Put the custom in custom homes: 7 customizations you can’t live without

Putting the custom in a custom home is the best part of building your dream home.

Custom homes are often fraught with things that go sideways — you know like budgets and timelines.

It’s okay – we don’t do custom that way.

If you know anything about our take on custom, you know our approach removes the uncertainties that lead to ballooning budgets and keeps your project humming along.

We start with our collection of Signature Series plans (including our new groundbreaking Flex Houz plan) and work with you to customize them. We also guarantee your price. (Yes, you read that right.)

This lets you focus on the fun/important/meaningful things you want for your new home. It can mean moving some walls or adding custom finishes and features that are all you. It’s really the best of both worlds — your dream home and peace of mind!

Let’s dive in and get inspired.

Here are seven of the most popular, must-have customizations so you can start creating your own must-have list.

And the winner is … The Custom Kitchen!

When it comes to custom, this is the Big Kahuna. Who doesn’t want a custom kitchen? Because the kitchen is where so much life happens—your life—personalizing your kitchen to fit your lifestyle and family only make sense.

You can customize your kitchen to your heart’s content – from finishes to the layout itself. Our “no-limits-kitchens” means you can work directly with our kitchen company to design exactly what suits your tastes and needs (and budget).

Guided by the experts, you’ll have the opportunity to design the kitchen of your dreams – modern, transitional, traditional — a reflection of your style and your needs.

Select everything from the finishes of your countertops, floors and cabinets to your drawer pulls and add smart storage solutions that work for you. It’s a recipe for a kitchen you’ll love!

Having a kitchen that is as good-looking as it is hard-working can make the not so fun tasks, not so bad (clean-up duty, we’re looking at you!) and the happy moments even better.

2. At long last: The Servery or Pantry

Yes, you can.

As in, yes you can buy that professional size mixer. Yes, you can buy the caterer-sized box of wine glasses for your next party. Yes, you can buy Thanksgiving-themed dishes. Yes. You. Can.

Why? Because you’ve got a pantry. It’s the walk-in closet of the kitchen.

So when that custom kitchen is ready to roll, it will continue to look gorgeous with clutter-free countertops.

Similarly, the servery is that essential space between the kitchen and dining room acting like a little prep space for extra serving dishes or bar glasses. It’s a separate counter that gets the overflow out of your kitchen and lets you entertain like a boss.

3. Flexibility: The Home Office

Whether part-time or full-time, more of us are working from home these days. But swapping the traditional office environment for your kitchen table isn’t going to help you work at peak efficiency. And it probably isn’t the most professional backdrop for those video conference calls.

A well-designed home office space can minimize distractions and put you in a professional mindset from the moment you walk through the door so your productivity stays at its peak.

We can help you consider everything from floor plan placement (no need for business visitors to traipse through your home), to adding special touches like built-in bookcases. Our goal is to create a space that will spark your passion and productivity. No commute required.

4. Ceiling Treatments

Adding artwork to your walls and rugs to your floors is an obvious way to add style to a space, but why should the floors and the walls get all the love?

Ceiling treatments add that ‘X-factor’ to your home. In fact, as you study our signature series plans you’ll note our homes are chock full of ceilings that kick your room designs up a notch with tray, vaulted and coffered ceilings — standard. Waffle ceilings have become hugely popular and are also an option. The sky (or in this case, the ceiling) is the limit.

5. Smart Storage

Stuff. We’ve all got it, and we need a place to put it somewhere —preferably a spot that’s out-of-sight but still easy-to-access. Maybe more than any other other space, entry points into your home are a magnet for clutter, from dropped bags, keys, to hockey equipment that can make your entry feel anything but warm and welcoming.

Restore order back to your entryway with custom storage solutions that work for you — whether that’s a simple built-in bench with a few hooks or an extra-deep coat closet with cubbies and shelves for stashing shoes and sports equipment.

6. Finished Basement

When it comes to creating additional living space and boosting your home’s value, focusing on your basement will give you the most bang for your buck. This ultra-versatile space can be anything you need it to be.

Have a need for extra bedrooms? Look to the basement. Want a killer media space or a recreational area where the kids can hang out? Basement again. How about a gym, wine room, or workshop? You guessed it. A finished basement fits the bill every time.

When we help you finish out your space with smart living space and a dose of style, it will almost feel unfair to call it a basement.

7. Custom Closets

Move over master bath, once-utilitarian closets are becoming the new luxury space in a master suite. Is it even fair to call them “closets” anymore? Sure, they’re still a spot for storing clothes, shoes, bags and jewelry, but, when done right, they’re anything but basic.

