How to: Prepare your home for winter
Many people believe it’s harder to sell your home in winter than summer. But there are a number of real advantages to selling during the cooler months, says Kathy Monahan, an agent with Forest Hill Real Estate Inc. in Toronto.
For one thing, removed from the sometimes frenzied action of the spring market, sellers can take a little more time to consider offers, and with fewer homes on the market, there’s less competition. And don’t worry, says Kathy: the things that lead people to make new home purchases -- a new job, a growing family, up- or downsizing -- happen all year round, and there are still plenty of buyers out there. In fact, winter is a great time for playing up your home’s cosy, family-friendly charm.
Start with the exterior
As with any time of year, make sure that the house looks well maintained and cared for, with eavestroughs clean and minor repairs taken care of. While you can’t paint in winter, washing paintwork and siding with warm soapy water on a mild day can make a big difference. Make sure the windows are freshly washed as well; winter light has a way of highlighting grime.
Tend to foliage
Make sure that shrubs and tree-branches bent down with snow don’t obstruct walkways or entrances; brush the snow off or prune if necessary. (It won’t hurt them.) Ensure that the walkway is shovelled and ice-free before every showing; not only is this a courtesy and crucial to making the home look well maintained, but if a visitor slips and is hurt, you could be liable for damages.
Adorn the entryway
A wreath on the front door, Christmas lights and a garland hung on the doorframe or front porch present a welcoming entry. Plant urns with festive greenery, the fuller the better: along with cedar or pine boughs, tuck in sprigs of holy, dried berries, magnolia leaves, corkscrew hazel or red osier branches, with silver ball ornaments and perhaps gold wire ribbon woven through the arrangement.
Make a good first impression
Once a prospective buyer comes inside, remember that you may have only 10 to 15 minutes to make a lasting impression. (A small but crucial point for unoccupied homes: make sure the heat is turned on several hours before the showing. All the window-dressing and staging in the world won’t entice buyers to linger inside a home that’s freezing.)
Romance visitors’ sense of smell by lighting fragrant candles or placing bowls of potpourri in main rooms. A time-honoured but still effective trick, especially on a cold winter’s day, is to have a pot of cider simmering on the stove, or cookies or fresh bread baking.
Protect the floors
To protect your floors, put down rubber mats by the door for snowy boots; buy a few pairs of comfy one-size-fits-all slippers from a department or discount store for visitors to wear while they view your home.
Light a fire
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, light a fire and let it glow during the showing. Put big, colourful poinsettias in each main room, including the kitchen; consider more modest winter flower arrangements or amaryllis blooms in other rooms, such as the bath and master bedroom. Decorate banisters and mantels with pine garlands (natural ones impart a delicious, nostalgic fragrance); a decorated and lit Christmas tree or menorah enhances an image of home and family.
After the holidays, seasonal decorations can be taken down, but urn arrangements and even the front door wreath can stay up for the rest of the winter, if it isn’t too Christmasy in design. Make sure you continue to maintain walkways clear of ice and snow, and think warm thoughts!
Can you tell which country-chic console is the high and which is the low?
Can you tell which country-chic console is the high and which is the low?Credits: Michael Nangreaves; produced by Stacy Begg & Morgan Lindsay
We designed a country-chic living room console and styled it to match on budgets behooving both a cart horse and a thoroughbred. Can you tell the difference?
