One of the defining differences between the Interior Design Show West (IDS west) and your average home show is the fact that IDS west is geared to appeal to industry insiders, as well as the rest of us: everyday decor and design junkies.

And let's face it, we like the mixed company. It's a rare opportunity to be both in the know and in the company of bona fide interior and industrial designers, while ogling contemporary furnishings and design.

"Visitors come to the show to learn about new trends, ideas and products, but what they're really looking for is inspiration," says show director David Tyldesley. "And I believe inspiration is about sharing ideas and collaboration."

Appealing to both the trade and the average consumer is a challenge, but one worth pursuing to ensure the show is always fresh and edgy, relevant and accessible. Industry participation and insider inspiration are keys to IDS west's success, according to Tyldesley.

"We have to walk a very fine line between appealing to the trade, the general public and the design enthusiast," Tyldesley notes. One of the ways the show's organizers do this is to curate their marketplace and exhibitors, ensuring high standards and consistent esthetic appeal.

On that note, here's what's not to be missed at this year's show: Be future ready The fourth volume of Future Masters showcases the best of Western Canada's next generation of designers and is front and centre at the main entrance to IDS west. The young designers' pool includes the best and brightest students of western Canadian design institutions. Each is given the opportunity to present past and current projects in a curated gallery-type exhibition at the show.

Stage acts Enjoy the opening night party entertainment, plus presentations and conversations with decor celebrities, design icons and behind-the-scenes professionals at the Para Design Stage. Here are our top picks for each day.

Friday, Sept. 20 at 5 p.m. - The Evolution of Design: A Conversation with The Design Agency, moderated by Kelly Deck.

Hear Toronto speakers Anwar Mekhayech, Allen Chan and Matt Davis of The Design Agency discuss the way design has evolved throughout the centuries. This moderated panel, including well-loved local Kelly Deck, will delve into "The Evolution of Design," - how global economic conditions and changing environmental priorities, plus lifestyle perceptions, shape our culture's modern views.

Sat. Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. - Taste Matters. Designer Brian Gluckstein and House & Home's Mark Challen will dissect and discuss the hallmarks of good design (and good taste) from fashion and film to products and interiors. Stick around for insider tricks at 4 p.m. - House & Home: Behind the Scenes, when H&H Toronto speakers Suzanne Dimma and Mark Challen dish on how a home gets selected, prepped, styled and shot to become a dazzling magazine feature. They'll also take you behind the scenes and share design tips, tricks and home decor styling secrets.

Sun. Sept. 22 at 3 p.m. - Maximal Minimalism - The New Canadian Aesthetic

Speaker: Anna Abbruzzo & Alain Courchesne, of Igloodgn, Montreal. Explore the concept of "maximal minimalism" a distinctly Canadian esthetic garnering international attention. Be first to discover, understand and embrace this new Canadian style.

Head to the top

Studio North features the hottest up-and-coming Canadian designers of 2013, emerging talent with collections in production. Of the many works featured, don't miss the clean-lined Danish-modern inspired furniture collection by Jess Tasker of Trunk Studio.

Find something for you

In addition to handmade home decor products, The District features more than 40 artisan fashion, jewelry, artworks and accessories. Looking for something chic and modern? Check out Fiber Lab's contemporary light shades and Amanda Parker Design baubles.

Got a problem?

Discuss your design dilemma with a registered interior designer. The Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) is offering free, 10-minute mini design consultations with IDIBC registered interior designers on-site. Bring your swatches, iPad, Pinterest pix and floor plans and prepare to solve your design problems in a jiffy, under the guidance of a qualified pro.

Think small: win big

The compact future-ready H&L Laneway Home built by Alair Homes is a 516-square-foot custom abode designed for modernists who appreciate the value and investment of a laneway lifestyle. This home is one of a kind, valued at more than $500,000 and will be unveiled for the first time at IDSwest, then sold on open auction to the highest bidder on Sept. 21 at 5:15 p.m. There is no minimum bid on this home and all net proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer Society of BC.

IDS west takes place at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. For more information, visit ids


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If you've been thinking of selling your home, the fall is a great time to sell. Everyone's back from vacation, many buyers begin their search in the fall, and the kids are back in school so there's more time to focus on getting your home ready. It's never too early to start preparing your home for sale, if you start by doing a few small tasks a week, you'll have much less to do and therefore less stress when you list your home! Even seasoned home owners might miss some key touch-ups and fixes, so here's a checklist of items that should be fixed, spruced up, replaced, or painted.

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Outdoor spaces are perfect for entertaining guests in the summer. Make your's unforgetable this year with these excellent Patio tips from Better Home & Gardens. 


1. Make it Soothing with Water

There's something about water that's serene and peaceful. Be sure to add it to your patio. Enhance those relaxing moments with a patio-size water garden. Find one with a small recirculating pump so you can enjoy the sound of water trickling over stones or through a bamboo spout.


2. Site it in the Shade

Have a large shade tree? Why not consider building your patio under its canopy? You'll enjoy the cool, shady retreat in the heat of summer when you need a quick break from your afternoon gardening chores. You can also plant your favorite shade plants, such as hostas and caladiums, around your patio for summer-long color and interest.


3. Plant a Fragrant Path

Don't forget the power of fragrance. When you're relaxing on the patio at the end of the day, enjoy a rich aroma or subtle perfume. Consider planting a fragrant path that leads up to the patio from the garden. Tall, arching stalks of flowering tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris) or licorice-scented sprays of hyssop (Agastache rupestris) could greet you alongside a smalltrellis with moonflowers (Ipomoea alba). This combination will create a "scentsational" experience for you and your guests.


4. Add Cover with a Pergola

Summer is the perfect time to be outdoors. Fire up the grill and invite friends or neighbors over for a backyard barbecue amidst your collection of containers in your lush backyard. Choose durable furniture that withstands theelements. Create a table piece that highlights blooming flowers from your garden, bringing it right onto your patio.


5. Soften the Edges of Your Patio with a Flowering Border

Patios often look like they've just been plopped in your yard. To avoid a jarring feel, plant a border of flowering annuals, perennials, and shrubs around the edge. Create a lovely addition to your landscape and enjoy your favorite plants up-close and personal.

Tip: Use taller plants to offer more privacy.


