Category Archives: Curb Appeal & Home staging

Dryer vent cleaning services in Ladysmith, BC

Summer Home Improvements

Here are a few simple home improvement tasks that can be done on an August weekend. You’ll need some basic tools such as a basic toolkit, a vacuum, and some mineral oil for lubrication. Some items apply to both houses and condos in the Cowichan Valley.

The garage door opener is a great place to start. Quiet a noisy garage door by lubricating the chain and all the hinges. You can also lubricate the extension spring so there is less friction when it tightens. This will make it easier for the motor to raise and lower the door. The small wheels in the tracks that guide the door can be replaced easily with a premium synthetic roller wheel. These are made from a flexible material and have quality bearings that make them almost silent. Check the side and bottom seals for a good, tight fit that will save energy in the winter.

Clean lint from in and around the dryer. About 25% of dryer fires are caused by lint build-up that is ignited by the heat from the gas or electric elements. After each use, clean the lint trap at the front of the machine. This will help speed clothes drying and increase energy efficiency. However, this filter is only intended to catch most, not all, of the lint from clothes. The rest is carried through the machine to where it can build-up in the vent path and the exhaust hose. Pull the dryer out from the wall and remove the hose. Use the vacuum wand to reach inside the dryer to remove lint. The best exhaust hose is a solid metal duct or a flexible metal duct. These are fire resistant and allow lint to travel freely to the outside. Replace the plastic duct with one of these, if necessary. Have the vent hose to the outside professionally cleaned every two years.

Clean the kitchen exhaust fan filter in the dishwasher. Some exhaust fans have a charcoal filter to remove odours and particulates. This should be replaced every six months. The hood can be cleaned with a quality degreaser such as 409 or Fantastic but you can also use hot water with dish detergent and some bleach. It’s easier to clean them before they’re dirty rather than try to clean one that has been neglected. If it’s particularly dirty, the best solution is to replace it rather than try to clean it.

Clean the refrigerator, freezer coils, and drip trays. A good vacuum is helpful to clean the mechanical parts underneath. Roll it out from the wall, clean around the fridge and the floor. Watch for grease from the motor that might have dropped onto the floor. You’ll probably see a motor and some coils that are clogged with dust. Vacuum everything thoroughly. If you have an icemaker, replace the plastic hose that connects to the water supply with a braided metal hose. Replace the ice-maker water filter.

Check dishwasher for leaks by removing the access panel at the front under the door. It is held on by screws that are easy to find. Using a flashlight, inspect the space under the dishwasher for stains caused by leaking water. There are two connectors for water: in and out. Both should be dry. You can try tightening the connectors but it’s much better to replace them with a braided steel hose. The hose kit will have the new connectors and washers in the box. This will prevent catastrophic water leaks and a potential insurance claim.

Continuing with the theme of leaks and gaskets, check under the kitchen and bathroom sinks for water stains. Do all your taps shut off completely? A dripping faucet can add to your hot water bill. Look at the base of toilets for obvious stains from leaks or discoloured vinyl flooring, which indicates a damp problem. Unless you have experience with plumbing, it might be a good idea to call a plumber. He can show you what the problem is, take care of it, and provide a warranty if a leak should develop in the future.

Questions or comments? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today.

Free home staging consultation when you list your home for sale in the Cowichan Valley

Budget Curb Appeal Ideas

A lot of articles have been written about improving curb appeal, especially for sellers who want to maximize their selling price. You may not be thinking about selling your Cowichan Valley home this year or even next year. Consider curb appeal as an on-going process of slowly improving and beautifying the exterior of your home. It takes time to make a plan and choose which improvements you want to do.

Once you begin thinking about the process, you might want to engage the services of an architect or a designer if it looks like it’s going to be a big project. For most people, though, improving curb appeal is a series of edits and adjustments to the overall look. This approach is also the most cost-effective because much of the work can be done by the homeowner.

A popular starting point is to paint the front door. This is affordable and allows the homeowner to make an update with a popular colour that matches the trim and siding. Wooden screen doors can be replaced with vintage-look models. Storm doors can be removed and cleaned so they look like new again. Replace any screens that are loose or have holes in them.

A porch light does more than let you see where you’re going. It’s also a welcoming beacon for visitors and deliveries. Match the fixture to the architectural style of your home. It should be a simple remove-and-replace update that you can do yourself. A complimentary fixture in the period style with the same finish as the door hardware will increase your property value.

Much of the impact of curb appeal comes from the landscaping. Homeowners are sometimes reluctant to remove shrubs and trees, especially if they have been there a long time. However, by removing old plantings, the front yard becomes a clean palette for your own ideas. Plant anything that can be reused into pots until you’re ready to put them back in the ground. At this point, it can be cost effective to hire a landscaping company to prepare the new beds and make suggestions.

It’s been said that a healthy green lawn has sold many homes. Begin by removing the broadleaf weeds using a shovel or an organic weed control spray. Next, fertilize with a slow-release formula that will keep your lawn green all season. A sharp lawnmower blade will prevent the tips from turning brown after cutting.

