Sylvia Putz

Your home renovation survival guide

Generally speaking, I would strongly advise against living in a house undergoing a renovation. Sure you can save money doing this, but will you save your sanity? Even with this strong warning in place, I know there will always be those who live in the home during a renovation. Often, the decision...

Thursday, June 24, 2010, 5:30 AM

Is it time for a new porch?

There’s no doubt in my mind that concrete porches and steps are ugly. They don’t fit with an older home; a concrete porch looks and probably was tacked on without any thought or aesthetic consideration. Older homes usually have lovely wooden porches that look just right — concrete doesn’t.Even on a...

Thursday, June 17, 2010, 5:30 AM

Act early to staunch that basement leak

Water trickling into your basement through walls or up through the floor — while it’s never good — may not be the kiss of death that you fear. In fact, most homeowners will experience, at some time or another, water leaking into their basements. If the leaking problem is severe or chronic, you...

Thursday, June 10, 2010, 11:30 AM

Creating the perfect backyard shed

A shed is a shed is a shed, right? Wrong. A shed can be whatever you want it to be. In a home, you’ve got to worry about making changes that suit you but may not raise the value of your home. But a shed — well, you can use your creativity and have some fun. That being said, there are some ideas to...

Thursday, June 3, 2010, 11:30 AM

Get the most out of your patio furniture

You’ve probably dragged your outdoor furniture outside by now, and hopefully, you’re sitting on it.Or are you still wiping off spiderwebs, and trying to scrub off traces of last summer's barbeques? If so, you may need some pointers on how to look after your outdoor furniture.Summer care• Aluminum...

Thursday, May 27, 2010, 11:30 AM

Kitchen and bath are done, what's left to renovate?

We’ve all heard that bathroom and kitchen renovations add the most value when you sell your home. But what about other types of renovations such as landscaping? “Freshening up is the best way to get more bang out of your landscaping buck,” says Tony Colavecchia, owner of Toronto-based Edan Oaks...

Thursday, May 20, 2010, 1:30 PM

Think your home is finished? Time to add some character

Have you finished with all your reno projects? Yes, the construction or renovation may be complete, but does your home have character? ”People often forget those things that can bring warmth and character into a home” says Heidi Richter, designer and owner of HR Design. “All houses can benefit...

Thursday, May 20, 2010, 11:30 AM

Is it time to show your attic a little love?

What’s your attic doing these days? If yours is just sitting up there doing nothing, take a moment to imagine all that potential living space just waiting for you. A finished attic bedroom, in particular, adds value to your home. It’s like a private and spacious suite, removed from the rest of the...

Thursday, May 20, 2010, 11:30 AM

Your summer patio checklist

You’ve got the basics on your patio — a barbecue, a few chairs, and a dining table. But is it as great as it could be? Maybe not. With a little effort and imagination, your perfectly ordinary garden and back patio can become a delightfully unexpected treat. Here are some hints to make your patio a...

Thursday, May 13, 2010, 11:30 AM

Is your home ready for an awning?

Do you remember those painted aluminum awnings that often graced suburban windows a few decades back? Well, awnings are back big-time. They’ve been updated too, and many have a sleek “euro” look that I just love. Imagine a striped Paris café awning, or a large red awning gracefully shading the beer...

Thursday, May 6, 2010, 11:30 AM

Watch out for the sun this backyard season

Backyard lounging, barbecuing and socializing sounds like fun, right? But not when you’re broiling under the sizzling summertime sun. There are lots of reasons to provide shelter from direct sunlight in your yard, including comfort and protection from the sun while you and your family are outdoors...

Thursday, April 29, 2010, 11:30 AM

How to grow an organic vegetable garden

If you’re an organic vegetable gardener, take the time now to plan and prepare for a successful and productive year. Taking steps now will ensure that you have a vigorous and healthy garden, and fewer pests to bother you later. Here’s how to do it.1. Start off with a clean slate. Clean up leftover...

Thursday, April 22, 2010, 6:58 AM

Setting up a home can be hard

If you’ve just bought your first home, I bet you’re learning that the process of setting up a home can be exciting, but also a little overwhelming.But don’t fret. Focus on looking after a few important logistical details first, and then you can enjoy deciding on décor and furniture and all the...

Thursday, April 22, 2010, 5:30 AM

Get your gardening done from on high

I now have a cute, little sedum-bedecked green roof on a new, flat-topped shed in my backyard. And my goodness, for such a teensy project, did we ever have to do a lot of research and development. For us, the idea of a green roof, however small, was exciting. But we didn’t want water leaking...

Thursday, April 15, 2010, 10:30 AM

Fighting garden pests the natural way

It’s a brave new world for gardeners and insect pests that bother them. “There’s a growing understanding that chemicals are not the answer,” says Dr. Michael Brownbridge, research director of Horticulture Production Systems at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario. “A few years...

Thursday, April 15, 2010, 9:30 AM

How to get the bugs out...and keep them out

Keeping insects out of the house may seem like child’s play, while they’re still clumsily bumping into everything. But soon enough, they’ll be making an effortless beeline for any indoor place that attracts them. They’ll want to come into your house when your lights are on, or when the smell of...

Thursday, April 8, 2010, 10:30 AM

Usher spring's treats into your home

Miraculously, it’s looks, smells and sounds like spring outside. So, why not bring that delightful sense of spring indoors? Here’s how to shed wintertime heaviness in your home and welcome spring with lightness, airiness and space.• Clean the windows to let the sun shine in. Screens may also need a...

Thursday, April 1, 2010, 10:30 AM

How not to get bogged down while cleaning up

When spring is in the air, I get the urge to turn over a new leaf. Along with the annual rebirth of nature, I plan to renew my house, office, files and affairs. That means spring-cleaned, thinned out and organized.Sounds simple?Well, it’s not. I’ve made this courageous pledge before, only to get...

Thursday, March 25, 2010, 3:47 AM

Developing a greener green thumb

If you’re a gardener or planning on landscaping this spring, be prepared to take a nature-friendly approach -- if you haven’t done so already. Here are some of the nature-oriented landscaping and gardening trends that have become increasingly more evident over the last few years, and will be...

Thursday, March 18, 2010, 8:20 AM

Where does work stop and home life begin?

Bringing work home regularly from the office is something many of us do—about 50 per cent, according to a recent University of Toronto work-life study. And not surprisingly, it intrudes into our personal lives. “Nearly half the population reports that people bring work home ‘sometimes’ or ‘...

Monday, March 15, 2010, 1:30 PM