Amp up the design quotient of your closets with custom storage solutions (think: built-ins with shoe shelving, compartmentalized drawers and hanging racks), dressing areas with seating and full-length mirrors, and luxe design details, like custom lighting and wall or ceiling treatments.


At this point, it’s probably a good idea to download our Signature Series plans. Which plan most closely matches must-haves? Don’t forget to take a look at the ceiling treatments!

Have a question? Ask away! Talk to one of our custom home specialists at 905-683-0050 or 1-888-983-0050.

“Cottage Addiction” is a thing … here’s how to prepare for it and embrace it

I think new cottages should come with a warning.

It’s like an itch that starts around noon on Thursday and turns into a full-on nervous tick come Friday.

You’ve gotta get out of these work clothes, out of the city and up to the cottage.

It doesn’t end once you get there. In fact, the addiction is just starting. Those lazy days in the sun, swimming off the back of the boat and having dinner on the deck with your family and some friends as the sun goes down … a couple of measly days at the end of every week just don’t cut it.

Next, you’re figuring out how you might be able to stretch your summer vacation into working from the cottage for a few days (or weeks if you’re lucky).

You don’t want to go back. You dread late Sunday.

And before long, you’re dreaming about never going back.

As in “every day is Saturday”.

And then a new countdown begins. The countdown to making the cottage your home.

We’ve seen this story play out over and over again. And because we’ve also spent decades building gorgeous homes for active retirees choosing to live in cottage country, we know a thing or two about great floor plans for that stage of your life.

So as we sit down to help our clients create their dream cottage, we help them look a little further down the road because done right and with the right floor plan, today’s cottage just might be home when you retire.

5 Ways to build a cottage you could call home one day:

The Cottage Office

Depending on your work and the flexiblity you have, the cottage office might help you transition from working from the cottage to full retirement. And for some, full retirement may never come. So why not have the best of both worlds and plan a room with a view that inspires? You really can have it all.

Embrace Single-Level Living

When it comes to designing a cottage you could retire to, first-floor living a must. Placing all of the essentials – like the master suite and laundry room – on the main floor means you’ll be able to skip the stairs and enjoy a cottage that carries you through your senior years with ease.

Of course, before you choose a floor plan that accommodates single-level living, you’ll want to ensure your property is accessible year round.

If your cottage will be situated at the end of a twisty, barely-there path, you’ll want to address access issues before building a cottage that’s designed for year-round use.

Look to a Loft or a Basement

Having all of your necessities on a single floor doesn’t mean friends and family have to crowd into a single level. If your site allows for it (and we find the best cottage sites along the water often do), a walk-out basement can give you the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to adding extra space to your single-level floor pan.

Extra bedrooms for guests, a recreational room and utility and storage spaces are all popular uses for walk-out basements in our cottages.

Another one of our clients’ favorite ways to add extra space to a home designed for single-level living is to add a loft into their vaulted ceiling. A loft space can double as a recreation room, media space or office and provide extra sleeping quarters. Plus, it will allow you and your guests to take advantage of gorgeous lake views.

Opt for an Open Floor Plan

Today’s open floor plans readily lend themselves to retirement living. Closed-off rooms that are difficult to access through narrow hallways and twisty turns have given way to wide-open floor plans that combine main gathering areas into a single, large space.

While modern, open plans have eliminated unnecessary hallways and doorways, if you would like to ensure wheelchair accessibility, we can expand walkways from their traditional 36 inches to 42 to 48 inches and boost doorway clearance to 36 inches.

Create a Custom Kitchen

Ask anyone where the busiest spot in their cottage is, and you’re probably going to hear “kitchen” in response. It’s the heart of the home. And, when a space gets that much use, you want to be doubly sure its designed right for ease of use and safety.

We’ll give you the opportunity to customize your kitchen from the top down. And, as you do, we’ll make suggestions that will help make your kitchen retirement ready.

Possible suggestions include multi-level countertops and custom features like pull-out steps and shelves, which can make a significant difference when you get a little older (and we all do).

Focus on the Details

Even if retirement seems like a long way off, it’s a smart move to go ahead and incorporate small touches that can enhance your cottage’s functionality in the future. We look at things like:

  • Installing adequate and uniform lighting. Having sufficient ambient lights, focused task lights and night lights becomes especially important as you age
  • Swapping out traditional door knobs for lever handles, which offer easier in-and-out access
  • Opting for a walk-in shower, low-rise tub, and taller toilets

The takeaway? Prepare for the addiction.

There’s a good chance today’s cottage will be tomorrow’s dream retirement. With a little foresight, you’ll be enjoying the Sunday sunset as everyone else races back to the city!

Cheers to that!

