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.

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!

Creative Ways to Use Siding On Your Home

Is it time to switch up the aesthetic of your home exterior? If so, consider the different creative ways you can use siding on your home. While you may be used to seeing siding a certain way on home exteriors in your neighbourhood, know that you don’t have to play it safe. If you’re feeling bored with the facade of your home, you can switch up your siding to not only make a statement, but protect your home in the most stylish way. Quality siding is strong, durable, low maintenance, and allows you to rest easy that your home is safe from outdoor hazards and the harsh elements. Ready to see how you can get creative with your siding?

Combine Vertical and Horizontal Placement

Siding is often placed on home exteriors either horizontally or vertically- most often in horizontal patterns. This is a beautiful way to use siding, however, if you’re looking to add more personality to your home, consider installing some of your siding horizontally and some of it vertically. For example, you could install it horizontally on the bottom half of your home exterior, and vertically on the top triangular-shaped parts of your home. Mixing and matching directions and textures for your siding is key to creating a home that stands out among the rest.

Choose Eye-Catching Colours

The siding colour you choose can also completely transform your home exterior. While neutral colours are timeless, think about using different shades to show off your personality and the unique style of your home. Consider blues, reds, greens, yellows and oranges to ensure your home makes a gorgeous statement. All of Gentek’s siding options are durable and long lasting, so you don’t have to worry about them fading or chipping in harsh weather or in the sun. The colour stays vibrant for years so you won’t have to repaint or replace your siding of choice.

Size Matters

Along with colour, you can also choose different sizes for your siding. Some sliding slats are wider, while others are slimmer, so you have to decide the look you want. Just like having your siding go in different directions, you can also have some slimmer siding in areas, and wider slats in other areas. Wider siding will give your home more of a barn house feel, while thinner siding will give your home a more modern vibe.

Siding Material

There are plenty of siding materials to choose from, and there are even siding materials made to look like other materials. For example, many homeowners love the look of wood for their exterior, but wood is much less durable and higher maintenance than many other materials. Steel siding like Distinction Siding has been made to look like real wood, but doesn’t require any of the maintenance. Fiber Cement Siding comes in a variety of textures and profiles, depending on the look you want for your home. First, you need to decide what look you’re going for, and then choose a material that works for you in terms of aesthetics and maintenance.

Changing up the siding on your home exterior will give your house a refresh. Use these creative ideas to update the siding on your home!  

Top 6 Backyard Party Ideas for This Summer

Love entertaining? The start of summer means you can bring your party planning genius outside! Your backyard is the ideal place to host a summer party. It’s comfortable, relaxed and you don’t have to worry about sticking to a time limit! If you love the idea of hosting backyard parties, but are stuck on exactly what to do, we’ve rounded up 6 backyard party ideas for this summer!

1. Picnic-Style

Picnic-style parties are one of the most charming soirées one can throw. They’re casual yet fancy, and are one of the coziest ways to eat a meal. Lay out a large blanket, create a low table with some crates, and place comfortable pillows at every plate setting so your guests have cozy seats. Place the food in the middle with some floral arrangements for a gorgeous picnic party no one will ever forget!

2. Hot Dog Stand

Hot dogs are a quintessential summer food, but take them up a notch with creative and unexpected toppings that are sure to please. Create 3 different dogs your guests can choose from, or let them get creative by mixing their own toppings. Some ideas for creative topping options: pickled carrots, peanut satay sauce, cilantro and chopped peanuts; caramelized onion, sauerkraut and sweet relish; and Napa cabbage with scallions.

3. Pre-Made Cocktail Bar

What’s a backyard party without some delicious cocktails (and mocktails)? Research or come up with a few delicious summer concoctions and place them in large mason jar drink dispensers out on your back porch. Make sure to have glasses and paper straws laid out so your guests can help themselves. Batch making the cocktails before your party is a huge time saver!

4. Backyard Serve-Yourself Potluck

Hosting a party can be extremely stressful, especially if you’re doing all the cooking! Take off some of the pressure by hosting a potluck and asking guests to bring their favourite summertime dish. Set up a serve-yourself station on your patio where guests can take food whenever they please. Make sure to coordinate with everyone to ensure there are enough appetizers, mains and desserts!

