Van Huizen

Summer Wreath Challenge

A couple summers ago, I was looking on Pinterest for a wreath tutorial to dress up my “boring brown” front door. I came across a great “summer wreath” tutorial by StoneGable: American Farmhouse Living. Although my final product turned out a bit differently than the blogger’s, I still think it turned out pretty well! Check it out:

How about you? Are you interested in dressing up your door for the summer? Check out the tutorial here and send VH Home’s a picture of your final product (or of a different summery wreath you make) to by August 31, 2017, for a chance to win some Van Huizen Homes swag.

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Van Huizen

The 3 “Ls” to Buying Appliances

More often than not, when you buy a new home, you need to buy new appliances as well. And with the kitchen being the “hub” of the home—and open-concept kitchens being quite trendy—it’s key to choose appliances that are both handy as well as handsome. So before you hand over a big chunk of money on those appliances, take some time to consider the three “Ls”:


First of all, consider your preferences. What colours do you like? Do you prefer stainless steel, the clean look of white or black, or even a panel to make your fridge look like a cabinet? Do you love the convection trait on ovens? The water and ice dispenser on your fridge? Will what you choose match with the other furniture in the room? Do your research: talk to friends, shop around, take time to reflect. These are all things you can do to figure out what you like and don’t like about certain appliances.


Secondly, consider where in the room you would like to put your appliances. For example, microwaves can be hung above your stove, but they can also be stored in lower cabinets in the island. Cooktops—whether gas or propane—require lots of space, so perhaps you might prefer a wall-oven. Taking into consideration how much space you have in your room—as well as how you’d like to function within a room—is important to figure out before you make a large appliance purchase.

     3. LONG-TERM

Lastly, think long-term. Do you plan on doing a lot of entertaining? Then perhaps you’d like to install a bar fridge. Will you be having kids soon? Maybe it’s a good idea to purchase a super-quiet dishwasher. Keep in mind your future plans, because it’ll save you both money and aggravation in the long run.

And don’t forget: nothing seems to last in this day and age. So don’t forget to purchase those extended warranties that are offered, no matter what appliances you purchase.

Our Advice

If you are from the Quinte area, we advise you to head over to The Brick and ask to speak to our VH Homes representative: Bob McIvor. Bob carries all the major appliance brands, will match or beat any other quote you’ve been offered, hold your appliances before you move, and will deliver anywhere in Ontario. It really is the best deal in town.

Happy appliance shopping!

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Van Huizen

5 Kid-Friendly Crafts to Decorate Your Home for Fall and Thanksgiving

Are you hosting a Thanksgiving dinner this year at your house? Why not get your kids involved by inviting them to make some of these Fall-themed crafts? These five simple crafts are easy to do and can help make your home and table a festive place to be for the Thanksgiving holiday!

  1. Pinecone turkey crayon holder craft

shindig kids thanksgiving blog2


Is this not the sweetest little thing? Your Thanksgiving guests—young or old—will love these cute pine-coned gobblers brightening up their spot at the table. Head to Amanda’s Parties to Go to get both the instructions and template, as well as a host of other easy-to-do Thanksgiving crafts to do with your child.



  1. Toilet Paper Roll Leaf Stamping Fall Tree Craft


Do you have any empty toilet paper rolls hanging around your home? For this simple craft, all you really need is a toilet paper roll and some fall-coloured paint. Print off the tree template at Crafty Morning, squeeze the toilet paper roll into a leaf-shape, and let the paint-stamping begin!

Voila! A fresh fall scene to tape to your kitchen window!




  1. Leaf Wreath



This easy craft will get you and your kids out into the great outdoors. Go for a walk, pick out some beautiful, fresh leaves and glue them on to a cut-out paper plate. It’s that easy. Go to Crafts for all Seasons for more detailed instructions!





  1. Leaf Print Table Runner








Your kids will really make your Thanksgiving table pretty with this easy-to-make table runner. Simply have your kids dip their freshly collected leaves into fall-coloured paints and stamp them on to kraft paper!

To change it up a bit, have your kids paint just the outlines of the leaves for a pretty effect. Check out Handmade KidsArt for a more detailed how-to.


  1. Easy Fall Garland


This fall-themed garland is so pretty you may want to do this craft yourself! Go to A Beautiful Mess and join Mandi Johnson as she gives you tutorials and templates on 4 easy garlands that you can use to accessorize your home for Fall, Thanksgiving and Halloween.





May these 5 easy crafts be a wonderful bonding experience with your children and a way to let the great outdoors in! Enjoy!

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Van Huizen

Countertop Reference Guide

WHEN IT COMES TO CHOOSING COUNTERTOPS FOR YOUR HOME, you may feel slightly out of your league. Gone are the days when there may have been only one or two options of countertops to choose from. Today you can have your pick of wood, laminate, concrete, granite, quartz, soap stone, tile, glass, marble—just about anything really.

