Television home theatre rooms in Cowichan Valley houses for sale

Choosing the Right Television

Changing lifestyle priorities and the move to tablets has put less emphasis on a theatre experience that was popular a few years ago. The design conversation is turning to hiding or disguising the television, so it isn’t a giant black rectangle in an otherwise pleasant room. When it’s time to replace the old television, or buy a second one, most people tend to buy the largest model they can afford. The trend now is to buy a quality component that fits with the aesthetics of your decor. Many new homes for sale in the Cowichan Valley have pre-installed audio-visual connections for home theatres. Let us know if this is a priority for you.

Audio-visual professionals like to measure from the best seat and divide by three to find the height of the screen. For a condo, the ideal size television might be a compact 32-40” model. A house with a large room may require a 75” model to accommodate a group. If you have a dedicated theatre room, consider a cinema projector in 4K and 8K. These will fill the entire wall with brilliant, high resolution images for a truly immersive experience.

Buying a new TV is an opportunity to focus on quality and the latest technology. For example, an upgrade from LED to OLED can make a big difference in viewing enjoyment because OLED allows individual pixels to be on or off without the need for a backlight. This results in a picture that has high dynamic range (HDR) between white and black pixels.

Network or broadcast television is making a comeback through the technology of ‘over the air’ (OTA) signals. This is actually an old technology that used an antenna to capture the signal broadcasted from a nearby television station. Today, the signal is digital, and channels are broadcast in high definition. Viewers can get popular stations for free with amazing viewing quality. Some new televisions have a built-in OTA tuner that is required to capture the signal. If you live in an urban area, this is one way to cut the cord without sacrificing local programming.

Siting the television is largely a matter of personal preference. There are benefits to table-top and wall-mount systems. The most important consideration is height of the screen. The vertical centre of the screen should be at eye level when viewed from a normal position. Picture nooks over fireplaces were surrendered to televisions with the installation of coax plugs but at the expense of viewing comfort. Wall-mount systems also limit choices for furniture arrangement whereas table-tops positions allow the television to be moved to suit decor.

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

Richard Scarry books for children

Books Children Love to Read Again and Again

Richard Scarry was a prolific writer and illustrator of children’s books throughout his career. Always well-reviewed on Amazon, his collections inspire nostalgia in parents and quickly become a child’s favourite book. Each page is designed as a diorama that shows the relationships between people and activities. The artwork is detailed with lots of funny dialogue and captions.

Busy, Busy World takes the young reader on an adventure around the world to visit different countries and cultures. It’s a wonderful introduction to global diversity. Children are invited to connect traditional roles and customs with their present understanding of the world. Parents will appreciate the opportunity to talk about the examples of harmony among different peoples. Little explorers can travel to different cities such as London, Paris, and Cairo to meet a red fox named “Pierre the Paris Policeman” or a pig family sightseeing in Venice by gondola. The writing is sensitive to a young reader’s imagination and will make them laugh out loud.

His best-seller, What Do People Do All Day? introduces kids to the concept of work and career. In Busytown, everyone is busy all day doing their best. From train drivers to doctors, from mothers to sailors, in police stations and on fire engines, readers can follow the characters through their work-a-day lives. Workers are shown making things and selling them to buy things they need and want. Children can easily identify themes in business management, human relations, and economics. If your child has ever asked why you go to work each day, this book will help explain the relationship between work and reward.

A perennial favourite is Cars, Trucks and Things That Go. New and familiar animal characters are introduced driving strange and fun vehicles. It’s filled with scenes rich in detail that reward children who look closely for hidden clues. Fantasy vehicles like the pickle truck, an alligator car, and a toothbrush with wheels are fantastic. There is even a fire truck that shows up to extinguish a tiny fire in a miniature convertible driven by a ladybug. Kids will have fun tracking Officer Flossie’s book-long chase after that irresponsible, speedster driver in a cowboy hat!

If you’re looking for a special gift for a young reader or new talker, consider adding a Richard Scarry edition to your child’s library. They’re fun, educational, and really engaging for young and old.

