moderate income housing project 1

One building is proposed for 3680 East Hastings (left) and a second is proposed for 3600 East Hastings (right). Rendering BHA Architects

Vancouver council referred another three rezoning applications under the city's Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP) to public hearings in the new year. The referrals were made at council's Dec. 10 meeting.

The public hearings get underway Jan. 21, 2020.

Council already approved the first three of 20 projects allowed under the pilot program in December — two on Renfrew Street in East Vancouver and, despite significant pushback from neighbouring residents, one on Larch Street on the city’s West Side.

To qualify under the MIRHPP, proposals must devote 20 per cent of the residential floor area to units for moderate income households earning between $30,000 and $80,000.

Average starting rates for moderate income rental units for East Side buildings are $950 for studios for average household incomes of $38,000; $1,200 for one bedrooms for households incomes of $48,000; $1,600 for two-bedrooms for household incomes of $64,000; and $2,000 for three-bedrooms for household incomes of $80,000.

moderate income housing project 2

The proposal is for a five-storey rental building for a site at 1990 to 1956 Stainsbury Ave. near Victoria Drive. Rendering Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects

January’s public hearings will deal with PCI Developments’ rezoning applications for a pair of 14-storey buildings on East Hastings Street — one at the corner of Boundary Road and the other at the corner of Kootenay Street.

The projects faced general neighbourhood opposition at a joint open house last June, but they also earned some support. Together, the two East Hastings buildings would create a total of 212 rental apartments, 43 of which would be for moderate income households — the one at 3680 East Hastings at Boundary Road would produce 118 rental units, 24 for moderate income households, while the one at 3600 East Hastings at Kootenay would produce 94 rental units, 19 for moderate income households.

Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects submitted the third rezoning application going to public hearing Jan. 21. It’s for a site at 1956 to 1990 Stainsbury Ave. near Trout Lake.

The proposal is for a five-storey building. Approximately 13 of the 80 rental units proposed would be for moderate income households About 59 people attended a May open house for the Stainsbury proposal. The city received 67 responses about the project through comment sheets, letters, emails and online comment forms.

Original Article from: Vancouverisawesome
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For some people, living in a city loft is the epitome of style; think skyline views, plank hardwood floors, exposed brick walls and heritage features offering inimitable character. With open floor plans and central locations, lofts make ideal crash pads for downtown living. However, the loft lifestyle isn't for everyone. 

Here are a few things to know before deciding if a loft is the right home for you. 

The high rise of loft living  

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

Lofts today are seen as upscale urban dwellings for city slickers, but this wasn't always the case. In the 1950s and ‘60s, New York City's decommissioned factories and industrial warehouses became popular housing alternatives for artists and bohemians. 

Lower costs and high ceilings made these spaces perfect canvases for galleries and workshops of large-format artists, like Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Warhol famously converted a loft on East 47th Street in Midtown Manhattan into a studio called The Factory, which became a denizen for artists like David Bowie, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Debbie Harry and Lou Reed. Rent cost $100 a month at the time. 

Andy Warhol at ‘The Factory’, 1966, via Kristine on Flickr

As uptown art buyers turned up for exhibitions and downtown happenings, the lure of the loft lifestyle prompted many to buy and retrofit lofts of their own. As the affluent moved in, market values went up and lofts became hot commodities. 

“Over the next few years, magazines praised the versatility and the creativity of loft design,” writes Sharon Zukin in Loft Living: Culture and Capital in Urban Change. “In many lofts, the integration of work space, living areas, and art objects was paralleled by a fluid adaptation to structural features (primarily light, floor and volume) and “incidental” arrangements.”    

Loft living was instrumental in defining the Industrial aesthetic. And perhaps more importantly, the popularity of lofts redefined a way of living in the city. 

The difference between hard lofts and soft lofts 

Demand for the “loft look” has inspired many developers to replicate loft aesthetics in newly-constructed developments. Known in real estate as soft lofts, these constructions mimic characteristics of typical lofts, such as open concept spaces, large windows, high ceilings and exposed features. 

Photo by Yucel Moran on Unsplash

By contrast, hard lofts can be found in heritage buildings, vacant factories and other places that have been repurposed for residential living. While these industrial buildings tend to be a little rougher around the edges, they often abound with character via exposed brickwork, original wood beams and other inherited traits. 

Photo by Orlova Maria on Unsplash

Two-storey lofts  

Photo by Antoine Gayraud on Unsplash

Unlike single-floor lofts, two-storey lofts have the advantage of offering occupants more privacy. Two-storey lofts often preserve the open concept feel by limiting the reach of the second storey. Often, this top tier overhangs the first floor and is finished with open walls, so the bottom floor is kept in view. Bedrooms are the most common use for the second floors, as added distance allows for more privacy. Two-storey tall ceilings and walls are often utilized for an expansive gallery of windows. 

Pros and cons of loft life  

Photo by Nathan Van Egmond on Unsplash

Because soft lofts tend to be more modern constructions, they're often equipped with more modern furnishings, plumbing and electricity. Hard lofts, on the other hand, may require more work and repairs, depending on the condition of the property. Tall ceilings can mean tall energy bills, too. 

While hard lofts were once located in rundown parts of the city, many of these areas have gentrified and transformed into vibrant urban centers thrumming with activity. For young professionals who work in city centers, lofts are often well connected and ideally located for short commutes and enjoying the cultural advantages city life has to offer. 

Arguably, the primary feature of a loft is an open-concept layout. This setup is ideal for those who feel at home in tall and airy spaces but, for others, it can lack privacy and coziness. These spaces are ideal for singles or couples but can become cramped when children enter the equation. Likewise, hosting company can pose the occasional challenge, especially for a more private person. 

Decorating your loft  

Lofts leave space for a fair deal of decorative freedom, but also pose some unique challenges. Here are a few design tips to help you make the most of your loft lifestyle. 

Define spaces

Via Jennifer D. Ames on Creative Commons

Use large pieces of furniture, such as L-shaped couches, bar counters, bookcases, or even folding screens to help divide and define spaces in your loft. In small spaces, curtains can make for good hanging room partitions. Install a curtain track so they can be easily drawn or closed. 

Opt for oversized art 

Stay true to the loft's legacy by investing in a large painting or sculpture. Small pieces tend to get lost on tall ceilings and in open spaces, whereas larger prints and installations have obvious impact and can help to organize space. 

Add contrast with soft furnishings 

Photo by Israa Hilles on Unsplash

A large area rug lends warmth to hardwood or concrete floors typically found in lofts. Try curtains instead of blinds for window coverings, as they can bring contrast to gridded industrial panes, while still exposing their character. Look to Urban Modern design for examples of how to embrace this aesthetic. 

Embrace character  

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

Think twice before covering up raw features of your loft like exposed brick walls or open ducts and beams in the ceiling. These characteristics are prized by fellow loft buyers. 

Ready to embrace the loft living? Work with a REALTOR® to help you find the perfect space.

Original Article from: Realtor

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You found your dream century home and your conditional offer has been accepted. But after receiving your home inspector's report, it turns out your charming Victorian cottage needs more than a fresh coat of paint.

Photo by Nolan Issac on Unsplash

While this doesn't mean you need to back out of the deal, it's important to know you can always head back to the negotiating table. Your REALTOR® is a great resource for knowing the repairs you might be in for—and what they could cost you—before buying an older property.

