Testimonials

Kevin & Vanessa L.
We are very pleased with the service that Audrey & Mike has provided for us.  They made us feel comfortable whenever we have interacted with them.  Their input and suggestions from the time we decided to list our house and through the process of buying our new home, they remained honest and open.  We feel they understood our needs and interests, listened to what we wanted and was...
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Nadine & Jason
Nervous and inexperienced with buying a new home we were very relieved to find a Realtor like Mike. Keeping in touch with us and sending us information on homes on a daily basis, Mike was just as excited about finding us a home as we were to buy one. He was extremely accommodating to our busy schedules. Most importantly we knew we could rely on him for honest advice and information, which he was more...
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The Edmonton Real Estate Blog, Market Information, Advise & Opinion

 

(NC)-By now we've all heard the old adage about the importance of curb appeal. If you can't get potential buyers in the door, good luck selling your home. This is especially true today with so many homes competing on the market. Home staging has become a popular trend for interior spaces, but according to experts, the same care needs to be applied to the exterior.
 

"Home buyers weigh the outside impression of a home as much as the inside, especially when surfing real estate websites and online images of homes," explains Priscilla Bergeron, Assistant Brand Manager for Sikkens, the industry leader in wood protection. "You only have one chance to make a first impression. By spending a little time and money on the outside, potential buyers may be more inclined to give your home a second look, and hopefully, a better offer."
 

According to Bergeron, the first step in giving your outdoor spaces the important face lift they need is to update your outside woodwork weathered by the sun, rain and snow. "You can give a high end look to your front porch, window trim, doors, siding and backyard deck with premium wood finishes. They provide a rich, professional touch to all exterior projects, while preserving and protecting the wood from the effects of weather and aging," she adds.
 

Home decks return about 70 per cent of their original cost back to homeowners when a house is sold, according to Remodeling Magazine's annual Cost vs. Value Report, but that's only when the decks are kept in top shape.
 

To bring weathered wood finishes back to life, Bergeron recommends applying high end wood finish products to give a beautiful rich and professional look to your woodwork that will seduce potential home buyers.
 

She points out that Sikkens products are available in translucent, semi-transparent and solid wood finishes and in a variety of different colours. To please a wider array of potential buyers, Bergeron recommends opting for more traditional colours. Translucent products give a rich, glamorous and professional look to any house.

Once the woodwork has been updated you can now stage your deck, patio or poolside, like you would indoors. "Whether your home's style is modern minimalist, country, or traditional, your outdoor décor should be a reflection and an extension your home's interior to achieve a seamless look," she explained.
 

This can be accomplished with the choice of outdoor furnishings and accessories which should look fresh, new and vibrant. Newer furnishings and planters in carefully chosen colours will help keep your outdoor spaces looking up-to-date and contemporary. Further define your deck or patio by setting a table with colorful outdoor dinnerware. For your porch, consider a bistro table and chairs to help welcome buyers into your living space.

More information is available online at www.sikkens.ca.

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Here are five creative, thrifty and helpful tips from Summer Baltzer, interior designer and former host of HGTV's Design on a Dime, to send you well on your way to a kitchen design that not only looks great in the long term, but also reflects you.

Tip one: Know your style.

Design your kitchen around colors and objects that make you feel great. This is the room you probably spend most of your time in whether you're cooking, entertaining or just doing homework with the kids. Loving the look is important. Make your design meaningful and something you'll want to see every day. Look for inspiration from a pottery collection, a piece of artwork, or even the food you love.

Tip two: Get creative on a budget.

A great way to save money is to repurpose found items for your accents where you can. Frame pictures from favorite recipes, use inexpensive flower pots or mason jars to store utensils and cutlery, repurpose an old console table as a center island. You might even want to spray-paint the old dining table and give it a new life. Look for salvaged floors, pallets or pottery to create new furniture pieces or accents. This approach not only saves you money, but also makes your kitchen enviably unique.

Tip three: Develop your vision.

Keep your ideas on track by collecting loose drawings; they can become your own personal design board. They don't have to be professional or even exactly like the finished product - just enough to make your point and start to envision what the finished product will look like. Seeing your ideas come together before taking a sledgehammer to your old tile not only gets you excited about your project, but can also save you from making design decisions that don't fit your vision. If you're hiring a professional, plans for the kitchen should be included in the cost. Make sure that they fit your vision and that you're getting everything you need from your new space before demo and installation begin.