Have a happy holiday!

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

Smart home technology in new Cowichan Valley homes for sale

Join the Smart Home Revolution

Smart home is a catchphrase for a household that features labour-saving devices connected to and supported by a cloud infrastructure for data processing. Each device connects to the cloud via your home or office WI-FI router. This makes it simple to connect to the device with your phone or tablet, even if you’re not actually at home. Many new homes in the Cowichan Valley have smart technologies built into them. Let us know if this is a priority for you.

The central device in a smart home is usually a voice-activated helper, such as Alexa, Echo, or Siri. Using a ‘wake word’, these devices can answer basic questions about math or weather, order things directly from Amazon or local restaurants, read ebooks, play music, and much more. These handy machines can be programmed to help with household routines but scheduling lights-off time, lock doors, and activate the coffee pot timer for the morning. Of course, all the ancillary devices need to be ‘smart’ and connected through WI-FI.

Smart plugs and a smart thermostat can be controlled with your phone from anywhere. Instead of coming home to a dark and cold space on a winter evening, smart controllers can turn on some lights and adjust the heat automatically or at your command. Want to hear Bach playing when you unlock the door? Just set-up a routine for the assistant to monitor the lock and begin your favourite playlist.

Smart home security systems are designed to monitor the perimeter of your property and contact authorities if there is a break-in. Forgetting to turn-on the alarm is a common mistake. A smart security system is always on. It can tell you when a child arrives home from school, or when a window has been left open, and then text or email an alert to the owner. First responders are contacted immediately when a break-in or fire has been detected. They can be controlled remotely so you can check a video to see if the garage door has been left open or lock doors with just a tap.

All this may seem magical but don’t let that lull you into a sense of false security. In fact, security should be a primary concern for residents of smart homes. As with any device, some expertise is required to install and operate it properly. Always change the default password that comes with the device. Use something that is very long but easy to remember such as lyrics to a song. Aim for 15 or more characters. These types of passwords can be just as effective as randomized alphanumeric ones. Without a strong password, you risk losing control to hackers.

If you want to experiment with a smart home device but aren’t ready to use a voice assistant, consider a robot vacuum. They work on a schedule that you set to vacuum the whole house, even under furniture. They’re ideal to take care of dust bunnies on laminate and tile floors but work pretty well on carpeted areas, too. Look for one with a HEPA filter to keep dust and allergens down.

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

Smart fabric and textiles for your Cowichan Valley home

High Tech Textiles

From radical new materials to embedded sensors that track medical conditions, e-textiles have become a medium for better living. Today’s fabrics redefine high-performance with easy care, durability for everyday living, and microprocessors.

Self-cleaning fabrics one of the most welcome improvements. While they don’t actually launder themselves, through the magic of technology they do repel water and dirt with such a high level of efficacy that they seem to self-clean. This is accomplished with nano particles that allow manufacturers to embed hydrophobic and anti-bacterial treatments to keep the surface free of dirt and oil. Check out these videos on the amazing properties of hydrophobic cloth.

Another area of high-tech fabric getting attention is recycled materials, especially recycled plastics. Adidas has developed a running shoe that is made from ocean plastic. They claim that 11 plastic bottles from a beach somewhere go into each shoe. That’s a great example of the recyclability of plastic. This appeals to the idea of a circular supply chain with recyclables processed into new garments.

Clothing and shoes can now be made with a 3-D printer and have the potential to use recycled plastic. Due to the nature of the process, nothing is wasted. For now, the printing process is more suited to semi-rigid garments but in the future there will be more refinement to create imaginative and humanistic clothing.

As sensors become cheaper and more connected through Bluetooth they will be embedded into more everyday things. For example, “electric yoga pants” not only has the power to capture the imagination but they are also an actual product. Manufacturers embed small, vibrating motors that help the practitioner hold a pose correctly.

