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5 Simple Upgrades to Increase Your Condo’s Market Value

The surrounding city lights, fine dining on your doorstep, and a short commute to the financial district condominium living is chock-full of conveniences. But when it comes time to refresh your space or put it on the market, it can be a challenge to know where to focus your efforts. For those looking for a return on investment, these condo upgrades are worth the effort.

Go Granite

Minor kitchen upgrades are one of the changes that can bump your condo to the top of the list with buyers—while also boosting your asking price. Instead of a full overhaul, see where a modest refresh can take you: an instant lift can be found in a gleaming slab of granite or a cool stretch of marble.

Having taken years to form beneath the earth’s surface, these materials lend themselves well to timeless design: granite’s less porous surface is best suited to kitchen environments as it is less likely to stain, while marble in the bathroom makes for a luxurious accent. For those without the time for construction but with DIY savvy, paint can provide a workable alternative to a full countertop renovation, and swapping out the hardware on your cabinets can take a kitchen from so-so to standout.

Refresh Appliances

Because your condo is likely competing in a market flooded with new builds, upgrading your existing appliances is an investment that can influence your asking price—buyers are happier when they don’t have to sink further capital into kitchen upgrades. Stainless steel is a perennial favourite, while matte black and appliances with connectivity features are on the rise; go classic to avoid alienating your audience. If your condo features mismatched appliances and a redo isn’t in the cards, contact manufacturers about replacement panels to give your kitchen seamless style.

Bring On the Bathroom

Tied with the kitchen as the room with the highest upgrade ROI, bathrooms can go from commonplace to exceptional in a matter of a few tweaks. Soothing neutrals, clean, uncluttered surfaces, and recessed lighting are all a part of a valuable bathroom refresh. Swap out outdated faucets, add a rainfall showerhead, and change cabinetry hardware for easy updates that pack a punch. For a more ambitious retrofit, look into standalone bathtubs or a sauna installation to elevate the feel of your entire apartment.

Reflect on Flooring

Hardwood is still king when it comes to flooring. Oak, maple, ash, and cherry are popular choices—keep in mind that softer stains are best when appealing to a buyer. For tired parquet or exhausted linoleum, consider artfully-arranged area rugs to add some needed zest to your interiors. Don’t overlook flooring when updating your home; warm wood floors transform a room into a home.

 Step Up Your Storage

 One of the common downsides of a condo’s smaller footprint is a lack of effective storage solutions. Many buyers will be shopping with an eye to whether or not they fit in your space, meaning that every extra inch of storage counts. Empty closets can actually appear smaller than they are, so investing in attractive dividers and organizers can serve to make your condo appear larger. If your unit is short on closets, now would be the time to do a small renovation additional elbow room can make your unit a contender. Don’t overlook drawers and kitchen cabinets the more everything has a place, the more clutter you avoid and the more your buyers might envision themselves moving in. And if you’re staying put, you’ll enjoy the benefits of a new and improved closet system in a space that feels perfectly curated.

 Whether you’re preparing for a move or settling right back in, you can reap the benefits of boutique city life by upgrading your home as you go. Peace of mind and closing deals await.

Remote Escapes: Homes in Canada’s Wilderness

Ever daydream about leaving city life behind? Take a moment to imagine it: busy highways turning to open roads, and then to peaceful country lanes. The perpetual rush of the city fading to audibly running water and wind soughing in the trees, punctuated by occasional birdsong. This vision of tranquillity doesn’t have to be fantasy you can live the dream at any of these remote escapes in Canada.

Remote Retreat

The log home unites comfort and good taste with cottage windows, a charming wood stove, and a full kitchen and bathrooms. Spend a relaxed afternoon reading on the porch, take a stroll in the surrounding wildflower meadows, or venture further to the very tip of the island for glimpses of whales along the rugged coastline.

Rocky Mountain Retreat

Surrounded by wilderness, this exceptional rocky mountain home is positioned at the doorstep of Banff National Park. The unique three-wing design allows the home to be filled with natural light and views of the rocky mountains. A home for entertaining and welcoming family and friends, the main level great room and family room are anchored by the soaring double-sided stone fireplace. Go on an adventure in one of the many hiking, climbing, biking, and riding trails right at your doorstep.

Eco-Friendly Home

Nestled in Lions Head, this modern and eco-friendly home is framed privately amongst the trees with views of Georgian Bay. This is a nature lover’s dream. You can take in the impressive views from the two rooftop patios, stargaze from the park bench perched upon the ridgeline, observe the butterflies amongst stunning milk thistle gardens, or walk the nearby Bruce trail.

