ALL DECKED OUT



5 Things to Consider Before Building an Outdoor Deck


Summer is just around the corner and soon enough our dreams of spending our spare time lounging outside will become a reality. Outdoor decks are truly the best way to bring your living space outdoors and are the perfect addition to any home, big or small. Although it may not seem like it, a lot of planning goes into building a deck. Here are a few things to consider before you start your project.

Look Into Laws and Regulations

Before you start the project, look into the building codes and regulations in your local community in order to get an idea of whether or not you need to get a permit for your deck. Every locality has slightly different rules but according to the Toronto Star, if your deck is around 10×10 and over 2 feet above the ground it is sitting on then a permit is generally required. Not only do you want to ensure that your new deck is safe for you and your family, but a permit is necessary if you are looking to sell your home in the future as an inspector will be able to tell whether or not you have one.

Determine Its Purpose

Before you start on the construction of your outdoor deck, attempt to determine the purpose of it. Is it to entertain? To relax? To garden? To surround your pool/hot tub? By considering all of these options and narrowing it down, you will have a better idea of what materials you should use, where the deck should be placed, as well as the size and shape of the deck.


Decide on Materials

Although many people tend to stick to the traditional material of wood, there are so many other options out there for every budget and style. Be sure to first consider your budget and purpose for your deck, and then with that, decide what material you want to use.

If you are interested in sticking with wood, the most common four types of wood include Ipe, Mahogany, Redwood and Western Red Cedar.

Ipe is not only beautiful, but it is pretty much both weather and bug resistant, meaning that it will need minimal maintenance and upkeep.

Similarly to Ipe, Mahogany is sourced from the rainforests and is a solid option as it will not succumb to harsh weather and rot, and it will also not attract bugs.

Redwood is a relatively soft form of wood compared to the previous two mentioned and can change in colour to gray or black over time and with the exposure of rain. Despite its change in colour, it is another good option for decks as it does not rot.

Finally, Western Red Cedar, a softer type of wood that changes colour over time from a reddy colour to a grey colour. It holds up very well to any type of weather, hot or cold, wet or dry.

If you are looking to do something a little different and want to avoid wood, other popular materials include composite materials (a lot are made to look like wood) or deck tiles.


Location, Location, Location

The purpose of your deck has a lot to do with its location. If you are wanting to use it for gardening or sun tanning, maximum sunlight is important, so attempt to build your deck in a spot that will allow that. If you are lucky enough to have a scenic view, take advantage of it and build your deck in a location that will allow you to take it all in.

Many people tend to build their decks off of their back door due to convenience and also as a way to seamlessly extend one’s indoor living space into the outdoors.

Freestanding decks placed away from the home are also a popular option especially when they are built for the purpose of surrounding a backyard pool or hot tub.


Settle on a Design

Once all of these other details have been considered and decided on it is time to focus in on a particular design. The furniture that you are planning on putting on your deck, as well as any other sort of extras (fire pit, tables, outdoor kitchen, pergola, planters, privacy screens, bar, etc.), should be determined and their location on the deck plotted in order to know how much space you need.

If your deck is elevated, railings must be added for security and they should not be overlooked as they can add a particular aesthetic to the space. Depending on the look you are going for, the 6 most popular materials used for deck railings are wood, aluminium, steel, rope, glass and cable.


GOOD RIDDANCE


9 Unnecessary Things No One Needs at Home Anymore


Do you ever look around your home and think, “surely I don’t need all of these things.” If this thought has never crossed your mind, it’s likely your home is full of countless items it no longer needs. Now that Spring is officially here, it’s time to start your Spring cleaning. Go through our list of these 9 unnecessary things no one needs at home anymore and get rid of those items that are just taking up precious space. Your home will feel fresher and lighter in no time.

Unnecessary Paper Items


1. Old Magazines and Newspapers

Is your coffee table starting to resemble a doctor’s office stacked with back issues of magazines you only half read? Then it’s time to clear the clutter and recycle. While your magazine and newspaper might be full of great articles and recipes, it’s very likely they exist online. If they don’t, you can always clip them out and add them to a binder or scan and save them on your computer.

2. Paper Lists

Do you still write out all your grocery lists on a piece of paper? Do you find that you often lose or misplace these lists and then stare blankly at the aisles trying to remember what was on your list? Make the switch to paperless lists and use your cell phone instead. Not only will you never misplace your list again (unless you lose your phone) but you’ll be able to save and modify lists, making the time you spend writing lists shorter. There are many great apps designed specifically for list making or you can always use the notes app that comes with almost every phone these days. Either way, throw out your old lists and start fresh with a new list on your phone.

