Carbon Monoxide Safety

What is carbon monoxide (CO)?

Natural gas is safe and reliable. But if any fuel-burning equipment isn’t working properly, including your furnace, water heater or fireplace (or a blocked vent or chimney), it can release CO, a poisonous gas that can be deadly.

CO is often called the ‘silent killer’ because you can't see or smell it. Read the tips below to learn how to keep you and your loved ones safe. Then watch the short, interactive video (right) to test your CO safety smarts.

3 steps to stay safe

Protect your home with these simple actions.

1. Inspection and maintenance

Have all fuel-burning appliances inspected by a TSSA-registered contractor each year.

Remember: Never use outdoor fuel-burning equipment (generators, patio heaters, barbecues) inside your home or garage.

2. Install carbon monoxide alarms

It’s the law! Install a CO alarm near all sleeping areas. For added protection, install a CO alarm on each level of your home.

  • Test your CO alarms monthly.
  • Change batteries twice a year.
  • Check the expiration date.

3. Clear outdoor vents

Check that exhaust vents from all natural gas appliances are not blocked. Have a chimney checkup each year.


Common Factors that Can Risk Devaluing Your Home


Understanding the factors that can risk devaluing your home and taking them into consideration can put you head and shoulders above the competition. While many of these factors are out of your control, there are some that aren’t.

5 external factors that affect home value

Prominent Infrastructure

Close proximity to power lines and power plants, commuter rails, highways, and other infrastructure could devalue your home significantly as a result of personal preference or safety and noise concerns.

One Word: Location

Many buyers are looking for a home near amenities, such as grocery stores, banks, restaurants and entertainment. Being close to good schools is also attractive to young families.

Neighbourhood Eyesores

We’ve all seen them. That one house that sticks out like a sore thumb on a tree-lined street of pristine homes: the overgrown grass, old boats, kids toys strewn all over the yard.  Not only are these things hard on the eyes, they also have a negative impact on the value of your house.

Neighbourhood Crime

Now, unless you’re going to put on a cape or join the Neighbourhood Watch, you have absolutely no effect on the crime rate in your community. The crime rate, however, does have a significant effect on your home’s value.

Splish Splash

The pool where you spent weekends relaxing in the sun with your feet up may be filled with memories for you and your family and friends, but some home buyers may dismiss a home that comes with a pool. The extra expenses and home maintenance that come along with owning one may be less attractive to buyers currently in the market.

Now, let’s talk about the things you can do to avoid losing out on big bucks!

Butt out!

It’s no secret that cigarette smoke is detrimental to your health and those around you, but did you know that smoking indoors can affect the value of your home as well? The odour, along with the yellow stain it leaves on walls and fixtures, is enough to devalue your home by 29%.

Think you spent a lot of money buying cigarettes? Consider this: On a $900,000 home, you risk losing $261,000. If you have always had trouble quitting smoking, at the very least take it outside.

Reno Disaster

Find a quality contractor with a proven track record for excellent work and don’t hire someone just because they can do it cheaper. Cheap work usually means cutting corners, which can actually be more expensive in the long-run if you need to re-hire another contractor to fix past work.

Lackluster Curb Appeal

The first impression of your home is made the second a potential home buyer drives up to it. Making a good impression can be as simple as making sure your lawn is freshly cut, your shutters and garage doors have a fresh coat of paint and your gardens are weeded and tended to.

Retro Rooms

Outdated kitchens and bathrooms can decrease the value of your home significantly. You don’t need to call in a renovation company to completely remodel the place, but adding a few modern updates can be a huge value-add. Fresh paint, new fixtures, and a new countertop may be all you need.

Furry Friends

A strong pet odour, dog and cat hair, or scratched floors will decrease home value. A solid cleaning and repair of any pet-associated damages can ensure this doesn’t happen. You may also want to consider having your pet stay with a loved one while you are trying to sell.