To help guide you in your choices, following is a brief overview of the more common countertop choices.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Laminate is your standard-grade kitchen countertop. It’s simply a piece of plastic formed over wood fiberboard. It’s inexpensive (3-4 times less than a natural stone like granite), but also very functional.

Laminates have come a long way; they have made them to imitate the look of granite and quartz, having textured and honed finishes as well as overall durability. One problem with laminate, however, is that if you have a large piece of counter that requires a seam, it could come loose and, over time, begin to bubble.

Granite is a popular choice for its unique natural qualities. It is literally a piece of rock straight from the earth. Like laminate, granite is also available in many finishes: leathered, honed, polished, etc. Athough a popular countertop choice, it does have its drawbacks. For one, granite must be sealed, and if for any reason it is not sealed properly, the granite can take on stains and bacteria. As well, granite can be inconsistent in its pattern and look. Therefore, it’s best to actually see the actual slab of granite you get before purchasing it—just in case it has a large black streak running through it!

Quartz has become a very popular choice in recent years. It’s a natural stone combined with man-made products, making it a seal-proof, heat-resistant, consistent, durable countertop. It also requires no maintenance or sealing.

Generally on par in pricing with granite, quartz was pricier when first introduced, but it has become more competitively priced (although still four times the cost of laminate!).

~   ~   ~  ~  ~

When building with Van Huizen Homes, you will have the opportunity to meet with our custom cabinetry representative, William Design, and take part in building your custom kitchen, including countertop selection. Their work is featured on our website (, as well as theirs ( We look forward to helping you in your selection process.

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The Process of Mortgage Pre-approval

Last week we talked about The Importance of Mortgage Pre-approval before you move forward on your homebuilding/buying journey. This week, we are going to discuss the documents you need to have ready once you decide to make the pre-approval appointment with your mortgage specialist.

Once again we welcome to our blog Curtis Kirkey, Home Financing Advisor at Scotia Bank and resident in the Quinte, Ontario area:


If you are about to make an appointment to see your Lender/Bank for a mortgage pre-approval, it pays to have the proper documentation ready in order to ease the process along. There’s nothing quite like scrambling around for paperwork when you only have three days to meet your conditions on your house purchase!

Following is the recommended paperwork to bring along to your mortgage pre-approval meeting:

  1. Proof of Income. No-verification or no-documentation loans are pretty much a thing of the past. You will want to come prepared with your most recent paystub, the previous year’s T-4 statement, and two years of tax returns with the corresponding Notice of Assessment. (Just to clarify, the tax returns are what you send in to the government at tax time, and the Notice of Assessment is what the government sends back to you to verify your return. Both are useless without the other to most Lenders; they will need both documents.)
  2. Proof of Assets. The Lender is going to need to verify where the down payment for your new home is going to come from, and this is going to require bank statements. If you are banking at the same institution as your Lender then you won’t need to worry about this, but otherwise you should bring in your bank statements. As well, the Lender will likely ask you to verify the investments and savings that you claim you own on your application.
  3. Identification. Bring in two pieces of ID with at least one government photo-issued piece (e.g. drivers licence or passport).
  4. Other Documentation. Don’t forget to bring any other documentation that you think might be applicable. For example, separation agreements are becoming very commonplace to the point where most Lenders will actually ask you up front if you have child support or alimony payments. If so, you need to be prepared to provide documentation. It’s better to bring extra documentation straight away than running around later trying to gather it all up!


Consulting with a mortgage Lender before you start the home-buying process can save a lot of heartache later on, so gather your paperwork now before your pre-approval appointment and before you begin house-hunting/building. Best of luck!



Curtis Kirkey lives in the Quinte area and is a Home Financing Advisor at Scotiabank with over 10 years experience in the mortgage industry. He is available at any time to talk about your current mortgage or help you get pre-approved for your next purchase. Call him today at: 613-403-4850.

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The Importance of Mortgage Pre-approval

If you are a serious homebuyer looking for a home, most people would agree that making an appointment with your Lender/Bank to seek mortgage pre-approval is one of the first stops you should make on your homebuilding journey.


1) Benefits, Rates & Fees: Meeting with your Lender will give you an opportunity to discuss the products and benefits available at your financial institution (after all, there is more to your mortgage than just rates!), as well as help you determine your mortgage fees and payments.

2) Credit Check: Pre-approval meetings give your Lender the opportunity to perform credit checks, thereby ensuring there are no surprises that could affect your purchase (especially after you’ve put in an offer!). It is very important that your Lender perform this step. Without knowledge of your credit history and current obligations, a Lender has no way to properly verify what you are qualified for.

3) Affordability: Seeking mortgage pre-approval will give you a good idea idea of the house price-range you can afford. Many people end up being pleasantly surprised when they find out what they actually qualify for.

