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Easy Ways to Save $1,500 Annually: Lower Electrical and HVAC Costs

Following holiday splurges, you may be looking for ways to save money. Did you know that with very little effort and often no additional investment, you can make changes around your home that save up to $1,500 annually? These tips will help you reduce your electrical, heating and cooling costs all year round.

Phantom Power
Phantom (or standby power) can account for up to 10% of your home’s energy use. The average Canadian household has 25 electronic devices that use phantom power, costing approximately $150 a year in wasted electricity (Hydro One). Unplug coffee makers, phone chargers, computers, etc. when they are not needed.

Toaster Oven
Toaster ovens use 50% to 70% less energy than a full-size oven and they won’t heat up the home to the same degree—a welcome relief on hot summer days.

Pitcher of water
Keep a pitcher of filtered water in the refrigerator to enjoy a refreshing sip without running the tap waiting for the water to get cold. This is also an economical alternative to bottled water.

Cold water wash
According to General Electric, an estimated 75% to 90% of all the energy your clothes washer uses goes to warming up the water. Cold water saves money and makes your clothes last longer. Typically, warm water is required only for bed sheets and items stained with sweat or blood.

Air drying
Dry your clothes on a rack or line when possible. This saves on electricity costs and extends the life of your appliance. Consider this: a basic dryer now starts at $725 with tax and will last about a decade depending on usage. If you do two loads per week, the true cost of each dry cycle is approximately $0.70 for the machine plus $0.55 for the electricity.

If you find your clothes feel stiff from air drying, add a few tablespoons of vinegar, Epsom salts, or baking soda to the wash.

Filters
Clean filters allow for better airflow and improved machine efficiency. Each time you use your clothes dryer, wipe out the filter first. Clean or replace the filter in your furnace according to the manufacturer's instructions.

ENERGY STAR appliances
When it’s time to purchase a new appliance, choose one with a high Energy Star rating. The rating is part of a voluntary partnership between the Government of Canada and industry to make high efficiency products visible to Canadians.

Water heater insulation
For as little as $6, you can reduce heat loss from your water heater. If the tank is electric, you can use polyethylene or neoprene foam pipe covers. If you have a gas water heater, your safest choice is fiberglass pipe-wrap (at least 1-inch thick) without a facing that is secured with either wire or aluminum foil tape (U.S. Department of Energy).

If the outside of your water heater tank feels hot, it is poorly insulated. For as little as $50, you can purchase an insulated foil wrap that will pay for itself within a year.

Ceiling fan
Since hot air rises and cool air sinks, a ceiling fan can reduce your heating and cooling costs. During the summer, set the fan to rotate counterclockwise to draw up cool air. During the winter, set it to rotate clockwise to distribute heat throughout the room.

Thermostat settings
Lowering your thermostat by one degree Celsius in the winter can save you $25 per month, depending on the size of your home. Enjoy similar savings raising the thermostat by a degree in the summer.

Drafts
If your home feels drafty, it may have leaks. Seal any cracks in window and door frames, walls, ceilings, and floors.

LED lightbulbs
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average household saves about $225 in energy costs per year by using LED bulbs compared to incandescent and they last up to 25 times longer. LEDs also last longer than florescent bulbs, which release toxic mercury when they break.

Bonus tip: Compost kitchen scraps

Compost your fruit and vegetable peelings in your garden. This feeds worms and vital microorganisms in your soil reducing the need for fertilizer. You will also reduce the amount of garbage you lug to the curb each week! 

Canada Greener Homes Grant money
If you wish to save even more, the Canada Greener Homes Initiative reimburses homeowners up to $600 for pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide evaluations and offers grants ranging from $125 to $5,000. Eligible retrofits include home insulation, new windows and doors, solar panels, roofing membrane, etc. To learn more, visit the Natural Resources Canada website.


Source: https://www.sutton.com/blog/home-improvement/easy-ways-to-save-1-500-annually

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Re-Do Your Shelves With These 10 Style Tips

Styling a shelf with vignettes of prized possessions is a prime opportunity to convey your style and personality. Shelves are not only home to books, but family heirlooms, art, photographs and travel mementoes. We’re sharing 10 shelf styling tips that will upgrade how you show off your favorite books and accessories. 

1. Read The Room
Styling a shelf with objects that mirror the textures and color palette of your room creates a cohesive look. This home’s workspace bookshelf has a soft, neutral palette, sculptural shape, natural materials and earthy colors that suit the zen wood shelves and white walls.

2. Add Art
On this Paul McCobb wall unit, art is layered in alongside a TV monitor and coffee table books for color and personality in this Toronto condo.

3. Make Room For Collections
Using a shelf as a platform for a curated collection of artwork and decorative ornaments creates a mini gallery and an intentional viewing arena within the home. In this condo shelf, Debra Campbell displays her collection of limited-edition Barbies, including a Hudson’s Bay Company version (complete with a poodle dressed in a matching coat).

4. Stack Books Horizontally And Vertically
Stacking books in two directions add visual interest. In the two-bedroom Toronto condo of Alessia De Gasperis-Brigante, the singer-songwriter known as Kai, she switches up the orientation of her collection.

5. Add A Little Green
Wood, ceramics, glass and a green plant inject a calming note. For a quieter look, designer Nyla Free turned the book spines inward and removed the covers in this home.

