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.

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?

5 Ways to Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint 

Our planet is in trouble. Climate change is a complicated matter and although solutions need to be made on a global scale, there are things you can change and do on a daily basis to reduce your home’s carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come from the production, use and end-of-life of a product or service. Instead of sitting back and watching helplessly, here are 5 things you can do to reduce your home’s carbon footprint and help the environment. 

1. Gardening and Planting Fruit Trees

By planting a garden you can reduce your home’s carbon footprint. How? You’ll be growing your own food, controlling the chemicals you use on what you grow, and you can recycle waste from your yard and home to use in the garden as fertilizer. When you grow your own fruits and vegetables, you don’t have to travel to the store to get them, and you’ll further reduce your carbon footprint as there won’t be fuel or emissions expended by getting the produce to the market. 

2. Don’t Buy Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is one of the main factors contributing to climate change. Fast fashion consists of trendy, cheap items that wear or go out of style quickly. These pieces get thrown into landfills and produce methane as they decompose. Most fast fashion is made in China and Bangladesh, so shipping it to North America requires the use of fossil fuels. Invest in high quality pieces that will last, and shop locally as much as you can. 

3. Go Solar 

When you make the switch to solar electricity, you play a key role in the fight against climate change. Solar energy is renewable and sustainable and there’s lots to go around. Solar reduces water consumption and withdrawal and reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other dangerous pollutants like sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides. It’s also becoming more affordable to use solar electricity, making it appealing to many homeowners. You’ll also be lowering your energy bills and be protected from rising energy rates. 

4. Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water and Line Dry Your Clothes

Wash your clothes in cold water as much as possible. Items like underwear and dishtowels that need to be sanitized should be washed in hot water, but otherwise, wash your clothes in cold water. A hot wash/warm rinse cycle uses about 4.5 kWh per load, and a cold wash/cold rinse cycle only uses 0.3 kWh. You should also limit your use of the dryer as much as you can. Air drying your clothes can decrease your home’s carbon footprint by 1,000 kg per year. 

5. Recycle and Compost 

In many households, a lot items that are thrown in the garbage could be recycled or composted. Waste leads to greenhouse gas emissions. When trash is burned, incinerators emit carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, which both contribute to global warming. Be conscious of the items you’re throwing in the garbage. Can they be recycled or composted? Make it a priority to recycle and compost as much as possible. 

If you’re worried about your home’s carbon footprint, use these 5 tips to reduce it! 

Tiny Houses on Foundations: Would You Do It?

Tiny homes are traditionally built on trailers. One of the upsides of tiny house living is being able to live off the grid and take your home with you as you travel. But that type of lifestyle isn’t for everyone. Many homeowners love the idea of tiny home living but don’t want to give up features like a backyard garden or owning their own land. A clever blend of the two, tiny houses on foundations are making a name for themselves as the newest home trend. Would you do it? Here are the benefits of living in a tiny home on a foundation!

1. You Own the Land

If you’ve decided to build a tiny house, you’ll have to buy a piece of land to build it on. There are lots of benefits of owning the land, especially when you compare it to renting. When you rent a piece of land, you run the risk of losing your tiny home. If the owner ever decides they want to sell the land or use it for themselves, you’re out of luck, so buying the land is definitely your best bet! Since you don’t need a huge lot for your tiny home, you’re likely to find a piece of land for a great deal.

2. Property Is A Good Investment

With the popularity of tiny homes on the rise, you can’t go wrong with owning one. The land and the home itself will appreciate in value, so if you plan to sell it in the future, you can be confident you’ll make money on it. While a tiny house on wheels depreciates in value, owning property always pays off in the long run.

3. Less Maintenance Than A Tiny House on Wheels

If you choose to have a tiny house on wheels, it means you’re likely traveling a lot, which can be a lot of wear and tear on your home. The wheels and trailer will need regular attention, and your home’s siding will require regular maintenance because of rocks and dirt flying up at it while you travel from place to place. When you have a tiny home on a foundation, you don’t have to worry about any of these things. The maintenance you have to consider is landscaping work such as tending to your garden, mowing your lawn and trimming bushes.

