Award-winning Canadian designer Karen Sealy shares her favourite home renovation products.
When it comes to making a home comfortable, people often concentrate on the aesthetics; the inviting colour on the walls, the coziness of the furniture, or decorative elements around the house.
But when it comes to planning a renovation project what we need to consider first are the things you don’t see that significantly contribute to the home’s overall comfort. True comfort starts with what’s behind the walls, floors and roof. And with winter slowly making its way out, it’s time to plan for a new season of renovations. It’s exciting to pick out the finishes that add wow to your space, but from a practical perspective you must start with the structure, think of it like baking the cake before you can decorate it. Almost anyone can design a nice space but if it isn’t functional it’s a waste of time and money. This is a philosophy I not only preach, but follow.
To keep temperatures cool, floors warm and maximize natural light (when we hopefully get more of it), I’ve hand-picked my top five favourite renovation products from my new home to inspire your next reno project.
Behind the walls
Spray foam insulation like Icynene fills every nook and cranny between your walls. Unlike traditional fiberglass or cellulose insulation, Icynene spray foam insulate can safely go around wires and pipes and expands 100 times its size for complete air sealing and thermal insulation year-round. A spray foam insulated home not only keeps your home draft-free, it keeps the warm air inside in the winter and retains the cool air in the summer. It also rejects bulk water to help prevent flooding (ideal for spring when floods are common post-winter melts). When installed, spray foam insulation improves indoor air quality, reducing the volume of allergens and pollutants – another bonus for spring? It is not considered a food source for any pests and the material makes it difficult for nesting. You can find a distributor in your area at www.icynene.com
Windows are a big investment, ensure you understand the construction of your window and research the warranties. Marvin Windows, which are made to order, have a 20-year warranty on their clad windows and can be customized to fit your measurements and colour preferences. The best part? Marvin offers more than 150,000 energy-efficient options for their windows and doors. www.marvincanada.com
There is nothing like natural light filling the interior of your home – there are even studies that show positive health benefits to adding more daylight and fresh air to your indoor space. With products like the Solar Powered Venting Skylight by Velux, you can illuminate your home with natural light and allow fresh air in to properly ventilate your home. The programmable skylight operates with a wireless remote control and comes with an integrated acoustic rain sensor, which will automatically close the skylight should you forget, or if you are away from home and it starts to rain. There is no hard wiring required, therefore you can save on money by not having to hire an electrician. The air inside our homes can be 2-5 times more polluted than the air outside, a skylight especially one that is energy efficient and solar-powered can help circulate fresher air into your home. http://www.velux.ca/.
No basement can ever feel comfortable with cold or damp floors, no matter what you throw onto it – concrete continually releases moisture, which causes this constant cold discomfort. DRICORE Subfloor R+ is the solution, designed specifically for the basement, DRICORE subfloors have a raised moisture barrier that covers the concrete to protect, insulate and cushion your finished floors and has air gap technology to keep the floors dry and cozy all year-round. The product can be purchased at your local Home Depot, it’s quick and easy to install (a 500-sq. ft. installation can be done in an afternoon) and you can add your preferred finished floor – think engineered hardwood, laminate, carpet or ceramic tile. The best part is DRICORE Subfloor R+ is proven to raise the temperature of finished flooring by up to 5.6 Celsius. www.dricore.com
Once the subfloor is in, a Nuheat Mat can be secured to it. Nuheat radiant electric floor heating is very comfortable and comes with innovative and energy-efficient heating technology and thermostats. The heat is delivered right to your feet, and since all surfaces in the room are also being heated, there are absolutely no cold objects to draw heat from you and make you feel cold. Something that everyone will like, the product is easy to install and has consistent heating and can be monitored using a WiFi thermostat. It’s also great if you have allergies or simply want to breathe cleaner air inside your home as heated floors do not blow dust and allergens around and allows for healthier humidity levels. www.nuheat.com
Consider this product the function and fashion piece for your home. “Karastan’s SmartStrand Silk” line comes in an array of colours and designs, but it’s the construction of these carpets that make it truly special. There are over 700 fibers that compose one single strand of yarn, making it feel like the name suggests, like silk. The best part? These individually packed fibers make for a durable, soft-to-touch rugs with built-in stain protection. They are also pet-proof, so if your four-legged friend has an accident, all you need is a little water and light detergent – making these the perfect accent to your spaces. www.mohawkhome.com
To see how my home renovation project is coming along visit http://www.justgoodstuff.ca/pickering-project-welcome/