Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Increasing sale value of Property

HGTV landscaping tips for increasing sale value of property

A well maintained and appealing landscape can add value to a home. Potential buyers make first impression of home from its appeal. Then also outdoor landscaping is overlooked by a lot of us. You can use certain tips to spruce up your yard. Use container plants and makes your patio and doorways interesting as your potential buyers will enter your place from there.

Hgtv Dream House: For Sale

Touch up mulch, there is nothing that can make the place lively than a new mulch. Apply fresh layer in the garden beds. Color enhances contrast of surrounding plants to bring out life at outdoors. The best part is mulch is affordable as well as convenient to apply.

Hgtv Dream House: Hgtv House

Plant some immediate seasonal colors that can make your landscape pop. According to your home’s look, choose different colors. Shaping overgrown shrubs and trees can also make your outdoors look clean and attractive. Check out if there any overlooked pruning in the garden. Well maintained garden is always pleasant to watch.

Hgtv Dream House: Landscape Idea

Take care of all the irrigation issues. If the system has some problems, make sure that you get it fixed before buyers visit your place. Along with solving the irrigation problems, look after faucet leaks. Plumbing problems act as immediate turn off for buyers.

Hgtv Dream House: Your Property

Clean up all the water features and get rid of leaves, visible algae. Get the filters clear so that the water is crystal clear. Dirty water can leave a bad impact on the prospective buyers. Dirty surfaces should also be washed off. By investing little effort and time, you can make grimy and grungy surfaces look sparkling.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Beautiful Wood

Varying Size Log coffee tables.  Here.

These.....are going front and centre on my inspiration wall.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Taxation related to HGTV dream house

Taxation related to HGTV

It is a well known fact that if you become the winner of HGTV dream house, then it attracts a lot of unnecessary taxation issues. It is all up to the winners whether want to keep the house or not. It has been seen that most of the winners sell their prize off in order to avoid the taxes they have to pay for it.

Hgtv Dream House: Win a Dream House

It is very unfortunate that if we win any kind of prize, it is heavily taxable by government taxing agencies and winning an HGTV Dream house is not a different stream. As per the IRS rules, all awards and prizes including charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, civic achievement, artistic or as a result of winning a contest are taxable.

Hgtv Dream House: Build it!

So, the package award won from the HGTV dream home is also unfortunately taxable for the federal income taxes. Usually, these dream homes are worth more than millions of dollars and the tax liability accounts for a huge amount of money on part of the participants. In addition to that, taxes on prizes and real estate taxes are also applicable at government levels.

Hgtv Dream House: Sell your House

Most of the winners of HGTV dream house contests have sold out their houses because even after winning a home worth millions of dollars, most of them cannot afford to live in it and have no other option but to sell them out. After paying all the taxes for their prize, the pleasure of being a winner of the HGTV dream house becomes nominal.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Brian's Condo - Front Entry

With only a week or so left til 'Move-in Day' at the bachelor pad,,,things have been progressing quickly and I've been sourcing and purchasing furnishings, bedding and lighting non-stop from morning til night (not to mention I'm simultaneously furnishing another entire house from top to bottom with a move-in date just a week after Brian!!).  All of the major pieces have been delivered to the condo and this coming week and thru next weekend we'll be installing new light fixtures, faucets, hanging artwork, shelves, hooks and getting the small accessories in place.

One of the most awkward spaces in the condo is an area just inside the entry, its a wide alcove area that I think was most likely intended for a home office nook.  Its right inside the entry area, past a set of mirror sliding closet doors, leading into the main living space.  Since Brian didn't want his home office located here (his desk will be in the 2nd bedroom) we had this extra space to deal with and a small furniture budget to boot.  Its a great amount of space for extra storage but that wasn't a priority in this situation as there's a spare bedroom and really Brian hasn't accumulated a bunch of stuff, he's starting from scratch.  It certainly would be a great spot for a library but Brian doesn't have much to fill the shelves at this point so we were planning a small library of shelving in the second bedroom where his desk would be.  So what to do with this area that you see immediately upon entering???