6. Carpet for Your Patio

Throw down a rug. There are more and more high-quality, weather-resistant rugs for use outdoors. They come in a variety of colors and styles, so you can find one to suit your tastes. Select rugs made from recycled materials and be environmentally friendly at the same time.


7. Using Light on the Patio

Give your patio personality at night. Whether to illuminate a dark space or add ambiance to your favorite seating area, outdoor lighting can be just the touch of nighttime pizzazz your patio needs. Choose solar products or low-voltage, energy-efficient bulbs to conserve resources and protect the environment.


8. Grow Tropicals in Containers

Tropical plants are favored because of their flashy blooms and lush foliage. They're perfectpatio accents when planted in large containers. If you live in a southern climate, leave your tropicals outside all year. If you live in a northern climate, you'll need to bring them indoors in fall. If you're going to be bringing them in and out of doors, keep them in containers that are easy to move.


9. Use Charming Accents

Almost everyone had a wagon they grew up with. But as we grew older, wagons became clutter in the shed or garage. No more! Haul out that old wagon and make it into a decorative holder for your collection of container gardens. A fresh coat of paint will spruce up your wagon, adding a classic, rusticelement to your patio.


10. Create Privacy

A pergola is the perfect patio addition for privacy. Use a kit from your local home-improvement center, and make it a quick weekend project. Soften your pergola with climbers such as clematis (Clematis sp.), chocolate vine (Akebia quinata), wisteria, and ivy (Hedera helix). Once established, these vines will provide a cozy, shady respite after a hard day's work.


11. Add a Planter Box

Planter boxes are a timeless, classic accessory. Whether wrought iron or barn wood, they're a charming patio accent -- and they're a great way to showcase your favorite small plants. Colorful new annuals come onto the market every year, so the design possibilities are endless.



12. Build a Fire Pit

Gather around the fire with the kids late at night. Perfect for toasting marshmallows in summer or warming your outdoor space in spring or fall, fire pits are a gathering place on the patio. Make your fire pit from anything from flagstone slabs to small boulders.

Tip: Research your local fire code and ordinances before beginning this project.


13. Just Add Wind Chimes

Enjoy the sounds of music on your patioWind chimes are a traditional, yet stylish part of the outdoor lifestyle. You can find wind chimes made from bamboo, teak, and stainless steel to create the windy, musical melody that best fits your home.


14. Plants for Stone Patios

Accent the edges, nooks, and crannies of your stone patio with low-maintenance, drought-tolerant succulents such as sedum and hens-and-chicks.


15. Create a Patio with Curving Edges

Don't be square! Create a patio with curving edges to add character and a sense of informality to your outdoor living area. Curves are more relaxing and visually appealing than straight lines.


16. Feed the Birds

Attract a variety of birds throughout the year by adding birdfeeders to the perimeter of yourpatio. Put out different types of feed to attract different birds. Use an open-tray feeder and wild-bird mix to attract a variety of songbirds and seedeaters. Hang fresh fruit out in the summer for orioles and in the winter for robins and waxwings. Here's the chance to invite nature right onto your patio!


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Meteorologists are predicting record-breaking heat this summer in Metro Vancouver. While this is good news for ice cream companies, it’s bad news for homeowners. Sticking to your leather furniture or lying awake because it’s simply too hot to sleep aren’t exactly your ideas of summer fun.  In the depths of July and August, you may be wishing you had splurged on that central air conditioning unit, but these devices are costly to our environment. They use a lot of energy, emit more pollutants into the air, and will only increase your hydro bills. 

There are plenty of green ways to beat the heat without beating up our planet, so here are Happy Stan’s green tips to stay cool this summer.

  • Use awnings, which can reduce solar heat gain by as much as 65%
  • Delay heat-generating activities like dishwashing until evening on hot days, or better yet do these by hand. Also, use a clothes line and air-dry your laundry. No fabric softener can compete with the smell of clothing dried by the sun!
  • Plant trees around the house to naturally shade you from the sun (plus they clean the air!)
  • Install white window shades or mini-blinds. Mini-blinds can reduce solar heat gain by 40-50%
  • Get a ceiling fan. These operate at a fraction of what central and window air-conditioning units require. Just remember to turn them off once you leave the room to conserve energy
  • Install shutters
  • Stick to the barbecue. Incase you needed another excuse to hit the grill, avoid cooking hot foods indoors as it will only emit more heat and cause temperatures to rise.
  • Take cold showers. If you’ve been exercising outside or you just need to cool down fast, hop in the shower for a quick rinse.

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When buying a home, extra space can be a key feature. But when you actually move in, it can be tempting to let things sit in there for a while until your extra room becomes a storage room. Instead, make sure you have a specific idea in mind for this space, and make it happen! Here are some great ideas for how to transform your spare room to be a place of enjoyment, relaxation, and/or hobbying!

1. An Office is a popular option. Whether you work from home or just spend a lot of time online, a private office space offers you a quiet area designated for that use. To create an office, add a spacious desk to become the room’s centerpiece. The most efficient desk will include abundant shelving space for a printer, files, books and office supplies. Add a couch or table area to the room for a relaxing break from work or for an open writing space.

2. A Guest Bedroom is another practical idea. Fill this room with the same type of furniture found in other bedrooms, all in neutral colors and designs to fit any age or personality. To offer the most comfortable stay possible, opt to provide a bowl of mints, a pile of fresh towels or a stack of magazines. Right before guests arrive, clean the room from top to bottom for a fresh appearance each time.

3. A Library is the perfect option for a quiet escape into a peaceful atmosphere. If reading is one of your favorite activities, why let your beloved manuscripts collect dust in boxes? Add wall-to-wall bookshelves filled with your favorite novels, poetry or short stories. Include the most comfortable chairs or couches for the coziest read you’ll ever experience. If writing is your thing, provide a table with paper, a typewriter or a computer. With your favorite books surrounding you, finding motivation will never be a problem.

4. A Game Room offers optimal entertaining space. Did you always want an old-fashioned Pac Man machine but could never figure out where to put it? Placing these gaudy items in a spare room will keep them away from everyday view and create the perfect atmosphere for fun time! Hang up pictures of your favorite athletes or the logos of your favorite teams. Add shelves for board games or supplies for pool/ping pong tables. The fun space you always dreamed for is now possible.