4. Traditional Utility Hookups  

With a tiny house on wheels, utility hookups like plumbing and electricity don’t come as easy. Since your home is mobile, you can’t hook up to the city grid and have to consider alternatives such as solar power, compost toilets and water tanks. With tiny houses on foundations, you can have traditional plumbing, electricity and wifi.

Now that you see the pros of tiny houses on foundations, are they for you? If you’re considering tiny house living and don’t love the idea of being hooked up to a trailer, a tiny house on a foundation may just what you’re looking for!

Latest Craze: Barndominiums

A play on the words barn and condominium, barndominiums are growing in popularity as residential and commercial buildings. If you haven’t been introduced to the latest real estate craze, barndominiums are essentially metal-built barns that have been renovated for modern living. Since metal and steel buildings are incredibly cost-effective, versatile and energy efficient, barndominiums have made a name for themselves as one of the hottest new home trends. They’re super durable, require minimal maintenance and can fulfil multiple purposes including homes, bars, shops and restaurants. Here are 6 popular ideas for barndominiums.

1. Second Story Storage

Homeowners and shop owners are often looking to increase their storage. If you have a two story building, you can use the second story for extra storage or even an extra office space. Since a second floor barn space is easy to construct, it’s a popular design for shop owners who need extra storage for things such as extra stock, stationary, a pantry and a bathroom.

2. Farmhouse Style Building

A farmhouse style building is a gorgeous design that can serve multiple purposes. Of course, you can have a barn style home that fits a large or small family. The farmhouse design style is also ideal for a bed and breakfast, restaurant or grocery store. It’s a traditional building style that can be upgraded with modern siding and exterior accents.

3. Glass Panels

Glass panels are popular in modern design and create a beautiful contrast look for barndominiums. Glass and wood look striking together and create a rustic and homey vibe for any exterior. Not only do glass panels look great, they let in lots of natural light to your space, reducing your need to turn on lights and use up electricity.

4, Barn with a Loft

If you plan to use a barn as a traditional barn, consider adding a second floor loft. A barn is used to store large livestock, hay and other farming equipment. A second story loft can store any excess so the main floor isn’t overflowing with equipment that could be harmful to the animals.

5. Utilize the Existing Structure

While many barndominiums are custom designed to look more modern inside, another option is utilizing the existing structure and keeping the all-wood barn house feel inside. Features like light wood, big windows and vaulted ceilings will keep your space from feeling dark and cramped. Traditional barns are typically characterized by big open spaces, which you can take advantage of for an open floor plan design.

6. A Cozy Lodge

Take a nod from traditional farm style design and create a lodge style home. Use different wood tones through the space to keep it dynamic. Since the floor, railings, cabinets and ceiling will be made out of wood, it’s important to use varying tones. The second floor living area should be open and look over the main floor to complete the lodge style aesthetic.

Do you love the barndominium trend? Use one of these ideas to create the barndominium of your dreams!

How to Create the Perfect Backyard Office

If you have extra space in your backyard, why not consider adding a backyard office. Having an office space outside of your home is beneficial for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it gives you a quiet space to get work done without any distractions. It’s nice to have a separate office space that gets you out of the house.

Secondly, if you construct it properly, it will add to the overall value of your home, which is very appealing if you plan to sell down the road. Third, it doesn’t cost too much to construct, and utility outweighs the cost of building one! You don’t have to solely use it as an office- you can use it as a place to escape and relax, or even as an extra guesthouse. Here are 5 steps to create the perfect backyard office.

1. The Structure

First, you’ll have to build the actual office structure. If you have construction experience, you can build it yourself, or you can enlist the help of a professional contractor. It’s similar to the construction of a house, but on a smaller scale, so you’ll have to pick out your siding material, trim, windows, doors, and paint colours. You can also decide if you want to add extras like shutters for added character.

