How to Enjoy Your Patio in the Fall and Winter Months

Patios may be synonymous with summer, but why let them go to waste in the cooler months? You may not want to sit in an open patio in the dead of winter, but there are a few handy tips and tricks you can pull out so you can enjoy your patio all year round!

From adding a heat source to throwing a holiday party your guests can enjoy indoors and out, here’s how to enjoy your patio in the fall and winter months!

Add a Heat Source

When the temperature cools down, it’s up to you to heat it up! Adding heat sources next to seating areas on your patio is a great way to extend your time outside. This heat source can be permanent or portable, ranging from fire pits to outdoor heaters and outdoor fireplaces.

Add an Enclosure

If your patio is completely open, it’s going to be hard to enjoy your time outside when temperatures drop below zero. Consider upgrading to a screened-in patio or a covered gazebo so you can stay outside when the chilly weather hits. When you have a patio enclosure that can shield you from the elements and keep you warm, you’ll enjoy it that much more!

Weatherproof Furniture

Weatherproof furniture is key if you want to enjoy your patio in the fall and winter months. Patio furniture made from materials like teak and polyresin wicker are weather-resistant and made to stand up to the elements. Weatherproof furniture allows you to sit outside and enjoy the outdoors all year round. Just make sure it’s covered and to bring any pillows and cushions inside when it rains or snows.

Cozy Decor

Your patio will feel more comfortable and livable when you add cozy decor. Think: Throw pillows, faux fur throws, knit blankets and cushions for your seating areas. You can also add additional light sources so you can enjoy the patio when the sun goes down (especially since it gets dark earlier in the fall and winter!). String lights can add festive warmth to your patio, but you can also go for path markers, spotlights or lanterns.

Plan Fun Activities

Invite a bunch of friends over and whip up some mulled wine or hot chocolate to enjoy on the patio. The body warmth from all your friends is sure to warm you up, and you can get a game of cards going or set up a TV to watch a movie or sports game! The addition of a heating source and cozy decor will also help to keep you all warm.

Host an Indoor/Outdoor Holiday Party

An indoor/outdoor holiday party is a great way to utilize your cozy patio in the winter. Decorate the inside of your home and your patio with holiday decor, and make sure your outdoor space has a good heating and light source so your guests can enjoy it all through the night!

Once you season-proof your patio, it’s an extremely versatile addition to your home. Use these tips and enjoy your patio in the fall and winter months!

From Tiny and Traditional to Modern and Edgy: Mudrooms Can Make a Difference

Mudrooms have become increasingly popular over the past few years. They act as the perfect transition between indoors and outdoors and hide away items like jackets, shoes and bags that would usually clutter your living space.

They’re versatile, charming and easy to install, making a mudroom an incredible feature to add to your home. Mudrooms can go beyond a room for your bags and coats, operating as everything from gardening tools storage to a pet washing area. Take a look at how mudrooms can really make a difference.

3 Benefits of a Mudroom

1. Extra Storage

An extra storage space is key if your goal is to have a neat, organized home. A mudroom expands your storage area, allowing you to keep everything from shoes and jackets to sports equipment and gardening tools out of sight. To get the most out of mudroom storage, opt for a bench with a top that opens up, and lots of hooks and open shelving so everything has a place to go.

2. Less Clutter

Since a mudroom gives you more storage, the rest of your home will naturally look more organized and less cluttered. A better functioning organization system means it will be easier to find things, and you won’t have to hurriedly throw things under your couch on in your closet when guests show up without notice.

3. A Cleaner Living Space

Without a mudroom, people and pets are more likely to bring dirt into the house, messing with your clean living space. A mudroom acts as the perfect transition from outside to inside, allowing your family and guests to take off their shoes and outerwear before coming inside. You can even wash off your pets in the mudroom so they don’t drag mud through your home!

4 Mudroom Designs

Tiny and Traditional

Mudrooms don’t have to be big spaces. If you simply need an extra bit of space for your shoes and bags, tiny and traditional is the way to go. Add in a few cubbyholes with hooks and some drawers underneath, and you’ll have a perfectly suitable mudroom.

