Welcome to Gentek Canada’s MyDesign Home Studio, our home exterior improvement blog

Get tips and colour choices from our designers and learn about our latest windows, siding and home exterior products.

Patio Trends That Will Last Into 2020

As we move from summer to fall, it’s important to take advantage of the days and nights we can spend outside. Making a few patio upgrades ensures you make the best out of the warmer months, even if it gets a little chilly when the sun goes down. It’s not too late to hop on this year’s patio trends. These are the 5 patio trends to take on now that will last into 2020.

 

  1. Great Lighting

Every patio needs great lighting, especially if you’re planning to do lots of entertaining. Lighting can make or break a space, and since you’ll be hanging on your patio after dark, you want to make sure your lighting is top notch. Whether you choose to install lights in your patio, choose outdoor floor lamps, or go more whimsical with string lights, great lighting is a major part of any patio. Make sure to use LED lights to make your patio as energy efficient as possible.

 

  1. Multipurpose Furniture

Just like updating your living room with pieces that do double-duty, multipurpose patio furniture is one of the biggest trends right now. These pieces are especially ideal if you don’t have a ton of space, but it doesn’t mean you can’t use them with a big patio as well. Multipurpose furniture allows you to store cushions in seating when the weather gets bad or have a cabinet that also serves as a buffet table. Extendable tables are also ideal to fold out when you have company and fold back in to save space when you aren’t hosting.

 

  1. Colour

Colourful patios are in. Say goodbye to neutral patio furniture and hello to vibrant hues that give personality and character to your space. Think: Decorative throw pillows, a patterned area rug, and coloured wicker coffee tables. Most patio furniture brands are offering a myriad of textiles in all different patterns, textures and shades. Mix bold colour with neutrals for the ultimate outdoor living space.

 

  1. Mixed Materials

Mixed material patio furniture is a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. A variety of materials gives dimension and warmth to your space, making it cozy and inviting. Teak, wicker, cast iron and aluminum furniture are in right now and they all work to complement each other. You’ll see combinations like wicker furniture with a cast aluminum frame and cast iron with sling fabrics. These pieces are a unique way to make a statement with your patio and elevate your decor to the next level.

 

  1. Outdoor Accessories

Outdoor accessories like planters, side tables and bar carts keep your patio looking fresh and thoughtful. It’s one thing to deck out your patio with furniture, but it’s another to make it feel like home with accessories that illuminate your personality and style. The addition of a gorgeous area rug under a patio couch set, or plant pots that hold your favourite flowers go a long way in making your patio a complete stand out.

 

Ready to make a few patio upgrades? Make these changes now and they’ll last well through 2020!

 

 


7 Unique Farmhouse Designs for Your Front Porch 

Farmhouse decor has a special place in the design world. Not only does it give warmth to your interior, it can also transform your exterior into a rustic dream. Mixing old world elegance with modern touches, farmhouse design is a gorgeous way to make your mark with your front porch. If you’re on a mission to make your front porch charming and welcoming, you’re going to love these unique farmhouse designs! 

1. Farmhouse Front Door

If you want to give your front porch major farmhouse vibes, you should start with your front door. A charming door in black, white, blue, or medium wood is key to mastering the ranch decor style. Take a look at our selection of doors at Gentek to find the perfect rustic style door for your home! 

2. Board and Batten Siding

Board and batten siding is the siding you need for a farmhouse facade. With its wide vertical boards and beautiful attention to detail, it will give your porch that warmth and charm you’ve been searching for. Mixing historical appeal with modern subtlety, board and batten siding will undoubtedly heighten your home’s curb appeal.

3. Wooden Welcome Sign

A wooden welcome sign that looks like it should be outside of a rustic storefront is an excellent way to make your guests feel welcome. Dark wood with “welcome” written in a warm shade of white is the perfect addition to a farmhouse front porch.

4. Tin Pail Porch Planters

Tin pails have farmhouse written all over them. Choose ones of different heights and fill them with potted herbs or wild flowers. These smaller plants have a down-to-earth charm that your guests will appreciate. Place them going up your front stairs or on your patio. 

