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Small Space, Big Impact

Small Space Banner
 
It can be difficult to know how best to lay out a smaller outdoor space in order to maximize its use and style possibilities. More often than not, it’s easier for items to just sort of end up there in a kind of hodge-podge, but this can create a feeling of clutter, amplified by the smaller area, making it less comfortable and inviting. A smaller outdoor space is an opportunity to pull out all the stops, and because you’re working with less ground and wall to cover, you can do so without breaking the bank.
 
Keeping Things in Proportion
 
The biggest (no pun intended) mistake people make when designing a smaller space, be it indoors or out, is to go with furniture that is too large. There should always be room to easily maneuver around furnishings, otherwise the area feels congested, which triggers a subconscious internal stress reaction. Proportional furniture can and will function comfortably and as needed, and with this in mind, designers have made many appealing styles and options to suit outdoor spaces of all sizes. This rule even extends to barbecues—you should see the adorable (and even colourful!) smaller grills now available.
An outdoor piece that I absolutely love the look of? A drink cart. Whether it’s holding pitchers of fresh lemonade or sangria, or you’re using it to display flower pots, a colourful drink cart is small, easy to move around, and instantly gives a designer look to your little slice of the outdoors.
 
Small Space4
 

A Plan for Greatness
 
While that effortlessly chic look is always enough to elicit the covetous “oohs and aahs” from your guests, the truth is that it does always take some behind-the-scenes magic to achieve. It sounds unnecessary, but drawing a little sketch of your space then laying out the furniture, planters and other larger pieces will really help you create a beautiful outdoor area.
 
You want to keep traffic flow in mind. It should be easy to get around, and the layout should make sense. For example, if you’re going to have a container grouping, it should be in the best position for the right amount of shade and sunlight, and you can then plan your seating area accordingly. This step will save you a ton of work when it comes to physically putting things in their places, and the smarter your layout, the easier it will be to enjoy your little outdoor escape.
 
 
Colour Scheme
 
We often forget that an outdoor area is just as much an extension of your home as, say, your living room, as long as you use it. What will inspire you to use it? Making it a cozy, appealing place to be. Having a colour scheme will go a long way in having it feel like a part of your home. The beauty of using a colour palette in your outdoor space is that it can be easily achieved, especially in a smaller one, and, (this is ideal for anyone renting), it can be created via easily moveable items, such as outdoor mats, cushions, furniture, artwork, and planters.
 
The colour scheme comes down to your personal choice as well as what suits the exterior of your home, but I have to admit I tend to look to blues. They have a knack for making a space feel airy and bright, and though timeless, blues always have this funny way of feeling trendy too. There are so many hues, and they tend to go with just about any other colour.
 
Small Space1
Why not channel your nautical side with a rich royal blue, wide stripes, and dashes of red? An outdoor lantern, a piece of art, red flowers—these are all easy and fun ways to make a real style statement. For a more refreshing, soft feel, go with a paler blue, maybe paired with a buttered yellow and spring green for a lovely country feel, or perhaps with whites for a very relaxing, seaside vibe.
 
Blank Canvas
 
A relatively new product that I have to admit is already a personal favourite, are outdoor canvases. They look like the stretched canvas art you’d hang in your home (and can definitely be used as such) but they’re treated to withstand being outside. That means they can handle rain, direct sunlight, and all the other fun things summer can throw at us.
 
These pieces will need to be stored indoors during the winter, but another added bonus to canvases is that they can easily lean against a garage or basement wall without taking up much room. You can even hang it on an interior wall during the snowy months!
Available in an ever-growing array of colours, subject matter, and styles, outdoor canvases allow you to go upwards with your design plans. With a wide selection of temporary and permanent hanging options, you can easily add some artwork to an exterior wall or fence to make the space more homey and personal, whether you rent or own.
 
Right Back at You
 
Just as with smaller rooms inside, a mirror is perfect for making an outdoor space feel larger. The elements can be a bit harder on mirrors, so I strongly recommend picking up one that will look good as it weathers. This can be a great opportunity to scout out local flea markets and garage sales for an inexpensive mirror that will add a major wow factor and brighten your outdoor escape by reflecting light. Depending on what the frame of the mirror is, it may not be immune to rain—I would recommend choosing one that is since those light summer showers can easily pop up while you’re not home.
 
Finishing Touches
 
Now that wall space has been added to the outdoor design mix, the ground level décor doesn’t need to carry all the load, but it’s still those finishing touches which take style to the next level. When working
with limited space, avoid overcrowding with too many cute but space-consuming knick-knacks that add whimsy to a garden. Because the stage is smaller, go with fewer pieces, and remember the rule of proportion
 

still applies. Perhaps you have one larger statue or piece, and a few smaller finishing touches, just be sure to keep them to a minimum—this allows each piece to have a say without dominating the conversation.
Having an outdoor mat and a couple of cushions instantly adds your own stamp without creating clutter. I would recommend going more with finishing touches like these, versus décor items that serve no function beyond optics.
 
You Can Have It All
 
Don’t think that a shortage of space translates to a shortage of options. If anything, having a smaller outdoor space makes it easier to create a big impact with less. Don’t be afraid to get creative, and think of it as another room in your home—this removes that funny block many of us have which tells us we can’t design the outdoors the way we would the interior. Make it a space you want to spend time in, and you will! And really, what’s better than unwinding after work in a little outdoor oasis in your very own backyard?