3. Books You Won’t Read Again

Much like the piles of magazines, books can quickly accumulate and take up more space than they need to. Go through your bookshelf and ask yourself if you’re going to ever read each book again. Keep the books you love and want to read and donate the rest. You’ll be surprised by the amount you actually want to keep and reread versus the books you don’t want anymore.

4. Take-Out Menus

Much like everything else that’s been digitized, there’s really no need to have a drawer full of take-out menus anymore. It’s likely you now do all your food ordering online or through an app, so having physical copies of menus are really unnecessary. Clear out that menu drawer and recycle all your old menus. If you are still using paper menus to order, go through your pile and only keep one copy from each place you frequently order from. Make sure it’s their most up to date menu and not one from when they first opened.

Out Of Date Technology


5. DVDs & CD’s


With all of the technology available that makes watching movies and tv shows and listening to music so easy and accessible, throwing away discs you never use anymore should be a no-brainer. Sure, vinyl has had a resurgence in popularity over the past few years, but it’s very unlikely your mixed CDs from 25 years ago are going to come back into fashion any time soon. Keep the discs that are your favourites but donate or give away the rest.

6. Old & Broken Electronics

Portable DVD players, old cell phones, mp3 players, broken printers… the list goes on and on. We’re willing to bet you have at least one broken or old electronic still in your home doing absolutely nothing to earn its keep. Why keep something when you can’t use it anymore? Take some time to round up these items and then dispose of them. If the item still works and is in good condition but you have no use for it, try donating it first. If your items are non-functioning be sure to recycle them in the proper way.

7. Miscellaneous Cords and Chargers

All those old and broken electronics came with cords and chargers and they’re definitely still hiding somewhere in your home. Unless you know for sure there is a matching device for your every item in your basket of miscellaneous cords, it’s time to get rid of them. Again, make sure you recycle these items in the proper way. Simply throwing them in the garbage can have serious negative effects on our planet.

Forgotten Items


8. Broken or Old Dishes & Cutlery

Do you have a collection of mugs without handles? Plates that have chunks taken out of them? Forks that only have two prongs? If your kitchen cupboards look like they’re inhabited by college students, consider getting rid of your broken and old items and replacing them. Cutlery and dishes are not nearly as expensive as they used to be (think back to wedding registries for silver and fine China). Treat your household to a matching set of dishes and cutlery and get rid of that broken Snoopy mug for good.

9. Gifts You Never Liked

We often feel pressure to keep gifts we don’t actually like because we want to avoid offending the gift-giver. If the frog figurine set aunt Geraldine gave you 6 years ago is still in its box, it’s time to let it go. You can either donate, recycle, or re-gift these items. Who knows, your unwanted presents might be just what someone else has been dreaming of. Give yourself the gift of space and pass along the gifts you never liked in the first place.


FIND A STUD


How to Hang Heavy Objects on Drywall


If you’re in the process of decorating your home, chances are you’re going to be hanging things on your wall. Some items are easy to put up with a simple nail like a small picture frame, but if you’re putting up solid oak floating shelves to display your inherited porcelain, you better make sure you’re hanging things properly.

Most walls in your home are probably made of drywall, which unfortunately are not designed to support heavy items like shelves, coat racks, mirrors and most other wall essentials. Done improperly, it’s only a matter of time before your items come crashing down, taking a large chunk out of your wall in the process.

If you’re at all concerned that you’re not going to hang things properly, then stop reading this article right now and find a general contractor to do the job for you. It’s a relatively simple and inexpensive process, only requiring an hour or two depending on how many things you’d like to hang. Otherwise, read on to see how to hang objects on drywall in your home.

What you’ll need
Power Drill
Screws
Drywall anchors
Stud finder
Hammer
Pencil
Level
Ruler
Goggles
Instructions


1. Determine if your wall is drywall

Unless your wall is exposed brick, it can be difficult to tell if your wall is drywall or concrete. For this test, all you need are your hands and ears. Simply knock on the wall: if it sounds hollow and there’s a bit of give then you’re looking at drywall; if the wall has no give/feels hard and doesn’t carry any sound, then it’s a concrete wall.

