Whether you are completely renovating, or simply looking to rejuvenate your space – adding a fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest and most effective ways to transform a room. The right paint colour and finish can liven up a drab bedroom, open up a tiny washroom or add a touch of luxury to doors and wall accents. Ensure you are picking the right paint for your project with these tips:
1. Buy Test Size Quantities of Different Colours. Most paint stores have sample paint sizes available, these are inexpensive and usually have enough paint to cover a large wall area. Using these samples allows you to test different options in your space before you commit to buying a full gallon.
2. Look at Swatches in Natural Light. Take swatches/paint chips to a nearby window. Paint tends to look different under artificial light. If you have ever looked at a swatch in a store and found that the paint looked different on your walls – this is why. Look at swatches near a window to get a better feel for how the colour will look in your home. It is also a good idea to look at swatches against a white surface -this will help you see tonal values clearly.
3. Give Your Favourite Colours a Test Run. Think you narrowed down a few of your favourite options? Buy smaller test sizes and paint swatches on one section of wall in a high-traffic area. After looking at these colours every day for a week or so, you should be able decide on your favourite one. Testing colours this way will help you judge which hue works best in the space and you will be able to see how the paint looks in daylight and at night.
4. Try Customizing! If you are unsatisfied with the colour selection in a store, you can mix extra black or white to darken or lighten your paint. Although this is great way to get a custom colour – this extra step can make it very difficult to match the paint colour in the future if you ever needed to do touch-ups.
5. Pick the Right Finish for Your Space.
Flat – A chalky finish that has a matte sheen. It absorbs light and helps hide surface imperfections. Ideal for high-traffic areas.
Eggshell – A bit more luster than flat paint, eggshell paint is easier to clean.
Semi-gloss – Reflects light, is bright and shiny and great for rooms with a strong light source. Best used in areas that are cleaned frequently such as kitchens, bathrooms, closet doors, and trim. Generally, the shinier the finish is, the more durable and easier to clean it is.
Satin – Offers a warm, pearl-like finish. Excellent at resisting mildew, dirt and stains. Suitable for frequently-used spaces. Great for hallways and children’s rooms.
High-gloss – The higher the sheen (or gloss), the more vivid and rich your colours will appear. It is a great choice for deep, jewel-toned colours such as reds, deep greens, and navy blues. It works great for wood surfaces such as trim, cabinets, and doors. Should be used only on surfaces where blemishes are minimal because they are easier to see.
When selecting a paint finish, keep in mind that shiny surfaces are reflective and can help make a space feel larger – glossier finishes can help visually expand a small kitchen or bathroom. Talk with a paint expert at your local paint store for information, ideas and advice!
Planning for retirement can be a complicated process. Knowing how to ask the right questions can help you to plan and develop clear goals. These 4 important questions are a great place to start in your planning process:
1. What do you want your retirement to look like?
It can be hard to visualize your retirement when it is still many years away. Think critically about your expectations and what your ideal scenario looks like. Many of us get caught up in saving away and building a nest egg, without truly knowing what it is we want to be doing. A little self-understanding today can lead to better planning and fewer surprises in the future. What is your retirement personality?
2. How much do you need to save?
Generally speaking, couples aspiring to an average middle–class retirement will need around $58,000 of pre-tax annual income (including government benefits). This means they will need to save up to $650,000 by the age of 65. Those looking for a more upper–middle–class lifestyle will need about $74,000 of annual income, meaning they need to save about one million dollars before retiring. Everyone’s ‘magic number’ will be different, take into account any major financial burdens such as acquiring a home, supporting children or family members, paying off debts, etc. Knowing a ball-park figure will help you set both long and short-term goals.
3. When should you start taking advantage of benefits?
Decide when to start taking Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits and tapping into the Old Age Security (OAS) benefit. You can start getting CPP as early as the age of 60. It is worth taking the time to research and figure out what age is right for you. There are a number of tax and income factors that could guide you to choose the standard age of 65, or start earlier or later. For OAS, you can begin receiving benefits at the age of 65, or wait until the age of 70. Learn about benefit details and gain insight into when to start your benefits.
