Posted by pardeep grewal on July 31, 2016 at 11:00 AM
Are you looking to sell your house or condo? If so, you've likely been pondering how to make the space look its best so you can get the price you feel it's worth. That's where staging comes in. "The reason to stage is to present your property under the best possible circumstances so that it sells in [the] shortest possible time and at the highest possible price," says Joan Stirling, Creative Director at Stirling Home Studio. "There is overwhelming evidence out there that staged properties will outperform unstaged properties every time at substantial multiples over the staging investment," states Stirling.
The Lotus 309 Kitchen
The Lotus 309 staged for Jamie Sarner by Joan and Brian Stirling
But it isn't only the seller who can benefit from the staging process. "I see staging as a process that really benefits three different groups of people," explains Luanne Kanerva, the Principal Designer and Owner of Katu Design. "[It benefits] the real estate agent, because it makes the home easier to show; it benefits the seller by helping them to sell faster and potentially for a better price; but it also benefits buyers [...] because it helps to highlight potentials of the home and bring out possibilities that they may not otherwise have seen. So they may consider a house that they may otherwise have passed on."
Katu Design Sudbury St
Staged by Katu Design
So, where do you start when it comes to staging? Whether you're selling a 5-bedroom house or a bachelor condo, there are some truths about staging that still apply regardless of the space you're working with. We'll begin by taking a look at some general staging techniques and then we'll get into the specifics of staging different types of homes such as houses and condos.
Keep it light
Both Stirling and Kanerva agree perhaps the most important things when it comes to staging and selling a home is the lighting. "Light and bright always sells first," advises Stirling. "Lighting, colour and texture are critical in creating the mood and ambiance that will resonate with today's buyer." "In particular, if you're working with a condo or an older home there is likely not going to be any overhead lighting and that means bringing lights in," adds Kanerva. In order for potential buyers to truly appreciate all the great qualities of your home they'll need to be able to actually see them�??so light the place up!
The Lotus 309 Living Area
The Lotus 309 staged by Joan and Brian Stirling.
Notice that despite of daylight presence, the lights are turned on
Get a fresh look
The nice thing about working with a stager and/or a real estate agent is a fresh set of eyes. That's why when Kanerva enters a home for the first time she puts herself in the shoes of the buyer: "what's the first thing they're going to see? What are their impressions?" she asks. Is the place dark? Do the rooms seem small? Is it set up in an awkward or not ideally designed way? As someone who hasn't lived there for five to 10 years as the homeowners may have, Kanerva is able to ask these questions and then to ultimately answer the most important question: "what can [we] do to make this house appeal to the broadest range of buyers?" If you've lived in your home for a long period of time it may be hard to step back and see it from a buyer's perspective, so getting a fresh set of eyes in to take a look can be a big help.
Katu Design Pricefiled Rd
The girls' room at Pricefiled Rd. staged by Katu design.
This kid's room is full of toys, yet tidy and with a fresh look
One of Kanerva's biggest rules when it comes to staging is to "make it natural. Make it look like somebody could live here." For example, some furniture and generic vases may make a space look visually nice, but will it allow the buyer to see a life in the space? Perhaps not. That's why Kanerva makes sure to add special touches like towels and soap in the washroom. Ensuring the home is clean and tidy and then adding little additions like these will help buyers to imagine their lives in this space in a positive way. "Staging is meant to make the home looks its best, while looking very natural," explains Kanerva.
Katu Design Woodlawn Ave EStaged by Katu Design. Kanerva never forgets to add items such as towels or a soap to the bathroom to make it look inhabited
Make it flow
What goes into staging a home can vary greatly depending on whether the home is vacant or currently being lived in. If the home you're looking to sell is currently empty, a stager can come in with all the necessary furniture and decor and get to work. But if that isn't the case and some furniture needs to remain in the space, this can pose some unique but manageable obstacles. Although blending your own pieces with staging pieces can be tricky, Kanerva assures that anything can be accommodated. The goal in this case is to bring in pieces that will bring the level of the space up while also keeping it natural and ensuring everything flows together, she explains.
