners accept their house as is, and it is perfectly livable. But first impressions are what’s at stake; you truly only get 30 seconds before buyers form an opinion about your home. Then they will spend the rest of the visit finding reasons to validate their first impression, for better or for worse.

2) Essential Home Staging Activities

If you take a minute to read this article about top 10 activities to increase the value of your home, I review some of these common tasks that earn you the best bang for your buck. Industry experts recommend investing 1-2% of the value of your home to prepare it for sale, but often, The Village Guru gets the job done for much, much less. At the Village Guru, we focus first on Decluttering, Repairs, Painting and Lighting, as almost every home benefits from these activities. Given the right circumstances, a wide variety of other activities can come into play, but if you want to keep to the most simple and solid ROI (return on investment) focus on those 4 key areas. For more information check out these useful links:

The Ultimate Guide to Cheap and Stylish Lighting

The Top 10 Upgrades to Increase the Value of Your Home

Who Pays for Home Staging Activities?

Over the years, we all let little fixes pile up in our house unattended. We say we don’t have the time but secretly, it may also be that we’re not sure how to fix it or don’t want to try. The old adage is to save $100-200 a month for home maintenance….have you spent $1000-2000 each year maintaining your home? I don’t know too many people who have. Consider selling your home to be the “Day Of Reckoning” for your home. The single most important thing you can do for your home before you list is to ensure it is extremely well maintained.

Generally, a good realtor (who isn’t desperate and runs a reputable full-time business) will provide you with ongoing guidance from a home stager, and connect you with any contractor you need to get the work done. We build the plan off what will earn you the most money for your home, within the budget you are comfortable with. We would like you to contact us the minute you’ve decided you want to sell your home, even if you don’t plan to list for 3 months from now. The more time we have execute our plans, the more successful we’ll be. Giving yourself 2 weekend to get your home ready often causes unnecessary stress and doesn’t achieve the best results.

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Removing Furniture/Paring Down: 0$ 

The cheapest and easiest thing you can do is start packing before you list your home for sale. It’s time to think about how to make your home look like a model home, which contains JUST ENOUGH furniture to show the function and size of each room. Sell, donate or hide excess “stuff” in your basement or garage. But please don’t start until after you have received a staging consultation, because the only thing worse than a house with too much stuff, is a house that is empty.

what is home staging

Complete Repairs: 0$ – $ 1000+

Before we talk about staging, we have to talk repairs. Staging is nothing but lipstick on a pig if your home has visible repair issues. If you have to choose between staging and repairs, choose repairs. The cost all depends on what needs to be done. If your counter is broken, sink is rusted, transition strips broken, baseboards missing, mismatched electrical switches, exposed wires, chipped porcelain tubs, cracked tiles, wobbly hand rails, then we will work with you to make a plan of attack. Some repairs buyers don’t mind absorbing, some repairs buyers HATE and can actually be a deal breaker. We will show you which to focus on to get the best results.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost

Handyman Services: $30-50 per hour

Is that repair list above causing you stress? Not sure how to fix it all? Hiring for all the little things can mean the job is done right, done well and saves a lot of time in the long run. Especially for things like plaster work, replacing counters, fixing floors or tiles, painting, hanging drapes, etc, it can mean a lot to make one call and have it done. You’ll have wished you did it long ago. Always get 3 quotes and we can help connect you with contractors for whatever your job may be. If your friends can recommend someone good, perhaps you can barter services for payment of food, drinks or maybe get a gift card from points. Get creative and call in any favours you can.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost

Paint: $200-$600 Supplies, $0-$4000 for Labour

Painting is the single most effective staging activity you can do, so that your home looks and feels new. Every buyer wants a home that feels new, even if it isn’t. Neutralize everywhere you can. Don’t forget doors and baseboards, they are key to a modern finished look. Take a look at our guide for choosing paint colours here, However, it’s impossible to choose the right colour without considering other fixed elements in the room and lighting. We provide paint colour consults for $250 as a separate service, or we will include it in our commission if you hire The Village Guru to sell your home. The expense of painting is the labour, so if you want to save money, start asking around, call in favours, or bribe anyone who is willing to pick up a paint brush.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost

