relaxing living room

How To Turn Your Island Home Into A Relaxing Retreat

relaxing living room

Vancouver Island has a reputation as a place to put your feet up and relax. Many cities on the Island are outgrowing their small town status (thanks to a strong Vancouver Island real estate market), and throngs of vacationers come every year to enjoy the plentiful beaches, serene forests, and laid-back atmosphere.

For people who call Vancouver Island home, the Island is also a place to work or raise a family. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the relaxing vibe and turn your home into a place where you forget you aren’t on vacation.

Here’s how you can turn your Island home into a relaxing retreat with some inexpensive interior design changes.

Thinking of selling your home sometime soon? Don’t be surprised if buyers snatch your property up quickly after taking a walkthrough in your calming West Coast-inspired space. 

Banish Clutter

Before you visit a home goods store, you can make your home more relaxing by dealing with a big cause of stress: clutter around the home.

Focus on areas within sight first like messy desks or old mail. Then tackle storage areas by taking items in for donation or getting rid of junk.

Keep an eye out for woven baskets or drawer inserts on your next shopping trip. Any way you can organize “unnecessary clutter” will give your space a much more relaxing feel.

Experiment With Earthy, Natural Colours

Living in Nanaimo, Tofino, or other coastal Vancouver Island locations brings a certain colour palette to mind. The soft beige of a sandy beach, calming ocean blue, and evergreen shades are the hallmarks of West Coast-inspired design.

It is a safe bet that if you incorporate these colours into your living space, it will feel much more relaxing. 

Furniture made of driftwood, woven jute rugs, and accent walls in shades of blue and green are ways to bring West Coast design into your home. Look for inspiration from designers who live and work on the Island, and stay on the lookout for conversation pieces from local artisans.

The Relaxing Power Of Plants

Vancouver Island is all about greenery. Low-lying parts of the Island have some of the mildest weather in Canada, and this means the landscape stays green all year round.

It only makes sense you should carry this theme into your home, and outfit your space with houseplants that not only look great, but help to purify the air.

Even though Vancouver Island sees very little sunlight during the winter months, there are many easy to maintain plants that have become ubiquitous in Island homes. Snake Plant and Chinese Evergreen are particularly good for low light rooms, and Boston Fern and Spider Plant are known for their hardiness and quick propagation.

If you can, build a relaxing space in a room with south-facing windows and position your plants to take advantage of the sunlight. 

Use Natural Light

While we are on the topic of sunlight, let’s talk about how to maximize natural light in your Island home. 

In the summer, you should have less of a problem filling your space with light, but many homes will not have the same advantage during the winter months

So how can you maximize the natural light that makes it into your home? Reflective surfaces like mirrors, furniture with glass or chrome accents, and metallic light fixtures all bounce light into your living space.

Although it may not seem like much, reflective surfaces can effectively double the natural light in a room. 

Do you have a skylight or south-facing window that pulls in a large amount of light during the winter? Focus on maximizing this space. Natural light boosts your mood and creates a serene environment for you to relax and recharge your batteries.

Try Aromatherapy

Candles can be an inexpensive, easy way to change the character of a room in your home. 

Look for candles in soothing spa-inspired scents like eucalyptus or lavender. Scents like these “hack” the brain/scent connection to make you feel more relaxed or transport you to your last vacation resort visit. 

If candles aren’t your thing, essential oil diffusers are another effective way to bring a relaxing scent into your home. 

Try a Wellness Space

It can seem daunting to change your entire home, especially if some rooms don’t have the advantages of natural light or good temperature control to allow you to relax.

Start off by designating a “wellness space” where you can go to relax, do yoga, or entertain guests. This space doesn’t even have to be an entire room, even a cozy corner or nook can do.

With so many more people working from home these days, the lines between your workspace and relaxation zone are being blurred. Keep your wellness space clutter-free and purposeful by using calming tones, soft textiles, and plants.

Looking for inspiration but don’t want to get dissuaded by expensive interior design magazines? 

Check out our listings to see a variety of well-staged homes in the Nanaimo real estate market and beyond.

reclining airport passenger with santa hat

Holiday Travel Tips

Since many people take time off to visit family and friends in other places, the holidays are the busiest time of year to travel. It’s also one of the most taxing times to travel, with people reporting it was as stressful as moving. Take the stress out of holiday travel with these tips!

Do your research. Whether you’re planning weeks in advance or you’re trying to get a last-minute deal, it helps to do your research. Choose flexible travel dates to help you pinpoint the best deal. Also, consider flying into an alternate airport nearby that may not be as busy.

Plan carefully. Flying in the winter may increase the chances of flight delays due to inclement weather. Avoid narrow layover times to reduce the chances of missing connecting flights or choose destinations in warmer cities, if possible.