1 A-Street Prints Reclaimed White Washed Boards wallpaper in Cream, Brewster Home Fashions, $320 ($160 per double roll).
2 What Lies Ahead print on standard paper with White Premium Wood frame, 44" x 44", Minted, $468 US.
3 Acrylic and metal Column table lamp with cotton shade in Polished Nickel, West Elm, $239.
4 Hans Wegner oil-finished oak and hand-woven paper cord Wishbone side chair, Design Within Reach, $1,315.
6 Jute, leather and cotton Shiva rug, 5' x 8', Urban Barn, $249.
7 Trees in the Morning 2 artwork by Masood Omer (22" x 28"), Art Interiors, $700.
8 Vintage ceramic ginger jar, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $1,200 (per pair).
9 Vintage ceramic bowl, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $195.
10 Antique ceramic lidded jar, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $195.
1 Whitewood eastern white pine click floor boards (10' x 6" x 1") The Home Depot, $174 ($10.20 Per board)
2 Framed horse print (40" x 40"), HomeSense, $299.
3 Canvas studded glass and brushed steel Sonia table lamp with polyester blend shade, Canadian Tire, $130.
4 Beech and paper cord Denmark side chair in Beige, Structube, $239.
6 Hand-loomed hemp and suede Overbrook rug in Natural (5' x 8'), EQ3, $150.
7 Kingston 14 artwork by Ian Varney (16" x 20"), Canvas Gallery, $550.
8 Vintage ceramic ginger jar, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $595 (per pair).
9 Vintage ceramic bowl, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $65.
10 Vintage ceramic lidded jar, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, $15.
Got an über-practical yet plain-Jane storage unit? Dress it up with a custom skirt. The stylish traditional element will add formal flair to the room while concealing the unit’s contents (we’ve stocked ours with liquors and glassware to create an ersatz bar, but you can stash just about anything in yours). A glass top will finish the look and protect the fabric. In addition to a centre pleated slit, the High console skirt features an elegant pleat at either corner for a fun decorative touch.
With sophisticated transparent bases and chic cream-toned fabric shades, these classic cylindrical table lamps will suit any room. All that’s left to match is your budget.
1 Aerin crystal Lineham with linen shade in Polished Nickel, Cocoon Furnishings, $1,088.
2 Glass and aluminum French Column with linen shade in Polished Nickel, Restoration Hardware, $375 US.
3 L2 Lighting glass and chrome-plated steel Chloe with linen shade, Lowe's, $245.
4 Canvas studded glass and brushed steel Sonia with polyester blend shade, Canadian Tire, $130.
Blue and white ginger jars have held their position among decor royalty for centuries – impressive, considering their blue-collar roots. So named for their function of housing ginger and other spices in ancient China, the vessels have transcended utilitarianism and – more often than not – get to, well, sit there and look pretty. We love the casual look created by mixing the jars with an array of matching two-tone chinoiserie ceramics, such as an antique lidded jar, a vintage bowl and more recently produced plates and teacups (these are by time-honoured manufacturer Royal Copenhagen).
Get ready to be floored: While our High tongue-and-groove wall treatment is fully faux (we bet the wood panel-look wallpaper had you fooled), the Low wall is clad in white-painted floorboards. Both options are simple DIYs that bear the country-chic aesthetic of shiplap panelling. Floorboards are easy to install on a wall, as long as you know how to handle a hand drill and have some help balancing on a ladder.
Not every piece that suits our High or Low room sets makes the cut. This month, stylists Morgan Lindsay and Stacy Begg came across this sleek hurricane candle sconce just a little too late. “The product’s brass finish would have glammed up the rustic, time-worn look a bit,” says Morgan.
Add this sweet apricot-glaze to tonights pork tenderloin dinner.
Add this sweet apricot-glaze to tonights pork tenderloin dinner.
Give your usual pork tenderloin dinner an update by adding a sweet and savoury apricot-glaze.
1 In a small saucepan, stir together the jam, mustard and maple syrup.
2 Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.
3 Remove 3 tablespoons of the glaze to a small bowl and set aside.
4 Sprinkle the pork with the salt and pepper; brush all over with the glaze.
5 Place the pork on a greased grill over medium-high heat; cook, turning occasionally and brushing with some of the reserved glaze during the last minute of cooking time, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 160 ̊F, about 18 minutes.
6 Meanwhile, add the apricots to the grill, cut side down; cook, turning frequently and brushing with the remaining reserved glaze, until the fruit is softened and caramelized, about 5 minutes.
7 Remove the pork and apricots from the grill; let the pork stand for 5 minutes before slicing.
8 Sprinkle with the basil and sage and serve.