Amanda Forrest charms her audience!

Best known for her many appearances on The Marilyn Denis Show on CTV over the last few years, Amanda Forrest is even funnier and more vivacious in person.

In a delightful presentation last evening at the Beth Shalom Community Centre in Ottawa’s West end, Amanda kept us totally engaged as she talked about her personal background, her career as an interior designer, marketing and branding a business, and, at the end, how to add drama to your living room. She was generous with her time and her suggestions!

While Amanda couldn’t tell us precisely when her appearances will occur on TV, she confirmed that it’s twice a month, according to her contract, and occasionally, a bit more often on special topics. Follow her on Instagram, she suggests, if you really want to know when she’s doing a show.

I know that I, for one, will be tuning in more often to see if I can catch her spots on the show. Her enthusiasm and passion, and extraordinary sincerity, not to mention her interior design smarts, make her a great face to put on the Canadian interior design industry.

And she said she liked my jacket at the end! I may never take this thing off!

What Buyers Want in New Homes

From the Canadian Home-buyer Preference Study (Spring 2015), the top 10 home features and design preferences of home buyers across Canada:

  1.  Walk-in closets: 92.5%
  2. Energy-efficient appliances: 89.9%
  3. Open-concept kitchen: 89.3%
  4. Overall energy-efficient home: 89.2%
  5. Kitchen island: 89.2%
  6. Linen closets: 89.2%
  7. High-efficiency windows: 88.6%
  8. Large windows: 87.4%
  9. Two-car garage: 84.7%
  10. Air-exchange system: 84.7%

According to the study, carried out during 2014 and early 2015 by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and Avid Ratings Canada Ltd., the survey was sent to over 12,000 homeowners and had a high response rate. Its findings are considered accurate plus or minus 3.1%.

Preferences were ranked as “must have”, “really want”, “might be nice” and “not important”.

In Ottawa, 40% of respondents indicated they’d sacrifice size for a lower house price. Large windows are very desirable; more natural light makes a house look better. Soaker tubs in the master en suite were less sought after in Ottawa and Toronto, perhaps due to a busy lifestyle. Double sinks in the en suite were highly desirable. And, not surprisingly, storage space was the single most wanted feature in the interior space of a property.

So, if you have a home that is not a new property, take these findings into consideration before you put your place on the market. Dealing with a reputable real estate agent and an experienced home stager will help you compete from a stronger position with new builds.

More expert tips for easy organizing

Another bunch of great tips from Canadian Living magazine! Let’s make our households work better!

  1. Remove any lingering leaves from the lawn before the snow comes to stay; leaves can form a matting and smother the grass.
  2. When organizing appetizers on a plate or tray, the secret is to include a variety of colours, shapes, textures and flavours.
  3. Banish summer and fall clothing and gear to the basement (if you have one) before winter stuff moves in. You don’t need 4 seasons’ worth of things cluttering up your entrance area.
  4. Store wet hats and mitts in a mesh storage basket or a rolling cart placed above the heating vent in your front entrance. Helps ’em dry quickly.
  5. Deep-clean your refrigerator every 3 months. Remove all food from the fridge; wipe out the interior with a solution of 4 cups of hot water and a 1/4 cup of baking soda. Rinse with a damp cloth, and dry with a clean towel.
  6. Always measure the distance between the chair seat and the tabletop when you’re combining a mix & match dining set. Aim for clearance of about 10 inches.

Easy Organizing Tips – #4 – Marie Kondo’s ‘life-changing magic’ – Easy Organizing

Have you read Marie Kondo’s book yet? It’s called “the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing”. It’s taken over the non-fiction best seller lists. It’s a little book, only 206 pages long, but full of interesting ideas; in fact, it’s her whole philosophy for organizing, de-cluttering, and beautifying not just your home, but your state of mind!  Videos about her book are all over YouTube.

She has some great ideas and, of course, I like the ones that back up what I’ve been saying for some time.For instance, in my blog dated 11 Jan/15, I said to take everything out and put back the things you love and the things you use. Marie counsels we take everything and put it on the floor, and put back only the things that give you joy. Pretty close to my approach! [Read more…]

How to sell your home – Part 8 – Clean, clean and clean!