5. Layered Welcome Door Mats and a Door Wreath

Your front door is a main draw of your porch. Make sure it’s welcoming by placing a coir welcome door mat in front of it. To give it even more rustic charm, place a cream coloured mat underneath it for added dimension. A farmhouse door wreath made with soft greens and grays is the perfect way to finish off the area. 

6. Cozy Oversized Porch Swing

If you have the room for it, an oversized porch swing tied up with rope hangers is a cozy and stunning addition to a farmhouse front porch. Layer it with lots of pillows and a cozy tartan throw for a charming elegance that can’t be beat.

7. Barn Style Wall Lanterns 

Good lighting is important for your front porch, and if you really want to give it that cozy ranch feel, barn style lanterns hung on the wall are an awesome addition. Hang them on either side of your front door to light up the space. If you have a large porch, you can also consider hanging outdoor lanterns throughout.

There you have it! 7 awesome and unique farmhouse designs for your front porch! Follow these steps to up the warmth and coziness of your welcome area. 


Want Winter Colour? Plant These! 

Did you know your winter garden can be just as full and colourful as your summer one? Winter flowers, whether planted in a garden, in pots, or in window boxes will add a splash of much needed colour during gloomy winter months. Here are 9 plants that bloom in winter! 

1. Snowdrops

With a name that couldn’t be more perfect for a winter garden, snowdrops are absolutely stunning. Their white downturned petals are a beautiful addition to any garden, blooming in November and lasting until after Christmas. If you’re lucky, they can flourish all the way through February. 

2. Pansies

Winter-flowering pansies are low-growing flowers that are a winter garden staple. They bloom through much of the snowy season, and are also ideal for filling pots and window boxes. They come in a variety of colours, both solid and bi-colour, but are known and loved most in the deep purple variety.

3. Winter Jasmine

Winter Jasmine is a beautiful yellow shade and one of the most decorative plants there is. It’s one of the earliest flowering plants to bloom, often in January, and is incredibly easy to care for. It’s summery shade will bring warmth to your garden on the coldest, most miserable days. 

4. Holly Bushes

Bright red holly bushes will stand out in your snow-covered yard. They’re able to survive harsh winters, adding a splash of colour to your garden. Plant them in the spring or fall and watch them do their thing all year. In the spring they also produce little white flowers, making them one of the most versatile plants. 

5. Winter Flowering Cherry

The winter flowering cherry originated in Japan and boasts delicate, yet persistent blooms that make them ideal for winter. The ornamental tree flowers from late autumn to early spring, providing a pretty pink hue to your yard even in the dead of winter. 

6. Sweet Alyssum

Sweet alyssums may be dainty, but they’re an extremely hardy plant, making them well-suited for fall, winter and early spring. They’re low-growing plants with a subtle sweet scent, and a light frost is no issue for them.

7. Winter Honeysuckle

The winter honeysuckle not only looks beautiful, it also gives off a delightful lemony scent. You’ll be surrounded with highly fragrant creamy white flowers in late winter to early spring, after which you’ll be able to enjoy red berries which mature in late spring to early summer. 

8. Camellia

The beautiful camellia varies in colour from bright pink to dark crimson. They offer bright, long-blooming flowers that can thrive right through winter. They’re ranked as one of the best flowering shrubs, and if you pick them well, you can have camellias in your garden from October through May!

9. English Primrose 

It doesn’t get much prettier than the English primrose. Most primroses bloom in the spring, but the English Primrose thrives come winter. Available in nearly any colour, they’re the perfect way to add life and colour to your garden in the gloomy months. 

Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean you can’t have colour in your yard! Choose a few of your favourite plants for a beautiful winter garden. 


The Best Small Space Solutions for Your Tiny Home 

More homeowners are making the move toward small space living. Whether they choose to downsize to a condo, or a tiny home on wheels, many homeowners are choosing more minimalist lifestyles. Small space living helps the environment, saves you money, and provides you with easier maintenance for your space. Plus, you don’t have to worry about sacrificing style. Take a look at 8 small space solutions for your tiny home. 

1. Say Goodbye to Bedside Tables 

Bedside tables end up taking up a lot of space, plus they can be another place for clutter. Rather than placing bedside tables beside your bed, frame your bed with built-in closets. This provides you with more storage for your belongings and also looks sleek and sophisticated. 