5. A Media Room is ideal for those who continually keep up with the latest technologies that become available. Turn this space into an electronic lover’s dream with an enormous flat-screen TV, a surround sound system, a high-impact stereo or a massive videogame arena. Don’t worry about chords visibly extending through other rooms or loud sounds inconveniencing others. Load it all into one room for the best movie or videogame experience of your life.

6. A Social Room is an option for those of you who love to hang out with friends and catch up on each other’s lives. For a mature atmosphere, create a wine cellar. Wine cellars no longer need to be hidden away in basements. Design with French décor, add wine shelves along the walls and place chic furniture to relax in. If wine isn’t your thing, build a bar inside the room with electric hookups and bar stools. Add a TV to watch sports games or include a refrigerator for snacks and drink options that everyone will enjoy.

7. A Fitness Room is a modern approach now that most weight-lifting equipment and workout machines are available to purchase. Why waste time joining a gym when you can create one in your own home? Set up your favorite machines, such as a treadmill or an elliptical, and maintain an open area. Add a stereo system, a TV or a stack of magazines to keep you entertained while you burn calories. Decorate with photos of your favorite athletes or with pictures of summer beaches. These will motivate you to keep at it!

8. A Pet Room is ideal for someone trying to sell a home or for someone who wants to keep a new home in top-notch shape. A pet room keeps your furry friends away from expensive furniture, but it also offers them room to roam! Allow caged animals to wander freely in an enclosed area or just place your dog or cat in the room when guests with allergies come over. Fill the room with pet toys, pet beds and pet litter. By keeping this clutter refined to one area, you won’t feel guilty for letting your pet take over a room.

9. A Toy Room creates a separate space for kids who come over. Instead of constantly tripping over toys around the house, enclose these youngster adventures to one room. A child will love to have his or her own space to scatter toys around freely. Decorate in bold colors or with a theme, such as clowns, dolls or ninjas!

10. If you enjoy scrapbooking on a regular basis, fill a Hobby Room with ribbons, glitter, poster board, cutouts, photos, you name it! Don’t worry about making a mess when you put aside a space just for that. Is keeping up with old acquaintances your favorite pastime? Scatter photos around the room and create a comfortable setting for writing letters or talking on the phone. Do you enjoy constructing ships in a bottle, architectural ideas or interior design projects? Fill the room with the supplies and space you need.

11. A Meditation Room is a supreme idea for someone who carries an abundance of stress with him or her on a daily basis. Sometimes you just need to let loose and forget about everything, but perhaps you don’t know how. Create a serene, peaceful atmosphere filled with soft aromas, candles, fruit, wine, chocolate or anything that helps you relax. Whether it’s playing a CD with ocean sounds or just lounging on a pile of plush pillows, create the perfect atmosphere to become stress-free.

12. A You Room is for those who can’t decide which idea suits them most. Perhaps you enjoy socializing, reading and working out. You can create a combo room with a roll-up yoga mat, a stereo for fitness and pleasure, a sitting area and a shelf of books! You can also use this room to display your proudest accomplishments. Decorate shelves with bowling trophies, hang published paintings or display jewelry that you made from scratch. If you just want a “feel good” room to relax in whenever your spirits need a rising, fill the space with photo albums, objects collected from nature or photographs of your favorite city.


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Children love them and so do people with secrets, those dark, mysterious places. Collectors can’t live without them and clutter busters distrust them with their propensity for overstuffing and overcrowding. We’re talking about closets: walk-in, reach-in, corner and attic closets, wine closets, pantry closets, linen and theatre closets. Just about anyone involved in home organization acknowledges the importance of closets, best exemplified by such interior-design specialists as Ikea.


“The key to living in a small space is to include smart storage solutions,” explains Jen Knight, communications manager at Ikea Coquitlam. “The goal should be to create an area that is visually clutter-free, but makes items easily accessible.” On one of its websites Ikea shows how to build a walk-in closet in a small bedroom using its PAX wardrobe system to “divide your room and double your storage in one afternoon.” The company has recently launched the first pieces in its new ALGOT line, designed primarily for hallway storage but also for walk-in closets, laundry rooms or garages, with wire frames, baskets and other articles to create functional wall-mounted combinations.


Vancouver interior designer Alyssa Myshok, with BlueFish Studio, faced a major challenge when revamping a 1908, 1,000-square-foot bungalow with not one closet. “Function is so critical to anything and storage is one of the most important ingredients in interior design,” she says. To rectify matters she designed a built-in wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling custom millwork storage unit, incorporating a television set, drawers, hanging space, and off-season storage close to the ceiling.

Organization takes commitment and energy, she says. “Accept that it is going to take some energy to figure it out and do it properly. And one of the most important things when designing storage is knowing your stuff, the quantity of seasonal items that can be tucked in upper storage, lineal feet of long hanging vs. half-height hanging, and will you be storing shoes in boxes or bags? Can belts be curled in a drawer or must they be hung? Deep drawers are not necessarily better; for smaller items it’s more efficient to have shallower drawers where items can be neatly arranged.”

There’s no shortage of websites dedicated to closets and the matter of effectively storing and stowing away clothing and supplies, unique and wonderful ways to capture space, including Martha Stewart’s clutter-crisis solutions or, as someone put it: “Tools to free a strangled household from the clutter monster.” Home Depot’s closet section features a number of Martha products, most notably handy closet-organization systems. On site ( find steps to design your own closet with instructions on how to measure. Pick your colours, add accessories such as belt and tie racks, hampers, check the kits required (shelves, drawers, vertical panels) then have the package shipped or pick it up. All priced and ready to go.


Looking for something that’s exclusive, a more high-tech storage environment for the pampered? California designer Lisa Adams refers to her unique closets as “the ultimate fashion accessory,” or “stylish but welcoming and functional living spaces where people want to socialize, wardrobes you can live in; a sanctuary from the chaos of modern life.” Her LA Closet Design’s sanctuaries incorporate coffee-maker stations, mini fridges, integrated laundry centres, pullout packing tables, television islands and crystal chandeliers. One especially creative design features a flat-screen television on one of the closet’s sliding doors.


Space-compromised condo owners have been known to pluck space from under the stairs, one family ingeniously using the area for a sophisticated sound system; another turned the reclaimed space behind shallow kitchen cupboards under the stairs into a wine cellar, pantry and recycle area. Sloped ceilings presented a slight challenge, but the extra storage thus gained was well worth it.

