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November 28, 2013

Your 2014 Dream Kitchen: What Can Your Appliances Do For You?

When is the last time you purchased a major appliance for your home? If it’s been a while since you’ve walked through the doors of your local big box store or appliance retailer, you may notice a few changes.

Competition among appliance manufacturers is as fierce as ever, with each major brand struggling to anticipate upcoming design trends while balancing the wants and needs of today’s consumer.
GE’s Café Series French Door refrigerator
For brands like GE and LG, the goal isn’t to add the latest gadget to an appliance, but to enhance appliance performance and ultimately the user’s way of life. For instance, manufacturers are investigating ways to design laundry products that help preserve your textiles, and cooking appliances that maintain the freshness and nutritional value of food longer. GE’s Café Series French Door refrigerator, for example, offers an improvement over stoves and microwaves with a dispenser that offers water ranging in temperature from 32C to 85C, so users can make cocoa, tea, instant oatmeal or soups in a hurry.

Thanks to product reviews easily accessible online, today’s consumers have often done their share of research before walking into an appliance store. And if they’re redesigning their space like many Monarch clients, they ask for assistance and recommendation from their designers, as well.

“Most clients, to some degree, ask for assistance with their purchase decisions,” says Monarch designer Kevin Samson. “ Often, they will mention wish list priorities, or concerns they have with their existing appliances, and look to their kitchen designer for suitable solutions. Brand choice is all over the board. Typically, clients make choices based on factors such as past ownership experiences, budget, specific features, visual appeal or recommendations.”

Miele dishwasher
“Many of our clients like the Miele dishwasher because of its top cutlery rack and ability to be fully integrated with panels,” says Monarch designer Janet Dawson. “Another popular choice is the Wolf range because of the bold-looking red knobs. However, clients tend to make appliance choices in a broad range based on their tastes and preferences.”

The popularity of open concept kitchens or great rooms has translated into a move toward the transitional and away from the traditional. While stainless steel appliances are still considered the standard, consumers are now open to a broader range of appliance finishes and are opting for a mix of traditional in addition to appliances hidden by cabinetry. Drawer-style dishwashers have started to replace a full-size traditional dishwasher, and smooth-surface and induction cooktops have also gained popularity for their sleek design.

What features are home and condo owners looking for in an appliance now that they couldn't find 5-10 years ago? Our designers weigh in.

Janet Dawson:
“Induction cooking. Smarter appliances that have more automated settings. Smaller sized appliances are becoming more popular as baby boomers downsize and condos become a more popular housing choice. Homeowners are also looking for appliance choices that suit their needs more specifically; they want a broader range of choice than was available in the past.”

Kevin Samson:
“Many of our clients are excited by the prospect of having a second oven in the kitchen. Today, this can be accomplished in a number of ways. A double wall oven is one solution, while some manufacturers offer a stove with two separate ovens. Many microwave ovens are offered with a combination feature allowing the user to cook with the microwave feature, or a full convection oven.”

November 22, 2013

Friday Fun: Betty White and Martha Stewart Make Homemade Pumpkin Pie

In honour of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday coming up next week, we thought you'd enjoy some fun in the kitchen with Martha Stewart and the always delightful Betty White.

November 18, 2013

Function and Beauty: Making Your Kitchen Island Work For You

In the past few decades, kitchens have transformed from just a place to prepare meals to the social hub of the home. The small closed-off food preparation zones of yesterday have become kitchens that are warm, welcoming spaces that open up into other rooms. Families use their kitchen as project spaces, entertaining centres, dining rooms, and much more.

At the centre of it all? The kitchen island.

If a kitchen island is on your redesign wish list, you’ll want to fully consider what your family’s needs before incorporating it into your new design. Will you be primarily using it to prepare food or will you also need a place for your kids to spread out their homework while you work? If you entertain, do you mind if the guests see what you’re doing? If not, a dual-height island may be for you: it can shield the kitchen mess from an open living area.

Perhaps you’ll want to include a dining bar, or make one end of the island a dining table. Since the island can take up a fair amount of kitchen real estate, it makes sense to take advantage most of every inch. In fact, designers regularly incorporate cooktops, prep sinks, storage and appliances into kitchen island designs.

“You can make your island the focal point of your kitchen by adding legs or turnings to give the warmth of furniture,” says Monarch designer Sarah Holmstrom. “Or choose a different colour for the island cabinetry and countertop, and hanging unique artful lights above.”

To learn more about incorporating an island into your new kitchen design, call Monarch Kitchen and Bath Centre at 905-686-2001, or drop by our showroom and speak with one of our designers.

November 8, 2013

Don’t miss the 28th International Home Show, on this weekend in Toronto -- November 7 to 10th

Whether you’re renovating, redecorating or seeking design inspiration, you won’t want to miss the International Home Show this weekend at International Centre in Toronto.

If visiting the show on Sunday, be sure to make time for Bryan Baeumler’s seminar: 

How to Avoid the Major Pitfalls of a Home Renovation, 12:30pm at the Celebrity Superhouse Theatre.

2013 Home Show Hours
Thursday: 11 am – 8 pm
Friday & Saturday: 10 am – 8 pm
Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm

Ticket Prices
Adults: $15 (at door)
Senior 65+: $9 (online)
Senior $12 (at door)
Youth 9 – 18: $12
8 & Under: Free
Parking: Free

To buy tickets or for a complete list of seminars and show highlights, visit

November 1, 2013

Which Home Renovations Yield the Best Return on Investment?

Whether you’re renovating to meet your changing needs or trying to improve the overall look of your home, it never hurts to consider what the return on your design investment will be.

According to yearly surveys done by the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC), refurbished kitchen and bathrooms continually yield the best return on investment, with 75 to 100 per cent of spending for these renovations recovered at resale. Interior painting, a new roof or heating system and a finished basement also ranked high (see full list below).

Of course, a high return on investment is only possible if the renovation is done tastefully, adheres to local building codes, and is in line with current trends.

Avoid projects that set your home apart from other houses in your neighbourhood. The AIC advises: “If the value of your house exceeds the average market value in your neighbourhood, your renovations will not yield much return. But if your house value is below the average, you can recover a larger part of the renovation costs.”

Whatever your reason for updating your home, Monarch designers can help. Working with you from conception to completion, our customized design services include complete project management and the use of licensed, insured and bonded tradespeople. In addition, we offer three lines of custom cabinetry covering a range of budget options perfect for your house, condominium or cottage.

Percentage of investment recovered upon resale:

Kitchen upgrade: 75% to 100%
Bathroom upgrade: 75% to 100%

Interior painting: 50% to 100%
Roof replacement: 50% to 80%
Replacement of furnace or heating system: 50% to 80%
Expansion (addition of family room): 50% to 75%
Doors and windows: 50% to 75%
Deck: 50% to 75%
Installation of hardwood floor: 50% to 75%
Construction of a garage: 50% to 75%
Fireplace (wood or gas) 50% to 75%
Central air conditioning: 50% to 75%
Finished basement: 50% to 75%
Wood fence: 25% to 50%
Interlocking paving stones on driveway: 25% to 50%
Landscaping: 25% to 50%
Asphalt driveway: 20% to 50%
Pool: 10% to 40%
Skylights: 0% to 25%