Inside the entry he needs a drop zone, a place to drop his keys, his briefcase, a shopping bag etc.  I'm not a fan of console tables as I think they take up space but don't give you any storage, you can't sit on them and they're not too handy for dropping all your bags on - I prefer a bench for this, which does double duty for you or your guests putting their shoes on.  Above the bench I thought we could add a 'console' shelf or two and start a small gallery of artwork and photos that Brian can build on over the years.  I was thinking of not just a picture ledge but a 'console' shelf wide enough to hold a tray or bowl for keys and mail,,,a vase,,,and other decorative objects.  This would provide a nice visual display upon entering the condo and is also the direct sightline Brian will have directly opposite his bedroom door - the first thing he'll see every morning, so it has to make him smile!

I sketched up two variations of this concept, one with asymmetrical shelves and one with 2 different size shelves justified to the right.   I hoped to find a vintage mid-century modern style bench in teak or walnut that would sit against this long wall, below the shelves and art display.   We would start with ready-made frames and add some personal photos of Brians then some small accessories and objects.  After looking at the two sketches, Brian liked the first option with the asymmetrical layout so this is the direction we'll take this weekend when the shelves are installed.

During one of my visits to Queen West Antiques right before the holidays, I walked in and immediately saw this incredible walnut slat bench - I gasped,,,,,yes, out loud (!) - as I knew this would be such a great piece for Brian.  I could hardly contain my excitement, this was going to be the very first purchase for the condo - It was in great condition and the price was right in our ballpark.  I love pieces like this, I go crazy for benches because they're so versatile.   This could be a coffee table, an end of bed bench,,,,a front entry bench,,,or just up against a wall or behind a sofa stacked with books, its the type of piece that can move with you from place to place and you can always find a spot for it.  It didn't take me long to seal the deal with Kate and voila, this was the very first item purchased for the condo!  It was the perfect starting point because it really represented what my approach would be for the rest of the furnishings,,,it was affordable, great quality, beautifully designed, clean lined, and versatile.

The only downside to the bench was that it was slightly lower than I would have preferred, so I'm having a nice thick cushion seat made for one side of it out of a tweedy grey woven fabric,,in a box style with button tufting.  This will make one side of it the perfect seating height and the other side great for dropping bags or purses.  I had the pleasure of storing this beauty in my front hall for a few weeks and I got quite attached to it - I'm missing it now so much that I really wish I could have kept it.

I'm picking up the wall shelves tomorrow and I'm still torn between the dark wood or going with white, right now I'm leaning towards the white as the photo frames will be a combination of black and wood and I'm not sure about the black espresso colour with the walnut bench.  I may end up buying both and making this decision on site.

For previous posts about this condo project, including floor plan click below:

A New Project - Brian's Condo
Brian's Condo - Dining Rm Update

Sketches and Photos:   Carol Reed

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kitchen safety tips by HGTV

Kitchen safety tips by HGTV

Kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in home and also the most commonly modeled areas. Unluckily, kitchen can be a harmful place in home. There are several guidelines, which can keep the kitchen area safe, including:

Hgtv Dream House: Kitchen Safety Tips

Give proper lighting: Fine general lighting, supplemented by proper task lighting, which is plainly focused over work surfaces, will decrease the probability of injury when making a meal. The lighting must be glare free and even and should not reduce the shadow over the working surface.

Hgtv Dream House: Hgtv Dream House Kitchen

Install slip resistant flooring: Several fine choices are matte finished wood, laminate, soft glazed ceramic tile or textured vinyl. In case if you pick tile, it is suggested to use a throw rug having a nonskid backing, particularly near the wet areas.
Give safe storage for the fire extinguisher: Fire extinguisher must be visibly positioned near the exit of the room, far from the cooking equipment. Do not locate the extinguisher near and under the cook top.