Among the most diverse websites we encountered,, outlines how to build a hammock in a closet “for those who need a place to relax that is small and private.” Or how to construct a false back in a closet, a bed above a walk-in closet or a closet in an attic with no headroom.

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We all want a living space that we're proud to show off. But in many cases, home furnishings can leave a sizable footprint on the planet. To give you a few low-impact ideas for your eco pad, Earth911 rounded up the coolest, craziest and most innovative design solutions that came across our desks last year. Browse our treasure trove of eye candy, and snag some ideas for cutting waste without sacrificing style.

1. Recycled Glass Countertops

Founded by Flint, Mich. native Tim Whaley,Glass Recycled specializes in gorgeous designs made from glass that was once destined for the landfill. 

“The art of traditional terrazzo is difficult, costly and not very friendly to the environment,” the company said on its Website. “But with our techniques, we’re ‘upcycling’ glass that’s headed to landfills. In other words, we’re turning ‘trash glass’ into useful products.” 

The Dallas-based company mixes crushed post-consumer and industrial glass with epoxy resin to form stunning terrazzo designs for countertops, flooring and landscaping. 

Head to Glass Recycled for price lists, color choices and specifications. To peep more photos, check out the full story on Glass Recycled here at Earth911.

2. NewspaperWood Cabinet

Vij5, a Dutch design label founded by young entrepreneurs Arjan van Raadshooven and Anieke Branderhorst, have been making headlines for an innovative line of furniture and home decor items made from recycled newspaper. 
The material – appropriately dubbedNewspaperWood by designer Mieke Meijer – is made up of stacks of compressed newspaper that are formed into logs, which can be cut, milled, sanded and generally treated like any other type of wood. 

This unique cabinet from designer Breg Hanssen emphasizes the indeterminable but distinct color of the NewspaperWood material by using contrasting hues. Within the rigid frame, newspaper planks act like real wood. 

To see more creative NewspaperWood designs, check out the full story.

3. Upcycled Pendant Lamps

These chic and modern pendant lights from South Florida artist Valenino Llegada feature eye-catching textures and color variations. But perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Llegada’s lamps is what they're made from - recycled fire extinguishers. 

To create his designs, the artist recovers empty fire extinguishers discarded as scrap metal. Cut in half, the canisters yield two types of hanging fixtures – flat-topped and domed. 

The lovely lamps, which vary from shiny chrome finishes to brilliant colors, are priced starting at $70 on Llegada’s website

For an even closer look, head to the full story.

4. Flooring Made from Vintage Leather Belts

Looking to add a touch of vintage to your home? Skip the pricey antique shops and opt for some fab flooring that your friends will have to see to believe. 

TING London, a U.K.-based upcycling manufacturer that also makes eclectichandbags and furniture from old seat belts, is selling bespoke flooring made from 100 percent recycled leather belts for an old-school-meets-new-school look that's sure to spice up any home. 

The best part about these chic leather tiles? When you're finished with them, just give TING a call, and they'll recycle them for you! 

The manufacturer will recycle belts from your flooring to make new tiles or even create another product for your home. Contact the company for pricing and delivery details, and scroll through to the next slide for an even closer look.

Belts are carefully hand-selected from local sources, according to the company - which has an assembly team in London for European distribution and in Los Angeles for sales in the states. Each tile is designed in-house, ensuring no two are exactly alike. 

Available by the square foot, the tiles are also suitable for table and bar tops, walls and feature areas, as well as floors. 

For more photos and information, check out the full story.

5. Golden Gate Coffee Table

One Sunday afternoon in 1994, San Francisco native Richard Bulan saw a news story on a local television station about the fate of a pile of steel removed from the Golden Gate Bridge during a pedestrian handrail replacement a year earlier. 

After securing a 12-foot section of the famous steel to make a headboard and a few other items for himself, the designer realized he may have a hit on his hands and the Golden Gate Bridge Furniture Co. was born. 

Now based in Pacifica, Calif., just south of San Francisco, the company offers limited-edition, one-of-a-kind furniture designs made from the historic handrail. 

Each design, including this modern coffee table, is hand-crafted by a Bay Area artisan from genuine Golden Gate Bridge steel. 

Head to the full story to catch a glimpse of the whole collection.

6. Alternative Tiger Rug

This may look like a tiger rug at first glance, but take a closer look and you'll notice the grain of the unique pelt is made from something even more curious - cigarettes. 

Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing has been fascinated by the tobacco industry for more than 10 years. Bing, who was born in the Zhejiang province in 1955, first began adding cigarette pieces to his Tobacco Project series in 2000. 

This awe-inpsiring "tiger skin" rug, now on display at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Conn., is made from 500,000 cigarettes and weighs in at about 440 pounds. Talk about head-scratching reuse! 

For an even closer look at Bing's rug installations, along with more innovative pieces from his collection, check out the full story.

7. Shipping Crate Flooring

With the popularity of hardwood floors on the rise, Viridian Wood wants to offer consumers products that are more environmentally responsible than traditional hardwood flooring made of virgin lumber. 

The Portland-based company makes flooring, decking, counters and other architectural products using wood reclaimed from shipping crates, pallets and scrap lumber, discarded at local docks. 

Contact the company for pricing and specification details. To check out even more stunning photos of these unique floors, head to the full story.

8. Milk Jug Adirondak Chairs

Lounge-worthy and always chic, the trendy Adirondack chair is a common sight at posh ski resorts and swanky wine country destinations. 

Bring a touch of luxe living to your own backyard - without leaving a heavy footprint on the planet - with a pair of eco-friendly Adirondacks from Minnesota-based furniture maker Loll Designs. 

In addition to being seriously stylish, each piece of Loll Designs furniture is made from 100 percent recycled milk jugs. 

Looking for more ways to add some eco-friendly style your outdoor living space?Check out our slideshow featuring loads of recycled backyard decor that you just have to see.

9. NYC Walk Sign Lights

If you've been missing the classic "Walk, Don't Walk" signs of old-school New York City, you're in luck. You can now own one of the iconic signs and use it to light your home. 

