Attic & Basement Storage Ideas to Gain More Space

Maximize every square foot in your small space

There’s a lot you can change about a home, but without a major renovation, square footage is rarely one of them. Making smart use of space can make a room, a floor or an entire house feel bigger. There are plenty of ways to optimize the space in your home to give the appearance of increased space but the key to creating that illusion is to be organized and to find clever ways to maximize every square foot in your home. 

Use mirrors: One simple way to make any room seem bigger, longer or wider is to add reflective surfaces like windows and glass that create reflections. Mirrored tabletops or mirror placed under candles or vases can bounce light in different directions. Get creative with your reflective surfaces.

Every surface counts: Most of us tend to focus on the flat, horizontal space we have available and ignore the endless possibilities of a vertical surface. Shelves, art and objects can be placed on walls to draw attention upwards which creates the illusion of more space.

Brighten up: Make sure to keep curtains and blinds open to allow as much light in as possible. Light makes a room feel larger and more airy. Hanging curtains from the ceiling instead of the window frame will also make the room appear to have more height.

Storage creates space: Storage is the easiest way to make any room appear larger than it really is. Using storage bins under beds, in closets and bathrooms can hide clutter and open the room up to more space. Mudroom benches conceal a lot of items such as wet umbrellas and rain gear that can damage hardwood floors.

Tips for the kitchen: Dark surfaces can be a big culprit in making rooms seem smaller or – as small as they actually are. By giving cabinets and doors a coat of light paint and using glass on doors to lighten the space you can give the impression of a larger kitchen. Hanging a pot rack on the wall will not only give you more storage for pots and pans – it will add some style to your space.

Spacious living places: There are several ways to make the areas you lounge in look larger. Flat screen TV’s can be mounted on the wall or hidden in cabinets and using large, bold pieces of furniture that are proportioned to each other can make any room seem more spacious. The trick is to avoid overstuffed furniture and patterns that are too bold.

Creating width: The quickest way to fix up a space is to give it a fresh coat of paint, however wallpaper can be an invaluable tool for increasing space. Tone on tone wallpaper can trick the eye into thinking a room is wider.
While a small space will always be small, these tricks can help you to make it look and feel larger. Any sort of clutter can quickly reduce that space so make sure to consider storage options to maintain the illusion of more square footage.

homebuyingmistakes

Top 10 Home Buying Mistakes

Buying or selling a home is no easy task and let’s face it, like most things in life there are plenty of common mistakes to be made. The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) is a not-for-profit corporation dedicating to protecting consumers through a fair and safe marketplace. They’ve seen it all when it comes to home buying and selling pitfalls and have compiled a list of their top 10 mistakes to avoid. Have a quick read and make sure you don’t become a statistic!

1. Becoming emotionally involved. Know your budget and stick to it. Don’t forgo a home inspection just to win a bidding war.

2. Hiring the first realtor you meet. Meet with at least two or three agents before you make any rash decisions – Ontario has over 60,000 brokers and realtors – find the right one for you.

3. Not making your expectations clear. Your realtor is not a mind reader. He or she works with numerous clients each day, each one looking for something a little different. Communication is key. Determine what services you are expecting from them and get it in writing.

4. Failing to read and understand contracts. It’s true that the amount of paperwork that goes into a listing or home sale is plentiful and skimming over the details can be tempting. This can led to problems down the road however, so don’t feel pressured into signing right then and there – take the time you need to understand everything.

5. Assuming everything is included. Before making an offer, detail all items that you would like included in the purchase, including window coverings and appliances. Your realtor will let you know if the seller has indicated any exclusions on the counter-offer.

6. Forgetting what’s behind the walls. A gourmet kitchen? Hardwood floors? A remodeled bathroom? Sold! Hold your horses, there. While they are great selling features, hardwood floors and granite countertops wont heat your house. Find out the age of the home’s systems and if any upgrades have been done. Insulation, wiring and plumbing are just as important as interior features.

7. Forgetting what’s outside the walls. We’ve all heard it before – location, location, location. Is this a community you want to live in? Do a little recon to find out for sure.

8. Not doing your research. A simple internet search or a conversation with a neighbour may reveal something about the home you’re thinking of buying. Take the time to look in to it.