4. How will you be putting money away?
Putting money away for retirement might not become a priority until later in life, but the earlier you start the better. Ideally, you will make contributions to your RRSP when you are in a higher tax bracket, and withdrawals when you are in a lower one. Contributing to an RRSP provides tax credits on annual income tax returns. RRSPs are a good choice for most people but might not be the best option for those that expect to stay in a low tax bracket for the duration of their career. Find out if contributing to an RRSP is right for you. An alternative to RRSPs is the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). TFSAs are a great way to pay less tax on your savings. Ensure you are able to take full advantage with these tips.
No matter what your retirement goals are, get informed and make the most of your retirement opportunities.
Will your next financial advisor be a robot? Like virtually everything these days, the way we invest and plan for retirement is evolving due to technology. The tools we have available are more robust than ever before. Computer algorithms are increasingly becoming a staple of holistic financial planning.
Financial planning requires careful balancing of many complex factors. These factors can be overwhelming, meaning that situations often require careful analysis. Algorithms are seen more and more as a way to manage the complexity of financial planning. As well, algorithms have made conflict-free standards of service more attainable, with their unparalleled ability to assess all options in an objective manner.
However, the human element is far from obsolete. Financial planners act as a mediator to protect clients from making decisions that will hurt them in the long term. Experienced financial planners can use financial planning technology to its full potential, with detailed knowledge of its strengths and weaknesses, in combination with knowing when to step in and make changes based on individual client needs.
Thanks to evolving technology, we are also able to control many aspects of financial planning with the aid of apps and online tools, ourselves.
Here are three tools to help you stay on top of your money:
Mint.com Personal Finance – Mint is both an online tool and an app that allows you to connect all of your accounts in one place to keep track of and categorize your spending, bills, check your balances and track your budget. Mint allows you to set up reminders for upcoming payments and receive notifications when your account balance is getting low. Mint takes your information and provides advice on broad strategies to improve your finances. It is free, easy to use and allows you to sync your accounts.
Important: Although the company claims their services are as safe as the banks’ own websites, if fraud were to occur, you would be responsible for any losses – always be mindful and careful.
You Need a Budget (YNAB) – A more hands-on tool than Mint, YNAB is great for those that want to budget meticulously and intentionally. The app needs you to manually import transactions daily, forcing you to be mindful of your spending and saving habits. The app allows you to check your budget and transactions on the go. It costs $50 to purchase, and there is a free one-month trial available. If you do not need all the bells and whistles, a ‘lite’ version is available for free.
Your Bank’s App – Most major banks and credit card/investment companies have apps or online tools available. They are a good place to start and usually allow you to check balances, make transfers, pay bills, check on your investments and provide a variety of useful programs. Many of the apps have tools that help you track your spending and categorize your spending habits .
What is the final take-away? Increasingly, financial planning is expected to provide more value because the freely (and cheaply) available tools are simply better than ever. Whether you want to try a hands-on approach, or want as much expert guidance as you can get; excellent options are available.
Active Listings Increase in May
June 5, 2017 — Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 10,196 sales through TREB’s MLS® System in May 2017 – down by 20.3 per cent compared to 12,790 sales reported in May 2016. Sales of detached homes were down by 26.3 per cent. Sales of condominium apartments were down by 6.4 per cent.
Active listings – the number of properties available for sale at the end of May – were up by 42.9 per cent compared to the lowest level in 15 years recorded in May 2016, but remained below the average and peak during that period. The number increased considerably for low-rise home types including detached and semi-detached houses and townhouses. Active listings for condominium apartments were down compared to May 2016.
“Home buyers definitely benefitted from a better supplied market in May, both in comparison to the same time last year and to the first four months of 2017. However, even with the robust increase in active listings, inventory levels remain low. At the end of May, we had less than two months of inventory. This is why we continued to see very strong annual rates of price growth, albeit lower than the peak growth rates earlier this year,” said Mr. Cerqua.
