They say you can't judge a book by its cover. But when it comes to houses, the exterior can be just as important as the interior if selling or buying.

When selling, it is the outside, or the home's curb appeal that often determines whether the inside is ever seen. How a house 'shows' from the street can tell a potential buyer a lot about what it may be like inside. Even if the inside is the sparkling, charming, structurally sound dream home they've been searching for, a buyer is not going to forget a cracked driveway, fallen shutters, overgrown grass and flower beds.

That's why most Realtors recommend a house not be seen for the first time at night. If you have no choice but to view homes at night, always be sure to drive past them during the daytime before making any final decisions.

For sellers, there are many ways to enhance the exterior of a home to achieve the curb appeal necessary to attract prospective buyers. Start by taking a close, objective look at your home from the curb. Be sure to view it from different angles. Ask friends and neighbors for their unbiased opinions. What are the appealing features? What's not so appealing? What can you do to improve its appearance?

Are the shrubs untrimmed? Are there broken doors and windows, loose screens and railings? Does the exterior trim, or entire surface, need a paint job?

The interior may be clean, without a leaky faucet, cracked floor or loose door hinge in sight. But if the exterior roof, gutter, walls, driveway, garage and yard look dirty and untidy, chances are you're not going to get a lot of potential buyers knocking at the door.

Creating curb appeal is making your home inviting from the outside -- where first impressions begin. This doesn't mean spending a great deal of money remodeling and renovating. Adding a new front verandah might add a lot of curb appeal, but so will a couple of wicker chairs and potted flowers by the front door - at a lot less cost.

Here are some more tips for making the outside of your home attractive and inviting:

Clean up the yard

Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, weed the flower beds, get rid of dead trees and shrubs; get rid of any broken lawn furniture; shovel the walk and driveway in winter; rake the yard in the fall.

Repair any problems

If the roof is damaged, repair it. Also repair any doors and windows that have loose hinges or other damage; fix storm doors and window screens; caulk window exteriors; clean and repair sidings and other structural flaws.

Eliminate clutter

If you have yard and construction debris piled up along the side of the house, or elsewhere, get rid of it. The exterior of your home should be as uncluttered in appearance as the interior. This includes cleaning out the garage - a major breeder of clutter. Be ruthless. If you haven't used something in a year, give it to charity or recycle it.

Give siding a fresh new look

Cleaning the exterior surface is all your home may need for a fresh new face. Before rushing to paint siding, try washing it. For painted wood siding and aluminum siding, use a solution of one cup strong detergent and one quart chlorine bleach in three gallons of water. Be sure to wear rubber gloves, goggles and other protective garments. Work from the bottom up and rinse thoroughly.

To spruce up vinyl siding, hose it down, sponge it with a mild liquid detergent and rinse.

Use paint to brighten, re-proportion exterior

A paint job can do wonders for the exterior of a home. A low house can look more graceful and tall from the curb by emphasizing its vertical features. Paint elements such as doors, shutters and corner trim in a color that contrasts with the siding material or color. On a high home, emphasize horizontal by using a contrasting paint color on window sills and fascia boards. You can also make a tall house look lower by painting it a dark color, provided that the roof is dark too. Conversely, a light color will make a home look larger.

Co-ordinate the exterior 'look'

The more co-ordinated your house looks from the outside, the more appealing it will be. Co-ordinate the 'look' of your home by painting the garage, tool shed, playhouse and other outdoor structures with the same color schemes as the house. If your house is a mixture of conflicting textures - vertical siding, shingles and brick, for instance - try painting them all the same color, or in two related shades of the same color, to create a harmonious look. Dark tones work best when working with conflicting textures.

Use flower power

Well-placed flowers, trees and shrubs can really make the outside of a home look inviting. Not only does attractive landscaping invite buyers, it can increase the value of a home. Even without major landscaping, flowers can make a yard look colorful and pleasant. Plant them in garden beds, hang them from railings and porch ceilings, add flower boxes to window sills. There is no limit to the power of flowers.