UK-based lamp manufacturer Felix Lighting Specialists saw potential in the discarded signs - which first hit the streets of NYC in 1952 and were phased out in favor of newer LED models - and transformed them into hip household lighting

The original signs have been fitted with new circuitry, allowing the "Walk" and "Don't Walk" portions of the sign to illuminate at timed intervals. Irony of ironies, these Big Apple artifacts are fitted with U.K. plugs. So, plan on purchasing an adapter for use in the states. 

For more information, check out the full story.

10. Wine Barrel Ice Chest

This one-of-a-kind cooler from Oak Barrel Company keeps beverages cold while keeping reusable wine barrels out of the landfill. 

Each ice box is made from a reinforced, lined oak barrel that is both water tight and durable. 

The cooler boasts a hinge-supported lid for convenient access to beverages and features a drain spout so you can easily empty the barrel of water. 

To see even more cool reuses for recycled wine barrels, check out the full storyfeaturing wine barrel decor you're sure to love.

11. Bamboo Loungers

Antoine Fritsch and Vivien Durisotti, the creative minds behind the innovative design agency Fritsch-Durisotti, were always inspired by natural materials. 

Last summer, the Parisian design duo unveiled their most recent collection, "Natural fiber by Fritsch-Durisotti," at theSuperstudio Più furniture trade fair in Milan. 

Made from organic fibers, the quirky pieces marry design, art and function and prove that nature is truly the best medium. 

As part of the BEE collection, created in partnership with the designers at TurriniBY, these stylish chaise loungers feature clean lines of natural bamboo and rattan for a unique look. 

To see the whole collection, head to the full story here at Earth911.

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The new year brings many things: resolutions, transitions, new beginnings, and of course, new trends. Here are ten top interior designers' predictions on what will be hot in the new year. These trends include saving money by purchasing antique furniture, "sophisticated man caves," complete with media rooms, wine rooms, and teriyaki grill islands, and elegant, graceful fabrics. Read more about what's in store for 2013!


"I'm crushing on brass! I love how it revs up any space. It's timeless and affordable. What's not to like?" —Melissa Rufty

Elegant, Graceful Design

"Enough with the plain. I think people want pretty, and I predict a surge in demand for classic fabrics like Colefax and Fowler's Bowood." — Leta Austin Foster

Homey Kitchens

"We're moving toward a more organic modernism with warm, modern materials that look vintage: slate, irregular floors, weathered concrete, natural crackle-glazed tiles that look handmade. Less slick kitchens!" — Peter Dunham

Computer-Generated Fabrics

"On runways, fashion designers have been showing computer-generated photorealist fabrics. Believe me, we'll soon be seeing those kinds of fabrics in living rooms." — Tom Scheerer


"Gloss! High gloss! Shine! Polish! Lacquer!" — Jeffrey Bilhuber

James Mont Furniture

I'm wild for everything James Mont. Designers know about him, but this may be the year that everyone else gets to know his over-the-top, theatrical furniture." — Meg Braff

Emphasis on Art

"Everyone will be focusing on art — it's so much more approachable these days, with art fairs popping up everywhere." — Sara Story

Bright Paint Colors

"Photoshop, HDTV, and hi-res computer screens have dialed up our sense of vision. Our rooms will be full of brighter, more saturated hues. I just used Life Savers candy colors on a project and plan on using them more." — Stephen Shubel

Sophisticated Man Caves

"Husbands who work at home are getting more involved in the decor, so we're going to see more upscale man caves, media rooms full of gadgets, outrageous wine rooms, wood-burning pizza ovens, and islands dedicated to teriyaki grills. Right now I'm working on an indoor golf simulator." — Paul Sherrill

Antique Furniture

"I hope people start looking at period furniture again — beautiful old pieces to mix with modern ones. Why pay $12,000 for a new chest of drawers when you can buy a gorgeous handmade faded mahogany thing at auction for $1,200?" — Bunny Williams

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When it comes to condos, staying on the cutting edge of style and decor is key. The general perception of what’s hot and what’s not can change daily, so choosing trendy yet timeless decorating styles and furniture pieces is the true challenge for the condo dweller. Always keep resale value in mind when you paint or make upgrades. Chances are, you won’t live in this condo forever and when you do sell, you want the place to be attractive to a wide demographic – rather than simply to those who share the same tastes you do.


What’s Hot:   

Clutter-Free Living

The choice to live in a condo generally means one must commit to living clutter-free. Although most condos have a storage locker and at least one closet, the space for storage is quite limited compared to that of other types of homes. That’s why it’s so important to adopt a Zen-like approach to clutter and possessions. If you don’t need it, sell it, give it to charity or throw it out. If you don’t know where you’ll put it, don’t buy it. Life is much easier without too much stuff, and condos are much more attractive when they aren’t packed with useless possessions. 

Flowing Decor

When decorating a condo, choose a theme and stick with it. Condos and condo townhouses are generally open-concept and fairly small, and introducing too many colour schemes will overpower the space. When painting, choose a colour that you can repeat–for example, paint your bedroom the same colour as your washroom to give the impression of an ensuite and then chose a lighter or darker version of the shade for the living area and kitchen.

Dramatic Wood Finishes

It’s tempting to go with deep, dark paint colours when seeking to add drama to your condo decor, but particularly in a small space, this is not a great idea. Instead, stain the floors a dark oak or cherrywood finish. Cupboards can be outfitted with dramatic finish as well and furniture in rich distressed black stain is another attractive way to add depth to your decorating.

Streamlined Storage

Maximize closet space by building shelves and installing closet organizers. Make every square foot count–even under the bed! Buy thin plastic storage boxes which slide easily into small spaces and use them to store seasonal clothing, wrapping paper, gift bags and more. Invest in drawer organizers and cupboard shelves, too.


What’s Not: 

Garish Paint Colours

Lime green may be your favourite colour–and very in to boot–but that doesn’t mean lime is a wise paint colour choice. If you love it, don’t shy away completely, but don’t make it the main focus of your space, either, as rich colours tend to dominate. Instead, choose boldly-coloured accessories such as blankets, throws, candles and vases. If you simply must paint in a dramatic shade, choose a single wall to adorn with shocking colour. 

Fading Floors

Even if you didn’t upgrade your floors, it’s important to keep them in great condition. Laminate floors should not be washed with water, because it can leak through cracks and cause bubbling. Instead, sweep well and spot clean with a damp cloth. If you have hardwood, keep it in mint condition by cleaning and waxing regularly. If you plan to sell, a floor sand and refinish may be a good investment. 

