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6 need-to-know pointers to prepare your kitchen for an open house

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Kitchen Staging 5



Photo by WBM, designed by Redesign4more

Selling real estate may be about location, location, location, but once a prospective homebuyer decides on a location it’s up to you to ensure your home stands out from the competition. A good place to start is your kitchen, aka ‘the heart of the home.’ This is where meals are made, family meetings are held and party guests congregate. It’s an important room that can make potential buyers decide whether or not to make an offer (and for how much) on your property. This means showing it off at its best is a must.

To help get your kitchen prepared for your next open house, we turned to professional home stager Red Barrinuevo to hear his top tips. Red is the president and principal home stager of Redesign4more, a home staging company that services the Toronto region and beyond.



Kitchen Staging 8



Photo by WBM, designed by Redesign4more

1. If you can smell it, you can’t sell it

Between trapped food particles in drains and garbage bins under the sink, the kitchen can be a major source of unpleasant odors in the home. “Studies have shown that the kitchen is the dirtiest room of the house and with it comes unpleasant odors,” says Barrinuevo. “This is a serious concern that MUST be addressed when selling.”



Kitchen Staging 1



Photo by WBM, designed by Redesign4more

2. Declutter your countertops

The kitchen is a center of activity and the focal point of every home so it’s easy for clutter to accumulate over time. “A great rule of thumb for staging a kitchen is to leave no more than two appliances on your counter,” suggests Barrinuevo. “After you’ve decluttered the countertops, soften the space and add visual interest by displaying fresh fruits, new dish towels, plants or fresh flowers.”



Kitchen Staging 2



Photo by WBM, designed by Redesign4more

3. The stainless steel appliance is king

“If you have the budget, upgrading your major appliances is definitely worth the investment,” says Barrinuevo. “Stainless steel appliances are often on the top of many homebuyers’ list, but if you can’t replace your current appliances, be sure to have them repaired and spotlessly cleaned with special attention to the fridge and stove as buyers often inspect these.”



Kitchen Staging 3



Photo by WBM, designed by Redesign4more

4. Let the light shine through

To ensure that your kitchen is shown in the best light during an open house, have a look at your fixtures and let as much natural light in as possible. “Make sure that fixtures are clean, all bulbs are working and remove any dated or dirty blinds,” says Barrinuevo. “If you’re still using the original builder’s fixtures or stuck with a dated one, now is the best time to replace it. A lot of stores offer inexpensive and more contemporary light fixtures that can give your kitchen a new glow.” He also suggests adding a small lamp to brighten up dark corners.



Kitchen Staging 6



Photo by WBM, designed by Redesign4more

5. Conduct a thorough clean up

With so much wear and tear, the kitchen is a space where a little extra elbow grease can go a long way. “Start scrubbing those kitchen tiles, make sure the grout in between tiles is free of dirt, mold or stains,” says Barrinuevo. “Check all the cupboard doors, clean the inside cupboards and get rid of all the things that don’t need to be there.”

Once you’ve completed a thorough clean up, keep an eye out for maintenance items like loose hinges, small cracks, peeled paint or dirty vents. “Replace dated knobs and handles – easy and inexpensive but can make your kitchen doors and drawers look new again,” adds Barrinuevo. “And if your kitchen floor is badly damaged and cannot be saved through cleaning, it may be time to consider installing new flooring.”



Kitchen Staging 4



Photo by WBM, designed by Redesign4more

6. Don’t forget the kitchen sink!

Sellers sometimes overlook the kitchen sink but it’s a spot that often needs more than just a rinse. “Your ‘sinkware’ such as faucets, soap dispensers and basin are vital in the overall look and feel of your kitchen,” notes Barrinuevo. “Replacing your old faucets with a more modern set is the best way to give the kitchen an updated appearance. Remember, buyers love to try out the taps during an open house!”

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14 gender neutral nurseries you’ll coo over

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Classic nursery designs that will grow with your child.

