backsplash

5 Fresh Kitchen Backsplash Ideas

Backsplashes have come a long way from their humble beginnings. Once installed only to protect walls from water, grease and food splatter, the original backsplashes were just four inches high and had little decorative appeal.

Today’s backsplashes are essential kitchen accents, adding vibrant pops of color, light and texture — in addition to protecting walls from inevitable kitchen messes. If your kitchen needs a face-lift, here are five dynamic backsplash ideas to provide a finishing touch.

1. Ceramic and glass tiles

  • Cost: Moderate.
  • Maintenance: Tiles are easy to clean, but grout can stain and should be resealed regularly.

Those craving historic authenticity need look no further than ceramic tile, the original backsplash material. Beautiful ceramic tiles remain popular for their durability, versatility, low maintenance and affordability — but today’s tiling options also include glass, which adds a captivating play of light. Whether you prefer glass or ceramic, you’ll find colors, shapes and patterns to fit with modern and traditional kitchens.

Tiles are generally resistant to both water and heat. They clean up easily, but the grout lines between them are vulnerable to stains.

» MORE: 5 kitchen remodel loans: Compare financing options

2. Chalkboard paint

  • Cost: Low.
  • Maintenance: Some chalkboard paints are difficult to clean; the backsplash may require touching up.

For a quick and affordable touch of whimsy, try a chalkboard paint backsplash. This special paint is made from hard pigments and dries to a finish much like a real chalkboard. Write menus and messages on it with regular chalk, or draw pictures. Use a standard chalk eraser or damp cloth to wipe your backsplash clean.

Chalkboard paint is usually classic black but is available in other colors too. For easy upkeep, look for chalkboard paints that are washable and scrubbable. While these backsplashes are fun and require only periodic touch-ups, be aware that a dark backsplash may make your kitchen look smaller.

3. Glass panels

  • Cost: Moderate to high.
  • Maintenance: Glass requires frequent cleaning to keep looking neat, but is easy to wipe down.

For a small kitchen, there’s nothing like glass to create the illusion of space and make a bold statement. Backsplashes made of smoked mirror or colorful glass panels can open up the room by reflecting light and give a kitchen a clean, modern look.

Glass is waterproof, low-maintenance and easy to wipe down, but because of its reflective surface, it requires more frequent cleaning to keep it looking neat. Splatters and fingerprints will show, especially on mirrors, making it an impractical choice for some.

» MORE: What a kitchen remodel costs — and ways to save

4. Metal

  • Cost: High.
  • Maintenance: Stainless steel is easy to clean and low-maintenance; copper should be sealed regularly to maintain shine.

Much like glass, metals such as copper and stainless steel reflect light to brighten and open up space. Metal backsplashes come in many textures and sheens, including shiny, brushed and hammered. Some also include patterns.

Metal is a durable and heat-resistant option for modern or industrial aesthetics, and it tends to be expensive. Stainless steel requires little maintenance other than wiping up acidic splashes quickly, but copper may require sealing or a periodic salt and lemon rub to remove patina, which can make it look green.

5. Stone

  • Cost: Moderate to high.
  • Maintenance: Natural stone requires annual resealing, and rough surfaces can be difficult to clean; engineered quartz is low-maintenance and easy to clean.

From the elegance of polished granite to the understated vibe of slate, smooth cool stone makes any kitchen feel luxurious. Stone backsplashes come in countless colors and patterns to match almost any decor, and this popular choice could add value to your home.

No two natural stone backsplashes are exactly alike. And while they do require annual resealing, they’re highly durable and heat-resistant. Engineered quartz provides an attractive, low-maintenance alternative to natural stone while presenting a more uniform look.

Although stone can be expensive, don’t rule it out completely if your budget is limited. Pairing stone backsplashes with a more affordable countertop material can give your kitchen a high-end feel while keeping overall costs in check.


The article 5 Fresh Kitchen Backsplash Ideas originally appeared on NerdWallet.


HAPPY NATAL DAY HALIFAX! (Twitter Post)

Natal Day – August 1, 2022

Everyone loves to celebrate a birthday, so on August 1, have a Happy Natal Day — in honor of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. A holiday that began in 1895, Natal Day was organized as a way to celebrate Nova Scotia’s history. Natal, in case you’re wondering, is from the Latin word for “birth.” Festivities for this holiday typically last the whole weekend before Natal Day (which falls on a Monday), so get ready to celebrate, attend a lot of outdoor parties and eat a ton of cake. Hello? It’s a birthday after all.