 

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category:

Small Space, Big Impact

Bottled Sunshine  Banner
 
There are colour palettes that come and go (remember the lime green craze of 2012?), and others which boast a more timeless appeal. Don’t get me wrong; I think unless you’re selling your house, your personal taste should be the deciding factor in which colours you paint with. But each year, designers and paint companies choose to showcase particular colour groupings, sometimes suggesting pairings that are wholly fresh and other times reminding us of tried-and-true favourites that we may have lost sight of.
 
I recently opened my email to a subscriber message from PPG Pittsburgh Paints (I’m a big fan of signing-up for emails from companies, brands, and designers I admire; I love being in the loop and seeing what they are focusing on) and they were spotlighting their Sunnyside Collection. Like the name implies, this palette is comprised mainly of warm buttery yellows, rich golden maples, washed-out terra cottas, and soft pale sands. Though yellow is by no means a brand new room colour (in fact, it’s something of a classic), I was reminded of how bright and inviting it can be, and presented with new ways of using it, all of which had me falling in love all over again with these sunshine-y possibilities.
 
Yellow is not the easiest colour to work with for two reasons, though when you get it right, the results are beautiful and enduring. The first factor to keep in your peripheral when channeling your mellow yellow is that this colour magnifies on a wall, meaning it will seem much brighter and more expansive when translated from a tiny sample or accessory to an entire room. Usually you should go two to three shades lighter than the yellow that catches your eye on a paint swatch; this will give your space the same feel as the yellow you love, but it accounts for the difference between looking at a spot of it versus being surrounded by it, preventing your selection from being overwhelming.
First Pic Dining Room
 
The second factor you need to keep in mind when selecting the right yellow for your home is lighting. A room without much light will make yellow walls appear dingy, whereas you also don’t want to be blinded by a flood of light bouncing off of too-bright a yellow. Natural light and your interior lighting will both interact differently with yellow, which is why it’s wise when selecting lights for a room in this colour family, to choose lightbulbs which mimic the colour of the natural light that room receives. For example, if the room is westward-facing and receives sunset light, your bulbs should give off a warmer glow, whereas a space that sees a lot of mid-day light should have whiter lighting.
 
Yellow is definitely a colour you want to do a paint test with, which is where you buy a sample of the paint and apply a patch of the colour(s) you’re considering to one of the walls it’s ultimately intended for. Let it dry and check on it throughout the day to see how its appearance changes based on the lighting the space receives.
 
In a room that receives a lot of natural light throughout the day, a lighter, warmer yellow is going to give the space a bright, inviting, invigorating feel. This is especially nice in a dining or sitting room. Warmer wooden furnishings and accents will keep this type of space grounded, and a crisp white on the trim will make everything feel very fresh.
 
Second Pic Bedroom

For the bedroom, particularly a master suite, you’ll want to soften the yellow a bit to make it more restful; think more pale honey tones and sands. A guest room can afford to be bright and sunny because whoever is using it is most likely on vacation, but most prefer their personal bedroom to use quieter colours to promote relaxation and unwinding. For children, a soft cheery yellow strikes a balance between the serenity of a master suite and the welcoming of a guest room. It can be a particularly lovely choice for a nursery, especially if the gender of the anticipated arrival is unknown. For a more modern use of yellow, pair a watered-down shade of it with a pale grey, or go darker on the grey for a bigger impact. Create a coastal feel by pairing a beachy yellow with varying shades of blue.
 

Yellow can really animate and enliven a kitchen, blending warmth with energy; just what you want for that busy part of your home. Depending on the style of cabinetry, the flooring, and the lighting of your kitchen, you can take go for a more muted yellow, opting for that French chateau feel, or you can go bright and airy, for that wildflower-country-kitchen ambiance. It comes down to personal preference, but you also need to be cognisant of the more permanent elements of your kitchen; if your appliances are black, the fresh country kitchen yellow will probably not work. If you don’t get a ton of natural light in this part of your house, you’ll definitely want to lean towards the richer, more golden shades of yellow, to create warmth without dimness. For bright yellows, the cabinets either need to be in complimentary wooden hues, or a really fresh white; this allows the space to breathe. Off-white will suit the muted yellows better; if you pair the golds with stark whites, it can make the yellows seems grimy.
ThirdKitchen
 

Yellow can be very pretty in a bathroom, but the same rules for using yellow in a kitchen usually apply to this room. Most bathrooms do not receive a huge amount of natural light due to privacy needs, which is definitely something you want to be aware of in selecting the right yellow for that space. When you find the right shade, it will make for a very cheery bathroom though!
 
There are a huge variety of yellow colour palettes you can incorporate into your house. Because there are so many different shades of yellow, from a warm gold to a lemon, there are many other colours it will pair well with, and depending on the yellow you go with, your décor, and the other colours you use in the space, you can achieve many unique styles. Yellow can give you a beach house, a Tuscan villa, a fresh country cottage; it all comes down to how you make it work. Whichever design you go with, yellow is a perfect way to bring sunshine into your home.
 

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

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Small Space, Big Impact

King and Lightning Shedule
 

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category:

Small Space, Big Impact

Curb Appeal
 
With home design shows, blogs, vlogs, and media more popular than ever, you’ve probably heard the term, “curb appeal” thrown around a lot. Though it’s an easy concept to explain, it’s much harder to articulate how exactly it is achieved.
 
Essentially, curb appeal is the level of physical attractiveness the exterior of your home and property have; though beauty isn’t brick-deep, the general sense of curb appeal is. Think of it as someone standing at the edge of your property and checking-out your house; the style, prettiness, and finish of what they’re looking at is your home’s curb appeal. While the charm things hold for us is subjective, there are some golden rules to establishing a level of panache to your property that will give it widespread appeal.
 