5. Set Up A S’mores Bar

No one ever grows out of loving s’mores, do they? Gather some sticks for marshmallows and put them in a cute display. Set up a s’mores bar with graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate so your guests can make themselves s’mores all through the night. If you really want to get creative, think up different s’mores recipes you can have your guests make. Ideas like candied bacon s’mores, salted caramel s’mores, and chocolate covered pretzel s’mores are sure to give you the title of host with the most! And don’t forget to have hand wipes- s’mores can get sticky!

6. Nighttime Soirée

If you’re going for a party that’s on the fancier side (say for a birthday, bridal shower or engagement party), consider hosting a nighttime soirée with elevated decor. Use overhead string lighting to create a cozy ambiance, set up a long harvest table with wood chairs and a table runner, and consider adding floral arrangements down the center of the table. Use pretty tableware and cutlery and ask everyone to dress to impress!

Whether you want to host a casual party or a fancy soirée, your backyard is the place to do it this summer! Take our ideas and run with them for backyard parties everyone on your guest list will love!

Dress Up Your Windows With These Creative Ideas

Choosing the right treatments for your windows is just as important as picking the backsplash for your kitchen. Adding finishing touches like window treatments to your decor makes your home feel stylish, lived-in and put together. Window treatments are an investment, but they’ll last for years and take your home from plain Jane to completely eye-catching. If you’re wondering how to elevate your home with window treatments, we’ve rounded up 5 creative ways to dress up your windows!

1. Colourblock Curtains

If you want an updated, modern look for your windows, look for curtains with a contrast stripe. The colourblock design is distinctive and unique, and also creates warmth in any room you put them in. They’re extremely versatile and work for everything from modern to traditional design styles. Make sure to choose neutral colours for a clean and polished look that you’ll love for years to come!

2. Black Window Frames

If you prefer simple window treatments, but are also looking for a way to make your windows pop, consider adding black window frames. While white window frames are more simple and traditional, black window frames are much more modern and sleek. Pair them with simple light coloured curtains to contrast the black frames. This way, you’re still getting an element of sophistication and drama without covering up too much of your windows.

3. Floor to Ceiling Window Treatments

If you invested in beautiful floor to ceiling windows, you can feel good about investing in floor to ceiling window treatments. Think: extra long blinds and floor to ceiling curtains that will add instant drama to any room. A great tip? Even if you don’t have floor to ceiling windows, you can add floor to ceiling curtains to give length to your room, making it appear larger.

4. Bamboo Blinds

Want a beautiful, natural look for your decor? Bamboo roll-up blinds will help you achieve this vibe! They add a relaxed element to your room and block out plenty of light without adding bulkiness. Since they’re neutral, they’re very versatile, working for everything from beachy to Scandinavian to modern decor. Simple and classic, bamboo blinds are sure to take your windows up a notch!

5. Sheer Curtains

If you love having natural light streaming into your home, sheer curtains could be the perfect option for you. They’re still able to block out light when the sun is too harsh, but they allow you to have lots of natural light coming through into your space. If you have a home office or workspace, sheer curtains would work great for your decor.

Dressing up your windows can make a huge difference to your space. Use these ideas to add personality and elegance to any room you put them in. And if you’re in the market for new windows, make sure to check out our amazing window selection at Gentek!

5 Top Emerging Home Trends for 2019

Now that we’re officially well into 2019, it’s time to take a look at the year’s top emerging home trends. These trends are gorgeous, classic and are sure to stick around for years to come. If you’re planning on renovating your exterior, these are the 5 top trends you should look to to upgrade your home.

1. Dark on Dark

While you’ll still see your fair share of homes with dark and light contrasting colours, dark on dark colour palettes are no longer a faux pas. This contemporary look coordinates dark siding and dark trim for an exterior that’s sophisticated and unique. It’s important to pin down the aesthetic you want for your home. If you prefer a more rustic look, you’ll favour more of the natural dark wood tones. However, if you’re going for a more modern aesthetic, experiment with shades of dark grey and black.