2. Find the studs

Studs are narrow sheets of metal or wood that run from your floor to your ceilings to hold up your drywall. Whenever possible, you should try to install items you’re hanging onto your walls on studs, as they can support more weight and will provide the most support possible. For longer items like shelves, you won’t be able to support everything with a stud, but you should aim to use as many studs as possible.

If you don’t already have one, purchase a stud finder (a basic one can range from $10-30). Turn the stud finder on and move it across your wall. The device will either beep or visually notify you when it finds a stud, at which point you can mark this on your wall with a pencil. Be sure to mark the middle of the stud so your item will be as secure as possible. Many stud finders also have sensors to detect electrical currents, which you’ll definitely want to know about before you start drilling.

3. Drill your pilot holes

Follow the instructions that came with the item you’re hanging and mark where you’ll need to drill on the wall with a pencil. For items that require multiple screws, use your level and a ruler to make sure your item will hang straight and that the holes are correctly spaced apart. One trick I like to minimize cleanup is to fold post it notes and place them below each drill hole to catch the debris from your walls before they drop to the floor.

Remember, try to use as many studs as possible for your screws, and if possible have the middle of the item secured by a stud. Once these are marked up, put your goggles on (safety first!) and use your power drill to make the pilot holes that you’ll need for your screws. Refer to the packaging for your screws or drywall anchors to know how big these should be. Note: If you are using drywall anchors that need to be screwed in, you likely do not need to drill a pilot hole for them and can skip to step 5.

4. Place drywall anchors in wall

Drywall anchors are placed into your wall first. When a screw is screwed into the anchor, the anchor expands and grabs a firm hold of the screw (unlike drywall, which is made of soft material that will begin to crumble when there’s too much weight).

Before installing anything, make sure that your drywall anchors can support not just the weight of your item, but anything that will be placed on the item as well (this is the most common mistake that people make). If your floating shelf weights 25 pounds but you’re placing six large potted plants on them, then you’ll need to buy better quality anchors that support more weight.

To install your drywall anchors, simply place them into the wall wherever you’ve made a hole that is not inside of a stud. This can be a tight squeeze, so use your hammer to gently tap it into place, being careful not to bend the anchor or damage the wall.

5. Install your screws

Use your power drill to install your screws into the holes you’ve made in your studs and/or drywall anchors. Depending on what type of item you are installing, you may have to install the screws first and then attach your item to them, or install the screws through the item.


MOULD FREE


How to Prevent Mould Build-Up In Your Bathroom


Mould is a type of fungus that thrives on and grows in damp environments and spreads through the release of spores which travel through the air. When it lands in a moist place, it will grow. Outdoors, mould is not really a problem — but when it’s indoors, it’s really only great if it’s found on cheese rinds (and is edible). Your bathroom is a common place for mould and mildew to build-up and spread because of the moisture in the air. You can tell if you have mould just by visually inspecting any damp, dark areas in your house, but you can also identify it by its musty, earthy smell. This poses some health risks, as mould can cause allergic reactions like coughing, sneezing, and wheezing, or even asthma attacks, all of which are bad for your respiratory system. Here’s how to take care of your bathroom to ensure your walls and shower remain mould-free.

Clean and Replace Your Caulking/Grout


It’s a pain to do, but re-sealing the grout or sealant between your tiles in your shower and bathtub every year (or more, if you notice a lot of cracks or already have mould) is one way of preventing mould from spreading. This ensures the space between your tiles remains waterproof on a regular basis and keeps mould and mildew out. Keeping your tiles and sealant in good condition is important, so after you shower or take a bath, use a squeegee to remove excess water that collects on your tiles. Mould won’t grow on dry surfaces! Of course, redoing your grout once a year doesn’t mean you should stop paying attention to your bathroom for the other 364 days. Scrubbing in between your tiles with a mixture of baking soda and bleach once every week or two will help keep your grout in good condition, and won’t allow mould to fester.

Use Your Fan


Your bathroom (and any room in your house, for that matter) should not feel like a rainforest when you walk in! A ceiling exhaust fan plays a big role in balancing the moisture levels in the air. Every time you take a shower or run a bath, turn your fan on so your bathroom doesn’t get too humid, and keep it running for 30 minutes after you’re done. Proper air ventilation and circulation prevents water from condensing in your shower, tub, or on your walls. If you don’t have a bathroom fan, open a window, install one, or buy a standing or counter-top fan and use it when you shower. A dehumidifier will also help suck moisture out of the air, too.