Personal Taste

While you may love your Parisian-inspired motif, not everyone does. While most design elements are removable, home buyers have a hard time visualizing their décor in an already decked out space. Consider simplifying your staging approach by using a minimalistic approach. A fresh (neutral!) coat of paint and some quality flooring will make all the difference.

Keeping these factors in mind, you can take steps to ensure higher value in your home. Understanding buyer’s wants and needs will also help you check all the boxes on their wish lists. Want to know more about what they’re looking for? Take a look at the top features home buyers want.

Published: August 18, 2014
Last Updated: December 13, 2022


Saving money on your home’s utility bills: How tech can help

Forget the price of buying a home in this province; living in one can cost an arm and a leg!

Oh, and I’m not even referring to rising property taxes, insurance premiums, and how much inflation and shrinkflation sets you back to feed a family every week.

What you’re paying for utilities in Ontario can put a serious drain on your pocket.

Most Ontarians are understandably reluctant to rip open their electricity, gas and water bills each month.

You likely know about running your dishwasher and washing machine during off-peak hours whenever possible, upgrading to energy-efficient furnaces and air-conditioners (and taking advantage of rebates to offset the costs), and maybe even investing in solar to mitigate your reliance on the grid.

Off-the-shelf tech gadgets can also help make a difference to your pocket.

Here are a few hi- and low-tech moves to get you saving money on your home bills:

Smart LED lights often consume a lot less power than incandescent and florescent light bulbs, and can be scheduled to turn on and off and be controlled via app or voice.

Smart lighting works with your schedule

If you haven’t done so already, replace all your incandescent and fluorescent bulbs with LED lights, as they sip, rather than gulp, electricity.

Oh sure, they cost more, but you’ll save money in the long run. A 60-watt equivalent, for instance, might only be only 7.5 watts for comparable lumens with an LED light, and they can last considerably longer, which saves you even more.

There are also Wi-Fi-enabled Smart LED bulbs, which might save you even more, as you can set schedules and timers, remotely access your lights (such as turning lights off via an app), or, when coupled with room sensors, have the lights go off automatically when someone leaves the room.

Smart LEDs also let you use your voice to control them (via Amazon Alexa or Google). For as little as $70 apiece, smart speakers can be programmed with a “macro” command (sometimes referred to as a “routine”) to perform a few actions with one spoken phrase, such as “good night.” The simple command can lock your front door, set your alarm, turn off your lights, and lower your thermostat by a couple of degrees.

Smart thermostats give you greater control, and can also learn your schedule to optimize settings, saving you on your heating and cooling bills.

Wi-Fi thermostats optimize temperature automatically

Next-generation thermostats let you conveniently adjust heating and cooling settings on a phone, tablet or laptop, but they can also learn your schedule and optimize the temperature in your home automatically.

Starting at $179, a Google Nest thermostat can turn itself down when you leave the house, so you don’t waste energy on an empty home. A feature called Savings Finder suggests more ways to save by tweaking your schedule.

The upgraded Google Nest Learning Thermostat ($329) includes HVAC monitoring, which helps you identify potential issues with certain heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. If a potential issue is detected, an alert is sent by email or via the Google Home app. (Radiant systems, which have radiator or in-floor heating, are not supported.)

Ecobee, the Toronto-based company with the first smart thermostat on the market (back in 2007), is a major player in this space. Its smart thermostats, starting at $199 (ecobee3 lite), save you up to 26 per cent on your annual heating and cooling bill, the company says, and, so, the device pays for itself, over time.

Along with easily adjusting temperature and comfort settings from an app, a smart speaker, or via the thermostat’s 3.5-inch touchscreen, ecobee3 lite can be programmed to fit your schedule, or use wireless synced optional sensors for more precise (room-by-room) control.

You can monitor energy use in real-time, for a more efficient home.

Energy monitors keep you in the picture

The expression has it all wrong: ignorance is not bliss; information is.

After connecting it to the electrical panel, the Square D Wiser Energy Home Monitoring System from Schneider Electric (from $399) gives homeowners useful insights into activity and energy use … in real time.