The Lotus 309 Living Area 2
The Lotus 309 staged by Joan and Brian Stirling.
Don't go crazy with the colors - in this case less is more. Look how the bright red highlights the black and white-tuned space.
Highlight what you have
Every home will have its assets and its weaknesses. Although you can't make those less than ideal qualities disappear, you can pull the focus onto the great qualities of the home. For example, if there isn't a main floor bathroom, which is important to many buyers, Kanerva would make the upstairs bathroom look extra appealing and/or ensure the basement bathroom and access to it looks as nice as possible. So be sure to play up and draw attention to the things you love about your home so others can notice and love those assets as well.
Katu Design Collections of pictures
Staged by Katu Design.
Pick an empty wall and arrange a collection of pictures to one large cluster.
Condos and lofts
Stirling and her team do a lot of work with condos and lofts which she admits do have their own unique challenges and opportunities. "The biggest challenge we normally face is clearly defining the living areas," she explains. "The majority of the condos and lofts we have been involved with have open concept living spaces. When we stage a property that has a challenging floor plan our first priority is to clearly define these living spaces." Stirling finds that today's buyer has three basic requirements:
1.They need a place to eat.
2.They need a place to sleep.
3.They need a place to relax and entertain themselves and perhaps do some work related tasks when they decide to stay at home.
"From 400-square-foot studios to 2,000-square-foot penthouses [...] the basics never change," asserts Stirling. "Our staged properties sell quickly because we do an outstanding job in clearly defining these three priorities," she adds.
The Lotus 309 Living Area 7
Sleeping area in a condo/bachelor flat staged by Joan and Brian Stirling.
"The primary motivation to purchase a condo or loft, after affordability, is lifestyle," explains Stirling. "When we stage a property we are all about clearly defining the lifestyle opportunities any given property has to offer." And this can be done by "[creating] as many lifestyle vignettes as possible to show prospective buyers just how exactly they can live in the space." Then it's just about "carefully selecting scale and colour appropriate furnishings," says Stirling.
"Condos have more challenges than houses," admits Kanerva. But houses do pose a couple of unique challenges: "houses have yards and curb appeal," explains Kanerva. And that means that "the front of the house is very, very important." So ask yourself, "what does it look like from the street and is a buyer going to drive by?"
Katu Design Invermay Ave
Invermay Ave. staged by Katu Design.
The house front is important. The garage door is solid color and the lawn is mown.
A good example, Kanerva explains, is when it comes to the garage. If it's poorly painted, the same colour as the front door or more noticeable than the front door, then that's where the buyer's eye is going to go�??and it likely isn't where you want it to. "The front door is where you want to attract attention," explains Kanerva. "You want your front door to be a good solid, strong colour. A different colour than anything else so that's what is attracting people's attention." And don't forget what they'll see as they get to that focal point. Make sure "the walk to the front of the house is clear; you can see how to get to the front door; you can see it's all nicely landscaped or very clean, the porch is painted, there's nice flowers, a welcome mat, [etc.]," adds Kanerva.
Katu Design Alcorn Ave backyard
Alcorn Ave. staged by Katu Design.
Don't forget to take care of the backyard, too.
Ultimately, explains Kanerva, the inside of your home could be absolutely stunning but if the front looks worn down and uninviting, buyers are going to drive by. "In a house you have to start at the curb," she advises.
Ready. Set. Stage.
It may seem like a lot of work and money to redecorate or redesign a home you have enjoyed living in as is in order to sell to someone else. But ultimately, Stirling advises, even though unstaged listings do sell in Toronto's hot market, "if you do not stage you are leaving significant money on the table." It seems pretty undeniable that staging your home can be a big benefit when you're looking to sell. So even though it may seem like a lot of work, ensuring your property looks its best when it goes on the market can make a big difference.