If you are running your fan on the regular, and you are still having issues with mould, you could have a problem with the fan. Hold a tissue up to the vent, and if it sticks, then it’s working! If not, or if you don’t think the fan is powerful enough, measure your bathroom and ask an expert at a hardware store what kind of fan they would recommend for a room of that size.

Seeing Spots?

Mould comes in a variety of fun colours like yellow, green, pink, white, brown, and black. Regardless of the colour, however, if you see spots or areas of growth on your walls or tiles, you should remove it. Check hidden areas like under your sink and your cabinets; spongy areas like your bath mat and loofahs; and even the walls or ceiling underneath your bathroom, to see how far it has spread. If the mouldy area is smaller than 10 square feet and looks fairly manageable to control, then go ahead and remove it on your own. To avoid breathing it in and exposing your skin to any chemicals, buy a disposable respirator mask and protective gloves from the dollar store and/or hardware store before you get to work.

Small traces of mould can be removed with any environmentally friendly mould removal product (like Concrobium Mold Control), or you can mix a solution of bleach and water (one part bleach to two parts water). If you do a quick search online, there are lots of other home remedies, but be mindful not to mix certain chemicals together like bleach and ammonia! Always check the warning labels or do some research before making any homemade concoctions. Spray the mixture on the surface, let it sit for about 10 minutes, and scrub it away with a sponge. Let the contaminated area dry completely before inspecting again, and repeat if it doesn’t come off in the first round. Rinse the area with water when you’re finished, and dry it off. If the mould in your bathroom is already out of control, or if you cannot get rid of the mould on your own after several attempts, call an expert to remove it safely.

It’s important to get into the habit of regularly cleaning your bathroom (not just when you are expecting company) because it helps keep you and your home healthy. Spraying your shower, tiles, silicone bathtub sealant with vinegar every so often is another handy tip when you are in cleaning mode. The acidity of the vinegar prevents mould from growing, and also acts as a natural cleaning agent. While it’s impossible to get rid of 100 percent of all mould in your house, these above methods prevent it from spreading and becoming a bigger problem later on.


GET YOUR ZZZ'S


How to Design Your Bedroom For a Better Sleep


Despite what you may think, your bedroom design has a huge effect on the quality of sleep that you are getting. Many tend to ignore and overlook their bedroom decor because of the fact that it is a private space designated for themselves, yet that should be the very reason to give it attention in the first place. It should be a space conducive to relaxation, a place that you want to escape to at the end of the day and feel at peace. The truth is, very few actually feel this way about their bedrooms so we have come up with a few design tips on how best to design your bedroom in order to ensure a better sleep.

Include Soothing Colours


Time and time again colour psychology has proven that different colours can bring about certain moods and feelings, making your choice of colour in your bedroom very significant. When it comes to designing a space that is meant to encourage a good sleep, it has been discovered that the best colours to include are blue, yellow, green, silver and orange. The trick with any colour used in the bedroom is to use them in a soft and subtle way as bright colours are said to increase energy in a room, making it difficult to relax.


Install Window Coverings


Most people tend to find it easier to fall asleep in a really dark room, so it is important to find blinds or curtains that are capable of shutting out all of the light outside of your home. In addition to it being a huge annoyance, exposure to light has a way of interfering with the secretion of your melatonin, a hormone produced by your body that helps to control your natural sleep and wake cycles.


Reconsider Your Bed Placement


The bed tends to be the most important aspect in your bedroom, as well as the focal point. Although not all bedroom spaces are conducive of such a thing, design psychologist Dr. Sally Augustin claims that “placing our bed against a wall where we have a clear view of the door and, if it’s feasible, the window can make us feel safer and alleviate worry that prevents complete relaxation.” Make sure that you can find a space where your bed looks good, and where you can feel good in it.


Feel Out Your Flooring


It is recommended that you place a comfy area rug beside your bed as it gives the space a particularly cozy feel. Certain materials are more desirable for this space such as a wool blend, shag, or even faux fur. When it comes to the surrounding floor, it is advised that you stick with wood or some other similar material as wall to wall carpeting has a way of trapping many types of allergens that are hard to remove and can affect your ability to sleep.


