Paint these 8 small spaces for a whole new home look

During my years of painting people’s homes, I’ve learned that small spaces don’t have to be boring or go unnoticed. All it takes is a little paint. By adding paint in strategic places around the home, you can easily and inexpensively transform a space. Plus, there is a good chance you could accomplish at least one of these eight painting projects during the course of one weekend.

Here are eight spaces to consider painting and my tips and tricks on making even the smallest places have a big impact.

1. Entryway. 

When a guest arrives, their first impression is based on your home’s exterior and the front door. Realtors call this curb appeal. But the very next thing guests will notice is the area right inside your front door, so you should use it to make a statement.

If your home has a formal entry, choose a paint color that is one to two shades darker than the next room. A darker paint color in the entryway can make the space feel more inviting, like a warm hug.

If your home has an open floor plan without a defined entryway, use paint to create one. Try a bold color on the wall surrounding the front door and an adjacent wall as visual borders for the entry.

2. Hall bath. 

Small bathrooms might appear to be limited when it comes to design, but they can easily be transformed with a quick paint color update.

How do you pick a color for this small bathroom? Look around your home for spots of color that crop up in your art or drapes. For example, a living room that is mostly beige with blue accent pieces would coordinate well with a bathroom painted in that same shade of blue.

Dark colors also have been trending with homeowners I’ve worked with lately. To offset the dark nature of the paint, we typically recommend keeping the other design details, such as the floors and sink, light to make sure the room still feels open and bright.

Worried one color will overwhelm the small space? Consider installing a chair rail as a natural divider. Then paint the lower portion of the wall in a statement color while leaving the wall area above a neutral tone.

3. Bookshelf. 

Whether the bookshelves in your home are built-in or freestanding, you can easily create style with paint. Remove the shelves from the surround and paint the back wall of the case. Don’t be afraid to go bold with your paint color, because once the shelves and objects on the shelves are in place, your color choice will seem more subtle. You will get an instant pop of color without being too in-your-face.

4. Closet. 

This space is often overlooked when it comes to paint, but a fresh coat of paint on the walls and shelving in your closet can go a long way. With a small- or medium-sized closet, keep your paint color choice bright and light.

With a large walk-in closet, consider using a paint color that complements the attached room.

For shelving, use an oil-based paint for durability against scratches and scuffs.

5. Hallway. 

Hallways are typically long and narrow and, depending on the lighting, can also be dark. When choosing a paint color for the hallway, consider the paint colors in connecting rooms and then go one to two shades lighter. The colors will complement each other and coordinate the home’s overall design. Plus, a lighter shade will brighten up the passageway.

6. Accent wall. 

If you have a small amount of paint and want to make the biggest impact on your home’s design, then an accent wall is your best bet. Choose a wall in your living room or master bedroom that you want to highlight, such as the area behind the sofa or bed.

Once it is painted, hang coordinating artwork on the accent wall to finish the design.

7. Kitchen nooks and crannies. 

Typically, I find there isn’t too much paintable space in the kitchen. But when I do find it, it’s between the cabinets, appliances and backsplash.

When space is limited, I always encourage owners to go bold and use colors that offset the room’s features. For example, in a kitchen with white cabinets and natural stone countertops, pick a hunter green or dark blue. In large quantities, these dark shades might feel overwhelming, but in small quantities, they give the room a strong dimension.

8. Laundry room. 

You can’t avoid the task of laundry, so at least make it a room that is easy on the eyes and generates positivity. Think of a paint color you would never dream of using in the social areas of your home but would make you happy, such as a playful orange, a bold purple or a sunshine yellow. Who knows, being around your favorite color might even make the chore a little more enjoyable.

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RRSP Deadline March 1 - Here are the answers to some looming questions

To give you that extra motivation to contribute to an RRSP, here’s a few lesser-known tips and tricks to consider

There are just three weeks left of “RRSP season,” meaning that if you want to be eligible to claim a deduction on your 2017 tax return, you need to make your contribution by the March 1, 2018 midnight deadline.

To give you that extra motivation to contribute, here’s a few lesser-known tips and tricks that you may wish to consider.

Should I even bother with RRSPs?

In a previous column, I make the case that unless you are in the lowest tax bracket (roughly income under $45,000, depending on your province of residence), then you probably should be saving for retirement using an RRSP. If your tax rate is the same in the year of contribution that it is in the year of withdrawal, an RRSP effectively provides a completely tax-free rate of return on your net contribution. And, if your tax rate is lower in the year of withdrawal, you’ll get an even better after-tax rate of return on your RRSP investment. Even if your tax rate is higher in the year of withdrawal, you are still likely better off with an RRSP than non-registered investments due to the long-term compounding that is effectively tax-free.

On the other hand, for those currently in the lowest tax bracket, your tax bracket could only remain the same or be higher in retirement, making a TFSA the better choice than an RRSP, especially if you will face an income-test clawback (repayment) of tax credits or government benefits.

Of course, the numbers don’t always tell the full story since TFSAs are much more flexible than RRSPs. TFSA withdrawals can be re-contributed in a future year, while RRSP withdrawals cannot, without using additional RRSP contribution room.

Are spousal RRSPs still relevant given we can pension split via a RRIF?

If you’re married or living common-law, you may want to consider making this year’s RRSP contribution to a spousal RRSP. That is, an RRSP that belongs to your spouse but to which you contribute.

My view is that if you predict that, upon retirement, you will have either a higher projected retirement income than your spouse or partner or you will have accumulated more retirement assets, it may be more beneficial to contribute to a spousal RRSP than an RRSP in your own name. Here’s why.

