Seasoned gardeners will tell you landscaping is far from seasonal. Designing a backyard that pops throughout the year requires careful consideration to ensure everything rotates in turn with the Earth’s axis. Consider the simple concept of a snow globe. The scene is serene when all is calm—and even more magical when shook up with falling snow.

Instead of feeling discouraged by our gardens being buried in snow, it’s time to rethink the winter season–it’s an opportunity to shift focus. Visual interest can be achieved by integrating ornamental grasses, trees and hardscaping. In fact, you’ll find these five tips will allow you to show off your property in an unexpected way. Rain, snow, sleet or shine!

A landscaped garden on a winters dayImage via Flickr @FourSeasonsGarden

1. Evergreens

Evergreens are a bit of a misnomer. Typically, they’re easy to identify as their foliage remains green year-round. However, evergreens can also be yellow, like the feathery Gold Thread False Cypress or semi-weeping Cypress Gold Mop. Plant either in full sun and they will turn a rich gold. In shady areas, the foliage will remain lime green. Evergreens can also be blue, like the blue spruce which is a popular choice for both accent and privacy screening. Evergreens are low-maintenance, resilient and offer staggering focal points in a yard or garden. A whimsical choice would be the Birds Nest spruce, a shrub that grows in a compact ball. It has a characteristic depression in its centre, like a bird’s nest. 

Boxwood hedge and English Boxwood will also ride out a heavy snow load and keep your garden green!

A forest on a winters dayImage via Flickr @wewon31

2. Bark

Depending on your province and growing zone, consider planting winter-blooming tree species. The Red Twig Dogwood remains blood red year-round, painting a remarkable contrast against the snow. It’s also a favoured addition to planter boxes to complement lengths of birch trees and cedar branches.

Ornamental trees like birch and sycamores offer texture, height while providing seeds and shelter for birds. 

Image via Flickr @KevinOliver

3. Hardscaping

There’s nothing hard about it, really! Hardscaping includes all the man-made features used in backyard design, balanced by vegetation. It includes pathways, stone walls, trellises, arbours and benches. Sculptures, colourful birdhouses and fire pits also act as strong visual cues of warmer days ahead! Outdoor lighting, playful potting sheds and treehouses make hardscaping flexible and easy. Visit your favourite parks and gardens for inspiration.

3 birds sitting on a winter tree in a snow fall. Image via Flickr @IngridTaylar

4. Berries

Birders and berries are simpatico. Tree and shrub varieties that bear berries will automatically attract overwintering birds (and early migrators come spring). Barberry and Cotoneaster are gorgeous considerations while the berries of the Mountain Ash will persist on the tree all winter. Birders (and birds) note the ‘Leonard Springer’ variety of ash is not popular on their menu.

The Snowdrift crabapple dazzles with a mass of snow-like flowers in early spring and the orange-red fruit hangs well into winter for wildlife to enjoy like a back alley food truck. Winterberry holly is also a pleasing choice and enjoyed indoors and out. The shrub loses its leaves in autumn to reveal thousands of bright berries that hang like holiday ornaments. Snowberry shrubs are loved for their white bulbs and berries which appear in autumn and last into winter.

An outdoor winter flower with a fresh bed of snow. Image via Flickr @anokarina

5. Four-season perennials

Perennials are like the bears of the plant world. They simply rest during the freeze/thaw cycle, but still add visual interest, especially if their seed heads are left intact. Sedum varieties like “Dragon’s Blood” turn red in autumn and add colour when winter’s white palette dominates.

Ornamental grasses are useful for privacy from neighbours and a natural accessory. Grasses left to stand throughout the winter also act as an abundant seed supply for birds. Sunflowers, asters and zinnias serve the same useful purpose.

Hellebores will surprise with a burst of colour sometimes as early as December while other perennials lie dormant. The Christmas Rose cultivar pops with white flowers that can turn deep pink throughout the winter.