“Disposable” systems that need replacing

Roofs, air conditioners, furnaces and boilers don't last forever, so don't be surprised if you learn at least one is at the end of its lifespan, Graham Clarke, President of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors in Toronto said.

“For a 50- or 100-year-old house, there’s a really good chance one of those systems needs to be replaced in the short term,” he explains. “Buyers should really expect that and it shouldn’t taint the house as being a ‘bad' house.”

While having to replace multiple failing components at once can be a budget-buster, Clarke notes you'll typically get 15 to 20 years of use after replacing one of these systems. Here's what he estimates it could cost you.

Expect to fork out:

  • Between $5,000 to $15,000 for a roof, depending on the size and whether it's pitched or flat;

  • $3,000 to $8,000 for a new furnace;

  • $5,000 to $15,000 to replace the boiler;

  • $2,500 to $6,000 for a new air conditioning system.

Note: Costs for these systems can vary outside these ranges depending on the size and condition of the home and more.

Foundation cracks and sloping floors

Nobody wants to move into a house that's sitting on a crumbling foundation, but cracks aren't always a sign of doom, Clarke said.

“Foundational cracks, in some cases, aren't structurally significant, but may still have water leakage implications, a common finding during a home inspection,” he explains.

“However, more significant cracks are often the result of structural movement, which can be very difficult to determine during a home inspection, because there are so many invisible factors: The quality of the soil underneath the footings and the footings at the bottom of the foundation themselves, which are outside the scope of a home inspection.”

Because home inspectors base their professional opinion on what they can see or reach, they'll evaluate the performance of a house instead, Clarke adds.

“If I have a 100-year-old house that is dead level and dead straight, that’s good performance. But if it’s developed sags, slopes and leans, and the doors and windows aren't square, it's moved.”

Expect to fork out:

  • A few hundred dollars to repair cosmetic cracks and up to $10,000 or more for major structural fixes.

Plumbing and electrical elements

According to Clarke, many older homes include obsolete plumbing or electrical systems, whether that's knob-and-tube wiring or galvanized steel piping. Often, any remaining original wiring and plumbing are located in difficult-to-access areas.

“I may go into a Victorian house and see brand new wiring in the basement, but on the second or third floor, I'll see ungrounded receptacles indicating knob-and-tube,” he said. “The stuff that was easy and less expensive to replace was done, but the stuff buried in behind the plaster walls 30 feet up from the basement hasn't been.”

Expect to fork out:

  • For a two- or three-story house, it can cost between $20,000 to $30,000 to replace wiring, with a portion of that going towards making holes in plaster walls, patching and painting.

  • Galvanized steel pipes or cast-iron waste piping in upstairs bathrooms can run several thousand dollars to replace.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Just because a home inspection report reveals a house still has its original windows, that doesn't mean you need to replace them if they're functioning properly, notes Clarke.

“A lot of people spend a lot of money replacing their windows, either for windows that are easier to open or to improve energy efficiency or to enhance the aesthetics of the house,” he says.

Expect to fork out:

  • A minimum of $500 per window, plus installation costs, for a less expensive model.

Other issues a home inspector might recommend outside tests for in older houses include checking for the presence of lead paint, mold, or asbestos tile or insulation.

“To determine whether there’s asbestos in a house, an environmental consultant has to take a lot of samples,“ says Clarke. “But even if a house has asbestos — and most homes built before 1970 do — that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a problem. If it’s in the drywall joint compound, that’s probably not a problem, but if it's in vermiculite insulation up in the attic, that can represent a hazard for people.”

If your home inspection report includes a number of issues, remember it’s not the end of the world. Trust your REALTOR® for guidance and support and together, you can make the right decision.

The article above is for information purposes and is not financial or legal advice or a substitute for financial or legal counsel.

Original Article from: Realtor

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he question of whether to buy a condo or a house may be obvious to some, but for others, it's not so simple. Each comes with its own pros and cons as far as convenience, amenities, resale value and space is concerned.

It's important to start by identifying your goals, lifestyle and budget. A REALTOR® can help you navigate the different options in your desired market, including the factors to consider when choosing between a condo or a house. Get started on by using the property type filter and compare all the options in your neighbourhood.

Condo types

There are two main types of condos on the market, freehold and leasehold. Freehold condos can be buildings divided into a number of units, row townhouses and even standalone townhouses or homes. Within freehold condos, there are standard condominiums, in which you buy your unit and have an interest in the property's common elements but do not own the land. In common elements condominiums, there are no units but you own the property and the land on which it sits. The owners within the common elements condominiums community share ownership of common elements, jointly funding their maintenance and repair. There are also leasehold condominium corporations, in which the land is not owned by the condominium corporation, but where lease purchasers buy a leasehold interest in units and common elements.


Photo by Liao Je Wei on Unsplash

Buying a standard condominium is a bit different than buying a house, as you're only purchasing a unit in a building, not a parcel of land. (This may not be the case for other kinds of condominiums). Generally speaking, a condo is more affordable than a house in the same area, however the gap is much wider in some markets than others, and may not be all that different if it's a common elements condominium, for example. In cities like Vancouver and Toronto, your willingness to sacrifice a more central location for a lower price will play a big role in whether you opt for a house or condo.


Condos come with monthly fees, which pay for services like security, maintenance and amenities. They're typically determined by the size of your unit and how many units are in the building. Some condos offer luxurious amenities, like a 24-hour concierge, pool, gym, sauna, big-screen theatres and in some cases, even a bowling alley. It's important to note, the more amenities offered, the higher your condo fees will likely be.

Photo by Casey Schackow on Unsplash

Condo fees also generally cover the costs if anything breaks within the building (not inside your unit). For homeowners, no such luck. A leaky roof or window upgrades are a few of the big-ticket items you'll be responsible for yourself, especially in an older home.

Insurance is another expense that varies between a house and condo. Typically, insurance rates for a condo are much less than a house as the walls are insured by the building. Same goes for heating and electric bills, which are typically higher with houses.


Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

If you hate mowing the lawn, shovelling snow or emptying out eavestroughs, a condo may be just the ticket. Houses require a lot more work and physical maintenance, which means more time on the homeowner's part.

Location and lifestyle

Photo by LinedPhoto on Unsplash

Condos usually have central locations, giving owners easy commutes and accessibility to public transit, as well as proximity to shops and restaurants. For professionals, these urban conveniences may be more of a priority than an extra bedroom or backyard. And while houses outside of the downtown core are more affordable, you'll sacrifice location and other conveniences associated with condo living. To help discover locations matching your lifestyle, get started with Local Insights.

If you have kids or plan on having them soon, you want to carefully consider things like space, noise and privacy. While two people might be content in a condo, if their family grows, a house may have a lot more appeal. Even a two-or-three-bedroom condo will generally have less room for a burgeoning brood than a house.


Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Condo boards have rulesall owners or tenants are expected to follow. These can limit the number or size of pets allowed, prevent smoking in common areas or private balconies, restrict the use of visitors in common elements (such as a pool or gym), prohibit owners from renting out their units (like on Airbnb), prevent using personal BBQs on patios or dictate certain decorative elements, such as hanging Christmas lights or even the colour of your curtains.

Pros of a condo:

Photo by Daniel DiNuzzo on Unsplash

  • You won't be responsible for most repairs or maintenance outside of your unit.

  • You could have access to amenities like a gym, pool or 24-hour concierge.