The colour palette is one of the loudest components to your home’s outward appearance, especially if it’s wrong. It’s hard to condemn a colour choice as being incorrect, but with houses it really is possible. If your shutters, exterior doors, porch, trim, and house colours clash, that’s going to be all that people can really focus on; these don’t all need to be the same colour, by any means, but they should be complimentary and you don’t want them to be all different shades either (a rainbow house sounds fun but good luck selling it!).
 
When it comes to the colour of these structural elements, usually (but not always), the details should be in one colour and the siding should be in another. It can also be nice to incorporate a third colour, usually a neutral such as white, grey, black or even navy blue, for things like the trim and downspouts. The colours also need to work with your roofing; for example, if you have a reddish roof shingle, fuchsia siding is probably not going to be the right choice. LadyPaintingOutsideofHouse
 
Your secondary colour can offer a prime opportunity to inject some of your personal taste into your home’s appearance, especially now when a pop of colour is more popular than ever. We’re seeing a steady increase in the demand and appreciation for front doors and shutters in lovely blues, sunny yellows, vibrant turquoises, cheery greens, and cherry reds.
 
If you’re unsure about what colours work on your house, speak with an in-store paint expert at your local home improvement store. It’s their job to have an understanding of how colour translates from a tiny paint swatch to the entire outside of a house. I also strongly recommend getting a sample of your chosen colour(s) and doing a test on a small area on the back of your house. Lighting, particularly natural light, can greatly affect the way colours appear to us; what looks one way in a store will look completely different painted on your house.
 
Landscaping will try to hog the spotlight from house colour with great determination. It plays a huge role in setting the tone for how cared-for your property feels. If your yard is tidy and groomed, that impression is reflected onto both you as a homeowner, and onto the interior of your house. Likewise, if your garden is a mess with a weed-ridden lawn, out-of-control vegetation, and other messy features, regardless of how immaculate the house itself is, people will see your home as unkempt.
 
Yard work is one of those areas where regular maintenance in small doses goes a long way. Have one afternoon or evening every week where you mow, weed, and edge, and your lawn will always look impeccable. Keep your trees, bushes, and hedges trimmed and shaped, otherwise they can easily look overgrown and wild. Flowers are always a lovely touch, but only if you water them properly and keep the beds or pots tidy.
 
 LnadscappingA simple little job that has a surprisingly large impact is keeping your walkways tidy. Always sweep any grass clippings and debris from it after you’re finished your weekly yard work, and keep the grass trimmed and edged around it. Though most visitors never really register a tidy walkway, it sneaks into their overall impression, and an overgrown and dirty one will definitely stay with them.
 
In general, your driveway should go quite unnoticed; if it is drawing attention to itself, this is usually in a negative way. People observe potholes, cracks, and similar issues very quickly, and it says, especially to potential home buyers, that you don’t look after the very important behind-the-scenes aspects of your house.
 
Subconsciously, we often translate a run-down driveway as speaking to the status of more important (and costly) elements, such as the furnace or foundation. If you repair any cracks and holes as they arise, you can usually catch them before they become a huge problem requiring your driveway to be resurfaced. Keep grass, weeds, and other vegetation from sprouting up, because once they really get a hold, your driveway will look wild in no time at all, and something about a plant-ridden driveway immediately conveys an abandoned vibe to a property.
 
Though relatively-superficial exterior details play a significant role in establishing curb appeal, it also runs deeper than that. It’s human nature to make judgements based on outward appearances, and we often do so subconsciously, making it much harder to reverse those impressions. Our minds absorb details and translate them into our overall opinion; “this house looks pretty and cared-for on the outside, so it must be that way inside.” We also apply that unspoken logic to the maintenance and upkeep of structural elements, such as the wiring and plumbing.
 
If you’re selling your house, potential buyers take this a step further still, deciding if the house is conveying the demeanor they identify with, which in turn influences whether they will make an offer or keep shopping. Most importantly though, your house is a major investment of your time and money, and it’s reflective of you; you and your asset both deserve to have that reflection be a great one.
 
 

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category:

Small Space, Big Impact

Spring Checklist Banner
 

Though we still suffer from the occasional wayward snowfall (winter’s way of bidding us farewell until its return at the end of the year), spring is officially here, and as always, it is most welcome. As we tiptoe into this fresh new season, it’s an ideal time to start reviewing your home and compiling a spring checklist of little (or big) projects you want or need to tackle in the coming months.
 
Though seeing a list can be a bit daunting, by starting it early you’ll find that you’re crossing your To Do’s off of it in no time at all. This is also a great way to make sure you complete everything you’d hoped to, and I strongly advocate making a simple timeline and budget to correspond with your Spring Chores List. This is the perfect little task for a grey afternoon and won’t take you long at all, but will make a surprising difference in helping you on your way to spring.
 
I suggest starting your list with a little tour of both the interior and exterior of your home. When outside, pay particular attention to your gutters, foundation, roof, windows and doors, and your stoop, porch and/or deck.
 
Checklist Top Articel
Cleaning your gutters is one of those nagging chores that is easy enough to do as long as you’re diligent, but if you neglect them, you could be in for a world of potential expense and property damage!
 
This is a two person job for safety reasons since someone will need to be up on a ladder (seriously, never work on a ladder without a spotter—even a fall from a relatively short height can cause major injury) plus the person on the ground can hold a bucket for the blockages to be deposited into.
 