Perennials that bounce back in spring in a bigger and better way include hostas, peonies (trim dead foliage in fall to ensure big blooms come spring), Wild Columbine and Bee Balm.

As you incorporate these ideas into your property, remember, the first day of spring is March 20, 2021. We’ll get there soon enough, so enjoy your revamped winter landscape—it’s the only time we don’t have to worry about weeds! 



October was another busy month for Canadian home buyers and sellers. Housing activity across the country continued to increase from September into October, breaking yet another record!

Which begs the question: is this trend here to stay?

Download our October 2020 market snapshot.

“Many Canadian housing markets continue to see historically strong levels of activity, and at this point over and above what would have been required to make up for the very quiet spring market this year,” says Costa Poulopoulos, Chair of CREA.

At this rate, 2020 may set an annual record for sales activity! Check back next month to see if we’re still on track for a record-breaking year.

Remember, contact a REALTOR® for detailed information about your neighbourhood and its price trends.



We’ve all heard the phrase “play is a child’s work,” and it’s true in every sense of the word. Play has shown positive contributions to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of young children. So why not embrace and support their need to play with a dedicated space they can call their own–a playroom!

Traditionally playrooms have been associated with bold colours, flashy patterns, and toys everywhere, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Whether you have a dedicated room or a sectioned-off corner, a fun, engaging, and design-friendly playroom is possible.

When planning your kid’s playroom there are several aspects to consider, from colour and storage to décor items and furniture. We’ll walk you through all the major decisions and help you pull together a playroom or area that’s fun for the kids but also speaks to the design sensibilities of adults.

A gender neutral play room with beiges and creams. Image via [AlmostMakesPerfect]

Colour palette and pattern

Playrooms often get a bad rep because of their loud, bold colours and patterns, which in an adult world, are anything but design friendly! Gender neutral playrooms are becoming the norm and offer the perfect balance of design and function. That’s not to say you can’t inject pattern and colour. Select one primary colour and run with it! Use it on an accent wall or furnishings (emerald sofa, yes please!). Bold patterns can also be incorporated on textiles such as pillows, curtains, and rugs. Then inject a bit of personality with a few accessories in a complementary colour. Kids toys, books, and crafts are already super colourful, so leaving the base of the room a little more neutral can make it feel adult-friendly.

A globe on a shelf with a floating shelf with childs toys. Image via []


No parent enjoys walking by a playroom and seeing toys thrown everywhere, which is why easy-to-access storage is key. The best storage solutions allow your kids to easily grab their toys, games, books, and crafting supplies as well as put them away. Cubby shelving is great as it can double as a space where favourite toys or items can be put on display. Fabric drawer inserts are also available for cubby-type shelving, which can hide and store large amounts of smaller toys like figurines or wooden blocks. Place baskets and totes made of fabric on the floor making it easy for young children to get to their toys. Storage ottomans, wicker baskets, and traditional toy boxes also make great options. 

A mom and her child playing with train tacks in a neutral children's playroom.


Kids are notoriously hard on floors. If it’s not toys being dropped from varying heights it’s spilled drinks and cookie crumbs, so you’ll want to consider the type of flooring in your playroom. If you’re renovating a room from the ground up select a durable and easy to clean flooring like linoleum, wood laminate or solid wood. If you’re simply looking to protect your floors use area rugs that can be laundered or are made of sturdy natural fibers. Patterns and prints can also help disguise the inevitable spills and stain. Foam playmats are also a great option. They are perfect for kids who love to tumble, not to mention they’re easy to clean.  

A large cozy pink poof in a neutral play setting with a tea party set.

Fabrics and textiles

Durability is the name of the game when it comes to selecting fabrics and textiles for a playroom. Opt for thick, tough fabrics on pillows, ottomans, and poufs as they will stand up to all the jumping, rolling and the occasional spill. If the space is large enough to include lounge furniture, like chairs and a couch, consider selecting a fabric that has a built-in stain guard or purchase slipcovers that can be removed and laundered as needed. 