Using the compatible Sense app (for iOS, Android), you can see a colour-coded view of your home’s energy use, create custom notifications (such as when devices are on or off), analyze trends, and set goals.

Even when you’re not at home, you can be alerted to leaving, say, the curling iron on in your home to assuage that fear when you go on vacation.

(There’s even a solar version of this kit.)

Plug an inexpensive smart plug into your wall's AC outlet, and then connect anything electric . . . now it can be controlled by an app, your voice, with timers and schedules.

Smart plugs put kibosh on ‘vampire’ power-suckers

You might have heard the term “vampire power,” which refers to plugged-in electronics that, while turned off, still “suck” electricity, and therefore cost you money.

Large appliances are often the culprits, but there are others, too, like televisions, sound systems, and video game consoles.

Instead, inexpensive smart plugs and power strips can give you greater control over all your devices.

For example, the TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug (2-pack for $24) can switch appliances on and off with a tap on the Kasa app, plus you can set schedules and timers, or you can use your voice to ask your smart speaker to do it.

For example, set your dishwasher to run only during off-peak hours to save money on electricity costs. (Check your utility company’s rates based on on-, off- and mid-peak times, which often changes during the year.)


Similarly, a smart power strip lets you individually control outlets.

Some smart power strips can also cut off electricity to a couple of outlets — this is ideal for when you’re going on vacation — while other outlets on the power bar maintain the connection to the power source when turned off. For example, you don’t need power to your TV, but you’ll likely want your PVR running in the background to archive your favourite shows for you.

And, from the “duh” department, you need some appliances, such as fridges and chest freezers, to be plugged in all the time, but look for Energy Star-certified products. Appliances and consumer electronics branded with the cyan-and-white Energy Star logo have been tested and verified to be more energy efficient. You should see that familiar sticker on the box and product, itself. (When in doubt, ask a salesperson, or write to the manufacturer on their website.)

Water damage is one of the most common insurance claims. You can save money with a water sensor that can detect an issue and notify you immediately, to minimize damage.

Use these to prevent water damage

Water shut-off valves, such as Flo by Moen ($699), connect to your home’s water supply, and can detect flow rate, temperature and pressure throughout the entire home. It can detect an issue like a frozen or burst pipe, or if a child left a bathroom faucet running, and can turn it off for you and notify you via the app.

There are no monthly fees, and home insurance providers may give you a discount of you have it installed, says Moen.

If you don’t have the budget, another solution is the mydlink Whole Home Smart Wi-Fi Water Leak Sensor Starter Kit ($89), which includes two sensors in the box (expandable up to 16) to place around a water heater, washing machine, sump pump, or any spot there could be a potential water leak.

You’ll be immediately notified if a leak is detected, thanks to a loud 100-decibel alarm and flashing lights. A Google smart speaker can announce an issue, too.

If you’re not at home and it detects moisture, you’ll get a notification via an app.



Curious how to get the kitchen of your dreams within a narrow space? Here’s the skinny: some careful planning, judicious use of storage and small renovations can give a galley kitchen quite a pop.

The long and narrow galley kitchen traces back to tiny spaces set aside for a single cook to feed the onboard crews of waterborne vessels, both small and large. This style was then passed on to long-distance trains of the early 20th century, where a galley arrangement maximized customer seating while retaining a tight and efficient space for food prep—as long as kitchen workers were few and coordinated. 

In a residential home, the galley kitchen often serves as a space saver. Kitchens were often isolated, out-of-the-way functional places prior to the Great Depression. The galley kitchens of the day were dark with limited amenities and could be rooms away from the dining area. 

 Galley Kitchen Design IdeasPhoto by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

Today, galley kitchens may be inherited or they may be designed as a preference by serious foodies, seeking a single-function dedicated meal preparation destination. In either case, how you use your kitchen for storage, workflow, and convenience makes the difference between improvised and optimized. Here are some key points to consider to make the most of your galley space.

