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Email: greg@gregsteele.ca

 

Summer barbeque season and outdoor patio gatherings are upon us. Whether you have an expansive garden, a cute nook patio or an overhanging balcony, there are always ways to make the most out of what you have.

 

Hidden storage

There is no getting around it — you need space to keep items you are not using but, in limited areas, that can be tricky. One of the best ways around storage issues is to have hidden places to keep things that are out of the way but easily accessible. One of the most common ways is to have a bench that can lift up to reveal storage underneath for blankets, cushions and whatever else you need to hide away.

 

Double-duty furniture

Always keep in mind, when you are buying furniture, the versatility factor — one item that can be used twice saves space in the long run! A low table with strong legs can hold your drinks when it’s just you or double as a stool when guests are visiting. Sturdy cushions plush out your seats or can be arranged in a circle for extra seating.

 

Fake it till you make it

If you don’t have a garden, consider putting down fake grass to brighten up an otherwise bare ground. The grass may be greener on the other side but, when it’s on your side, it can make your space seem that much bigger.

 

Take your gardening to new heights

If you can’t expand out, then move up. Hanging plants, creeping vines along a wall and shelves of pots can give you all the benefits of a larger yard in a smaller space.

Multiple small spaces

If you have a larger area, make it more user-friendly by setting up multiple small spaces: one corner as a bar, another for gardening, a few chairs for taking in the sun. If your space is more limited, such as one small apartment balcony, consider using it for one specific designated space. Put down a huge cushion and use it as a hanging area for reading, attach a table top to your balcony railing and use it as a bar with a skyline view, the options are endless.

 

Simple and elegant

Be intentional in how you use your space and how you decorate. Clean lines and minimal colours will make it seem less cluttered and, therefore, bigger. Don’t give up on the essentials but use only what you really need.

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Security is important all year round but during the summer months especially, property crimes and break-and-entries tend to spike. Warmer weather means people are more likely to leave their windows open, their patios unlocked and their houses unattended. 

 

We talked to our city’s police department about why property crime increases and what people can do to keep their homes safe and secure during summer. This is what they told us:

 

Always lock up

It’s easy to pop out quickly for a walk around the block or a quick trip down the road to the shop, but always lock the door, windows and patios behind you no matter how soon you’ll be back. A third of burglars enter a home through an unlocked door. Even if you are out in the back gardening, lock you front door — you’d be surprised at how quickly and quietly a thief can slip in.

 

Out of sight, out of mind

Most property crimes are opportunistic – the thief sees a chance to steal something and takes it. If it’s hidden away, there is less temptation and opportunity. So if you buy a nice new item, wait till pick-up day to put its packaging outside in the recycling. You don’t want to advertise to thieves what valuables you have in your home. Don’t leave visible items in your car; thieves have been known to smash a car window to steal something as small as a gym bag or a pile of papers. 

 

Report suspicious activity

The police want citizens to call and report suspicious activity, even if doesn’t seem like a crime is being committed yet. If you see someone milling around and you have a bad feeling, report it. It’s not a waste of time or resources, the police officer we spoke to told us, and it might prevent a theft. 

 

Final check

Before you leave your home, do a quick walk around and final check. Put yourself in the mind-set of a thief – if you wanted to break and enter, how would you do it? That curtain fluttering in the breeze? Close the window. That ladder leaning against the wall? Put it away. Prevention is the best way to keep your property safe and thief-proof.

 

Log it

Keep a list of details about your most valuable items if worst-case scenario should happen. If something is stolen, you will have more chances of getting it back if you can provide details and a picture of the item. The majority of stolen goods the police recover are never returned to their rightful owner because they can’t be tracked down. With bicycles, for example, you can imprint a serial number on the frame and log it with the police; that way, if your bike is stolen and someone tries to sell it, you will be notified.

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Who hasn’t dreamt of working from home — no more alarm clocks beeping, lengthy commutes at rush hour or having to choose fancy office attire over pyjama pants, so the vision goes. It’s a life that many freelancers, remote workers and other independent professionals choose.

