Sunday, January 31, 2021

Interior Design Mistakes to Avoid Part II

This is the Kitchen edition, and I do have a lot to write about. 

Picture below: kitchen inspiration I saved to my Pinterest board again and again, the Orléans Townhouses designed by Merrylees Architecture. The alignment between the island and the range is similar to our Hilltop House kitchen layout. 

1. If you are building it from ground up, hide all the wall outlets. 

I don't know about you, but I really dislike how the kitchen wall outlets break up the backsplash. So for the Hilltop House, I will be moving all the wall outlets into the undercabinet valance. The picture below is an example of hiding the outlets in a power strip underneath the valance. Our builder has a different approach by building a "closed valance" for both the undercabinet lighting and outlets. 

Either way, you will have more options when it comes to backsplash without the outlets in the way. Imagine how painful it would make you feel to cut out a perfect piece of marble for the outlets. You get the idea. 

Hiding this wall outlets this way also elevates the look of your kitchen: it's clean and minimalist, and well-thought-out. 

2. Kitchen flooring 

Stone or ceramic tiles are still the best and most resilient choice of kitchen flooring. Spill and leaking accidents happen so you don't want to be on the constant lookout for your hardwood flooring. 

If you really like the look of wood flooring or a continuous look of wood flooring from your living space into the kitchen, the good news is that these days there are unlimited options of ceramic, porcelain or vinyl tiles in various wood colours and textures you can choose from. 

No matter what you choose, just make sure you will love it for a long time because it'd be near impossible to change the kitchen flooring once you move in. We've been living in our current house for almost 12 years and to-date I still haven't worked up the courage to gut this kitchen. It's too disruptive to the daily routine. 

3. If you get to plan your kitchen cabinet layout, opt for straight lines and avoid building any corner cabinets

Below is the sketch of our Hilltop House kitchen. As you could see, all straight lines and no corner cabinets! Not only are the corner cabinets so yesteryear, they are also not functional - who can say they've used their corner cabinets to their full potential? 

Linear layout of a kitchen brings visual calm and balance. You can also divide them into multiple zones such as the separate Servery/Butler's Pantry and the Bar areas we have. 

4. Drawers over cabinets

In the lower section of your kitchen, always choose drawers over cabinet doors to maximize the interior storage and for ease of organization. Visualize all the struggle you've had to pull a pan out of a stack in a cabinet, versus slide them out of their own slots like below. 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

3 Ways A Real Estate Agency Can Help Sell Your Home

 ~ This is a featured post. ~

In a study run by a major real estate agent, the prime time to put your home on the market is in between the 1st and the 15th of May. Houses in this period, on average, sell for 0.7% more than average prices and generally sell six days faster. 

If you’re thinking of jumping on that, and you live in, for example, Ontario, Canada - you might be wondering: ‘how much is my home worth - Orange, Cal, Shel?’ The best way to answer that is to get the help of a real estate agency. They can help with an awful lot of things when it comes to pricing and how your house should look, as well as a non-biased opinion on how well your property will sell on the market.

You need this kind of honesty when you’re buying and selling your property, even if you think the house isn’t being sold at its best price. You know and love the house dearly, so of course, you’d want the very best for it. But a house's price can depend on many things, such as how it's laid out and the certain season in which you’re putting it up for sale.

It’s things like this that realtors know, and can help you get the best price for your property. 

#1 Pricing
Another thing real estate agents do is calculate your square footage cost accurately. This is how much each square foot of your plot is worth, and gives buyers an accurate idea of what they are getting for their money. It’s an honest way of pricing your home and can make the price far more credible to potential buyers.

#2 Real estate agents know the peak market times
As was mentioned before, May is a great time to put a house on the market. But they will also know the best selling times for your local area, especially if you get the right realtor. One expert observer said: “Selling in May can get you $60,000 more than if you were to sell in January."

This kind of experience and advice is utterly invaluable. Working with a realtor helps you gain access to knowledge about your general area and major selling points of homes, such as what is on trend, as well as how to go about selling in the best way possible.

#3 They know the best way to make your home presentable
The main advice here is, keep your house neutral and clean. You want a place that buyers can imagine themselves living in, and not imagine you living in.

It might be an idea to hire a storage facility to put all of your clutter in, as well as anything you don’t immediately need for your day to day life.

The house isn’t going to be yours for much longer, and the closer it’s transitioned into being someone else's, the faster it’s probably going to sell.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Interior Design Mistakes to Avoid Part I

Not to start off the new year with a negative note talking about design mistakes, but as we are building yet another house, aka, our dream house, I felt the need to share and document them so history doesn't repeat itself at our Hilltop House. Also, I wouldn't necessarily call these "mistakes" because, did they and do they still look eye-pleasing? Yes. But were they practical or could they stand the test of time? Not really.

Looking back at the design choices I've made over the years, "redundant" and "trendy" are the two words often popped up. A question I often ask myself today when making design choices is, would I really enjoy it or do I simply like the idea of it? 

Picture below: my home dining room after many iterations

I will probably turn this into a series as ideas come to me over time. This post is the 

Part I: Bathroom Edition

1. Choose larger shower tiles to minimize grout lines

What didn't work for us: small tiles (worse yet mosaic) with too many grout lines, white or lighter-coloured grout. 

Why: over time water sat in grout lines, mold grew and scum accumulated. It was a cleaning nightmare waiting to happen. 

What works: large tiles to minimize grout lines, darker grout to hide scum.

2. Single-handle sink faucet

What didn't work: two-handle faucets. They look more luxurious but so much harder to keep clean. Cost of ownership is also higher because if one of the two mixing valves breaks, you will have to replace the entire faucet. We all know a two-handle set costs a lot more.  

What works: single-handle faucet. I like the minimalist and clean look of this Hansgrohe 32082001 single-hole faucet. Thankfully our Hilltop House builder also uses Hansgrohe as their plumbing standard. 

3. A separate closet for the toilet

What didn't work: when we renovated our master bathroom in the current house, we had every opportunity to carve out a corner as a toilet closet. I didn't know any better so instead, we left toilet where the builder built it which is right in the centre of our bathroom. It's so unsightly. 

What works: if your floor plan would allow it and if you have the space, create a separate room/closet with a door for the toilet. Otherwise a half-wall frosted glass partition would work too. Trust me, your bathroom would look so much more well-thought-out. 

Picture below: our Hilltop House master bathroom plan. Thankfully our builder already created a separate room for the toilet. The floor plan however is nowhere near perfect. For example, you will notice there's little to no wall space near the shower stall for us to install a wall towel warmer unit. We will also change that makeup table into a bank of drawers for more storage. And I still don't understand why we would need a double entrance doors into the ensuite. I would opt for a single door but a longer vanity in a heart beat. Given our vanity is already 12-foot long, I guess I will leave the double doors alone. 

I will be back to write about other design mistakes to avoid. 

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