It’s a simple enough process—you’re removing any leaves, twigs, pine needles and similar debris that have accumulated in your gutters since the fall.
 
By clearing them, you’re ensuring that they can do their job properly, which is draining water away from the parts of your house where it can cause damage. An oft-overlooked but very important final step to cleaning your gutters is making sure the downspout is properly connected and draining the water away from your foundation, basement, and any places where it will pool and damage either your home or your property (constantly wet patches on your grass or areas of standing water breed lawn disease, which can quickly spread through your entire yard, as well as pesky insects).
 
It’s important to do a walk-around the entire circumference of your home carefully examining the foundation for any cracks, signs of erosion or water damage, and similar causes for concern. When it comes to foundations, the sooner a problem is detected and remedied, the less costly it will be.
 
It’s important to properly fill and seal any minor cracks, but if you notice a large number of them, it’s worthwhile having a trusted professional come to take a look. Also make sure the winter hasn’t caused any depressions in the earth around the foundation that will cause standing water against the structure when the spring rains really start.
 
When examining your roof, depending on the type you have, you want to look for any loose, damaged or lost shingles and repair/replace them as soon as you can. You should also be checking for signs of leaks, water damage, cracks in seals or flashing that may have moved in the harsh winter elements—some problems which you’ll want a professional’s help with.
 
 
Checking your windows and doors should be done on both the outside and inside. You’re looking for any signs of leaking or water damage, any warping (depending on the window frame type), broken or cracked panes, and any weakening or cracking in the seals and/or
 
list Bottom Articelframing. These are all matters you’ll want to address sooner than not as they will only worsen, causing more damage and growing more costly to repair.
 
For your stoop, porch and/or deck, you are looking for wooden boards need to be replaced or re-sealed, any nails that need to be hammered down, any cracks that need to be filled, and signs of potential structural damage caused by time and the weight of snow.
 
Though in most cases you won’t need to address these issues right away, they should be on your list and you should be cognizant of them so that as the weather improves, you complete these projects before outdoor season begins.
 
That way, you have peace of mind when it comes to your first grill-out of the season, and you don’t have to worry about first re-staining your deck before firing up the barbecue.
 
I think all of us get bitten by the spring cleaning bug once the weather shows early signs of warming up, and having more hours of sunlight is nothing if not motivating. This is a great time to cast an appraising eye over every room in your home, looking for clutter that can be removed, better storage solutions that can be implemented, and determining if and which spaces need an update.
 
The de-cluttering process should be followed by a really good cleaning, one where you attack areas you may neglect during your regular housekeeping. This includes things like washing your window coverings (those drapes or blinds need a bath!) and taking down light fixtures to dust and wash the casings.
 
It’s also a great time to steam clean your carpets. Making your home really tclean and organized will make it feel fresh and spring-like, and with that newly rediscovered counter space you now have the perfect spot for a vase of fresh flowers.
 
It’s human nature to look for occasions to start something (I think that’s why New Year’s resolutions are so popular). Use spring as the inspiration for fixing any problem areas in your home, and for getting it ready for the days of warmth and sunshine ahead.

 
 

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category:

Small Space, Big Impact

Apartment Banner
 
Many of us do, or have lived in, an apartment at one time or another. Maybe it’s your own perfect corner of the world— a low-maintenance abode where you can lock the door, live your busy life, and come home to minimum work requirements. And in other cases, it’s a nightmare of dated flooring, grungy walls, aging appliances and windows, and bland walls. Because 9 times out of 10 you’re renting your apartment, you don’t want to invest any major funds in changing the structure and most of the time your lease won’t allow it anyways, so what do you do to make it your own?
 
Magic Mirror on the Wall
Mirrors are an easy way to create the illusion of more space, and they reflect light, which makes the whole room feel brighter and airier. Because in most apartments you only have windows on one side, mirrors are a great way to bring natural light into places it otherwise wouldn’t reach. There are so many different sizes, shapes and styles of mirrors to choose from now that they can also play a significant role in your décor, but don’t dominate a space the way a large piece of art might.
 
Mirror
 
Grab a Paintbrush, Picasso
Read your lease and speak to your landlord first, but you’ll probably find that you’re allowed to paint your walls as long as you return them back to builder’s white (or whichever colour they were before) when you move out. Many places even give you the option to pay a fee of $75.00 or so when you leave, and they’ll take care of painting out the walls for you.
 
Some apartments have really bland walls, so adding some colour livens the space up or brightens it if there’s not a lot of light. Other places are already sporting a nice colour, but if can be fun to paint an accent wall if you want to add some dimension or unexpected vibrancy without major expense, work or fuss.
 
Wallpaper without the Commitment
While you may be allowed to paint your walls, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a landlord who is okay with you wallpapering your apartment. It can be difficult to remove and wallpaper designs tend to be quite subjective. Enter removable wall paper! Yes, that’s really a thing now, and it’s an awesome way to create a unique accent wall or to personalize a room. I wouldn’t recommend using it through your entire apartment as that can be a lot of pattern or design for the space to pull-off, but with all of the gorgeous colour and style options, you are sure to find an option you love.
 
A great trick for adding the feeling of higher ceilings to your apartment is to wallpaper the parameter of a room to about waist-high, then to paint the walls above it (or alternatively to choose a wallpaper that compliments the existing wall colour). This faux-panelling is a great and easy way to add colour or a bold design without overwhelming the space, and by breaking up the walls, it makes the room feel taller.
In the same vein as removable wallpaper, you can also get lovely repositionable decals and borders. These offer a unique new way to add personality to your walls but are easy to install and uninstall.
 