Modern and Edgy

Many homeowners are choosing to go a little bit more edgy with their mudrooms. Play with more eclectic colours and patterns to get a modern look you love. Even if the rest of your home teeters on the more conservative side, a smaller space like a mudroom is your chance to bring out your wild side.

Warm and Cozy

Since the mudroom is the first room you step into from outside, it should exude warmth and comfort. Use warm paint shades like cool gray or rich blue, add wicker baskets, and place a couple throw pillows on your bench to make it feel nice and cozy!

Farmhouse Chic

Farmhouse style is one of the most welcoming designs there is, and it’s perfect for a mudroom! A white mudroom with black and wood accents will enhance the farmhouse vibe, and you can even put in barn door cupboards for more storage space.

If you’ve considered putting in a mudroom, what are you waiting for? Use these designs as inspiration to create an extra chic storage room and entryway!

Top 2019 Exterior Home Colour Trends

2019 is almost here, and it’s time to start thinking about new home upgrades. If you’re planning a home remodel or simply want to spruce up your exterior with a new colour palette, you’re going to want to take note! This upcoming year, home exteriors are going to be dominated by bold, new trends as well as contemporary twists on old classics.

Whether you’re in the market for brand new siding and need to make a colour choice, or are looking for exterior paint, check out Gentek’s World of Colour for all your exterior colour needs! Here are the top 2019 exterior home colour trends you need to know!

Dark and Bold

There’s no denying that homeowners are getting bolder with their colour choices, both inside and out. 2019 will see more of the dark and bold exterior trend, with shades like charcoal, dark blue, black and dark green dominating exterior colour palettes.

These shades will be used alongside each other, illuminating the dark-on-dark appeal. They’ll be used in various combinations of main and accent colours for exteriors that make a dramatic, bold statement. Since dark palettes work for home styles ranging from contemporary to modern to mid-century, you can rock the dark and bold trend whatever your home style may be!

Cool Neutrals are In

Cool neutrals like soft grays, mid-tone blues and earthy terra cottas will be making their way to home exteriors in 2019. Neutrals have always been popular in the home exterior world, but you don’t have to settle for lack-lustre shades like beige and taupe. Cool neutrals still pair seamlessly with other colours, but they give your home a more lively, comforting feel.

Wellness and Zen

Your home should be a place where relaxation and self care are top priority. With the rise of wellness influencing indoor and outdoor spaces alike, homeowners are beginning to bring zen design elements to their exterior colour palettes as well. Earthy shades like slate grays and cool greens convey a peaceful ambience and will undoubtedly create a zen exterior.

Don’t Forget the Classics

One of the most classic colour palettes is a white exterior with black trim. This colour combo is striking, beautiful and ideal for traditional homes. Don’t worry, this timeless trend isn’t going anywhere, but you’ll see the addition of shades such as grays and blues this upcoming year. Any colour that conveys warmth and comfort is a shade that you’ll find on 2019 home exteriors.

Updating your home is always an exciting venture! Stay ahead of the trends with 2019’s home exterior colour guide!

Cleaning Your Vinyl Siding in the Winter: A Surprisingly Good Idea

When people think about cleaning their home exteriors they tend to leave those thoughts for spring. But did you know cleaning your vinyl siding in the winter is actually a good idea? It may seem like a hassle to do anything outside, let alone clean your siding, but when the temperatures are tolerable, why not get a head start on some spring cleaning?

Vinyl siding has grown to be one of the most popular cladding materials used in North America, so it’s important that homeowners know how to keep it clean! Cleaning your siding in the winter gives you a leg up on spring cleaning, saving you time when you’d rather be enjoying the warm weather. If you can handle being outdoors around zero degrees, you’ll ensure your siding stays beautiful and shiny all year round.

Cleaning your vinyl siding is a fairly easy job, which makes winter cleaning a breeze. Here are 3 steps to take to ensure you’re cleaning your vinyl siding right this winter.

The Right Tools

If you’ve decided to clean your vinyl siding in the winter, you’ll need the right supplies. Fill up a bucket with three parts water and one part laundry detergent. You can also use a 70% water and 30% vinegar solution.