HISTORY OF NATAL DAY

Natal Day is a popular civic holiday celebrated in the Halifax-Dartmouth region every year on the first Monday of August. The festivities are marked with parades, fireworks, races, cake-cutting ceremonies, concerts, and more.

Natal Day was first celebrated on June 21, commemorating the founding of Halifax in 1749. The town historian Dr. John P. Martin wrote about how Natal Day celebrations shifted to August in his book “The Story Of Dartmouth.” The first annual Natal Day started in the summer of 1895. For many years, Dartmouth observed Natal Day of Halifax on June 21 — most shops were open only until noon, and schools were closed for the day. Dominion Day would mostly pass unrecognized, while June 21 was celebrated jubilantly.

The townsfolk decided to have their own Natal Day, with the holiday date coinciding with the inauguration of the first train arriving on the new railway line in the area. As the new railway branch was scheduled to be completed by August of 1895, preparations to host a summer carnival began earlier in the same year. Special fares were requested to be issued so out-of-town visitors could visit Dartmouth and observe the area’s residential and industrial potential, as well as witness the beautiful scenery surrounding Dartmouth Lakes.

By June, it was evident that the railway branch would not be finished that year. The locals and the Dartmouth Committee went ahead with their celebration plans for Natal Day at First Lake in August. In 1906, a half-holiday was declared by Halifax on the same day as Dartmouth’s Natal Day.

 



5steps

5 Steps to Take When You’re Ready to Sell

Your home is likely your largest investment. When it’s time to sell, you’ll want your investment to impress buyers and earn top dollar. A real estate agent can suggest ways to make the process go smoothly, but all homeowners can take some basic steps even without professional help.

Here are five important steps to take when you’re ready to sell your house.

1. Declutter

Remove knickknacks, toys and other belongings that clutter the rooms in your house to make the spaces seem larger and more open. Buyers will also have fewer distractions as they walk through the home.

Don’t plan on shoving your clutter into closets, though, because potential buyers will open closet doors as they tour your house. If you have a lot of clutter and find it hard to get organized, consider temporarily renting storage space for some of your belongings.

2. Repair damaged items

If you have small issues, such as holes in walls or lights that don’t work, now’s the time to fix them. To get an idea of what you need to repair, walk through your home and imagine yourself as a buyer, or walk through with a friend you can trust. Are there defects that you’ve learned to overlook but that would catch your attention when seeing them for the first time?

You’ll also want to make sure you correct major issues that a buyer may not see immediately, such as problems with the heating and cooling system, before you put your home on the market. A potential buyer will probably hire a home inspector before closing. If the inspector finds problems, the sale could be put on hold until they’re resolved.

3. Deep clean

Go beyond your weekly cleaning routine. Every surface a potential buyer sees is a surface that needs to be clean. Messy spaces could send the message that you don’t take care of your home, and it could make potential buyers wonder what else is wrong with the property.

A deep cleaning means shampooing carpets, washing windows and cleaning tile grout throughout the house. Pay special attention to bathrooms; make sure fixtures are sparkling and wipe out any dirt rings or mold patches.

Keep up the cleaning routine while your home is on the market. If you’re pressed for time, consider hiring a weekly cleaning service.

4. Plan pleasing scents

You probably don’t want buyers who enter your home to catch lingering odors from last night’s dinner. For a nicer aroma, add fragrances around the kitchen and throughout your home.

The smell of freshly baked cookies is pleasant for many buyers. If you prepare a batch just before a showing — and offer them to the buyer and real estate agent — you could make your home stand out.

There’s no need to worry if you’re not much of a baker. A few well-placed sticks of cinnamon or citrus fruit, such as oranges, can also produce a refreshing scent. In fact, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Retailing and reported by the Wall Street Journal determined that a simple orange aroma encouraged buyers to spend more money at a home decor store, compared with other scents.

5. Stage your home

Your decor expresses your personality, but home shoppers may have different tastes. Consider changing the decor to appeal to a large number of buyers. This practice is known as “staging,” and it could mean you rearrange furniture, tone down dramatic wall paint with more neutral colors or even rent new pieces of furniture until the home is sold.