Mountain Top Tranquillity

This Scandinavian style home is a perfect match with harmony and nature; taking you far from the hustle and bustle of the city into the heart of nature. This home features oversized windows allowing a breathtaking view overlooking Lake Taureau in Saint-Michel-des-Saints. You’ll also be able to explore other resorts, beaches, and other islands nearby.

Stunning Scenery

This unique mid-century modern bungalow sits amongst more than 13 acres of wooded land, with three ravines and walking trails that were originally created for BMX purposes. There is a large area to enjoy bonfires and outdoor cooking, making it feel like you’re in a secluded Northern location. This property boasts wonderful scenery year-round, which carries into the home and is viewable through every room.

Taking time for yourself at your own remote getaway gives you space to think, recharge, and pursue your own projects and leaving the city behind doesn’t have to mean giving up the conveniences of modern living. With luxury homes perched on tiny islands, above picturesque lakes, and among rolling hills, the expansive Canadian wilderness is dotted with quiet havens to relax and get away from it all.

The View: Incredible Waterfront Homes Across Canada

Whether it’s on the ocean, a lake or a river, you can’t beat the serenity of a waterfront home. With the sound of the water lapping at the shore, and the opportunity to go for a swim or a kayak just steps from your door, staying home has never been so inviting.

West Coast Modern Hideaway

An incredible home in the heart of the Gulf Islands with over 300 feet of shoreline is the perfect getaway for those looking for ultimate privacy. The home was designed to bring nature indoors offering views from every window. It features a fabulous layout with a large open floor plan, gourmet kitchen, spacious dining and great room is perfect for family gatherings. The bedrooms feature clean lines and contemporary finishings, ensuring nothing distracts from the view beyond. The Southern Gulf Islands is best known for it’s Mediterranean-like climate as well as well as its artisanal farms and wineries. Eagles Landing on Gossip Island can be easily accessed via floatplane or a five minute boat ride from Galiano.

Charming Lakefront Property

Charming property on lake Memphrémagog features a cozy open concept layout with beautiful lake view. The home is filled with lots of natural light due to abundant windows. It is a small haven right on the lake.

Private Post-And-Beam Luxury, Muskoka, ON

This custom log home estate on 56 acres with 930 feet of panoramic shoreline features long lake views of Lake of Bays. Relax in the sun in its extensive outdoor entertaining area with a massive Muskoka granite patio, large lake facing hot tub, retractable flat screen TV for viewing sport and movies while you soak your stress away. There are tons of space to enjoy the scenic view with a private sitting room and separate walk-out to a second screened porch in the master bedroom. Invite guests to stay over night in its four guest bedrooms each with its own private full bath.

Modern Living

Modern elegance meets classical Italian charm overlooking Sudbury’s Bethel Lake. Located at the end of a quiet court in Sudbury’s most desirable neighbourhood. Wake up in the morning overlooking Bethel Lake from the huge master bedroom. Take a scenic stroll in the home’s large garden and enjoy the view of Bethel Lake from its very own viewing tower.

Lakefront Home

Go exploring in this lakefront home at Chestermere Lake. The home has private year-round lake access for fishing, swimming, skating, wakeboarding. It includes three floating docks. Designed for entertaining inside and out, the home is equipped with a temperature controlled dining room, gourmet kitchen, formal dining room, and expansive deck for outdoor entertaining.

Stunning Waterfront Masterpiece

This magnificent custom built home has more than over 1000 plus feet of pristine waterfront with breathtaking views from every corner. Waterviews are seen in everyroom through soaring floor to ceiling windows. This home is fitted with smart home tech with geothermal heating/cooling, motion sensor lighting, touchless faucet in kitchen, remote control blinds, video security, built-in TV, media center, sound system, generator, automatic lighting.

There’s something about a view over water that makes this home feel special. Waterfront living conjures up images of relaxing days at the beach, laid-back meals on the patio, and cozy evenings around the fire. These four residences make that lifestyle a reality.

5 Canadian Attractions You Can Virtually Visit from the Comfort of Your Own Home

While staying at home and practicing safe social distancing are the best courses of action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, it doesn’t mean we have to miss out on cultural landmarks around the world and across Canada. Thanks to technology and the Google Arts & Culture Project, many art galleries, libraries, zoos, aquariums, museums and more are available for you to explore and watch from your home. Here are 5 Canadian attractions you can virtually visit right now.

Vancouver Aquarium
The Vancouver Aquarium, also a centre for marine research, has a live camera set up so you can see what the penguins, sea otters, jellyfish are up to. Needless to say, they’re adorable and can be a little pick-me-up for the day. 