9. Making verbal agreements. Put everything in writing. Everything!

10. Underestimating closing costs. From land transfer tax to legal fees, closing costs add up quickly. Set aside more than you’ll need to save yourself some stress.

Visit www.reco.on.ca for more helpful tips for homeowners.

preapproval

Why Getting Pre-Approved is a Necessary Step

Before you start searching online listings and viewing homes for sale, you’ll want to head to your bank to get pre-approved. This preliminary step in the house buying process will put you in a better buying position and may even save you some disappointment down the road.

At this point, you have saved your down payment and plan on moving in the next six months. The first reason that a pre-approval is an important step is that it helps you set realistic expectations for your search. It will determine what price range you can afford, making it easier to narrow down your choices. Your lender will examine your background information; things like income, down payment amount and credit rating. They will then inform you of the maximum amount they are willing to lend you to buy a home. It is important to remember that the amount they approve you for is usually going to be on the higher end of your comfort zone. Be sure that you fully understand your monthly expenses and what you are able to afford.

Getting pre-approved will also help things move along quicker and smoother during a negotiation. It will allow you to act fast when placing an offer on a home. By getting pre-approved you have started the application process for the mortgage. Your lender will provide you with a pre-approval letter, though it is important to remember that this is not a guarantee of financing. Most realtors will still recommend that you include a condition on financing in any offers you submit.

Some homes sell quickly, with multiple offers coming in within hours. Having your pre-approval in hand may put you at an advantage over others and the seller could even turn down an offer without one.

Be sure that you are qualifying for a pre-approval and not a pre-qualification. These two things are very different. With a pre-qualification, they will have a discussion about what you can afford, but they do not verify your financial information or do a credit application at that time.
Be sure to get pre-approved so that you’re one step closer to your dream home and the approval process should be painless.

cabonmono

Protect your family from the silent killer

Every year, dozens of Canadians are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in their own homes. According to the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC), hundreds more are hospitalized from injuries caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, often with life changing, permanent effects.

Carbon monoxide is odourless, tasteless and invisible, and according to the OAFC, 88 per cent of homes in Canada have something that poses a carbon monoxide risk.

So how does this silent killer work? When carbon monoxide is absorbed through inhalation it immediately begins depleting your body’s oxygen cells. Carbon monoxide is absorbed faster than oxygen by red blood cells. As it replaces the oxygen in your blood, it starves cells and vital organs of their required oxygen. In some cases, death can occur in minutes.

The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, weakness, chest pain and confusion, though many fall unconscious before they can remove themselves from the affected area or call for help.

If you’re wondering how carbon monoxide enters your home, you may be surprised by some of the sources. It is found in fumes of automobiles, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, fireplaces, gas ranges and heating systems. Danger can occur when there is a problem with ventilation, creating a buildup in an enclosed or semi-enclosed space.

Your best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is to have all heating systems, water heaters and gas, coal or oil burning appliances serviced yearly by qualified technicians. Install battery operated detectors (at knee level) and check them on a bi-yearly schedule. Keeping chimneys free of nests, leaves and debris will ensure proper ventilation and will prevent carbon monoxide buildup. Always use items that create carbon monoxide with care. Never use these items indoors, in garages or near windows. Never leave a vehicle running in your garage.

winter

New Year, New Home

A new year doesn’t only have to mean a new you. Apply these New Year’s resolutions to your home and start the year off with a BANG!

Be more eco-friendly
When buying products for your home consider products that are eco-friendly. There are many certified eco-friendly cleaners at local grocery stores that are easy to find and well priced. Make the swap with kitchen soaps, laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners. You can even have some fun by researching different ways to make your own products with ingredients right from your own cupboards!

Rearrange your space
It is easy to be tempted to buy fun decor to keep up on trends for your home. To give your home a fresh new feel, try rearranging your home every season. Rearranging a room can make it feel like a brand new space.

Get organized and stay organized
New Year’s cleaning is the new spring cleaning. Go through every room of the house and completely declutter. Clear off all of the surfaces, find a spot for everything, and donate what no longer makes you happy or suits your style. A great way to stay on top of things is to ask yourself how long it will take to put something away. If it will take less than a minute, do it right away. These little things add up quickly and when not put away, make for a full afternoon of cleaning instead. Surprisingly, most things take only a few seconds to put away.