Sweep It Under a Rug
Flooring can be a tricky opponent, because unless the floor is damaged or ready for replacing, odds are it will stay whether you like it or not. If you’re not a fan of your apartment floors, rugs are your new bestie. You can use them to hide whatever flooring it is that has you cringing, and they add a terrific design element as well. Even if you’re happy with your apartment’s floors, rugs can be a handy way for creating designated spaces by breaking a room up a little, or even just for injecting some personality!
 
Smart Storage Solutions
 
StorageClutter is never your friend, but in a smaller space it can quickly make everything feel a bit congested and claustrophobic. Finding clever ways to store things is especially handy when it comes to apartment-living. It’s a great way to recognize storage options that you may otherwise not consider.
 
Look around—are there places you could be keeping things? Places like under your bed, above your kitchen counters, or even in your furniture (a chest coffee table or an ottoman that opens) all offer ample storage. Being smart about how you store things is also a good trick. For example, suitcases, which can take up a lot of room, can go inside of each other or even hold other items within them.
 
Closet organizers and removable shelving options, such as shoe racks, are also your friend. Anything that maximizes what you can keep in a closet or cupboard is going to be helpful. You want to make sure that your storage systems are easy to use, and for belongings you require with more frequency, they need to be accessible, otherwise you won’t put things away and pretty soon your apartment will look like you’re getting ready to film an episode of “Hoarders”.
 
Keep Things in Proportion
It can be easy to forget when you’re looking at furniture that the way it fits in a store or showroom is very different from how it will look in your apartment. It’s always smart to measure your rooms before furniture shopping so that you know how much space you have to work with, and can better visualize how a piece will fit into your home. You can still pull-off larger pieces, but you have to be smart about how they are working in a room. For example, if you have a larger couch, you don’t want to then have a huge love seat or massive chairs to go with it—this is too much for almost every apartment. Usually the room sizes are perfect for having one large anchor piece, then medium-sized companions for it.
 
Balconies Are Not Just for Romeo
If you’re fortunate enough to have a balcony, make sure you use it! Whether it’s home to your small barbecue or you’ve created an outdoor seating area, it gives you a whole added room to enjoy. Because they tend to be smaller, they’re the perfect spot to let your creativity run wild.
 
Have some potted plants and flowers; string some fairy lights; create a really cozy reading nook with some outdoor pillows and cushions; add a bright outdoor rug; the more inviting you make your outdoor space, the more apt you are to actually utilize it. The only warning I would interject is that you will have to store anything that lives on your balcony during the warmer months but needs a new location when the snow comes. Most outdoor furniture can be tarped, but keep this in mind so that when November comes you aren’t suddenly trying to shove a rooms-worth of stuff into your already-full spare closet.
 
Whether you chose your apartment for location, rent price, out of desperation or because it was love at first sight, you can transform it into your home with some easy, inexpensive tricks and consistent TLC. It’s about giving a space personality, and making it into a place you are happy to spend your time in. What are some ways that you personalize your apartment?
 
 

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category:

Small Space, Big Impact

PinBanner
 
With an estimated 40 million active users per month enjoying Pinterest, odds are that you’re familiar with it. The image-based site categorizes it’s more than 30 billion “Pins” with home décor ranking as the third most popular category (food and recipes take first place, followed by DIY projects and crafts in second).
 
For 2016, they compiled a Board of the 100 trends that will dominate their top categories for the year. According to that list, here’s what you can expect to see in homes for 2016:
 
Metallics

Metallic touches have always been present in home décor, they’re really making their presence known right now, particularly in rose gold, brass, brushed copper and oil-rubbed bronze finishes. We’re even seeing them appearing in wallpapers, but this is a fairly expensive way to incorporate the trend into your home.
Metalics
 
A less costly yet effective way to embrace this trend is by incorporating less long-term pieces into your space in the metals of your choosing. Look to pillows, artwork, and even rugs with the warm-toned metals in them. Some fun furnishings that look fabulous in these finishes include bar carts, ottomans and side tables. We’re also swooning over the chic gilded tchotchkes we’re seeing, like faux antlers and other natured-themed pieces.
This trend is really making a place for itself in the kitchen, with items such as tea kettles and hood ranges being released in these new finishes as well.
 
Clean Spaces & Smart Uses
2016 is the year of uncluttered living. Ingenious storage solutions for busy rooms like the kitchen are appearing to keep utensils, spices and appliances off of the countertops. Microwaves are being hidden in specially designed cupboards and shelves, spices are being stored in built-in racks, and lazy susans and specialized cabinets are being designed with function and utility in mind.
 
Decor items are being relegated to specific shelves where they appear in chic vignettes, or used sparingly on coffee and side tables, but the time of clutter, both decorative and functional, is out. It's now about simplicity and calming spaces where you can focus on the purpose in front of you without distractions in your way (i.e. Preparing a nice meal without having to first move your wooden rooster collection).
 
Electronic cables are being hidden now by all designers and you will love the result. There are special tubes and baseboards now available that help you camouflage those pesky cords. This makes a huge difference in the ambiance of a room.
 
Geometric Tiles
In keeping with the move towards clean lines, geometric tiles will be big for bathrooms. Neutral walls are given some panache with the patterned tiles, but they stick to the more subtle colour palette (think calming blues, crisp whites and punches of black). If a floor is too daunting, look to incorporating this intriguing style into your bathroom backsplash or even countertop. With a nod to the roaring 20s, this design has been given a refresher that is both timeless and modern.
 
