Towering Duels

Colin and Justin

 Faced with glossy new condos boasting top-tier kitchens and marble bathrooms, older units need a level of ‘shine’ to successfully compete at sales time. Colin and Justin’s High Rise 101 has all the answers…

To augment a tired condo’s value — especially one less detailed than newer options in the same ‘hood — you should ‘spec up’ BEYOND fresh flowers and a herd of strategically placed cushions. Soured potential can be easily transformed into suite profiteering with a little extra push. Suitably informed, minimal spend can temp maximal returns.

Lately, while helping several condo-seeking clients find real estate ‘diamonds in the rough’, we’ve noted that behind the caprice of many model suites (visited to provide new versus old comparison) lay similar ‘bones’ to older homes. This observed, we know that ‘basic’ condos from ten or twenty years past can, with a few tweaks, be brought up to spec.


A lively feature zone is one thing, but dramatically coloured schemes may be off putting to some. Soft bone and delicate grey shades are better news, as pared back colours are fresher and bounce light in darker rooms. Be honest: when was the last time you saw a ‘library green’ or ‘dining room red’ model suite? It’s more sensible to add verve with accessories, artworks and textural layering. But go easy, and let the space speak for itself.


Take your realtor’s advice: might new hardwood cover its cost in outgoing sales price? The answer’s probably yes. Step into your buyer’s shoes: having to tackle new flooring doesn’t only represent cost, it also represents upheaval. Carpet may be a quicker solution although some will see this as less desirable. If existing floor-boards are salvageable, sand and refinish but avoid dated stain with yellow or red tones. Opt instead for warm oak or generic soft brown.

Furniture placement

Good ‘room circulation’ and easy access to windows and doors suggests better square footage. If your furniture doesn’t ‘show’ well, companies like Rent Wow ( have lease packages to help set the scene. Appraise what you’ll be buying for your new home, and (if possible) buy it all ahead of time. Got your eye on a new dining set or matching sofas? Simple: give your old kit to Habitat For Humanity and bring in new stuff, now, to promote a luxurious vibe.


Never underestimate illumination. Stagers have this to a tee and set mood with cleverly positioned lamps and overhead fittings to create warming pools of light. Lose clunky older fittings and opt for slicker recessed pots (fire reg’s permitting) to introduce a tailored model suite feel. Or add a chandelier to amplify drama in an otherwise low-key room.

Kitchen quick fixes

Kitchens are a huge buyer priority. If yours is less than ideal, try deflecting attention from weaker points. Scrub your hob and make sure everything sparkles. A clean (albeit older) kitchen is at least way better than one that appears poorly maintained.

If budget permits, granite or butchers block counters – and a change of faucet – will make a big difference. If you can stretch to new cabinet doors, or smart new hardware for existing cabinetry, even better.

Tidy away clutter and add ‘kitchen jewelry’ – set the scene with a selection of coffee makers, blenders and other glossy appliances. Hamilton Beach ( have many well priced options, so spend up, all the time remembering that kitchen gems, such as these, can travel to your new abode.

Bathroom quick fixes

A simple piece of stone, or a good quality faux product, will easily update an older laminate-topped vanity. Other tactics include hanging a new mirror, adding a new tap, or replacing a washed out shower curtain with a fixed glass panel. Coordinated accessories will distract from less than perfect features, but remain mindful that buyers are wise to staging, so don’t cut corners. Freshen grout lines with bicarbonate of soda paste, and keep everything smelling sweet.

In many ways, home buying is just like dating: you simply wanna show your best side. So display your strongest assets, minimize any weak points, and learn to talk the talk with potential lovers. Sorry, buyers. The other side can then add everything else when they decide the time is right to move from second base… to an unadulterated HOME run!

Find the ‘Colin and Justin Home’ collection in stores across Canada and The USA. As interior designers, style commentators, Hollywood celebrity interviewers and all round lifestyle gurus, Colin and Justin’s goal is simply this: to share good things with good people. So, if hot interiors, cutting edge products and stylish destinations are your thing read on…  ‘Colin & Justin’s Cabin Pressure’ Cottage Life. . ‘Game of Homes’ W Network

Colour – To Trend or Not to Trend

David Heath, Davidesigns

So, you have a space to decorate! Did you know choosing paint colour is one of the most vexing decisions most homeowners and renters have to make in space decorating?

If your name is Brian Gluckstein, Sarah Richardson, or Martha Stewart, choosing colour to express a mood and style seems to come naturally. We are wowed by every space those celebs touch, and say we can do that too, but deep inside we stand for hours gazing in confusion at thousands of paint chips at the big box home centre trying to decide what is right for us. Fear seems to grip us and we walk out empty handed and more baffled. We are petrified to make the wrong choice, or heaven forbid, take paint home, apply it, and then hate the colour.

Thankfully, companies like Benjamin Moore, Pottery Barn, and Sherwin-Williams present seasonal colours in spring/summer and fall/winter to help make our homes look beautiful. However, be aware these trending colours have usually been on the market a couple of years before becoming seasonal colours.