At night, highlight garden features with spotlights and floodlights. Well-lit paths and entrances promote safety, discourage burglars and are an added feature to any home. A pretty wreath on the door and a welcome mat will finish things off.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA


To most of us, electricity is simply flicking a switch or turning a dial to light up a room, cook supper or get instant entertainment.  We take it for granted -- that is, until there's a power failure and we have to scramble to find flashlights, candles and matches in the dark.

Making your home safe and comfortable takes a deeper understanding.  Let's start by remembering that the electricity we receive in our homes is part of a powerful, intricate system made up of power lines and generators.  It generally enters our homes through power lines to a main switch at 120 to 240 volts.  The main switch is clearly marked with an "on" and "off" position and controls all the power in the house.

All lighting or general use circuits in a home are protected by either "circuit breakers" in newer homes or fuses in older ones.  You should always disconnect the power by moving the main switch to the "off" position when changing fuses or doing electrical work around the house.  Never open the door of the main switch -- if you sense something is wrong, call your electricity supplier.

The panel box or fuse box from the main switch is the one that splits the power into circuits that go into all the rooms in your home.  If you overload a circuit, say by plugging too many things in, the fuse may blow or the circuit breaker may trip, stopping the flow of power to that particular area.

In the basement

If you're looking for the breaker panels or fuse boxes in a home, you'll usually find them in the basement.  They require little if any maintenance.  Fuse boxes require the right type and size of fuses. Overloading circuits could cause power loss, or even lead to a fire.

If you detect rust in the fuse box, or if a fuse repeatedly blows for no apparent reason, if there is overheating, discoloration of fuses or flickering lights, contact an electrician to solve the problem.

Fuse changing

  • Use a flashlight if the area where the fuse box is located is dark.
  • Never change a fuse while standing on a wet floor.
  • Unplug appliances on the overloaded circuit and turn off the main switch.
  • Install the proper size fuse--most lighting and general use circuits are fused at 15 amps.
  • Keep the fuse box or breaker panel cover closed to protect children and prevent dirt from accumulating.

Look after your cords

  • Pull the plug when removing from electrical outlet. Pulling on the cord will wear it out and may create a shock hazard.
  • Keep cords away from heat and water, which can damage the insulation and create a shock hazard.
  • Never run electrical cords under rugs, through doorways or anywhere subject to excessive wear. This may lead to a fire hazard.
  • Never break off the third prong on a plug so it can fit into a two-prong outlet. This will create a shock hazard.
  • Regularly inspect all cords and plugs. To avoid fire, short circuits or shocks, discard all cords and plugs that are worn or damaged.
  • Plugging several cords into an outlet, or using an extension cord as permanent wiring, indicates that your home wiring is outdated for your needs and that you should have more outlets wired in.
  • Prevent pets from chewing electric cords by rubbing the cords with a bar of strong laundry soap.

Use electrical appliances carefully

  • Before buying, make sure it has a certification mark or seal ensuring electrical safety when the appliance is used properly.
  • Follow all the manufacturers instructions.
  • Never use any electric appliances around water. Even if your  hands are wet, or you're standing on a wet floor, you cold get a shock or other injury. For example, be careful when using hair blowers and radios in the bath area.
  • Don't pry toast from a plugged-in toaster with a knife or a fork. If you want to avoid a shock, unplug the toaster first.
  • Never touch plugged-in appliances when your hands are wet. Always unplug them before cleaning.
  • If an appliance sparks, overheats or stalls, pull the plug and have it checked by a service person.

Other safety tips

  • Never touch power lines yourself or with any equipment. Take extra care when working near them. Before doing any digging, call your local hydro company to locate underground power lines. Cutting through one is dangerous and could black out an entire area.
  • When planting trees around your home, make sure they won't grow up into power lines. Don't attempt to prune or fell any trees near power lines yourself. Call your local hydro company. A tree falling into a power line can be very dangerous.
  • Power tools should have a three-prong plug or double insulation. Keep them in good condition and never use power tools on wet grass or other wet surfaces. If you need an extension cord, use a proper, three-prong, grounded cord.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA


It's hard for an avid gardener to put down their spade come winter. That's why so many choose to garden year-round.