2. Sectional Seating

You may think that larger furniture is a faux pas for a small space, but that’s not actually the case. A sectional is a great option for your tiny home as it will easily accommodate your family and guests, and ensures you’re not wasting any space. 

3. Wall Mounted Lighting 

Table and floor lamps can take up prime real estate in your home. Opt for wall mounted sconces in spaces like your bedroom and living room, and use pendants in your kitchen over your island. This will free up space that you can use more practically. 

4. Create a Stunning Focus

If your home is small and narrow, use stunning pieces like metallic bar stools to take the focus off the narrow space and move it over to something that catches the eye. Show stopping pieces will distract from the fact that your space is on the smaller side. 

5. Add a Bar Cart

Bar carts not only allow you to store things like booze, books and barware, they also add visual style to your space. You can move a bar cart around from room to room as needed, and it’s a great piece to increase the chicness of your home. 

6. White Floors 

White floors instantly make your space look bigger. They reflect light, opening up your space and make your home feel light and airy. White floors work flawlessly for Scandinavian style decor- add light wood pieces and black accents to complete the look. 

7. Layer Different Textures 

Layering different textures will give your space more dimension. Whenever you put the focus on tactile elements like a fringed rug or a faux fur blanket, it makes your space seem more layered, and is ultimately more stylish. 

8. Pocket Doors 

Pocket doors, AKA doors that “disappear” inside the wall when opened, not only save wall space, they also give your home a more open feel, which is key for small space living. Standard swinging doors can take up 10 or more square feet, so swapping them with pocket doors gives you more space for furniture and decor. 

If you’re making the move to small space living, use these 8 small space solutions for your tiny home!


6 Charming Front Porch Ideas to Welcome Guests 

Upgrading your front porch is a simple project that can make a huge impact. A charming front porch boosts your curb appeal and welcomes guests to your home. It’s one of the first features people will see when walking by or driving up to your house, so you want to make sure it reflects your home decor style and makes a stellar first impression. If you’re ready to bring your front porch to the next level, here are 6 charming front porch ideas to welcome guests!

1. Frame Your Door With Plants 

If you want to make a gorgeous grand entrance, frame your door with beautiful ceramic potted plants. This will give your home a tranquil feeling and make you feel calm as you walk up to your front door. If you don’t have room for a front porch lounge area, plants are a great way to add charm and style. 

2. Get Inspiration From Your Interior 

Bringing the indoors out is one of the biggest home decor trends right now. The furniture and materials on your front porch should be inspired by your interior. This will create a cohesive flow and sense of consistency as you walk from the porch inside your home.  

3. Create Coziness 

Your front porch shouldn’t just be for show. Make it cozy so you and your family love spending time out there. Hang a porch swing with big, cozy cushions or place rocking chairs looking out onto your front lawn. It will be the perfect spot to sit out with a newspaper in the morning or with a cup of tea after dinner. 

4. Upgrade Your Front Door 

Does your front door look run down or dated? Is the paint peeling off of it? It’s probably time to upgrade your front door. Your front door is the focal point of your home, so it’s really important it looks welcoming and refreshed. Consider painting it or if it’s really old and dated, invest in a new front door- we have tons to choose from at Gentek

5. Built In Breakfast Nook

If you have the room for it, a built in breakfast nook on your front porch is one of the best ways to bring the country charm. A built-in banquet, round table and wicker chairs will give your porch a polished yet comfortable feel. This will ensure you get plenty of use out of the space whether you eat breakfast or dinner there, enjoying the warmth of the outdoors. 

6. Light It Up With String Lights

String lights are the ultimate way to up the charm of your space. Deck out your porch with cozy patio furniture and hang string lights over head to make your porch feel bright and magical when the sun goes down. 

Your front porch should be welcoming, stylish and cozy. Use these tips to increase the charm of your front porch and welcome guests in the perfect way! 


6 Window Types You Need to Know (In Case You Renovate) 

Windows are an essential part of your home, both functionally and aesthetically. If replacing your windows is part of an upcoming renovation, it’s important to research which ones are best for your home. Knowing the basics of different windows as well as their pros and cons ensures you’ll be able to talk about and pick them with ease. We’re giving you insight into 6 common types of windows you’ll find in stores and showrooms so you can choose the best ones for your space! 