  • They offer increased security.

  • They're often easier to rent in the short term.

  • They're more likely to be in a central or convenient location.

Cons of a condo:

Photo by Joseph Albanese on Unsplash

  • You generally have less privacy.

  • There's limited outdoor space.

  • You will have to pay monthly maintenance fees (on top of mortgage payments and property tax).

  • You might have to pay for amenities you don't use.

  • You'll face possible restrictions on things like usage of common elements, parking, pets, renovations and decorations.

Pros of a house:

Photo by Morgan Thompson on Unsplash

  • You typically have total freedom over how you decorate and renovate.

  • You have more control over your own space.

  • You'll likely have more outdoor space.

Cons of a house:

Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash

  • You are responsible for all maintenance.

  • You are responsible for all repairs.

  • Utility bills and insurance is usually higher than in a condo.

a decision-tree graphic on wheether you should buy a house or a condo
Original Article from: Realtor
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Passive House via Construction Rocket

Passive houses are really anything but passive—the truth is, they're total powerhouses. They boast incredible energy efficiency, superb insulation and optimal temperature and comfort 12 months a year.

With that being said, passive homes aren't very common in Canada yet, as our intensely varied climate presents challenges for anyone trying to keep a home comfortable year-round. 

To learn more about these unique homes and their growing place in the Canadian home landscape, we spoke to two PHIUS-certified (Passive House Institute US) builders: Chris Weissflog of EcoGen Energy in Kemptville, Ontario and William Murray of Construction Rocket in the Eastern Townships in Quebec. 

What's the difference between a passive house and a passive solar house ?

As soon as you hear the words “passive house”, you're probably thinking about solar panels—but they're not always a necessary component. 

Passive solar homes are designed to get the maximum benefits from sunshine with solar panels and other systems that use sunlight to heat the air and water in the house.

Weissflog explains that, despite popular belief, passive homes don't need to rely on the sun and can actually perform well in the shade too. For a passive home, the ability to maintain a consistent ambient temperature, regardless of the season and without the help of mechanical systems, is more important than the use of solar panels. This is achieved by keeping the house well insulated, and appropriately sealed and ventilated.

What are the advantages of a passive house?

Passive House via EcoGen Energy

Comfort: Both builders agree, it's impossible to find a house more comfortable than a passive house. Whether it's -30 or +30, in the middle of a room or right next to a window—passive houses maintain a consistently comfortable inside temperature. Will Murray had a client who wanted to do yoga in front of her glass patio door in the middle of winter without freezing. In a passive home with effective ventilation, this is totally feasible.

Energy efficiency: Passive houses use very little energy and cost almost nothing to heat in the winter or cool in the summer. Murray reported the annual energy costs for a  1,980-square-foot PHIUS-certified passive home his company constructed were an impressive $700 (approximately $58 per month) and included—among other things—appliances, heating and cooling. 

Passive House via Construction Rocket

Air quality: Because passive homes are built to be extremely airtight, they require efficient and  regular ventilation and air filtering. This makes them a great choice for people with allergies or breathing problems. 

Predictable energy costs year after year: A passive home's strong seals and effective insulation help keep energy from varying dramatically so you'll likely avoid surprises like expensive heating and electricity bills through the winter months

Passive House via Construction Rocket

Durability: Passive homes are built to last. Mostly-sealed and built with high-quality materials, passive houses are generally less likely to deteriorate over time—which means lower maintenance costs, too.

Quiet:Another benefit of all that insulation and their thicker walls, triple-glazed windows and lack of forced-air systems for heating or cooling, passive houses can be incredibly quiet. 

They're ideal for apartments: For a multiplex or student residence, building a passive structure is a great option. By assuming most of the costs during construction, you'll save money on utilities long-term and the added insulation will make it harder for tenants to disrupt each other with noise. 

Before you build

Cellulose insulation. Passive House via EcoGen Energy

  • If you want your home to be certifiably passive, make sure you involve a PHIUS or Passivhaus certified expert from the get-go—even before hiring an architect. Make sure the involved professionals communicate the nuances of the process to avoid paying for plans and drawings more than once.

  • Keep in mind, renovating an existing house into a passive house can be more expensive than starting from scratch.

  • The up-front costs of building a passive house can be significant (a construction mortgage might help) but factor in the long-term savings on energy and maintenance when creating your budget.

  • While the topics of sealing or energy-efficient insulation aren't exactly sexy when compared with kitchen and bathroom design, they're essential to a passive home and too ensure comfort year-round.

Passive House via Construction Rocket

  • Various experts will need to collaborate on your passive house through design and building to ensure your home meets the standards for certification. 

Passive House via Construction Rocket

Interested? Try searching for homes for sale near you with the keyword search term, “passive”. 

More on green homes: Five Eco-Friendly Ways to Renovate More Sustainably, Eco-Friendly Ways to Get Rid of Renovation Waste, Using Thermostats to Reduce Your Heating Bill

Original Article from: Realtor

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Summer's warmth is now a fading memory and the inescapable and important task of winterizing your home before the first big freeze looms. Luckily, we've created a checklist of many things to consider before that first snowfall with help from Jim Fisher, a general contractor with 50 years experience in the industry.

1. Garden hoses

Disconnect any garden hoses, drain them of any residual water and store them away somewhere dry, protected from the weather.

Why? Garden hoses can become stiff and crack during the winter if left outside. Water in the tubing can freeze and expand, causing your hose to split and forcing you to replace it in the spring.

2. Outdoor taps

Turn off all valves inside the house, then open the taps outside to drain excess water. Be sure to leave the outdoor valves open through the winter.

Why? When water sits in the pipe feeding the outside tap, freezing temperatures can conduct along the pipe to create ice inside the pipes. This can cause cracks and damage the pipe's joints and valves, resulting in bursts and flooding.

3. Attic vents

Inspect and, if necessary, clean the venting from your attic to avoid ice dams.

Why? Attic vents allow moisture to leave the attic space, preventing mold and mildew. Your insulation and HVAC system will be more efficient when your attic is properly vented, allowing better temperature regulation in your home.

Pro Tip: Check your bathroom vents as they pass through the attic. It's easy to forget that if the piping is not insulated all the way to the exit point, this can create ice from condensation through the winter, causing water damage inside your home when it thaws.

4. Chimney

Sweep your chimney to remove any creosote buildup and ensure a clear airway for smoke and particles to exit the chimney. This may require the services of a professional chimney sweep.

Why? Blockages can cause smoke to backdraft into the home and creosote buildup will ignite under certain conditions, causing devastating chimney fires.

Pro Tip: Have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually by a certified professional before you use it for the season. Some insurance policies require this.

5. Flower pots and planters

Empty flower pots and planters of all soil or water and store them where they will be protected from precipitation. A garden shed or garage will do.

Why? Sudden and severe changes in temperature and humidity will cause breaks in terracotta and ceramic pots, with plastic becoming brittle over time—especially if they have water or soil in them.

6. Gas grill or barbecue

Clean the interior of your grill and all its internal parts. Coat the metal parts of your burner in cooking oil. Store outdoors with a sturdy cover or wrapped in heavy plastic if stored in a garage or shed.

Why? Cleaning the grill prevents mould and using cooking oil prevents oxidation of your burner elements, while covering protects it from the elements. Wrapping in plastic for indoor storage helps keep critters from nesting inside.