2. Size

You also have to decide on the size of your backyard office. This will depend on the amount of space you have in your backyard, what you’ll be using the office space for, and whether you have any future plans to add anything else to your backyard, like an outdoor kitchen, which will minimize the space you have to work with. Consider how many people will be using the office space at a time. Will it be a small studio office for one, or an office for two? Decide how you’ll use the office and then choose your ideal size.

3. Make a Small Office Feel Bigger

If you only have space for a small office in your backyard, don’t fret! There are a number of ways to make it feel bigger, including adding a skylight along with lots of windows around your office. It will make your whole space feel brighter and bigger, and make you feel more connected to nature.

4. Interior Touches

Your backyard office should feel comfortable, productive and convey your design style. Choose a desk you love and add decor pieces like a rug to warm up the space, a cool desk lamp, plants, wall art, and even a couch or seating area if space allows for it! Your backyard office is your personal space, away from the rest of your home. Add personalized touches that make it feel like you.

5. A Multifunctional Space

Your backyard office doesn’t always have to be an office. If you’re expecting guests to visit your home and want to give them their own space, use multipurpose furniture in your office space. A desk that converts into a bed is an awesome option if you want to use the space for guests!

Having a backyard office space is great for so many reasons! Use these tips and steps to create the perfect backyard office!

How You Can Help Save the Bees: 6 Easy Things To Do

The bee population is declining and it’s something we all need to be aware of. Bees do a lot for the environment and economy, helping plants grow, breed and produce food. Bees are responsible for one-third of the world’s food supply, including avocados, almonds, onions, and a multitude of fruits and vegetables. Due to factors like habitat loss, unstable weather conditions, pesticides and diseases, bees have been dying off at a rapid rate, and it’s time for us to do something about it. If you’re committed to making a change, take a look at 6 easy things you can do to help save the bees!

1. Educate Yourself

Educate yourself on what’s happening with the bees. Familiarize yourself with the practices that rely on bees, and know what’s harmful to them. The more educated you are the more aware of the difference you can make with your everyday choices.

2. Plant a Bee Garden

There are certain flowers and plants bees are attracted to, so planting them in your garden will help them stay strong. They’re attracted to both the sight and smell of certain plants, so planting a variety is the best way to help the bees. They love plants like mint, lavender, poppies, echinacea, allium, and bluebeard, among others. Choose plants that are native to your area and bloom at different times of the year.

3. Avoid Using Pesticides and Herbicides in Your Garden

Keeping your home and garden pesticide free is key to keeping the bees alive. Pesticides and herbicides are extremely harmful to bees, and can lead to neurological issues, doing serious harm to bee colonies. Go the extra mile by only buying locally, organically grown produce so you don’t contribute to the use of pesticides by others.

4. Put Plain Water Out for Bees to Drink From

It’s also important for bees to rehydrate when they’re working so hard in your yard. Put out a shallow container of water with twigs and rocks in it so they have somewhere to land while they’re drinking. Don’t put sugar or anything else in the water- bees do best when they drink from natural nectar sources, so plants and fresh water are ideal.

5. Consider Building a Bee Hotel

Habitat loss is one of the main factors leading to the declining bee population. Consider building a bee hotel for the bees in your yard. A bee hotel is any space designed to home native solitary bees. It can be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be, and you can make one yourself or buy one online.

6. Buy Honey From Local Beekeepers

Local beekeepers are passionately committed to their bees, and are more likely to treat them in a more gentle and humane way than bigger companies. When you buy from local beekeepers, you’re also more likely to get honey that’s more pure and isn’t tainted with any additives. It’s a win for you and the bees!

There you have it- 6 ways to help save the bees. Bees do so much good for the environment and it’s important to keep them safe. Do what you can to help them!