An exterior cleaning with a pressure washer or pole and brush will brighten the paint or vinyl. Wash the windows to make them sparkle, too. Concrete can be made to look new again with a pressure washer. If you have an asphalt driveway, use caution when cleaning with a pressure wand as it can remove the aggregate stones. A light cleaning and a quality blacktop sealant will make it look new again.

If you’re improving the curb appeal of your home to sell it, you might want to consider a thematic update. Properties that are heavily themed will sell for more than an identical property with a generic presentation. For example, an Arts & Crafts style home with planters and outdoor furniture in the same architectural style would be considered a themed property. A beach house with an old rowboat as a planter in the front yard would also be considered to be themed. With this approach, more is more and campy accessories are the order of the day.

Interested in a free curb appeal consultation with your home listing? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today.

Coastal paint palettes to sell your Cowichan Valley house or condo

Restful Paint Palettes

Soft neutrals like greige or cloud white are flexible enough to work in every room. Generally, a neutral backdrop can be accessorized with colour much easier than the opposite. It’s good to know that each room can receive its own special combination of colour. The key to a coherent look is to choose an anchor colour that is continuous throughout the home, especially if you’re selling your Cowichan Valley house or condo.

When searching for a palette, look to history for some cues. Old magazines are a great source of inspiration because they can show which colours have stood the test of time. The fads are easy to spot because they’re here today and gone tomorrow. Unless you’re planning to paint every few years, a classic neutral combination might be a good choice. Here are some classic combinations and room where you might find them.

Pale pink and white are a sophisticated and sincere pair. The combination has the passion of red with the honesty of white to produce a hue that is both feminine and powerful. An ultra-pale pink ceiling can warm a north room without feeling oppressive. Combine light pink walls with white tile and bathroom fixtures for a truly warm, blush-worthy space of your own.

Analogous greens in cool combinations work together to make a space feel at once decorated and timeless. Yellowish green walls with glass green cupboards has a healthy, eco-vibe that is calming and ageless. When the combination is grounded by white counters and appliances, the room becomes fresh and balanced.

Beach tones are a perennial favourite for minimalist interiors reminiscent of seaside vacations and first apartments. White-on-white with blue accessories is the easiest colour combination for beginners. Mix and match woodsy beiges, natural greens, strong maritime blues and oyster whites for variety. If you actually live near the sea, add some fun accents such as marine-themed prints and artwork.

Big accent colours such as goldenrod and forest green are perfect for adding a bit of drama to small spaces. Gold is one of the most elegant colours and looks luxurious in a formal dining room. Dark greens work wonders in small rooms and vanity bathrooms, especially when combined with white wainscoting. Fantastic colours such as grape, extravagant teals, and metallics work well for hidden rooms and closets where they will surprise with their suddenness.

Grey and honey wood tones are inspired by an era of simple refinement. This combination is a good example of the warm-cool aesthetic popular with high design in the 30s and 40s. Its restful stillness invites one to pause and collect. The rich golden hues of the wood reflect warm light in contrast to the absorbent grey tones. It’s a great combination for showing off architecture because it doesn’t compete with anything, including itself.

Most major paint manufacturers have produced apps that allow you to ‘try on’ a paint colour by taking a picture of your room. Take several pictures during the day as the temperature of the light changes. They don’t replace painting a sample on the wall, but they are fun to use and a source of inspiration.

Questions or comments about home staging? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today.

Plant an edible perennial garden to increase the market value of your Cowichan Valley home

Easy, Edible Perennial Gardens

One of the best uses for perennials plantings is edibles, especially here in the Cowichan Valley. Perennials go dormant in the winter and return each spring. Many vegetables and herbs are perennial which means you can enjoy bigger and bigger harvests from one plant as the years go by. They’re ideal for plant-once gardening that will grow and produce for many years. You can choose perennial vegetable and herb varieties from an extensive list of these amazing plants.

Asparagus is one of the most expensive grocery store vegetables. Planting just a couple square feet of this delicacy will keep it on the menu all year. Artichokes are another pricey vegetable that are perennials. Potatoes, garlic, and onions will grow each year by themselves if given minimal care.

Herbs such as chives, shallots, thyme, fennel, and spearmint are wonderful staples for a homestead-style garden. Put them in salads of sorrel and radicchio, also perennials, for free green salads through the spring and summer months. Fruit such as rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries (and many more types of berries) are easy to grow. With some informed pruning, they will produce baskets of sweet, organic berry treats.

Perennials may need a little help to get established. Choose the right spot for them based on their needs for light and soil. For example, full sun means six to eight hours of direct sunlight. For the first few years, make sure to monitor their progress and make adjustments, if necessary. Give them water regularly, keep weeds down, and fertilize according to best practices. You many need to wait two or three years before a perennial feels at home and begins to produce.

Perennials are low maintenance with deeper root systems resistant to drought. They may blossom for only a few weeks but make wonderful shrubs. Some may bloom again in the fall when the weather signals them to produce seeds or fruit. Perennials may come from seeds or bulbs.

The next time you’re at the plant nursery, check the labels to see if the plants you like are annuals or perennials. Consider how much time you spend in the garden and the space you have. Maybe there is room for some of these recurring wonders in your backyard and on your menu!