A spousal RRSP strategy is often used to accomplish post-retirement income splitting since withdrawn funds are generally taxable in the hands of the RRSP owner instead of in the hands of the contributor spouse. If the owner spouse is in a lower tax bracket than the contributor spouse in the year of withdrawal, there may be an absolute and permanent tax savings.

But, even without a spousal RRSP, you have the option of splitting pension income, which is defined to include RRIF withdrawals after age 65, with your spouse or partner. So, why bother with a spousal RRSP?

For two reasons: first of all, spousal RRSPs allow an individual to split more than 50 per cent of your pension income. With a spousal RRSP, one could theoretically “split” up to 100 per cent of RRSP or RRIF income with a lower-income spouse as all the withdrawals would generally be taxed in the hands of the withdrawing spouse.

Secondly, if an individual is under 65, you can’t income split RRIF withdrawals. On the other hand, if you had a spousal RRSP, the owner spouse can generally withdraw the funds prior to age 65 and have such withdrawals taxed in the hands of that lower-income spouse.

I’ve heard I can use my RRSP to help me buy a home, including even holding my own mortgage! But, does it make sense?


You may have heard someone say that they used their RRSP to buy their home. While an RRSP can’t actually own real estate, there are two other ways it can be used to facilitate home ownership.

The first is the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) which allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 tax-free from your RRSP. Your spouse (or partner) may also be able to withdraw $25,000, for a combined total of $50,000 per couple. You generally won’t qualify for an HBP withdrawal if either you or your spouse has owned a home in the past five years and occupied it as a principal residence. Amounts withdrawn under the HBP must be repaid over a maximum of 15 years or the amount not repaid in a year is added to your income for that year.

But beyond the HBP is the possibility of using your RRSP to obtain what’s known as a “non-arm’s length mortgage,” which must be administered by an approved lender under the National Housing Act. The interest rate and other terms and conditions must reflect normal commercial practices and you must purchase private or CMHC mortgage insurance.

The advantage of investing in a mortgage through your RRSP is that you are making principal and interest payments regularly to yourself instead of to a third-party lender. But this should be weighed against the costs and risks involved. In addition to the typical one-time mortgage expenses, such as set up costs and legal fees, most approved lenders charge a mortgage administration fee each year. But by far the biggest upfront cost is the mortgage-insurance premium, which can typically range from 0.6 per cent to 4.5 per cent of the amount of the mortgage.

Keep in mind that if you use your RRSP to invest in your own mortgage, your repayments are restricted under the terms of the mortgage, including being liable for early pre-payment penalties.

Be sure to seek financial advice before walking down this route.

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Canadian home sales, listings slump in January with arrival of new mortgage rules

CREA says monthly home sales through the MLS system declined by 14.5% in January

Canadian home sales dropped sharply in January to their lowest monthly level in three years amid a retreat in listings as new mortgage rules came into place, according to a new report from a national real estate group.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said Thursday that home sales through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) declined by 14.5 per cent from December to January this year.

Canadian home prices rise as Toronto sees first gain in 6 months
$500K is no longer enough to buy a new condo in Vancouver, survey finds
December sales hit the highest monthly level on record, citing a "pull-through" of transactions as buyers rushed to get deals done in advance of the new mortgage rules kicking in on Jan. 1, said CREA.

On a year-over-year basis, national sales dropped by 2.4 per cent in January.

CREA said activity last month was down in three-quarters of all local markets across the country, including most major urban centres.

The group said many of the biggest sales declines were seen in Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe markets, where sales rose late last year following the announcement of the tighter mortgage rules.

Conversely, sales were up year over year in B.C.'s Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, the Okanagan Region, Edmonton, Montreal, Greater Moncton and Halifax-Dartmouth.

REA also reported the number of newly listed homes plunged 21.6 per cent to reach the lowest level since the spring of 2009.

The group said new housing supply dropped in about 85 per cent of all local markets, led by a decline in the Greater Toronto Area.

"The piling on of yet more mortgage rule changes that took effect starting New Year's Day has created homebuyer uncertainty and confusion," said CREA president Andrew Peck in a statement.

"At the same time, the changes do nothing to address government concerns about home prices that stem from an ongoing supply shortage in major markets like Vancouver and Toronto. Unless these supply shortages are addressed, concerns will persist."

In a commentary, BMO Capital Markets senior economist Robert Kavcic said Toronto home sales fell 26.6 per cent in January, but added that the slide "almost precisely" offsets the ramp-up in sales over the final three months of last year.

Vancouver sales were off by 10.5 per cent in January.

Kavcic said Vancouver, much like Toronto, has a "deep rift in conditions" between its detached-home market, which has falling prices, and its condo market, which he described as "extremely tight" with prices up more than 27 per cent year-over-year.

He also cautioned against reading too much in the January report.

"We'd maintain that most of the national housing market is well balanced, with local markets responding appropriately to varying fundamentals and policy shocks. In the [Greater Toronto Area], the detached market is still absorbing additional measures taken at the provincial level, while condo markets in Vancouver and Toronto are still heated."

'Soft landing'
TD economists Michael Dolega and Rishi Sondhi said in report that the country's economic growth and improving job market is expected to support the housing market in the medium term.

However, they added that the new mortgage underwriting rules, higher interest rates, and an elevated supply pipeline will put some downward pressure on sales activity and prices.

"Still, we remain of the view that weakness will manifest as a continuation of the soft landing that has been taking place in Canada's housing market  recently," they wrote. "Ultimately, we expect declining sales and flat prices this year before activity improves somewhat in 2019."

Article Source CBC