Large pillows on the floor, in a room that has colourful animal wallpaper.

Kid-friendly furniture

Kids furniture has come a long way in terms of design, which means you’ll have an easier time finding pieces that match the aesthetic of your home while being safe and useful for your kids. Tables and chairs are a staple for any playroom as they can be used for everything from play to snack time. Lounge furniture like bean bag chairs, tot-sized couches, day beds, and oversized floor pillows offer up places for your kids to take a break. Bookshelves, cubbies, and toy storage that’s lower to the floor allow kids to access their toys, games and crafts without adult help. Kid-friendly doesn’t always mean the size of the furniture, it can also mean safety. Ensure all large furniture in your playroom, such as shelving, lighting, and art are properly secured to the walls to minimize tipping and falling.

Children's play zone with faux grass, trees and fence. Perfect with indoor picnics

Create zones

A playroom is more than a place to send your kids for an hour, it should encourage growth, ignite the imagination, increase dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Creating “zones” within your playroom can help encourage different types of play and activities.

A reading nook complete with floating bookshelves, oversized floor cushions, fluffy throw pillows, and comfy blankets is the perfect place for your kid to cozy up with a good book (or two) and unwind after a busy day of play. Whether it’s a mini play kitchen, canvas tentMontessori shelf or a tot-sized tool bench, setting aside a space for imaginative or pretend play can help your child express, explore and work out their own ideas, thoughts, and feelings. An active area with an indoor rock-climbing wall, a pikler triangle, indoor swing or slide can help those little ones release their energy and experiment with physical movement. A craft corner or art zone with tables, chairs, and easels will turn your little one into a Picasso in no time! Don’t forget to include a bulletin board for them to hang their masterpieces – after all, you don’t want all of them to make their way to your kitchen fridge!

Lastly, if your kids are older and video games are their guilty pleasure, set up a gaming zone with a small wall-mounted TV, gaming console, and a few gaming chairs

A childs play room with a painted mural on the wall of rolling hills, flowers and clouds.

Décor items

Using décor items and accessories is an excellent way to personalize and add character to a playroom. Wall decals are a low-commitment option as they can be swapped out or removed as your kids get older (or they move onto the next big thing!). Art can also liven up the space, just be sure to choose shatter-proof frames or opt for canvas artwork. Trendy wall hangings like pennants, woven textiles, faux taxidermy animal heads, and macrame add texture, colour, and a touch of whimsy. Lastly, fun wall lights or string lights can make any space shine and twinkle.

Tight on space?

Small space living doesn’t mean you have to forgo a playroom completely. Even the smallest spaces can allocate a corner, nook, or alcove to create an area for play. If you’re setting up a play area for your kids in their bedroom or in a common area such as a family room, a simple foam mat or colourful rug can help them differentiate “their space” versus “our space.” Or think outside the box (or room in this case). Any unused space can become a kid’s dream play area–a closet, empty space under your stairs or even a crawlspace can become a cozy place for play.

The playroom is by far the most fun room in the house, so make sure it can be enjoyed by you and your kids!



You fell in love with your new home because of its commanding focal point: a cozy fireplace where you envisioned spending fall and winter evenings warming by the fire. But what if you love the flames but hate the crumbling brick, the dated brass hardware or the dirty stone? Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to glam up a tired fireplace to suit your design style. We asked two designers for tips–ranging from super-affordable to worth-the-splurge–to give your fireplace a much-need facelift.

Older fire place with paint cans, and renovation supplies.

Give it a fresh coat of paint

As long as your fireplace is in good shape structurally and is safe to use, the easiest and most budget-friendly option to transform both the tile and mantel lies in a can of paint, says ChilliwackBritish Columbia-based colour designer Maria Killam.

“When my sister and her husband bought a house, there was this really ugly 1970s orange, black and white brick fireplace, and I said, ‘We need to paint that right away!’ but they didn’t,” recalls Killam. “For years, nobody wanted to be in that room. Then, we finally redid the room and painted the fireplace white and it was absolutely transformational. White works best for a fireplace because it usually can be an extension of your trim colour.” 