Whether it is wintering expensive outdoor annuals inside your home, investing in a small greenhouse or growing miniature indoor gardens on window ledges and in special containers, there are many ways to keep gardening all year.

Growing plants and flowers, both indoors and outdoors adds an element of beauty to your yard and home that can be very satisfying. It's also profitable. Well-placed trees, shrubs, flowering plants and an attractive lawn can increase the value of your property by as much as 10 per cent.

A greenhouse or solarium, or miniature indoor gardens that allow you to garden year-round, also add beauty and value to your home. A greenhouse, in fact, can be therapeutic. Not only can you watch flowers bloom and harvest vegetables and herbs 365 days of the year, you can work the soil and tend to it regardless of weather conditions.

So, if you don't want to give up the spade this fall, begin to consider the following options now:

Bringing your fancy annuals indoors

In addition to the inexpensive annuals, such as impatiens and petunias, most of us plant to add colour to our gardens every spring, consider investing as well in more expensive, but interesting and hardier annuals.

It's well worth the extra investment because most of these more expensive annuals will winter quite well inside your home, adding colour and brightness to those dull, dreary winter days.

Plants that perform well over the winter include hibiscus, lantana, Mexican heather, passion flower, lithodora, the Mandevilla hydrid, geraniums and others available in spring at most garden centres.

After enjoying their beauty all summer long, cut them back before the first frost in fall, pot and place them in a bright spot indoors until the following spring when you can slowly re-introduce them to the outdoors. Don't forget to include some herbs, such as rosemary, which stay well indoors over the winter too. Don't expect the plant tags to tell you these plants can thrive for more than one summer, though.

Invest in a greenhouse

A greenhouse can be the key to year-round gardening for many avid gardeners. There are many greenhouse models on the market today, in varying sizes and prices, to choose from. You can build your own, buy prefabricated kits which must be assembled, or have one custom built for your home.

Greenhouse gardening requires plenty of sunlight. So, choose the location carefully and consider the possibility of future expansion when deciding on the size. Greenhouses require fans, heaters, vents, sprinklers and shelving units. A variety of glazing materials are used to promote thermal efficiency, including glass, acrylic, film and polycarbonate. These materials can increase the rate of plant growth by as much as 50 per cent.

A greenhouse can be an avid gardener's dream come true. You can grow exotic plants and vegetables, experiment with new gardening techniques, and experience the warmth of a summer garden on the coldest of winter days.

Creating an indoor garden

Greening your home with indoor plants is fun and a bargain compared to filling up and brightening spaces using furniture and other decorative techniques. You can hang them from the ceiling, set them on tables and other furniture pieces, perch them on window sills, prop them in empty corners -- the possibilities are limitless.

Don't settle for just simple houseplants, There are many varieties of plants to choose from, including dwarf trees that can easily raise a crop of grapefruits, lemons or oranges right in your living room -- but you should expect a three to five year wait for the first fruit to develop.

If you don't have a big home or big ideas about indoor gardening, miniature houseplants can be very cheerful and great decorators. Because they occupy less space, you can also grow more of them and in greater variety. Dwarf geraniums, for example, will bloom over and over again. Small pots of colorful cacti will do well on a narrow window sill.

Windows can be the best places to decorate with a living garden, as long as the plants are not haphazardly arranged. It should be an artistic composition, an arrangement of plants and containers that create an attractive, refreshing and charming effect.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA


If your annual spring cleaning ritual has produced a mountain of unused and unwanted items, you may want to think twice before you simply toss them out. How about a yard sale to turn some of that "junk" into someone else's "treasure?"