Either of these mixtures will help remove mold and mildew, but if you need something a little stronger, mix one-third cup powdered laundry detergent, two-thirds cup powdered household cleaner, one quart liquid laundry bleach and one gallon water.

Use a long-handled soft bristle brush to give your siding a good clean! Some people prefer to use a pressure washer, but some manufacturers advise against it or recommend using a limited amount of pressure. It’s always best to check what your manufacturer or installation contractor recommends.

Proper Technique

In order to prevent streaks and stains when you’re cleaning your siding, start at the bottom and work your way up. If you’re worried about any stone or brick near the siding, you can cover it up to prevent damage.

If you’re using a pressure washer, make sure the stream is at eye level and pointed straight at the siding or downward, rather than on an upward slant. This will ensure you don’t send water behind the siding, causing damage.

And keep in mind, you should use caution around any window or door openings if you decide to use a pressure washer.

What to Avoid

If you want your siding cleaning to go as smoothly as possible, avoid cleaners that contain organic solvents, chlorine bleach, nail polish remover or furniture polish. Any of these cleaners can cause damage to your siding.

And stick to a soft bristle brush. Any highly abrasive scrubbers can cause damage when you’re cleaning.

The End Results

With regular upkeep and a little bit of effort, you can have beautiful siding year round. Don’t wait until spring, get a head start by cleaning your siding this winter!

Ditch the Clutter and Get Rid of Stuff! 9 Things to Get Rid of Now

Clutter can transform your beautiful home into a mountain of mess. The truth is, there are plenty of things around your home that you probably don’t need. These things take up space and likely haven’t been used for years.

The best thing you can do is go through each room in your house and get rid of stuff you have no need for anymore. It may have served you at one point, but if you no longer use or need it, it’s time to say goodbye! Here are 9 things to get rid of so you can ditch the clutter!

1. Last Year’s Birthday/Holiday Cards

It’s nice to keep holiday cards up for a little while, but they do create unnecessary clutter. Enjoy them for a month or two, then either throw them away or keep special ones in storage.

2. Worn Out Shoes

Are your closets and entryways full of shoes you don’t wear anymore? If you have shoes that are broken and worn beyond repair, it’s time to get rid of them. And if you have shoes that are in relatively good condition that you don’t wear anymore, bring them to a local shelter or thrift store.

3. Single Socks

Everyone knows the dread of the single sock. You can look high and low without any luck, and although it’s tempting to keep them in hopes that the other one will show up one day, it usually doesn’t happen. Who knows where the other one went, the only thing we know is if it’s missing its partner, it’s time to let it go.

4. Old Halloween Costumes

Your kids may have looked cute in their Halloween costumes from five years ago, but are they really worth hanging on to? If your kids have moved on to new costumes, so should you. Donate their old costumes or hand them down to cousins or friends.

5. Wire Hangers

Wire hangers tend to make your closet look more cluttered than it really is. Throw out your wire hangers and replace them with matching plastic or wooden ones. It will make your closet look much more organized and coordinated.

6. Unworn Clothes

Speaking of your closet, it’s often the one space that holds a lot of clutter. Make a point of going through your clothes and make a donation bag for any items you don’t wear anymore. It can be tough to part with clothing, but if you haven’t worn something in a year (or more), it’s time to say goodbye.

7. Expired Makeup

Makeup doesn’t last forever. In fact, expired makeup can be really bad for your skin. Go through your makeup bag and get rid of anything you’ve had for a while. Mascara should be switched about every three months, while foundation is good for about a year. Lipstick and blush should be replaced every two years.

8. Cardboard Food Boxes

Have you ever noticed that cardboard food boxes take up so much space? Not to mention, they’re not so pleasant to look at. Whenever you buy food like cereal or pasta that comes in a cardboard box, toss it! Invest in sealed glass containers to transfer the food into to keep it fresh and reduce clutter.

9. Expired Food

Have you ever gone through your fridge only to find sauces and condiments that expired last year? Time flies and before you know it, that poppy seed salad dressing you meant to use is already way past its due date. Get rid of any expired food in your fridge and pantry, and if you find non-perishable foods that you’ve been keeping around and know you won’t eat, donate them to your local food bank.

If your home is feeling cluttered, it’s time to get rid of some stuff. Purge your house of unused items for a feel-good refresh!