In a 2015 National Association of Realtors report on home staging, 52% of buyers agents reported that their buyers were willing to increase the amount of money offered for a staged home compared with a similar property.

You could ask your real estate agent for design suggestions and stage your home on your own. Or if you’d prefer a professional home stager, your agent may be able to suggest someone. You can also contact the Real Estate Staging Association for names. The survey showed the median amount homeowners paid for staging services was $675.

Take note of these five steps to get your home ready to sell before you put it on the market. The effort you make repairing, cleaning and staging can pay off big when a buyer makes an attractive offer on your house.


This article originally appeared on NerdWallet.


Quick Ways to Turn Buyers OFF!

If you're starting to think about selling your home, prepare by avoiding these buyer deterrents! 

Dirt and Odor and Clutter, Oh My!

This one is simple: Your home needs to be as clean as physically possible if you want to get the highest price for it. More often than not, this will require carpets to be shampooed, kitchens and bathrooms ‘deep cleaned,’ and in many cases, sellers will need to completely organize or clear out their garages.

Dated Features

The feeling of a dated home can be caused by a number of factors/features, but it’s an overall feeling that can really hurt your home’s value. There’s obviously a huge range of costs associated with updating the look and feel of your home, but even something as simple as replacing doorknobs and the hardware on your cabinets can make a world of difference.

Unkempt Yard

Clearly, these homeowners have placed curb appeal toward top of their priority list.

It always comes back to curb appeal. If a prospective buyer pulls up to your home and the first thing they notice is how much yard work would be in store for them if they bought the house, that’s obviously not a great start. When things look amazing outside, it makes it much easier to check out the inside with an open mind. The last thing you want is potential buyers deciding they’re not interested before they even step through the front door!


The Most Famous House in Every Province

From architectural marvels to major historical landmarks, these famous Canadian homes are worth exploring when it's safe to travel again.

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Most Famous house in every province - Craigdarroch Castle
PHOTO: DESTINATION GREATER VICTORIA

The Most Famous House in British Columbia

Craigdarroch Castle

There aren’t many legit castles in Canada, but Craigdarroch is certainly one of them. This Victoria landmark has been carefully restored to its Victorian-era splendour, offering visitors a glimpse into the high life of coal baron Robert Dunsmuir and his family in the late 1800s. Modelled after a Scottish Baronial mansion, this National Historic Site is as impressive today as it was when its doors first opened 130 years ago.

 
2 / 11
Most famous house in every province - Lougheed House
PHOTO: LOUGHEED HOUSE

The Most Famous House in Alberta

Lougheed House

A contemporary of Craigdarroch, Calgary’s Lougheed House was built by Senator Sir James Alexander Lougheed in 1891. The sprawling 14,000 square-foot sandstone mansion is a popular attraction in the Beltline neighbourhood, drawing visitors with its grand Victorian interiors, curated exhibits and nearly three acres of gardens. High tea in the Lougheed House Restaurant—under the helm of famed Calgary chef Judy Wood—is a must.

3 / 11
Most famous house in every province - Grey Owl's Cabin
PHOTO: TOURISM SASKATCHEWAN

The Most Famous House in Saskatchewan

Grey Owl’s Cabin

“Far enough away to gain seclusion, yet within reach of those whose genuine interest prompts them to make the trip, Beaver Lodge extends a welcome if your heart is right.” – Grey Owl

Tucked within the Million Acre Wood of Prince Albert National Park lies an unassuming cabin that was home to an international legend. British-born Archibald Stansfeld Belaney—also known as Grey Owl—moved to Canada in 1906 and became a trapper, conservationist and writer. Grey Owl’s cabin and final resting place can be accessed by foot (if you’re up for a 20-kilometre one-way hike), boat or guided tour.

4 / 11
Most famous house in every province - Nellie's Homes
PHOTO: TRAVEL MANITOBA

The Most Famous House in Manitoba

Nellie’s Homes

As a suffragette and politician, Nellie McClung was a leading figure in the movement to give women the right to vote, first in Manitoba (1916) and then across Canada. Two of Nellie’s homes can be found in the tiny town of Manitou, a two-hour drive southwest of Winnipeg. Wandering through the charming historic buildings will give you a feel for not only the life of this remarkable woman, but of the challenges pioneering women faced at the turn of the century.