6. ive Objects Room To ‘Breathe’
Resist the temptation to cram shelves so your shelf design doesn’t feel cluttered or overwhelming. Leave some negative space between the groupings.

7. Try Color Blocking
Not only can you color block books, take a chromatic approach to the shelves themselves and paint the interior a contrast hue that highlights the contents. In designer Nathalie Tredgett’s London townhouse, she uses peach as a foil for the dark lavender built-ins.

8. Vary The Height Of Objects
Grouping objects in an array of heights, size, and shape keeps shelves from looking too uniform and creates variety for an appealing design. Include taller objects like large vases or candle sticks.

9. Curate!
The beauty of shelves is that they elevate the everyday object, so treat couture and designer accessories for the art pieces they are. In the wardrobe of this Montreal apartment, iconic fashion finds like Chanel’s quilted bag and cap-toe pumps are easy to access — and appreciate — behind a glass door.

10. Finally, Stand Back
To get an overall sense of compostion, pull back and see how objects balance big items like art or TV monitors. Taking a photo can help reveal if items need to be added or removed, or walk away from the bookshelf and come back later to assess the composition.


Resource: https://houseandhome.com/gallery/re-do-your-shelves-with-these-10-style-tips/#image-11

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50 Ways to Your Deepest Clean Yet: The Ultimate Fall Cleaning Checklist

Having a fall cleaning checklist seems a little bit like getting tricked into some kind of second spring cleaning. Didn’t you just wash the curtains and wipe down those ceiling fan blades?

But hear me out: Giving your home some extra attention before cozying up inside it for fall and winter means you’ll enjoy that special time at home more than ever. Whether it’s movie night on the couch snuggled in warm blankets or turning on the fireplace and cranking up the music as you sip cold-weather drinks, home is such a big part of the season, and working your way through a fall cleaning checklist is the most straightforward way to get your home ready for it. 

So before you transition to spending more time indoors — especially if you’re hosting guests during the holidays — get your home ready for increased habitation with this ultimate fall cleaning checklist.

Kitchen and Bathroom

  • Clean your kitchen grout.
  • Clean your bathroom grout.
  • Clean your refrigerator coils, if applicable.
  • Clean under your refrigerator.
  • Clean the inside of your dishwasher.
  • Clean and condition the wood of your bathroom and kitchen cabinets.
  • Clean your oven.
  • Wash and disinfect all the garbage cans.
  • Seal and/or polish granite countertops.
  • Wipe down kitchen mats.
  • Wash bath mats.
  • Wash the shower curtain.
  • Deep clean microwave.


Bedroom (and Closet)

  • Refresh bedding that isn’t regularly washed (comforters, pillows, etc.).
  • Vacuum and flip mattresses.
  • Put cold-weather linens on the beds.
  • Switch out seasonal clothes.
  • Dust your bed frame. Vacuum or lint roll if it’s upholstered.
  • Clear off and clean your nightstands.
  • Vacuum under the bed.
  • Lint roll lampshades and dust light bulbs and lamp bases.
  • Polish wooden furniture.
  • Dust blinds.
  • Wash curtains.


Living Areas

  • Vacuum upholstered furniture.
  • Vacuum under your upholstered furniture cushions.
  • Polish your wood furniture.
  • Wash artificial plants.
  • Dust living plants’ leaves.
  • Wipe down your screens (TV, computer, etc.).
  • Clean all keyboards and remote controls.


All Around the House

  • Wash your walls.
  • Wash your windows, window sills, and all the window groves.
  • Clean your washer and dryer.
  • Clean your doorknobs, doors, and lightswitch plates.
  • Vacuum under all beds, couches, and other furniture.
  • Dust the tops of doors and door frames.
  • Spot clean carpets and rugs.
  • Clean floors underneath area rugs.
  • Wash curtains or have them cleaned.
  • Remove and rinse your window screens.
  • Wash your washable vacuum cleaner filters.
  • Clean your baseboards.


Tackle Some Seasonal Maintenance

  • Change your HVAC air filter.
  • Replace your fire alarm batteries.
  • Condition your leather furniture.
  • Dust your ceiling fans and set them to turn so air circulates upward.
  • Sweep the chimney and/or have it checked.
  • Clean out rain gutters.
  • Check weather stripping and replace as necessary.


Source: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/39-ways-to-your-deepest-clean-yet-the-ultimate-fall-cleaning-checklist-235949

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Here’s Why You Should Live in Your Home Before Renovating it

Buying a new home is exciting, but depending on where you are on the property ladder, you may not be getting a move-in ready property. Although it can be tempting to jump right in to transform your space, it’s not always a good idea to rip down walls as soon as you close the sale. Here’s why you should put down that sledgehammer and take your time instead.

1. You’ll learn about your home and its pain points

Whether you buy a total fixer-upper, an older home that needs minor updates, or a newly built place you want to personalize, it’s smart to play the waiting game before embarking on major renovations, says David Stevens, a REALTOR® with Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty in Victoria, British Columbia.

“I tell my purchasers I’d like to see them in the house for 12 months before they start renovations, so they get to know the house and the property inside-out. It’s like buying a car: you always test drive a car to see if you like it,” says Stevens.