Galley Kitchen

Plan the flow

Design builds around the kitchen triangle, an aesthetic form and practical function arising from placement of three key kitchen workplaces: the fridge (storage), sink (preparation), and stove (cooking). 

Key to the concept is these three elements are close (but not too close) with countertop space between each workplace. The parallel counters of a double-walled galley split the trio between them. The sink might be centralized on one side with the fridge and stove at either end of the other. Another layout may put the stove on its own. 

The work triangle forms logical divisions of labour in any kitchen. As you optimize a galley kitchen, keep the triangle in mind to help meet your needs and priorities. 

Build around your style

A baker needs room to work and roll out dough before popping things in the oven. Flour, yeast, sugar, measuring cups, and bakeware all make sense near this counter for easy access.

When entrees are top of the menu, roasting pans and spices may be more practical at hand, while baking supplies are relegated to the pantry. Optimize space by putting the most-used items, consumables or tools, near their most-used places. The less you must move to perform the most common tasks, the bigger your galley kitchen feels. 

Consider both workflow and your cooking style before you plan a makeover for your galley, whether you do the renovation yourself or hire a contractor.

Tips and tricks for a galley kitchen

Tips and tricks for a galley kitchen

Using workflow and cooking style as your framework, you can start with the practical elements of optimizing the kitchen. 

Treat your counter space as sacred

Think through the reasons for all items that take up permanent residence on your countertop. Relocate everything possible to another location. Your last cleaning step after every kitchen session should return the counter to its pristine and barren condition, inviting your next meal prep. 

Organizing Kitchen spacePhoto by Photoholgic on Unsplash

Use the walls

Even salt and pepper shakers can steal counter space, but they’re no further away in a rack on the wall above your counter. Shelves, spice racks, and utensil holders keep your regular tools at hand while still being out of the way of the pizza dough you’re rolling. 

Compartments with storage in the kitchen

Compartments within storage

Think of this as an expansion of the cutlery organizer or spice rack idea. Use baskets, bins, and organizers in every drawer and cupboard to create dedicated spaces. Oils and vinegars, baking powders and sodas, sugars and sweeteners—there are endless groupings that can help you define clear locations for virtually anything. 

Compact Kitchen appliance

Compact appliances

While it’s nice to own and work with full-size mixers and food processors, be honest about your needs. If you have a compact kitchen, a mega appliance steals proportionately more of your countertop. For instance, immersion blenders are drawer-friendly and even more versatile than countertop versions. 

 Built-in Kitchen appliances

Build it in

If it’s possible in your space, recess appliances like microwaves, convection ovens, and coffee makers into the wall. Even shallow shelves sunken between wall studs can dramatically increase your at-hand capacities. 

Modern Kitchen Lighting

Add light

You won’t want to work in dark corners, so eliminate them. There have never been more options for versatile task lighting. Add LED lights that fit your needs (and budget) to brighten under-used spaces. You can add passive light, too, by choosing light colours for walls, cabinets, and flooring. However, don’t be afraid to add splashes of darker hues. They can give a sense of depth that expands your perceived space. 

Remember, there’s no reason your galley kitchen needs to represent compromise. Using these tips can help make the space you have into the type of kitchen you’ve always wanted. 

You may also be interested in reading…


When preparing your home for the market, it’s great to know there are some relatively inexpensive improvements that can make a big impact with buyers.

5_thrifty_fix-ups_to_sell_your_homeA few well-placed pieces of décor and a clutter-free home are simple things you can do on a budget to bump up interest in your home. Once the fundamentals of a well-maintained home are taken care of, these easy initiatives can seal the deal.

  1. Declutter your kitchen. Counter space is extremely important for buyers. Be sure to store kitchen items off the counters. Purchase storage baskets in several different sizes to help you clear the decks in a hurry and minimise clutter.