7. Air conditioners

Turn off the power to any external AC unit. Now is also the time to remove any window or portable units, clean their air filters and store them for the season.

Why? Shutting off the power to external ACs prevents phantom power – the little bit of heat generated by running power to the unit. This small amount of heat can attract critters to use the unit as refuge against cold weather. While you can cover the unit during the colder months, this added layer of protection can be an added attraction for shelter-seeking critters. If your unit is in a location susceptible to snowfall, you can instead cover it with a piece of plywood and a rock to hold it down. If you do opt to cover the unit, be sure to use a specially-made cover that will wrap the unit tightly and not a tarp or other loose-fitting option that can create damaging moisture build-up. Removing window and portable ACs will help insulate your home against drafts, lowering utility costs.

8. Furnace

Have your furnace inspected and serviced by a certified HVAC technician. It is advised to do this annually. 

Why? This ensures your furnace is working optimally, preventing inconvenient breakdowns during winter.

9. Furnace filter

Replace your furnace filter, then set reminders to replace the filter as needed (check monthly). 

Why? Furnace filters remove dust, dirt and allergens from the air in your home. Replacing the filter also enables your furnace to operate more efficiently.

10. Gutters and eavestroughs

Once the trees around your home have shed their foliage, clean all leaves, twigs and debris out of your eavestroughs to ensure clear passage down the gutters.

Why? Clogged eavestroughing and gutters cause ice dams which apply unnecessary pressure and stress along the edge of your roof. This can lead to water incursions, as well as an excess of water close to your home when the snow on your roof thaws and runs off.

Pro tip: Low voltage heat wires (also called heat trace, heat tape or de-icing cables) can help prevent ice dams by warming the eavestroughing. For best results, turn them on after freezing rain or a heavy snowfall, or during a mid-winter thaw. These are especially effective with older homes because their dormer angles are prone to ice buildup.

11. Windows and doors

Install weather stripping around your doors and windows, removing any old material if not done annually. For older windows, applying shrink-wrap plastic can also help reduce drafts.

Why? Heat is lost through spaces around doors and windows. Applying this stripping will help prevent drafts and reduce heating costs.

Pro tip: Door sweeps placed on the bottom of doors really cut down on heat loss. Foam or rubber stripping for door frames and windows will also help reduce drafts, especially with older windows. 

12. Program your thermostat

If you have a programmable thermostat, now is the time to set your temperatures for the winter to save on heating costs. Now is also the time to check your thermostat's batteries and change them if needed.

Why? When you turn your thermostat up, you're not just heating the air in your home, it takes energy to heat the objects in your house, too. If you're planning to be away for an extended period, it makes sense to lower your home's temperature but otherwise, it's often more cost effective to set the temperature in your home and leave it there.

13. Hot water tank thermostat

Check your tank's thermostat and reduce it if necessary. In general, it's recommended that it be set to 60ºC, but homeowners with small children or eldery may choose to reduce it. If you do, the Canada Safety Council recommends a temperature no lower than 54ºC.

Why? If the temperature of your hot water is set too low, you could run the risk of not having enough when you need it or even growing bacteria within the stagnant water in your tank. If you're unsure, set the temperature to 54ºC and increase it incrementally until you're satisfied.  

14. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and replace the batteries with new ones. 

Why? These are life-saving devices and should always have fresh batteries. Used batteries can be repurposed as backups for alarm clocks or electronics.

15. Bushes and shrubs

Give your bushes, shrubs and hedges a final trim, then wrap or cover smaller or more fragile shrubs. 

Why? Pruning plants in the fall will save time and help manage their size if you wish to prevent them from overgrowing. Covering smaller and delicate shrubs and bushes prevents damage from heavy snow and ice.

16. Salt or sand supply

If you use salt, sand or another anti-slip substance to protect your driveway and walkways, be sure you have a hearty supply on hand.

Why? It's best to be prepared in case of an early freeze. It's easier to have a supply on hand before winter hits, than to run out after bad weather strikes and when supplies are in high demand.

17. Deck and porch

Check to see if you need to patch any worn spots with fresh weather protectant.

Why? Winter weather can be hard on wood and ensuring your deck's sealant is fresh will help extend its life.

Pro Top: If your deck is raised, placing lattice or skirting around the outside will prevent snow from blowing underneath and building up against the wall of your home. It is also possible for the ground to slope towards the home underneath the deck. Installing a vapour barrier under the floorboards—sloping down and away from the house—will prevent any ice from thawing and running towards your home. 

18. Lawn mower

Clean and service the engine of your lawn mower and remove any grass or mulch buildup underneath. Empty the gas tank or add a stabilizer and sharpen the blades before storing it in a dry, protected place for the winter.

Why? Like any machine, regular maintenance will help extend its life and ensure it will be ready to go in the spring.

19. Pest prevention

Ensure any possible entries into the home—spaces in the siding, under the eaves and vent openings—are sealed or adequately protected.

Why? Mice, chipmunks, squirrels and racoons will want to burrow in the warmest and safest place they can find for the winter. Keeping them out of your home will save you frustration and money resulting from any damage they might cause.

20. Insulation

Check the insulation in your attic to ensure it hasn't sagged and confirm its “R” value. R value indicates the insulating power and its ability to resist heat loss. The higher the R rating, the lower the heat loss will be. 

Why? Certain types of insulation (like fibreglass batting) can sag over time, reducing its effectiveness and allowing more heat to escape. Conversely, in the summer, the insulation in your attic is the barrier to keep the hot air from affecting the temperature in your home.

Winterizing your home may require a couple of weekends to complete, but taking these steps to secure your home before the cold weather hits will not only help save you money, it will allow for many more—warm and comfortable—years of enjoyment.

Original Article from:  Realtor

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You've been saving for a down payment, watching your credit like a hawk and are ready to make the big leap into homeownership. What now? And what steps should you take so you don't feel like you're wading through a jumble of details? We've put together 10 steps to guide you on your journey to holding your first set of keys. You can also download the Home Buyers' Road Map for more on what to expect.

1. Prepare to buy

One of the first things you should do is decide where you want to live. Is your heart set on the urban living or would a small town be preferable? Enlist the help of a local REALTOR® to research current market prices and get a sense of how much homes cost in your ideal location.

Consider what type of house you picture yourself in; are you leaning toward a house or condo? Both can be amazing places to live. Where condos are typically lower-maintenance but carry maintenance fees, houses, semi-detached homes and free-hold townhouses must be maintained by the owner.

2. Plan your finances

You'll need to plan for a down payment that's at least 5% of the total purchase price of the home. Keep in mind that mortgages with less than a 20% down payment will also require default insurance. 

Think about the impact of your mortgage payments on your budget. A good way to determine readiness is to use a mortgage affordability calculator to estimate how much you can manage based on your income and current debts. You'll also want to think beyond your mortgage payments to account for added monthly expenses for maintenance, repairs, upgrades and unexpected surprises.

3. Get pre-qualified

Now that you have a general idea of how much you can afford, it's time to get pre-qualified for a mortgage by a qualified lender. Any financial institution like a bank or credit union, or a mortgage broker will manage this process. 

Getting pre-approved doesn't guarantee you will be approved but it can be a good indicator of the price range to aim for. That being said, keep in mind pre-qualification amounts may overestimate affordability, so plan your budget accordingly. You will also need to account for additional costs when arranging a mortgage as well as a list of things to bring when you meet with a lender.