2. Floor to Ceiling Glass

Windows can completely transform your home- from both inside and out. Floor to ceiling windows and doors have become increasingly popular, letting as much natural light in the home as possible, and elevating the exterior design. Make sure to check out our window selection at Gentek to find gorgeous floor to ceiling windows that will elevate your home.

3. High Quality Materials

Gone are the days of using lower quality materials to save a buck. High quality materials may cost more, but homeowners are realizing it’s much more important to invest in lasting quality. Incorporating high quality materials into your design (both inside and out) means lower maintenance, higher durability and increased home value. For example, using siding in a material such as fiber cement is one of the best investments you can make. It’s pest and fire resistant, low maintenance and lasts for years without any need for a touch up.

4. Black Accents

It’s official. Dark colours are in, and black is hotter than ever, especially as an exterior accent colour. Add black accents to your shutters, front door, trim, or even large sections of your siding. You could also add a black porch or black accent wall to the interior of your home. The amazing thing about black is that it can work with any style. Whether your home design is modern, moody, classic or farmhouse chic, black will work for you. Plus, it’s a great way to make a bold, eye-catching statement.

5. Blending Indoors and Outdoors

One of the most popular home trends for 2019 is bringing the indoors out. Homeowners love the idea of extending their indoor space, making their yards comfortable extensions of their favourite interior rooms. You’ll now see more outdoor kitchens and bars, cozy gazebos, and fire pits added to the deck to lengthen the time you spend outside.

Ready to make some home upgrades? These 5 trends will have your home looking great in 2019 and beyond!

Light Up Your Nights! 7 Ways to Decorate Your Backyard

Summer nights are best spent outside in cozy backyards. The best way to make your backyard space even cozier? Add lighting in just the right places. There are plenty of ways to use lighting to enhance your outdoor space, and depending on your design taste and lifestyle, you’ll be able to choose lighting that suits you best. Take a look at how to decorate your backyard with 7 different types of lighting!

1. Overhead String Lighting

String lighting is the prettiest way to light up your backyard. If you have a courtyard in your backyard, make it even cozier by positioning overhead string lighting at regular intervals throughout the space. This will create ambient lighting that blankets the area with a warm glow come nighttime.

2. Decorative Lanterns

Decorative lanterns are so gorgeous and can enhance the aesthetic of any outdoor space. Group them together on a dining table, place them on each stair of your porch, or line them up on a wall. There are so many ways to use decorative lanterns to lighten up your backyard!

3. Cafe Lights

Cafe lights are a type of string lighting that will give your backyard a gorgeous glow. You can hang them from trees or posts already standing in your backyard, or you can buy free standing cafe lights to get the same effect.

4. A Glowing Walkway

Adding a glowing walkway to your backyard space is a unique way to add light to your yard. Add glow-in-the-dark pigments to your walkway paint or materials and you’ll have a glowing path leading in and out of your backyard. If you’re not fond of having the entire walkway glowing, add it to the grout between stones or only paint certain areas of the walkway.

5. Flameless Candles

Candles are often recommended for indoor decor, but they’re just as beautiful as decor pieces for your backyard as well. Add them to your dining table or to any tabletop you have on your back porch. Candlelight offers a gorgeous glow without being too in-your-face. Use flameless, battery operated candles as a safer option so you don’t have to worry about any fire accidents.

6. Outdoor Lamps

Lamps aren’t only meant for the indoors. Outdoor lamps are a nice way to decorate your outdoor space, plus they provide a great source of light for when the sun goes down. Electric outdoor table lamps and standing lamps are charming accents that will light up your nights.

7. Deck Lights

Use solar deck accent lights on your deck railing or stairs to light up your backyard and make sure your space it safe. They turn on when the sun goes down and stay on for eight hours, extending your time outdoors and ensuring you’ll have light no matter what time it is.

Ready to light up your backyard? Use one or several of these lighting ideas to extend your time outside every night!