  2. Brighten up storage spaces. Closets and cupboard space are important selling features. You can make the most of what you have by purging unused items and painting a light colour inside cupboards and closets. Adding battery-operated lighting is also an inexpensive way to brighten a dark closet.

  3. Update lighting around the house  While buyers will usually focus on the amount of natural light flooding into your property during a viewing, they’ll also be looking at how your electric lighting is used and how it affects the ambiance of your home.
    Focus on ceiling lights that can be updated with inexpensive newer bright light fixtures. Updating your bathroom vanity light  is also a real winner. Consider replacing any blown bulbs with energy efficient ones. Add lamps or corner lights to rooms that lack natural light

  4. Change your front door. First impressions definitely count with buyers and as the front of your property is the first thing they’ll see, a new front door can really create the wow factor. As well as making a good impression as a design statement, a new front door can also appeal to buyers who are eco-conscious and want a home that is energy efficient. Modern doors are extremely energy efficient, as well as looking great, but even if your budget can’t stretch to a new one, you could add a splash of colour to your existing door if it’s wooden.

  5. Replace interior room doors Quickly and inexpensively brighten hallways and rooms by replacing interior doors and hardware. New white panelled doors and hardware can quickly freshen the home. Look for sales at your local building centre.

  6. Check your flooring. You may be pleasantly surprised by what’s underneath. Even if you don’t like what you see, replacing carpets is one of the most economical improvements you can make when you consider the overall return on your dollar.

  7. Paint. Even high-end interior paints are a bargain when you look at what can be achieved with a fresh new finish. Opt for neutral colours in matte or eggshell finishes to camouflage flaws in walls. Read up on the current trends, too, and use colours that are of the moment, so your property really appeals to design-savvy buyers. Baseboard and door frames will get new life witha white shade of satin, semi-gloss or high-gloss finish. 

  8. Tidy up your bathrooms.Along with the kitchen, buyers will place a large amount of their focus on your bathrooms when looking at your property.And while a new bathroom suite might be out of reach both financially and from a time point of view, there are still plenty of DIY tasks you can take on to present your bathrooms in the best possible way.


  1. Replacing any cracked or broken tiles

  2. Refreshing the grouting that has become stained or discoloured

  3. Replacing taps and shower fittings

  4. Adding a storage unit if you have space


Deep reds, bold blues, and neutral earth tones are leading the way for the top paint colours of 2023. See what companies like Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, Glidden, Behr, and Pantone have chosen as their colours of the year. 

Refreshing the home is a big part of embracing the new year, and with so many potential changes from flooring to furniture, it’s hard to know where to start. Paint is a quick and easy way to freshen up any space or piece of furniture, and interior designers and paint companies have their predictions on emerging colour trends for 2023. Ranging from earthy reds to warm neutrals, here are the colours the pros say we’ll be painting our homes with and why they work. 

Pantone colour of the yearImage provided by Pantone, credit: Huge

Pantone’s highly anticipated Colour of the Year for 2023 was announced at the beginning of December. PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta is meant to be a “brave and fearless” colour for those who have a “rebellious spirit” and exude optimism and joy. The bold colour lives in the red family, or what Pantone refers to as “The Magentaverse.” 

“PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta descends from the red family, and is inspired by the red of cochineal, one of the most precious dyes belonging to the natural dye family as well as one of the strongest and brightest the world has known,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Colour Institute. “Rooted in the primordial, PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta reconnects us to original matter. Invoking the forces of nature, PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta galvanizes our spirit, helping us to build our inner strength.”

Though this isn’t a paint colour you can run to the store to purchase—Pantone’s Colour of the Year isn’t specifically a paint, just a colour—it serves as inspiration of what 2023 can bring. Pantone offers a set of designer tools to help you use their colours in your interior design projects.