Selling prices continued to increase strongly in May compared to the same month in 2016. The MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark price was up by 29 per cent year-over-year. The average selling price for all home types combined for the TREB Market Area as a whole was up by 14.9 per cent to $863,910. Year-over-year price increases were greater for condominium apartments compared to low-rise home types. This likely reflects the fact that the low-rise market segments benefitted most from the increase in listings.
“The actual, or normalized, effect of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan remains to be seen. In the past, some housing policy changes have initially led to an overreaction on the part of homeowners and buyers, which later balanced out. On the listings front, the increase in active listings suggests that homeowners, after a protracted delay, are starting to react to the strong price growth we’ve experienced over the past year by listing their home for sale to take advantage of these equity gains,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.
We all have those awkward spaces in our home where nothing seems to fit just right. Whether it is a tiny bedroom, a nook under a slanted ceiling or a narrow hallway – some parts of the home need a little extra planning and creativity. Here are 4 common tricky spaces with solutions to make them practical and beautiful:
Tricky Space #1 – A Room with too Many Windows and Doors: Windows and doors are great, but they can get in the way of decorating plans. Not only is there wall space missing, but furniture placement would need to be considered to ensure no walkways are blocked. In an open-concept space, finding a good spot for a table in a room full of entryways can be difficult. A general rule is that curved shapes fit better into awkward spaces. Do away with the rectangular dining room table and find an oval or circular table instead. Find a wall (even if it is just a small section of wall) and position the table near it. This will help to ensure the table is not blocking anything. If you have a smaller room that has many entryways, windows or a large fireplace/radiator, bring furniture to towards the center of the space. Position a large rug in the center and create symmetry with matching sofas or couches, making sure there is enough space to walk all the way around the furniture.
Tricky Space #2 – A Long, Narrow Hallway: Narrow hallways can be tricky, how do you make use of the area without blocking floor space? The key is to make use of the wall space. Make a narrow hallway bright by painting the walls a fresh, bright colour. Create a “gallery” by using overhead track-lighting or wall mounted lights to illuminate your art and the walkway. If space is an issue, allow the hallway to double as a sleek storage area. Install floating cabinets and shelves: more floor space equals less clutter. Choose pieces that are narrow enough to allow for ample walking room. Remember that in a narrow hallway you need to keep the clutter to a minimum; a small mess can look huge in such a confined space.
Tricky Space # 3 – The Area Behind a Door: It can be awkward when decorating beside a swinging door because you do not want to hit or block anything. In rooms where the door is used regularly, or mostly kept open, it is a good idea to leave the space bare. In an entryway, where the front door is usually closed, make use of the area to provide much needed storage space and add interest to the room. You can include a small console table, a coat-rack and a tall mirror. If your house lacks an entryway this small table and rack will be just what you need to conveniently store and retrieve your keys, wallet, coat, etc.
Tricky Space #4 – Large Open Space with High Ceilings. This kind of space sounds like a dream come true, but it can often be hard to decorate. With so much space to fill, both vertically and horizontally, how can you make the space feel full without cluttering it? Incorporating items with various heights, textures and shapes can help to visually fill the space. Use tall shelves, lamps, and plants to add height and allow the eyes to wander vertically. Large rooms can also handle large furniture – so do not be afraid to get a large dining room table, oversized sofas or a giant rug.
Visualizing design elements in any space can be tricky – make it easier on yourself by looking at the space completely bare. When the space is already set up with furniture and décor, it can be hard to imagine designing the room in any other way. An empty space offers a clean slate and will allow for your imagination to wander! If you feel stuck, go for a walk and come back with fresh eyes or, better yet, invite a décor-savvy friend to offer their opinion. Sometimes listening to other people‘s ideas can help to jumpstart your own creativity.
Done Deals: Two Bids Compete for Spacious, Two-Storey Luxury Condo
1 BALMORAL AVE., No. 807, TORONTO
ASKING PRICE: $1,975,000
SELLING PRICE: $2,150,000
PREVIOUS SELLING PRICE: $1,250,000 (2004); $780,373 (1998)
DAYS ON THE MARKET: Seven
LISTING AGENT: Elli Davis, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.