Hgtv Dream House: Kitchen Accessories

Keep plugs, electrical switches, lighting fixtures away from wet hands and water sources: Making codes need that all the electrical receptacle to be grounded and protected with the ground fault circuit interrupters. In addition, the mounted room controls must be about 15-48 inches above the floor.

Hgtv Dream House: Make your Food

Install water temperature regulator: The faucets with anti scald devices avoid water temperature from getting too high upto the unsafe levels; the pressure valves level cold and hot water.

Hgtv Dream House: Grilling Safe

Also, there are various other worth considering tips that should be kept in mind such as designing a secure floor plan, putting the microwave at convenient height, considering the slid out bins and trays and eliminating the sharp corners at countertops that will keep your kitchen safe.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'll Take Two...

On Sunday I took a drive north of the city to visit Victor and his Antique Iron Beds.  Victor has been collecting and restoring iron beds for over 35 years and boasts the largest collection in Canada.  For those not in the Toronto area, you can view and purchase all of his beds on his website here and he'll ship anywhere in the Country or the U.S.  He has hundreds and hundreds of beautiful, century old iron beds stacked up in this shop and even hundreds more outside, all rusted and patinaed.  As he can tell you, these beds are getting harder and harder to find these days and since I was searching for a pair of matching twin beds, I knew if I was going to find a pair anywhere,,it would be here.

He has white iron beds, pewter and black finishes, among some rarer colours like pink and tourquoise.  All of the beds have been modified to fit today's standard size matresses, with a huge assortment of single, queen and kings.  I was fortunate enough to find a rare pair of pewter, matching twins!!!!  I took this lovely twosome with me and dropped them off at a clients house on my way back home, they currently sit in the empty guest bedroom alone, awaiting all the other items I'll be bringing in over the next few weeks.

There's something about a pair of twin beds in a guest room that I just love.  Maybe its the symmentry or the double decadence of lush comfy bedding, even in the smallest of rooms they just seem so inviting to me and luxuriously pampering.  The thought of a beautifully made, cozy fresh bed JUST for me to spend the night in,,,,along side a best friend, or sister, or niece (or mother or daughter) who might be cuddled up in the other twin while we talk and laugh into the wee hours of the night.  Its a bed for one of those special sleepover nights you enjoy being away from home and spending time with friends.  I hope to one day have two guest rooms in my own house, one with a Queen size bed and another with a pair of twins.  Personally we have more single friends and relatives than couples, in addition to aging parents and teenage nieces and nephews, twins are just so much more practical when space is limited.

In my clients guest bedroom we're hoping to achieve a classic french inspired look but that's not too country looking.  I particularly love the contrast of simple iron beds in white rooms which emphasizes the lines.  Here's a few images of rooms with iron beds that I love because they're paired down and simple - not too cutesy and frilly nor too rustic or cottagy. 

If your budget doesn't allow for a small splurge on an antique iron bed, one of my favorite Ikea pieces is the Lillesand bed for its pure utilitarian lines.  Had this been available in a twin size, we likely would have gone this route for this client's guest room (photo below).

Photos 1, 2, 3:  Carol Reed
Photo 4:  Canadian House & Home (issue unknown)
Photo: 6, 8, 9  Country Living
Photo:  7  Kelly McGuill Home
Photo:  10  House Beautiful

HGTV Ideas

HGTV ideas to go green in bathroom

Bathroom is a great place to go green as it is one place where you can find so many toxic chemicals. Energy and water usage far outstrips the modest size in comparison to rest of the house. If you are looking for ways to reduce resource consumptions and chemicals in bathroom, consider organic cotton.

Hgtv Dream House: Kids Bathroom

Bath linens that are made out of organic cotton are soft, comfortable and require lesser pesticides for producing usual cotton towels. Softeners and natural dyes use in these towels great for skin and less toxic environment. Replace the vinyl shower curtains with cotton duck curtains.