Whether you go the all-white or all-black route, or you choose contrasting colours to make it pop, don’t forget to refinish your mantel, too, says Courtney Turk, president of Courtney Turk Interiors in Ottawa.

“If your mantel is made of solid wood, sand it down until any finishes are removed on the surface; this will help the paint adhere and last a lot longer,” says Turk. “With your tile surround, be sure to use a primer before applying your latex paint in your desired colour.”

To freshen up stone fireplaces, Killam leaves the latex paint behind.

“Chalk paint does miraculous things today; you can create this multi-dimensional look that’s whitish-grayish instead of just a solid painted stone,” she says. 

Fireplace that is under renovation to be refaced.

Cover a faded fireplace with another material

For a mid-range budgetary option, consider refacing your fireplace. You’ll get a completely new look without the huge mess and expense of a total tear-down. Try cladding the fireplace in reclaimed wood or cream millwork to add warm texture, or incorporate concrete to bring an industrial, contemporary vibe to the space. You can also purchase masonry veneers which look like brick or stone but are much thinner and lighter.  

“When it comes to stone or millwork for your fireplace, call in the pros or someone handy,” advises Turk. “Stone and tile require a wet saw to cut, which can be tricky.”

To cut down on costs, put up 12×12 tiles or an even border of stone around the fireplace, she adds.

“If you want a great DIY alternative, try using shiplap for the upper portion of the wall above your mantel. It’s relatively straightforward to install, and can easily transform a dated fireplace into something more modern and refined. Be sure to paint the shiplap and fireplace surround the same colour so that it flows as one cohesive unit.”

If you go the wood route, consult your local municipality–most building codes advise against installing combustible material within six inches of a working fireplace.

Other inexpensive refacing options include drywall, ceramic or porcelain tiles, stucco, concrete, or veneered stones–all can be affixed directly to your existing fireplace for a simple solution.

Antique fireplace inside a wall to be used in two rooms in a home.

Start from scratch

If your fireplace is traditional and your overall design scheme is ultra-modern, a can of paint probably won’t cut it. Sometimes a sledgehammer is the only choice, says Turk. 

“Depending on your personal style, I would suggest a full demo to create the fireplace of your dreams,” she says. “That may be a sleek marble surround or farmhouse shiplap incorporated with a live edge mantel.”

Other splurge-worthy materials include quartz, granite or exotic wood, as well as extending the entire fireplace up to the ceiling. You can also apply any of these tips to your outdoor fireplace, if you’re lucky enough to have one.

Revamped and updated mantel

Give your fireplace mantel some love, too

An updated fireplace won’t sing until you’ve also styled your mantel, says Turk. 

“Start with an anchor or large piece to ground the space and layer with asymmetrical vases and artwork,” she suggests. “Elevate the rest of the mantel with stacked books to create visual interest and finish off with some fresh greenery to complete the look.”

Killam suggests arranging a few picture frames, too.

“Don’t be afraid to get a bunch of accessories; you don’t know what’s going to look good until you bring it home and you can always return the rest.”

You can also dress up your fireplace with a spiffy new screen, or as Killam suggests, paint a dated brass screen or hardware using high heat black paint. 

No matter what your budget or style is, there’s a fireplace revamp that matches, so have some fun with this important design element.


The Saskatchewan REALTORS® Association (SRA) IDX Reciprocity listings are displayed in accordance with SRA's MLS® Data Access Agreement and are copyright of the Saskatchewan REALTORS® Association (SRA).
The above information is from sources deemed reliable but should not be relied upon without independent verification. The information presented here is for general interest only, no guarantees apply.
Trademarks are owned and controlled by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Used under license.
MLS® System data of the Saskatchewan REALTORS® Association (SRA) displayed on this site is refreshed every 2 hours.