The Action: Owners at One Balmoral are often slow to relinquish their homes, so the listing of this two-storey, corner suite was a rare opportunity to purchase a unit there this spring. It was assessed by 16 buyers up close and drew two bidders armed with competing offers in late March.
What They Got: Spanning the eight and ninth floors of a nearly 20-year-old mid-rise is this 2,355-square-foot unit with exits to corridors on both levels, and nine- and 12-foot ceilings on the main and second floor, respectively.
A balcony wraps around the southern and eastern sides of main floor, so there are walkouts from every room, from the den to the updated galley kitchen. A two-sided gas fireplace divides living and dining rooms.
Several Juliet balconies bring fresh air into the larger of two bedrooms upstairs, complete with a walk-in closet and one of three remodelled bathrooms.
An ensuite laundry room, three lockers and two-car parking round out the unit. Monthly fees of $1,991 cover utilities, concierge, as well as fitness and recreation rooms.
The Agent’s Take: “The building is well located near Yonge and St. Clair, the subway and shops,” agent Elli Davis notes. “So a lot of people who looked at it lived in the area and were transitioning from a house to a condo.”
Its two-storey set-up and upscale appointments mimic features of many low-rise homes. “It had two full bedrooms, two full bathrooms upstairs on the second level, so it felt like a little house,” Ms. Davis notes. “It showed beautifully and had a fireplace, so that was appealing, too.”
Whether you are decorating your whole home, or simply figuring out which seat cushion works best with your bright blue sofa, knowing simple colour theory can help you decorate like a pro.
Know the Basics. First, familiarize yourself with the colour wheel! The colour wheel is comprised of 12 colours. Primary colors: red, blue and yellow. Secondary colours: orange, purple, and green. Tertiary colours: the six shades that can be made by mixing primary and secondary colours. Unsure of where to start when choosing a colour scheme? Pick one of the colours on the colour wheel and go from there.
Alter Your Colours. When you have chosen a basic colour, you can easily create your own unique shade within the same colour family. For example, if you decided that your main colour will be blue, you can now mix it with a neutral tone to make it lighter or darker. This is called parlance, also known as tint, shade, and tone. Tint: lightening a colour by adding white, shade: darkening a colour by adding black, and tone: darkening a colour by adding gray. A quick visit to your local paint store will show you just how many options you have!
Understand Colour Temperature. Certain tones are warm, while others are cool. Reds, oranges and yellows are often described as warm, whereas blues, purples and most greens are considered cool. Warm colours tend to be vibrant, lively and intimate while cool colours are described as calm and relaxed. Think about each space in your home and what kind of atmosphere you want your room to have. Kitchens typically have warm tones, while bathrooms and bedrooms are kept on the cooler side. Tip: warm colours can make a small space feel claustrophobic while cool colours in a spacious room can leave things feeling stark. Think about whether you want your main colour to be warm or cool.
Choosing a Colour Scheme:
Complementary Colour Scheme. When it comes to decorating, complementary colour schemes are the simplest. This strategy uses two colours that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel. Usually one colour will be the dominant shade, while the other is used as an accent. Think red and green, blue and orange or yellow and purple. As this colour combination has such a high contrast, it is best to use it in small quantities, and in places where you want to draw attention to particular design elements. When using the complementary colour scheme, remember to incorporate neutrals to soften and calm the space.
Split-Complementary Colour Scheme. If the complementary colour scheme is a bit too bold for your taste, this is a safer choice. Split-complementary colours work similarly to complementary colours but instead of choosing the shade directly opposite to your base colour, you are choosing the two shades on either side of that colour. This scheme provides a sense of balance and you get the impact of bold colour without going over-board. Split-complementary works best when one colour is dominant. Try having a muted colour as the dominant shade and the other two as bright bold accents.