GEometric tile
 
Colour Palettes Designed for R&R
Because our lives are becoming increasingly busy and we're inundated more and more with things demanding our attention thanks to the myriad of social media networks, homes are moving back to a sort of reprieve; an escape from outside noise. It's about calm, rejuvenating rooms that help you unwind and escape the white noise.
 
The myth that neutral walls have to be boring and beige has been dispelled. They're appearing in warm browns, soft, fresh whites, rich khakis, and similar dimensional shades. One of my personal favourites is black walls, yes black! Instead of darkening a space as you might think, black actually gives you a stylish canvas to design your room against. Available in a wide range of finishes from high-gloss to matte, black walls are the new neutral.
 
We're seeing wood being integrated into designs a lot more, and it's being presented in fairly natural-looking finishes, through flooring, furnishings, exposed beams, mantles, and artwork. This adds a sense of old time charm to your home, and creates a very cool juxtaposition with all our modern gadgets.
 
Textiles
There is an increasing appreciation in our culture for handmade and traditionally-manufactured pieces (another reason wood is making such a case for itself in 2016 home design). Unique textiles in jacquards and more rustic weaves are appearing in pillows, rugs, throws, and even woven wall decor. This appreciation for well-made artisan pieces is another exciting shift away from the endless "assembly-line-made-in-China" accessories that have hitherto been most prominent. We're investing in quality, both in our home decor and in how we spend our time, and the result is the perfect antidote to our hectic and stressful days.
 
 

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

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Small Space, Big Impact

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Renovations are always on the radar of a homeowner. Aside from adding to the comfort and enjoyment of your property, they should also increase its market value if you’re considering selling. It can sometimes be easy to forget that from a purely financial standpoint, houses are an investment. Whether you plan on growing old in your home or will be living in it for a shorter period of time, odds are that at some point, you will put it up for sale. When you do, this can be an excellent chance to recoup some (or even all) of the cost of any renovations which means you should keep this factor in mind when it comes to deciding how you will improve or alter your home.
 
Choosing what areas of your home you want to renovate should be based on your personal wants, needs and preferences, but you also need to weigh the cost of the work against how it will affect the re-sale value of your home—will there be a solid return on the funds you invest in these improvements? The Appraisal Institute of Canada, an association dedicated to providing trust-worthy and comprehensive property advisory services, recommends choosing improvements with a lengthy life-expectancy.
 
This means considering projects like a new roof, updating all of the windows, and changing your heating/cooling system(s) to energy-efficient options that benefit from modern advances. The warranty on these changes means that any issues that arise
 
Windows in usually the first ten to fifteen years or so (depending on the warranty and the problem) will be covered by the manufacturer, and ideally you won’t have any, as is usually the case when you choose quality products and installers for projects of this nature (which is always a worthwhile upfront cost, as it will save you much more money in the long-run).
 
Even if you don’t plan to stay in your home for that length of time, listing that these significant improvements have recently been completed and are even still under warranty adds major appeal to buyers. This will greatly affect your asking price and the speed at which your property sells—a definite win-win.
 
If you do plan to keep your house for years to come, these improvements will save you major operating costs, and will still be attractive features should you choose to sell down the road.
 
When you’re still in the planning stages of your home improvement, it is wise to appraise your neighbourhood and the average cost per listing near you. While updates and projects will add value to your home, there’s a point where you are spending more than you can recoup from the property, based on its location, the houses surrounding it, and the type of buyer that the area and style of house will attract. If you’re planning to sell in the near future, you also need to be cognisant of popular styles and tastes.
 
Most people will not have the furniture to suit a bright orange living room, so hold-off on painting it that colour if your house is going on the market soon. You want to prep the house to be as move-in ready for its next owner as possible if you’re selling. Moving is a lot of work, and most of us aren’t keen to have to tackle any urgent projects as soon as we get into our new home, ergo houses that we can immediately start living in will sell faster and we’ll pay more for that convenience.
 
There are two rooms in the house that almost everyone will be in on a daily basis—the kitchen and the bathroom. These high-traffic spaces are definitely worth investing in. Depending on the age of the rooms and when they were last revamped, a full makeover may even be your best bet. When people walk into a kitchen or bathroom that has updated appliances and finishes, the entire house immediately has more appeal. A trick to selling your home is creating a space that potential buyers will
 
Bathroom sink counter towels water glass bluehappily envision themselves living in. If you present them with a fresh, welcoming, appetizing kitchen, they’ll see themselves prepping for dinner parties to show off their new house; if you have a relaxing, inviting, spa-at-home kind of bathroom, they’ll imagine themselves soaking away the stress of the day there. You also use these spaces a lot, so giving them an overhaul is also beneficial to you.
 
The options and materials available in flooring have grown exponentially in the past few years. Laminate flooring now comes in such a wide array of finishes and styles that you would never know it was laminate, save for the hardiness of it and the ease with which it is installed and maintained.
 
Kitchens and bathrooms no longer have to sport tile or vinyl unless you want them to (whereas before it was almost a household rule)—a lot of people are putting hardwood or laminate into these rooms to add a more sophisticated feel. Dated flooring makes an entire home feel a bit shabby and in need of more work than just replacing a shag carpet or wearing vinyl, so updating any tired flooring is going to help you sell faster and have a higher asking price.
 