Too Much Bulk

You may not plan to live in a condo forever, and thus would rather invest in furniture that will make the transition from condo to house with ease – but big, bulky, house-size furniture just doesn’t compute in a small condo. Choose your stuff wisely, and don’t break the bank on condo furniture. There are bargains to be had, especially on small, streamlined stuff.


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Is condo insurance something you can afford to pass up ? Below are the different things that can be covered by condo insurance and why you would be glad to be coved!

Condo Insurance coverage - Liability coverage 

Before we even begin dissecting what a Condo Association master policy may or may not cover let me first make the point that you will always need a condo insurance policy to provide you personal liability coverage. There are three main points of coverage in a condo policy: dwelling (covers the inner structure of your condo unit), personal property and personal liability. Sometimes a Condo Association Master Insurance policy will provide dwelling coverage. Personal property and personal liability, however, can only be covered under a personal condo insurance policy.

Personal Liability is financial protection for actions by you that might harm another. For example, let's say you have a party in your home and a friend of a friend (we assume a friend would never sue) trips over your coffee table and tumbles down the stairs. A few days later you receive a letter from his attorney stating he wants to sue and is asking for $100,000 to cover his injuries. If you have a condo insurance policy with at least $100,000 in personal liability coverage you are financially protected. However, without a condo policy you are on your own and will continue to be at risk and vulnerable when ever someone walks into your condo. 

Condo Insurance Coverage - Personal Property

Personal property covers all your personal items. A washer and dryer, clothes, computers, television and your beloved Wii would all be covered under personal property insurance under a condo insurance policy. Other things like jewelry and money is also covered, but with limited coverage amounts for each. When I get people to actually think about it most are amazed how much personal property they have and what it would cost to replace it. On average, most people carry $25,000 to $50,000 of personal property coverage, however, everyone's situation is different and it's recommended to do an assessment of your personal property to determine a level of coverage. 

Condo Insurance Coverage - Dwelling 

A Condo Insurance policy also provides coverage for damage to your condo from covered perils such as a fire. So let's say you had a terrible kitchen fire and your cabinets and appliances were completely destroyed. If you had dwelling coverage on your condo policy then this coverage would pay to restore your kitchen- assuming you carried enough coverage. Determining the right level of dwelling coverage depends on several factors. For a rough estimate of how much dwelling coverage you need estimate anywhere between $100 and $300 a square foot. The amount per square foot depends on where you live and the cost of construction. In Massachusetts, I usually use $200 per square foot for average and $250 per square foot if the condo has a custom kitchen or other above average amenities. I like to play it safe so I over estimate when it comes to condo insurance. The premiums are relatively lower compared to home insurance so it's financially feasible to be safer than sorry. 

Isn't My Condo Covered Under The Condo Associations Master Policy? 

Maybe. And even it does no condo association master insurance policy covers your personal property, or personal liability risk within your condo.

A Condo Association Master policy purpose is to provide liability and building coverage for the general structure of the condominium complex and its surrounding property. If someone were to get injured in a common area or maybe out in the back lawn of the property, the Condo Association Master insurance policy would cover any resulting liability claims or damage to the building. 

Is It An 'All Inclusive' Master Policy? 

Recently Condo Associations have been buying policies that are 'All Inclusive.' What this means is that the policy considers the building along with the individual condominiums within it as one. Therefore, an 'All Inclusive' master policy will cover damage to your condo from an insured peril such as a fire. If the policy does not have this type of coverage then it is up to you the condo owner to add dwelling coverage to your policy. However, it's still important to have some level of dwelling coverage especially if you've made some improvements to the condo that might increase its value beyond the average condo in the complex might have (ie: custom kitchen). Furthermore, Condo Associations try to determine the proper coverage for the building, but if they happen to fall short of the actual cost to replace the entire building including your condo, it's a nice safety net to have that additional $50,000 or so dwelling coverage on your own condo insurance policy. 

It's important to remember that even if your Condo Associations master insurance policy covers your condo for fire and other covered losses it still does not protect your personal property or provide personal liability. You will be taking a huge financial risk if you don't have condo insurance.

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Insurance and condo corp vs condo unit owner

The condominium corporation owns the building. If there is a claim then everything should be covered, right? So why should I buy condo insurance for my unit?

You need to understand that the condominium corporation insurance policy will not be buying you new clothing nor will they provide you with temporary accommodation. Your insurance policy will do this. The costs to replace your improvements and betterment can also be included in the claim. The other important consideration is your world wide personal liability for injury to property or persons that is part of your unit owner insurance.

A condominium unit owner has his/her individual unit from the inside walls or in a strata property the individual lot. The condominium corporation has the common property - everything else including sidewalks, lobby, stairwells, hallways and could include portions of the floors and walls which are part of the overall building structure. 

The condominium corporation also is required to maintain insurance for the common property but also the basic structure including the original flooring, wallpaper, and plumbing. This makes it very important when you are buying a pre-owned unit to know what is original and what is an improvement or betterment.


Water damage claim

So what can happen in a claim when there is water damage? There have been two recent decisions in the B.C. Supreme Court, Strata Plan KA 1019 v. Keiran 2007 and Mari v. Strata Plan LMS 2835 2007.

If the water damage is to common property and to an original fixture such as the flooring then the corporation's property policy covers the claim. However, the owner of that unit may be held responsible for the damage that caused the claim and so will be assessed the deductible. A deductible for a corporation can be $10,000 or $25,000. If this is the case then you do have a consideration within a condominium unit owner policy to pay for assessments such as the deductible.

The ruling in the case of Mari and Kieran is that even when the property damage is caused not by the fault or negligence of an individual unit owner but simply due to defective plumbing or a malfunctioning appliance, that the condominium unit owner may still be held responsible for the damage. The condominium unit owner will be required to reimburse the condominium corporation for the deductible portion of the insurance claim.

Do you have deep enough pockets to pay the costs if you accidentally start the fire that burns down the condo building?


Insurance help 

Condominium unit owner's policies are usually quite inexpensive. If you have an auto policy there could be an additional discount so it is even cheaper! Unfortunately thieves can and do get into condo buildings so you can still come home to find your home ransacked and everything gone. You can accidentally leave that tap on and have the floors warped and needing replacement due to the water damage. 