Tip four: Create timeless beauty.

When focusing on your large installed items, don't just concentrate on what's popular now. Instead, take a look at the items that have been relevant for more than a decade. If you're designing a kitchen for a home you plan on living in for the next 20 years, by all means, go crazy and embrace colors and patterns that make you happy. But if you don't plan on staying there forever, give yourself room to grow. Look to classic color combinations like white, black or gray cabinets; stone countertops with white or walnut cabinets; or butcher block with just about any cabinet color you can imagine. Wilsonart's Calcutta Marble and new Old Mill Oak and Truss Maple are affordable laminate options that look real but are made from recycled wood fibers. They have finishes that withstand daily wear and tear, and are a fraction of the cost of traditional stone countertops. Look to lasting styles and materials, rather than what's simply trendy at the moment, to create a timelessly beautiful kitchen. Learn more at www.wilsonart.com.

Tip five: Start with simplicity.

Keep the lines of your installed, more permanent items clean and simple. To add style and versatility, get creative with your accents. For instance, try going Shaker with your cabinets. Traditional cup pull handles will move them in a more classic and traditional direction and linear pull handles will take you down a modern road. By keeping your appliances and more permanent items simple, and using your accents to create a sense of style, you'll open up tons of design doors for yourself, creating a kitchen that transitions easily, keeps up with your style and has staying power.

With this timeless know-how and creative inspiration, you're ready to create a kitchen you'll love both now and a decade down the road.
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(NC)-Who says oil and water don't mix? Leading coatings brand, Sikkens, has introduced an innovative new wood care stain that contains a unique combination of water and oil-based materials to deliver the best of both worlds for users.
 

Made from a unique alkyd (oil) and acrylic (water) hybrid mix, the new Cetol SRD line is a premium flat finish stain that requires only one coat on any exterior wood surface - from decks and fences, to rails, siding and outdoor furniture.
 

The coating provides both the strength and durability of an alkyd stain and the ease of use of an acrylic product, including simple clean-up of tools with water. It is specially formulated to deliver maximum penetration, colour retention, adhesion and resistance to ultraviolet rays, humidity, rain, sleet and snow.
 

"Our research shows that homeowners want wood coatings that make their stain jobs easier, and the product's unique alkyd-acrylic combination does the trick," says Mario Mathieu, senior Product Manager for Woodcare at Sikkens.
 

Cetol SRD meets volatile organic compound (VOC) requirements, Mathieu explains, adding that sustainability was a key objective in developing the product. "Our goal is to always find new ways to do things in order to speed up sustainable growth."
 

With a translucent finish - allowing the wood grain to show through - Cetol SRD comes in eight different colours: natural, natural oak, cedar, teak, butternut, redwood, mahogany and dark oak.

More information, tips and advice on staining is available at www.sikkens.ca.



Courtesy of Newscanada
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Living in a small space can be quite a challenge! If you're an artist like me who is constantly creating something, the stuff that has accumulated can make you feel quite claustrophobic. Over the course of a year I've finally learned how to manage my space and all my stuff!

The first thing to do is to let go of unnecessary items. If there is something in storage that you haven't used in six months to a year, you probably won't use it again. Also, a good place to check is your closet. Go through each piece of clothing and if you haven't worn it in the past year, it's time to get rid of it. The best thing to do is to donate the goods to your local charity. There are plenty of unfortunate people out there who would treasure what you consider trash!

Now it's time to tackle the stuff that you do have. When living in a small space, it's all about storage. Consider multi-function furniture such as chests and ottomans that are useful for storage of blankets and clothes and can be used as tables or seats. A futon can serve as a couch during the day and a bed at night. With the things that you do have, it's best to try and store as much as possible as to make the room appear uncluttered. Less is definitely more in the case of small space living.

On the same note, bigger is also better. Small furniture does not make the room appear bigger. Rather, larger, bolder pieces of furniture draw the eye to them creating the illusion of a bigger room.

Create a wall of shelving to put books, magazines, and knick knacks. Grouping most of your belongings in one place rather than scattered all around the room frees up space to move around. Place baskets on the shelves for stray items and papers. Baskets can also be used to hold magazines and placed next to the couch or a chair.