Ban Clutter


It’s a fact, no one can fully feel relaxed when clutter has completely taken over your room. Nightstands, desks, and stand alone chairs/couches tend to be where we allow for clutter to build up, so pay extra attention to these spaces, cleaning them regularly. If you find that you are having a hard time managing all of your belongings in such a tiny amount of space, there are so many options for nice and affordable storage solutions to purchase and install.


Eliminate Electronics


You have been in front of screen all day long, so make your bedroom a space where you can completely unplug. When it is time to go to sleep, stash your cell phone completely out of reach so that you will not be tempted to check it if you are having trouble falling asleep. Attempt to keep the television out of the room, as it will just serve as a distraction from your beauty rest. If that is too much to ask, think of adding some sort of sliding door to your built-ins to keep the screen out of reach and out of mind.


Alter the Lighting


There are certain rooms in your house where bright lighting is hugely important, but this is not one of them. Include lower wattage lighting in your bedroom offers gentle and soothing lighting that encourages sleep. If you are one to read a chapter or two of your book before bed, install a reading lamp on your bedside table to aid your eyes. Adding a dimmer to your light switches is also another way to install ambient lighting within the space.


Add Some White Noise


If you live off of a busy road or need absolute silence to get any sort of sleep, look into installing something that will create white noise. Things like ceiling fans, air conditioners, and air purifiers are all great additions to any room because of the jobs they perform, but they also can help you tune out all background noise and ensure a good night sleep.


DING DONG


How to Fix a Broken Doorbell


The doorbell is a small but significant part of a house: it notifies you when guests are outside, when your Amazon package has finally arrived, and let’s not forget how it signals those surprise visits from the in-laws. However, if it stops working properly, and knocking isn’t loud enough to get someone’s attention, it’s time to get out your toolbox and fix it with a relatively simple DIY project. Make sure you have a screwdriver, electrical tape, a voltage tester, wire strippers, and some spare 18-gauge wire handy before you start!

The Sound of Silence

A common reason why your doorbell might be busted is that your chimes are no longer working. An easy way to figure out if this is the case is to go to your front door and unscrew the doorbell from its mount. Once you have done that, you’ll see two wires running on the top and bottom ends of the doorbell. Using your voltage tester, touch both ends to the screws holding the wires to make sure they are running between 12 and 24 volts — this means the wires are safe to touch without turning your power off. Since doorbells run on a lower voltage (we’ll explain why and how further on), you can safely unscrew the two wires and tap them together. If you do not hear the familiar ding-dong tune, then the answer could lie in the lack of sound.

To fix this, you’ll need to open up the chime cover in your house (usually found in a common area like a front hallway) and check if the two metal rods (armatures) are stuck or jammed. Sometimes all you need to do is use rubbing alcohol and a paper towel or Q-tip to clean the dirt and grime that builds up over time, which can loosen the armatures. Make sure there are no loose wires (if there are, reconnect them to the “com”/”trans”, “front”, or “rear” slots — but label them with tape so you know which wire goes where), check if each screw slot is receiving low power with your voltage tester, and ring your doorbell. If you still don’t hear any sound, or if those armatures are still stuck fast, your chime box should be replaced.

Hot Button Issue

Let’s say that after unscrewing and unmounting your doorbell, you touch those two wires together and you do hear a sound. Great news: your chimes are working! But, that means the problem could be the doorbell button itself. This is the easiest problem to fix, as all you have to do is go to a hardware store and buy a replacement. Carefully remove the wiring from your old doorbell, and reconnect it to your new one. It doesn’t matter which wire is attached to the top or bottom of the button, so once you’re finished rewiring and screwing the doorbell to your wall, push the button and wait for the sound.

Faulty Wiring

If it’s not your chime box or your button, it might be your wiring. It’s not possible to inspect everything unless you want to tear some holes in your walls to uncover hidden wires. However, if you check the wiring around your transformer, doorbell, or chime box, and find that it is frayed or broken off, you can easily replace it with spare 18-gauge wire. Turn your power off, and use your wire strippers to strip the insulation off about an inch down the line of the broken or frayed wire. Taking the new wire, twist it together with the loose end, and secure them with electrical tape. Reconnect the wire to your doorbell, chime box, or transformer, turn the power back on, and push the doorbell to listen for a sound.