After living in your home and seeing how it functions during all four seasons, you’ll figure out your priorities. Maybe you’ll notice you need more lighting or realize you have plenty of storage and don’t need custom-made built-ins.

2. You’ll have more time to plan your project

The key to making smart home improvements is in the planning. Allow yourself the chance to meet with several architects, designers, and contractors without the rush to complete a project before you move in.

More planning also helps you stick to a budget, because you can ask questions, compare quotes, speak to references, and figure out what you really need. Working too quickly can lead to poor decision-making and doing things over.

3. You’ll have a better grasp on your finances

Living in your house before ripping it apart also lets you see what you can afford—and what you can’t—because you’ve been paying your mortgage and expenses for a while, says Stevens. After forking out cash for your down payment, closing costs and moving expenses, it’s wise to get back on your feet financially before committing to anything else.

Getting all the work done before you move in comes with huge costs: you could end up having to rent somewhere if there are delays in your renos. Doing things slowly gives you—and your savings account—some breathing room.

4. You’ll probably change your mind (a few times)

You may have thought gutting the kitchen was your top priority when you first bought the house, but once you’ve lived in it, you might end up liking the older wood cabinets and decide to paint them instead of demolishing them. Or, you might see that having a finished basement with a family room and guest suite has become more important to you than redoing the bathroom.

Your perspective will shift once you move into your home, because it’s hard to know how your family will use each space until you actually live there. While test-driving your house, take note of which rooms you spend the most time in and whether there’s something you want to do but can’t—such as entertaining outside or working out in a home gym.

5. You’ll need a break

Buying a home can take its toll: from qualifying for a mortgage to house-hunting to negotiating with the sellers and handling closing costs, the homeowner journey can be a stressful, exhausting one. Maybe after all this—plus packing and moving—you don’t also need the headaches that can accompany a major remodeling project.

Taking time to revive yourselves after purchasing your property can help you think more clearly when you’re ready to make the next set of big decisions: picking what to renovate.

Your REALTOR® can help guide you through these decisions and more, as you enjoy your new home.


Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/heres-why-you-should-live-in-your-home-before-renovating-it/28881/1367

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16 Budget-Friendly Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal

First impressions are always important! From handsome new house numbers to charming patio lights, here's how to boost your home's curb appeal—without breaking the bank.


1. Add some lights

Outdoor lighting can make a world of difference when it comes to boosting your home’s curb appeal. Add some solar lights along the front walkway or some low-voltage lights near your front flower bed.

2. Paint the front door

A fresh coat of paint on your front door can give your home a whole new look, and better curbside appeal. Try red for a classic look or a bright orange for something a bit unexpected.

3. Add flower pots

A couple of well-placed flower pots on your doorstep will make for a cheery front entrance. Potted plants offer a much more welcoming environment.

4. Update house numbers

Give your house number a makeover. People look for your address more than you may think as they drive by. Replace your old numbers with an updated metal or wood design to update the curb appeal.

5. Plant shrubs or a tree

A couple of shrubs or a new tree will instantly enhance your curb appeal. Much like potted plants, trees and shrubs will add a welcoming quality to your home.

6. Keep your lawn tidy

One of the easiest ways to maintain curb appeal is to keep your lawn tidy, and that includes the edging around your walkways and flower beds.

7. Attract Some Birds

Humans aren’t the only things you want to find your home attractive. Appeal to a variety of birds to your yard with a birdhouse or bird feeder.

8. Update your mailbox

Give your mailbox an update with a colourful paint job, or replace it entirely with these DIY instructions for building your own mailbox.

9. Add window boxes

Window boxes will bring a splash of colour to the front of your home and add quick curbside appeal. Plant perky pansies or cascading flowers such as petunias. You can even use the boxes to grow herbs.

10. Paint shutters and trim

When was the last time you painted your window shutters? What about your exterior trim? A simple update will add plenty of curb appeal.

11. Hang a wreath

Welcome guests to your home with a wreath. Whether you purchase a wreath or make it yourself, wreaths allow you to change the look of your front entryway as often as you like.

12. Put down new mulch

Mulch is an inexpensive way to tidy up flower beds and shrubs while also reducing evaporation and slowing weed growth. Get a couple bags of mulch to freshen up the area around the front of your home.

13. Install a porch light

Look for a pretty light fixture to hang at the front door. You could also mount a couple light sconces near the entryway.

14. Tidy up hoses

A tangled garden hose is not only frustrating, but it looks messy, too. Nobody wants to see your gardening equipment thrown all over the yard.

15. Update door hardware

Does your door hardware need a makeover? Add curbside appeal by replacing old door knobs and knockers or give it an update with stain or paint.

16. Add some seating

Create a welcoming spot to relax by adding a couple chairs to your front porch or yard.



Source: https://www.readersdigest.ca/home-garden/home-improvement/budget-friendly-curb-appeal/
Photo: pexels.com

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4 Options for Financing Your Home Renovations

If your family home lacks space but you don’t want to move, you’ll be joining thousands of other Canadians who have chosen to renovate their properties. Whether you’re adding an extension, overhauling your kitchen, or knocking down walls to create better flow, you can likely count on one thing: you’re about to embark on an expensive project. Don’t fret if your dreams are bigger than your budget—there are a lot of ways to finance home renovations. While it may be tempting to borrow money, just remember you’ll have to pay that loan back, so be sure to make a plan that factors in the potential of further interest rate increases. Here’s how you can pay for upgrades to your property.