Questions or comments? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today.

Cowichan Valley homes for sale

Most Desired Home Features

A home is defined by how we use it which means it needs to fit our lifestyle and our expectations. We need them to be trouble-free, efficient, and comfortable. Modern houses are evolving from mere dwellings to spaces that fit like a tailored garment or a fine pair of shoes. According to Realtor.com, these features are in high demand for 2021. See if any of them belong on your Cowichan Valley home shopping list.

A walk-in closet is predicted to be the most sought-after feature in a new home. Although some critics say these hidden retreats of calm are more than people need, the benefits seem to outweigh the criticism. If you love clothes and have a shoe collection, a walk-in closet is a necessity. They’re more than a big closet, they’re a dressing room with flattering lighting and mirrors for checking your look.

Energy efficiency is the sexy new feature this year. Ultra high-performance windows, LED lighting, and heat pumps put the swagger in a home buyer’s step. Going green is more than saving money. It’s a middle-class status symbol that says you’re hip with a sophisticated understanding of value for money. What could be better than near perfect climate control all year for pennies a day?

In the spirit of hygge and fika and appreciating all the good things in life, the laundry room has finally made its debut. This previously unmentionable room has come of age and now beckons the homeowner to sit, stay, and contemplate the meaning of clean laundry. Ample cupboard space, a place to iron, and intelligent appliances are accessorized with a desk and soft lamp light. Combine with a mud room and it becomes almost like a second kitchen perhaps with enough space for a gathering table.

Kitchen designers have settled on stainless and granite as the two main features of a proper kitchen. Interestingly, Realtor.com also reports that medium brown cabinets are preferred by first-time buyers—perhaps because they seem more luxurious—while repeat buyers tend to prefer white cabinetry. A classic white kitchen is hard to ignore. They’re easy to clean and white goes with everything. Pair them with white appliances if you like the look and plant to stay or stainless steel if the home is going on the market.

Architectural style is still trending to a fusion of traditional and contemporary minimalism, as seen in these examples. The Southern California-inspired philosophy of indoor/outdoor living continues to grow in popularity. The naturalistic environment of a joined living space and outdoor space is fundamental to the idea being connected with nature.

One way to achieve a sense of verdure that is an unmistakeable characteristic of indoor/outdoor design is to mirror the patio space and the living space. Choose sliding doors without a track in the floor. If the living space has a tile floor, continue the tiles outside to the patio for a seamless look. Use trees inside to harmonize the transition between the house and the yard. And, for colour inspiration, look to backyard plants and skyscapes. The goal with this method is to blur the boundaries between the house and the yard.

Questions or comments? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today to learn more about new home construction trends.

Free home staging consultation when you list your home for sale in the Cowichan Valley

Kitchen Makeovers to Beat the February Blahs

Are you bored with your kitchen? Is a renovation out of the question? Did you know that a mini makeover can increase the value of your Cowichan Valley home? With some careful upgrades to the most touched pieces, and a colour shift with accessories, a makeover can be affordable and fun. The first step is to establish the scope of your project by considering ambition, time, and money.

New cabinets from IKEA are not expensive, especially if you can install them yourself. With a modest budget and some labour, you can transform the layout of your kitchen to something much more efficient. At the other end of the spectrum, a deep cleaning and new paint on the backsplash costs very little. Or you might find that re-grouting the tile floor and painting the ceiling are all you need to do.

A February kitchen makeover may be planned over four weekends. Here is a sample schedule to give you some ideas:

Week 1

Paint is one of the easiest ways to improve the look of a room. Clean the walls thoroughly with trisodium phosphate (TSP) to remove cooking oils and prep the surface for paint. Traditional colours for kitchens are whites, greens, light blues, and soft greys. Mix and match them to create your own style. Creamy white walls with a pale blue ceiling will expand the space and allow light to bounce around. No time to paint? Simply washing the walls with TSP will brighten them and give the space a fresh look.

Week 2

Replace the faucet with a new one. There is a faucet style for every taste and budget. Most will have a pull out or down spray tool for rinsing beyond the normal reach of a spigot. Newer ones have a touch-less feature that is convenient when your hands are covered in food. If you like your existing faucet, consider a moveable spigot head from the dollar store. It will be a small but welcome improvement.

Week 3

Cabinet pulls and knobs are a terrific way to introduce a new look to your kitchen. They’re easy to install with just a screwdriver. Unless you’re replacing the whole cabinet, try to replace like-with-like. That is, choose simple replacement hardware that doesn’t require any drilling or other modifications. If new knobs aren’t in the budget, remove the old ones and let them soak in a detergent solution overnight. You might be surprised at the difference a deep cleaning will make to their appearance.

Week 4

Window coverings can be changed with the season. In the summer, a translucent venetian blind will keep things light and, in the winter, an insulated roman blind can add a cozy feel while saving energy. The best part is you can leave both up all year round and switch between them. Avoid curtains in the cooking area to reduce the risk of fires.

Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Need some advice on pre-listing renovations and home staging? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today.