Just do it
What’s holding you back? Make this the year of yes! Have a home renovation you’ve been putting off? Just do it! Want to redecorate the bedroom? Just do it! Spruce up your home to fit your style. Be sure to check flyers for post-Christmas sales to save!

reno

Smart renovation projects that provide big return

If you’re planning on tackling some major home improvements next year, it’s a good idea to do some research first. If increasing your property value and eventually getting a high return on your investment (ROI) is important to you, steer clear of projects that don’t have universal appeal and aim for improvements that a majority of buyers are seeking.

Did you know that a sunroom addition is considered one of the worst renovations for getting a high ROI? A home office remodel is right up there, along with an upscale garage addition. All three projects provide only an estimated 50 percent cost recoup.

Here are five projects that could see a recoup of up to 80 percent of your investment:

1. Flooring. Today’s buyers prefer hardwood, even in places like bedrooms. If hardwood isn’t in your budget, there are a number of excellent quality laminate substitutes out there that look as good as hardwood and last nearly as long. If carpet is old, dirty and worn down, replacing it will also offer a good return on your investment.

2. Bathrooms. If your bathroom is stuck in the 80’s and desperate for some TLC, you can tear it out and rest easy knowing that you will likely recoup most of the money you spend on the renovation when it comes time to sell. Spend a few extra dollars on fancy faucets and light fixtures – these are good selling features.

3. An income suite. A properly completed and legal income suite is one sure way to raise the property value of your home. Plus, you can look forward to collecting rent each month you remain in the home.

4. Kitchens. We’ve all heard it before – kitchens sell homes. Even when completed on a budget, a kitchen renovation will earn you a good ROI. Buyers look for new or refinished cabinets, pretty backsplashes, new flooring and upgraded appliances.

5. A finished basement. Any time you are adding living space to a home, you are appealing to buyers. The key here is to avoid expensive, luxury finishes, like a state-of-the-art wet bar or solid hardwood flooring. Keep the space open and usable, install a drop ceiling and use good quality flooring.

Attic & Basement Storage Ideas to Gain More Space

Maximize every square foot in your small space

There’s a lot you can change about a home, but without a major renovation, square footage is rarely one of them. Making smart use of space can make a room, a floor or an entire house feel bigger. There are plenty of ways to optimize the space in your home to give the appearance of increased space but the key to creating that illusion is to be organized and to find clever ways to maximize every square foot in your home. 

Use mirrors: One simple way to make any room seem bigger, longer or wider is to add reflective surfaces like windows and glass that create reflections. Mirrored tabletops or mirror placed under candles or vases can bounce light in different directions. Get creative with your reflective surfaces.

Every surface counts: Most of us tend to focus on the flat, horizontal space we have available and ignore the endless possibilities of a vertical surface. Shelves, art and objects can be placed on walls to draw attention upwards which creates the illusion of more space.

Brighten up: Make sure to keep curtains and blinds open to allow as much light in as possible. Light makes a room feel larger and more airy. Hanging curtains from the ceiling instead of the window frame will also make the room appear to have more height.

Storage creates space: Storage is the easiest way to make any room appear larger than it really is. Using storage bins under beds, in closets and bathrooms can hide clutter and open the room up to more space. Mudroom benches conceal a lot of items such as wet umbrellas and rain gear that can damage hardwood floors.

Tips for the kitchen: Dark surfaces can be a big culprit in making rooms seem smaller or – as small as they actually are. By giving cabinets and doors a coat of light paint and using glass on doors to lighten the space you can give the impression of a larger kitchen. Hanging a pot rack on the wall will not only give you more storage for pots and pans – it will add some style to your space.

Spacious living places: There are several ways to make the areas you lounge in look larger. Flat screen TV’s can be mounted on the wall or hidden in cabinets and using large, bold pieces of furniture that are proportioned to each other can make any room seem more spacious. The trick is to avoid overstuffed furniture and patterns that are too bold.

Creating width: The quickest way to fix up a space is to give it a fresh coat of paint, however wallpaper can be an invaluable tool for increasing space. Tone on tone wallpaper can trick the eye into thinking a room is wider.