Hgtv Dream House: Fresh New Ideas

Natural bathing products should replace chemical laden ones in your bathroom. Natural products are undoubtedly better than others. Make this corner of your house lively so that you can get rejuvenated after having bath. Dark and dingy place produces negativity in the surroundings. With limited resources, you should make sure that you are water wise.

Hgtv Dream House: Bathroom

Low flow shower head can reduce the water consumption by around 30% while providing pressurized spray too. Grey water diverters can also used that helps in diverting used water in garden area.

Hgtv Dream House: Hgtv Bathroom

While remodeling your bathroom, use recycled products. Seek tiles that are made of recycled material for countertops, showers, baths and floors. There is a lot of variety available in these tiles. Pick recycled glass tiles for low emissions and enhancing the beauty of your bathroom. Get rid of the harsh materials that are used for cleaning toilets and tubs. Pay heed on the labels on products that warm against dangers of use. Look for environment friendly goods for cleaning your bathroom.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pretty in Pink

I spent a morning last week working on a room design for my youngest client, she's a 7 year old ballerina and like most little girls, she LOVES pink and ruffles and bows and candy stripes and fringe trims and pretty much anything frilly and girly.   She's never looked at a design magazine in her life, nor watched a single design show on tv,,,,,and has no interest in Philip Stark ghost chairs, Kelly Wearstler prints or Jonathan Adler furniture,,,,,well, unless its frilly or pink or sparkly then that's all she cares about.

This little girl and her mother are getting ready to move-in to their newly furnished house in about 4 weeks.  I've been working with them since October on completely furnishing and outfitting their entire 3 bed side-split and with most of the other living areas nearing completion I've been focusing on the bedrooms this month, along with a million other small details!!!   (this project in conjunction with furnishing the Bachelor's condo has been a crazy couple months of marathon shopping!)  The little girl's bedroom is tiny, measuring only about 10' x 10' with an 8' ceiling, a small window and has no architectural features at all.  The walls had just been freshly painted when I came on board, they're a light peachy melon colour and repainting was not an option so I'm working with it.  With a small budget, I decided to allocate a large portion of the budget to a custom upholstered headboard, bed skirt and window treatment.  

I made a quick trip to Designer Fabric Outlets and picked out a strawberry coloured velvet and a multi-coloured stripe.  The solid colour headboard will grow with her into her teens as will the stripe, the lighter peachy colour seen in the stripe fabric is similar to the wall colour and gives us the colour palette for the rest of the bedding which will be ready-made.   Next, I sketched up the design for the headboard and sent it all off to my upholsterer - fingers crossed it will all be ready before move-in!

With the headboard and custom skirt and window treatment being made the rest of the room will be filled in with some ready made, in-stock pieces and vintage finds.  I had a lucky day last week when I came across this french style dressing table in a consignment shop, painted white with a peachy glaze on the edges it was like it was made for the colour scheme of this room.   I scooped it up and headed off to the lighting showroom where I picked out a couple of sparkly pretty chandeliers,,,,I'll run these by my little client today and see which one she prefers....

All Photos & Sketches:  Carol Reed

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Brian's Condo - Dining Room Update

The design concept for the dining room was created earlier in December and all the items except for the light fixture were sourced and purchased before the holidays (record timing!).  Its a small space which can't accommodate a lot of furniture so the the budget allocated for this area was tiny but yet I still wanted it to have big style.   Now I have to admit the dining area is not a space that's of much importance to Brian, he's not intending to throw dinner parties or be doing a lot of entertaining, nonetheless, some sort of table and chair configuration would be practical for the occassional dinner guest or weekday meal.  The fact that the LR and DR is one open space means that the dining table will have a perfect view of the large screen wall mounted tv in the LR - this feature seems to have heightened Brian's interest in the dining room design!  Now that I had his interest, I suggested that the best value and style for the money would be to find some vintage chairs and mix them with a simple modern glass table, this is a great solution for both small spaces and small budgets but the best part is it adds some originality and authenticity to the room.