Get our cottage plans:

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Flex Houz: Housing that makes sense for today’s families

With two homes in one, our new Flex Houz is making it easier for multi-generational families to live together and enjoy it.

Can a house solve some of life’s more pressing problems? We think so.

Times change and for the first time since Canada recorded such things, there are more seniors aged 65+ than there are children.

On the other end of the spectrum it’s never been so difficult for young people to own their own home.

And in the middle? Working moms and dads are taking care of their parents and trying to help their kids make their way in the world.

Not surprisingly, multi-generational households (defined as having two or more adult generations living under one roof) are on the rise. But traditional floor plans meant for parents and minor-age children haven’t kept up with your lifestyle. You need an alternative that works.

Enter Flex Houz

Unlike anything we’ve ever created, Flex Houz is a home inspired by and for multi-generational living. When it comes to creating floor plans and communities, we believe our best source of inspiration is you.

Let’s give it some context.

Scenario 1:

We know that caring for an aging parent comes with a whole host of emotions and demands. Your options are limited: assisted living or leaving parents in their own home and hoping they’ll be alright.

Flex Houz means independent living for a parent and peace of mind for you.

Scenario 2:

Or maybe it’s an adult child saving for a home of their own. Flex Houz may be the one way to ensure harmony and keep the peace allowing for privacy and the freedom to come and go. (And maybe the added bonus of a home cooked meal every now and then.)

Regardless of which end of the spectrum you’re accommodating, the financial and practical benefits are game changers. But before we look at those, let’s take a look at how Flex Houz works.

Two Homes in One

From the outside, it looks like a traditional house. Created for standard 50’ foot lots, these home have the appearance of a normal single-family residence. But walk through the spacious interiors, and you’ll quickly discover the difference.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill single family home. It’s a home within a home. That’s right — two complete homes under one roof. Instead of one front door, you’ll find two. Same goes for the living areas, kitchen, garage, laundry room and mudroom. Both the primary house and the self-contained suite—located on the main floor (no stairs!)—have all the features you’d expect to find in a complete home.

Separating the two spaces is an interior door. Leave it open to bring everyone together. Or close it off when you need privacy. (Because we get it. You love your family, but sometimes a little separation is a good thing.) This perfect balance between proximity and privacy is the genius behind Flex Houz. This “home within a home” design keeps everyone together, creating the opportunity for memorable moments, but it also gives each family member a sense of independence and a place to call their own. Flex Houz will help make the transition and daily reality of life together as a multigenerational family the best it can be.

Housing that makes sense today

Besides the benefits to your relationships and family—and the fact that you’re getting two homes for the price of one—there are a number of additional perks that come from having two complete living spaces under one roof. Here are a few of the benefits from choosing Flex Houz.

  1. Create equity while caring for your family. Beyond our vision of making it easier for multigenerational families to live together and enjoy it, we see Flex Houz as a solid solution to the financial dilemma of assisting aging parents or millennial-aged children with their living arrangements. Rather than pouring your hard-earned finances into a senior community or assisted living facility or having to funnel it into a deposit on your children’s first apartment, Flex Houz allows you to channel those funds into your own mortgage. Creating equity while caring for your family—it’s a win-win. And, it’s the reason Flex Houz is a smart economic solution to the increasingly high cost of housing.
  2. Lighten your load. Besides the benefit of a single mortgage or housing cost, Flex Houz also creates the opportunity to share in home-based tasks and costs. With two generations under one roof, both parties can chip in with lawn care, monthly utilities, child care, etc.
  3. Make it custom. Like every home we build at Marshall Homes, this one is customizable to meet your needs and tastes. Really, we should say they both are because we know that just because you are family doesn’t mean you agree on everything. Let’s say you prefer a white kitchen with subway tiles and driftwood-style floors, but your mom wants espresso cabinets with a granite backsplash and tile floors. We’ve got you covered. The primary house and the multigen suite both include luxe modern finishes and amenities that can be tailored separately to individual preferences.
  4. Flex your floor plan. Flex Houz is poised to help you live your best life now as a multi-generational family. But, it’s also designed to give you options for the future. We’ve kept versatility at the forefront of the design because we know that nothing stays the same forever. As your seasons and life situations change, Flex Houz adapts. Maybe for now it makes sense to invite an aging family member into the multigen space. Down the road, you may need the space for an adult child. Or, maybe you don’t need a full-time space for family now but could benefit from a home office or a suite for visiting relatives. Life changes, your house should be able to change with it, and Flex Houz does just that.

Your property or ours?

And, to make things that much sweeter, we’re offering Flex Houz in two ways: 1) as a floor plan that can be built as a custom home on your own lot or 2) as an option at our new community, Frontier Court. (But here’s a tip: there are only 7 lots and at 50-feet each, they are a rare find today so be sure to register.)