Light is important in a small room. Try hanging a big mirror opposite the window(s) to reflect light into the room. Also, try to keep the fabrics used in the room a light color. In my studio I use a beige colored slipcover over my futon which I then cover with different colored pillows. Remember that dark colors absorb light and light colors reflect light.

You can divide space in a room by using screens or bookcases. Screens or bookshelves can be inexpensively made by purchasing wood at your local hardware or home store. They can be covered with fabric or painted to add a personal touch. Area rugs are also a good way to create division in a room.

With a little creativity you can make living in a small space as comfortable as living in a castle!

by: Maria Palma

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_3790.shtml
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(NC)-Home ownership is a big dream for many young Canadians, and is likely the single biggest investment most of us will make in our lives. While saving for a down payment can be challenging, Farhaneh Haque, director of mortgage advice at TD Canada Trust, says that young Canadians can save for a down payment a little quicker by following a few simple rules.
 

"First, examine your budget and set a savings goal," says Haque. "Take advantage of online budgeting tools to gain insights into where you spend your money. Also remember that in addition to your down payment you will need to save for the additional costs involved with a home purchase, which include land transfer tax, moving costs and legal fees."
 

Next, curb your spending and increase your savings. "Even a small adjustment in your spending habits can go a long way toward helping you save a bigger down payment," says Haque. "For example, consider using transit to get to work instead of driving and paying for parking - it can really add up over time."
 

One of the most effective - yet overlooked - strategies is to put money aside before you can spend it. Haque suggests setting up a regular, preauthorized transfer service that moves a specific amount from each pay cheque into a high interest savings account. Making savings automatic is a simple and effective way to stay disciplined while saving for a down payment.
 

Finally, Haque reminds first time home buyers that they may be able to take advantage of the federal government's Home Buyers' Plan. "Those who have been actively saving for their retirement can access up to $25,000 from their RSPs to bump up their down payment when they purchase their first home. The RSP funds must be paid back within 15 years, so it is important to factor this repayment into your monthly budget."
 

For more advice on saving for a down payment, visit www.tdcanadatrust.com/homeownership

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Many homeowners are looking to redo and update their homes, but with busy schedules, often only have time on the weekends. While a complete overhaul of the house might be unrealistic for this time frame, a bathroom makeover is completely do-able. The following tips and tricks will show you how to be a weekend warrior without having to hire a professional crew for assistance.

Get Inspired

Home magazines and online resources, such as Pinterest, are filled with all the newest color palettes, design themes and patterns to get your inspiration flowing. Utilize the many beautiful bath photos to find the theme or color scheme that calls to you and run with it.

One-Stop Shop

Heading to only one or two stores is crucial, since your time should be spent renovating, not driving all over town for what you need. Planning ahead will lessen frustrations when you begin scouring the aisles.

Finding the Perfect Products

For a weekend makeover, focus on the following products:

• Paint: Be sure to choose a semi-gloss or bathroom-specific paint, since the steam from hot showers and excessive water flow can make the bathroom a harsh environment.

• Faucets: When selecting your faucet, consider style, finish, coordinating products and quality. The Moen Boardwalk bath collection, for instance, features a blend of vintage design and classic lines for a stunning look in any bath.

• Showering: The shower is a place to escape and relax - so be sure to find products to enhance this space. Today's showerheads come in variety of designs - wallmount, handheld, multi-function, rainshower - or a combination of all. Find the one that suits your showering style and choose a finish to coordinate with the rest of your bath.

• Accessories: For added safety with style, try designer grab bars with accessories, which combine the safety benefits of a grab bar with one of three common bath essentials - a towel bar, a paper holder and a shelf - making each item functional and fashionable. Adding these discrete safety solutions will keep your bath looking great while still being practical.

• Accents: Once you've chosen all the hardware for your bath, you'll need to think of the softer accents to help pull your design together. A new shower curtain, decorative towels, throw rug and curtains will add the final finishing touch to your new space.

Install and Enjoy

Once you've purchased your product selections, it's time to start your update. Luckily, each of these projects can be accomplished quickly and are simple enough for even a novice DIYer. 



Courtesy of Newscanada
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