We’re full-tilt into the season for selling homes now, and sale signs are posted down every street, it seems. One thing that can’t be stressed enough is the importance of cleaning your home, and I mean REALLY cleaning it. This means that your normal dust-vacuum-swiffer routine is not enough. It’s a start, but just a start. If you have a regular cleaner, you need to request a deep clean; this should include baseboards, window blinds, windows inside and outside, closet floors, cupboard shelves, inside appliances, inside bathroom vanities – basically, everything. If your regular cleaner declines to take on these extra jobs (for which you should definitely pay extra), then get in an additional cleaner for the specialized tasks. I cannot stress this enough.

I know of a nice townhouse on the market and, due to its’ owners’ inability to grasp the importance of thoroughly cleaning the place, the asking price has been dropped, it’s been on the market months longer than it should have been, and the feedback from every showing is negative because the place is so dirty. I know it’s difficult to keep a place looking brand-new 24/7, but it’s critical to your success in selling your property quickly and for a good price. And if you sell your house faster, you can go back to your more “relaxed” ways that much sooner. (Also, no reputable home stager will come stage your home if it’s dirty.) [Read more…]

Spring home staging sells condo in record time!

Check out the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ videos! Elegant Strategies staged an unoccupied condo in Nepean last week, a one bedroom with a solarium. Generous room sizes and a very well-maintained building in a desirable location were excellent raw material, but the condo was still tired-looking and needed home staging finesse to bring it up to speed. [Read more…]

Expert tips for home improvements

Here are some great suggestions, culled from 40 years of Canadian Living© magazine.

1. If you’re renovating your home [to live in or prior to selling], start at the top floor and work your way down. You don’t want debris being hauled out through finished rooms.

2. When painting, punch holes in the rim of the paint can with a hammer and nail. The excess paint from your brush will drip back into the can – not all over the outside of the can.

3. To catch drips when painting ceilings, poke the handle of your paint brush or roller through a paper plate.

4. Choosing new window treatments? Select sheers in neutral colours that coordinate with your wall trim or ceiling for a more pulled-together look.

5. Before you choose your paint, view paint samples at different times of day. The change of light affects a paint colour’s appearance, so don’t commit until you’ve checked it out.

6. Decorating a small space? Furniture made of transparent materials, like acrylic and glass, have less visual weight than similar-size opaque pieces, making them perfect for a small space.




Easy organizing tips – #3

I love “O” magazine! The spring issues are especially enjoyable for me. It’s always great when experts share their thoughts, and you realize that you’re on the same page. The March 2015 issue has useful ideas on decluttering your space, so I recommend you check it out. At the same time, it will cheer you up to see the gorgeous colours, hot pink, citrus shades of orange, melon and lemon, and yummy turquoise. [Read more…]

Easy Organizing Tips – #2

The new year always seems to bring out the desire to change or re-invent ourselves, our homes, our spouse or partner, our wardrobe , our weight, you name it. It must be hard-wired into our brains that, in the cold, dark days of January in Ottawa, seeing as we’re already miserable because of the weather, we may as well find fault with something else.

Sometimes a little change is enough to distract you, and the next thing you know it’s February. If you’re feeling restless in these post-celebration weeks, and you’re not about to head south, you can make some small changes to your home that won’t break the bank or over-tax your exhausted brain. Let’s try a little exercise to flex your organizing muscles a little bit:

Pick a room in your home that you’re not in love with at the moment, and take as much out of it as you can without a helper.

Let’s say it’s the kitchen. Remove everything from the counter tops, the table top, the cook top, things stacked against the cabinets, things on top of and stuck to the refrigerator, the little stacks of mail, coupons, grocery lists, reminders, the vitamin supplements, etc. Isn’t it stunning how much there is?

Now look at each item.  Ask yourself three questions:

Do I use this item frequently?

Do I love this item?

Is this item making my life work better for me?

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the questions, put the item in the ‘safe‘ pile.

If you answer ‘no’ to ‘Do I love this item?’, is it possible to replace this indispensible item with a reasonably priced version that is in a colour you love, or that doesn’t make as much noise, or works faster? What has to happen for you to love this thing? Or is it something you only need temporarily? So use it and get it out of your way! Or put it where it would make more sense in your home, like the tool box or your son’s bedroom or the recycling bin. Just get it out of your way. If it’s not making your life work better for you, you have the right to get it out of your way.

This easy organizing process of asking 3 little questions can be applied all over your home. Even if you end up keeping 3/4 of the things because you have to be practical and you need them, think of that 1/4 you gave the boot! What a great feeling. You should feel proud of yourself.

And in the cold, dark days of January in Ottawa, that little change in your surroundings that makes you remember that you are in control, that you can make a difference, may be all you need to get you through to February, which is, thank goodness, a short month.