Analogous Colour Scheme. This scheme refers to using three colours in a row on the colour wheel. Typically, two primary colours are chosen with the third being a mix of the two. For example, you could choose red, orange and yellow, or red, purple and blue. The key is to use the right proportions; the 60-30-10 rule works great (dominant colour is used in 60% of the space, secondary colour is in 30%, and the accent colour is used in 10%). Choose one colour to be the dominant shade, one to support the dominant, and then the third as a vibrant accent. This type of colour scheme can also be used with neutrals – simply choose black, white and grey instead of brighter shades – this is referred to as a monochromatic scheme.
Are you ready to start choosing colours? There are plenty of resources online to help you get familiarized with the colour wheel and colour schemes. Not sure where to look? Paletton is a free website that allows you to choose a starting colour and play around with different schemes, tones, and tints. If you want a bit of help on the go, there are plenty of color scheme phone apps out there– they are great to have on hand when picking out paint or shopping for accent pieces.
What colours do you have in your home? What is your favourite colour to decorate with? Let me know!
Toronto is a beautiful city – bustling and vibrant, bursting with life, art and culture. There is always something happening! Discover what the city has to offer by checking out these exciting family-friendly festivals and events:
1. Distillery District ArtFest. May 20th -22nd 2017. Distillery District.
Set throughout the cobblestone lanes of the Distillery Historic District, ArtFest is an outdoor art and craft show celebrating painting, photography, sculpture, fine craft and live music – all from local Canadian artists. Event Page
2. Kensington Market Art Fair. May 28th, June 25th. August 27th, September 24th and October 29th 2017. Kensington Market.
The Kensington Market Art Fair (KMAF) is an outdoor art fair that focuses on original two and three-dimensional art. The event features professional and student works and runs from 12-7pm during Pedestrian Sundays. Event Page
3. Waterfront Artisan Market. Every Saturday, from May 20th to October 7th, 11 – 8PM. Waterfront
Toronto’s waterfront comes alive from 11am – 8pm in HTO Park with an open-air market featuring 75 local, up-and-coming artisans, crafters, chefs and bakers. More Information.
4. Liberty Village Art Crawl. June 10th 2017. 11 – 6 PM. Liberty Village.
The 5th Annual Liberty Village Art Crawl runs on Saturday, June 10th from 11am – 6pm in Liberty Village Park. The crawl features 65 artists and delectable food options provided by local food vendors. Liberty Art Crawl
5. Your Neighbourhood Farmer’s Market. Most neighbourhoods in Toronto have a farmer’s market. Markets provide a great opportunity to purchase healthy fresh foods and support local businesses and farms. Many markets have already started their season while some will open on the last week of May. Not sure which market to check out? Here is a list of the Top 24 Farmer’s Markets in Toronto.
6. Riverdale ArtWalk. June 3rd and June 4th, 11am – 6 pm. Jimmie Simpson Park
Riverdale ArtWalk is a free two-day public exhibition showcasing local artists. Located in Jimmie Simpson Park in the Queen East arts district, it is a great place to connect with artists and find unique pieces to bring home. Riverdale Art Walk
7. Doors Open Toronto. May 27th & May 28th. All over the city
An excellent way to explore the hidden parts of our city, Doors Open Toronto is happening on May 27th and May 28th. This year, the event will open up more than 150 of Toronto’s most architecturally, historically and socially significant buildings across the city. The theme is ‘Fifteen Decades of Canadian Architecture’ and the event showcases buildings pre-dating confederation, and from each decade onwards. The event will feature a speaker’s series and special programs throughout the weekend. Check out the full program and list of participating buildings here.
8. CBC Music Festival. May 27th, 1:30 PM. Echo Beach
In its fifth year, the 2017 CBC Music Festival will feature an exclusively Canadian lineup including Serena Ryder and Walk Off The Earth, Tickets are $39.50.
What festivals and events are you looking forward to this season? Let me know!