Check Your Transformer


Doorbells are typically hooked up to your home’s power line, which runs on 120 volts. However, your doorbell doesn’t require that much electricity to operate, so the wiring runs through a transformer to reduce the common household voltage to anywhere between 12 to 24 volts. This is called low voltage, as described above. If your chimes are in tact, but the voltage emitting from your doorbell and/or transformer reads higher than 24 volts, then you will need to replace this device. For this, you will absolutely need to turn your power off before doing any repair work. It’s not too hard to replace a transformer: all you need to do is disconnect the wires (label them accordingly) and hook them up to the new gadget. Once everything is safe and secure, turn your power back on, check the voltage to make sure it is reading at the appropriately low levels, and test your doorbell again.

Remember: it’s always better to be safe than sorry when fiddling around with live wires! Even though your doorbell operates on a lower voltage, it’s still a good idea to cut your power supply before you start following any of the above steps. If all else fails, or if you are nervous about tinkering with any wires, call an electrician to find the root source of the problem. Or, consider switching to a wireless doorbell instead. These are typically powered by batteries, and are much easier to troubleshoot if your doorbell stops working in the future!


MUSCLE FLEX


How to Build the Perfect Home Gym


Having a home gym can be such a convenience, but it also means there are no excuses for why you cannot make time to go to the gym everyday. Setting up your own home gym is really not all that difficult. Take a look at this step by step guide on how to create the perfect space for you and your family.

Pick a Space


When deciding on where to build your home gym, open and underused rooms such as your spare bedroom, basement, or garage are the best ideas. Keep in mind that the size of the room must be relatively spacious in order to accommodate the workout equipment and machines you plan on incorporating. Something else to think about is the time of day in which you work out. If you are a morning exerciser, make sure that the space you choose for your home gym does not have constant sun exposure in those hours as it will make for an unfavorable workout.


Decide on Flooring


Installing the right flooring in your home gym is pretty important when looking at its functionality. You want to make sure that it is soft enough to cushion your fall but also hard enough and tough enough to withstand the wear and tear of the workout machines and your activity. Tough, non-slip surfaces like rubber are a popular choice!


Decorate the Walls


Time to add some personality to the space! Make your home gym an inviting space and it will make the idea of working out less daunting. Add a fresh coat of paint, some mirrors, and some wall art and the space will be transformed into one that you really don't mind spending time in.


Choose Some Lighting


Having a home gym with a bunch of windows is ideal, but unfortunately not all spaces allow for that. Make sure that the lighting you use can range to support the kind of workouts you are planning on doing. If you are planning on using your home gym for yoga and meditation, dim lighting is what you are going for. If you are planning on using it for cardio and weights, bright light is what you want. The perfect solution for this is to install a dimmer on your light switch.


Organize!


Organization is key in this type of space, especially if you are already starting with a tiny and compact room that has other purposes. Installing open shelving, racks, and hooks allows for you to clear the space of all equipment, reducing the clutter so you can use every inch of space to its full capacity.


BURST PIPES

Burst Pipes

Have you ever filled up a water bottle and placed it in the freezer overnight, only to find that it broke through the plastic the next day? Water has a unique ability to expand when it turns into ice, which is literally very cool for a science experiment, but a cause for concern when it comes to making sure the pipes in your home don’t burst in Canadian winters. We may be able to endure freezing temperatures year after year (even if we hate winter), but our pipes may have some difficulties. The last thing anyone wants to deal with is a flooded basement, so here are some steps you can take to avoid burst pipes, before picking up the phone to call a plumber.

Preventative Measures


Before cold weather hits, start by draining any excess water from your water lines, sprinkler or swimming pool lines. Water trapped inside will expand once winter arrives, so it’s better to be proactive! If you have a removable hose, shake out any water left inside before storing it away for the season. Be sure to close any inside valves and taps that connect to your water lines. Keep the outside valves open so water can easily drain out, and any water leftover can expand without breaking or bursting your pipes.

If you think that the best antidote to frozen pipes is antifreeze, think again. Not only is this harmful to the environment, but you should never put it in your pipes as it contains chemicals that are dangerous to humans, pets, and basically any wildlife. You don’t want traces of this contaminating your water.

Circulate, Insulate, or Renovate


Water pipes are located in several areas, such as your basement, garage, and attic. Even your kitchen and bathroom cabinets may have exposed pipes that can come into contact with cold air. Keeping interior doors open inside your home, like your cabinets or cupboards, will allow warm air to circulate properly and heat your pipes. For colder areas like your garage, basement, attic, and any crawl spaces, buy some insulated tubing or sleeves to give your pipes extra protection. You can also buy heating tape and apply it directly onto your pipes to seal any seams or cracks. If you notice that these rooms tend to run cold, installing extra insulation in your walls, floors and ceiling will help ensure that your pipes (and your rooms) stay warm.