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10 Things We Love About Pickering

The search for a new home is so much more than just the actual house … or townhome … or condo. The location and its proximity to work, schools and the community are all super important too.

We’re pretty bullish on Pickering. We’re not just building communities like The Altona Towns in Pickering … it’s our home too.

So who better to share the love, than us?

If you ask us, Pickering has it all – the laid-back charm of a small waterfront town with the amenities of city life. Read on to discover a few of our favorite things about Pickering and the surrounding area.

Altona Forest

Some of the best natural beauty that the GTA has to offer is only steps from your doorstep thanks to Altona Town’s proximity to Altona Forest. Nature trails wind through the conservation area, inviting you to explore streams, ponds, forests and an abundance of native trees, plants and flowers. It’s a great place to head out for a hike after work or on the weekend.

Pickering Casino & Waterpark

Big things are happening in Pickering. Over 200 acres of previously untouched land next to Highway 401 is the soon-to-be-home of an impressive entertainment complex called Durham Live. The development will be home to a host of attractions including a casino, an indoor water park, a 15-screen theater and an array of restaurants and shops.

Beachfront Park and Millennium Square

With sweeping views of Lake Ontario and lush wetlands, Beachfront Park is a great place to birdwatch, picnic or just enjoy the sights and sounds of Lake Ontario from a shaded bench while the kids play in the splash pad or on one of the two playgrounds. Walk next door to Millennium Square to browse boutiques or have a bite to eat. During the summer months, can’t-miss entertainment includes carnivals and evening concerts.

Altona Forest Public School and University of Toronto (Scarborough Campus)

No matter where your children are in their educational careers—elementary, secondary or post-secondary—the Pickering area offers ample learning opportunities thanks to the proximity of Altona Forest Public Schools and the University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus.

The former received solid marks in the Fraser Institute’s annual ranking of public schools, while the University of Toronto is renowned world-wide. The vibrant Scarborough campus is home to Canada’s largest investment in amateur sport infrastructure – the new Aquatics Centre and Field House.

The Rouge National Urban Park

The country’s first urban national park, Rouge Park is a gateway to nature for residents of Pickering and beyond. Resplendent with natural beauty, the park features over 1,700 species of plants and animals, beckoning visitors to explore meadows, wetlands, sandy beaches, historic farms and waterways. Favorite family-friendly activities include kayaking or paddle boarding, hiking, riverside camping and beach volleyball. All this a quick 10-minutes from your door.

Farmer’s Market

Experience Pickering at its best at the seasonal Farmer’s Market every Tuesday from June to October.

Spend a relaxing morning meeting friendly locals and discovering fresh produce and artisanal goods. Enjoy a snack or samples from food vendors, take in the sounds of local bands and participate in family-friendly activities. Each week revolves around a different theme and corresponding activities, including Food Truck Day, Pickering Blooms Day and Art & Music Day, to name a few.

Pickering Town Centre

Whether you consider shopping a sport or you just love to browse, the Pickering Town Centre mall – with over 200 restaurants and retailers – has got you covered. Amenities include a toddler play park – a spot for the kiddos to run off some energy while you take a break from shopping.

Restaurants include everything from gourmet fare to quick-bite selections, and a Cineplex VIP Cinemas features 12 screens and four auditoriums with food service and luxury loungers.

Pickering GO Stations

Regional transit is convenient in Pickering thanks to the Pickering GO station. Adjacent to Highway 401, the station has more parking spaces than other station in the system—3,600 in total.

The station has undergone a number of improvements in the past five years, including a new parking garage, a covered walkway to the station building and a multi-million dollar fully enclosed pedestrian bridge that connects the station to the Pickering Town Centre. And did we mention a 28-minute express train to Union Station?

Toronto Zoo

Just 10 minutes from Pickering, Canada’s largest zoo is home to over 5,000 animals. Six miles of paved walking trails wind through award-winning indoor and outdoor exhibits separated into geographical regions, such as the African Rainforest and Savanna and Eurasia.

The Discovery Zone, sure to be a hit with the kids, encompasses a children’s wildlife experience area, a two-acre water play area and a theatre featuring animal-themed shows.

Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre

The legacy of the recent PanAm Games, this state of the art sports centre is a quick 10-minutes from The Altona Towns. It’s a great opportunity to stay active and healthy thanks to a range of recreational and sports activities.

The Sports Centre houses a 200-meter indoor track, fitness centre with separate cardio and strength studio, climbing wall and two pools used for classes and leisure swim. After you’ve worked up a healthy appetite, pop into the Food Court for a healthy lunch or fresh juice or smoothie.