Pack light. More airlines are charging to check bags. Save money by packing lighter or sending items to your destination instead of bringing them on the plane. Send gifts to their destination, or if you must bring them with you, don’t wrap them.

Leave early, whether you’re flying or driving. This will allow you the buffer time necessary to deal with traffic jams, parking and security. If you live in an area with a light-rail transit system that stops near the airport, use it to avoid traffic and airport parking.

Stay up-to-date on flight changes. Download your airline’s app to get alerts about gate changes and delays.

Stay Healthy While You Travel. In addition to being the holiday season, it’s also cold and flu season. Travelling in close proximity to others may increase your chances of getting sick during your vacation. Keep germs and viruses at bay with these tips:

Stay hydrated. Bring a water bottle and fill it at a water fountain once you pass through security, or purchase water from a vendor in the secured area. Since the pressurized cabin of the airplane tends to dry the eyes and nasal passages, increase your water intake to keep germs away. Water may also help prevent blood clots.

Bring your own blanket and pillow. While some airlines still provide these amenities, most do not. Plus, carrying a small, foldable blanket and a neck pillow will reduce the number of germs you’re exposed to.

Bring healthy snacks, including nuts, dried fruit and other easily portable food items.

Move around to avoid blood clots. Blood clots are a major concern when flying, especially if you are flying cross-country or overseas. Get up and walk around the cabin, if possible. While seated, tap your feet or do  seated calf raises to improve blood circulation.

If You’re Driving:

Get your car ready. Take your car in for a tuneup and address any potential issues beforehand. Have the mechanic check fluid levels and check your tires as well.

Plan your route ahead of time. Whether you’re driving a few hours of a few days, it helps to know the route you’re taking. If you’re taking a long trip, plan where you want to stop for the night and make a reservation at a nearby hotel so you can be sure you’ll have somewhere to stay overnight.

Keep roadside assistance information on hand. Having this information readily available will help you think clearly and act quickly in the event of car issues.

Store a cell phone charger in the car. Using your phone to navigate or play music can drain the battery. Keep a charger in the glove compartment or centre console to keep it charged in case of an emergency.

Pack a winter safety kit. The kit should include an ice scraper, a small snow shovel, tow rope, jumper cables, a blanket, flashlights, a first-aid kit and a portable radio.

Safe travels & happy holidays to you and your families!

hands holding seedling

Top 3 Landscaping Trends

Refresh your landscape with these top trends.

1.Livable Outdoor Spaces.

Many homeowners are treating their patios and backyards like another room of the house by adding outdoor kitchens with pizza ovens and using decorative planters and garden art to put their unique stamp on the space. How can you make your space more livable?

Add a deck or Patio. Great for entertaining or for lounging during your free time, a deck or patio is a must-have feature. If natural stone or brick patio pavers are out of your budget, concrete pavers are a budget-friendly alternative.

Enhance your lighting. Set the mood and enjoy your patio into the evening with the right lighting. LED and solar are becoming increasingly popular. Use strings of lights, torches or LED glass pavers that can be incorporated into the hardscape.

Think comfort. Homeowners are turning their patios into outdoor living rooms. Out with the plastic patio furniture; in with the oversized sofas, armchairs and tables made for the outdoors.

2. Low-Maintenance Landscapes.

Water Conservation efforts in many areas of the country are prompting homeowners to make their landscapes drought-tolerant. One of the benefits of these landscapes: they’re lower maintenance. Make your landscape more low-key.

Plant natives. Plants that are normally found in your area have adapted to the soil, water and weather patterns of your area. This makes them easier to care for than non-native species.

Practice xeriscaping. Ideal for areas that don’t naturally get a lot of water, xeriscaping utilizes low-water-use plants, native grasses, mulch and other elements to create a low-water, low-maintenance landscape.

Install artificial turf. It looks like grass but requires less maintenance and water. Many municipalities, particularly in the West, offer incentives to replace grass with artificial turf.

3. Gardening for Wellness

It’s no secret that whole foods are the keys to good health. Many people have turned their own yards to grow the fruits and vegetables required for good nutrition. Not only are you able to see the fruits of your labor grow and flourish, but gardening can also burn up to 400 calories an hour. Get growing!

Prepare your soil. Healthy fertile, well drained soils yields healthy plants. To see if your soil is healthy, dig a hole and look for earthworms. The more worms you see, the healthier your soil is. or, send a sample away to a lab for a complete analysis of the nutrients in your soil.

Plant what you love. Make a list of the fruits and vegetables that you love before you shop for seedlings. This will help to ensure that most of what you grow is consumed. Some popular plants to start with include pole beans, squash, tomatoes, peppers, salad greens, collards, herbs and strawberries.