 Raspberry Blush - 2023 colour trends by Benjamin MooreImage provided by Benjamin Moore Canada

Raspberry Blush by Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore’s 2022 colour of the year, October Mist, was an earthy green that resembled the stem of a flower. For 2023, their colour resembles the petals of a rose. Raspberry Blush is a vibrant red-orange that delivers bold personality. It’s charismatic without being loud, much like the electro-funk duo the paint company partnered with to commemorate this year’s selection. The Canadian electro-funk duo Chromeo has released a new song titled Raspberry Blush that reminisces about the positivity and enjoyment of colour and music together. Use this coral tinged pink on an accent wall, arch, or bring some colour to your powder or dining room.

You could also consider Terra Rosa by Dunn-Edwards if you’re into the soft clay colour.

Blank Canvas - Colour of the year 2023Photo via Behr Media Library

Blank Canvas by Behr Paint Company

Sticking to more of a neutral hue, Behr has named Blank Canvas its 2023 Colour of the Year. A stark contrast to some of the other more vibrant colours, this creamy shade of white ushers in a clean and inviting blank slate. With this choice, Behr leans into a relaxing, calming colour that can offer endless décor possibilities. Blank Canvas can be paired with bold blues, browns, and greens. Use it in the bedroom to promote tranquillity or to finish off trim and moulding.

“Blank Canvas effortlessly offers a clean and inviting blank slate that allows individuality and creativity to flow freely,” Erika Woelfel, Vice-President of Color and Creative Services at Behr Paint Company, said in a press release. “This white easily harmonizes with a wide range of hues, including neutrals, earth tones and pastels for a charming and cozy appeal. Blank Canvas also pairs beautifully with black for a dramatic impact, and with bright accents like green or cobalt blue to instantly lift your mood.”

Redend Point by Sherwin-WilliamsImage provided by Sherwin-Williams

Redend Point by Sherwin-Williams

The Sherwin-Williams paint company is evoking a sense of connection, warmth, and softness with its pick for the year. Whether used in the living room or in the kitchen, the colour is the ideal choice to bring a sense of community and nature into your space. The colour also pairs well with earthy neutrals like dark beiges and greys.

“Redend Point was inspired by the idea of finding beauty beyond ourselves,” says Sue Wadden, Director of Colour Marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “Build on its earthiness by utilizing the hue alongside natural-looking textiles and wood accents or create a desert oasis by layering terracotta shades and clay materials.”

Colour of the year - Vining Ivy by GliddenImage provided by GLIDDEN Paint

Vining Ivy by Glidden 

Sticking with the earth tone colour theme of 2023, Glidden’s colour of the year is Vining Ivy. A mixture of blue and green, this in-between jewel-toned colour can be used in almost any space. The company chose a versatile colour so people don’t have to think so much about what works with their home.. The colour can be used as an accent to give a pop to your space or paired with soft pastels, light neutrals, or deep browns and blues.

“Consumers are seeking to simplify… as the past two years have shed a new light on the importance of serenity and little moments,” said Ashley McCollum, Glidden colour expert. “Vining Ivy embodies this vibe perfectly. Its versatility takes the guesswork out of design, leaving consumers with more time to indulge in the things that matter most to them.”

McCollum suggested using this colour on kitchen cabinets, as an accent wall, or in a smaller room to contrast a neutral palette.

Soothing colours of 2023

This year we are seeing a movement towards clays, stones, and earth hues inspired by nature. Colours that bring calm, zen, and tranquillity are leading the way and people are being urged to paint their home in a way that brings comfort to them. These colours add a touch of calmness, optimism and hope in what’s ahead. So before you tackle your new painting project, consider whether these trending colours help showcase or inspire the feelings you’re chasing. 


5 Tips to Prepare Your Home Before You Head on Vacation

1. Make sure all of your windows and doors are locked securely.

You want to protect your real estate investment while away. Consider adding an extra layer of protection by installing window or sliding door security bars. 

2. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in working order.

Monitors are vital for the safety of your family and home, especially if you will be away for an extended period. It’s also a good idea to change the batteries on any alarms or motion detectors as a precautionary measure before your trip to ensure sensors will still function while you’re away. 

