Guide to Bringing Holiday Cheer to Every Room in the House

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You may be part of the annual neighbourhood tradition of keeping the holiday spirits going with front lawn decorations. But what if you also want to do the same on the inside this year?

 

Fear not, we’ve got you covered – with ideas for every room in the house:

 

Basement

The decorations you choose for the basement depends on what kind of room you’ve turned your basement into.

Den or home theatre

LED strip lights running along the baseboards are a great feature for the den. They give the authentic theatre experience of guiding people to their seats. What’s even better is that you can customize the lighting colours you want at the flick of a switch. So come Christmas time, you can change the LED colours to patterns of red, green or white. If you’ve got framed posters of your favourite films on the walls, swap them out with framed posters of your favourite holiday movies. Finally, border the television screen with tinsel garlands. Or you can flank it with two Christmas trees decorated with everything but string lights. You don’t want any lights to distract you from the movie, after all. For a simpler décor, just mount a large festive wreath above the television screen.

Playroom

Whether the playroom is for the kids or the “kidults”, this is where you can throw in all the whimsical holiday decorations you want. Stick on cartoon wall decals of classic holiday characters. Create a giant, wall-sized advent calendar with fabric pockets for different days of the month. Hang colourful homemade stockings on the side of every basement stair step. And don’t forget to put up framed photos of your favourite past holiday party moments.

 

Bathroom

After converting the bathroom into your very own personal spa, you want the holiday decorations to be subtle and not too intrusive. Keeping with the spa theme, you can first get candles in holiday colours or designs and do the same with the towels. Next, hang up a framed painting of a winter landscape or a holiday theme.

If you want a little more, set a poinsettia flower arrangement on a back corner of the bathroom vanity. Not a fan of poinsettia? Fill a large glass jar with Christmas tree baubles instead. You can also arrange evergreen boughs around the edges of the vanity mirror.

 

Bedroom

For the bedroom, choose decorations that bring out as much of its cozy feeling as possible. For example, change the pillowcases, blankets or bedsheets into ones with holiday patterns or colours. Add to the coziness with a couple of thick oversized stockings hanging on the two lower bedposts. Next, border the ceiling with colourful string lights to create a sense of magic in the air just before you go to bed.

The finishing touch can be a mini Christmas tree on a corner of the dresser. Or as a cute gesture, arrange a mistletoe above you and your significant other’s bed.

 

Kitchen

With the kitchen being the centre of holiday feasts, decorations should be all about making the room appeal to the appetite. Bring the Christmas-themed cookie tins out onto the counter and fill them with baked goods throughout the holidays. Then, place a holiday-inspired centrepiece on the kitchen island. It could be something as simple as a fruit bowl with festive carvings or even a tiny Christmas tree with edible ornaments.

Still focusing on the kitchen island area, take inspiration from the shape of the light fixture above to decorate it for the holidays. If they’re pendant lights, you can use tinsel garlands to create Christmas tree outlines. If they’re built in a square or rectangle shape, transform that into Santa’s sleigh. Top off the kitchen decorations by changing the bar stool fabric upholstery to ones with holiday designs. Make sure that you’ve also got tea towels in place that have festive embroidering.

 

Living Room

As the main room that’s the hub of holiday festivities, decorate the living room in a way that you and guests will find warm and inviting. The big Christmas tree in the corner is probably a given, of course. Up next is the window display. It’s nice if you can make it fun to look at from the outside and the inside. Macy’s holiday window displays are famous in New York so it doesn’t hurt to take a page or two from their designs.

You’ll also want to change the throw pillows and quilts on the couch to ones with holiday-themed designs or colours. The best way is to get throw pillows with removable fabric covers. That way, you just have to store fabric covers for whatever occasion and switch them out as needed every year. Hook up a sound system in the room and pipe in a broad range of holiday music – from classic carols to pop songs. Just make sure to keep the volume level down to background level. Last but not least, decorate the fireplace with stockings and ornaments on the mantel. After that, stock up on firewood because nothing complements winter holidays best than getting a lively fire going.

 

From all of us here at Premier Group Contractors, we hope you make merry and enjoy your holidays!

8 Ways to Waterproof Your Bathroom

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Designing the bathroom of your dreams is so much fun that it’s easy to forget about what’s involved behind-the-scenes to keep it watertight. A bathroom that’s not waterproof is vulnerable to water damage and harmful mould. You definitely don’t want to risk that. There was a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Public Health that found a connection between mold exposure and depression.

