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Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

May you have a happy and safe holiday season, and a Happy New Year to everyone.

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The straightforward answer is yes, some form of prepping your house for sale is a must these days, if you want to get the optimum price for it. The market in 2013 is soft and the choices are many, so your house has to stand out from the crowd. It needs to scream “Pick me, Pick me!”

The reason is simple, people want a house that does not need work. They want it to be ‘move-in’ ready. Many people want a resale house to have the look of a subdivision show home – but for less money. Other people are out for a bargain and will knock substantial amounts of money off the list price when making their offer for each deficiency, even if the house is listed at a price that reflects these deficiencies. You want them to see what is right with your house, not what is wrong!

If you want to see the difference a thorough Staging makes, go to the MLS listings and go to some Open Houses. The difference between a fully prepped home and one that is not, is astounding. Also astounding is the difference in the asking price between two similar houses, one Staged and one just tidied and cleaned. Many thousands of dollars can be at stake here, so it is worth the money and effort.

This doesn’t mean you need make your house look like a Lottery Show Home. But unless your house is only a few of years old, it will need decluttering, refreshing and possibly updating. You may need to do a little or you may need to do a lot.  What you want to put into your house is, of course, up to you.

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The first few years that I kept house, I thought that shelf liner was too ’50s housewife’ for me! I didn’t see the need for it, thought that it was just being persnickity. Boy, was I wrong. Most cupboard shelves are made from MDF or pressboard and need to be protected from damp dishes and everything else. Your cupboard shelves just get destroyed without it. And it makes them far easier to clean (when you finally break down and do it).

You can use anything you want for the job, as long as it has a relatively waterproof surface. Mactac is often used but kind of hard to apply neatly and the low tad shelf liners are really easy to use but pretty uninspired – but functional. Vinyl wallpaper works well. Oil cloth, cut to fit and laid in place can be a funky and colourful alternative. although it has no adhesive, it is heavy and stays put well. Even way paper is fine. That lumpy, non-skid stuff that you buy in rolls, works well, but you can’t  slide things in and out very well. In other words, anything that is slightly moisture proof, easy to cut and lay and also removable, is fine. (It is far nicer to wipe or replace than scrubbing out marked and bubbled shelves.

So the answer is that it doesn’t really matter if it is dowdy or cool, it is just plain necessary, so have some fun with it!

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beautiful 4 poster bedroom

Decorating magazines can be a wonderful help if you are considering starting a project.

#1 What’s the latest trend?

The primary reason anyone buys a decorating magazine is to find what the latest look in decorating. You want to see pictures of the latest styles and colours. What’s hot and what’s not is very important when you are refreshing or totally redecorating a room. A good example of this is the latest metal. In the 70s, wrought iron and copper were hot, in the 80s, brass. In the 90s chrome had its day and for the last decade or so, brushed nickel has been in. Right now bronze is hot and brass is making a resurgence but in an antiqued form.  Nothing is more dated than two decades ago styles! Five decades ago is vintage, two decades, just tired and old.

#2 Finding ‘your’ style.

Just go out shopping and hit the furniture store or the accessories store or the lighting store, and  you  are rapidly overwhelmed. Even hitting the internet can intimidate you with just too many choices. Get some decorating magazines and flip through them at your leisure. When you find a picture that speaks to you, you can look at it item by item and figure out what it is about that picture that you like. Collect a scrapbook of pictures that you can take shopping with you. The internet and Pintrest are great but a collection of magazine pictures is big and clear and far easier to use for visualization. This narrows down your style and colour choices to a manageable number.

#3 Source Guide

One of the most useful things in my decorating magazines is the Source Guide. This lists the stores or manufacturers of the products featured in the articles you read.

It is absolutely wonderful to suddenly spot ‘the perfect chair’, but it is of no use to you if you don’t know where to find it. There is nothing more frustrating that having a very specific thing in mind and not being able to find anything that is even reasonably close in style and/or covering.

A note: Make sure at least one of your magazines is published in your home country. The retail store information is only really useful if you live where the stores are. Prices and shipping and duty on imports can more than triple the price of a simple object. Ordering from another country can be surprisingly pricey.  I once ordered 4 – $10 chair legs online from the USA,  and they ended up costing $125! It is buyer beware and you never know what the extra international shipping charges,  the duty and the customs broker charges will be until you receive the item.

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Colour Scheme of dark brown, mid brown, beige and cherry red

You don’t have to break the bank to do a bathroom renovation. It just takes some careful shopping and a willingness to adapt as you go. It also helps to collect all the fixtures that you will need, ahead of time and at ‘Special Purchase’ or ‘Clearance’ prices. An example of this is the tap set for the vanity. It was purchased for $29.99, marked down from $129.99!