1. This bright and cheerful space with a handmade mobile.







Photo: almostmakesperfect/Instagram

2. This desert-inspired nursery featuring power-clashing patterns.







Photo: sarahsweeneyco/Instagram

3. This green and gold color scheme with a few DIY touches.







Photo: headygrimm/Instagram

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4. This subtly animal-themed nursery with pops of yellow.







Photo: jillian.harris/Instagram

5. This crib setup with a canopy in the corner and a faux-taxidermy llama head to boot.







Photo: jacksgot21/Instagram

6. This farmhouse-style twin nursery wrapped in shiplap.







Photo: houseon77th/Instagram

7. This vintage-meets-modern space that’s brimming with cozy texture.







Photo: carey_bears/Instagram

8. This sweet sanctuary complete with applied box moulding.







Photo: britt_horton/Instagram

9. This dark and moody nursery for a little guy with a lot of books.







Photo: havenbythebae/Instagram

10. This color happy space with a wallpaper mural inspired by The Great Wave.







Photo: lazymoms/Instagram

11. This room with a peachy keen paint job and boho decor accents.







Photo: mybreezyroom/Instagram

12. This eclectic space that boasts trendy indigo-dyed curtains.







Photo: _emilybolt/Instagram

13. This maximalist’s dream featuring funky banana-print wallpaper.







Photo: studiomunroe/Instagram

14. And finally, this Scandi-style nursery with clean lines and organic elements.







Photo: carlyamcdonagh/Instagram

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Lower mortgage rates won’t do much for Toronto homebuyers, says economist. Here’s why

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Photo: Dennis Jarvis/Flickr

Those in the market for a Toronto home shouldn’t get too excited about the prospect of lower mortgage rates, says one economist.

This week in a widely reported move RBC revealed it was slashing its five-year mortgage rate, and other lenders are expected to do the same. But Stephen Brown, a senior economist with Capital Economics, suggests it won’t do a whole lot to boost activity in Toronto’s housing market.

“While such cuts may well help markets like Montreal where sales remain pretty strong, it’s hard to see them doing much for Toronto or Vancouver,” he writes in a Canada Economics Weekly report.

“In both cities, speculation has played a far larger role in driving up both sales and prices in recent years. For owner-occupiers to replace such buyers, either mortgage rates or prices will need to fall much further,” Brown continues.

Although Toronto sales fell by 16.1 percent in 2018, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), Brown is not sure substantial price drops are a foregone conclusion. While sales took a double-digit dip, the average price of a home in the GTA remained relatively stable at $787,300, representing a decline of 4.3 percent.

“Given high transaction costs, absent a severe economic downturn or a sharper rise in interest rates than we envisage, investors may simply decide to hold on to their assets,” Brown states.

Many experts predict the Bank of Canada will continue to gradually increase interest rates this year. But Capital Economics has repeatedly predicted the central bank will need to reverse at least one of the five hikes it has announced since July 2017, in part because of the struggles of the country’s oil industry.

While Capital Economics remains an outlier, some observers are now entertaining the possibility that the central bank will sit on the sidelines for 2019.

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How this coastal-chic Los Angeles home blended high- and low-end decor

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Photo: Amy Bartlam

When designer Genna Margolis of Shapeside was approached by her clients to customize their 6,000-square-foot new-build in Los Angeles’ upscale Brentwood neighborhood, she was immediately struck by the sheer size of the project. “This house is huge and each room is extremely large,” explains Margolis. “One of the biggest challenges was just making sure everything fit to scale.”

The family of five was conscious about spending where it mattered, and saving where they could get away with it. It takes a lot of furniture to fill up a home of this size, and Margolis had to be strategic. “The key to achieving a high-low mix is spending more on the big pieces that take up the majority of the space, and spending less on the trendy accent pieces,” notes Margolis.

The Cape Cod-style residence had a traditional feel (or “stuffy” as Margolis calls it), which clashed with her clients’ contemporary taste. “A lot of the furniture you find in retail stores that’s young and cool is made to fit tiny apartments,” says Margolis. It took quite a bit of trial and error to source pieces that were not only substantial, but stylish.