Take control of your insurance. Find out what is available and what is the cost. Then make your decision with the knowledge that you have weighed your risk.


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From newly emerging gadgets that make energy savings a snap to revolutionary heating systems that can drastically reduce your home's fossil-fuel footprint, there are tons of eco-options on the market to fit any budget and way of life. 

Whether you rent or own, it's important to know that all home upgrades are not created equal, and saving your pennies for the right project could make for a much happier planet. 

We asked some sustainability specialists to sift through some of the green ideas populating cyberspace, and pick out the ones that pack the biggest environmental punch for the lowest bottom line, in three price ranges. 

Under $1,000 

Going green is very similar to reforming your finances: The first step is to take stock of what resources you have coming in, and how much is being wasted. 

Climate-change science suggests time is of the essence, and there's no reason to wait to figure out how you could start saving on energy bills. Simi Heer, a spokeswoman for B.C. Hydro's Power Smart program, says installing a programmable thermostat or using an energy-monitoring device are two of the best, cheapest ways to conserve. 

The latter ($25 to $40 in hardware and department stores) allows you to conduct a full energy audit of all the appliances in your home. 

Once that's done, you can hire an electrician to install on-off switches that control multiple circuits, allowing you to eliminate "phantom loads" -- the energy pulled by appliances that are plugged in even when turned off. 

Over the next couple of years, also look for the introduction of home area networks (HANs), which will eventually be able to connect automated energy-saving systems to smart meters, as an alternative to those on-off switches. 

Getting a complete energy audit done by a professional (usually about $150) produces a broader summary of customized, affordable potential green improvements for homeowners, and can be booked for free under some government rebate programs. 

$1,000 to $10,000 

Single-pane windows, and those with heat-leaking metal frames, contribute greatly to heat loss. According to B.C. Hydro, windows can account for as much as 30 per cent of a home's heat loss. 

While energy-efficient windows are now standard in Canada, there is a huge range of quality. 

Fixing drafts around doors and windows can reduce heat loss by 10 to 15 per cent.

$10,000 plus

One of the most effective and increasingly popular ways to help cut back on fuel consumption is to install a heat pump.

Unlike other heating systems, which turn fuel or electricity into heat, a heat pump moves heat from one place to another, in the same way as an air conditioner. A new heat pump can cost between $25,000 and $30,000.



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7 Home Office Organization Strategies

By Lydia Millet | Thursday May 19, 2011

Keep your home office organized with a few accessories

Your home office should offer comfort and inspire creativity while you churn out your best work and now that you’ve done your taxes, you’ve probably realized that the laptop propped on the dining room table just doesn’t cut it.

Check out these seven easy tips for creating an effective work zone at home.

1. Suss out your space

If you’re lucky enough to have a whole room for your office, give it a look that makes it feel separate from the rest of the house, yet still cozy. Choose warm neutrals for the walls and use touches such as photos, artwork and other personal objects to add colour and style. If you don’t have a separate room, cordon off a corner, closet or open wall space with a divider or curtain. If you’re living in a small apartment check out bookshelf/desk combos and “office in a box” solutions that allow you to pack your workspace away when you’re not using it.

2. Decide on a desk

Think about your space and the look you’re going for. Want an ultramodern office? Glass surfaces go great with high-tech gadgets and are relatively easy to clean. Or, for a more traditional look, splurge on a heavy wood desk. Watch the size, though: if you have only have a corner, a compact foldaway model may meet your needs. If you have a separate room, you can go for more surface area.

3. Choose a chair

It really comes down to how much time you spend sitting. If it’s just now and then, a funky dining room chair makes a decent – and stylish – work seat. If it’s more often, you’ll want a basic swivel chair at the very least. Cushioning, armrests and ergonomic design will ratchet up the price, but make you much more comfortable. Leather chairs attract heat and can be sticky in the summer, so if you don’t have air conditioning, you might want to look into a chair covered in a synthetic material such as faux suede.

4. Choose the best lighting

Better lighting makes for better productivity. Orient your workstation in a manner that makes the most of natural light and install blinds to control glare. For artificial lighting, try full-spectrum bulbs, which emulate daylight, and space your fixtures evenly to diffuse light throughout the room. Use a mixture of lighting sources, such as overhead fixtures, floor lamps and under-shelf pot lights. Then add some style – and spot illumination – with a desk lamp or two.

5. Stick to a filing system

Start as you mean to go on, by creating a system for filing and sticking to it. Invest in a small filing cabinet, or keep your paperwork organized with colour-coded folders. Consider turning paper files into electronic ones using a scanner, or opt to go paper-free with your billing companies. Make the most of vertical space with a wall-mounted shelf that can accommodate magazine folders and colourful boxes. Transfer old paperwork to storage after six years – or shred it, if you’re brave.


6. Unravel your cords

Mount a power bar on a wall or hidden surface to keep cords out of the trip zone. Wire ties are another simple solution for stray cords, and there are tons of cable management gadgets out there, such as retractable cable holders. When you’re buying new electronics, check out wireless options and go cordless where possible.


7. Sort your supplies

Pens, paperweights, envelopes, highlighters, safety pins, sticky notes, staplers, scissors, flash drives, calculators, loose paper, coffee mugs – there always seems to be more clutter in a home office than any other spot in the house.



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Spice up your kitchen

Add one lavish helping of white cabinetry paint, a pinch of sweat equity, a cupful of countertop, a heaping spoon of subway tiles--and observe immediately

By Samantha Pynn, National Post

Some kitchens require a gut job, while others just need a refresh. Gut jobs cost the big bucks, starting from $30, 000 for a small and inexpensive off-the-shelf condo kitchen and topping out at six figures for a custom one.

A gut is necessary if you've purchased an older condo with a kitchen that's falling apart. But for many first-time condo owners, they've made the purchase to stop paying rent and get into the real estate game. If the cost of a condo is $300,000, for many, a kitchen reno that costs 10% of the purchase price just isn't in the budget.

Your choices: Keep on shoppin' until you find a condo with a great kitchen, or live with it. I don't like either of those options. And the thrifty and planet-conscious decorator in me says, why not a kitchen refresh? Depending on how much you want to freshen up, a facelift will still cost you between $3,000 and $12,000. But a couple of gallons of cabinetry paint, a countertop, faucet, sink, backsplash tile, and hardware and hinges can make your kitchen look brand new.