Posted by pardeep grewal on July 30, 2016 at 10:55 AM
Toronto�??s palate has benefitted from its long-time and beloved Indian community, providing locals with the knowledge of so many tasty Indian dining staples such as naan, butter chicken, paneer, aloo gobi and biriyani. For diners who want to indulge or expand their Indian cuisine habits, these dining establishments offer the subcontinent�??s best dishes.
Pre-theatre dinner spot
Address: 287 King Street West
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-3:00pm, 5:00pm-10:30pm, Sat 12:00pm-11:00pm, Sun 12:00pm-10:30pm
Tucked onto the second floor of the bustling restaurant strip of King Street West, this busy Indian resto is well-known for its daily Indian buffet lunch. Since its less than a five minutes walk from the theatre district's lures for theatre at the Princess of Wales Theatre, music at Roy Thomson Hall or film at the TIFF Bell Lighbox, Aroma is a well-placed spot for pre or post-entertainment dining. Tandoori lovers will appreciate the Tandoori Gobhi ($8.95) marinated and roasted cauliflower, Chicken Noorani kabab ($13.95) chicken marinated with almonds and spices and Tandoori Machi ($14.95) a whole marinated fish baked in the clay oven. Treat your palate to Sali Boti ($12.95) lamb or beef slow cooked with dried apricots or the Dal Makhani ($10.95) stewed black lentils with red kidney beans, tomatoes and spices for several taste sensations
Address: 796 Bloor Street West
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:00pm-10:30pm, Sat-Sun 12:00pm-3:00pm, 5:00pm-10:30pm
Banjara by DilipBanjara by Dilip S.
A colourful and light-filled space welcomes guests to sample from its extensive menus, with something for everyone�??s tastebuds, no matter if you�??re an omnivore or a vegan. From five types of pakoras to five shrimp dishes, there are many options to indulge in north and south Indian dishes. For gluten-free and vegan diners, Navratan Korma is a sultry combination of nine vegetables slowly cooked in a cashew spicy gravy ($10,99) and there's tandoori options too, such as the Paneer Tikka ($12.99) paneer slow roasted with tomato and onion and mixed pepper or the whole-roasted Tandoori Cauliflower ($10.95). Shahi Shrimp ($14.99) with coconut milk and spices is a must as is beloved rich and savoury Butter Chicken ($12.99). Additional must-haves include tandoori House Mixed Grill ($17.99), Vegetable Biriyani ($9.99) and perfect for the indecisive, combo dinners which include rice, naan, daal curry, aloo gobi, and one choice of beef, goat, chicken, lamb, vegetable or a seafood dish. ($11.99/$14.95).
Best for milennial foodies
Bindia Indian Bistro
Address: 16 Market Street
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30am-3:00pm, 5:00pm-9:30pm, Fri 11:30am-3:00pm, 5:00pm-9:30pm, Sat 11:30am-3:30pm, 5:00pm-10:00pm, Sun 11:30am-3:30pm, 5:00pm-9:30pm
Bindia Mint Tikka by Bindia
This Mint Tikka features boneless pieces of chicken breast marinated in fresh mint and coriander, served with bell pepper chutney.
Photo by Bindia.
This contemporary-styled Indian restaurant in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood may be a new kid on the block, but its modern take on Indian cuisine is blending flavours from North America with the subcontinent's traditional spices. For 20 somethings devoted to food blogs and fusion cooking, Bindia offers the popular chicken or lamb kabab wrap ($9.95) at lunch, and lots of interesting flavours for brunch, such as Egg Bhurji ($12.50) scrambled eggs onions, peppers and Indian spices with a side of kabab or Keema Naan ($9.00) with spicy minced lamb stuffed naan, both which can be paired with a Kale Smoothie ($4.00). Dinner offers more innovation from the chef team, and items rarely seen on Indian menus in Toronto such as Coconut calamari ($12.00), Quinoa salad ($7.00/$12.00), Tandoori Salmon ($26.00). For those who need at least one old school fave, Chicken Tikka Masala ($17.00), Chicken Curry ($16.00), or Paneer Tikka Masala ($14.00) are options to fit the palate. The sweet finish that is an east meets west combination: house-made Gajrela ($8.00), an Indian-style carrot cake with vanilla ice cream.