3. Unplug all unnecessary electronics while you’re vacationing to help save energy and protect your appliances in case of power surges or outages.

For example, computers and televisions can be unplugged before you go.

4. Turn off your main water supply.

Check for shut-off valves in the basement near the water meter. Plumbing failure happens, and if it happens while you’re on vacation, you could come home to a flooded house and damaged furniture, electronics, and more. 

5. Ask a trusted neighbour or friend to watch your property while you’re gone.

If you trust your neighbour with a key, consider leaving them a spare just in case you need them to stop by and check on the home while you’re away. Knowing someone is available can help you rest easy, knowing your vacation home is safe and secure.


As interest rates trend up and affordability stays low, making an individual, single income purchase can be a stretch. But did you know that there’s another option that means you could get into the market sooner without waiting to put a ring on it?

Co-buying simply means to purchase a property with a person who is not your spouse. This can be as simple as purchasing a home with a good friend, with whom you will share the space as a primary residence. Or, for savvy investors it can mean purchasing a rental property, generating cash flow and reaping the financial benefits of appreciation.

There are two types of joint ownership: joint tenancy, and tenants-in-common. A joint tenancy agreement is the most common when purchasing a home with a partner or spouse for a few reasons; namely that both owners hold full ownership rights and each has an equal and undivided right to keep or sell the property.

In a tenants-in-common ownership, on the other hand, the share of ownership depends on what each partner contributes to the purchase and what is mutually agreed upon. The value of each owner’s share will vary depending on income, share of down payment, or amount of credit qualification they bring to the deal. It will also determine what share of the proceeds go to each owner at the time of sale. This is why it is incredibly important to have a formal agreement between buyers drafted before purchase outlining each owner’s contributions, responsibilities of ownership, exit strategies and future plans.--

A scene from last year’s physically distanced Artists for Peace and Justice gala last September in Natasha Koifman’s backyard, with Sting making a virtual appearance. LIFE Do I go in for a hug? What about bringing a plus one? A refresher on how to be a go

COURTESY OF THE TORONTO STAR - After the year and a half that was, it’s understandable that you might be feeling a bit rusty when it comes to socializing in person.

As a refresher, there are some typical protocols to try to follow when you’ve been invited to a friend’s gathering or a family event: never show up empty-handed, arrive within 15 minutes of the invite time and don’t overstay your welcome.

The pandemic changed everything but, as lockdowns lift and invites flow, experts say we still have to be mindful guests.


“Now that we’re done wiping down groceries and other items, it’s OK to bring a hostess gift again,” says Toronto etiquette consultant Lisa Orr. She says if you ask your host if you can bring something and they say no, you should still bring a little something anyway.

“The host gift is a pre-emptive thank you in recognition of the effort it takes to have an event or get-together, and for being included,” Orr said. Your gift doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be thoughtful. She suggests flowers, candles, chocolates, gourmet pantry items or wine, all of which are simple and pandemic-friendly.


If you’ve been invited somewhere last minute and you don’t have anything on hand, send a little something after the fact, and if you’re invited with a guest make sure you’re clear the gift is from both of you.

Natasha Koifman, president of NKPR, will host client events and brand launches in her own backyard this summer. She is also planning her annual Artists for Peace and Justice gala on Sept. 11, in the same location.


“You should never show up with a surprise guest unless your host knows about it, especially during a pandemic,” says Koifman. You may think it’s no big deal, especially if you know other guests are bringing plus ones, but it’s not your party and having another person attend may not be within your host’s or their guests’ comfort level.

Koifman says guests should be aware of the new rules of engagement. “Transparency is important here. There’s nothing wrong with asking someone or telling them that you’re double vaccinated. It creates a sense of confidence and changes the style of engagement between two people.”

If someone is double vaxxed versus not at all, the way to engage will vary. “Either way, you can show warmth and appreciation based on your tone versus the physical interaction.”