Vancouver Art Gallery 
The Vancouver Art Gallery, founded in 1931, is one of the leading Canadian art museums. The Gallery is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of the museum experience and to undertaking programs that explore the relationship between contemporary life and artistic creativity. You can walk through the gallery as if you were there using Google Street View or their online exhibit featuring Douglas Coupland

Calgary Zoo 
Meet Calgary Zoo’s two giant pandas, Er Shun and Da Mao, on their PandaCam. Their live stream happens every day from 9AM to 6PM MT. With 3 different camera angles, you won’t miss any action. 

Royal Ontario Museum
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is among the world’s leading museums of natural history and world cultures. Walk through the museum and explore the extraordinary experiences of science and civilization using Google Street View. They also have other exhibits and collections for viewing online

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is offering a variety of programs that the public can access remotely to keep themselves entertained, stimulated, and inspired. Every morning, the MMFA will post the day’s cultural offering on its Facebook and Instagram. You’ll discover works from its encyclopedic collection you might not have seen before, podcasts, videos, quizzes and plenty of food for thought. Learn about the fascinating lives of six individuals who lived in ancient Egypt through their audioguide for free on their mobile app. Their Education and Art Therapy (EduArt) program offers you access to a multitude of inspiring resources and activities

5 Ways You Can Have a Positive Impact on Your Community in a Trying Time

During this time of uncertainty, it is crucial to remember that there are many ways we can support those in our communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sotheby’s International Realty Canada agents are proudly invested in their local communities and, together, we wanted to share this resource for those able to make a positive impact during this trying time. 

Supporting Small Businesses
Small businesses like local restaurants and retailers are some of the hardest hit as many have closed or limited their operating hours during this challenging time. Think of the impact these establishments have on your community – and of what it would be like to not have them. Ordering take-out or delivery from local restaurants, purchasing gift cards for use at a later date, or ordering a delivered meal for a loved one are great ways to help your local businesses and community. 

Give Blood
The Red Cross is reporting a severe blood shortage and is urging those healthy enough to donate to do so. Donating blood is a way to save lives. 
Check on Friends, Neighbours, and Family
While social distancing is in effect, those who struggle with anxiety and depression may feel worsened symptoms. Take the time to connect with loved ones and neighbours on the phone or through video chat. Social distancing can make some feel alone or overwhelmed, check to see if they need any assistance or necessities like food or toiletries. 

Donate to a Food Bank
As schools and businesses close, food banks are under pressure. Vulnerable individuals, children, and families may lose a consistent source of healthy food. Monetary donations to your local food bank or items of need will help feed those struggling in your local community. 

Feeling Lost? 
Not sure where else to turn and help? There are many funds and charities dedicated to this current crisis, your donations will support healthcare workers, social service organizations, and those who are in a more vulnerable situation. 

Most Importantly
Continue to practice safe social distancing. We are all in this together from our individual communities to the larger global society, and we hope you stay healthy and safe during this unprecedented time.

5 Ways to Keep Your Mind and Body Healthy While Working from Home

Taking care of your mind and body should always be a top priority when it comes to ensuring that you’re living your best life, but in these trying times, it’s more important than ever. If you’re beginning to feel trapped and stagnant as you adjust to working from home, here are 5 tips to help keep your mind sharp and your body healthy from your home office.

Whether or not you currently attend a yoga class or have tried from home, I’m sure you’re familiar with the practice. A blend of stretching for the body and meditation for the mind, yoga can boost your mental and physical fitness by improving sleep, busting stress, strengthening your heart, and more. What’s more, yoga studios like Sky Ting bring professional instruction directly to you with both live streaming classes, and on demand options; Namaste.

Don’t Lose Touch
Practicing social distancing doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t connect with loved ones. Using FaceTime or apps like Houseparty give us the chance to catch up virtually – face to face. Maintaining these relationships keeps you truly connected with the world that matters.

Take a Break
Between completing your job-related tasks, trying to absorb (or avoid) the non-stop news cycle, and potentially keeping your child (or children) busy, working from home can be stressful; give your mind a rest with a nap, listening to some of your favorite music, reading from a magazine or book, or even taking a relaxing shower or bath. Studies show that even just a minute of deep breathing can relieve stress.

Plan Your Meals – And Enjoy Them
Making fewer trips to the grocery store means that you’ve likely stocked your pantry up – and being in close proximity to that stockpile might make you more inclined to snack more frequently. Resist the urge to snack by creating a schedule and prepare for meals in advance. Staying at home doesn’t mean you can’t eat well either; there are many, many tips on how to make hearty (and healthy) comforting meals.