This Master Ensuite was desperately in need of updating and everything but the relatively new shower stall needed to be replaced.When the house was built 25 years ago, the bathroom was rather nice. It had a modern oak vanity with a one piece marble vanity counter with sink and nice white (instead of beige) cushion floor, a huge mirror and a stylish light fixture and a corner shower. The fixtures were all the latest bone colour too. Also, it was huge by 80s standards – 5’x10′ unlike the usual closet sized ensuites found in most homes at that time.

Fast forward to 2012. The poor old oak vanity is dated and too low with no drawers and the one piece cultured marble top is pitted and stained. The mirror has been replaced twice and the silvering is peeling again. The toilet has already been replaced once and this one needs updating. The fixtures are two different colours. The flooring is just plain awful and the seafoam green paint is not only dated but no longer coordinates with the bedroom. Oh, and the towel bars have pulled right out of the wall a few times which means the wall has had to be repaired on the fly, and needs to be done properly.

So collecting all the new components began with a fabulous sale at Lowe’s. The fixtures would be white. (White is back in style for the first time since the 50s).  We spot a ‘BOGO’ sale on toilets, buy one, get one free, and the other bathroom could use a new one too! They are the long bowl style with a higher seat and dual flush and best of all they have a solid, smooth base instead of that curly dust catching, hard to clean, base. Perfect.The toilets cost about $110 each, based on 2 for 1 pricing.

The new flooring needed to be low cost, and easy to install for a DIYer but good looking and hard wearing.  A product called Allure was found at Home Depot. It could be floated right over top of the old vinyl instead of having to remove it.  We chose the white with grey marble tile pattern. Allure Tiles are strips of 3 tiles each that stick to each other rather than the floor beneath. A box is $60 for 24 sq feet, so the flooring cost us $120 plus tax.

Now it was time to find a 36″w vanity. Vanities and counter tops and sinks can get pretty expensive, but we found a fabulous deal at Home Depot. It is a tall, Shaker style wood vanity with two spacious drawers, 34″high with a one piece white counter top and rectangular sink, all for only $379. We finished it with the Peerless chrome faucet set mentioned earlier, that only cost $30. So the vanity, counter top, sink and faucet came to a grand total of $400 before tax! Wow.

The brushed nickel 24″ long towel bars, ring, hook and toilet paper dispenser were a Walmart find at only $40 plus $15 for the extra towel bar, substantially cheaper than any other retailer.

The bath towels, hand towels, washcloths & bathmat were on sale at Walmart and cost a grand total of $50 for 4 bath towels, 2 hand towels and 4 washcloths and the bath mat.

I already had the big print over the toilet, but it too had been an XS Cargo deal and cost $12, I think.

The mirror was a freebee, someone else’s cast off. The light fixture was new not long ago and coordinated with the new brushed nickle accessories and was therefore recycled.

I am awaiting delivery of a 2″ faux wood blind @ $39.90 (all in) from selectblindscanada.ca 

The paint was left over from the bedroom, so I did not have to buy wall or trim paint (all my trim is Benjamin Moore ‘Cloud White’ so there is always some at hand.)

So you see, it is possible to Renovate your bathroom for a small investment and lots of elbow grease. The bathroom cost around $800. Even if we had replaced the shower, we could have done it for under $1100

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This is the best Blind shopping that I have found.

http://www.selectblindscanada.ca

Good quality blinds and really good service are to be found here. The price is right! They were reasonably easy to install and work well. There are all sorts of styles, colours and various price points to choose from.

Select Blinds was recommended to me and I do not hesitate to pass on this recommendation.

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Why are my cushions always on the floor????

There is a real gender thing going on with the decor cushions! Try as I will, my carefully arranged  ‘decorator’ cushions  always end up on the back of the sofa,  on the floor beside the sofa, UNDER the bed, piled in a corner, dropped behind the intended chair, etc.  I have noticed that other people’s cushions can be found in places other than the intended ones too. Hmmmmm, do cushions have a secret society in which they rearrange themselves when they are alone?  What is going on here anyway?

Guys seem to find cushions really annoying. They remove them as soon as they sit down. I, on the other hand, like  a lot of women, am not comfortable without a cushion in the small of my back. I have come to the conclusion it is one of the many ways in which men and women are constructed differently. Men’s and women’s hips are built entirely differently so they sit entirely differently, it is the only explanation.

I guess this is why the decorator cushions always end up on the floor. Each to his own, it shouldn’t be a problem. But the next question is, why can’t guys put the cushions back where they came from, when they leave?

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