5 / 11
Most famous houses in Canada - Rideau Hall
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

The Most Famous House in Ontario

Rideau Hall

The home and workplace for each Governor General since 1867, Rideau Hall is where Canadians are honoured and world leaders are welcomed during state visits. Situated at 1 Sussex Drive, it’s just down the road from the Prime Minister’s official residence at 24 Sussex, though currently, the Prime Minister and his family live at Rideau Cottage on the Rideau Hall property. Who knows? You just might spot the Trudeaus amid the 79-acres of beautifully landscaped grounds.

6 / 11
Most famous house in every province - Habitat 67
PHOTO: EVA BLUE/TOURISME MONTREAL

The Most Famous House in Quebec

Habitat 67

One of the most recognizable and iconic buildings in Canada, Habitat 67 is a Montreal housing complex that was originally built as a pavilion for Expo 67, the World’s Fair. Designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, the identical, prefabricated concrete forms arranged in various patterns redefined urban living at the time.

7 / 11
Most famous house in every province - Roosevelt Cottage
PHOTO: TOURISM NEW BRUNSWICK

The Most Famous House in New Brunswick

Roosevelt Cottage

Even though Franklin Roosevelt clearly wasn’t Canadian, his summer getaway on New Brunswick’s Campobello Island is one of the province’s most cherished homes. FDR and his family spent the summers of 1909 to 1921 at this electricity-free cottage, which has been preserved in that state as the centrepiece of Roosevelt Campobello International Park.

 

8 / 11

Most famous house in every province - Maud Lewis house
PHOTO: ART GALLERY OF NOVA SCOTIA

The Most Famous House in Nova Scotia

Maud Lewis House

It’s not just the vibrant paintings folk artist Maud Lewis created that are worthy of wonder—her house is, too! Lewis lived most of her life in poverty in a tiny cottage in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia. Making do with what she had, Lewis turned her house into living canvas, painting pretty much every surface from the doors to the breadbox to the windows. In order to preserve this one-of-a-kind cottage, the Province of Nova Scotia purchased the home and handed its care over to the the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia—the largest arts museum in Atlantic Canada. The cottage now sits—intact!—within the gallery, accompanied by a permanent collection of Lewis’s art.

9 / 11
Most famous house in every province - Green Gables
PHOTO: TOURISM PEI/TIM PETERS

The Most Famous House in Prince Edward Island

Green Gables Heritage Place

Anne Shirley may have been a fictional character, but the setting of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s famed novels is very real. That doesn’t make Green Gables any less magical, of course, as hundreds of thousands of delighted visitors from all over the world discover every year. Step back in time at one of the site’s old-fashioned Sunday picnics, then join a summer tour of the 19th century gardens, Haunted Wood and Lover’s Lane—just as they were depicted in the books.

10 / 11
Most famous house in every province - Hawthorne Cottage
PHOTO: PARKS CANADA

The Most Famous House in Newfoundland and Labrador

Hawthorne Cottage

Commander of the SS Roosevelt for Admiral Peary’s North Pole expeditions in the early 1900s, Captain Robert Bartlett is a true Canadian legend. One of the world’s greatest arctic explorers, Bartlett survived a dozen shipwrecks, yet always managed to return home to Hawthorne Cottage in Brigus, Newfoundland. Now a National Historic Site, Hawthorne Cottage is an excellent example of 19th century merchant housing, where visitors can relive Bartlett’s daring exploits, viewing rare artifacts from his expeditions.

11 / 11

Most famous house in every province - Sam McGee's cabin
PHOTO: CATHIE ARCHBOULD, MACBRIDE MUSEUM COLLECTION

The Most Famous House in Yukon Territory:

Sam McGee’s Cabin

There are many treasures to be found inside Whitehorse’s MacBride Museum, but one of the most intriguing lies outdoors: the original cabin of Sam McGee. Immortalized in the Robert Service poem The Cremation of Sam McGee, it turns out McGee was an actual person—a road builder and prospector living in the Yukon. He moved into this rustic cabin in 1899, living there with his wife for the next 10 years. Much like the poem itself, the cabin serves as an evocative time capsule of life in the Klondike.




