Savvy Home Renovation Investments

With spring around the corner which means the real estate market is about to kick into high gear. Are you planning on listing your home? Have you been wondering how to spend your money wisely to maximize your home’s price for resale? Without a doubt, hiring a professional designer that will guide you through the process is always best, however if you prefer to try it out on your own here are a couple of suggestions for your consideration.

Kitchens and bathrooms are the smartest way to update your home. It is wise to update these key rooms every decade.  If it’s been many years since you’ve had a remodel, these would be ideal places to begin. Modern home buyers are looking for open concept, efficient and organized kitchens to entertain in. They are also looking for sap bathrooms and ensuites which invite you to relax and unwind in style.

Master Ensuite - Before
Master Ensuite – Before
Master Ensuite - After
Master Ensuite – After

If a kitchen or bathroom renovation is not in this year’s budget, there are other ways to improve your home for resale. One of the easiest ways to protect your investment is to maintain your property. Fix anything that’s broken as soon as it needs a repair or update. A little TLC goes a long way. Paint every few years to keep your home fresh and on trend with a modern colour palette. Pay attention to doors, windows and light fixtures.

Another great design tip is to remove clutter regularly so that your home is a haven for special memories and treasures, not junk. Let your front entrance welcome friends, guests and potential buyers to your beautiful, organized home.

A professional designer (that’s me) can show you how to add storage solutions to your home, decorate tastefully and create a consistent decor scheme. I can show you how fresh cushions can update the look of your couch, and new window coverings can add life to a dated room. Always ensure that your home’s decorations match the current season. Homes that are clean, organized and beautifully decorated sell quickly.


Where I’ve been…


A few weeks back, I made a commitment to blog, and to do so regularly during my work week. While I may have already slagged on that last part of the commitment, I have a fantastic excuse! I completed a MAJOR presentation a little over a week ago for a full refurbishment of a 12 storey condominium in downtown Kingston. The scope of work surrounding this project is the largest I have ever tackled and the preparation for the final presentation took a lot of time and energy. I am ever grateful that I work with/for an experienced designer and business man who has been able to assist me through this entire process. With voting now open to the owners, I have nothing left to do but wait for the results…. this may just drive me batty!

Let me share with you, my concept;


The corridors: new carpet from the second floor up to and including the 12th. Remove existing wallpaper and wall sconces, paint all doors and trim.  The colour concept needed to flow with the Lobby that was renovated a couple of years ago so I pulled the choices directly from the existing furniture fabric. The new sconces will double the light output in the corridors without doubling electricity costs. The corridors are 6ft wide and there is not a lot of room for artwork so we will update the directional signage at the elevators while adding some black and white photography of local landmarks – a different one for each floor. The directional signage is mounted on aluminum which transports the viewer inside the photograph in a way that can only be accomplished with this mounting process.


The changerooms off of the Gym and Multi-purpose rooms also need a face lift. For budgetary restraints we choose a durable vinyl floor with a floating laminate countertop. New plumbing and light fixtures throughout will update the space and make the rooms more efficient with low-flow toilets and urinals. The Gym and Multi-purpose rooms will have a carpet tile border with proper rubber flooring for the equipment in the centre of the rooms. The same carpet tile will also be used in the Library and will use a 1/4 turn installation for added interest. 

So what do you think? Would you vote for this concept?

Finding your Inspiration

Where do you find your inspiration for your rooms? Every good designer, regardless of experience levels, starts with an inspiration piece as their foundation on which to build a successfully designed room.

Before I meet with a client I ask them to collect pictures of rooms that have the same look and feel that they are hoping to create. These pictures can be from magazines, television shows, websites or even from their travels.  Though it doesn’t have to stop there, if you love the colour of hydrangea’s, consider painting the walls light and add variations of blues, creams and soft purples for your fabric selections. Maybe you have found the perfect piece of fabric or toss cushions to start from. You might even use a favourite piece of jewellery or art work. Inspiration comes from everywhere!


The stripe is the “jumping off point” and from there complimentary fabrics are selected.

For designers, the arrival of new sample books sometimes feels like Christmas morning as the pages are flipped through to see the newest collections. Wallpaper is typically my soft spot, like this new book full of Moroccan inspired patterns and sparkle:


This wallpaper is so beautiful, fingers crossed I get to use it soon!