Consider this, the hottest Benjamin Moore colour for 2017 is Shadow 2117-30, a rich and royal amethyst that can fade from a lilac-grey to lustrous grey, depending on the colour temperature of the light in the room, be it natural or artificial. Shadow 2117-30 may be a trend this year, but Benjamin Moore’s Peerage CC-36 has been around at least six years, and has similar rich qualities and a regal feel. So, trends do not necessarily indicate a new colour, rather the popularity of a colour.

The 2016 top paint colours were Benjamin Moore’s Simply White OC-117 and Sherwin-Williams’ Extra White SW7006. These whites, supplemented with their associated pallettes of subtle hues and bold accents create the perfect complement to home furnishings and décor.

In decorating or re-designing, using trending colours is a great starting point for most people, but they may not be right for your place, and they are not the be-all-and-end-all. Like any trend, they are fleeting and out of fashion rather quickly, and sometimes they tend to ‘date’ things – think ‘harvest gold’ appliances.

If you want to unleash your fabulous gayness and put your own personality into your space, take the following suggestions to heart. Painting is easy and inexpensive and gives a big bang for the buck. Wisely selected colours can dazzle guests, set a positive mood, and set persons at ease.

So, let’s step out and be positive decision makers regarding paint colour. First, select a piece of art or fabric that will be in the room you decide to paint. Use the colours in this object as a starting point to select paint colours. When looking at paint chips, don’t rely on your memory. Carry a picture of the art to the paint store, or physically carry in the object you are trying to match. This simple step may save you from having to return to the paint store to get a new colour chip. Also, ask the sales clerk if the store has computerized equipment to analyze your object and extract a colour code to get a perfectly matched paint.

Second, choose a neutral backdrop colour for your objets-d’art, paintings, and furniture. A perfect place to start is to paint the entire space with either of the previously mentioned whites.

Third, decide if you want an accent wall in a different colour. Accent walls typically draw the eye in to see something special on display, such as a painting, or treasured possession. These wall colours are sometimes rather bold.

Still perplexed? Consulting a decorator will help sort it all out. They can help you select colours from your art objects or furniture coverings to develop a unique, custom colour palette for your lifestyle. Your own custom palette will last longer than using trending colours, because you tend to keep belongings and your custom palette will translate easily from one home to another.

Additionally, repainting and redecorating can be costly, but by referring to your own custom palette you eliminate guess work and avoid poor decorating decisions.

In summary, the best shortcut to a well-decorated place is to use trending colours. However, by taking the easy steps above you can make your space very personal and unique. Be assertive with colour. Who knows, you may become the next HGTV decorating superstar!

Davidesigns provides professional, innovative Certified ReDesign™ and Home Staging and Interior Decorating services in the Greater Toronto market using proven methodologies. David Heath, USC™ Certified UltimateStager™ & ReDesigner

Out Design the Big Box Stores

Martin Richards, President, Imperial Productions & Distribution Inc.

We all think that we have control over what we buy, but in fact all those choices are made for us by the big box stores that push the modern stylistic look. We are told that simple is better, but in fact “simple” only serves to enhance the coffers of the store with high margin goods that are knock down (requires assembly) to reduce their freight and warehousing costs. Simple is the operative word which means absence of design. The sad part is that the consumer buys into the style due to price and convenience.

It is time to broaden your horizons by capturing the multitude of available styles by adding a modern twist. For example, think of a basic condo, add a couple of non tapered columns, paint them flat black, and top them off with a Roman Corinthian capital in pewter. All of a sudden, you have an explosive wow factor! So the twist is the classical look reinvented for the new age.

It is a huge misconception that design detail adds clutter and makes a space look smaller. In fact, it is the opposite; the more detail the greater impression of a larger space. Take a simple powder room absent of all detail. By adding wainscoting, crown molding and boiserie (ie boxes on the wall) you turn that utility toilet into a jewel box! Dump the over-the-mirror lights and add a tasteful ceiling medallion and a smart light fixture. The small 3 x 6 foot space now has limitless boundaries.

For furnishing, don’t be afraid of mixing stylish antiques in a modern environment, and I don’t mean the junk from the 40’s that you find at a garage sale that no one wants. Look for high quality antiques that will enhance your room. Finding them may take a long time, but it will be worth it when you discover the treasures. The best thing is the memory of how you acquired each piece, and the fun you had on the big hunt. With a neutral background of modernism, those fabulous props make you the star in your own stage.

Yes stage, decorating space is nothing more than creating a physical stage for your life’s performance. You are the star of your own home. It sounds corny, but think about it, the space you inhabit is a reflection of you and your life. Open your horizons. It’s about time to take the “simple look” and make it more about you rather than conforming to how the big box stores are telling you how to decorate your home to enhance their profits.

Martin Richards, President, Imperial Productions & Distribution Inc. For 10 years, Martin was on the renovation council of the Toronto Home Builders Association. During this time he won awards for house design in the Greater Toronto Area. At the time, sourcing reliable high quality design products was a challenge, so he decided to start a unique company that catered to custom architectural products for both residential and commercial use. Now this thriving business exports their products to 17 countries, from three warehouses in Toronto and one in Buffalo. New York.