Lighting: $200-$700 Supplies, $0-$500 for Labour

Upgrading your lights have about 5 million benefits. Maybe 4.9 million, but it’s up there. I’ll condense it to this:

  • Increasing the physical number of bulbs in in your home (1 light to 3 light, 3 light to 5 light) makes rooms feel bigger (added value)
  • Adding ceiling fixtures where there are none (common in older homes) is worth every penny to buyers. New homes have ceiling lights, and old homes have dim dark rooms with a lamp in the corner. This is an investment that pays off 300%. It will set you apart from other comparable homes
  • Upgrading lights to stylish lights add a focal point to rooms that often have none. If you don’t have big beautiful windows, fireplace, moulding or built ins, adding a gorgeous chandelier is the cheapest way to add architectural interest and a focal point for photos.
  • Beautiful lights are very memorable to buyers and subliminally communicate quality and elegance to buyers.
  • The only way you can miss the mark with new lighting is if you choose the wrong one. Just because a light for sale, that doesn’t mean its pretty or attractive. When you hire The Village Guru, we source lights FOR YOU so that you don’t have to fuss over all the options out there. We will steer you away from the dime-a-dozen builder standards, and find the most affordable and stylish options. If you plan enough time to order online, we can REALLY knock your socks off.
  • Yes, there is real ROI with lights. If you spend $1000 on new lights, you can absolutely, no question, no doubt about it, add $3000 of value to your home. I stand behind that argument emphatically. Take a look at this article about lighting upgrades to learn more. 

How Much Does Home Staging Cost the Average Home Owner?

There’s no hard and fast equation, because some homes needs a lot of painting, but very little repairs. Or some, because of budget, can only do the decluttering and nothing more. Some owners have gone full hog and did every recommendation we made. Most home owners spend between $1000-$2500. On a $700,000 home, $2500 is 0.3% of the price of the home, well under industry recommendations.

What is true with each and every one of our clients is that we enter into a positive, partnership agreement. Our clients are willing and excited to do everything they can to prepare their home, and we agree to bring in our expertise in staging, design, marketing, product sourcing, as well as staging props, which is often over a $3000 value. (see below for more info)

It’s this strategic teamwork and positive relationship that adds tens of thousands of value to our clients homes. The Village Guru is blessed and privileged to find clients who are as equally committed as us towards a Top Dollar Sale and who want the best possible service from day 1.


3) Additional Staging Services

When you see “Free Staging” on a billboard, I’m quite confident in saying it won’t include these additional staging services. The Village Guru has a variety of service packages, all of which can be further customized to your needs.

Staging Props ($2000+) & Prop Installation Labour ($1500) = $3500+

Who Pays?

This service is part of our commission fee, if you choose one of our 2 higher service packages. My wife Stephanie has her own Staging & Design Company, and believe me, I don’t get it for free, but I do think she throws in some extra pillows for me. 🙂 If you are looking for a lower commission, you can also arrange to pay Stephanie directly if you still want these services.

What’s Included?

We think that bringing in a TON of props is the reward for all of your hard work to prep your home. We would much rather you spend money on lights and paint, and let us bring in the art, linens, small furniture, and accessories that will take the look of your home to the next level. This also includes our professional mover, hired to load the props in and out of the property, $100 of fresh staging props to create vignettes for photos, and 2 days of labour from Stephanie to prep, install, and then remove the props. It’s a lot of work, but it all sets your home miles apart from your competition. Take a look at our portfolio to see for yourself. Non-staged or “free-staged” homes don’t look as good as ours. Period.


Accessories are good for sellers whose homes are in good condition, and who have the basic furniture for each room. There is no benefit to bringing in artwork and pillows if the home requires significant repair….it does not hide problems that would affect offer price. So in MOST cases, we provide props *in combination with* the work home owners put into the home to prepare it for sale. Working together is how get the best results.

Renovation Planning & Design Consult Hours: 20-40 hours, a value of $1500-$3000

Who Pays?

This service is part of my commission when you chose our top level service program. If you want a lower commission, you can also hire Stephanie separately, and she can charge a flat fee or per hour, depending on your needs.

What’s Included?