Stay Clean
If you have to leave your house for essentials, staying healthy means sticking to a cleanliness regimen. Any time you return home, wash your hands properly – it’s also a good idea to daily disinfect high-trafficked surfaces like countertops, doorknobs, bathroom utilities, light switches, phones, gaming controllers, and remotes.

Niagara Falls Into Place: Continues to evolve into a cultural hot spot

An area ripe with rich terroir and adrenaline-pumping adventure, Niagara is becoming more than the sum of its parts. The lush fruit-farm region brims with nearly 100 renowned wineries and is growing into a cultural hub while retaining its charming roots. With the ultimate in experience top of mind, it attracts celebrities such as Ryan Gosling, Kawhi Leonard and Kate Hudson. Think luxe accommodations in beautiful historic buildings, unique creations from local makers and plenty of gourmet restaurants to complement the delicious tipples from its award-winning wineries and burgeon-ing distillery scene.  

And there are no signs of it slowing down. The Niagara Entertainment Centre, an impressive 5,000-seat performing arts complex, is slated to open this year, while the five-star country inn Pillar and Post has plans to bring its six acres to life with a stunning Monet-inspired botanical garden planted with more than 21,000 trees, shrubs and perennials. With more restaurateurs and creatives bringing their talents to the area, the days will soon be filled with more than enough to see, eat and do.


Helmed by Adam Hynan-Smith and his partner, artist Tamara Jensen, Dispatch in St. Catharines (recently named a most-visit destination by Conde Nast Traveler) packs a mix of modern, globally-inspired flavours into every dish, from the Hokkaido scallop crudo to the sumac-seasoned musakhan chicken. Usually overshadowed by its more popular neighbour, Niagara-on-the-Lake, St. Catharines is slowly but stylishly transforming itself. Alongside Dispatch are other downtown trendy eateries such as OddBird, which serves up a tasty fried-chicken sandwich, and Pharmacii, a Korean snack bar.

A coveted reservation at The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette will have you feeling like you’ve won the foodie lottery. The French- inspired prix-fixe menu uses many locally sourced ingredients and is presented with a stylish twist (think scallops grilled over peach wood, served with woodruff cream, orange thyme and apple jelly). The restaurant itself, housed in a minimalist black refurbished barn, is on the second floor, where natural light pours in through floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the grapevines.


Take Niagara’s rich terroir, add a six-level gravity-flow-system winery that relies on geo-thermal systems for renewable energy and an owner’s passion for Burgundy wines, and what do you have? Tawse Winery, a family-owned organic and biodynamic winery in Twenty Valley, and four-time Canadian Winery of the Year winner. They’ve got well-known burgundies but also produce cider, sulfite-free wines and spirits such as vodka, gin and vermouth.

Want to try orange wine (a.k.a skin- fermented white wine) at one of the best wineries to make it in Ontario? Pop into Beamsville Bench’s Fielding Estate Winery for a taste of this trendy bold vino.

Niagara Falls Craft Distillers handcrafts premium whisky, gin and vodka, each themed from a moment in time in Niagara Falls history, such as the year the waterfall froze (1911). The small batches are crafted in an ultra-modern eco distillery using water from the falls and distilled five times to achieve a distinct (and delicious) quality and taste, so you can literally soak up your getaway memories.

For beer fans the region’s growing craft beer scene includes faves such as the award-winning Niagara Brewing Company (which took up shop in the historic Foxhead Inn in 2015) and Brimstone Brewing Company. Better yet, toast them all at this year’s summertime Niagara Food & Craft Beer Festival (July 3–5).

​​​​​​​WHERE TO GO

Held three times a year — spring, fall and holiday — the HandMade Market is where you will score those unique items all of your friends will be envious of. More than 200 local makers, artisans and fine artists purvey their work, including coveted bath and body goods from Ellingwood Soap Company, pretty ceramics from Blackbird Pottery, and smells-like-heaven home fragrances from WÏSQ.

One of the hottest tickets in town come fall? The once-a-year “cellar door open” event at The Farm, a small-batch winery on the out-skirts of St. Catharines, which is the only time you can get your hands on their renowned pinot noir to take home. While that’s plenty enough to celebrate, set aside time too for lawn games, a pool party and open-fire roasts.  


Take country charm and make it exclusive, contemporary and cozy. Check into the intimate Shaw Club Hotel, a sophisticated, pet-friendly boutique property with feather-top king beds and whirlpool tubs. You’ll have to tear yourself away from your suite to make your show at the Shaw Festival Theatre across the street.