1. Take out a personal loan or borrow from family and friends

Generally, a personal loan carries a lower interest rate than a credit card. You can borrow a lump sum, repaying it over a set period. Typically, you’d pay monthly installments over one to five years, but it all depends on your lender and the terms you agree to. After you’ve repaid the loan, you’ll have to reapply if you want to borrow more money.


Borrowing from family and friends might seem easy, but it can cause stress if you don’t have a detailed and firm repayment plan. It can make it easier to get the money right away with few strings attached, but be aware of the strain it could end up putting on your relationship if both parties have differing opinions on what the repayment plan should look like. Oftentimes, people will put together a sort of “contract” that lays out the repayment terms and takes a lot of the emotion out of borrowing from family.

2. Refinance your mortgage

With a better interest rate than a credit card or personal loan, some homeowners seek to finance their renovations by refinancing the terms of their existing mortgage. This way, you can borrow more money and pay lower monthly installments over a longer term. Refinancing your mortgage means adding more money to the total you have already borrowed from your bank or lender. It has a lower interest rate because your mortgage is secured by the equity in your home.


While it’s fairly easy to qualify for mortgage refinancing, it’s best to do it when your mortgage is up for renewal. Otherwise, you may be charged fees.

3. Open a line of credit

For a long-term renovation project, you can open a personal line of credit through banks or credit unions, which lets you access money as you need it. You only pay interest on the funds you withdraw, and interest rates are lower than on a credit card. You may borrow funds multiple times up to the line of credit’s limit, as long as you keep making regular payments. If you have good credit, you can qualify for a line of credit with your lender.

4. Get a home equity loan

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) offers a flexible, low-interest loan option. Here’s how it works: You can borrow a sum that totals up to 80% of the assessed value of your home when it’s added to what you have left on your mortgage principal. This means if you still owe $250,000 on your $500,000 home, you can qualify for a HELOC of up to $150,000. You’re tapping into your home equity to access funds.


You can use these funds for anything—including renovations—and, as you pay off the HELOC, that credit is replenished. Just be careful not to keep withdrawing money as if it’s a bank account. You can also ask your lender to limit the available funds—just because you can access $150,000, doesn’t mean you should if your renovation project will cost less than the amount available. To get the most competitive interest rate, you may want to work with a mortgage broker. Since HELOCs are tied to your home’s equity, you’ll pay set-up costs and legal fees.

Other ideas

Municipal, provincial and federal governments also offer a range of home renovation tax credits, grants and incentives, allowing you to deduct part of your remodeling expenses from your taxes. There are also rebates available for energy-saving renovations.


Talk to your lender to figure out which financing option is right for you. They can explain how much you can borrow and go over the process to pre-approve your renovation financing. Your REALTOR® may also have recommendations and contacts who can provide insight into your situation. Remember, while remodeling can cost a lot of money, it can boost your property value while also allowing you to better enjoy your home.



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/4-options-for-financing-your-home-renovations/26166/1363
Photo: pexels.com

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Making the Most of Your Kids’ Shared Bedroom

If you grew up with a brother or sister—or 10—you know how rewarding, comforting, and sometimes frustrating sibling relationships can be. This may be especially true when siblings have to share a bedroom. There are many reasons why a shared room is necessary, be it a limited number of rooms in the home, a child who needs a roommate for comfort, or a family member has moved in with you.


Plato famously stated, “necessity is the mother of invention,” and this situation is no different, as it presents the opportunity to create a delightful space with your kids at minimal cost, and without needing to renovate. Let’s look at some ways to approach setting up a shared bedroom.


Get the kids involved

The best way to ensure your youngins are fully onboard with this transition is to involve them with every step, provided they’re old enough to help. Even if they are unhappy about the change, including them can help overcome any misgivings and get them excited about how their space is going to look.

Set them up for success

The biggest challenge will be dealing with small rooms. For clutter prevention, plan for ample storage options for each child’s toys, books, and craft supplies. Setting the kids up to maintain a tidy room easily will make a big difference. If space is looking really tight, don’t be shy about resorting to under-the-bed storage, or get creative with how you utilize wall space. Tall shelving units (secured to the wall), floating shelves, and strategically placed hooks can all help keep their space tidy.

Sibling rivalry

If siblings with differing interests share a bedroom, give them a sense of their own territory by dividing the room in half. This is one case where choosing sides is OK! They’ll likely have widely differing décor preferences, so get their input on arrangement and accessories.


Have the kids choose their favourite colours or patterns and then team up to divide the room—they’ll love helping measure, paint, or apply wallpaper. Use different furniture styles and colours for each child to accentuate their uniqueness.


Placing dressers or a bookshelf where the room is divided helps delineate each zone. If you use a bookshelf for this, make sure to separate their books accordingly. Get the children to choose cushiony throw rugs to go next to their beds for a soft landing on chilly mornings.


Privacy can be a concern, so a bed tent or canopy can accomplish this for sleep, while a simple room divider in a corner can provide ample privacy for getting dressed.


Alternatively, put their beds close together in the middle of the room so they each have a dedicated space on opposite sides. Placing a night stand with their choice of lamp next to each bed allows quick access to a light when needed.