Integrity and honesty are cornerstone values of The Village Guru, and first we always do a market report to see what renovation, if any, is worth the investment. And yes, I have recommended for clients NOT to do the work. The last thing I want is an overpriced home that can’t sell and an angry home owner. If I can determine that a reno will net a great profit (minimum twice the investment cost) then The Village Guru team is with you all the way, from day 1. Stephanie LOVES working on kitchens and baths especially, since thats where we can build the greatest profits. She will design a plan and revise it until you are completely satisfied, she will plan all of the material finishes and help you source them, and she will be there to troubleshoot problems and help make decisions along the way.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost

Click this link to see a large sample of Stephanie’s Past Staging & Decor Reports

Staging for Vacant Homes: $2000-$5000

What’s Included?

Empty rooms never do a good job selling homes, because scale and perspective cannot be understood from the photos. Confusion is never a good first impression. For vacant homes, it is highly recommended to fill the home with furniture, including beds, sofas and other large scale items. Renting furntire is a very high labour, high cost venture, and my wife determined years ago that she cannot offer this service any cheaper than the other rental companies out there, and didn’t want to carry the costs and liabilities. So we act as coordinator between you and the rental company.

Who Pays?

A good guideline is $650 per room, per month. The cost for a home seller to rent a full house is between $3500-$5000 depending on number of rooms. The cost to rent furniture for a condo is between $2000-$3000 depending on number of rooms.

We manage the coordination hours to source and finalize an item inventory to procure the items to fill out each room properly. We can then bring in our props and installation efforts as per our standard service package, which is a value of $3000+.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost

Staging for Estate Sales: $0-$profit

Estate Sales can generate a small to reasonable profit if the estate decides to have a contents sale. We have companies who provide this service, and they usually charge 50% of sales if they fully manage the auction, or 35% of sales if the estate manages setting up the auction. It’s a simple way to deal with any leftover contents after the directions from the will are carried out.

In our experience, these homes are often well taken care of with perhaps a few maintenance issues to address. The money earned from a contents sale can often cover these repairs, making it a zero-sum equation. We often sell these homes vacant and empty because it’s usually the least stressful and complicated option for the estate. Buyers know that it is an estate sale, so there is often more forgiveness for a vacant or dated home.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost

Don’t Gloss over the Details

Once you are signed with a realtor, it’s too late to find out you’re not getting the services you need to get the highest price for your home. Ask as many questions as you must, because the devil is in the details. “Free Home Staging” doesn’t mean anything. To us, we see Home Staging as a team effort, where we both do everything with reason to make your home look as big, bright and modern as possible. I have consistently seen that the home owners who put in 110%  to prepare their home for sale get the best results when the home is listed. Don’t underestimate the power of hard work and a positive attitude! 


  • The Village Guru
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You’ve made the decision to sell your home and now your mind is quickly filling with a lengthy “To Do” list. Before too much stress and worry begins to set in, take heart, and repeat a new mantra, “Soap and paint are my friends.” First and foremost, the home should be neat, clean and in good repair. The goal of preparing your home is to attack that honey-do list of irritating repairs and fix-ups. If you’re not looking to “flip” your home, major renovations are not necessary, and they cost more than can be recouped in the sales price. So this is why we say there are 5 upgrades to avoid when selling your home.

Its better to spend a fraction of the cost of renovation, stretch every dollar throughout your home, and get a far larger impact. It’s all about bang for your buck around here. Give the house a thorough cleaning, a fresh coat of paint on your walls AND trim, and replace worn out floors or work surfaces. Rest assured that money spent on soap, paint and flooring will reappear in the selling price of the home.

Resist the Temptation: 5 Upgrades to Avoid:

1) Major Landscaping (hardscape)

While beautiful interlocking or stamped concrete will attract more people to your home, that doesn’t translate into the buyer paying for it. A lot of the value of item is intrinsic; you enjoy having use of it, and that has non-monetary value. When selling, interlock is definitely going to hit a buyer’s approval list, but they won’t pay an extra $10k-$30k because you have it. For curb appeal, focus on looking well-maintained. If you have a wood deck, make sure it looks freshly stained and in good condition. Replace boards that look worn out. For plantings, you will actually get a better ROI by ensuring your garden beds are neat and full of attractive flowers and plants.