Each weekend in spring and summer you'll find yard sales popping up in neighbourhoods everywhere. And, where there are yard sales, there are yard sale "junkies." For many people, scouring yard sales for a bargain on a Saturday morning is an art. Why not take advantage of that fact to make some cash off your cast-offs and have fun while you're at it.

The Ontario Real Estate Association and your local Realtor offer the following tips to host a successful yard sale:

First, settle on a date and time for your sale. Weekends are virtually universal for yard sales, and most run from 8 or 9 a.m. until 4 or 5 p.m. You'll also need to set a rain date, usually the next day if your sale is on a Saturday, or the following weekend if your date is Sunday.

Most sellers advertise by posting signs on lamp posts and hydro poles. This is a more effective way of letting people know you're open for business than you might suspect. Veteran buyers (see below for more) will scout a neighbourhood during the week looking for telltale flyers. Many of your customers will use this method.

Have someone present at all times. Theft is unlikely, but many sellers have learned the hard way that it does happen. Placing valuable items closer to your sales desk is a good idea.

Running out of change is also a problem that plagues many sales. As most of your transactions will involve small amounts, it never hurts to have $50 or more in small bills and loonies and twoonies at hand. Buyers will often stop at a bank machine before they come, so expect to get a lot of tens and twenties early in the day.

Think like a yard sale buyer The ability to deliver the kind of goods and service that buyers want is perhaps the most important factor in the success of your sale. There are a number of items that are always in high demand: art, antiques (even distressed pieces), furniture, appliances, electronic equipment, tools, and lately, computer games and accessories. If you have goods in any of these categories, mention them in your flyer or ad.

Surprisingly, many veteran yard salers are not interested in old clothing. Unless you've got something special to offer, you can expect to turn much of your old wardrobe over to charity.

As to pricing your goods, nothing turns away a potential buyer more than a price that is too high. You can always expect haggling, but most won't even bother if you price an old lamp at $20, when similar items can be had for $5. The best plan of action is to attend a few sales the week before, and find out the going prices.

How you physically place your goods can also make a big difference. Don't clutter up your yard, and make sure your items are separated by category. This is a great opportunity to be creative. For example, there is a mini-boom in memorabilia from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Believe it or not, the old Lava Lamp you consider trash, might be exactly what someone else is looking for.

Another good tip that will help make a sale is to offer free coffee to your visitors. A friendly face and a free cup of java can do wonders. Or if you want to get the kids involved, have them set up an old-fashioned lemonade stand and charge five cents a cup.

Depending on the type of items you're selling, you can expect to make as little as $20 or as much as a couple of hundred.

Finally, the success of a yard sale is measured by the amount of additional space you have in your house after the yard sale is over, and the amount of money you make. Now you may be tempted to run out and purchase more items that will likely end up in your next yard sale. But, why not celebrate your success by spending the money on dinner at a nice restaurant for the family and whoever helped at the sale.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA


Sometimes, all it takes is a few simple fix-ups to improve the look of your home and make it more marketable. Even if you don't plan to sell in the near future, a change of face can make your home more comfortable and appealing.

If your kitchen, bathroom and other rooms in your home look weary and tired but you can't afford to tear everything out and start over again, here are a few cost-effective solutions to consider:

Re-surface cabinets and counter tops

This is the way to go if you're happy with the layout of your kitchen, for example, and want to avoid a major renovation. Re-surfacing counters and cabinets will give you a whole new look for a lot less money.

Visit home improvement showrooms and see what products and styles are available. You can also ask a design consultant to come to your home and recommend different options. Sometimes, just painting the cabinets and changing the hardware can transform the look of a kitchen or bathroom overnight.

Update your floors

With today's many flooring options, there's no need to put up with worn carpets and tile floors. You can choose from install-it-yourself linoleum sheet and tiles to trickier hardwood applications. In addition to visual appeal, consider comfort, life span, cost and maintenance when considering re-doing your floors.

Sometimes, something as simple as adding a throw rug under a table or beneath chairs will add the warmth and colour you're looking for. Just ensure they are easy to clean and don't require a lot of upkeep.