Are you looking to upgrade your fitness routine? Check out these 5 Upscale Workout Spots in Toronto:
Gym: 55 Avenue Road
Located in the heart of Yorkville, Equinox is 35,000 square feet of high-end fitness apparatus and services. The lavish gym boasts a full-service spa, a designer boutique and four separate fitness studios with many personal trainers available. Chilled eucalyptus towels and gratis high-end bathroom products are offered while enjoying the luxurious shower facilities.
Cost: $171 per month.
Cycling Studio: 70 Dan Leckie Way
Spokehaus offers spin classes with a twist. Classes are choreographed to carefully curated playlists that promise an unparalleled endorphin high. The signature class is 45 minutes of high-intensity cycling that involves weights and body movement. After your full-throttle workout, cool down with some more of those chilled eucalyptus towels and enjoy the shower facilities stocked with high end apothecary products. The studio boasts a chic retail space and juice bar as well.
Cost: $25 per class (plus tax). First timers get three for the price of one; two classes for you and one for a friend. 20 Classes for $390. Spin shoe rental included in price.
Fitness Studio: 2481 Yonge Street
Fitness classes centred around surfing first took off in the United States after the idea was presented on Shark Tank. Now there are four locations in Canada, with one Toronto studio conveniently located near Yonge and Eglinton. An unconventional workout, these classes are done entirely on a surf board balanced on three stability balls. Surfset Toronto offers four classes: Balance: a yoga-inspired workout; Burn: a cardio class; Build: to work your muscles and Blend: a mixture of all three workouts. The small-scale studio can hold a maximum of 12 people which is perfect for those opting for a more personalized workout.
Cost: $22 per class, ten classes for $180.
4. Crossfit YKV
CrossFit Gym: 175 Avenue Road
A more recent addition to the Yorkville fitness scene, Crossfit YKV is aimed at fitness buffs who love CrossFit and want a luxurious environment to train in. The space is a 6,000 square foot open concept space that includes a two-storey workout room, which is surrounded by full length windows and filled with state-of-the-art equipment. The gym includes a cardio suite, physiotherapy treatment rooms and retail space. It is the perfect place for those looking to train for CrossFit competitions.
Cost: $30 per class (plus tax). 10 pack of classes $275, monthly unlimited classes range from $199 to $280 per month.
5. Pure Barre
Barre Studio: 737 Queen Street West
Pure Barre is the biggest barre chain in North America and their first Canadian studio is set up on Queen Street West. The barre workout is geared towards those that want to tone their bodies. This technique involves movements used in ballet and the easy-to-master moves strategically exhaust every muscle.
Cost: First-timers can enjoy a month of unlimited classes for $99, after that each month is $199. Drop-in classes are $21.
What is your favourite fitness spot in the city?
Strong Growth in New Listings in April
May 3, 2017 — Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® entered 33.6 per cent more new listings into TREB’s MLS® System in April 2017, at 21,630, compared to the same month in 2016. New listings were up by double-digits for all low-rise home types, including detached and semi-detached houses and townhouses. New listings for condominium apartments were at the same level as last year.
Total sales for the TREB market area as a whole amounted to 11,630 – down 3.2 per cent year-over-year. One issue underlying this decline was the fact that Easter fell in April in 2017 versus March in 2016, which resulted in fewer working days this year compared to last and, historically, most sales are entered into TREB’s MLS® System on working days.
“The fact that we experienced extremely strong growth in new listings in April means that buyers benefitted from considerably more choice in the marketplace. It is too early to tell whether the increase in new listings was simply due to households reacting to the strong double-digit price growth reported over the past year or if some of the increase was also a reaction to the Ontario government’s recently announced Fair Housing Plan,” said Mr. Cerqua. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark Price was up by 31.7 per cent year-over- year in April 2017. Similarly, the average selling price for all home types combined was up by 24.5 per cent to $920,791.
“It was encouraging to see a very strong year-over-year increase in new listings. If new listings growth continues to outpace sales growth moving forward, we will start to see more balanced market conditions. It will likely take a number of months to unwind the substantial pent-up demand that has built over the past two years. Expect annual rates of price growth to remain well-above the rate of inflation as we move through the spring and summer months,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.