Ideas To Keep You Busy During the Pandemic

We recognize these are very hard times for everybody.  Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, and those who have suddenly found themselves unemployed. We can’t imagine how you must be feeling. We are doing our very best to provide reliable service under unusual circumstances, and hope our world can get back on its feet as soon as possible.

Declutter Your Home

Whether you are thinking about selling your home or not, it is never a bad idea to think about organizing, reorganizing and downsizing the amount of stuff you manage to accumulate over time. Here are 3 tips to help you declutter your home.

Set Up a Schedule
Depending upon how long you have lived in your home or how many items you have managed to accrue over the years, the thought of cleaning up your home and organizing your stuff may seem a little overwhelming.

If this is the case, try to set out a timetable or schedule with deadlines that you feel are realistic. This schedule can also include lists or categories of what will be sold (perhaps at a garage sale) what will be given to the local thrift shop and what will be thrown out.

One Room at a Time
When you are creating this schedule, try to break your home into simpler, smaller components such as rooms. Set up a timeline that will allow you to declutter your home room by room in a systemic and time sensitive manner.

For example, try decluttering one bedroom a week or for more intensive jobs such as the kitchen or garage, set aside a full weekend. You will be surprised how quickly the process will go when it is broken down into manageable chunks.

Now that you have decluttered your home, maybe you are thinking about a renovation?  Here are some tips on how to set your budget.

Setting a Renovation Budget

One of the fastest ways to increase the value of your home is a home renovation. That’s the easy part, the hard part is setting a budget for your renovation and not going over it.  As the premier real estate agent for Niagara on the Lake, here are some tips on how to set a proper renovation budget and stick to it.

Understanding Percentages

A quick way to estimate and set a rough budget is to look at your renovation as a percentage of the total value of your home.

For example:

A kitchen generally accounts for anywhere from 10% to 15% of your overall property value.  If your home is worth $300,000 then your renovation budget should be below $45,000.

Here’s the Deal:

Kitchen renovations generally offer one of the lowest returns on your overall investment.  For every dollar that you spend your average return rate is 50 cents.  The highest rate of return on a renovation is a mid-range bathroom remodel.

Loan Options

Once you have made up your mind on the type of renovation you want and have estimated what it is going to cost, the next step is looking at various loan options.

  • Line of Credit – This can be a great way to pay for renovations and is quickly accessible. Talk to your bank about their interest rates on a line of credit and if you qualify.
  • Home Equity Loan – Often called a second mortgage. A home equity loan allows you to borrow a certain percentage of your home’s overall value.
  • Refinancing – Depending upon your current interest rate, you may want to think about refinancing your mortgage at either a lower rate or for a longer term allowing you to save for your renovation.

Regardless of what type of financing you choose, plan to give yourself a 10 – 15% cushion on your original estimate, this will allow for cost overruns or unforeseen expenses.

Shop Around

Take the time to talk to a wide range of contractors and make sure to get quotes. Be very specific about what you want done in your renovation and make sure that all the details, including the type of materials that are to be used are included in your quote.   Make sure to ask a lot of questions about the overall timeframe for the job, what type of insurance they provide and references from past clients.

Stick to the Game Plan

Although it may be tempting to add small remodeling jobs onto the planned renovation, try to refrain.  The fastest way to overspend on your renovation budget is by changing your mind or the initial renovation part way through.  If possible, stick to the original plan and quote.

A renovation can breathe new life into any room in your home.  It is also one of the most effective ways to increase your home’s value.  By setting a renovation budget and sticking to it, you should be able to enjoy your home without breaking the bank.

Some Great Kitchen updates

So, your perfect home has everything you have been looking for but has a small kitchen with limited space.  A creative approach to this problem will save you both the time and money of renovating your kitchen.

Think Vertical

The best way to create space is by going up.  Once you have filled up your kitchen cabinets, drawers and cupboards look at your empty walls.  Using your available wall space is an excellent way to get the most out of your limited kitchen space.

Think about:

  • Mounting magnetic knife holders above your kitchen counters.
  • Hanging pots and pans from a rack above your kitchen table or from shelving.
  • Hanging oven mitts and dish towels from rods, hooks or racks.
  • Storing spices, cookware and dishes on shelving.

By going vertical, you will be able to free up precious and limited counter space and keep it free of clutter and debris.

Go Big

Create the illusion of more space by adding some colour to your kitchen.  Pick an accent wall and paint it or hang a piece of your favourite art.  A stylish, large mirror is another great way to open your kitchen.  Give your small kitchen a bit of personalization and maximize that limited space.

Shed Some Light on it

If you are looking at upgrading any part of your kitchen, upgrade your lighting.  A well-lit room not only makes it appear larger, it also creates a warm and inviting atmosphere.  Try to find lighting that provides a nice sunlit glow that will add an invigorating feeling to your kitchen.

Portable Options

A small kitchen does not mean a kitchen without a dishwasher.  Think about adding a portable dishwasher to your kitchen that can be wheeled into a larger room when not in use.  Another great option is a countertop dishwasher.  Either choice will provide you with the same time-saving convenience of a standard dishwasher.  Look around and find one with the proper dimensions for your kitchen.

Live the Island Life

A kitchen island is the most versatile kitchen tool for any space.  An island not only provides more counter space it also provides more storage.  A portable kitchen island can double as a bar at your next party and be moved to other rooms to free up much needed space.