1. Casement Window

Casement windows are hinged at the side and open outward, to either the left or right. They’re also referred to as crank windows, as they open with the help of a crank handle or push. Casement windows offer maximum ventilation and natural light, so they work great for rooms that need ventilation like bathrooms and kitchens. They also have a low air-leakage rate and superb noise reduction. 

2. Double Hung Window

On double hung windows, both sashes (moveable panels) in the window frame are operable or move up and down. When you’re able to open both the top and bottom of the window, it creates a natural convection- cool air comes in at the bottom and warm air flows out at the top. They’re easy to clean since they tilt inward and they’re known for their energy efficiency. One downside is the horizontal rail in the middle that obstructs your view to the outdoors.

3. Picture (or Fixed) Window

Picture windows are windows that don’t open. They let in natural light and provide you with an unobstructed view of the outdoors. A small picture window can brighten up a small space like a powder room or stairwell, while a big picture window gives you visual access to your gorgeous yard or mountains in the distance. Picture windows won’t provide you with any ventilation, and cleaning can be a hassle since you have to clean them from the outside. 

4. Awning Window

Awning windows are similar to casement windows, except they’re hinged at the top. The great thing about awning windows is you can leave them open when it rains without worrying about water leaking into your home. When they’re open, the glass slopes downward, so it can be left open without worry. They can be used near the top of the wall to let hot air escape, but keep in mind they only offer partial ventilation. 

5. Glider Window 

Unlike the windows we’ve mentioned above, glider windows don’t open outward, but instead have a moving panel that slides to the left or the right to open. They’re perfect to use next to patios and walkways since they don’t project outward. They’re easy to open as they aren’t heavy and glide along the window frame with ease. They can be an issue to clean, especially from the outside since they only slide back and forth rather than tilting inside. 

6. Skylight 

A skylight is a window installed on the ceiling. Some are fixed and others open to provide ventilation. Skylights add lots of natural light to your space, and also provide solar heating, which can help you save on costs during chilly seasons. If you have a skylight that opens, it freshens up the air of your living space, and provides sunlight into smaller, darker rooms. 

Ready to do some window shopping? Check out Gentek’s selection of windows and find the perfect one for you! 


Top 7 Tips for A Holy Smokes Hardscape

Hardscaping is one of the best ways to extend your indoor space, making your front and back yard places your family and guests love to spend time in. The opposite of softscaping, hardscaping is any of the hard stuff in your yard such as concrete, bricks and stone. It encompasses everything from retaining walls to outdoor kitchens, gazebos, decks, water features and pavers for paths or patios. Want to create a holy smokes hardscape for your yard? Here are 7 of our best tips. 

1. Extend Your Living Space

Who doesn’t want an extended living space? Create a seamless transition between your indoor and outdoor spaces to enjoy when the weather allows. Consider putting in an outdoor fireplace with a seating area, an outdoor kitchen, and an outdoor dining space that allows you to embrace the outdoors to the fullest. 

2. Amp Up The Fun

Your backyard should be a place your family loves spending time in. Along with features like an outdoor kitchen or fireplace, consider incorporating your family’s hobbies into the yard. Maybe this means a small putting green, sand box, or climbing wall. Customize your hardscape to suit your family!  

3. Mix and Match Stonework

There’s no rule that says you have to use the same stone throughout your hardscape. A combination of stonework will add visual interest in your yard, and make it completely custom to you. Play around with different pavers, pebbles and granite options to create a hardscape that’s completely personalized to your yard. 

4. Pull Inspiration From your Travels

Were you inspired by a Balinese resort you visited? Or did a photo of Greece on your best friend’s Instagram account take your breath away? Get creative and add these influences into your hardscaping design. Incorporating these elements will make you feel like you have a paradise right in your backyard. 

5. Complement Your Home

When choosing the materials for your hardscape, make sure you use ones that complement your home’s style. If your home exterior is traditional, brick is a great option, whereas if you have a more contemporary style home, granite is likely the way to go. If your home has a rustic, cottage vibe, a flagstone patio would complement it well. 

6. Add Vacation Vibes

Make your yard into a small paradise, so it feels like you’re stepping out into a vacation every day. If you have the room for it, consider putting in an outdoor pool for your friends and family to enjoy. A gazebo is another way to increase the vacation vibes. Add one in that people can use for relaxing, snacking and enjoying a drink.