 

So, let’s maintain your bathroom as the happy paradise it’s meant to be. Here are 8 ways to do that:

 

Vapour barrier

A vapour barrier is a key part to waterproofing your bathroom. Where it’s applied though depends on the climate you live in. Around Toronto and the GTA, winters here are a huge consideration. If you plan on completely gutting and renovating your bathroom walls, make sure to get it professionally done by a general contractor. That way, you’ll get the right vapour barrier (e.g. polyethylene sheet or vapour-barrier paint) properly applied.

 

Tile walls

Tile backed by cement board is your best friend if you want a waterproof bathroom. At the very least, you should use tile around your shower or bathtub. Tile is water-resistant after it’s sealed. This also makes future maintenance easy with only simple wipe-downs needed.

 

Cement board

For a non-tiled look in your bathroom though, it’s important that you choose cement boards as the wall material – and maybe even for the ceiling portion above your shower or bathtub. Cement board is very durable and, above all, resistant to mould. It’s designed for high-moisture areas like the bathroom. You can also paint it with any colour you like as long as a thin layer of plaster is applied over the cement board first.

 

Exhaust fan

Hot-shower aficionados will especially appreciate this when steam is quickly whisked away once they step out. This is a must to minimize the risk of prolonged humidity staying in the bathroom. Just be sure to check that the fan’s edges and ductwork are well insulated.

 

Silicone caulking

Once the walls, shower, bathtub, and vanity are completed, apply silicone caulking to all the joints around them. Carefully clean the area first so that the silicone sticks properly. This will prevent water from getting into unseen gaps.

 

Waterproof paint

As soon as the walls and ceiling are completely dry (run a dehumidifier for a few days to make sure), you can use waterproof paint on them. Before slapping on the paint though, always put on a coat of primer first.

 

Water-resistant flooring

For the bathroom flooring material, you want to go with those that are water-resistant. This means either stone/ceramic tile or vinyl. Take the same care when you’re choosing your baseboards as well.

 

Sealing the floor

With the flooring done, the final act of waterproofing lies in the sealing. Sweep away all traces of dust and dirt from the floor before sealing so that you get an even application. If you’ve chosen tile for your flooring, spend extra time on the grout lines as those are the likely places for water to seep through.

 

Now you can take that extra-long shower or languish for hours in a bubble bath, free of any worries. Let the winter blues run down the drain – and not behind the walls!

Top Bathroom And Kitchen Trends in 2017

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Accessibility

With populations aging and more awareness of the differently abled, accessibility issues have become more important to the general public.  Sloped entry ways, lowered shelving and light switches, touchless faucets and wider doorways all promote accessibility for all.  Automated systems such as remote controlled drapery, motion detected lighting and smartphone operated HVAC systems not only help the differently abled, but they can be more energy efficient as well.   

Quartz Countertops

Quartz works as a countertop because of its durability and resistance to staining and scratching.  With the advent of engineered quartzes which contain an added resin, homeowners no longer have to worry about sealing, polishing or sanding down their countertops.  A simple wipe with a soft cloth and mild soap is all that’s needed.  Whether used in the bathroom or kitchen, quartz countertops come in a huge variety of styles that can be chosen to work with any surroundings.

Large Stone Slabs

Whether used as dining room table tops, kitchen backsplashes or shower surrounds, single slab tiles act as functional, fashionable and waterproof protective surfaces.  Without the need for grout, they’re more easily cleaned and while affording aesthetically pleasing surfaces.  Although they may be more expensive than traditional materials, the eye-popping value makes it worth the cost.

High Contrast Colours

Strong color combinations have traditionally been considered a no-go when it comes to interior design.  Worry about resale value, colour fatigue and matching issues have led designers to be more conservative when it come to colour combinations.  However, with classic bold colours such as blacks or reds, homeowners and designers have found using unique accessories, materials and patterns that complement the high contrast colours can create styles that are more timeless than flash-in-the-pan.  Don’t be steered away from a colour combination that innately appeals to you.

Open Concept Showers

Sticking with accessibility issues, but also providing a dramatic flair, curbless, open-concept showers give the bathroom a larger look by losing the enclosed space.  Making the bathroom floor a single level allows easier shower use for the elderly or differently abled.  Additionally, cleaning becomes simpler as there are fewer edges for dirt to accumulate, while the lack of shower doors cuts down on residual soap scum.

Today’s Top 4 Bathroom Renovation Trends

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After kitchens, bathrooms are the most commonly renovated rooms in the modern household.  Taking a cue from trendy restaurant and bar restrooms, household bathrooms have gained the potential to become Instagrammable spaces rather than solely functional rooms. Here’s a list of today’s top 4 bathroom renovation trends to help you create an area worthy of showing off to the world.   