Siblings of the same or similar age

With twins, or children born only a few years apart, separating the space may not be as difficult, as their interests will very likely overlap in areas. This provides an opportunity to blend their shared and individual interests together for a bedroom bursting with personality.


Bunk beds are an excellent space-saver, especially for small rooms. Make sure your children are over the age of six, for safety purposes, though you can keep some bunks separated on the floor until the kids are old enough to stack them.


Decals related to their favourite movies, shows, and games are a perfect way to make the walls pop. Since they can be removed easily, you can update them as their interests change, keeping the décor fresh.


The wall across from a bunk makes a prime spot for artwork, while shelves above the dressers provide ideal display potential for books, models, or various forest walk discoveries.

Older and younger siblings

This can be the trickiest scenario, especially when your older child is a tween or teen. The younger brother or sister will most likely be thrilled at the prospect, given how much they look up to their senior counterpart, but the excitement may not be shared.


You’ll want to approach this one in a similar fashion as the siblings with differing interests scenario. Take this one step further by getting your older child to help develop and execute a plan to create a space they love—a wonderful DIY opportunity.


Consider a loft bed, or building a mini-loft so your tween or teen can have both a comfy space to sleep, and a private nook for homework or gaming.


It’s also advisable to place the younger sibling’s bed closest to the door as they usually wake earlier in the morning and can vacate the room without disturbing their older sister or brother too much.

Note: Double-up on the loft bed and desk option if you have two pre-teen or teenage children of similar age!

The baby of the house

If you wait a few years between children, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself with a school-age child needing to share with a baby sibling. This is a huge adjustment for them, and they’ll feel most included if they get to help with selecting décor for both their younger protégé’s portion of the room and their own, while also getting to assist with putting it all together.


No matter the age difference between your children, a shared kids room means opportunities to play and create together, building strong bonds—after all, they’ll be siblings for life.


While this kind of change can be difficult to accept for some children, it’s a great opportunity for the whole family to get involved with a fun project. Just be patient, don’t sweat the small stuff, and most of all, enjoy the journey.



Source: https://www.creacafe.ca/making-the-most-of-your-kids-shared-bedroom/
Photo: pexels.com

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Setting Up a Backyard Movie Night

During those beautiful summer nights, it doesn’t matter where you are in Canada, you want to be outside. It’s natural, and let’s face it, the past few years have driven many to upgrade their own backyard retreats, so you’ve got a good reason to be out and about in your own space.


Upcycling and repurpose trends show no sign of abating, and we’ve already seen signs of the backyard undergoing radical redesigns, adding features like pizza ovens, outdoor kitchens, and bars. Why not extend that idea and bring your home theatre outside? What says summer better than a drive-in (or walk-in) movie night? In the spirit of the popular staycation trend, let’s look at how you can set up a backyard movie night.


The scale is up to you. It can be as simple as moving a TV onto a balcony or as elaborate as a dedicated outdoor cinema with surround sound and your own version of a concession stand. Be mindful of your surroundings, of course, since the light and sound could impact your neighbours. You may be able to land in their good books, though, with VIP invitations to opening night!


The basics

As with any backyard project, a little planning keeps your outdoor theatre on track. To show your film, you must address four main technical aspects:

  • projection;
  • screen;
  • sound; and
  • streaming or viewing devices.


Moving a flat-screen television to your cinema site solves the first three aspects easily. Your TV handles everything. If you have a smart TV, a streaming service, and your wi-fi signal reaches your outdoor screen, then it’s all taken care of except for the popcorn and seating.


That’s great for an improvised Saturday night showing, but this is your taste of Hollywood at home! Going big makes your movie a special event. A bigger setup may also be a launch pad for weekly events through the summer months. Let’s look at each of your tech needs.


Projection

From cheaper hundred-dollar options to thousand-dollar light cannons, there are plenty of projectors to fit all budgets. Your projector is likely the biggest budget item for your theatre, but you do have options. Check with audio-visual services in your area or try an online search for video projector rentals to manage costs. In terms of quality, you’ll want to look for a projector with between 2,000 and 2,500 lumens.


Don’t forget to scope out your electrical requirements, too. Make sure you have suitable access to power or extension cords that can handle the power needed.


Screen

Your theatre could be equipped with a white bed sheet pulled as flat as you can make it, but you’ll get better results with a purpose-made projection screen. These are usually crease resistant, so you’ll have a flatter surface, and their reflectivity is higher than your average bed sheet, enhancing the visual experience. Screens of various sizes are surprisingly affordable.


If you have a large, flat surface, perhaps the rear wall of a garage or the side of a shed, hang a piece of plywood that’s been treated with projector screen paint. That’s right, screen paints are a specialty product that makes it much easier to create a permanent theatre. It may be the answer if you plan to start a summer movie club!


Sound

Wireless Bluetooth systems are perhaps the most versatile way to go unless you already have a suitable outdoor speaker system. The key to a good sound presentation is balance, particularly if your theatre is in a tight suburban neighbourhood. You want a volume that’s loud enough to overcome traffic and environment noise, but not so loud as to disturb others. Remember, too, that long summer days mean your movie night may have a late start after sundown.