Are you looking for inspiration? Talk a walk, flip through a magazine, look in your closet for your favourite piece of clothing or surf the web. Try not to limit yourself when searching for inspiration. Here are a couple of places you can start:

  • HGTV
  • Home and Garden Magazine
  • Interiors Magazine
  • DIY Network
  • Blogs
  • Instagram
  • Pintrest
  • Architectural Digest
  • Living Magazine
  • Better Homes Magazine
  • and more magazines targeted to specific design styles

The Right Colour Makes a Difference!

For some people, choosing colours for their homes seems to be a daunting task. Unsure of how to use this important design tool, and afraid of creating the wrong look, many opt for off-white walls and choose simple designs for furniture. The right colour, however, can change the way you look and feel about your home and create a look that truly expresses your personal style.

There are over one million colours, all variations or red, yellow and blue. Colours with a red or yellow base are referred to as warm colours, because of the emotions they evoke and their association with fire, sunlight and other warm forces. Colours based with blue are considered cool colours, relating to the sky, mountains and water.

 HighParkPaintSample          GrasslandsPaintSample

The sample on the left (Benjamin Moore’s High Park) is a “cool” green while the sample on the right (Benjamin Moore’s Grasslands) is a “warm” green

There has been a great deal of research into how colour affects our attitudes, moods and general outlook. Although we may not be aware of its influence, colours can make us feel warm or cold, excited or calm. Within our home, the proper use of colour can help make a room more  inviting or make a small room feel larger. 

When choosing colour for your home, remember that all elements need to be taken into account – the furniture, the walls, the floors and the furniture. Generally, larger areas, such as ceilings and floors, should have fuller or softer colours allowing your furniture and accessories to make an impact. If you have a number of photos or large paintings to display, hang them on a white or lightly-coloured wall to give them the most significance.

The structure and location of your room is also important – look at the architectural details such as a fireplace or interesting moulding and decide whether they should be highlighted.

Keep in mind that the sun exposure will affect the intensity of the colour, as will nighttime lighting. Certain colours have an architectural background that may be more in keeping with the age and style of your home, for example Williamsburg Blue as opposed to a more Modern grey.

Most importantly, choose colours that you can live with! Every year fashion and trends and while some people can afford the time and money to re-paint, most of us want a look that is more timeless. Take the next step in design and work with some new colour in your home – you may be surprised at home it can make your home a more comfortable place to be. 

Mixing Colours and Patterns

Mixing colours and patterns can be tricky, even overwhelming at times. So much so that many people opt out of using patterns when it comes to upholstered items and choose simple solid colours leaving patterns for small pieces such as toss pillows. When done correctly, mixing colours and patterns will add that much desired WOW factor to your room.

How much is too much and how many patterns can one room hold? The simple answer: it really depends on the size of the room, however anywhere from 4-6 patterns can easily be introduced into the average room.  Where to begin? Most Designers will find one patterned fabric with the desired colours as a starting point or inspiration. This fabric could be planned for drapery, a chair, pillows or even an existing area rug. From there, use the largest piece in the room, the sofa if working on your living room as an example, and keep that simple. A textured solid works great and will help ground the room.  When choosing this solid colour, pull as neutral of a colour as possible from your inspiration fabric. In keeping with the example of a living room re-do, find a larger pattern in complimentary colours for your upholstered chairs, for every style of chair, choose a different pattern (unless you are trying to bring similar chairs together for a conversation area). You may choose the same pattern in two different colours as well if you have two separate groupings of chairs for seating areas. When selecting complimentary patterns consider the shape and size of the pattern you are starting from. Is there a diamond shape throughout? Try to repeat the shape without repeating the pattern. Here is an example:


Notice the repeat of the diamond shape in 3 (4 could be argued with the yellow geometric) of these fabrics.

By repeating a pattern and changing up the colour you get the WOW factor without visual clutter.


Just because it matches doesn’t mean it will work. Here is an example of using the same amount of patterns without the flow of repeating the “shape” of the pattern:


The colour combinations have stayed the same – everything matches right? Hmm not so much. The smallest pattern doesn’t really work that well with the other fabrics and wouldn’t be useful in multiple applications without creating visual clutter.

There will be some trial and error so make sure you have all of your fabric choices together when making decisions. Don’t rely on memory! If you feel like maybe this is too much to handle on your own, keep in mind that Designers are more than happy to help you with a consultation. There is typically a small fee involved but the assurance from a professional eye to get you the room you desire is priceless.