What Feng Shui is and Why You Should Use It

If you want to create more harmony and health in your home, it’s time to embrace the art of feng shui. Feng shui commenced in China over 3,000 years ago. It’s is the art of placement that teaches us how to balance and harmonize energies in a space.

In literal sense, “feng” means air and “shui” means water, which in Chinese culture are both associated with good health. On the other hand, bad feng shui can mean bad luck and misfortune.

Feng shui is composed of a system of rules that govern spatial arrangement in relation to qi (the flow of energy). Qi (pronounced “chi”) is believed to move from one space to another, and through feng shui, homeowners can bring good energy flow into any given space, whether it’s your home office, bedroom or kitchen.

If you want to promote more balance, happiness and success in your home, use these 3 key feng shui tips.

1. Start with Your Front Door

The first step to good feng shui is your entry door. Your entire house gets energy from your front door, so it’s crucial you take the simple steps to enhance good energy.

First off, ensure there’s a clear path to your front door. An unobstructed, open flow of energy to your front door is so important. Make sure there are no recycling bins, dead plants, shovels or any other obstructions blocking the flow of energy.

You also may consider repainting it an auspicious colour such as red or blue, depending on your exterior design. A fresh coat of paint and a well cared for door will ensure better energy for your home. The more balanced and proportionate your front door is to your home, the better the quality of energy for everyone in the house.

2. Harmonize Your Bedroom

Your bedroom is one of the most important rooms of your house, so make sure you do everything you can to let good energy in. A minimal, uncluttered bedroom ensures less stress and more relaxation.

Do everything you can to promote a better sleep, such as investing in a good, comfortable mattress and a solid headboard, and ensure your bed is as balanced as can be. Make sure you have two night stands (one on each side), that you can access your bed from both sides and that the furniture on either side of your bed is balanced with the other.

3. Create A Productive Home Office

Your home office should foster as much productivity as possible, and you can easily do this with feng shui. With good feng shui, you’ll feel more creative, effective and ready to take on any task at hand!

Air purifying plants are a great addition to any home office to refresh good energy of both yourself and the space. Natural light is also key. Invest in quality windows so your body gets plenty of natural light.

You’ll also want to set yourself up in a command position to keep your energy strong and more protected. In feng shui, the command position is a spot furthest from the door but not directly in line with the door. It’s usually diagonal from the door and facing the door.

Feng shui can completely transform your space, bringing it better energy and harmony. Use these ideas to elevate your home in a few easy steps.

8 Small Space Organization Hacks for Any Room

Tiny homes have become a national phenomenon, and even if you’re not into the tiny home craze, many homeowners are opting to forgo over-sized mansions for smaller, more intimate homes. The only problem? Storage and organization can be an issue with smaller spaces and rooms that are irregularly shaped. If you’re experiencing this conundrum in your home, check out 8 of the best small space organization hacks for any room!

1. Under the Stairs

Do you have empty, unused space under your staircase? Why not transform it into storage or even an office area with a desk and shelves? The space under the stairs is often underutilized and it’s one of the most unexpected spaces for storage. If you have the space, you should really take advantage of it.

2. Labeled containers

Kitchens can become easily disorganized. Once of the best ways to eliminate clutter and keep items like flour, sugar and nuts organized are sealed containers with labels. The labels allow you to easily pull out what you need when cooking and baking, and the sealed containers keep the items fresh!

3. Pretty baskets

Baskets are ideal for storage and there are so many pretty basket options to choose from these days. There are wicker baskets, braided baskets, and fabric baskets in all different colours and designs. Use them for storing throw blankets and pillows in your living room, knick knacks, or pretty much anything else you want stored out of view.

4. Corner shelving

If you’re finding you need more storage, consider corning shelving. You can easily organize the shelves with your keys, wallet, sunglasses, bags, and any other trinkets you need space for.

5. Bed frames with storage

Have a small bedroom and need more space for your clothes? A bed frame with storage underneath will be your saving grace! There are beds with drawers underneath and bed frames where the base lifts up to reveal storage space. These frames will hold tons of clothes, so you don’t need to worry about over-stuffing your closet.  