How To Green Your Home

Mariela Campo, Campo Interior Design

The first steps in greening your home aren’t really that different from how you would tackle your basic design plan. Here are a few tips for getting started:

1) Before you consider the design of your home, determine your budget and what you would logically spend it on. Take into account how much space you have and how you plan to use it. Ideally, you should first live in the space for at least a couple of weeks to see where you spend most of your time.

2) Take note of any special considerations, such as children who may injure themselves on sharp furniture corners, or pets who may stain certain fabrics or lighter colour schemes. Safety and practicality are key.

3) Don’t rush to buy all of your decor at once, even if your budget allows it. Otherwise, you risk having a space that looks staged instead of warm and personal. Your home should reflect your style and personality. You should strive to purchase pieces that you truly love, so take your time to find them.

4) Spend the bulk of your decor budget on well-built furniture pieces that you’ll use the most and will stand the test of time. Even with a small budget, investing in high quality, durable green products is the smart way to go.

5) Try to find multi-purpose items that you can move to another room when they are no longer needed, or when you wish to change the look of a space.

With those design planning basics in mind, you’re now ready to tackle the greening of your home.

1) Start by creating a clean green canvas. There’s no sense in bringing bamboo towels or an organic mattress into your home if your walls are emitting toxic paint fumes. Even if your space was freshly painted before you moved in, chances are that a paint with high-VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) was used. Repaint all surfaces with eco-friendly paints, which are easier to find on the market nowadays.

2) Change the lighting. It’s a basic step, but a must in any green design plan. Installing energy-efficient bulbs throughout your home is the smart and savvy choice and will reduce your energy bill in the end.

3) Change the way you clean your home. You’ve been mindful to create a clean green canvas, so use eco-friendly cleaning products to avoid introducing toxic chemicals into your home. There are now a vast array of options on the market. Even simple basics like white vinegar can be effective at cleaning various surfaces.

4) The ideal scenario is to pull up existing non-green flooring and to start from scratch with green materials. If you don’t want to pull up flooring, consider laying down eco-friendly tiles over top. Linoleum, cork and bamboo are healthy and sustainable options, and are widely available in an endless amount of colours and patterns.

5) Any appliances that are older than ten years should be replaced with energy-efficient Energy Star ones. Dual flush toilets are also highly recommended. Even the smallest of changes like installing newer energy-efficient faucet aerators and shower heads will make a positive impact on your savings and up the green factor on your everyday living.

6) Try to always keep the 3 R’s in mind: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. They really are the vital basics of green living and sustainable design planning.

Have fun!

Mariela Campo is an Interior Designer and a Production Designer for film and TV and founder of Campo Interior Design. Her passion for green design was sparked during her studies at Parsons School of Design in NYC. A finalist on HGTV’s Designer Superstar Challenge, she loves to work on and off camera, helping clients source everything from furniture and green products, to designing and overseeing full home renovations. Mariela Campo, Campo Interior Design

Sexy Suggestions for Your Bedroom

Karen Klucowicz, Interiors by k2

When candles flicker and lights twinkle this holiday season, make sure your bedroom ambiance can handle the fun. There are many ways to create a sexy space. Here are a few ideas to play with.

Accessories, art and bedding are the easiest way to transform your space.

Make the bed the focal point of the room. Draw attention to it with lots of texture. Think faux fur, feathers, leather pillows, satin sheets.

Explore your sense of style and love of colour. 

Your space should reflect your personal style. You can make your bedroom dark and sultry (reds/blacks), earthy and warm (browns/greens/blues), fresh and chic with cool minimalism (black and white or a tone-on-tone of your favourite colours) – any of these will stage a gorgeous backdrop to seduction.

Colour has great impact on the mood of a space, and the people in it! Surround yourself in colours that make you (and/or your partner) feel good. You’ll love your space and entertaining in it. Add an accent (cushions, pillow cases, a piece of art) in colour that complements and accentuates your eyes or skin tone, and makes you feel sexy.

Control the lighting. Add warm bulbs to table lamps, add candle vignettes, put up a string of LED lights in your favourite colour(s).


Warm up to the season with holiday or season specific items. For instance, I have a collection of trees that I display and usually keep around into the new year (i.e. a black feather one in my bedroom). Candle holders and throws are great additions.


Often people don’t realize the impact a painting, sculpture or photograph can have on the mood and ambiance of a space. Everyone’s definition of erotica is different, but you can guide the feelings you want to create in that space with a piece of art, either in a subtle (or not so subtle) way. It can be used as a starting point for conversation, ideas or background that brings focus to an area in the room.

Thought provoking pieces are good for the soul and make for interesting dialogue! Communication is key, so use the art. A gentle embrace of a couple, erotic poses, and abstract pieces with colours or images within, will all invite comment.

Add a few of these ideas to your interior and you’ll be sure to have fun through the holidays and well in to the new year!

Karen Klucowicz is an interior designer and a fine artist. Interiors by k2 is all about creating experiences in your personal environment. Combining a love and passion for interiors and art, Karen adheres to one simple truth – you should love your space! She creates art to augment a space in two series that explore personal development and relationships. Artwork that you can use to initiate dialogue.,

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