Fashion Forward: A global movement aims to steer the industry towards a sustainable future

At the G7 summit last summer in Biarritz, France, 32 of fashion’s biggest players came together to sign The FashionPact with its mandate of emphasizing sustainable efforts across the industry while combatting the greenhouse gases It’s responsible for emitting.

​​​​​​​Organized by François-Henri Pinault, CEO of Paris-based luxury-goods group Kering, at the request of French president Emmanuel Macron, the alliance was signed by titans Chanel, Hermès and Prada, as well as fast-fashion H&M Group and Zara, whose knack for speedy mass production is at the very core of what’s being questioned in the industry. The pact is not legally binding, but its backers are making steps forward.

This past November, Prada cemented its commitment by signing a £42.9-million loan with Crédit Agricole, the world’s largest co-op financial institution, with repayment terms based on meeting key targets for the sustainability of Prada’s products and operations. The landmark agreement represents a major shift for an industry that used to view eco-efforts as a niche trend.

Conscious design seems to be the way of the future, and while it might be hard to wade through the waters of greenwashing, some brands have been here all along. The gold standard is Stella McCartney who, since launching her eponymous line in 2001, has used alternatives to fabrics like leather and fur to re- duce the brand’s environmental footprint. Sub- sequently, she has redefined what it means to be a modern, eco-focused luxury label. But it didn’t stop there. McCartney instituted the Environ- mental Profit and Loss tool in 2013 to measure her brand’s impact on the environment by as- signing a monetary value to company decisions. It has led to using regenerated cashmere yarn from fabric scraps rather than virgin cashmere, which originally accounted for 28 percent of the label’s overall environmental impact, and swap- ping virgin polyester for a recycled version, which uses 90 percent less water to produce.

“It can be jarring to see brands who are quick to capitalize on general shifts in conscious- ness, as ideas [such as] ‘sustainable, natural and handmade” become marketing jargon rather than fundamental shifts to how they operate their businesses,’ says Jenny Boucher, co-found- er of Peruvian design studio D.A.R. Proyectos (the acronym translates as Sustainable Artisan Development). The goal of the studio, which partners with local indigenous communities, is to re-infuse perceived value in local craft tradi- tions while creating gorgeously quirky objects like gemstone laundry clips and woven planters. “We try on all accounts to avoid romanticism when sharing what we do, and we are working at being transparent in our process — with who makes our products and how they are created.”

​​​​​​​Similarly, Montreal’s Dexter and Byron Peart founded their premium accessories brand, WANT Les Essentiels, in 2007 on the tenets of craftsmanship, ethical production and organic materials. But despite their efforts to uphold those values, the twin brothers became dis- heartened by what they believed to be a broken system rooted in seasonality, markdowns and throwaway trends. In 2017 they sold their stake in the company and left. “We wanted to break away from the status quo and build a place that conscious consumers and impact-minded makers from around the globe could collectively call ‘home,’ ” Dexter explains. Last fall, the brothers launched the Goodee online marketplace, which promotes sustainability initiatives by offering curated brands with built-in environmental or socially conscious goals. “We see conscious design as coming from global-minded creators who approach their craft with a ‘less but better’ mantra and, as a result, place the highest value and attention towards quality, durability, circularity and handwork,” says Byron. Many of the brands on offer have a built-in philanthropic purpose as well, like Berlin-based Little Sun, whose wearable solar lamps are distributed to off-grid families in sub-Saharan Africa, bring- ing clean, renewable energy to the region.

Montreal-based Frank And Oak, originally founded as a men’s essentials brand in 2012, has transformed itself into a thoughtful business model, geared to men and women, and focused on recycled materials and sustainable practices. Fifty percent of its fashion-forward products in 2019 were designed with minimal-impact processes in mind, from machine-washable merino knits that eliminate the need for dry cleaning to its trademarked Circular denim, which minimizes waste by completely recycling the fabric to produce new, post-consumer-waste denim clothing. “As we think about the impact of the fashion industry, it’s not just about a single product but about the transformation of both the supply chain and how consumers will ultimately experience the product,” says co-founder and CEO Ethan Song. In 2019, Frank And Oak received B-Corporation certification in recognition of its high sustainability standards across the board, a commitment the company enhanced with its goals for 2020, which include further innovation.

​​​​​​​“When people think about changing their consumption behaviours, it’s not just about the end product, but rather, it’s about a new industrial revolution in how things are made,” notes Song. “Companies that are transparent, not just at the product level but rather about all their [activities], will have the largest impact.”

Indeed, if the previous decade was when the fashion industry grew a conscience, the new decade will be all about how that moral compass is steered.

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