When it comes to refreshing your home, don’t underestimate the value of smaller, inexpensive projects. A new coat of paint can do wonders for a room or hallway. Painting your baseboards, window and door frames can instantly transform a space, making it feel bright and new. Replacing worn or cheap-looking interior door and cabinet handles also transform a room. Buyers look at tell-tale details of a house, like these, to help them determine the overall quality of a property and the work the previous owner has put in.
 
Interior doors and closet doors should definitely be updated if they’re low-quality or old-fashioned (and not in the charming way that is very in-demand). You’d be shocked at how a well-planned closet organization system can appeal to a potential home-buyer; again, it comes back to things that will make their lives easier. The laundry room is a space we easily overlook, but if you really want to up the wow factor of your home, paint it something airy and appealing, install some inexpensive organization systems and shelving, and add some stylish little touches. Small details and updates like this can have the biggest impact on people’s overall impression of a house.
 
A house is the single biggest purchase many of us will ever make. Whether it’s the home you want to spend the rest of your life in or it’s the backdrop for only a chapter or two in your life, it’s an investment you need to maintain and take care of and in return it will give you a return on your time, care, and money.
 
 

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category:

Small Space, Big Impact

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Every year, designers eagerly anticipate what the home trends ahead will be, particularly when it comes to kitchens, because the appliances, storage ideas and needs for this room are always evolving and changing. While some styles will stay for years and even decades, others have a shorter shelf-life and you can date when the space was designed based on a few tell-tale details.
 
Now don’t get me wrong—this isn’t a bad thing. It’s not like your family or friends are going to walk into your new-ish kitchen and say “This is so 2013!” Unless it’s time to give your kitchen a full makeover, it can just be fun to freshen it up a little with some small changes that embrace your favourite new ideas. Here are some 2016 concepts that are already making an appearance:
 
Stylish Storage
Today’s kitchen is embracing a clutter-free vibe. Instead of having a myriad of small appliances, spice racks, utensil holders and tchotchkes out on your counters, designers are encouraging smart storage options that allow a more open, usable workspace for cooking and food prep.savvy-cabinets
 
Cupboard and drawers are now being designed with specific, modern uses in mind, including built-in cupboards complete with a drop-down front to hide your microwave when it’s not in use (keep in mind that if you opt for this cool way of hiding your microwave, it’s important that you have it designed specifically for this appliance as microwaves need to have their vents clear to expel heat when cooking or you’re looking at a fire hazard). Spice racks are being built into drawers and lazy-Susans making their contents easily visible to you when needed, but out of the way when not. Extra utensil drawers are being built for keeping your larger cooking spoons, whisks, etc. in, and some upper cupboards are being built with more height per shelf so that you can store these items there.
 
The hip décor items we inject personality into our kitchen with are still present, but there are less of them and they’re being given a shelf of honour that takes them off of your counters. These shelves are used to create irresistible vignettes that really let your beloved knick-knacks shine, while giving your kitchen a more usable, breathable feel.
 
Feeling Neutral
Not long ago, kitchens went through a phase where there was bright colour everywhere. We saw cabinets painted in loud primary colours, blends of punchy reds and vibrant blues—it was a positive rainbow to cook in! This was shortly followed by a love of pastels. Pale mint shelves, pink cabinets, baby blue walls—it was still very colourful but a bit softer and more toned-down than the lime green cabinets that came before.
We are now seeing a return to a more neutral, elegant colour palette for kitchens. Soft greys, different shades of white (think softer white versus a very sharp, harsh white), pale taupes and beiges—it’s a much more timeless selection of shades and they create a kitchen that feels sophisticated yet inviting. Instead of announcing your style in blaring hues that can drown everything else out, they’re saying it over a nice cup of coffee with a gentle smile. For pops of colour, we’re seeing washed-out grey-blues and very pale yellows—even muted mints. I have to say, I am a big fan of this. A soft grey and white kitchen with subtle pieces of blue gives you a calm, soothing space where you can unwind after a hectic day while preparing dinner. There’s so much yelling for our attention these days—I like the idea of your kitchen not being one of those things.
 
Colour in Unexpected Places
Appliances are starting to come back in these same soft blues and mints—is that not a fun way to add some colour to your space? Coffee-makers, microwaves, mixers—these are all available in stylish hues that can let you pick-up your colour scheme. One of the very cool new places we’re seeing colour embraced is the kitchen sink. Beautiful, deep farmhouse sinks in quiet blues and rich greys. They really anchor the space, and frankly they are a joy to use. Practical and beautiful—that seems to be the theme of 2016 kitchens and I am on board with that!
 
Mixing Textures
Kitchens used to be very uniform in their materials, but now they’re being mixed and layered and the results are show-stopping. Soft woods mixed with dark to bring some presence to your neutral kitchen, a different quartz is covering your island compared to the one on your counters, your lower cabinets are one Article2colour or material and your upper are a slight variation of that—this blending is all about things complimenting each other while adding depth and character to your kitchen. This is especially great if you want to do some minor updates without a full-blown makeover because your older pieces mixed in with your newer will achieve this look effortlessly. One of the really cool options we’re seeing are for islands that also have breakfast bars on them—the food prep surface will be quartz or marble, and the dining section is in a totally different material to create this perfect juxtaposition.
 