Use light to brighten, set mood

Lighting creates atmosphere and mood in a room. Adding or changing existing ceiling fixtures, wall washers and pot lights can change the function of almost any room. For maximum flexibility, nothing works better than a floor or table lamp.

There are a huge number of options available when it comes to choosing the right lighting for any room. Is your kitchen really drab, or just too dark? Maybe all it needs is new track lighting that puts the spotlight where you want it. Under-cabinet task lighting makes work easier and safer and brightens those dark counter areas.

Whether used to highlight decor, set a mood, light work areas, or provide safety and security, new lighting is an easy and inexpensive way to make your home come alive.

Re-upholster your furnishings

Sometimes it takes more than a paint job and new floors or carpets to spruce up a room, especially if the fabric on your furniture looks tired and worn. If you are happy with the design of your furniture but crave new fabric colours and textures, re-upholstering can be less expensive than buying, for example, a whole new living or dining room set. Re-upholstering takes skill. Before attempting to re-upholster a furniture piece yourself, consider hiring a person who specializes in this craft.

While re-upholstering allows you to extend the life of an existing furniture piece, it isn't cheap. So, first determine exactly which furniture pieces you want to keep. You may just want to re-upholster a favourite chair or you may want to change the colouring of all the furniture in your living room. Be sure to carefully match the colour, texture and design of the new fabrics with your carpet or wall colours.

Change your window treatment

When you are considering changing window coverings, there is no shortage of selection. Blinds, shutters, sheers, shades, valances and just plain naked windows are only a few of your options.

The window treatment is often the most eye-catching aspect of a room. That's because windows serve as a visual link with the outside world. They are also the primary source of natural light in your home. Begin by deciding how important privacy is to you and whether you want your windows to admit air and light into the home.

If your windows reveal a pleasant view and privacy is not an issue, you may want to use minimal coverings that can be easily pulled back. Also, consider location. If your windows face north, you should aim to let in as much light as possible. If they face south or west, you may want to cut back on the amount of light.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA


Even on the dullest winter day, colour fills our lives.  Look around and you'll see a thousand shades of greens and browns, violets, greys, golds and blues.  Colour is also part of our language.  Few of us will dispute that it affects our moods and how we feel -- red with anger, green with envy, yellow with fear.

For these reasons, colour is also the decorator's most powerful tool.  No other design element has the quick impact or dramatic effect of colour.  If you want to add appeal and value to your home, there is no faster and often cheaper way than by using colour.

Whether it's a quick, relatively inexpensive pick-me-up paint job, new window coverings, complimentary wallpaper borders, new carpets, floors or other interior/exterior home improvements, colour can transform any room, cupboard or furniture item.

Before getting started, consider what you want to achieve.  Do you want to make a room or window look larger or smaller, a ceiling higher or lower? Do you want the atmosphere to be lively or restful?  Businesses, especially restaurants, often use colours such as bright, warm orange to enhance appetites.  Manufacturers often use red to draw attention to packaging.  Hospitals use restful colours like blue green to soothe people.

Selecting colours

Just as colours in clothing move in and out of fashion, so do colours in interior decoration.  The past decade saw a swing back to bright, dark colours, including very popular greens and reds that reminded us of rich spices.  It's anyone's guess what the next trend will be, but the neutral classics will always remain.

Choosing colour combinations for your home isn't that easy.  It requires commitment.  Whatever you do, you may have to live with it for a while.  Also, if you have plans to sell your home, you want to consider colours that will also appeal to prospective buyers.  When people view a home, they like to imagine how their own belongings will look in it.  Purple walls or furnishings in your home may make it difficult.

Colours also look different in combination with other colours and in different types of lighting.  A red may appear cold under a fluorescent light, but much warmer in a room with lots of natural light.  A deep blue may look bright and intense in a well-lit area, but cold and gloomy in a dark room.  Beige may seem dull and boring, but add a little yellow, green or orange and it comes alive.