Bathroom Fixtures

 

The first thing the eye is drawn to in any bathroom are the fixtures:  shower, tub, sink and toilet.  With today’s deluxe fixtures which can include walk-in showers, double sinks, free standing tubs and high tech toilets, the modern homeowner has a large variety from which to choose.  Select a fixture that can become the focal point of the bathroom and add the rest to accentuate.  Whether pursuing an ultra-modern or rustic sensibility, choosing the right fixtures will go a long way to setting the tone of the room.     

 

Technology

 

With smart technology becoming more common in everyday places such as the car, living room and kitchen, why not bring your bathroom into the 21rst century?  Toilets are available with heated seats, nightlights and self-cleaning technologies.  Showers and tubs can be fitted with waterproof music and television systems.  Sinks have touchless technology helping prevent the spread of germs.  In addition, water conservation innovations are geared towards saving money and the environment.

 

Tiling

 

Bathroom tiles that have recent gained popularity include raw and natural materials such as concrete or marble. Both lend a classic look while being thoroughly modern.  Continuing with the natural and raw trend are tiles that simulate the look of brick or wood.  At the time of tile installation, underfloor heating is also a popular choice to make the morning ablutions a little more appealing.

 

Modernist Comfort

 

A modern twist on old style comfort is leading the way in current bathroom renovations.  Plenty of natural light coming from large windows complemented with natural or faux natural tiling materials will accent sleek, minimalist new fixtures.  The addition of the newest innovations in water conservation, entertainment systems and touchless technologies bring the bathroom into the 21rst century.  By joining high tech innovations with old school coziness, today’s bathrooms have become a focal point in the modern household.

4 Reasons to Renovate Your Bathroom

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With the amount of time we spend in the bathroom every day, the bathroom should be at the top of the renovations priority list (well, second to the kitchen). But if you’re ever stuck wondering exactly why you should renovate the bathroom before adding the patio in the back, here are four good reasons why:

 

Increased home value

If you’re thinking of selling the house in the near feature, this reason alone would be enough to spur you into action. The two rooms you’ll get the most bang for your buck in renovations are the kitchen and the bathroom. We’ve talked about why kitchen renovations are worth it before so we’ll focus on the bathroom this time. According to the “2016 Cost vs. Value Report” in Remodeling Magazine, U.S. homeowners were able to recoup as much as 70% of their bathroom remodel costs from their house sale. This high recoup percentage goes to show just how much buyers value updated bathrooms. It’s easy to understand why if you put yourself in the shoes of the buyer.

Think back to the times when you visited your friend’s house and had to use their bathroom at one point in the evening. It always feels a bit uncomfortable using someone else’s bathroom. Even if it’s spotless, there’s always that lingering doubt simply because it’s not your own. Now imagine if, on top of that, the bathroom looks like a “modern” bathroom from the heyday of the ‘70s. Yeah…you probably want to just quickly do your thing and get out of there as fast as you can. A newly remodelled bathroom goes a long way in helping potential buyers overcome their initial discomfort at being in someone else’s bathroom. At the same time, it’ll bring your house that much closer to many buyers’ dream of getting a turnkey house where they don’t have to deal with more renovations.

 

Utilities savings

New products with improved smart home technology come out every year and many of them are designed for to help homeowners save on utility costs. The bathroom is arguably where you use the most water in the house so it makes sense to upgrade its plumbing fixtures. Some water-efficient upgrades you can make include low-flow shower heads, low-flow faucets or faucet aerators, and low-flow/dual-flush toilets. There’s also the opportunity of installing energy-efficient lights as well. Instead of having a single ceiling pot light with inefficient bulbs, why not put in several lighting sources with high-efficiency bulbs? You’ll get multi-directional lighting – which is crucial in the bathroom – at a much lower cost.

These energy-efficient changes are big selling points for buyers because it means that they’ll maximise cost-savings right from the get-go. And if you don’t intend on selling the house yet, you’ll still get the pay-off of cost-savings in the long run.

 

Decreased clutter

We all know that entropy is king in our lives and it seems like there’s never enough space for all the stuff we accumulate. The same goes for life in the bathroom. Everyone has their daily bathroom routines and all the supplies for those routines get stored in the bathroom. Eventually though, the excess starts spilling over onto the bathroom counter. That’s when you know you have a problem. So when you get the chance to renovate your bathroom, make sure to maximise the storage space in there. You can build custom cabinets, open shelves, or even a storage closet if you have the space. It’ll give a good impression to potential buyers and you’ll feel like life is somewhat under control – at least when you enter the bathroom anyway! Ultimately, decreased clutter is what will lead you to the next benefit of renovating your bathroom.