7. Create a Gorgeous Seating Area

If you have a big yard, create a seating area in the middle of it, on top of a concrete patio. A simple stone pathway can lead from your house to the dining area, where you’ll find a harvest table and chairs and a cozy fireplace to keep your warm when the temperature drops at night. 

If you’re ready to up your yard’s hardscaping, use these 7 tips to create a holy smokes hardscape! 


Black Kitchens: Yay Or No Way?

The kitchen is arguably the most important room in the home when it comes to design. It’s the room where you spend lots of time in, whether you’re cooking dinner for guests, getting snacks together for the kids, or enjoying breakfast around the island as a family. It’s the heart of the home and should be designed functionally and aesthetically for your lifestyle. 

A black kitchen doesn’t mean everything in your kitchen has to be black- but main features like your cabinets, kitchen island block, window frames, and light fixtures would be in the dark shade. What do you think? Would you love to have a black kitchen or does the thought of it make you nervous? Here are the pros and cons of black kitchens, as well as tips to make them work!

Pro: On Trend and Visually Appealing

If you do it right, a black kitchen has the potential to put all other kitchens to shame. Black kitchens are very on trend right now, and seeing as black is such a classic and versatile colour, there’s no reason for it to go out of style. Black kitchens are bold, striking and unique, and they add a dose of personality to any home. 

Con: Dark Colours Are Harder To Keep Clean

Dark colours, especially black, are the hardest to keep clean. If you decide to go with black cabinets, a black island and/or black floors, note that they will show everything, so it will take extra effort to keep them looking nice all the time. If you don’t mind the upkeep, this may not be a huge deal, but it’s something to keep in mind! 

Tip: Choose Your Shade

Not all blacks are created equal, and it’s up to you (or your designer) to find the one that will work for your home. When choosing your shade of black, you’ll have to take into consideration the natural light you have coming in, the surrounding rooms, and your personal preferences towards different shades of black. Grab a few swatches and hold them up against your hardware and appliances to find the perfect shade for you! 

Tip: Add Lots of Light

If you’re going to go for a black kitchen, make sure there’s plenty of light coming in- preferably natural light! Good lighting is key to the success of a room with dark features. A black kitchen with low light can feel dreary and drab. If you don’t have big windows, make sure you have lots of indoor lighting.

Tip: Mix in Lighter Accents

You’ll rarely find an all-black kitchen, and for good reason. You have to add in some lighter accents for a black kitchen to work. Think: white subway tile, a light wood butcher block countertop, colourful stools, or a big white island. These accents will keep your kitchen from looking too dark and gloomy. 

Tip: Play With Textures and Finishes 

With a black kitchen, it’s important to bring in warmth to the space. A great way to do this is with textures and finishes. A textured tile backsplash in a Moroccan print is a gorgeous way to add personality to your kitchen, and finishes like open wood shelving and marble farmhouse sinks can bring serious warmth to your space. A long rug that runs in front of your cabinets and sink is another great way to play with colours and textures. 

Considering a black kitchen? Take these pros, cons and tips into consideration before you say yay or no way! 


Are Climbing Plants As Bad For Your House As They Say? 

Climbing plants like ivy and trumpet vines have gotten a bad rap. They’ve been said to ruin the exterior of your home, causing damage to your siding, roof and gutters. But is this always the case? It turns out, there are a number of factors to consider before you can come to a conclusion. Take a look at why climbing plants aren’t necessarily as bad for your house as they say, and how you can make them work.

Location, Location, Location

When it comes down to it, it’s all about location. Location, and what the exterior of your home is made of play a major part in whether you can use climbing plants on your home. Climbing plants can cause issues on houses with wood siding that are situated in damp areas. Certain plants, such as Boston ivy are able to go up and under the wood due to their adhesive pads, trapping in moisture and eventually leading to rot. 

However, if you live in a location with good sun exposure and the climbing plant is growing on masonry, your home will be fine. As long as the conditions are right, it’s totally fine to have climbing plants on your facade. 

Benefits of Climbing Plants

First of all, a house covered in climbing plants like English ivy is extremely picturesque. Twisting, twining and twirling, they add visual interest to any home. Not only that, ivy has been found to reduce the threat of freeze-thaw, heating and cooling, and wetting and drying due to its regulation of the wall surface microclimate. 