There is also clothing designed to control devices, such as your phone, by using gestures on the surface. Want to answer your phone or start a playlist? Just use a gesture on your sleeve to begin. There are also a variety of socks, vests, and sports bras that will monitor your vital signs during a workout or hexoskin for medical monitoring.

Colour-changing fabrics are an exciting extension of electrified clothing. Special wires woven into the material react to small electrical inputs by changing colour. The effect is a textile that can be programmed to change colour on the weft and the weave using an app. Want to a plaid sofa? No problem! Use the app to change the upholstery pattern. Another setting controls the hue to enhance mood or alertness.

The home of the future will include smart textiles that communicate with us and our devices. Imagine coming home to furniture that doesn’t get dirty and has the ability to change colours and patterns. It might be 3-D printed in your living room by the maker with small adjustments, so it fits just right in its intended spot. The upholstery may be created to your specifications from ocean plastic or any other raw material you want. And, if you fall asleep after supper, it might vibrate gently after a few minutes to wake you up. It seems we are limited only by our imaginations on how to use connected, higher performance fabrics.

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

Repair squeaky wooden floors and stairs in your Cowichan Valley home

Fixing Squeaky Flooring & Stairs

As construction materials dry out and a house settles, there may be a few spots on the floors that squeak when someone walks on them. This is a natural occurrence that affects wood construction houses and condos, new and old. When you walk across the floor, the sub-floor may rub against the joists or, if you have wood strip floors, the boards will rub against each other.

When the joist dries, it can become bowed or cupped which results in a space between the subfloor and the support. Walking on that spot can loosen the fasteners causing the floor to bounce and make noise. Floors that have exposed joists can be repaired from below. Usually, this is done from the basement or crawl space. Enlist a helper and ask them to help you find the squeaky spot by walking around the room above. Next, use a hardwood shim coated with carpenter’s glue and tap it in gently between the joist and the subfloor. Secure it with a screw that goes through the beam and the subfloor. Trim and remove the excess.

A hold-down bracket is an alternative to shims. It’s designed to attach to both the joist and the subfloor with plates connected by an adjustable bolt. Fasten a plate to each surface, insert the bolt into the fittings, and tighten. This will pull the subfloor tightly to the joist to eliminate movement.

If you cannot access the joists from below, try one of these methods to secure the subfloor from above. If the squeak is under carpeting, you can try special breakaway screws or pull back the carpet. Kits such as the Squeek No More Kit are designed to go through carpet. They snap off flush with the subfloor for an invisible patch. These work with varying degrees of success. You may want to try pre-drilling the holes and squirting in some carpenter’s glue to decrease bounce even further. Another method is to pull the carpet back and, using a stud finder, locate and drive screws into the joists through the subfloor.

Hardwood floors can develop creaks from shrinkage. In older homes, the lack of a frictionless layer of floor paper means the floor might be rubbing directly against the subfloor. The solution is to use break-away screws designed specifically for tightening wood strip floors. Pre-drill a hole, drive the screw, break off the head, and use a quality wood filler or a solid wood plug to match the existing finish.

Noisy stairs can be fixed from the top or the bottom. When working from the bottom, use wood shims and glue wherever open seams are found. Adding blocks to support joints will strengthen the entire structure by making it stiffer so it will move as a unit and not flex. Glue and screw the blocks into place. When working from the top, you might try the break-away screw method. Adding quarter round trim to the joint between the tread and the riser may work, as well. Be sure to glue and screw the trim piece so it’s fastened tightly. Consider hiring a carpenter for an afternoon, if necessary.

Questions or comments? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today for more information on preparing your Cowichan Valley home for sale.

Coffee house and cafes for sale in Ladysmith, BC

Coffeehouse Treats at Home

Tasty coffee shop-style espresso drinks at home are a luxurious treat on a cold or rainy day. The mellow taste of a latte with flavours such as peppermint or pumpkin can elevate it to new levels of delight. A daily latte is a good thing and the perfect pick-me-up when working at the office. But what if you’re working from home now and not able to visit the coffee shops in Ladysmith or the Cowichan Valley?