Metals
Metallic finishes and surfaces crept in to kitchen design many moons ago in the form of handles, hanging pot racks and stainless steel appliances. Metallics are bigger than ever this year, but they’re being given a brushed finish to make them less reflective and more subtle (added bonus—brushed metals are also easier to keep clean-looking!). Rose gold and antique-finished brass are big in the jewellery and fashion world these days, so it’s not really a surprise that they’re finding room for themselves in the kitchen too. Cabinet handles and smaller appliances are being released in these finishes, and they are adding a total wow factor in a pleasingly understated fashion. Like the other 2016 kitchen trends, these details blend into the overall effect of the room rather than screaming for your focus.
 
Range hoods are also appearing in unique metal options—blackened steel, brushed copper, oil-rubbed bronze. While we used to paint or finish hood ranges in a way that minimalized their presence, they are now being used to add to the aesthetics, which given their size makes more sense than trying to blend them away, doesn’t it? The darker finishes offer an anchor to your neutral palette, and they somehow add a more lived-in, time-passing touch, which gives your kitchen the warmth all kitchens should have.
 
While the emergence of lovely new finishes, appliances and options for your kitchen are always welcome and fun, and it’s enjoyable reviewing them to see if you want to implement any or all of them into your home, the most important thing is that you’re creating a space you are happy in. The kitchen is considered the heart of the home, so yours should reflect your tastes and needs (unless you’re planning to sell soon, in which case, rose-gold handles stat!).
 
 

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

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Small Space, Big Impact

 
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Since the year 2000, Pantone, a subsidiary of X-Rite (a company who creates, communicates, and strategizes colour), has been releasing a colour of the year. Selected by a prestigious group of international experts hand-picked from areas of fashion, home design, popular culture, international travel, technology, and even automotive design (among others), this committee spends the better part of a year scouring the globe, particularly the style capitals of the world such as Paris, Milan and New York, for cues and inspiration on what colour is creeping in to the modern subconscious in a pronounced and definitive way.
 
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It is difficult to pinpoint the major influences in this decision, because in a way it’s everything. It’s the world around us, the climate of politics, the mood of the prominent generations—the goal is for this colour to encapsulate and speak to the ambiance of the year it represents. Kind of a big job for one colour, isn’t it?
 
Maybe that’s part of the reason why Pantone has made the drastic, and frankly bold, decision to go with two pantone colours for 2016, a move unprecedented in the last 15 years of selection. 2016 will be painted with Rose Quartz and Serenity.
 
Rose Quartz is a delicate, soft, warm, feminine pale pink, while Serenity stands in juxtaposition to this as a cooler, tranquil pastel blue, blending the 2000 choice of Cerulean with periwinkle influences.
 
Apart from their growing presence in the current zeitgeist, and their obvious visual appeal, Rose Quartz and Serenity were also chosen for their psychological influence. Both should induce a calming, soothing sense of peace, stillness, reflection and tranquility, while the pink offers a warmer side and the blue, a cooler.
 
The growing acceptance and awareness of broader definitions and understandings of gender have also been reflected in this decision. Pantone explains that “this more unilateral approach to colour (in fashion) is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer’s increased comfort with using colour as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to difference approaches to colour usage.”
 
When it comes to incorporating these colour choices into your home décor, it can be a daunting prospect. The knee-jerk reaction when you think of these two hues on your walls is to dismiss it is as child-like or dated, but the way the soft blush and
washed-out periwinkle are being used is wholly fresh. They’re creeping in via subtle accents, usually in very pale, unassuming shades of the colours. Accent chairs, vases, beautifully but not intricately designed rugs, soft throws. The boldest appearance of these colours seems to be via easy-to-embrace-and-change details, like pillows and a single repainted accent piece, such as a side table or small bookcase.
 
Even more surprising are the colours that are being paired with them—gold accents, pronounced greys, toned-down blacks, crisp whites, and brown-based olives, just to name a few. These unexpected mixtures are grounding the ethereal Rose Quartz and Serenity, giving them a more liveable, approachable, mature vibe.
 
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While it can be hard to be conscious of it, Pantone’s Colour of the Year usually creeps into our subconscious because it begins appearing everywhere in tasteful, subtle details. You may start to notice that a lot of sweaters this year are available in these colours; suddenly you realize you’ve bought a pillow in that same pink and a scarf in the blue; popular housewares stores start showcasing irresistible mugs using one or both of these colours.
 
It’s partially because Pantone’s choice influences designers in fashion, housewares, home décor, and more, but it’s also a sign that this was the right selection for 2016 because they base their decision on noticing what is already insinuating itself into current colour palettes. The more we start to come into contact with Rose Quartz and Serenity, the more likely you’ll start feeling the urge to incorporate it into your home somewhere.
 
I always recommend starting with small details unless you are smitten with the colour(s). Unless you want to redo your home décor every time a new shade turns your head, it can be better to blend your new favourites with your existing style. Switch some pieces around, add an accent wall or furnishing, change your art, repaint some furniture. Details like this can really create a presence for these colours in your space but in a way that can be easily changed.
 
If you want to dive headlong into Rose Quartz and Serenity, I recommend using a very pale version of the rose on your walls then giving it depth and dimension with darker furnishings—look to blacks, heavy greys, rich browns and even deep burgundies. The blue can be easier to work with and is a less daring change. Any soft blue is going to look airy and breathy with whites and creams, or mature and nautical with taupes and creams. Consult your taste and the way a room makes you feel—these should always be the most important influences when it comes to decorating any part of your home.
 
As this year winds down and we bid farewell to Marsala with all its chic and sophisticated connotations, we start to look ahead to what is next. If Pantone’s choice for 2016 is an accurate snapshot of this time in history, we’re commencing a year with open eyes, full hearts, and beautiful colours.
 
 

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.