If any of your water pipes run on an exterior wall of your home, it’s a good idea to insulate them with proper materials, to reduce the impact of cold air exposure. However, it’s much better to relocate them to the inside where it is warmer. This is a larger DIY project, and if you don’t have the right tools or technical know-how, it’s good to call a professional to help figure out how and where to best reinstall your pipes.

A Little Drip Goes a Long Way


Keeping your tap(s) running during the day at a slow trickle or drip will actually help alleviate pressure further down the pipeline. Pipes can burst because of the increase in pressure between the blocked area and the faucet, so turning on the tap may be able to prevent this from happening. However, if water has stopped running altogether, it means that your pipes are indeed frozen. A hair dryer, hot water bottle or heating pad, a space heater, and even towels soaked in hot water will usually do the trick to thaw your pipes. But, be sure to clear the area of anything flammable first! This could take a bit of time, so keep applying heat, be patient, and wait until you hear sounds of water coming through your tap. Absolutely avoid using anything with an open flame like lighters and blow torches, and do not use kerosene or propane heaters, or charcoal stoves.

Keep the Heat On


Your hydro bills might cost a little more, but keeping the temperature in your house comfortably warm and consistent throughout the day will prevent water from freezing. If you are going on vacation, it’s tempting to turn the heat off to conserve energy, but it’s in your best interest not to adjust the settings when it is very cold outside. You don’t have to blast your heat at a high setting, either. With programmable or smart thermostats, you can regulate the temperature so it rests at 10 to 13 degrees Celsius, which is warm enough to keep water running through your pipes without any issues while you are gone.

Take Precautions When You’re Away


Tying into the last point, if you are planning a trip to escape the cold, even if it’s just for a long weekend, ask a friend or trusted neighbour to check on the house while you’re away. It’s good to have someone turn on the taps every few days (or leave them on at a slow trickle, as mentioned) to make sure the water is running properly, especially if the temperature drops to below freezing. If you have any valuables or important items and documents that are stored near your pipes, move them to a different spot in the house. It’s better to be safe than sorry, just in case a leak should spring while you’re not at home.

By taking action beforehand, hopefully your house will be better equipped to handle harsh winter weather. But, if you notice that your water still isn’t running after exhausting these methods, or if your pipes have already burst (yikes!), it’s time to call a plumber to take care of the problem.
 


FIRST THINGS FIRST


What to Do First: Paint or Buy Furniture?


Giving your place a fresh makeover is always exciting, whether you are moving into a new home, or planning on fixing up various spaces in your current abode. It takes a lot of energy flipping through home and style magazines, scouring Pinterest boards for design inspiration, not to mention trips to every supply store imaginable, and even having consultations with professionals or knowledgeable friends.

A common contested issue that sparks a great debate among homeowners is deciding what to do first: paint your walls, or buy furniture. The answer is not so cut-and-dry; it changes depending on your priorities and finances. Here’s how to make the choice that works best for you.

What’s Your Budget?

Sprucing up your home not only means you have to invest your time — you also have to invest some money. Buying a beautiful hand-crafted wooden table, or that lovely leather couch is a significant expense on its own. There is no question that nice pieces of furniture add an elegant, modern or rustic aesthetic to your living spaces, and as such you might want them to be the main focal point. But, regardless of if you are buying one stand-alone piece or replacing all the furniture in a room, the cost adds up.

Paint, on the other hand, is less of a financial investment. It still isn’t cheap — it may run you a couple hundred bucks or more, depending on how many rooms you are painting — but it’s definitely more affordable than putting all your money towards a designer chair. And, paint is the easiest way to give your space a new look. Think about what matters most to you, and where you want to spend your money first.

Making Bold Decisions


Have you always loved bright, dynamic colours? Painting accent walls and picking out complementary décor will liven up your space, giving it that extra flare. If you are dead set on painting your bedroom a vibrant teal blue and you’d be happy purchasing furniture later, don’t let others deter you from driving your artistic vision forward. That said, selecting a rich, colour-popping piece of furniture first can provide a similar, eye-catching result without the use of a bold paint. It all depends on your priorities.