Espresso machines have become more sophisticated and more powerful. The first machines on the market lacked the water pressure required to produce a quality brew with the right amount of crema. Crema is the frothy, caramel coloured foam that is important for overall taste and, of course, beautiful latte art. You don’t need an expensive machine to make cafe-level espresso but it might be helpful to know that the better machines produce better result, more easily.

There are a number of factors that go into making good espresso, including grind (use ultra fine), tamping (tightly pushing the coffee into the extractor), and the quality of beans. Home-made espresso tastes different from cafe-bought because their beans are tailored to suit customer expectations and go through rigorous taste-testing trials. Starbucks uses a different espresso blend compared to the independent coffee houses. Espresso beans are generally roasted darker than regular coffee but not always. Start with the coffee you already like and test using progressively darker beans until you find a brew that you like. Try mixing beans from different parts of the world to make your own ‘house’ blend.

Start with fresh, whole beans and grind them yourself. Beans should have a slightly oily appearance although this will diminish over time. A burr grinder is more exact than a blade grinder and may even have settings for drip and espresso grinds. A diluted espresso means the grind was too course; a bitter espresso indicates it was too fine. A proper grind will leave a slight stain on your fingertips when you touch it. Tamp firmly but not excessively. A correct grind/tamp combination will produce a balanced taste. If it tastes good, you did it right.

One of the best reasons to make lattes at home is that you can enjoy your favourite flavours all winter. The ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte is always pulled from the menu far too early in the season. Just as one begins to warm up to them as an emotional support coffee, they are gone. Thankfully, the main ingredients, Torani Pumpkin Pie Sauce and brown sugar, are easily available. These are the same ingredients that the independent cafes use, and the taste is the real thing. The Torani sauces allow you to control the sweetness by adding your own sugar or Nutrasweet. Serve your PSL in a favourite mug with whipped cream on top.

Unlike drip coffee, a shot of espresso is intended to be consumed quickly and immediately after brewing. This is when the flavours are their strongest. In the summer, it provides an uplifting break that doesn’t overwhelm the body with too much heat. Experiment with an espresso shot in the afternoon or after a meal to see if you like it. Adding hot water to make it a mugful is called an Americano. The taste is more caramel than drip without slightly less caffeine. You may not want to drink drip coffee with breakfast once you’ve tried it.

Questions or comments? Want to talk about your next real estate transaction? Contact Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher today for a personal appointment. The coffee is on us!

Fire safety check list for Ladysmith homes for sale

Fire Safety Check-Up

Fire safety is an important part of home maintenance but is sometimes overlooked. Twice-annual checks of the important safety systems in your home will catch anything that needs attention before it fails. Contact your local Ladysmith insurance agent for information on saving money on your policy with fire prevention upgrades.

Kitchen appliances are a common source of fires in the home. Electricity from old or worn appliances can ignite grease or oil to cause a fire. Keep ovens and stovetops clean with a good degreaser. Don’t forget to clean the range hood filter as it can hold grease that will fuel a stovetop fire.

Worn out plugs from much loved appliances can fray and even separate from the wire. Older appliances that have cloth insulation on the wires should be replaced with new ones for safety. Keep those vintage appliances on a shelf to look at but not to actually use.

In Canada, all electrical devices must comply with CSA regulations. CSA sets the standard for devices by specifying how they should be assembled for maximum safety. Not all devices are CSA-approved. Goods purchased from overseas vendors may not have been approved for use in Canada. This can put your family at risk from short circuits. Look for the CSA label attached or embossed into the bottom of the appliance to see if it can be used safely. Non-CSA appliances that cause fires may invalidate your home insurance.

Power bars and extension cords are useful when there isn’t a nearby plug or when there are too many things to plug in. Having too many things plugged into a power bar can overload it. Choose one that has a built-in circuit breaker as an extra layer of protection. Be sure that these helpers are in good repair. Replace when a plug socket becomes loose or the cord shows signs of wear or damage.