No yard, no problem! If you don’t have the yard to grow a garden, grow what you love in containers instead. Find a sunny spot on your deck or patio, and arrange your portable garden for optimal light.

couple decorating their living room

Decorating Tips From The Pros

Choose your colour palette first. Whether you plan to redecorate one room or your whole home, a colour palette helps you invoke a sense of unity throughout the space. For inspiration, look at the colours in the furniture you plan to have in the room; or, go with a simple, muted palette that allows your furniture to be the focus of the room and encourages a restful environment.

Pro tip: If you love the style of your furniture, but not the colour or patterns, consider buying slipcovers to create a uniform appearance. Slipcovers also prolong the life of your furniture by protecting against the wear and tear of active children and cuddly pets. Keep extra on-hand in case you have to wash one.

Go for quality over quantity. Resist the urge to overflow the space with furniture. Instead, choose a few key, well-made pieces that will create a timeless look. If you’re just starting out in your first home, splurge on a sofa and enjoy quality that will last.

Pro tip: If you have carpet, layer a rug over it to add dimension, texture and incorporate more colour into the room.

Create a focal point. Whether it’s a mirror, a vase, an antique chair or particular colour, make sure the focus is something you love. The furniture and decor in the room should complement your focal point.

Pro tip: Layer your lighting to create interest and help features stand out. Install lights overhead or on the walls and include table and floor lamps.

Display wisely. If you have collections, arrange them in odd numbers. Collections of three or five are more aesthetically pleasing than those arranged in even numbers. Vary the textures, sizes and colours so they still look like a collection, but aren’t too uniform.

Pro tip: Look for items in your home, such as vases, knickknacks, photos, etc., that would fit together as a set to display.

Select your paint colour last. While many people design a room around the colours they choose for its walls and trim, it makes more sense to pick colours after you’ve decided what furniture, decor, rugs and lighting you want to use in the room.

Pro tip: If you want to brighten a dark room, choose a light colour for the walls and go a shade or two lighter for the ceiling.

Now, get decorating!

home renovation tools

7 Things to Keep in Mind For Your Next Renovation

1. Make a list of what you want to change. Look at websites and magazines to get inspiration for the redesign. Write down what you like and why you like it, and look online and at your local home store to get a price estimate. Once you know what you want to change, prioritize your list by ranking each item in order of what needs to get done first. Refer to your list throughout the project to help you stay on track.

2. Consider your resources: time, budget and overhaul, take into consideration the amount of time, money and energy that you’ll have to dedicate to the project.

3. Set a budget. Once you figure out how much you can spend, subtract 20% to 30% from this number and set it aside for contingencies.

4. Sketch it out. A rough sketch of the layout of the space will help you narrow down the fixtures, cabinets and storage options you’d like to incorporate.

5. Measure everything more than once. It may sound persnickety, but taking the time to measure things twice will help you to ensure that you don’t need to make costly returns or corrections.

6. Replace the underlayment. If you’re ripping up flooring and fixtures, consider replacing the underlayment. Not only does this allow you to start fresh, it also gets rid of any water damage, which commonly occurs in the humid bathroom environment.

7. Reduce the impact of the renovation. Move your stuff over to the bathroom that’s not being remodelled before the work begins. That way you won’t have to hunt for your favourite body wash or your disposable razors.

save money on home heating

Save Money on Home Energy This Winter

As we head into the winter months, you may notice one thing: an increase in your energy bill. The reduced amount of daylight drives us to turn on our lights sooner, while the cooler temperatures cause us to crank up the heat inside. The winter and summer months tend to be the most energy-intensive times of the year, as we try to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, despite what the thermometer says.

8 Tips to Save Money and Stay Warm this Winter

1. Set the thermostat to 20° C (68°F) when you’re home. Studies show you use 3-5% more energy for each degree the thermostat is set above this number. Instead of increasing the heat, put on a sweater to stay warm.

2. When you leave the house, lower the thermostat. Why heat your house if no one is home? Lowering your thermostat 10 -15 degrees can save 5-15% a year on your energy bill.

3. Close your curtains or blinds at night and when you’re not home to keep warm air from escaping. Go the extra mile and invest in thermal blackout curtains, which can help keep warm air where it belongs—in your home.

4. Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk gaps and cracks when you see them to prevent heat from escaping.

5. Close the damper of your fireplace when you’re not using it. Being mindful of this small action can keep your house noticeably warmer.

6. Insulate. Up to 25% of heat is lost through the small cracks and holes around the house. Properly insulating your walls, floors and attic can save you up to 10% on your total energy costs.

7. Replace old windows. Depending on the climate, windows can account for 25-50% of a home’s heating and cooling needs.2 Make sure you’re not losing precious heat in the winter by replacing your old windows with high performance, energy-efficient windows. The added bonus? These windows not only regulate the amount of heat that is absorbed, they also help block outside noise.

8. Maintain your heating and cooling duct system. By keeping your HVAC system in great shape, you can avoid costly and sudden repairs that might leave your home without heat, plus save money on your energy bills.