The amount of colour also affects how you see it.  An all-red interior is too stimulating for most homes.  Red is best used as an accent to add drama and intrigue.  But beware of high-contrast situations.  Used in large areas of white or green, for example, red can also be trying to the eyes.

Colours affect our emotions and perceptions.  Red has been known to send the heart-rate up.  Orange and peach are associated with comfort and security.  Purple, through its association with religion, is often associated with mourning.  Research suggests that blue not only has a calming affect on people, but may actually lower blood pressure.  It is associated with purity and cleanliness and is at the top of the popularity chart for most adults.  Green is considered the most peaceful colour.

Some decorating tricks

  • Warm colours like reds, pinks, yellows and oranges will generally make a room feel warmer, smaller and friendlier.
  • Cool colours like greens and blues create a cooling, calming affect. They seem to push back the walls of a room and make small spaces appear bigger.
  • Light, cool colours can make a small room look larger and brighter.
  • Dark, warm colours can turn a large, cold room into something more inviting.
  • Neutral shades make a room more flexible for any type of furniture.
  • Raise a ceiling by painting it a lighter colour than the walls; lower it by painting it a darker colour, or by adding a darker border where the wall meets the ceiling.
  • Shorten a long hallway by painting the end walls a darker, warmer colour.
  • Use colour on furnishings to add brightness and drama. Pastel furnishings look smaller in a room, while deep, bright furnishings look bigger.
  • Camouflage eyesores, such as old radiators, by painting them the same colour as the walls.
  • Try to have a natural, complimentary flow of colour from one room to another.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA


Window coverings play a leading role in the interior of home. They can help set atmosphere and can be both attractive and functional. Windows now come in a variety of new shapes and sizes, which has put increased demand on window covering manufacturers to create new products.

Many new and custom-built homes have windows that are rounded, or that stretch from floor to ceiling. For owners of older homes, installing new windows is often high on their "must do" list, and each window often requires a different application. Whatever the window shape, there are probably more window covering choices in terms of pattern, colour scheme, and design than ever before.

Drapery Options

Today, families look at their homes as a place to retreat. Some people have called it "cocooning." This is reflected in the recent trend towards the traditional look, with the heavier fabrics and fuller drapes of days gone by. Drapes, with an interesting pattern and strong colour, are often combined with simple sheers or matching, lighter-weight balloon curtains.

Drapes are popular when matched with a covered valance or when they flow into a gentle or full swag. Drapes can make a strong fashion statement when they are accented by colour-coordinated or differently designed hooks and rods, or tied back in unusual ways.

Tassels are being revived again. Made of cord or rope and especially popular during Victorian days, tassel tie backs are practical with heavier fabrics. It's a look that is well suited to older homes with high ceilings because it creates an elegant graceful appearance.

Drapes in a print of pattern that pick up the primary colour, with a matching covered valance, will set the tone for the room especially if the same fabric is used to cover a lamp shade or used as a wallpaper border.

A combination of drapes tied back into a full swag with interior shutters is another popular look. This combination is particularly appealing on a bay window, with the drapes used as a side panel. Balloons (a fabric which gathers at the top of the window and swells out) can be used as a valance or alone to cover the entire window creating a warm and elegant feeling in the room.

Other Window Coverings

Balloons, blinds and verticals that have lead in popularity for the past five years are being replaced and upgraded. You can give verticals a new look by teaming them with an interesting valance or by adding drapes to blinds and blinds to balloons.

Another attractive option that can be used with any décor is the "shirred" curtain, a panel that is gathered on a rod both at the top and the bottom. Often used on door windows, it has become a popular and pretty way of covering the bottom half of a window.

Just as window-covering options are unlimited, so are the costs particularly when it comes to custom drapery. The major expense is not in the labor, design, or consulting fees, but in the fabric, especially if it is imported.

With so many window coverings to choose from, you may want to consider consulting an interior decorator to determine the best fit for your décor.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA

The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS®, and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are member’s of CREA. The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by CREA and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.