If you have a circuit breaker that keeps resetting, or a fuse that keeps burning out, it’s best to call an electrician to have a look. Both of these are serious indicators that there is a fault in the wiring. Never replace a fuse with one that has a higher rating or insert a metal cheater to by-pass the fuse altogether. Both of these ‘fixes’ are dangerous and could invalidate your home insurance.

Flammable liquids and used rags can experience something called ‘spontaneous combustion’. This is caused by a chemical reaction that causes self-heating and thermal runaway. For this reason, used rags should be kept in a covered metal container or discarded. Liquids should be kept in a metal cabinet or outside.

Fabrics near heat, space heaters near furniture, drapes in the kitchen, rugs in front of fireplaces, and halogen floor laps near window coverings are all known to cause fires. If it’s combustible, it should be six feet away from an open flame or element. Space heaters should have a tip-over safety feature. Place them on a hard surface if possible, such as a hearth or tile floor. Oil-filled space heaters have no element to cause a contact fire.

Have a plan and know how to fight fires when they happen. Start with an evacuation plan so that everyone can get out safely when the smoke detector goes off in the middle of the night. Place fire extinguishers throughout the home and teach everyone how to use one. Use a refillable one for practice in the back yard then have it refilled immediately. Make sure all household members know how to handle an extinguisher to put out an electrical or grease fire. Quick action with the right extinguisher will prevent a fire from spreading.

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

Copy of Vancouver Island Real Estate Market Update September 2021

Vancouver Island Real Estate Market Update September 2021

Realtor and Associate Broker Lorne Gait has just prepared for you this Vancouver Island Real Estate Market update September 2021. 

Sunrise in Ladysmith
Lorne’s September 2021 Market Update

Lorne is a professional working in the mid Vancouver Island area,  He is based out of the Royal LePage Nanaimo Realty office in Ladysmith, BC.  Because of his many years of experience, he can help you with Real Estate needs from Victoria through Campbell River.  Let’s get in touch and talk about your Real Estate Needs . . . Lorne at 250-618-0680.

Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Statistics analysis

The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board also has its own Vancouver Island market Update to the end of August, 2021. This article is well worth reading.  Check it out: VIREB ANALYSIS.

Summary Thoughts

Definitely we have been in a Seller’s Market with Sellers having the advantage of multiple offers and of offers often going well above asking price.

Buyers definitely have to be engaged to find recently listed properties with no current accepted offers.  Buyers need to realize that the asking price is often a starting price which goes up from there.  It is absolutely wise for Buyer to get organized with financing ahead of time.  Offers with few or no conditions are quite common.  

Buyers and Sellers continue to face COVID-19 impacts in the sense of masking up and washing up before and after showings.  As professional realtors, we are happy to help give guidance regarding these matters.  

If you want to talk in more detail about the things that might cause our Vancouver Island 2021 Real Estate Market to go up or down, let’s get together and talk.  Our cell to call to text is 250-618-0680.

If you are selling, we can help you get the best possible price in this market.  If you are Buying, we can help you find a deal for the home of your choosing.

Lets Get IN TOUCH

Here are the stats for Nanaimo – 08-Aug 2021 Nanaimo Graphstats

And here are the stats for Cowichan – 08-Aug 2021 Cowichan Valley Graphstats

 

Seasons Greetings from Vancouver Island Real Estate
Happy Fall from Vancouver Island Realtor Lorne Gait and Morgan Fisher.
Old building conversions to apartments in Ladysmith, BC

Naturalistic Housing

The definition of naturalistic housing depends on the context of the architecture. The most common image that comes to mind is a rustic abode, perhaps a log home or a beach cottage in the Cowichan Valley or Gulf Islands It’s a place where simple materials and settings allow us to relax and take in our surroundings. It’s meditative and calming. It’s a space where you can dream about your potential while being thankful for what you have.

In urban areas, there is another sort of ‘natural’ environment. It’s the genre of warehouse loft conversion and its industrial aesthetic has proven to be quite durable. Warehouse living became the refuge of starving artists in New York City in the late 1950s. Common kitchens and baths were the sacrifice for low rent and a flexible living space.

