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How to keep your houseplants green

A few houseplants will offer your home a breath of fresh air!

Houseplants are visually appealing and also improve our home’s air quality by adding oxygen and removing harmful pollutants.  Here are a few hardy plants that will thrive in any environment:

  1. Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum) are great for beginners as they’re almost impossible to kill and they also look great in hanging baskets.
  2. Cast Iron Plants (Aspidistra elatior) are foolproof as they only require dim light and don’t need much water.
  3. The Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderana) simply stands in water and has been used by the Chinese for centuries in the art of feng shui to create harmony in the home.

Accidental drowning is a leading cause of death for houseplants.  Water them thoroughly but make sure there are drainage holes so excess water can escape as you don’t want your plants to be sitting in water.

Improper lighting is another reason why promising young plants become statistics.  It’s important to match the lighting needs of plants with the amount of light you have to offer.

Houseplants are a simple and cost-effective way to infuse natural, serene style into your home.  Better yet, research suggests they reduce stress and cold related illnesses and also increase our energy levels so go out today and outfit your home with some of nature’s lean mean green machines!

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Hot Home Trends from 2017

It’ a great time to update your living space!

It’s fun to follow the latest home and garden trends, especially if you’re hoping to make your home more attractive to buyers. Here are a few of the latest trends from 2017:

Shedquarters – A “shedquarter” is a private, backyard spot that can be used as an office, artist workspace or party area.

Docking Stations – Small, pull down desks can be added almost anywhere as wireless technology enables us to shift away from traditional home offices.

Vintage Vanities – Putting your bathroom sink on just about anything is huge this year! Old dressers, filing cabinets and even tree trunks can be converted into unique vanities.

Laundry Love – Homeowners are giving their laundry rooms some serious love with innovative storage solutions, bright lighting and even stylish wallpaper!

Foodscaping – Instead of traditional vegetable patches, backyards are now being transformed into edible landscapes that include vegetables, berries, fruits and herbs.

Smart Windows – Cutting-edge window technology now allows our windows to be programmed according to the weather outside as well as the air quality inside.

Just like fashion, home trends can come and go so it’s important not to overcommit. Hopefully, these ideas have given you some inspiration as to what’s coming next, whether you’re thinking of selling or just simply looking to update your home.

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How Canadians can boost home value through renovation

By Gail Johnson http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/blogs/insight/canadians-boost-home-value-renovation-132555909.html

With the popularity of home-decorating shows like Trading Places soaring, suddenly everyone’s an interior designer. But from a real expert’s point of view, where are homeowners’ renovation dollars best spent?

“Kitchens and bathrooms are the best places to start,” says Toronto’s Howie Track, owner of Traxel Construction, which specializes in high-end residential and commercial renovation and construction. “Kitchens and bathrooms are the first places people look, and if a new buyer sees that the kitchens and bathrooms have been done, then there’s less for them to do.”

Figures from the Appraisal Institute of Canada support Track’s claim. According to the Ottawa-based property-valuation association, bathroom and kitchen renovations continue to be the most popular on the list of perennial home improvements, with a recovery rate of between 75 and 100 percent.

The organization defines “recovery rate” as the likely increase in a home’s resale value that could be attributed to a renovation. If a $10,000 renovation increases a home value by $6,000, for example, the recovery rate is 60 percent.

Landscaping vies for top spot too, according to Track. “If you can wow potential buyers with some curb appeal and the kitchen or bathrooms have also been done, then selling will be that much easier,” he says.

When it comes to renovating older homes, Track suggests updating wiring and plumbing. “Most knowledgeable home buyers will see this as a definite bonus. That said, many first-time homebuyers may not appreciate the work that has been done.”

Approximately 1.9 million households in 10 major Canadian centres did renovations in 2010, totalling almost $23 billion. The average cost of renos was nearly $13,000.

According to the AIC’s most recent data, energy-efficient upgrades are another popular focus for renovations, with an average recovery rate of 61 percent.

Other renovations that have higher recovery rates include the use of non-neutral interior paint colours (67 percent), the addition of a cooking island in the kitchen (65 percent), and the installation of a Jacuzzi-type bath separate from the shower stall (64 percent).

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to renovating is expecting Champagne-style results on a beer budget.

“Clients will say to me, ‘Get a few prices and we will go with the cheapest,'” Track explains. “In construction, you get what you pay for, and if you only consider price, then you are asking for trouble. It’s important not to overpay, but quality trades come at a cost. I always tell my sub-trades that I want good work at a fair price.”

Above all, planning is crucial. It takes at least two to three months to plan for a simple kitchen renovation, Track notes, urging people to read magazines and clip pictures of everything from layouts to paint colours.

“People who don’t plan always run into problems,” Track says. “People need to hire a good architect and a good designer to help them make informed decisions on materials and design. So many times I have clients who don’t want to spend money on a good architect or designer, and inevitably this leads to problems. The better you plan, the less the chance of making mistakes and the better the chance of coming in on time and on budget.

“Try to make as many decisions as possible before you start,” he adds. “By planning, you’ll have a better idea of how long the job will take and how much it will cost. Also, make informed decisions about materials and do some research.”

Budgeting is another basic, as is asking contractors for references and asking for examples of past projects.

“If you set a realistic budget for a job, you have a better chance of not exceeding it,” Track says. “It’s common for contractors to low-bid a job so that they get it. Once the job is underway, the client has no alternative but to pay all additional costs that arise in order to get the job done. There’s a square-footage or unit price for almost everything in construction, so the only real difference between contractors should be the fee they charge.”

Renovations that add features to a home that others in the neighbourhood already have, such as a second bathroom, have higher recovery rates than features not shared by adjacent properties, according to the AIC.

Poorly done renovations may have no positive impact or could actually reduce the value of a home.
Recovery rates and resale value aside, the AIC can’t put a cost on professionally done renovations when it comes to home owners’ sense of satisfaction and enjoyment. That’s priceless!