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Photo: Amy Bartlam

The minimalist design of the entryway came at the request of the homeowners. “This family has three young kids, so they didn’t want to have a lot of stuff in the way when they walk through the door,” says Margolis. She paired a concrete and brass console table from West Elm with a custom-made bench to house shoes and bags. The pegs above complement the leather strap detail on the bench, and allow scarves to be looped through.

Margolis chose a leafy indoor tree to occupy an empty corner. “The more furniture there is, the more structured a plant I will choose. If there’s less furniture, I’ll choose something wider and looser.”







Photo: Amy Bartlam

The open-concept living space, which is defined by two fireplaces on either end, presented yet another design challenge. Ultimately, Margolis decided on two separate seating areas — one for everyday relaxation and another for more formal entertaining. “Since the space is so big and open, I decided to custom-make a really large coffee table that took up a lot of space,” she explains. “The coffee table is almost five feet in diameter and we have an 11-foot long sectional in a dark grey linen.”







Photo: Amy Bartlam

The homeowners did not want the grand piano to be the sole focal point of the space — it was an inherited piece, but they feared it would come across as overly formal. “To make it feel more relaxed, I knew I needed to add a chair, but it couldn’t be just any chair,” says Margolis. “This one is upholstered in a blush fabric and has really dainty legs. I wanted it to be modern, but still inviting and chill.” She also flanked the fireplace with two fiddle leaf figs. “Adding organic factors helped to loosen it up. The piano is there, but it feels like it’s more in the background.”







Photo: Amy Bartlam

The dining room was a lesson in compromise. “The wife wanted everything to be very romantic, but there are four other people who live there, too,” says Margolis. “I needed to incorporate some of those aspects, but overall, make it feel like a family home.”

The jumping off point for the space was the crystal chandelier. To prevent it from from looking too glam, Margolis opted for smoked glass. “From there, I wanted to balance it out with a more rustic dining table.” The blush velvet dining chairs were sourced from ABC Home, while the striped area rug, which “made the space way more cool,” was found online at Serena & Lily. To amp up the texture in the space, Margolis wrapped it in a grasscloth wallpaper and added a statement-making fringed mirror. “The mirror literally reflects the chandelier,” she points out.







Photo: Amy Bartlam

For the master suite, Margolis took her inspiration from a luxury hotel room in Tulum, Mexico. “If you’ve ever fallen down the Instagram rabbit hole, you probably know what I’m talking about. It’s very organic, very beachy, but luxe.” To offset all the white, she chose dark bedding and wood furniture. “I tried to make the room feel very textured, but overall I wanted it to be simple.”







Photo: Amy Bartlam

In the expansive ensuite bath (Margolis swears it’s much larger than the photo suggests), she warmed up the space with a West Elm settee and an area rug from Anthropologie. “It’s perfect because it has accents of blush, which my client loves, but it’s still pretty neutral.” The bohemian tassel chandelier over the tub was purchased from Lulu & Georgia for less than $200. “It works for the scaling and adds a lot of texture,” adds Margolis.







Photo: Amy Bartlam

All three kids rooms are playful and whimsical, but able to grow with them as they get older. Margolis stumbled across a large-scale floral mural from Anthropologie for the family’s only daughter. “I love it because it has a white background, which takes away from the busyness, but it has all the colors she loves, like pink and purple,” says Margolis.







Photo: Amy Bartlam

The nursery is “neutral and calming,” painted a grey hue with a blue undertone and jazzed up with striped curtains that feature a tassel trim. “It’s a simple space, but one that’s really nice to be in.”







Photo: Amy Bartlam

“The third room is an eight-year-old boy’s room — he wanted a really cool bed,” says Margolis. The Moonrise Kingdom-esque cabin bed fit the bill, and was paired with a blue striped rug for a punch of pattern.

“We really worked hard on every single room of this house,” says Margolis of the project. “I wanted it to reflect my clients. I didn’t want them to feel like, ‘Oh, this designer came in and did what she wanted.’ Every piece is different, everything comes together, and it’s also exactly what they were looking for.”

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