My biggest find was scoring a set of 4 danish modern dining chairs the Sunday before Christmas.  The chairs had just arrived in the shop less than an hour before I stopped in and as soon as I laid eyes on them, I had to have them and they were bought on the spot (sorry to the guy who had been on a wait list for a year, but he was of the country for 3 weeks and I was there with cash in hand!).  Two days earlier I had found an amazing deal on an interesting chrome and glass table that was just the size we needed and in-stock, so suddenly with this set of chairs now purchased the dining room was just about done and we didn't have to special order any of it - another great advantage to buying vintage pieces.

This past Thursday was a big delivery day at the condo project with several key pieces arriving.  In addition to the mattress set, the sofa, the front hall bench, a credenza and the dining table,,,,,I also had to deliver the newly recovered vintage teak dining chairs....which was not so easy.  I'm crazy for these chairs and I grew quite attached to them over the past couple of weeks, honestly I didn't want to give them up, it was like suffering thru a bit of separation anxiety!

The chairs were in absolutely perfect condition, the wood is beautiful and the lines of the chair are so organic and sculptural looking.  For only $100 a chair, I don't think you can beat the quality and design.  With some new fabric on the seats, they'd take on a new modern look.  I picked out a charcoal coloured vevlet that I think is a beautiful compliment to the caramel wood tones.

An indication that the chairs were all made at the same time by the same mfg is the wood grain, on these chairs you can see the same knot in the wood, in the exact same place on each chair.  This also speaks to the quality of the pieces.

Here you can see the continuous wood grain on all the chair backs and not a single exposed fastener or screw anywhere on the chair.

The underside of the chair had a muslin type backing on and when it was removed we found the original mfg's label.

I was thrilled to see the Schionning & Elgaard for Randers label.  These chairs would have been made sometime between 1957 and 1960.

Thursday evening at Brian's condo,,,,,not quite ready for dinner.

As I mentioned above, quite a few furniture items were delivered on Thursday including the dining table.  Unfortunately, I didn't hire delivery AND installation for the table thinking that it would be a fairly simple DIY project for the new homeowner!!  So when Brian arrived we opened up the box and pulled out the instructions, anxious to whip this thing together and see the new table and chairs complete.  Immediately we were both relieved to see that no tools were required, because he doesn't own any!  A dozen fasteners and an allen key were all that was required so we sat down and attempted to piece it together..........every which way we could imagine,,,nothing worked, after 2 hours of frustration, we gave up.  The instructions were useless, there were only 3 steps (ha!) but step 1 looked like a diagram of the solar system with no explanation.  Trying to figure out the base configuration (which kind of resembles the eiffel tower) was like trying to figure out a rubic's cube.  I started to understand why the table had been on sale and concluded at that point that even if it had been free,,,,,It wasn't worth the price.  We agreed to call it quits for the day,,,,,but Brian vows to return on the weekend to try and figure it out.  I hope he brings beer.

Test strip of digital print on canvas.

Since there's no room for a sideboard or console in the dining area I wanted to do something special on the wall to give the space some impact,,,so it wouldn't just be a table and 4 chairs in front of a blank wall.  Original paintings or artwork of a substantial size is out of our budget range so I opted for original photography in this case.  While its not cheap, it is less expensive than a large painted canvas and offers unlimited subject matter of your choice and can even be from your own photo collection.   For this space I'm having a black & white image of a city scene enlarged and printed on a huge canvas, this will provide a great backdrop for both the dining and living area and create a modern urban vibe.  A photographic scene like this at this scale adds a lot of depth and creates a great 'view'.   I sent a photo to Kevin at Elevator Digital and he's printing it on archival quality canvas and wrapping it around a stretcher frame.   I stopped in yesterday to approve a test strip - it looks incredible, I can't WAIT to see this when its ready next week.