Streaming and viewing devices

Your options here may depend on the capabilities of your projector. Some pair easily to smartphones and laptops, so all your streaming options are still accessible. Many projectors also accept video connections from DVD and Blu-ray players. You might even want to dust off the VCR for one last viewing of those VHS tapes in the basement.


Seating

If your audience is comfortable on a blanket on the lawn, then seating is easy. Otherwise, it’s time to gather camp chairs, patio sets, or whatever you can rummage that will be comfortable over the course of your viewing event.


Another fun option if you have a pool is setting giant floaties and watching from the water. This is perfect for really hot summer nights, although it may make snacking a little difficult.


If you’re hosting the event for kids, you could set up a “drive-in” movie with cardboard “cars” for each child to sit in, complete with blankets and individual snacks inside. Plus, it helps keep everybody settled for the whole movie.


Food and drink

Food and beverages are perhaps the most fun to plan. Depending on who’s enjoying the movie, you can cater specifically to their tastes. For kids (or the more traditional movie watchers among us), popcorn, candy, soft drinks, juice, and even things like warm pretzels can be perfect. Set up a small table in the yard with everyone’s favourites and let people help themselves. Or, pre-pack snacks into little baggies or boxes so each person can grab one on the way to their seat.


If you’re planning an adults-only night, you can up the ante with more appetizer-style foods and cocktails. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of coolers and ice nearby, as well as a full selection of drinks for your guests.


No matter who’s coming over, easy-to-find garbage and recycling receptacles are a must. This will help expedite cleanup later on and prevent garbage from finding its way onto your lawn.


Bits and bobs

If your yard has unwelcome guests in the form of flying and biting insects, don’t forget bug repellent (sprays, candles, or other devices) and covers for any food items that will be hanging around.


Summer nights can cool down quickly, too, so watch the forecast. Have blankets or sweaters at the ready in case a chill sets in. You can also extend movie season into the fall with propane area heaters.


It may also be fun for the kiddos to have a full “camping” experience outdoors. Consider setting up tents and sleeping bags so the outdoor fun doesn’t have to end when the credits roll.


If the availability of streamed content has made indoor movie night ho-hum, invest in your backyard cinema and have another reason to anticipate the return of summer each year.



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/setting-up-a-backyard-movie-night/26146/1367
Photo: pexels.com

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Weekend Home Renovation Projects | One weekend and you're done!

On your next free weekend, consider tackling any of these small renovation projects that make a noticeable impact in your home.


Ceiling fan

It is relatively simple to replace a ceiling mounted light fixture with a ceiling fan (with or without a light). Fans quietly circulate indoor air for added comfort year-round. Set the fan to spin counterclockwise in the summer to draw warm air upwards, and clockwise in the winter to push warm air down into the room.


Wall colour

A new wall colour punches up a room for less than $100. Consider these tips to save time and effort:

  • Use a disposable paint tray liner.
  • Use a paint pourer to keep your paint cans clean, which allows for a tighter seal.
  • Don’t rinse your roller; instead wrap it well in plastic film then put it into the refrigerator so it will be ready for the second coat.
  • When repainting a portion of a room, choose the same brand and type of paint (e.g., SICO interior eggshell) for a consistent finish.

Outdoor lights

Add a touch of cottage charm to your home with strings of patio lights, which softly illuminate outdoor dining and relaxation. Attach strings of lights to your porch ceiling or pergola with screw eyes and carabiners so that you can easily remove them for the winter months.


Pathway lights add to the safety and beauty of walkways during the evening. These lights are a cinch to install because they are usually solar-powered and fitted with a stake to push into the soil.


Motion sensor lights automatically snap on in the evening when a person (or an animal) passes nearby. It might be you coming home with an armload of groceries, or it could be a would-be intruder.


Faucet

The greatest challenge in buying a new faucet is deciding among the numerous choices. For years, shiny chrome was in style; now brushed chrome and matte black are popular options. Also, shapes have changed from short, thick styles to tall goosenecks. For the latest products and ideas, flip through home décor magazines. Whichever style you prefer, choose a product that will line up with the pipe openings in your countertop and sink.


Minor wall damage

Scrapes, dings and nail holes on walls tend to accumulate over the years. On a lazy weekend, tackle a room, or your entire home. Start by wiping off scuff marks with a soft, damp cloth. Next, fill holes and dents with drywall filler and smooth with a putty knife. Once the filler has dried, sand the surface, then paint it.


Stain your deck

Sunshine, foot traffic, and spilled food and drink can make a deck look weathered and discoloured. Restore the beauty of your deck in a single weekend by using a power sander to remove the old finish then clean off the dust and debris. Next, apply one or two coats of stain and sealer. Consider innovative new products such as the Canadian-made, Tall Earth Eco Safe Wood Treatment for decks, which is conveniently sold in powder form to be mixed with water.


Energy efficient window

Thermal energy can pass through window glass making rooms hot in the summer and cool in the winter. Upgrading to a window with a low-emissivity glaze reduces the exchange of heat and lowers your energy bills. Check with the provincial and federal governments as well as your local energy provider regarding rebate programs for homeowners who install new, low-emissivity windows.


Cabinet hardware

Do you like your kitchen cabinetry but feel that it looks a bit dated? New cabinet hardware can instantly change the look of your kitchen. Before you go shopping, count how many handles and knobs you will need and measure the distance between screw holes (or bring a handle with you to the store).