4. Find a REALTOR®

REALTORS®  are your home buying MVPs. They are the most familiar with the housing market and will work with you to find the best home based on your budget and needs.

Once you meet your REALTOR®, let them know in detail what you're looking for in a home, your preferred location and the price range you'd like to stick within so they can help you find and explore different options. From there, they can walk you through the entire home buying process and will be a great resource when it comes to getting to know a new neighbourhood.

5. View properties

You've done your due diligence and now comes the exciting part—browsing properties! Search listings in your price range, by location and preferred features and share any that catch your eye with your REALTOR® so they can set up a viewing.

While touring a property, consider:

  • Testing the plumbing fixtures.

  • Checking the light switches in each room.

  • Opening and closing the doors and windows and checking for moisture.

  • Looking at other homes on the block to see how well they are maintained.

  • Checking the traffic density in the area.

  • Confirming parking.

  • Is the driveway (if there is one) well maintained?

  • Checking proximity to nearby amenities (like schools, shopping, dining, parks or public transportation).

You can also use this House Hunting Checklist to track details about a prospective home. 

6. Select your mortgage loan

Now is the time to decide on the type of mortgage that's best for you. It may be helpful to get a good understanding of mortgage terminology and this payment calculator takes the guesswork out of determining different scenarios for interest, amortization period and payment frequency.

Your lender or broker can help you decide what's best for your unique situation, depending on factors like floating or fixed interest rates, your desired payment frequency and affordability or ensuring that your monthly payments never increase.

7. Make an offer

Now, for the moment of truth: it's time to make an offer. Your REALTOR® can help you come up with a strategy and prepare a fair offer based on their knowledge and experience,  your initial impressions of the home, observations made when viewing it and the asking price. Essentially, what you are willing to pay?

Your REALTOR® can also help you determine any conditions – like financing or inspections – you'd like to include as part of your offer and set a deadline. Generally, 24 to 48 hours is customary to accept or reject the offer.

8. Get a home inspection

Purchase offers generally hinge on a successful home inspection and your REALTOR® can arrange the inspection within a few days of the acceptance of your offer by the seller. It is always recommended that you have the home inspected by a professional before you buy. It will likely cost a few hundred dollars, but this small up-front investment can save you unpleasant surprises and financial woes down the road.

9. Hire a lawyer

Buying a home involves a great deal of legal paperwork. There are likely many qualified real estate lawyers your friends and family can recommend. Your REALTOR® can also share the names of lawyers in your area.

A lawyer handles all the paperwork for transferring the land title and can help you deal with possible pitfalls like zoning issues, unpaid taxes or liens, legislation or—in very rare cases—fraud. A transfer of title generally takes two weeks to complete.

Get a fee estimate from prospective lawyers with an outline of their fee structure and be sure to ask questions if you are unsure of anything. Translating legal verbiage into layman's terms is an important part of their job.

10. Close the purchase

You're on the home stretch! All that needs to happen now is to close the deal. Your REALTOR® and lawyer do most of the legwork here, but you should consider the following:

  • Start satisfying your end of any conditions of the agreement—your REALTOR® will confirm and document these;

  • Purchase homeowners' insurance to activate on the closing date;

  • Contact your lender or broker to finalize the mortgage documents;

  • Arrange to have any utilities and services to be connected or switched to your name upon close;

  • Meet your lawyer a day or two before closing to sign the closing documents.

Buying a home will likely be one of the biggest single purchases that you'll make and there's a lot to know, understand and do. These resources available on will help you along your journey to homeownership:

Happy house hunting, and don't forget to breathe and enjoy the process, you're about to be a homeowner!

Original Article from: Realtor

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ith lengthening days and milder temperatures in many parts of the country, April is a wonderful time to freshen up the home inside and out. To get sparkling windows, a clutter-free garage and more, here are 16 tasks to make the most of the first full month of spring.
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If you’ve ever wished that your range hood would turn on automatically in response to your cooktop, you’re in luck — a new wave of technology in the kitchen will assist with this and other cooking tasks. 

The kitchen of the future was on display at the 2019 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas in February. Appliance manufacturers showcased products designed to make the kitchen easier to cook in and help connect household members. Even if you’re not ready to adopt this emerging technology in your own kitchen, you can read on to learn where the industry is headed.

The Connected Kitchen Is Coming

One of the major trends we noticed at KBIS and IBS this year was the integration of kitchen appliances with home assistants such as the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, among others. This is a timely development since there has been a definite uptick in homeowners bringing home assistants into remodeled kitchens. Among homeowners recently upgrading electronics as part of their kitchen renovations, 31 percent added a home assistant, compared with 23 percent the year before, according to the 2019 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study

As just one example of this trend, Bosch has integrated its wall ovens, hoods and induction cooktops, as well as its refrigerators and dishwashers, with the open-platform Home Connect app. Homeowners can check if their cooktop is on, preheat their wall ovens, monitor the temperature of casseroles in their ovens, get notifications when the meal is ready and more — all remotely from the app. The Home Connect app integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant so that homeowners can do these things through voice commands.

Photo from Bosch

Through Home Connect, homeowners can sync their Bosch cooktops with their Bosch range hoods for automatic deployment when the cooktop is turned on. The Home Connect app can notify homeowners when their fridge or freezer door is open. And when Bosch’s smart dishwasher detects that detergent tabs are running low, the machine automatically reorders detergent through Home Connect’s partnership with Amazon Dash Replenishment. Bosch’s dishwasher even alerts homeowners in case of a leak — and stops operation and pumps water if one occurs. 

While Home Connect is an open-platform app — ThermadorGaggenau, Neff and Siemens also use it — several brands have created their own apps for smart kitchen devicesSignature Kitchen Suite’s app can remotely control the brand’s refrigerators, freezers and ovens. Miele and Dacor have apps for their products. And a host of LG products — kitchen, laundry and vacuum cleaners among them — can be controlled through LG’s open-platform SmartThinQ app or by using voice commands through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

Photo from GE Appliances 

Households Organized Through a Digital Hub

One natural outgrowth of all this tech coming to the kitchen was seen at the show through improved digital family command centers. GE Appliances showcased its Kitchen Hub, pictured. It’s designed to be a family organizing center and control station for the home’s smart devices, as well as a place to stream Netflix while you cook. 

Homeowners can use the Kitchen Hub to pull up calendars and schedules, to access thousands of recipes via the integrated SideChef meal-planning app, and to make video calls while cooking. The hub is designed to be placed above the cooktop and has a ventilation system that protects it from heat, steam and grease. Though the product was debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2018, new this year is its integration with Google Assistant.

Photo from Samsung

Samsung debuted a new model of its Family Hub refrigerator with a new digital bulletin board where homeowners can write digital sticky notes, place digital photos or doodle directly on the screen. A view-inside feature allows homeowners to see inside their fridges from their smartphones — a useful feature when you’re at the grocery store and can’t remember if you need more milk. 

The Family Hub integrates Bixby, Samsung’s home assistant, which homeowners can use to ask for a weather report, call a Lyft or control other smart devices with voice commands. They also can control the home’s connected devices through the refrigerator screen itself.