6. Tiny tables

While a large coffee table can take up a lot of space in a small room, smaller tables will still provide you with storage, but can be more easily positioned around your furniture. You can place succulents, books, coasters or a small vase of flowers on tiny tables for more storage!

7. Over-the-door storage

Over-the-door storage isn’t used as much as it could be, especially in small spaces! But the truth is, if you have a tiny space, it can make a huge difference. You can use over-the-door storage for anything from shoes to bathroom supplies to children’s toys.

8. Get creative with awkward corners

If you want to make the most out of an awkward corner where not much furniture can fit, you’ll have to get creative! Think: Creating a cozy reading nook with a bookshelf, or mounting a single shelf to create a DIY vanity or desk space.

If you have a small space and are in desperate need of organization and storage, use these hacks to get the most out of your more compact rooms!

5 Steps to Build a Fun Outdoor Mud Kitchen for Kids (Because Kids Love to be Messy)

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that kids love to get messy. As soon as they step outside, you can bet they’re going to be playing in the dirt. But kids will be kids and instead of stressing over it, enjoy it while they’re still young! Take full advantage of your kids’ love for the outdoors by building a fun outdoor mud kitchen!

Part playhouse, part outdoor cooking area, a mud kitchen not only allows them to have fun and be creative (mud pie, anyone?), it also offers learning opportunities to them such as sensory, imaginative and exploratory play. They’re able to connect with nature while enhancing their confidence and collaboration. Here are 5 steps to building a fun outdoor mud kitchen for your kids.

Step 1: Designing the Mud Kitchen

There are a number of different ways to go about building a mud kitchen in your backyard. The first option is using wood pallets, logs or timber to DIY a kids’ kitchen. You can also use old furniture you may have around your house or in storage. Transform old dressers and drawers into storage for the mud kitchen so your kids have a place to keep all their utensils.

Step 2: Collect Old Kitchen Utensils

Search your cupboards and pantry to find old pots, pans, strainers, muffin tins, pie pans, measuring cups, wooden spoons and any other kitchen utensils you don’t use anymore. Look for anything that could be used to make mud pies, mud meatballs, mud muffins, and to store mud pudding.

These old utensils will stock the mud kitchen, allowing your kids to get creative with their mud masterpieces. There are also affordable cookware sets you can find if you don’t have any old utensils to use.

Step 3: Create a Sink

A sink is a key part of any kitchen, especially a backyard mud kitchen! Not everyone has an old sink laying around. If you do, place it into hollow wood openings in your mud kitchen. If you don’t, you can easily create a sink with bins from IKEA or Walmart. Fill it with water so your kids can wash their muddy utensils and hands after they’re done making their mud pies!

Step 4: Stock Up on Mud

The number 1 ingredient you need for a mud kitchen is, of course, the mud. You don’t need to go tearing apart your backyard to get mud for the kitchen. Instead, use bagged top soil, gravel, sand compost and water to create mud in different consistencies.

Your kids will be able to make their own mud in a range of colours and textures- how great is that! You can even create a sand pit so your kids can easily access the mud when they need it. Just make sure whatever you’re using isn’t contaminated with animal feces as this can lead to health problems.

Step 5: The Right Time and Place for a Mud Kitchen

Summer is the ideal time to create a mud kitchen for your kids, but they can enjoy it all year round with waterproof and warm clothing. As for where to place your mud kitchen, it can be set up anywhere outdoors!

Help define the kitchen area by placing it near walls, hedges or fences. And don’t worry about placing it close to a water source. Let your kids have fun filling and transporting containers of water when they need them.

An outdoor mud kitchen is one of the best ways for your kids to get creative and connect with Mother Nature. Follow these steps to create the mud kitchen of their dreams!

4 Things to Consider Before Converting Your Garage into a Living Space

You may think of your garage as a storage space for your sports equipment, or a hub for your cars, but have you ever considered converting it into a living space? If you don’t need your garage for its traditional use, but would like another space for your family to enjoy and relax, your garage could be the perfect transformation. Whether you want an extra bedroom, a home office, a playroom, craft room, or living room, there are plenty of ways to make your garage more livable. Here are 4 things to consider before converting your garage into a living space!