Showerhead

A luxurious rain shower experience worthy of a five-star hotel can be yours in just hours. New showerheads offer multiple spray options and some even have temperature controls. Best of all, many new products are considered low flow, which means they have been engineered to feel like a robust shower while using less water.


By the end of the year, you will have turned your free weekends into a home transformation.



Source: https://www.sutton.com/blog/home-improvement/weekend-home-renovation-projects
Photo: pexels.com

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Moving Essentials Every Home Buyer Should Pack in ‘Open-First’ Boxes

Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or moving into your fifth house, one thing’s for sure: moving can be an exhausting endeavour. Excitement for your new life ahead can quickly give way to stress and exasperation as your to-do list forever grows. If there’s one thing you can do to prepare for your move and ease your transition, it’s to prepare a box of moving essentials. 

Also known as open-first boxes, these essentials boxes contain  all the crucial items you’re going to need immediately after crossing the threshold of your brand new home. It’s the first thing to be opened and is the key to an easy and successful move.

PRO TIP: Label your essentials box clearly and keep it away from your other moving boxes so it doesn’t accidentally make its way on the moving truck!

Now, if the idea of distilling down all your worldly possessions into a few boxes feels overwhelming, don’t fret, it can be done! This moving checklist will help you decide what can be packed for the moving truck and what should make its way over in your first carload.

Here are 15 items you should absolutely have ready for the first days in your new home:

Basic portable toolkit

You never know when you’ll need a hammer or a pair of pliers! You’d be surprised just how much you can get done with a screwdriver (preferably one with multiple bits), knife, wrench, tape measure, work gloves, drill, duct tape, and scissors.

Wallet and purse

Make sure you keep all your important cards and paperwork with you, including driver’s license, passports, birth certificates, professional certificates, credit cards, cheque books, medical records, school records, and any paperwork needed for moving such as leases, contracts, proof of purchases, etc.

Basic first-aid kit

Accidents happen so be prepared for nicks and scrapes with bandages and bandage wraps, instant ice/heat packs, gauze, antiseptic wipes, gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and tweezers.

Electronics and chargers

Don’t get stuck with dead devices: pack all the necessary cables and chargers for your phone, laptop, and tablet.

Change of clothes

This includes pajamas and underwear, but you’ll also want to make sure you have something to change into if you get sweaty or dirty throughout the day. A clean set of clothes can do wonders for your mood. 

Toiletries, medication, and personal care items

Moving sure can work up a sweat! Pack soap, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, bath towels, and washcloths for cleaning up after a hard day’s work. Don’t forget about any medications you might take daily and other personal care items such as cosmetics, hair products, hairbrushes, glasses, and contact lenses.

Kid essentials

Moving into a strange, new house can be a lot for kids. Ease their transition by ensuring their beloved items travel along with them, including favourite books, stuffies, lovies, and blankies. Important baby items, such as changing station supplies (diapers, creams, wipes, etc) should also be included.

Paper supplies

Paper towels, tissues, and at least one toilet paper roll for every bathroom!

Cleaning supplies

You never know what you’ll walk into when you unlock your front door. Be sure to pack cleaning supplies to tackle messes, including rags, antibacterial wipes, sponges, glass and multi-surface cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, trash bags, a bucket, broom, mop, dish soap, and baking soda for the fridge.

Pet essentials

Make sure Fido has adequate food, water, treats, chew toys, bedding, leashes, and collars, grooming items, clean-up bags, and an appropriate pet carrier.

Bedroom basics

If your new home is not furnished or you don’t have the time to set up your bed, an air mattress, folding bed or portable bed will ensure a restful night’s sleep. Don’t forget sheets, pillows, blankets, or sleeping bags.

Select small appliances

You’d be surprised how many simple meals can be made with just a coffee maker, kettle, toaster oven, pot, frying pan, and blender. Utensils like a spatula, wooden spoon, and a can/bottle opener can also come in handy.

Plates, utensils, and cups

You want to make sure you have something to eat off of so the whole family isn’t hovered over the sink to avoid getting crumbs everywhere. Consider using environmentally friendly or compostable eating utensils. 

Easy-to-make meals, snacks, and beverages

Pack food that requires little-to-no preparation like cereal and milk, instant oatmeal, bread and peanut butter, canned soup, fruit, nuts, granola bars, pasta and sauce, or canned/pouched tuna, salmon, and chicken. Gatorade, bottled water, juice, and sparkling beverages can quench thirst, while a glass of wine at the end of a long day can feel like a major reward.

Valuable possessions

Don’t take any chances with fancy artwork, high-priced jewelry, treasured family heirlooms, irreplaceable collectibles, and expensive electronics—it should all travel with you.


Honourable mentions: Other nice to haves

Of course, everyone will have their own idea of what they consider essential, but here are a few more items worth mentioning: 

  • shower curtains;
  • spare light bulbs;
  • extension cords;
  • flashlight;
  • batteries
  • a lamp or two (some rooms don’t have overhead lighting);;
  • temporary paper blinds (great if you are in a condo or apartment with large windows or a street busy with foot traffic);
  • air pump for mattress.