Photo from Kohler

Faucets That Can Measure Water and Respond to Your Voice

As nice as a digital command center might be, sometimes what you really need is a faucet that can turn itself on or off when your hands are grimy from raw chicken. Enter the Kohler Sensate faucet with Kohler Konnect, pictured, and the Delta Trinsic pull-down faucet with VoiceIQ — two products you can turn on or off with voice commands thanks to integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

With both faucets, you can tell the device to fill your coffeepot, and it will emit the (preprogrammed) proper amount. Delta’s Trinsic line has a touch on-off function, meaning that a simple touch of the hand or wrist turns the faucet on or off, while Kohler’s Sensate has a touchless on-off sensor, so a wave of the hand will do the job.

Photo from American Standard

For those who like the idea of a sink dispensing a specific amount of water but aren’t interested in home assistants, American Standard showcased its Beale MeasureFill Touch kitchen faucet, shown in this photo and introduced at KBIS in 2018, which has a hand dial marked with measurements ranging from a half-cup up to 5 cups. Homeowners can turn the dial and walk away, and the faucet will dispense the exact amount selected. 

A cool new product is Grohe’s Blue Chilled & Sparkling 2.0 faucet, which eliminates waste from purchasing bottled water. A push button on the faucet dispenses chilled, filtered water or, if you prefer, sparkling water powered by a carbon dioxide tank installed beneath the sink. The faucet is Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-enabled so that homeowners can track carbon dioxide usage and filter status on the Grohe Ondus app.

Photo from Signature Kitchen Suite 

Cooktops and Ovens With More Bells and Whistles 

Stove innovations debuted at the shows help homeowners cook their food with greater precision. Signature Kitchen Suite added a 36-inch dual-fuel pro range with a built-in sous vide cooker after debuting a 48-inch version with the industry’s first built-in sous vide cooker, pictured, last year. Sous vide is a cooking technique in which food is placed in a food-grade plastic pouch or glass jar and submerged in a water bath at a low temperature for a long period of time, and it allows for precise temperature control. The technique preserves flavor and can help home chefs avoid overcooking meat. 

The 48-inch cooktop has two induction surfaces that can be used with a griddle, teppanyaki plate or large cookware. It combines an 18-inch steam and convection oven, shown on the left, with a standard 30-inch oven, shown on the right. The 36-inch gas model comes in a variety of arrangements, including sous vide with four burners and griddle with four burners.

Photo from Signature Kitchen Suite

Here’s a closer look at the built-in sous vide portion of the cooktop.

The 36- and 48-inch ranges are Wi-Fi-enabled. Homeowners can control them remotely — preheat the oven, for instance — through the Signature Kitchen Suite app.

Signature also gives customers the option to enroll in a concierge service with Wi-Fi monitoring. The program offers a third year of warranty free, and the company can proactively notify enrolled homeowners when their products need replacement or repair. The company has repair people on call 24/7 and promises completed repairs within 24 to 48 hours.

Wine Gets the Pamper Treatment

For the wine connoisseur, KBIS revealed some exciting developments in wine storage. Dacor’s new 24-inch wine cellar, pictured, holds up to 100 bottles in three independently cooled zones. Each zone has its own sensor to keep the humidity in the ideal 50 percent to 80 percent range, and cooling technology limits temperature fluctuations to just three-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit so that the wine stays at the desired chill level. Anti-vibration mounts keep the wine from jiggling, and an air purification system prevents cork contamination. Homeowners can catalog their wines through Dacor’s IQ Connect app, so they know exactly where their favorite bottle is located within the fridge.

Photo from LG

Another neat kitchen product slated to roll out and featured at KBIS is LG’s HomeBrew, pictured, the industry’s first capsule-based craft beer maker. 

Homeowners would use it to make beer by placing four capsules containing malt, yeast, hop oil and flavoring into the machine and pressing start. The HomeBrew makes an American IPA, an American pale ale, a full-bodied English stout, a Belgian-style witbier and a Czech Pilsner, with more beers to come down the road. This smart machine can be controlled remotely using LG’s SmartThinQ app or through voice commands and a home assistant.

Originally from: Houzz

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The first official day of spring is March 20. So whether there’s still snow on the ground or flowers in bloom, you can rest assured that nicer weather is on its way. Usher in the new season with a bit of spring cleaning, some fresh flowers and — if you can get outdoors — a little dirt under your fingernails.

Things to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less

1. Make mirrors and table lamps shine. Use a duster or soft rags to remove dust from table lamps and wipe down mirrors with a damp microfiber cloth. These freshened-up surfaces will enhance the light throughout your space.

Scandinavian Entry by Mailen Design

2. Refresh the entryway. As the weather thaws, begin putting away mittens and wool hats and make room for those mucky spring boots. Clean or replace the doormat, clear off the hooks (or hangers, if you have a coat closet) and be sure to put out an umbrella holder stocked for spring showers. A clean boot tray lined with river stones will help water drain away from your footwear.

Eclectic Bedroom by Nick Callaghan Photography

3. Remove winter layers. Feeling a bit stifled under a pile of thick duvets? Swap out heavy winter bedding for lighter-weight quilts and coverlets. Also consider changing deep-pile rugs for flat-weave or natural-fiber versions for the warmer months.

Exterior by James Hardie Building Products

4. Clean up patio furniture. Outdoor furniture can get really grimy over the winter, so be sure to give everything a good scrubbing before you start using it for the season. Launder washable outdoor cushion covers and replace worn-out pieces if needed.

5. Tune up lawn and garden tools. Sharp tools get the job done. Take your lawn mower and clippers in for a sharpening and tuneup before you begin work in your garden.

Transitional Living Room by Arkitekturfotograferne / Martin Tørsleff

6. Clean slipcovers and soft furnishings. Smaller slipcovers and washable rugs can be laundered at home; drop off larger pieces with professionals. When laundering items at home, be sure to read the instructions carefully and err on the side of caution. Most items such as curtains and slipcovers can be put back while damp — for the best fit and to prevent wrinkles.

7. Dust high corners and baseboards. Using a vacuum attachment or the duster of your choice, remove dust and cobwebs from those high and low spots we often miss during routine cleaning.

Farmhouse Landscape by Danielle Sykes

8. Make a garden plan. There’s still time to get your garden growing! Sketch out a plan and jot down ideas for this year’s plantings, as well as any ideas you have for changes to the hardscape, such as putting in a new path or fence. Start some seeds indoors or pick up seedlings at your local nursery. Check botanical gardens for plant sales too, as these can be great places to find native plants that do especially well in your region.

Transitional Home Office by Atelier 616 Interiors, LLC

9. Get ready for tax time. Tax-filing deadline isn’t until April 17 this year, but getting your ducks in a row this month will make things a lot less stressful. Sort through paperwork, update your files and gather all important documents in one place so you’re ready to go.

Contemporary Dining Room by Touijer Designs

10. Simplify the table. Cupboards feeling overstuffed? Simplify your life by paring back on dishes and glassware, letting go of mismatched and chipped pieces and sets you no longer love or use often. Keep a basket of fresh cloth napkins within easy reach of the table to make it more convenient than grabbing paper napkins, and invest in a living centerpiece (potted succulents work well) that will stay fresh and green with little maintenance.

Farmhouse Kitchen by Kandrac & Kole Interior Designs, Inc.

11. Spring-clean the kitchen. Give your kitchen a fresh start by cleaning some of the areas we often skip during quick daily tidying: Clean small appliances; wipe grease and grime from the range hood, backsplash and light fixtures; clean grout; and vacuum hard-to-reach places (like under the stove) using an attachment.