While a small space will always be small, these tricks can help you to make it look and feel larger. Any sort of clutter can quickly reduce that space so make sure to consider storage options to maintain the illusion of more square footage.

Fire safety in the winter

Fireplace Safety Tips

Nothing is quite as cozy as curling up in front of a crackling fire when it’s cold and blustery outside. Wood and gas fireplaces are popular features in home purchasing and are often on a homeowner’s wish list. With a few easy common sense tips, you can enjoy your fireplace and stay safe at the same time.

• Although it’s tempting to dispose of paper products, such as newspaper or gift wrapping, in the fire, paper burns very quickly and can push the heat limits of your fireplace. It’s best to save these items for the blue bin and use only seasoned, dried wood in your fireplace. Also avoid any pressure-treated wood—burning this wood can release toxic fumes into your home.

• Keep all flammable items far away – at least a metre – from your fireplace while you have a fire burning. (In fact, keep flammables away from all open flames, like candles, and away from portable heaters too!)

• Keep a sturdy screen or consider a glass insert for your fireplace to protect your family and home from sparks.

• Keep your fireplace and chimney clean. Sweep away ashes after each use and place them in a fireproof container. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected each year too.
With these easy measures, you can cozy up to a fire, confident that you have kept your home and family safe and warm.

Take Care of Your Furnace

Take Care of Your Furnace

Your furnace works hard over the winter, here are some tips to make sure it stays in working order so you don’t run into any problems and have to pay more money to repair it down the line.
Make sure your furnace filter is clean. The filter is meant to help keep the air circulating through the furnace. Over time, dust can accumulate and cause the filter to get blocked. Make sure to keep an eye on your furnace’s filter and if you notice it collecting a lot of dust, it’s time to replace the filter.

Keeping the area around the furnace clear is very important. Having the area clear will help the air circulate more freely and help your furnace last longer. Most furnaces are in the basement, where most people tend to store their extra belongings so remember, you should have 3 to 5 feet of space cleared around your furnace.

Taking small steps to keeping your house warm can also help your furnace. If you’re looking to redecorate this season, getting curtains, rugs, and carpets are all ways to prevent drafts from going through your house and will make the space feel (and look!) warmer. However, make sure that if you are redecorating your house, the registers for your furnace aren’t covered by any furniture or decorations because that will halt the air circulation process and will damage your furnace over time.

Consider having your furnace checked once a year, as there are many benefits to keeping on top of your furnace. You’ll be able to catch small issues before they turn into large issues. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that it’s been checked and any issues have been prevented. And lastly, you’ll save money on repairs – especially in winter when your furnace is working hard and you need it the most!

Selling your home this fall

Selling your home this fall

Deciding to list your home during the cool fall season can create a few hidden benefits to your sale and can also help ensure you get top dollar for your property. Here are some advantages to listing your home in the fall.

While spring will always be a hot market for real estate deals, sellers are at one particular disadvantage over fall sellers. Curb appeal! Your foremost opportunity to make a great first impression, curb appeal during the fall season is almost effortless with well-maintained lawns and flourishing gardens looking fantastic after the growing season. As the season cools, some homeowners may invest less time in yard work. Discerning sellers can use this to their advantage, making their impeccably maintained properties stand out from neighbouring homes. In addition, cool fall weather is the perfect time to finish do-it-yourself projects, repaint window coverings and garages, stain the decks and repave driveways. Appeal to the season and plant bold fall colours. Selling a home is much like selling an image.

Selling your home can be a lengthy process; attracting buyers, arranging meetings and drawing up offers to complete the sale takes time. Fall schedules usually see people home from vacation and back into scheduled routines. This applies to both sellers and buyers. It can also apply to professional inspectors, appraisers and notaries you may need to hire to complete your sale. Back to their scheduled routines means they are able to complete work more quickly.

With kids back in school and out of the house all day, it’s also easier to keep your home spotless and ready for showings!

One final advantage of listing your home during the fall season is the presence of serious buyers. Often first-time buyers, retirees and people moving for career changes, fall buyers are well researched, eager and ready to commit to the sale. As winter gets closer, most buyers want to ensure they are comfortably moved into their new home before the holidays and the stormy weather begins.