Thinking about calling The Altona Towns home? Get our plans package complete with prices and room dimensions and love your life in Pickering!

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From “oh no!” to “oh wow!”: How the Woods dream home became a reality.

For four decades, Steve and Donna Woods spent lazy summer days at their family’s cottage in the Haliburton Highlands. They came for the lakes, trails, shops and welcoming culture, but most of all, they loved the laid-back vibe.

When it came time for the couple to retire, they knew there was nowhere else they’d rather be. But their cottage wasn’t suited to year-round living or aging in place, so they began looking into a custom build. They purchased a piece of property on 12 Mile Lake in Minden and designed their dream house.

Their must-have list:

  • amply-sized rooms,
  • an outdoor living area,
  • a walkout basement and
  • a master on the main floor

When they reached out to builders to price it out, their hearts sank.

“The numbers were astronomical,” Steve says. Donna adds: “There was no question that building was out of reach for us.”

Then, they visited our Port 32 community in Bobcaygeon, and everything changed.

“We stopped by the model home and immediately felt at home,” Steve says. “We walked around, got a feel of the floor plan and realized it was very similar to what we had designed. We were ready to just move to Port 32; then we discovered they had a custom-home building service.”

When it was time to talk numbers, Steve and Donna braced themselves for another letdown. But this time their surprise was a good one. “It was half of what we were quoted for the custom build from the other builders,” Steve says. “As soon as we heard the price, we got excited.”

Once they sat down with our design team, Steve and Donna’s enthusiasm continued. They chose The Bobcaygeon – a four bedroom, three-bath 1960 floor plan used in the model that included all of their “must-haves” and modified it to suit their lifestyle and tastes even more closely. (The original design called for brick, but the Woods wanted more of a cottage feel and craftsman style.)

We were a match. Quickly, the couple realized we cared as much as they did about getting things right. “Three days. That’s how long we spent going over all the details with Marshall Homes,” laughs Steve.

That’s not uncommon. That’s what our stress-free custom cottages and custom homes approach is all about: starting with a great plan and customizing it. It’s how we get to your ideal and avoid those jaw-dropping budgets.

A few feet here, a window there and a great big fridge…

During those three days refining the Woods’ home, much of the discussion centered around customizing the design. The couple loved the open concept in the original model but wanted to adjust a few areas in the main living area.

For starters, they wanted a larger dining room to accommodate an antique table. We bumped the house out an additional four feet in the front, and also shifted a pair of windows to frame the matching sideboard.

In the kitchen, the couple relocated the wall oven to the opposite side of the room and requested a side-by-side refrigerator freezer. We removed a small pantry to make room for the the larger appliance.

“With the addition of the refrigerator, the island had to be shifted down to accommodate the doors opening,” Steven explains. “It was the Sales & Decor Manager at Port 32, Georgina, who alerted us to that. Marshall Homes really nailed out the details.”

After removing the pantry, the couple knew they needed additional storage and serving space, so they removed a bathtub from a main floor bathroom to create room for a spacious butler’s pantry.

The couple made a few changes outside, as well. They planned to convert the screened-in porch portion of the home overlooking the lake into a sunroom but wanted to finish the project themselves. They also hoped to take on finishing lower level bedroom and adding granite to the fireplace surround.

“Marshall Homes is very flexible on a custom build,” Steve explains. “They’ll let you do as much or as little as you want.”

If you ask us, that flexibility is one of the things that sets us apart in the world of custom home builders. None of our clients are exactly the same, and we don’t think their houses should be either. That’s why we are committed to helping our clients fully customize their finishes.

“Georgina took time to source things out and get us pricing,” Steve says. “We looked at tons of samples, but there was no rushing at all on Marshall Homes’ end.” The couple says the crew who worked on their home was equally attentive and patient. “You could see they really took pride in their work.”

Now, with all of the design details and construction decisions behind them, the couple agree the experience was even better than they expected. “It was actually a ton of fun. There were a few bumps along the way, but Marshall Homes helped us through it all. Building a home should be an enjoyable experience, and it really was,” Steve says.

Donna agrees that building with Marshall Homes was fun, but living in a Marshall Homes house has been even better: “It’s a wonderful, relaxed and informal lifestyle. We sit out at night and have bonfires and enjoy the beautiful views of the forest, lake and wildlife. It’s everything we hoped for.”

Get the floor plan the Woods used – The Bobcaygeon, as well as two others, The Kawartha and The Haliburton:

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Custom kitchens: what’s new, what’s hot, what’s smart.

It’s no secret: the kitchen is likely the hardest-working room in your house, and if you ask us, it should be one of the best looking, too. That’s why, when it comes to kitchens, we like to show off a little.