Tips for First-Time Home Buyers with Young Children

Starting the search for your first home purchase is an exciting, scary and overwhelming time! It can be incredibly easy to get caught up in the waves and lose sight of what matters most.  Choosing a home for your family is important! Check out our top considerations for first time home buyers with young children.

The old cliché, ‘location, location, location’

The location of your home and the surrounding area is arguably the number one priority for many first time home buyers with young children. Having kids in the mix means you have to consider a variety of factors! Taking the time now to prioritize and decide can save headaches down the road.

Your location determines the proximity to schools, convenience stores, your job, attractions, friends and more. It’s often the first and most important search parameter to be decided during any home search!

Before deciding on a location consider these common questions:

  • What are the school systems like (now, and for the future!)
  • Are there private or charter school options available?
  • How close is your childcare for off days and summer months?
  • What is the proximity to your family and friends?
  • How close are you to your jobs?
  • What are the neighborhoods like? (sidewalks, bike paths etc.)
  • What is the distance to attractions like parks, pools, etc.?
  • How far are convenience stores and grocery stores?
  • How are property taxes?

Taking the time to find a home in a neighborhood that you can enjoy, and that suits your lifestyle, is of the utmost importance. For many, this will be your home for decades to come!

Decide your budget for your first home

Relying on your pre-approval letter is not the best way to decide your budget when searching for your first home! Unfortunately, pre-approval letters don’t provide a great ‘big picture’ view. Take that step further and add your (expensive) precious children into the mix and we need to do some serious number crunching. Deciding on a budget when shopping for your first home is incredibly important!

Start with the basics. What are you comfortable paying now (for rent, for example) and work backward to the down payment, interest and ultimately cost of a home that you would easily be able to transition to. Don’t forget to factor in taxes, insurance, and utilities! On top of general home repair and maintenance expenses, your regular budget should be pretty well set in stone. For help, use the easy Mortgage Calculator.

When planning for the future, searching for a home when you have small children requires some extra legwork.  Depending on the area you decide to purchase in, you may have to consider private schools, different childcare, higher taxes and more.  If you have private school tuition or college tuition in your future – Take care to budget accordingly! All of the different pieces of the puzzle will come together, but it is important to make sure all your pieces are out on the table.

Another important factor is to search for homes that do not have ‘big ticket’ expenses looming, or to budget accordingly if you select such a home. Don’t set yourself up for large expenses like a new roof, septic system, new driveway, new deck, plumbing or major remodeling if your budget cannot support it.

Oh, and one last thing: do yourself a favor and don't buy during a seller's market. You'll thank us later.

Non-negotiable home features

In today’s swarm of technology and Pinterest or Houzz inspired daydreams, we can easily get carried away. Unless you have an unlimited budget or plan for some upgrades and remodeling, it may be necessary to bring your priority list back to planet earth.

Deciding the home features that your family requires, prefers or wants to avoid can make your home search much easier. 

Starting with very simple considerations, listing the home features you need can help keep your entire search on track.  How many bedrooms? How many bathrooms? Do you have a budget and plan for updates and remodeling, or are you moving in as is? 

Thinking about what is necessary now, and also what is needed in the future, will ensure you make a smart investment!  Buying a home with small kids may not be a picnic, but it can provide a ton of opportunity to take the time to search for what you want! Take into consideration the type of floor plan that fits your family best, but also will accommodate your kids (and your family) as they grow over time.  It is wonderful to have a home that your children will want to spend time in later in life, including entertaining friends and more. Functional space is key for your first home!

Here are 10 common features to look for when buying a home with young kids

  1. Number of rooms and bathrooms
  2. Bathroom details – Bathtubs, etc.
  3. A safe place to play (fenced yard, play area, etc.)
  4. Child safety – locks, banister guards, pool fences, etc.
  5. Functional space in laundry, kitchen
  6. Pantry and food storage / bulk storage
  7. Storage / closets
  8. Great flooring
  9. Great paint
  10. Accessibility (Parking, storage, etc.)

Whittling your list of features can help guide your home search.  Keep in mind, what may sound like a non-negotiable now may change as you begin to look!  Buying your first home is exciting, be sure to take the time to choose a home and neighborhood that fits your family best.