 

Relaxation zone

When you’re in the bathroom with the door closed, you’re in your own zone. You can relax and have a moment to lose yourself in your own thoughts. To take full advantage of these moments, it helps a lot if you’ve treated yourself by turning the bathroom into your own personal spa. Switch out your shower head for a rain shower one with a body spray function. Install radiant floor heating and even towel warmers. In fact, just go all out and build a bathtub-shower wet room. Your future self soaking in a candlelit bubble bath will thank you one day.

 

The bathroom is where you prepare for and wind down each day of your life. So why not bookend every day with a bathroom that brings you joy?

Making Your Home Kid-Friendly

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What’s the ideal environment to raise your children? That’s the golden question for a lot of parents and you’ve probably asked yourself that countless of times. Some swear by giving kids the freedom to play and make their own discoveries. Others prefer a more structured life at home. There’s really no right answer because everyone’s different. All you can do is listen to find out what your children’s needs are so that you can keep adjusting their environment to nurture them the best you can.
One of the adjustments you can always make is to your home. That’s also a tough balance to maintain. Think about what everyone’s daily habits/responsibilities are in your home and what can be changed to ease them. Ideally, the home improvements help make life easier for your kids as they’re growing up while also staying versatile enough to fit with their young adult lives years later. Here are some ideas:

 

Prepare for wear and tear

Kids are always going to make a mess. They’ve just started learning how to put one foot in front of the other. And it’s not as if grownups are any better because some of us still end up being klutzes after all these years! You don’t have to freak out every time they start wandering around. Just choose materials throughout the house that are sturdy, easy to clean, and can handle anything kids throw at them.

Let’s start with the floors, which get the most use in the house. Lay down carpet or cork for the kids’ bedrooms and play areas (but not if their play areas are down in the basement). In the kitchen where spills are most likely, go with stone/ceramic tile, vinyl, bamboo or cork. Make sure the flooring you choose have non-slip or textured surfaces. Every room is more suited to specific flooring types so keep that in mind, too. If you want to have rugs, consider using outdoor rugs on the inside. They’re usually made of tougher material that can take a lot of damage without being too noticeable.

Invest in some durable countertops that don’t stain and are low-maintenance. Laminate is always a popular choice because it’s inexpensive and won’t be too heartbreaking to replace further down the road. If you want a more durable and longer-lasting choice though, quartz countertops are the way to go. Yes, they’re expensive, but there’s less chance of having to replace them due to damage.

 

Family central

Kids grow up so quickly and you want to be there to catch every moment. That’s why it’s best to go with open floor plans that allow your kitchen, living room, and dining room to flow into one another. These are the central areas where most of the family hang out during the day. Opening them all up will give you more opportunities to interact with your kids. Plus, you’ll have better sight lines to keep an eye on them!

If you have space, it’s a great idea to install a kitchen island with a sink, food preparation area, and breakfast bar counter. That way, you can chat with your kids while you’re doing dishes and they’re enjoying their afternoon snack. You can turn the kitchen island into even more of a central activity hub by building in a family schedule bulletin/white board at one end, hidden out of sight with a cabinet door.

In the dining room, try using slipcovers to protect the chairs from mess. You can get different sets of slipcovers and switch them out for cleaning or special occasions.

 

From accessibility to DIY

It’s only a matter of time until your kids naturally get curious about what’s inside all the drawers and cabinets in the magical land of the kitchen. Encourage their curiosity without any worries by stocking the lower drawers with contents you’re okay with them handling. This can include dishes, too! It may seem like a bad idea at first, but if dishes are stored in lower pull-out drawers, they’ll have an easier time reaching them. It’s especially useful if you put the dish drawer(s) right next to the dishwasher so you can encourage them to start doing things themselves while helping you put dishes away.

Continuing on the DIY encouragement path, place snacks and food that your kids are allowed to eat in the lower pantry shelves. Anything you don’t want them to touch can go on the higher shelves. Do the same with your refrigerator. If you have a large refrigerator with many drawers, designate specific drawers to hold fresh food for each of your children’s tastes. By making healthy snack ingredients accessible for your kids, you set them on a good path to start learning how to take care of themselves. It’ll make your life easier, too, while you’re at it.