A small kitchen should not be synonymous with a renovation.  Instead, get creative and look for ways to maximize the limited space.

Make your Small Bathroom Bigger

A small bathroom is not the end of the world, nor does it mean that you need to spend thousands of dollars to renovate.  As the premier agent for NOTL real estate, I would like to offer you the following ways to make your small bathroom look bigger.

Brighten Up

The fastest, easiest and most effective way to make your bathroom appear larger is to bring in as much light as possible.  Light, bright rooms always feel larger and more spacious than dark or drab ones.  Some great ways to brighten up your small bathroom include:

  • Add more lighting. Install some additional light fixtures to increase the amount of light in the bathroom.
  • Change the colour. Paint the walls and ceiling the same colour.  By choosing a light colour, you can make your bathroom appear far larger.  Multiple colours tend to chop the room up, making it feel smaller.  Dark colours just make the room feel smaller.
  • If you have windows, remove any curtains or blinds to maximize all the natural light.

Mirror Mirror

Install larger or more mirrors in your small bathroom to create a bigger space.  Mirrors reflect light and this will make your small bathroom feel more spacious.  Mirrors are also the perfect way to enlarge your bathroom without overcrowding your walls.  When selecting a mirror, some things to consider include:

  • Look for a framed mirror. Frames can make a dramatic statement and tie your bathroom together.
  • Go less traditional. Choose a shape other than rectangular.  Instead, try an oval or circular mirror to add a touch of softness and sophistication to your bathroom.

Streamline Design

A streamlined bathroom is a more spacious bathroom.  Look to streamline your storage by keeping it as flush to the wall as possible.  Anything that sticks out or is asymmetrical will make your bathroom appear smaller.  Instead, use recessed shelving and medicine cabinets.

Remove clutter in the bathroom except for the most essential bathroom items.  This even includes the bathmat which will take away floor space and make your bathroom feel smaller.

Here’s the deal:

If you don’t need it, store it elsewhere in your house.

Raise your shower curtain bar to the roof to create the illusion of a taller ceiling and thus a larger space.  You can also do this with your window dressings, which will make your windows look longer and larger.

A small bathroom does not equate to a costly renovation.  Instead, get creative and use these tips to create a seemingly larger space.  If you would like any other tips on how to make your bathroom appear larger or are interested in some of the exciting, new NOTL real estate options, please contact me today.

Improve Your Curb Appeal

Here are some tips on how you can improve the look of the exterior of your home.

A Fresh Coat of Paint

A fresh coat of paint on your home’s exterior is a great way to increase the appeal.  But. if a new coat of paint is not in your budget, there are smaller jobs that will also increase your home’s curb appeal.

  • Repaint the trim around your doors and windows and other accent areas on the exterior.
  • Paint your door. Add a splash of colour to your door to make your home a standout.  This year’s popular colour choices are red and yellow.

Clean Up

A great way to pass the time during this pandemic is to dedicate a weekend and cleaning up your yard and the exterior of your home.


When cleaning up the outside of your home, you will need to do more than just mow the lawn and sweep your driveway.

  • Wash the windows both inside and out.
  • Check for any damaged siding, or any areas that are in need of re-caulking.
  • Power wash your home’s exterior, driveway, walkways and fence. Be careful not to damage the caulking around your doors and windows or your roof’s shingles.

Added Details

Adding a few details to the exterior is another way to increase its value.  Some simple yet effective additions or changes include:

  • Replace or repaint your mailbox.
  • Add shutters to your home. Shutters are an effective way to break up a rather bland exterior wall while at the same time make your windows look bigger. To maximize their effect, try choosing a colour that contrasts that of your home’s exterior.
  • Plant flowers in your front yard or add planters and hanging baskets to the entrance and porch.
  • Replace or repaint your house numbers and exterior light fixtures.

These simple yet effective tips will greatly improve your home’s curb appeal and make your home more attractive to prospective buyers.  If you are interested in other ways to improve the look of the exterior of your home or are thinking about listing your property on the NOTL real estate market, please contact me today.  I would love to be a part of your sales team.  I look forward to working with you soon.

More Great Exterior updates

Chances are portions of your home’s exterior have been neglected and could use some attention. Now is the time to get some chores done.

As the premier Niagara on the Lake real estate agent, I would like to share with you the following tips on how you can make the exterior of your home more appealing.

Update the Patio Furniture

You can never go wrong with updated patio furniture.  Not only does new furniture make your home look more attractive, you also get to keep that furniture and enjoy it in your home, so it is essentially a win-win situation.

This summer’s patio furniture trends:

  • Oversized, modern chairs and table silhouettes.
  • A citrus colour pallet with plenty of green tones.
  • Matching streamlined furniture sets to reflect your home’s unique patio and exterior.

Add to the ambiance of your new patio furniture with garden boxes, hanging flower pots, bright citrus throw cushions and blankets as well as trellises and planters.

Add Exterior Accessories

Adding some eye-catching exterior bling will make your home more appealing to a home buyer.  Additions such as trendy bronze or chrome house numbers will make any home shine.  Exterior home lighting is another thing that a potential buyer is looking for.  Outdoor lighting can highlight your home’s landscaping or new coat of paint.

A few added touches to the exterior of your home can go a long way.

Please stay safe and keep busy during this time.  When this is all over and we are back in the swing of things, I would love to be of service to you in any way that helps.