12. Streamline meal planning. Collect your favorite recipes in a binder (or online) and come up with several weeks’ worth of meal plans using your go-to favorites, plus shopping lists. When life gets busy, at least you’ll know what’s for dinner.

Midcentury Kitchen by Simply Home Decorating

13. Treat yourself to spring blooms. Spring flowers such as daffodils are plentiful and inexpensive this month, so keep an eye out for bargains. And if you have blooms popping up in the garden, why not snip a few to enjoy indoors?

Transitional Exterior by Amy A. Alper, Architect

14. Plant a tree. Spring and fall are the best times to plant trees because wet weather and cooler temperatures make it easier for root systems to get established. Be sure to check with a nursery to determine which species will do best in your microclimate and to get detailed planting instructions. If your area has a late date of last frost, you may need to wait until all threat has passed before planting.

15. Inspect your home’s exterior for winter damage and make repairs as needed. Once winter storms have passed, carefully inspect the exterior of your home. If you had an ice dam on your roof during the winter, now is the time to repair any damage it caused. Ice dams form when the edges of a home’s roof are colder than the upper regions (where more insulation sits below the roof), causing ice to form around the eaves. The best way to prevent them is by upgrading insulation and ventilation in the attic.

Source article from : Houzz

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Lobby of Dutch19

You barely register it's there when you walk in. Yet it is part of the reason you end up making an offer on a luxury condo. It's part of the reason you relax when you cross the threshold to your building. It's the lure, it's the appeal—and it's the subliminal effect—of luxury art. 

"When I first started staging, nobody in the high end was staging at all for some reason," says Cheryl Eisen, founder of Interior Marketing Group, which stages many luxury and celebrity homes. "As we started doing it, I always started by putting art in the spaces. Now the highest end of real estate in New York City, which is the highest in the world, more or less, is being staged more and more. This is more of a growing thing." One of the first things Eisen does upon seeing a client's space is to photoshop in ideas of art that would both look good and highlight the home's features, such as its double-height ceilings or tall windows. Then her in-house art team, Art Loft, creates unique pieces for each of the spaces.

The trend started with the obvious—hanging pictures on the wall or creating places for freestanding sculptures in the corner. But as it became clear how powerful an impact art has on influencing the purchase of the property, developers realized they could have even more success by weaving art into the tiny spaces that had previously been overlooked. The leather-and-silk custom-made headboards in Dubai's super-prime Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences are one example. Developers commissioned artist Helen Amy Murray and interior designer Sybille de Margerie to create interiors that weave artwork into the living spaces so that from every vantage point in a room there is artwork within view. Here's a close-up of the leather-and-silk piece indicative of what will be created for the units.

"Herringbone" made of hand-sculpted silk and wadding with leather panels. Helen Amy Murray

“Buyers of superprime property have travelled the world, have the finest luxury goods at their fingertips and expect the very best in design, architecture and lifestyle," says Maria Morris, partner at global real estate agency Knight Frank and spokesperson for Dubai's superprime Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences. "We understand the importance these buyers place on ‘individuality’ – just as with any other luxury purchase they are making, they want something that no one else has. As a result, superprime developers are constantly pushing themselves to create properties different to any residences previously offered on the market."

There's even a German word for all this—Gesamtkuntstwerk, which means "total artwork" in the sense of creating a comprehensive art experience within a space. The 19 Dutch building, pictured up top, pays homage to its namesake country with a front lobby desk made from custom Dutch Delft-style tiles by artist Colum McCartan with pictures of old 17th-century etchings and drawings of New Amsterdam. The rest of the building has other nods to Dutch heritage including custom Dutch-inspired elevator cabs, references to Vermeer and a 4.5-meter Magnus Gjoen-created piece for the leasing office that harkens the Arms of the Dutch Republic. 

No part of a building is off-limits when it comes to displaying one-of-a-kind pieces of art. The Madison Square Portfolio commissioned several different pieces of custom graffiti art by Skott Marsi for its building's elevators—a place where residents will spend very little of their time, yet developers still found it worthwhile to take advantage of the blank wall. 

Original elevator graffiti art by Skott Marsi Kaufman Organization

Artist Gérard Faivre creates "art homes," which come with an aesthetic designed to complement a precurated art collection that can be negotiated as part of the sale. Two examples of his work are coming up for auction later this month as part of a massive December sale by Concierge Auctions. This art-centric design helps set a high price bar for the transaction. Bidding for his three-bedroom, four-bathroom apartment at 74 Avenue Marceau in Paris (pictured below) starts at €5.85 million ($6.6 million) and another unit at Francois 1er at 4 Rue Lincoln starts at €4.25 million ($4.9 million). The auction opens December 14 and closes December 19. Click on either link to be taken to the individual bidding page, or see the entire sale here

Parisian art home up for auction this week.Concierge Actions 

Developers have found another way to make art part of their branding, without making it a central part of their staging efforts. The Italian developers of 125 Greenwich, Bizzi & Partners, partnered with Hollywood-based art firm Creative Art Partners to cocurate a collection called "The Collection at 125 Greenwich Street," which allows residents to purchase artworks by major artists as part of their purchase of a home. Creative Art Partners drew from their nearly 3,000 artworks by artists such as Sterling Ruby, Oscar Murillo, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Edward Ruscha for the special collection. (Note: 125 Greenwich also made news when they partnered with superyacht designers, March & White, to design the interiors of the condos.  Superyacht design influencing homes on land is becoming more of a trend so here's an in-depth look at how boats have started to inspire landlubber design).

Part of the collection at 125 Greenwich125 Greenwich

The goal is the same goal art has always had—to evoke an emotional response—but it has to meet the challenge of creating a mood or a feeling while not being so specific that it fails to resonate with large enough numbers of people who are potential buyers.

The Summit of Manhattan by Todd Stuart for Summit NYC Summit Building

“We did a place in the Puck Building and one of the units hadn’t been selling," says Eisen. "It had a giant Basquiat over the fireplace. I think one of the problems was that all you noticed was the Basquiat. Buyers want to relate to being able to display their art collection on the walls of these grand spaces. You have to be able to communicate that with oversized art, but on the other hand to distract them takes away from what you’re really selling, which is the architecture and the views.” She points out the example of the apartment building that used to belong to rap mogul Diddy, for which IMG did the staging. That canvas hanging in the double-height living room needed to be huge—much larger than ten feet tall—but not call attention to itself. The solution was to create a white-on-white design of overlapping block shapes to achieve texture and raised surfaces that draw the eye up to the ceiling at a subtle level of awareness.

Aileron by Alyson Shotz at 70 Vestry mimics a butterfly’s wing and reflects the changing light over the Hudson River.

One way developers have overcome this hurdle is to commission site-specific large pieces at the entrances or courtyards of the buildings that immediately convey a sense of place, but keep everything around them neutral so a viewer can create their own meaning and context for the piece. Summit NYC, near the United Nations, relied on sleek, chromelike interpretation of the infinity symbol to convey the ever-changing, global nature of the location, while 70 Vestry near the Hudson River used a light-reflecting material to capture the shimmers coming off the water (both pictured above).

Galerie is a Long Island City building that started with art as its main theme, even using the tagline "Home is where the art is" for its marketing materials. It has an onsite art gallery, Art Box, which showcases work by New York artists, and use work by well-known artists for all of their common spaces. Below is the courtyard sculpture "Brilliant Corners" by Allen Glatter.