Flowering vines like morning glory also attract pollinators like birds and insects. Morning glory specifically is a magnet for native butterflies and hummingbirds. 

Risks of Climbing Plants 

Not all climbing plants are bad for your home, but there are certain plants that are quite aggressive. The vines on these plants tend to climb up houses by sticky aerial roots or twining tendrils. The ones with “suckers” anchor themselves to your walls, and if you don’t routinely check up on them, they can cause serious structural problems.

Vines with twining tendrils can damage your gutters, roof, and windows, wrapping around anything they can. And as the tendrils grow bigger, they can warp weak surfaces. Do your research to find out which climbing plants have adhesive pads and twining tendrils.

Alternative Options

If you love the look of climbing plants, but aren’t situated in the right area or don’t want to risk any damage, there are other options you can consider to get the look. Put up a support set 6 to 8 inches away from your home’s siding for proper air circulation. This can be a trellis, lattice, metal grids or mesh, strong wires, or even string. Certain climbing plants are heavier and denser than others, so use this to guide your choice of support set. 

Even though they’re growing on support, you’ll need to train and trim the vines. Keep them cut back away from any gutters and shingles, and tie or cut back and tendrils that are heading towards your home’s siding. If any vines start growing out wildly from the support, you’ll want to cut too. 

If you’re thinking about adding climbing plants to your home, the best thing to do is visit your local gardening shop to find the best plants for your home and your location! 


Top 8 Millennial Home Trends

Millennials are the next generation slated to enter the housing market (if they haven’t already), so it’s important to know what they’re looking for when it comes to home trends. They know what they want and they won’t settle for anything less. Think: sustainability, minimalism and personalized spaces that set them apart from their friends. Here are the top 8 millennial home trends you need to know! 

1. Personalization

Personalization is wildly important to millennials. They want to be seen as individuals with their own design style and personality. Out with the cookie cutter spaces, and in with homes that are custom-made both inside and out. Millennials don’t stage their homes to look like showrooms- they’d rather invest in customized pieces, one-of-a-kind furniture, vintage finds and artwork that allows their personality to shine.

2. Sustainability

Sustainability is also increasingly important to millennial homeowners. Features such as energy efficiency, sustainable design and recycled materials are at the top of many millennials’ must-have lists. LED bulbs, solar panels, low-flow shower heads, and composting are just a few of the features millennials want in their homes.

3. Houseplants

Real and fake houseplants are growing in popularity for millennials. This generation loves their plants, with some investing more in greenery than other any other decor piece. From air plants, to succulent gardens, tall potted plants like the fiddle leaf fig, and pretty indoor gardens, there’s no denying millennials love their houseplants. 

4. Matte Finishes 

Matte finishes are making a splash with millennial homeowners, especially matte black. Matte bronze and matte brushed nickel are also having a moment, but matte black seems to be the best way to make a statement. It’s minimal and sophisticated, elevating any room its used in. From the kitchen faucet, to cabinet hardware and more, millennials love matte finishes. 

5. Minimalism

Many millennials live by the “less is more” mantra, craving decluttered spaces filled with only things that they really need or love. With housing prices higher than ever, many millennials can’t afford to live in large homes, and they have less money to spend on unnecessary pieces that often contribute to clutter. 

6 .Mid-Century Modern Decor 

There’s something about mid-century modern decor that millennials can’t get enough of. Popularized in the 1950’s the trend is back, and shows no signs of slowing down. Loved for its high functionality, minimal ornamentation, and organic influences, it’s ideal for the minimal, small spaces popular among millennials. 

7. Subway Tiles 

Minimal, clean cut and affordable, subway tiles are making their way into millennial kitchens and bathrooms more than any other tile. Subway tiles have a simple, vintage flair to them, and while they’re often used in classic white, you can choose any colour you want for the spaces in your home.

8. Natural Elements

While baby boomers were attracted more ornate interiors, millennials are drawn to naturally occurring elements like wood and stone. They love features like butcher block countertops and marble fireplaces. Anywhere they can bring the outdoors in, they do it. 

These are the 8 home trends millennials are bringing to the forefront! What do you think of these millennial home trends?