 

Clear the traffic jam

Getting your kids ready for school while getting yourself ready for work is always a struggle. Over the years, you’ve probably refined an efficient routine to get the morning chaos under control. To streamline everything even more, clear up the waiting times for everyone’s turn at the bathroom. Either add a second bathroom or install a double-sink vanity in the current bathroom if possible. Also, put in a storage closet/cabinet to better organise everyone’s toiletries and reduce the frantic hunts for something someone else misplaced.

 

Above all, try to remember what it felt like when you were growing up. It’ll help you see the world through your children’s eyes. And remind you how awesome kids are.

8 Must-Have Bathroom Features to Boost Home Value

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There’s no doubt that an updated kitchen is top of the list for many buyers. After feasting their eyes on the kitchen though, the next room they also need a huge checkmark next to on their list is the bathroom. The appeal of the bathroom is in the fact that it’s where you can get away from people – completely opposite to the kitchen – and is perhaps the only place you can be in the comfort of your guaranteed privacy. So it goes without saying that you – and future buyers – want the bathroom to be loaded with features that help ease you into that pool of calm where you can relax and truly be yourself.

 

You can personalise your bathroom any which way you want, but if you’re thinking of selling your house in the near future, it’s probably best to stick with the features most people love so much that they’ve become must-haves in their dream bathroom. Let’s take a look at what some of these features are, from the easiest and space-friendly upgrades first:

 

Shower head upgrade

Spas are the ultimate relaxation treats and many people want to bring a little bit of that experience into their own bathrooms. One way to do that is to upgrade your shower head system into one that has a body spray function and a rain shower head, with the option of a separate shower wand.

 

Water-efficient plumbing fixtures

People are becoming more aware of the world’s dwindling fresh water supply and many want to do their part in water conservation. Installing low-flow shower heads, low-flow faucets or faucet aerators, and low-flow or dual-flush toilets is a big step towards reducing household water usage. Having water-efficient plumbing fixtures already installed is a major plus on many green-conscious people’s books.

 

Built-in cabinets or open shelves

Extra storage is always appreciated and that’s often a rare commodity in the bathroom. You can put up open shelves on any empty wall space or even have custom cabinets built to keep your bathroom essentials out of sight. Better yet, if you have the room and want a lot of storage space, convert a corner into a storage closet complete with floor-to-ceiling shelving and its own door.

 

Vanity mirror lighting

Many bathrooms are actually inadequately lit with a single lamp in the middle of the ceiling. So any bathrooms that have additional lighting will stand out from the rest. The most important area that needs ample lighting is by the vanity mirror, where people spend much of their time brushing away their sleepiness in preparation for a brand new day. That additional lighting can come in the form of a pair of sconce lamps on either side of the vanity mirror and/or a pair of table lamps that match the bathroom décor on the vanity. If you need electrical wiring or extra sockets installed for the lamps, make sure it’s done by a professional electrician.

 

Benches

Ever notice how you never seem to have enough space to place clean clothes or towels when you’re about to take a shower? Or you when you need to sit down to dry your feet and have to do that on the toilet seat lid? If you have the space in your bathroom, a built-in bench (maybe even one that flips up against the wall to save space) or at least a portable one would make life a lot easier.

 

Trough sinks

Again, this feature is only if you have space in your bathroom. Trough sinks are great because they give you and your family the flexibility of using the sink simultaneously if you’re all pressed for time some mornings.

 

Radiant floor heating and/or towel warmer

There’s nothing quite like stepping out of a shower onto a warm tile floor. Not only does radiant floor heating keep you from missing your hot shower too much, but it also helps dry the bathroom floor a lot faster and prevents humidity build-up in the bathroom. You can even add a wall-mounted or freestanding towel warmer for an extra touch of cozy luxury.

 

Bathtub-shower wet room

There’s a growing trend these days to place a freestanding bathtub inside a shower area partitioned from the rest of the bathroom as a wet room. This trend is catching on because it’s safer (you don’t have to take a big step over the side of the bathtub every time you just want to take a shower), low-maintenance (you can clean around the bathtub without having to step into it to clean the wall on the bathtub side), and design-friendly (the ability to use a freestanding bathtub opens the door to a wide range of bathtub looks and shapes that you can choose from).

 

Even if your bathroom can’t accommodate all of these features, integrating any of these into your bathroom will make it that much more attractive. If you want your bathroom to stand out to potential buyers, always make sure to check out what features are standard in your neighbourhood so that you can match them and add extra unique features that will put your bathroom a notch above the rest.

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