The critics favourite
The Copper Chimney
Address: 2050 Avenue Road
Hours: Mon 5:00pm-10:00pm, Tues-Sat 12:00pm-2:30pm, 5:00pm-10:00pm, Sun 3:00pm-10:00pm
Copper Chimney by Copper Chimney
Photo by Copper Chimney
North Toronto gets a dose of northern Indian cuisine at this intimate dining space with several accolades, and was chosen one of the city's top 10 new restaurants in 2010 and earned praise from well-known food critics such as Joanna Kates from The Globe and Mail, especially for the restaurant's tandoor dishes, such as the perfectly cooked whole tandoori chicken ($19.95) and the onion kulcha bread ($2.25). Diners should consider unique offerings like the Murg Malai Kabab ($11.95) grilled chicken marinated with garlic, yoghurt and spices, Baigan Patiala ($10.95) stir-fried eggplant with ginger and dried mango, and traditional and well-made Aloo Gobi ($10.95) stewed potato and cauliflower or the very spicy Vindaloo made with chicken, lamb or beef ($12.95). Leave some room to Indulge in the housemade naans and parathas with dinner and definitely end the meal with the house favourite: Ras Malai ($4.95), an Indian cardamon pudding.
Best for friends night out
Address: 3034 Dundas Street West
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 5:00pm-10:30pm
Curry Twist Yelp by Dina K crop
Curry Twist by Dina K.
Bring a group to this modern Indian dining spot, with its focus on Moghlai style of northern Indian cooking and ample options for imported and locally-sourced beer and wine to pair with dinner. Dishes are generous portions, perfect for groups of four or more to start with the crispy Aloo tiki ($7.45) fried potato patties with chickpeas and chutney, Tawa paneer ($8.95) Indian cheese sautéed with tomatoes, onion, peppers, spices and fresh coriander and Daal palak ($9.95) featuring two kinds of yellow lentils slow cooked with tomatoes and spinach. The soundtrack of this lively restaurant is peppered with conversations, only silenced by the flavours of menu items like the tasty Chicken korma ($14.95) slow-cooked in a cashew, cardamom and fennel sauce and the Chili shrimp ($16.95) in a spicy coconut sauce. Add in an order of Fish Magic ($16.95) fenugreek and garam masala-rubbed salmon in coconut sauce or Lamb twist masala (($14.95) slow cooked garlic and herb marinated lamb in spicy tomato sauce, which will easily make Indian food cravings disappear.
Best for special occasions
Address: 14 Prince Arthur Avenue
Hours: Mon-Thu 11:45am-2:30pm, 5:00pm-10:00pm, Fri 11:45am-2:30pm, 5:00pm-10:30pm, Sat 12:00pm-4:30pm, 5:00pm-10:30pm, Sun 12:00pm-4:30pm, 5:00pm-10:00pm
The Host Butter Chicken and Awadhi Khatti Dal by Itanni B
The Host Butter Chicken and Awadhi Khatti Dal by Itanni B.
With four locations in the GTA, this elegant Indian restaurant attracts guests from all parts of the city to indulge in savoury tandoori and curry options under the watchful eye of Head Chef Sanjeev Sethi. At the Prince Arthur Avenue location in Yorkville, diners are welcomed with classical Indian music and cozy rooms that encourage quiet conversation and a lengthy relaxed dining experience, as well as impeccable service. A few must haves from the tandoor menu include the popular Murgh Mirch Tikka ($15.95) chicken marinated in green chili paste, Rubina Nawabi ($21.95) broiled spicy shrimp and the very popular Tandoori Murgh ($14.95) a half chicken marinated in yoghurt and spices. The Dhabey de Mutton ($16.95) Dhaba-style goat curry or the Bengali Fish Curry ($16.95) will make for a memorable dinner out for that special occasion. For those who want to make it even more memorable, the restaurant offers private dining rooms for intimate celebrations.