4) Negotiation Edge: When competing for a home, you want to have every edge you can, and home sellers are much more likely to negotiate with people who can prove they can obtain financing. Many an offer has been turned down due to financing issues, but the seller’s mind will be put at ease if they know you have already done your homework.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of this mortgage series: “The Process of Mortgage Pre-approval.”


Curtis Kirkey lives in the Quinte area and is a Home Financing Advisor at Scotiabank with over 10 years experience in the mortgage industry. He is available at any time to talk about your current mortgage or help you get pre-approved for your next purchase. Call him today at: 613-403-4850.

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Van Huizen

Sump pump monitoring for the busy or forgetful homeowner

It’s that time of year again when there is increased risk for flooded basements in homes. This is especially true for people living in wet areas. The number one defense in this situation is to regularly check your pump out, ensure that it is working properly, and confirm that the water is being directed away from your house. It’s also important to check that your eaves troughs are all directed away from the house as much as possible.

But let’s be honest. How often do you make a point of checking up on your sump pump? If you’re like me, my guess is that the busyness of life can easily distract you from making this a priority. But thanks to advancements in home wifi technology you can now get a sensor/alarm to send you a text message when your basement is about to flood.  For example, a wifi water sensor by D-link  (DCH-S160) will not only send you notification when water is detected in your basement, but a built in 70 dB alarm will also sound off, which could be handy if you are asleep. These sensors are inexpensive ($90) ways to give you that extra piece of mind.

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Van Huizen

Keeping an Open Mind

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

And neither is a house.

Building a house is a process. It often takes people months—even years—to finally make the decision to build. Because a house is big. It’s complex. And there’s so many factors you have to keep in mind as you build: family circumstances, finances, geography.

It’s a big decision.

In my role as a Designer at Van Huizen Homes, I meet with clients to advise and help them choose many of the design elements of their home—paint colour, brick, trim, siding, carpet, tile, and all sorts of other design decisions that will make their house match, flow, and feel like home.  At these meetings clients like to come with their list of “must-haves,” “not-haves,” and, of course, their baggy of paint chips. And these lists are legitimate and can definitely be helpful. After all, you’ve been dreaming about your house forever.

But it’s because you’ve been dreaming of it “forever” that I often recommend that clients come to these decision-making meetings with an open mind. Time and time again, after I have made some recommendations or proposals, I have witnessed clients say such things as,

“No, I am certain I don’t want a dark-painted bathroom!”
“Sorry, I’m not a fan of brass fixtures.”
“Open shelving in the kitchen? That’s a crazy idea! I would never do that.”

We are not used to things “taking time” in today’s society. We like immediate gratification in almost every area of life. But your house can’t be ordered in a drive-thru. And you often can’t “change your order” once these big decisions are made.

So, my advice? Take time. Mull over suggestions that are made. Reflect on things you maybe never thought of—things that might even change your perspective. Things that might make your house even better than you dreamed.

At Van Huizen Homes, it’s our aim to check off as many of the boxes on your “must-have” list. But it’s also our aim to give you sound input that will ensure a cohesive final product that you will be proud of for years to come.



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Van Huizen

Spring Cleaning 101

With all the snow we’ve been having in March and April, I find it hard to believe spring is here. But even if the weather isn’t showing many indications of spring, my house certainly is.

My house is dirty. It’s sad to say, but every drawer I open, every window I look through is telling me it’s time: time to spring clean.

Now, despite the fact that I grew up with a mother who regularly modeled yearly spring cleaning, the “spring-cleaning gene” unfortunately fell quite far from the tree. I have yet to establish a yearly spring-cleaning schedule, and to be honest, I’m not even sure I know how.

Thanks be to Google and the people at about home I found a wonderful article written by Housekeeping Expert Sarah Aguirre called “Spring Cleaning: A Complete Checklist” (see link below). Her article contains tutorials on how to spring clean the kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom, and dining room areas of your home. Each tutorial includes a list of steps, items required, detailed “how-tos”, and a whole whack-load of other handy hints.

Does your house need a healthy dose of spring cleaning, too? Why don’t we roll up our sleeves together and take our home from filthy to fabulous!

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Van Huizen

Christmas Time is Here (Already!)

If you are like me, you were probably surprised to see Christmas decorations up in the stores the day after Halloween. Every year, the stores seem to do this, and every year I’m always surprised by it.

But, admittedly, I like it. I love the Christmas season. There’s something about the lights and the Christmas trees, the parades and all the Christmasy events going on that seem to give me this cozied-up, wintery feeling.

I also find it fun to decorate. Every year I try to do my Christmas tree a little bit differently, and this year I plan on making a new Christmas wreath to hang on my front door.

How about you? Do you love to decorate your home for the holidays? Or do you want to, but just don’t have the creative knack or time to think about how? We encourage you to check out Southern Living’s “101 Fresh Christmas Decorating Ideas” to get some inspiration.

Take time this season to help spread some Christmas cheer both inside and outside your home.

Happy decorating!

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