At Marshall Homes, we’re not about run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter kitchens. For our detached homes, it’s all about custom. In fact, we encourage our customers to go right to the source!

We’ve teamed up with custom kitchen wizards AyA Kitchen Gallery to make sure the kitchen in your Marshall home looks great and functions even better. We’ll help you pick one of our customizable plans then if you’d like to customize your kitchen to fit your tastes and your life, we’ll make it happen. Thankfully, in the world of custom kitchens, there are nearly endless options for adding beauty and smart function to your kitchen.

To help inspire your new home, check out a few of the custom touches we’re loving right now:

Stylish Surfaces

With so much happening in the kitchen, from food prep to entertaining, it should be a space you and your guests gravitate towards day after day. How to make sure that happens? Choose the right finishes; they can transform the vibe of the room.

When it comes to countertops, granite has been the go-to for years, and it’s a solid choice. (See what we did there?). But there’s a newcomer on the scene shaking things up. Quartz comes in an impressive range of colors, from neutral grey to bold blue, and finishes, from sleek and shiny to matte and suede-like. Go traditional with a rounded or reverse waterfall edge or more contemporary with a raw-edge look. Super durable, it resists scratching and cracking, and unlike natural stone, it’s virtually maintenance-free, with no need for regular sealing.

In the world of backsplashes, tiles are still a mainstay, but think outside the ceramic box and opt for natural stone or mirrored surfaces for an extra boost of style in your custom kitchen.

While clean and classic white subway tiles will always be a winner in the kitchen, patterns (think: hexagon, chevron and herringbone) are coming on the scene in a big way. (That little pop of pattern looks fab against a neutral quartz countertop.) Or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, foray into metal—a pretty hammered copper is a popular option—or choose a colored backsplash to add a pop of personality and color into an otherwise neutral space.

For flooring, hardwoods are always in style. Keep them fresh by choosing the right finish. Opt for a grey-toned driftwood look with a bit of texture, if you’re looking for something low maintenance and less fussy. The only hard and fast rule here? Stay away from the warm, honey-toned shades and anything too glossy. You can’t go wrong with neutrals; they’re timeless. And for a really current look opt for greys and light coloured white oak.

Fabulous Fixtures

Fixtures serve a largely utilitarian purpose, but they should up your style quotient, too. Think of them like a statement piece for your kitchen—an accessory that can pull together the whole look of your space.

Brushed nickel and stainless steel are a safe choice when it comes to fixtures, but if you’re hoping to keep your selections up-to-the-minute try gold or flat black. These aren’t your grandmother’s dated, overpowering, overly-shiny and, well, overly-brassy fixtures. The updated versions are understated and modern, hinting at luxury.

If gold isn’t your thing, but you still want something striking, black fixtures are your new best friend, like the little black dress of the kitchen. The smooth finish is fresh and crisp. And the best part? It won’t suffer from fingerprints and water spot marks like some other finishes. (Stainless steel we’re looking at you.)

Smart Storage Solutions

With open concept being a mainstay in home design, the look of your kitchen needs to meld seamlessly into the rest of your decor. That means the clutter on the countertops has to go. Because who wants to see the blender you used to make smoothies in the morning while entertaining over cocktails in the evening? Since you can’t just ditch those kitchen appliances, storage solutions are clutch.

When you design a custom kitchen with us, your built-in storage choices are nearly endless, from pull-out drawers for storing heavy pots and pans to cookie tray and cutting board cubbies and hidden waste cabinets.

Beyond the basic storage components, you can opt for a server, the perfect spot for entertaining buffet-style. Or, use it as a built-in drink bar to make easy work of mixing those pre-dinner aperitifs or prepping coffee in the morning. If a walk-in pantry to keep all of your appliances and ingredients concealed but handy is in your dream kitchen, we’ve got you covered there, too.

Ready to start creating the custom kitchen of your dreams? Here’s the perfect opportunity…

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Freshen Up: Ten tips for renewing your style for the next stage of your life

If you’ve been stuck in a decorating rut for the last decade (or two), here’s some amazing news: Encore will be your opportunity to up your style.

Just as our tastes in fashion and food can change over the years, so can our individual decorating styles. Maybe you once loved more traditional details but now you crave a clean, streamlined approach.

Or, maybe you leaned towards vivid colors and now it’s neutrals all the way. And it isn’t only aesthetic preferences that shift; it’s likely the way you use your spaces have morphed over time, as well. (Three cheers for change!)

Helping people find their new style that works for them, both in form and function, is one of our passions here at Port 32. Over the years our various models homes have inspired fresh design and decor directions for more than a few our homebuyers. So as we eagerly anticipate the launch of Encore, we’re sharing our best tips so that you can start to envision your ideal environment.