When it comes to physically greeting your host or other guests, Parambir Keila, an ER doctor at Quinte Health Care in Belleville, Ont., says to always ask for consent before physically engaging with others. “The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S.) believes it is safe for those who are double vaccinated to hug,” Keila said. “I haven’t seen any specific hugging guidelines from (Premier Doug) Ford, but I’d love to pick his brain on it.”

Keila’s hugging tip? “Direct your face away from the other person and a French-like double kiss is still a no no.”

If you need to go inside to use the washroom, consider masking up. “If you may encounter someone who is not part of your gathering, you must wear a mask,” Keila said. “If it’s the same small group indoors and out, going maskless to the bathroom should be safe.” He also suggests asking the host if they want you to mask inside if you’re helping them clean up.

Orr also warns guests to let their hosts play host and to not take over. For more than a year now, we’ve gotten used to running the show. We pick the food, the movie, the music during our leisure time but, as a guest, you’re expected to participate in a social gathering the way the host has envisioned without giving your two cents.

For example, if your host has set the mood with a playlist, do not ask to play your own music, ever. “I don’t care if you just wrote the most incredible song or if it’s your very favourite party tune, this is a no go,” Orr said.

It’s likely your host has selected songs the same way they selected the menu, the dress code and the decor. “Asking them to go a different way, as innocent as it may seem, is not polite or appropriate and, depending on how seriously your host takes their music, could be downright offensive,” Orr said.

Koifman says you should be present and socialize with others in attendance, even if you’re feeling a bit awkward since you haven’t been out in ages. “It’s important to interact with all guests (pending comfort levels and regulations), not just one or two,” she said.

But avoid talking about COVID the whole time as well as your experiences during it. “Suffice it to say that the world is in an intense time politically and socially right now, and people are on edge,” Orr said.


With that in mind, she suggests being thoughtful about selecting conversation topics. “It’s not to say that you should censor yourself, but for a fun, social gathering you should let your host set the tone, listen to find common ground if you don’t agree and, if you really don’t agree, finish your cocktail, say your thanks and skedaddle early, and maybe send regrets next time,” Orr said.

Both Koifman and Orr say the long-standing rule of not overstaying your welcome still stands, even though we’re all hungry for connection.

“If you want to get invited to another event or gathering, never overstay your welcome. You’ll always be remembered as that person. Keep your visits short and sweet,” Koifman said.

If the get-together doesn’t have a specific end time, stay for two to three hours. “If it’s past that time, use your discretion and read the room.” Koifman said.

The opposite is true too: don’t leave too early, eat and run, or order your Uber before saying proper goodbyes to the host(s) and fellow attendees. If you’re unsure if it’s too early to leave, Koifman once again suggests reading the situation. “As people are starting to leave, it’s probably time for you to leave as well.” Should the host want you to stay longer to have one-on-one time once other guests leave, leave them to invite you for an extended stay and never assume, Koifman added.

When leaving, thanking the host for having you and follow up via text or email after the gathering with a personalized note to let them know you appreciated being included. “I’ll always follow up within 24 hours of attending. In your note to the host, highlight something that you particularly enjoyed about the event and show your appreciation for being invited,” Koifman said.


Courtesy of CTV news - read the full article here

OTTAWA -- After months in a red-hot real estate market, which has seen bidding wars and homes purchased for hundreds of thousands of dollars over asking, there are signs the market in Ottawa is normalizing.

“June’s resale market performed similar to a typical (pre-pandemic) June, with unit sales on par with the five-year average and a lower volume of activity compared to May, particularly in the last two weeks of the month,” said Debra Wright, president of the Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB).

Wright said a tapering off this time of year is common, as families shift their focus over the summer, spending more time away and outdoors — even amid a pandemic.


“It will be interesting to watch the market over the summer to see if this normalization of the real estate sales' ebb and flow is indeed the case moving forward. Last year, summer resales skyrocketed due to pent-up demand when the first lockdown ended,” said Wright.

The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS®, and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are member’s of CREA. The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by CREA and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.