1. The Floor

The floor in your garage is one of the main things to consider if you’re converting it into a living space. You’ll probably have to install a new floor structure as garage floors are often sloped, cracked and sit lower than the rest of the home. A good option to consider is installing a concrete floor or “topping slab” over the existing floor. This will help keep water from infiltrating the interior and also allows you to install a heating system within the concrete to give your new space more warmth.

2. The Windows

Your garage may not have any windows right now, and even if it does, you’ll likely want to add a few more to make it feel more livable. The size and location of your windows will have to comply with local building codes, so make sure to check them out before starting the work. Like the rest of your home’s windows, you’ll want the windows for your new space to enhance your home’s elegance and comfort. We have the perfect selection for you. Not only do Gentek windows seamlessly blend beauty and strength, they’re also energy efficient and low maintenance. Yes, you can have it all!

3. The Opening

If you’re considering converting your garage into a living space, you may be wondering what to do with the garage door opening. One option is to keep the garage door, taking the steps to ensure that it’s weathertight. If you have gorgeous barn, chalet, or carriage-style garage doors that give the space character and charm, this could be a really great option. Another alternative is to install large windows or folding glass doors in the opening if it fits the aesthetics of the space.

4. The Temperature

Typically, garages don’t require temperature control, but if you’re transforming it into a livable area, the temperature of the room should be top of mind! Your new living area will need to be heated and cooled, depending on the season. You may be able to use your existing central heating and cooling system, but don’t bet on it. If you’re not able to, a mini split system is the perfect alternative!

Converting your garage into a living space can be a fun (yet challenging) feat! Take these tips into consideration while you’re planning your project and you’ll be good to go!

How to Decorate with Barn Doors in Your Big City Home

Barn doors may epitomize country homes but over the past few years, they’ve made their way to the big city, adorning modern homes and farmhouse dwellings alike. Barn doors make a statement in the most charming way, allowing you to separate different rooms in rustic, vintage style. They’re distinctive, easy to maneuver and completely swoon-worthy. Here’s how to decorate with barn doors in your big city home.

For Your Office

It’s important to have a separate space for your office so you can concentrate and get work done without distractions. Separate your office from the rest of your home with a gorgeous barn door. Not only will it make for a stylish entryway to your work space, it also offers a thick, soundproof barrier so you’re not distracted by noises on the other side.

Kitchen Entrance

Create a jaw-dropping impact with barn doors that lead to your kitchen and eating space. The kitchen is often the heart of the home, and imagine the look on your guests’ face when you open your rustic barn doors to your unbelievable cooking space! This look will work for modern, vintage and farmhouse kitchens alike, so feel free to get creative!

Conceal a Bathroom

Have a small bathroom, or thinking of installing one? Conceal it with a single farm door. It’s a wonderful way to cover it up when it’s in use, and if you’re proud of your bathroom design and decor, you can leave your sliding barn door open when it’s not in use, so you and your guests can enjoy the charm of both the bathroom and the barn door.

Cover up a Pantry

If you have a pantry in your kitchen, a barn door is the perfect way to conceal it. We have to admit, keeping the pantry tidy isn’t always the easiest feat, and a barn door is a seamless way to hide the mess. Not only will it give your kitchen a stylish look, it’s also extremely easy to maneuver, which is a must when you’re trying to organize everything that goes into a meal!

Mini Barn Doors

Who said barn doors have to be full-sized? If you don’t have space for a big barn door to separate one of your rooms but are still craving the look, consider mini barn doors to cover your TV, opening up to a small bookshelf, or to conceal your washer-dryer in your laundry room. They’ll make an adorable statement wherever you choose to put them!

Barn Door DIY

If you’re a crafty person, you may want to consider DIY-ing your barn door. Find a gorgeous piece of wood (new or refurbished) and hardware, decide on your sliding options (one door, two door, or bypass doors), pick a colour and get to work! There are tons of articles online that demonstrate how to DIY a barn door, so do some research and build the barn door of your dreams!

If you live in the big city but want to give your home some country allure, barn doors are a great way to achieve the look. Use these ideas to implement a barn door into your space and get all the farmhouse vibes!