There are no right or wrong items to include in your essentials boxes—it all depends on your needs and preferences—but using this list as a starting point will allow you to transition into your new home with comfort and ease, with everything you might need at your fingertips! Happy packing! 



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/moving-essentials-every-home-buyer-should-pack-in-open-first-boxes/25770/1362
Photo: pexels.com

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The Low Down on Downsizing

If you’re retiring, looking to cut back on expenses, or perhaps have a bit too much extra space now that the kids have flown the coop, downsizing to a smaller home might be a smart choice. 


Regardless of your reasons for downsizing, it’s enough to make you wish there was someone who could do the hard work for you and make the whole process that much easier (like, say, a REALTOR®). 


Whether you or your older relatives have decided it’s time for you to move to a smaller home, or you’re just curious to learn more about the process, read on to get the low down on downsizing.

When is it time to downsize? 

Making the choice to downsize can be complicated, but identifying the tell-tale signs—and understanding the new freedom and lifestyle that comes with living in a smaller space—can make your decision easier.

Time to cash in

If you’ve owned a larger home for an extended amount of time, your property has likely appreciated considerably over the years, and moving from your large house to a smaller home or condo more suitable to your current and future needs can help provide financial freedom. 

Too much upkeep

If you’ve noticed maintaining your larger home is beginning to take its toll on you, it may be time to consider downsizing. Whether you’re tired of cleaning rooms and fixing or attending to aging appliances or home finishes regularly – or overpaying someone else to do it for you – moving to a smaller home can lessen the workload.

Empty nest

As your children grow up and move out, they leave behind their unused rooms and old belongings. While it’s certainly hard to leave a family home due to sentimental attachment, downsizing to a smaller place means you can spend less time cleaning and doing maintenance, while also saving money. Besides, given how limited housing inventory is in some parts of the country these days, you’d be giving another growing family an opportunity to fill out the space you’re leaving behind. 

Retiring

People often consider downsizing as they approach retirement. Decreasing the cost of property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, maintenance expenses, and house utilities frees up cash flow so your retirement savings stretch further. Downsizing can allow those who are retired to relax more and enjoy their time off from work with ease.

What’s the difference between downsizing and decluttering?

When it comes to moving, you might think you simply need to declutter your personal belongings to make packing easier. But there’s a difference between decluttering and downsizing. Karen Shinn, president of Downsizing Diva, explained decluttering focuses on appearance while downsizing focuses on functionality. 


“Let’s say you have a number of vases and 12 full China settings on display, but you really only ever use one, andt you also don’t want to part with any of them either. So, rather than getting rid of them completely, you would pack them up and put them away into storage only leaving out what you want people to see,” said Shinn. 


With downsizing, you actually eliminate the items you no longer use or have a purpose for and remove them from your home entirely. 


“Over the years, we all collect things that hold sentimental value, so when it comes to downsizing, it’s tricky because you have to decide what items you can and can’t part with,” said Shinn.

How far in advance do you need to start downsizing

Whether you’re moving to a smaller home, to a retirement community, or you’re renovating your home to be more accommodating for a life transition—whatever that is—start downsizing as soon as you can. Anyone who’s ever moved before knows just how stressful an endeavour it can be.


“As soon as you start to think about moving, start downsizing. Don’t wait,” said Shinn.


She explained you need to start small, so begin with downsizing a cupboard, a shelf, or a drawer. 


“It’s a process and not a fast one. But once you start, the more you do, the easier it becomes.”

Things to consider when downsizing

Moving into a smaller space means combing through everything you’ve accumulated over the years—which can be a daunting task if you’re not prepared. But Shinn recommends keeping these four questions in mind:

  • Do you want it?
  • Do you use it?
  • Do you need it?
  • Do you like looking at it?

If you answer no to any of those questions, it will be easier to part ways with items.


Shinn added it’s important to take a step back and evaluate what’s important to you, so you can decide what you actually need. For most people, when it comes to letting go of personal items, it’s easier if you know they’re going to someone who will appreciate them, rather than just donating them or throwing them out. Shinn describes this as a safe passage because you know the items you treasure and care for will be going to someone who will enjoy them as much as you did. Upcycling and Buy Nothing groups in your neighbourhood could be a great way to pass along these items, knowing they’ll be put to good use. 

Tips for downsizing

Sorting through a lifetime of belongings can be emotionally and physically exhausting, but getting rid of clutter can also be rewarding. Shinn recommends keeping these tips in mind to ease the process:

  • Start small, and start now.
  • Find a place for everything.
  • Be a generous giver.
  • Use the good stuff.
  • Edit your wardrobe seasonally.

How do you choose a professional downsizer

When choosing a downsizer, Shinn says to look for a company that’s part of the National Association of Specialty and Senior Move Managers (NASSM), which is the leading membership organization for move managers in the United States, Canada, and abroad. Companies that are members of NASSM must meet certain requirements and adhere to a code of ethics. NASSM members are also full-time workers and are required to take courses and be certified. Also, keep in mind your REALTOR® likely has downsizing contacts if you’re having trouble finding someone. 


Downsizing a home can lead to lots of stress and anxiety for anyone who has a hard time parting with their belongings, but as Shinn added, “when you simplify your home, you simplify your life.”



Source: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/the-low-down-on-downsizing/25520/1366
Photo: pexels.com

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MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.