By the 1970s work-live spaces and loft living had become the chic choice for upwardly mobile professionals and a target for real estate developers. The exposed infrastructure, such as wiring conduit and ductwork, appealed to those who loved the honest and raw aesthetics of the industrial space. Primer-painted steel, exposed brick, and wood with the patina from another age captured the imaginations of the residents.

As naturalistic environments, the industrial loft and the rustic log home both have an organic feel that accentuates contrasts between have and have-not. That gap is really where people begin to connect with and define their environment. It becomes a source of energy and inspiration. It compels the resident to consider their space from a multi-disciplinary perspective. It makes us feel intelligent and reflective.

The aesthetic is rooted in the idea of self-sufficiency and autonomy. The mindset invites community and conversation. Closely related to the ethos of pioneering, naturalism embraces the idea that a sacrifice in refinement is rewarded with an opportunity. It’s asceticism in practical terms for simple, modern day living. Ironically, the fusion of a new sense of modernism in old frameworks and structures defines aspirational decor.

When planning a naturalistic environment, the concept is minimalistic and comfortable. Contrasts such as exposed brick walls in a stance against IKEA modern with fabrics that are textured and neutral. It’s character is highly flexible to accommodate improvised spaces. Tables with wheels, lights that swivel to focus on new subjects, and furniture that can be repurposed are staples. Modern, practical decor with time-worn construction materials is the central theme of naturalistic design.

In 2021 and beyond, industrial design is expected to have a central role in residential construction. Changes in how people work and live will influence the design characteristics of new homes. Office spaces will be redefined by the need to share those essential rooms with other family members. The theme of reform, rehabilitation, and re-use will be superimposed on the traditional family space with special acknowledgement for these uncertain times. The result will be a more intentional minimalism that values genuineness and respects limited resources.

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

Cowichan Valley homes with backyard guest accommodations and basement suites

Entertaining Summer Guests

Visiting other parts of the country is fun, especially if you have family or friends who can accommodate your stay. Entertaining guests are a great opportunity to show off your city and can make you feel like a tourist at home. To help you prepare for overnight company, here are some tips that you might find helpful. Let us know if you are looking for a home with a backyard bunkie or guest house.

It’s a good idea to start with a budget. It’s easy to say ‘yes’ to every suggestion, from dinner out to shows and tourist attractions. A budget will help set priorities. Saying ‘no’ to some activities also allows your guests to have some private time to explore so it’s actually win-win for everyone.

Send an invitation or two! How will your guests know that you want them to visit unless you invite them? The invitation can specify a range of dates that is convenient for you and outline some boundaries. For example, your invitation might say something like, “It would be fun to see you this summer. We’re at home during the month of July, if you would like to visit. Car rentals are very affordable if you want to explore on your own.”

Prepare for guests by taking a look at sleeping arrangements. Is the guest bedroom stocked and ready for visitors that may stay a long weekend or even a week? Providing written directions on where to find supplies and toiletries, the WI-FI password, and instructions for household items is nice. A selection of reading material is wonderful for rainy days or quiet evenings and early bedtimes. In the bathroom, consider a small selection of travel size supplies and an extra toothbrush or two. Place a nightlight in the hall or ensuite so guests can navigate easily.

Planning a menu for additional guests doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. Supplement regular meals with starters, such as a cheese and cracker platter, soup, or salad to keep costs down. For mains, consider hearty servings of spaghetti carbonara or pasta with Bolognese sauce, both simple yet delicious and satisfying dishes. Deserts can be a tray of store bought cookies or supermarket slab cake served with your favourite coffee or tea.

For a successful visit, try to plan for the unexpected but don’t overextend your hospitality. Feeling obligated to entertain and provide for guests all the time is too much of an expectation. Let them settle in and find their own way. Most of all, have fun because it’s your vacation, too!

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

Vancouver Island Real Estate Buyer and Seller Specialists