2) Fitted Closets

Much like point one, buyers drool over customized closets that store oodles of stuff, but they won’t pay for it. If you have a storage issue, the best thing you can do is get all the extra stuff out of your house by storing it elsewhere, donating it, or selling it. If you still have a lot of stuff with no designated “home”, invest in attractive storage units that will hide it all, and the units can come with you. IKEA will be your best friend.

3) Finished Basement

If it’s not finished yet, don’t start now. A good renovation will start at $30k and up, and you’d be lucky to recoup your dollars. So is it really worth the stress and aggravation? The only exception to this is if all of your neighbours do have a finished basement and/or it is an expectation of the neighbourhood. In this case, its worth a discussion with your realtor to decide the best course of action in your particular situation.

4) Additions

Don’t add on! To do it properly, your costs will far exceed your returns. If you already have a wobbly, shabby or questionable addition, sometimes it’s recommended to remove it. You need permits and the whole process can be long and costly.

5) Major Reno to Kitchen or Bath. Again, think of our new mantra: Paint & Clean. Paint out the cabinets if they are looking old, and replace the doors if they are broken. Replacing counters and floors, if necessary, will ensure your kitchen looks well maintained. Get bonus points for adding a marble backsplash.

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The MOST common mistake we see is home owners who install expensive granite on old, poorly configured cabinets. This is one of the most expensive mistake you can make.

If it is clear that your cabinets are a little worn or poorly configured, a stone counter dooms buyers to accept your kitchen as-is. If we focus on making what you have the best it can be, perhaps with a modern butcher block or custom laminate that has the feel stone, you present a product that is attractive & livable, but allows for future improvements down the road. That counter might even anger buyers who clearly see what you were trying to do, but no counter can improve old cabinets. Please speak to us about our tried and true combination of materials that make any kitchen look fabulous for an amazingly low price.

Doing Nothing is Just as Detrimental as Doing Too Much

Try to avoid the all or nothing line of thinking. Too many sellers either renovate too much or don’t want to do any improvements at all, which is just as dangerous to your net returns.

Home owners say to me, “There’s no way I can know the buyers’ taste. They probably will want to change it all anyway, so why waste my money?” The truth is that a lot of industry research has been conducted on what buyers want, and we know the looks that are timeless. In fact, we have very clear  knowledge of what the majority of home buyers dream about. It is a home that feels bright, spacious AND modern. Pale wall colour with lots of white trim, combined with upgraded lights and fixtures creates this magical feeling. When you opt for classic and timeless, you are always adding value to your home.

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Photo Credit: Unknown

The goal is always to work with what you have and make it the best it can be. Buyers want a feeling of fresh, new, updated & elegant. This does not require full blown renovations. But it does require some elbow grease. If you don’t want it on your elbow, hire some muscle.

When in Doubt, Paint it White

Unless you have excellent condition AND modern colour woodwork or cabinets, paint them all white. Don’t keep maple, or honey oak, or pickled pink, or knotty pine wood just because it is wood. No buyer will ever want to revive the original wood colour, and they will be more thankful that they have wood cabinets or trim in a modern, fresh colour.  Blend all of your woodwork together as part of the architecture of the home and create a unified look.

How do your bathroom vanities look? Worn? Dated? Save the renovation and paint the cabinets white or black, depending on which would suit the room the best. Replace vanity tops with white, black or taupe stone off-cuts from large kitchen jobs.

Does your tub look worn out or do the stains not scrub out anymore? Don’t sell a bathroom that needs a gut job, get it re-glazed white for a fresh fantastic look. White is the only viable colour, as it looks good in the grout lines and doesn’t call attention to the fact that it’s been re-glazed.

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The Smallest Details Make the Biggest Difference

Replacing light fixtures, door handles and faucets can instantly make your rooms feel much more updated without lifting a hammer. Stick to screwdrivers when giving Face Lifts. And finally, the best face-lift of all comes with a bucket of warm soapy water. Go online for a vast resource of cleaning tips and tricks. Scrub, buff, polish, wipe, sweep, & repeat. When a home looks well cared for, it attracts far more buyers than one that looks or feel neglected. Buyers use the small details to form their opinion about the home seller, and whether or not they think the house has been loved and maintained.

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