 

But many of those who have traded corporate for coffee shops are now turning to a new environment: coworking spaces.

 

Sharing workspace and renting a desk in a flexible office has taken off in popularity in recent years because of the endless opportunities it offers to socialize, network, collaborate with other like-minded professionals and increase productivity.

 

According to studies, one of the biggest factors that determines productivity at the office is the workspace itself and a well-designed space can increase productivity by 20 per cent.

 

Whether renting by the hour, setting up a more permanent environment at home or tweaking the space at your office desk, here are the top three things to create a more efficient workspace:

  • Lighting: Choose a desk next to a window if you can for natural light or, if not, consider bringing natural light bulbs. Many of the coworking offices are now focused on light, airy spaces and décor.
  • Noise level: Everyone has a different tolerance to noise and, for some, too quiet is just as bad as too loud. Part of the appeal with coworking spaces is the chance to be around other people but, unlike your neighbourhood coffee shop, there are designated quiet zones and respect for fellow workers.
  • Refreshments: Almost all the coworking offices offer a fully equipped kitchen with amenities like blenders, toaster ovens and espresso machines. Some offer limitless coffee or beer on tap. Whatever fuels your brain should be easily accessible, wherever you choose to work.
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A recent B.C. Supreme Court ruling has been gaining a lot of attention right now as it will hugely impact Canada's real estate market today. The ruling specifically targets tax exemptions given to foreign nationals who bought and sold houses. Check out the article below for more details:

 

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/b-c/landmark-b-c-court-ruling-will-shake-real-estate-industry-lawyers-say-1.13029717

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In recent years, the number of business owners who run their businesses from home has increased for several reasons. The most important one is to be available for their kids or be near family. However, working from home brings a lot of distractions even with a temporary office set up within the house. A solution to this could be to build an office in your backyard, or a “Shedquarter”. Shedquarters, a cube room, or a garden room are becoming a rage these days. It offers the privacy and uninterrupted workflow you need, like being in an offsite office, yet provides the advantage of being a few steps away from your home. Your shedquarter does not necessarily have to be an office space, it can also be your workshop area, an art room, a getaway space, or simply just an extra room where you can hang out.

 

Several companies mostly in the US, Australia, Europe, and Canada offer services to set up these miniature studios that can really add value to your home. You can even build it yourself.  Just check with the local building permit office about obtaining a permit before you plan your shedquarter. As a rule of thumb, permits are normally required for structures exceeding 100 square feet

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We’ve all been guilty of buying more groceries than we need and oftentimes throwing away food because it’s spoiled or expired. There is now a high-tech solution to this problem called the FridgeCam™ by Smarter. This new home gadget presented at the CES 2017 in Las Vegas, is the first wireless camera that can be placed inside the fridge to keep track of the contents, item expiration dates, and other relevant information. The device connects to the Smarter Chef app, which provides recipe suggestions based on the ingredients in your fridge. It can also help make accurate shopping lists even when outside the home to help families eat healthier meals and save money by limiting food wastage.

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Micro apartments or condominiums have become a popular trend in huge urban cities like Vancouver, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc. The roots of this “Tiny House Movement” has started in Japan, where the residential land area is limited. Nowadays, limited land space is not the only reason why people are shifting to “living small”, other reasons such as financial concerns, environmental concerns, and the desire to live simply and experience freedom have encouraged homeowners to get into this global phenomenon.

 

Typically, the micro units are under 600 square feet and have a very minimalist design to create the illusion of space. Latest condo design layouts usually have incorporated ingenious ideas to provide comfortable living space as well as a lot of storage areas, yet still aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

 

Micro Condos may not be for everyone, however, you should not disregard this idea entirely especially with the new condo designs along with multifunctional furniture ideas that are available right now. Tiny living is all about swapping the size of your home for the benefits in cost, flexibility, location, and efficiency.

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