Make a plan

Whether you want to totally revamp your style or just freshen things up a bit, it can be hard to get started. The key to success is finding your vision. Think beyond architectural styles and consider instead how you want your home to feel. (Of course, it’s a given your home at Encore will feel light and bright and spacious—the plentiful windows, vaulted ceilings and open floor plan will see to that.)

To pinpoint your vision, ask questions like, “Do I want a space that is cozy and restful or one that exudes energy?” “Will I entertain often or just host an occasional guest?” These types of questions will help you create intentional spaces that function well for the way you live in your new home.

Go easy

The best part of this new stage of life is you can spend less (or zero!) time working and more time enjoying the things you love. And, unless you’re Mr. Clean, scrubbing your interiors probably isn’t one of the things you hope to do with your newfound freedom.

At Encore, all of your finishes can fit you and your lifestyle. Customizing your home with hardworking, easy-to-maintain finishes, such as hardwood floors, granite countertops and low-sheen paints will allow you to spend more time golfing or gardening and less time maintaining your spaces.

Edit, edit, edit

It’s no secret that living in the same place for a number of years you inevitably collect what can be an overwhelming amount of “stuff.” So many of our purchasers used the move to Port 32 the catalyst finally to pare down your belongings. If it is no longer beautiful or useful to you, let it go. Starting with a clean slate will open up room for things you truly love and reflect you in this new chapter.

Keep it neutral

The interiors at Encore are made for today’s casual lifestyle. The open concept design combines the kitchen and dining areas with the living room, allowing you and your guests to flow freely through the spaces. To keep a cohesive flow from room to room, opt for a neutral palette and create visual interest with textures instead.

Get inspired

Let this new chapter bring a fresh perspective. Look to your favorite magazines, websites, or places you visit to find styles that resonate. What stands out to you? What turns you off? Create a folder with clippings from your favorite magazines, or do as we do here at the Port 32 sales centre and fire up a Pinterest board to help guide your design and decoration decisions.

Don’t let it (all) go

Holding onto those furnishings and accessories that speak to you, whether it’s a family heirloom or a piece of art you picked up on a memorable trip, will give your new space an instant sense of meaning and collected-over-time look. (Tip: Your new home at Encore can be customized to accommodate and highlight your special belongings, whether it’s an antique buffet or a collection of baskets.)

Put your interests on display

Personalize your spaces by including elements that speak to your favorite hobbies and activities. If you love to read, create comfortable reading nooks throughout your home and arrange books artfully on shelves and tables. Love to paint? Put your artwork on display. Do you enjoy the outdoors? Incorporate natural elements, such as wood and stone into your finishes and decor.

Accessorize like an expert

Breathe new life into a space instantly with textiles and accessories. Encore’s contemporary spaces are the perfect canvas for creating a relaxed feel. Trade heavy draperies for sheer curtain panels. Choose cotton or sisal area rugs in neutral colors for a casual look. Add a punch of color and texture with throw pillows and blankets. Never underestimate the power of fresh flowers or a new candle to transform a space. It’s always the little things that seem to bring it all together.

Enjoy the journey

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and perfectly decorated interiors won’t be either. Just as you gathered things over time to make your previous house your home, expect the same as you re-enter the decorating process. Allow your home at Encore to evolve over time by gradually collecting pieces that read well with your new style story. Every layer you add is like a new chapter in your style story.

Style your spaces with confidence

Over the years, you’ve had time to learn what you love and what you’re happy to say adios to. And that’s a great thing! You can make design and decor choices with confidence, knowing this isn’t your first rodeo and that every home at Encore is the perfect canvas for creating beautiful, stylish spaces you’ll love for years to come.

The Altona Towns – Take a look!

Located across the street from Altona Forest, The Altona Towns with its mix of stone and brick is both modern and warm — in harmony with its setting.

With only 27, 3-bedroom townhomes set in four small blocks, The Altona Towns is an intimate community. Our sales office is now open. You’ll find directions, hours, floor plans and prices here.

If you haven’t registered yet be sure to do so here. 

Now, let’s take a look at The Altona Towns…








How to be ready when the perfect home presents itself

If you’ve been to the launch of a new housing community, you’ll know emotions can run high from excitement to frustration.

As demand for new homes continues at historic levels, grand openings can see huge lineups and as you’ve likely seen in news stories, free-for-alls.

Out of respect for you and your time, we plan our launches to try to encourage the excitement and limit the frustration.

Here are a few pro tips so you can arrive prepared and avoid disappointment:

Are you “registered”? That means you’re on our email list. The people on our list will be the first to know about important things like launch dates, presentation centre location, and links to secure a coveted time slot in advance (if applicable). Those details go out via email so be sure you’re on the list.