The biggest complaint I hear from condo owners is that the kitchen doesn't jibe with the rest of the space. So, I decided to do a little test to see just how many condo kitchens are the jibing kind. I called Jimmy Vlachos of boutique brokerage Core Realty ( asked him to send me the latest condo listings. Of the 26 condos listed that day, ranging from $293,000 to $354,000, there were only three kitchens that connected to the entire space. The rest were filled with dated and cheap builder materials -- cherry-stained oak cabinets, white and black appliances, heavily speckled granite countertops and honey-stained floors. With an open-concept plan, every spot in your condo is a vantage point to the kitchen. Here is the problem: Those cherry-stained wood cabinets don't reference anything else in the condo, and especially not the floors, busy countertop and appliances to which they are in such close proximity. The good news is these kitchens are easily remedied, starting with paint.

Cabinetry accounts for more than one-third of a total kitchen renovation's cost. If you like the profile of your cabinet doors, painting will save money and a lot of wood from going into a landfill. The trick to making your cabinets look luxe is to remove the doors and bring them to a refinisher. Benjamin Refinishing in Toronto will paint your doors with a smooth long-lasting lacquer finish starting from $25 per door; plus paint. Wood, wood veneer and even laminate takes spray paint well. You can save money by painting the doors yourself, but they must be wood. Plus, you'll need to remove them, fill the holes, clean, sand, and prime for best results.

Don't love your cabinet doors? Many companies offer refacing or cabinet door replacement services. If you have an Ikea kitchen, note that Ikea cabinet boxes for the most part are a standard size, so it's easy to change the doors.

Most people want stainless steel appliances. I've heard designers say that white appliances look cheap, but this is not so. Paint your cabinet doors in soft white, add a marble tile backsplash, and you'll have one dynamite-looking kitchen.

My favourite design solution to appliances that are reading like black holes amid the competing wood tones of your floors and cabinets is to paint the lower cabinets black. This will also unify black appliances and a dark countertop. Next, giving the upper cabinets a coat of white paint will make your space feel lighter, and connect the cabinets to the rest of your condo's white walls.

I should add that if painting your wood cabinets is not an option (it's mostly men who object to painting wood. Sorry boys, but it's true), then approach your space like a prop stylist. Add accessories to your living area in the same colours as your kitchen. An orange pillow for the sofa and wood bowl for the coffee table will connect to the wood cabinets, a black drum table will pick up on the dark granite countertop. These are quick fixes, but a small investment into a few key accessories will connect your kitchen to the rest of the space.

Adding backsplash tile will give your kitchen a finished and upscale look. Of the 26 kitchens on the real estate list, less than half had a backsplash. Glass or marble mini-brick tiles work well with gray, black and white counters and cabinets. Marble adds sophistication, but because you'll be using it in a small application, it won't break the bank. Columns of 3x6-inch or large rectangular porcelain tiles will give your space a contemporary vibe. I love subway tile installed in a brick pattern because it's inexpensive, classic, and works well with natural stone, stainless steel, cement and woods.

A new modern faucet can become a real focal point in the kitchen. And changing the countertop usually means changing the sink. A large under-mounted single bowl sink has a clean and modern look, whereas a double sink works for people who like to keep veggies and dishes or the wash and rinse sides of the sink separate.

When it comes to countertops, there are so many options. Laminate is an inexpensive option that's great for people who are careful with knives and don't do things like put pots directly on the counter, or flambe steak and cherries jubilee. Seriously, as teenagers, my brother and I destroyed my mom's countertop, while the house next door, owned by a single woman, still has its original laminate counter that looks brand new.

Marble, granite, slate and soapstone are gorgeous and start at $65 per square foot, including fabrication and installation. Many natural stones require maintenance, soapstone for example needs to be sealed five to six times. However, look at all the incredible kitchens in southern Europe and you will see how natural stone has stood the test of time. Plus, stone counter slabs can be recycled and salvaged for smaller applications like vanity tops. Here's a money-saving tip: Installing a ¾-inch piece, with a 1¼-inch edge will give the illusion of a thicker slab.

Natural stone is durable and stain-resistant, with the exception of marble. Marble is porous, and if you can survive the heart attack of your first red wine ring or lemon juice stain, then go for it. I had a marble counter installed six years ago, and its beauty was worth the maintenance. And, eventually I surrendered to every scratch and water mark that added to its patina.

An alternative to natural stone is engineered solid surfacing material, more commonly referred to by their manufacturer names. Staron and Corian are non-porous acrylic solid surfaces with a matte finish. Some colours contain between 5% and 30% recycled content. Though you still have to be aware of hot pots, one of the major benefits to an acrylic solid surface is that it has no seams, meaning it can be shaped into one large piece, and scratches and cracks can be repaired. The cost for acrylic solid surfaces starts at $65 per square foot including installation and fabrication.

CaesarStone and HanStone are made from crushed quartz and depending on the colour you choose, some recycled glass and mirror. They're stain-, scratch-, chip-and heat-resistant with a polished finish and starting cost of $100 per square foot including installation and fabrication. Quartz-based countertops are becoming increasingly popular because they're available in colours that aren't available in granite. Another benefit, is that the man-made material is non-porous and doesn't require sealing. HanStone is locally manufactured in London, Ontario.

IceStone is a great eco option that's made from 100% recycled glass and cement. The cost starts at $100 per square foot, including installation and fabrication. My favourite colour is White Pearl, the tiny glass flecks have a glamorous iridescence and sparkle. Manufactured in Brooklyn, N.Y., the company diverts hundreds of tons glass from landfills each year. The company has also won many awards for its environmental and socially responsible initiatives, including Cradle to Cradle gold certification.

Whatever countertop material you choose, avoid any pattern that looks like cat barf. You will recognize it when you see it, and suffice it to say that neither you nor your guests should be reminded of regurgitation at mealtime. A good-looking kitchen will add value to your condo, so make smart choices. I suggest a good balance of classic and contemporary. You want your kitchen to appeal to a wide range of prospective buyers because chances are your kitchen reno will hang around the condo longer than you will.

- Samantha Pynn is host of Pure Design on HGTV, weekdays at 10:30 a.m.

© Copyright (c) National Post

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