However, keep in mind that it is less costly to repaint your walls if you get tired of the bold colour. Returning furniture may not always be an option, as some sales are final, so read the fine print. If you get bored of that bright red sectional, you may end up spending more money replacing it with another one if you can’t switch the upholstery (and even if you can, you’ll still be stuck with that added expense).

Try Before You Buy

Looking at paint chips or fabric swatches in the store is great, but it won’t help you decide on a colour scheme. Never buy or decide on your colours in-store. Why? Lighting affects everything and brings out colour undertones, which are subtle hues of other colours that pop out underneath the primary colour (also known as a mass tone). Not all colours go well together, and undertones with green or pink, whether it’s in your paint or in your fabric, can be especially hard to match.

When deciding on paint, it’s best to buy a sample and paint a swatch on your wall first. Examine it during different times of day, with the lights on or off, before you commit. With fabric, you can order samples online or ask for some in stores, to help you determine what textures, materials, and colours will work in your space. Mixing and matching fabric and paint swatches in your home is a fun way of figuring out what goes well together, before putting your credit card down.

Find Furniture You Love

Since there are endless colours to choose from when selecting a paint versus fabric, choose the furniture you love that goes with your personal style and tastes. It can be tough to find comfortable couches or chairs if your colour palette is limited based on the paint you chose. So, making the case for purchasing furniture first: focus on comfort, style, whatever aesthetic you prefer, and worry about finding a complementary paint colour afterwards. You definitely won’t be as limited with this approach and can have fun experimenting with the look you want to create. Invest in a piece you enjoy, rather than settling for mediocre furniture to match the walls.

So, what’s the bottom line? There is no right or wrong answer to buying furniture or painting your walls first because it comes down to personal preference and your budget. However, when purchasing furniture first, once you find a paint colour that will work on accentuating or complementing those pieces, be sure to paint your walls before moving your furniture into the space. It’s easier to paint without bulky items in the way, or worrying about buying enough drop-sheets to cover everything properly. Be practical in your approach, and have fun exploring different paint and fabric options when you decide to liven up your space!


DESIGNER HOME


When is Hiring an Interior Designer Worth It?


To hire an interior designer or not to hire an interior designer? This is a common question that many homeowners ask themselves when renovating or redecorating their home. Many have the perception that interior designers are just meant for the rich and famous, when in reality they serve a very practical purpose for everyone. Take a look at these 6 instances if you are a little confused or unsure of when hiring a designer is really worth it.

1) When you are looking to put your home up for sale and increase your property value


Even if you are not planning on putting your house up for sale in the immediate future, an interior designer can create picture perfect living spaces that are bound to get you a serious return on investment. By showcasing the true potential of the space with a more put together aesthetic, it is more likely that your home will spend less time on the market and will go for more money than anticipated.


2) When you are too busy to do it all by yourself


Taking on a home redesign takes a whole lot of time and effort, something that is a luxury for most of us. It is your designer’s full time job to take on your renovation with every and any obstacle that lies in the way. You can carry on with the rest of your life knowing that your interior designer will have it all covered, completely avoiding any headaches.

3) When you are open for suggestions


A lot of people have some sort of idea of what they want their living spaces to look like with particular colours or styles, but they don’t have it all figured out. By giving your interior designer some key ideas of what you are looking for, you can leave them to fill in the blanks with their professional knowledge and advice.


4) When you are looking to save money (in the long run)


Most people do not look to hire an interior designer for their remodels because they believe that they are too expensive, when in reality they will end up saving you money in the long run. You do not have to worry about ordering the wrong materials or the wrong sizes and then having to repurchase everything, or painting the walls the wrong shade of yellow and then having to repaint them 3 additional times. These little mistakes can add up, but hiring an interior designer will allow you to avoid all of these obstacles, and in turn save some money.

5) When you are doing a complete remodel of your home


If you are doing a complete renovation or reconfiguration of your home, it can be difficult as the homeowner to see the potential of the space in a different way. Maybe you are stuck on your current kitchen layout or the house’s floor plan that having an outside, professional opinion can really help you see the space in a completely different light.


6) When you are inexperienced with the renovation process


Many homeowners go into a renovation with little or no experience whatsoever, which can make the process way more difficult than it needs to be. Interior designers have a certain number of contacts for every sort of tradesperson needed for your job so you can rest assured knowing that you won’t be ripped off or lead astray by a contractor. Interior designers know the right questions to ask and the right people to answer them.