Mortgage pre-approval letter. You’ll need to bring your mortgage pre-approval letter with you to the opening. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is win-win. You want to know exactly how much you can borrow so you know what you can afford and to ensure you don’t overspend. And as your home builder, we want to know that you will qualify for a mortgage when your new home is ready. If this is your first mortgage, you may find our Mortgage 101 article handy. Be sure to book your appointment with your bank in advance of opening day.

Certified cheque or bank draft. Please bring a certified cheque or bank draft in the amount of $10,000. This is the initial deposit on your new home. The fees for drafts and certified cheques can vary so you may want to ask which has the lower fee.

Personal cheques. Be sure to bring your chequebook (with at least 3 cheques). These post-dated cheques will make up the balance of your down payment. The current deposit schedule for The Altona Towns nows provides an extra 60 days to complete your deposit as follows*:

  • $10,000 certified cheque or bank draft upon signing the agreement (as outlined above).
  • Balance of 5% in 30 days
  • 2.5 % in 60 days
  • 2.5% in 180 days
  • 5% on occupancy

All cheques should be payable to Harris, Sheaffer LLP (in trust)

Photo ID. And last but not least, you’ll need to bring government-issued photo ID. Things like your passport, driver’s license or health card are all acceptable.

And that, in a nutshell, is how to arrive prepared. You’ll be ready to seize the day and capitalize on the excitement of a new home.

*Subject to change. Please confirm with our sales team.

Pickering By The Numbers: 10 Real Estate Stats to Help You Decide

Deciding where to buy a home is a tough decision. Do you stay in your current neighbourhood, or venture outside your postal code in search of a property that ticks off more of your must-haves?

One of the biggest struggles potential homebuyers wrestle with is the market, especially if the property is in a location you’re not familiar with. You want to know if the market is going up, if it’s going down, if there is too much supply or if there is too much demand.

Luckily there’s a lot of data available on the state of the housing marketing. We’ve done the research for you and compiled ten important findings to help you better understand the market and the opportunities we think will help you feel good about Pickering as a real estate investment. So let’s jump in.

1. Demand: Townhouses remain very popular in Pickering, with the 160 under construction in September, representing the highest level since 2013 (CMHC). If you’re considering a townhouse, you’re in good company. Everyone wants to buy something others will want down the road.

2. Supply: Looking at the wider Pickering/Ajax/Uxbridge area, of the 851 new homes completed in the last 12 months (of all types), only four are unsold — and not a townhouse among them. What’s the takeaway? Almost everything sells before they’re completed. Buyers are getting in on opportunities early.

3. Bang for buck: According to Altus Data Solutions, the average new townhouse available in Pickering will cost you $440 per-square-foot (psf), compared to $1,100 psf for the average condominium apartment in downtown Toronto. You get more bang for your buck in Pickering … and you don’t have to pay extra for a parking spot.

4. Price appreciation: According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the average new single-detached house that was completed and sold in September 2017 was $933,283, an increase of 14.4% annually. Double-digit price gains indicate that demand is far exceeding supply, and waiting to buy could cost you.

5. Resale strength: According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, the average resale property in Pickering sold for 105% of the list price in September, and it took just 13 days on average to sell a home. In the current market climate, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your future home has strong resale value.

6. Townhouses are popular: According to the MLS House Price Index, townhouses in Pickering have increased by 9.3% annually. Buyers are looking to maximize their indoor square footage, often at the expense of a side yard. Townhouses continue to gain market share.

7. Relative affordability: According to Zolo.ca, Pickering is ranked 18th of 23 municipalities in terms of average resale house price, an indication of how affordable the city is. In comparison to the adjacent municipalities to the west, Pickering is still very affordable.

8. Top 5 for sales: Over the past 30 days, Pickering is tied for the 5th fastest selling municipality in the GTA for resale housing (Zolo.ca). It shouldn’t be a surprise that the more affordable homes in Pickering are selling very quickly in the high-priced Greater Toronto Area market.

9. Easy commute: According to GO Transit, it takes 28 minutes to get from Union Station to the Pickering Go Station on an express train. It might take you that long to go three blocks on a downtown streetcar during rush hour, the commute is quite manageable.

10. Compare: Nearby Markham, less than 20 minutes from Pickering, will cost you $300,000 more on the the price of a home, based on average housing values from Zolo.ca.

With changes coming to the mortgage qualification rules in January, it will become that much more difficult to afford the home you really want. Buyers will flock to markets with the most affordable homes as they find themselves further priced out of their current communities. Pickering will be a market drawing even more attention, a small community with big data and enormous potential.

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