West Elm Globe Pendant

The last element of the dining room that remains outstanding is the light fixture.  I LOVE this simple globe pendant from West Elm and think its perfect for Brian's place.  Its not overwhelming and it has a bit of an industrial feel to it, especially when a filament style bulb is used - perfect for the modern vintage style we're after.  Unfortunately, everyone else must love this fixture too because West Elm in Toronto is completely out of stock on these and they're on back-order until March.  Uuugghh.  Despite my sulking, pouting, and just plain old begging,,,,they wouldn't even sell me one of their 2 floor displays.  So now I REALLY want this fixture but its going to require some creative resourcefulness.  The West Elm on-line shopping site doesn't ship to canada, not even to the West Elm store here.  I'm currently attempting to purchase it thru that site anyway as I have a US address I can have it shipped to, however,,,,,I'm getting stonewalled in the process.  Even though I have a US ship to address, they can't process the order on-line unless you have a US billing address, in which case you have to call their 1-888 customer service no. to place the order.  No problem I thought,,,,,this will all work out perfectly,,,,,,,until I tried calling the 1-888 number which doesn't work if you live outside of the US.???  The quest continues......

Stay tuned for posts on the front entry and bedroom design concepts and progress coming soon.

For the floor plan and first post on this Condo project go here.

All Photos:   Carol Reed

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cool Find

The Bodum Osiris stovetop kettle.

I'm crazy for well designed and cool looking kitchen essentials, especially those items that are left out on view on a daily basis.  I came across this at Morba yesterday and plan on buying one for my own kitchen.  I'm always trying to do too many things at once and my last stove top kettle had a melt down when I left it on the burner and forgot about it (without the whistle attachment cause that scares the wits out of our cat).  So I've been doing without one for quite a while now because in my own kitchen,,,,not just any 'ol kettle will do - since it lives on my stovetop its gotta look good!

My search for a new kettle is now over thanks to this cool design by Bodum.  The Osiris kettle was originally designed for the museum shop at the Museum of Modern Art.  Its not just great looking, the wider base means that water boils 50% faster than in other teakettles and will boil 1L of water in just 8 min.   Its made of polished stainless steel with a stay cool nylon handle.  And at only $69, I think its an affordable design splurge!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dream House Kitchen Appliances

HGTV dream house kitchen appliances

It is very essential to search the appliances that fit your lifestyle as well as d├ęcor. However, this task can be extremely overwhelming as there are hundred different types of makes and models available in the market. Refrigerator, stove oven and dishwashers are the basic kitchen appliances that every kitchen possesses.

Hgtv Dream House: Small Kitchen

Basic kitchen appliances

Refrigerators come in different kinds of configurations, including the traditional top mounted refrigerator, the bottom mounted fridge and the side by side models. The traditional fridge is the most general type of refrigerator, while in the bottom mounted fridge the refrigerator is placed at the top. Whereas, the side by side model’s refrigerator is also mounted at the top, however the interiors are narrower.

Hgtv Dream House: Hgtv Dream Kitchen

The dishwashers are the convenience option, since they include the energy saving option such as timer delay. A vast majority of kitchens incorporates above than one single cooking appliance like cooktops and ovens. Apart, ovens and refrigerators, microwaves are also been used by large number of people for heating food.

Hgtv Dream House: Your Dream Kitchen

Kitchen extras

Additional kitchen accessories are also very essential when it comes to making a perfect kitchen, accessories including. Kitchen accessories include warming drawers, in built coffee makers, trash compactors, under cabinet refrigerators for storing wine among the most common ones.

Hgtv Dream House: Kitchen

Fabulous finishes

The finishes of stainless steel are the most popular types of furnishes for kitchen. These stainless steel furnishes are not only good in terms of cost but also their maintenance is very simple. Apart, furnishes of bronze are also in the rage.