Best for the office party
Address: 255 Queen Street West
Hours: Mon 11:30am-10:00pm, Tue-Sat 11:30am-10:30pm, Sun 11:30am-10:00pm (lunch buffet every day from 11:30am-3:30pm)
Little India Mixed Veggie Plate by Little India
Mixed Veggie Plate by Little India
A long-time favourite of downtown locals and office dwellers, this Indian restaurant focuses on the best-loved dishes of Indian cuisine, and expects its regulars to show up in duos or groups of 10 or more, thanks to a spacious dining room that can easily be configured for the office lunch party, with its daily buffet available with a wide range of menu items. Diners know their favourites, and there�??s several that make the cut for dining with the gang at dinner too: Chicken pakora ($7.50), Onion bhajia ($5.50), Butter chicken ($13.95) and Paneer tikka masala ($12.95). Add in a few other favourites, such as Prawn Masala ($17.95), Lamb Saag ($13.95) with spinach or the Beef Rogan Josh ($12.95). Vegetable biriyani ($10.95) and special naan ($3.95) are essential �?? and for dessert, the ever-popular gulab jamun, Indian dougnuts with cardamom in syrup ($3.75).
Best for the gourmands
Address: 778 St. Clair Avenue West
Pukka by Katherine T
Pukka by Katherine T.
This contemporary Indian restaurant does serve butter chicken, but focuses on diners who want to be adventurous. Mixing Indian classics with ingredients and influences from Europe and North America make for a welcome a change from the standard Indian dinner options. This contemporary restaurant is the place to expand the Indian tastebuds to the next level: the culinary team�??s inventiveness is revealed in starter options such as Butternut squash samosas ($8.20), Beets and paneer salad ($12.60) or Tandoori calamari ($13.40) with a citrus salad. For entree options, Pan roasted pickerel with lentil curry ($24.70), Garam masala duck breast ($24.70) with chili lime curry and blueberry and Pumpkin curry ($11.80) are distinct Indian dishes that are only found here. Oenophiles will appreciate that anything on the menu can be perfectly paired with local and imported vintages thanks to sommelier Peter Boyd. Dessert options are equally distinct: Chili chocolate torte ($7.60) with cardamom poached plums or a Sweet plate: Spiced toffee popcorn and Rococoa truffles ($9.80), make for a memorable dinner.
Best for casual dining
Address: 1460 Gerrard Street East
Hours: Mon-Thu 12:00pm-10:00pm, Fri-Sat 12:00pm-11:00pm, Sun 12:00pm-10:00pm
Chana Masala Saag Paneer and Spring Dosa
Photo by Udupi Palace
With multiple menu friendly options for those who follow vegan and gluten-free diets, this budget-friendly mainstay of east end Little India is a great place for a multi-generational family dinner and happily welcomes babies, kids and teens to this popular restaurant. Udupi Palace has a wide range of southern Indian dishes, including several savoury chaats, such as pani poori ($5.25) puffed pastry filled with potato or bhel, a popular puffed rice, potato, onion, tomato and chutney salad, perfect for sharing and not too spicy for young palates. Several dosa (rice crepe) options are perfect for lunch or dinner, such as the Mysore Sada dosa ($5.85) with spicy chutney or the very filling Paneer Masala dosa ($8.65) with spiced potatoes, onions and salty Indian cheese. The lively atmosphere of families and couples makes this a a place to eat, chat and then stroll Little India�??s strip for street-food dessert options like kulfi (Indian ice cream) or go savoury with Indian spicy roasted corn on the cob on a weekend evening.