"Brilliant Corners" by Allen Glatter Binyan Studios 

Eighty East Tenth commissioned a piece for its courtyard from the artist John Clement. Called "Cherry," the sculpture is made from coiled steel pipe and finished with a Ferrari Red high-gloss auto paint, which aims to evoke a sense of centrifugal motion coming out of the ground. 

"Cherry" by John Clement 

The Ritz Carlton Residences in Miami have taken things one step further and created a dedicated art studio in the building where residents can use the space to create their own artwork without having to bring everything up to their own condo.

Residents' Art Studio Riz Carlton Residences 

Call it subliminal messaging. Call it subtle marketing. Whatever it is, it works. Eisen gives the example of when she first started working with New York superagent Fredrik Eklund, star of Million Dollar Listing. Upon first seeing the listing she suggested it be staged as cool bachelor pad in the style of a James Bond-type character. "Fredrik called me a week later," she says, "And said, ‘You’re never going to guess who won the bidding war. It was Daniel Craig.’” 

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Do you wish you could breathe some fresh life into your home for 2019? Then you may want to add some elements to your home featuring current design trends. But you might look at some of the trendiest contemporary spaces and feel those are out of reach. After all, many spaces incorporate a contemporary aesthetic in the way they are designed on an architectural level, meaning you might need a complete remodel or new build to achieve those looks. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to modernize a home that don’t require a wrecking ball. Below are some added embellishments that can make your home look more updated for the new year.

Large Contemporary Mirror

An easy way to add stark, updated geometry to a space is to look into the different mirror designs out there. An example in the photo above uses circular and square geometry in juxtaposition. It really adds some sleek geometry to the space, and the gray frame matches the neutrals in the rest of the room.

Mirrors are an easy way to modernize a home. A large mirror can be its own focal point. They’re easy to source and hang and a large mirror can do wonders in opening up a space. Plus, the sleek texture of a mirror makes any space look more updated.

Modernize a Home with Unconventional Furniture

Large pieces of furniture tend to be their own focal point. So if you want to overhaul how a room looks, simply change the furniture.

If you want a look that is on the more contemporary side, try for unique pieces of furniture, like in the photo above. Pieces that eschew the traditional sofa and chair shape have a more updated, almost futuristic look. The open back and freely placed armrests also add some interesting geometry to the space.

If you’re not looking to go too bold, you also might want to think about more understated contemporary ways people are using furniture. For instance, neutrals tend to be popular right now, but mixing them with brightly colored single accent pieces can help a room pop.

Geometric Light Fixtures

Another way to modernize a home is to think about the lighting fixtures. An intricate lighting fixture can breathe life into any room. An example is the highly interesting piece in the photo above. Its sleek chrome design and industrial-style exposed bulbs make it quite the eye-grabber.

A new lighting fixture is a good way to set the tone for a more updated look. You can go for industrial pieces, sleek metal pieces or even retro sunburst designs – they’re making a comeback. Lighting fixtures are also fairly easy to replace, but they make it look like you did some major hardware overhauls in your space.

Change the Wall Art

You can also change the art on your walls. That’s an easy way to update a space without doing anything too drastic. Like the other design elements above, large art tends to stand as a focal point so changing the art can help set a new tone in the space.

One idea is to go for abstract art, like in the photo above. Many people associate the height of abstract art with the mid-20th century. Because of that, it tends to pop up in mid-century modern styles. However, a good piece of modern art can transcend the ages with its color, raw emotion and eye-grabbing designs. Abstract art can also serve a design purpose. For instance, the piece in the photo above juxtaposes some earthy green color against an industrial space.

Combine Neutrals

Neutrals are very popular in updated, contemporary spaces. They open up the room and tend to give a relaxed tone that won’t go out of style too soon. So if you want to modernize a home, try going for neutral tones.

An example is the space in the photo above. The room balances its neutral tones impeccably. The brown in the sofa reflects the wood coloring behind the TV and shelving. An area rug is a good way to add more neutral tones to a space, as well. Neutral throw pillows and a neutral-colored coffee table are even more easy ways to add these tones to a space without having to remodel.

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One word: Colour

Yes, neutrals are still king. But 2018 invited us to blow the lid off our preconceived notions about color theory and have some fun. Jewel tones started making their mark on the scene, inviting us to amp up the saturation and give our spaces a feel of richness. Previously off-limits colors were welcomed into our homes. Black even set itself apart as a decidedly trendy and luxurious color for walls, flooring and cabinetry. And as we expanded our color palettes, we also expanded the way we use color. Gone are the days of a single accent color. In 2018, layering multiple different accent hues helped a room shine.
And beyond simply choosing which colors to implement in your home, 2018 was a year to explore where you use those colors, too. Often forgotten spaces like the foyer, ceiling and front door got new leases on life thanks to the drive to add vibrant and interesting hues everywhere in the home.
Feeling overwhelmed by the overload of color options? Don’t worry. We have a guide on how to balance bold colors to help you out.

Maximalism starts making its mark

No 2018 design trend recap would be complete without taking a dip into maximalism. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed that home design seems to be trending in the direction of more. We just talked about how we started making our foray into more color. We also went for more pattern and texture, like eye-catching or moody floral wallpapers, interesting kitchen backsplashes and colorful grout. Maximalism is all about filling a space with things you love and that bring you joy, and we jumped on that opportunity in 2018.

Out of all the different home changes we’re exploring in this 2018 design trend recap, we think maximalism is the one with the most staying power.


Eye-catching lighting sets the stage

Sure, our parents told us not to stare at the sun. But in 2018, it’s been hard not to stare at the light – at least, the lighting we brought into our homes. Gone are the days of boring, basic lighting that just gets the job done. This year, we took pendant lights from simple to really something. Suddenly, you could find them in architectural shapes and mixed textures hung in new and exciting configurations.

And we didn’t stop with pendants, either. This year, lots of designers and decorators took risks with unique and funky lighting. Even the humble string light got a major upgrade and expanded usage this year. Some of the trends might not survive past this 2018 design trend recap, but some – like abstract metal chandeliers – are surely just starting to enjoy their time in the, ahem, light.


Natural and industrial blend

In 2018, we finally started finding ways to marry our innate craving for nature with our love of the sleek simplicity of industrial design. That was thanks, in large part, to the concretecraze. All of a sudden, we were pouring cement for our countertops, floors, mantels and more. As a key element in industrial design, concrete lends an inherent sleekness even as it mimics natural stone. With concrete in place, we had our canvas to bring other natural textures into our homes, like greenery walls and roughly-hewn wood.

We also looked to plant life to soften the edges of industrial and minimalist spaces. Potted plants are having a moment, but you’re not limited by open floor space. Hanging and wall mounted plants trended in a major way in 2018. We even added greenery to our roofs. This year, we blended natural and industrial. Looks like we finally figured out how to have our cake and eat it, too.

What trends were you surprised to see Freshome cover in 2018? Which ones would you have liked to learn more about? Which ones did we skip in this 2018 design trend recap? Let us know! We’re coming up on a new year and are excited to explore 2019’s design trends with you!


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Moe Pourtaghi

"Nothing brings me more joy than seeing my buyers & sellers have success in their Real Estate endeavours. I hope you find the articles on my blog inspiring and educating in your ventures." - Moe Pourtaghi

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