Cuchi Cuchi

September 20th, 2006

Has anyone noticed the recent television commercials, featuring Charo? You know… the over-the-top Spanish blonde who could talk faster than you can think and was a regular on Hollywood Squares? She was married to Xavier Cugat from 66-78. The woman was born in 1941. I think she looks amazing. She still has the legs of a thirty year old!

My grandfather (who was the Executive Chef at the Royal York Hotel for a number of years) counted her among his favourites of all the celebrities he had met. He said that Charo was charming and delightful, sweet to everyone- no matter their position in the hotel.

In 1982, she had a son (named Shel) with her second husband, Kjell Rasten. During the 80s and 90s she focused on her role as mother and settled in Hawaii. When her son started in college, she went back to work in Vegas. She had a platinum album in 1995.

Speaking of platinum, how about Beth Chapman- Duane (the Dog) Chapman’s wife? She is another bold, beautiful blonde!

Am I rambling? I have a horrible cold, courtesy of my darling daughter and I’ve been a sloth for the past two days. Last night, I curled up in a blanket and watched the glorious tribute to Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter and fought back tears when his daughter Bindi spoke. He was insane and he was intoxicating. I will never forget him, “Crikey”!

Then, I watched the Family Speaks. Beth Chapman explaining how Duane had been arrested on charges stemming from his 2003 capture of the notorious Andrew Luster (who had run to Mexico and was guilty of poisoning and raping a number of women in the United States). Apparently, the posse had neglected to get the Mexican Judge’s permission and bounty hunting is against the law, in Mexico.

Dog has offered to capture Bin Laden, but there are some people that worry about his rough and wild, hero-cowboy persona and think that he is a liability at the least and an embarrassment to the professional bondsman. I dunno. I do think Ozzie Osbourne wrote a kicking theme song for the Dog’s TV show.

Now he’s on house arrest until this Mexican mess gets sorted. There are people that think Dog should’ve known better. There are people that believe Dog thinks he’s above the law. As much as their bios read like something from a Jerry Springer episode, the extended Chapman family conveys a sense of reality that is palpable. Anyone who wants to help the cause can check out the official home page www.dogthebountyhunter.com.

I’ve caught Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels a few times, too. There’s another idiosyncratic family that seems to border on the pleasantly, mundanely, normal, too.
It must be the decongestants.

Words and Language: Where it all began (for me at least)

September 19th, 2006

Have you ever noticed that “Nonchalant” is a word that almost everyone has slipped into conversation at some time or other? My question is: Have you ever heard any say they were chalant? In fact, if I type chalant into my Microsoft Word, it quickly gets underlined in red and a spell check offers to change it to “chalet”. Nonchalant doesn’t set off any alarms. Hmmm… not really all that ironic.

The going definition of language includes symbols, gestures, voice sounds and just about any other system used to convey information- and it seems that language is constantly evolving.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say “irregardless”- which is, a huge redundancy! However, I know a lot of people that de-thaw their food, too. Sometimes you have to accept it and move on.

I don’t claim to be an expert on grammar or anything even close! Although, I was raised in a house where slips were immediately corrected and vocabulary was a much-respected trove- and no, Pirates didn’t raise me.

Although I must admit that I have always enjoyed a good Swashbuckler flick. How about that Errol Flynn? I sometimes wanted to be Maureen O’Hara, when I grew up!
I kind of liked Gladiator films, as a child, as well. Of course, in my teens, I graduated to foreign films, adored subtitles and the Toronto Film Festival…. And who didn’t love B Monster movies?

Count Dracula was probably my first introduction to sexuality in film! Bela Legosi swooped into my heart with over-the-top facial contortions and he certainly didn’t have to speak to get his message across. Then later, came Lon Chaney Jr.- he was okay but sadly, not as good as Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein but Gary Oldman really nailed it, in the 1992 Bram Stoker’s film directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

It’s funny how certain movies, books or plays stick make an impression. Everyone has their own, most memorable. I had a real fixation on film noir in my early teens. Mystery was never sexier than Phyllis Deitrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) with her fatal charm and clicking stiletto heels- man, she could handle a lipstick!

Lauren Bacall is another classic gorgeous, cool, sultry, wonderful actress. Her films with Bogart are extraordinary. I wanted to be her, too!

I remember being totally excited and absolutely mad about Topal, after seeing Fiddler on the Roof, in the early seventies. I fell for Giancarlo Giannini after “Swept Away” and Kris Kristofferson after “The Sailor Who Fell from Grace” in the early 70s. I began to be very conscious of film making, beyond the acting, from the mid-seventies and I am, to this day.

I was seriously into reading science fiction, during my teens. Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C Clark, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert and others. Sometimes, I would take a break and read a biography, on some celebrity or person of historical significance.

In my teens, I was fortunate to have a friend whose mom had some affiliation with the Toronto Ballet and I saw many performances at what was then called “The O’Keefe Centre”. It’s now called the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts.

I also remember concerts at Massey Hall, Maple Leaf Gardens and many productions at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Among my favourites were Debbie Reynolds in Irene and Yul Brynner in the King and I- even from the last balcony; both of these performers seemed to look straight at me and I chalantly hung on their every word.

falling leaves

September 18th, 2006

Here it is… only the 18th of September and the leaves are already changed and falling! Seems like some great winter conspiracy is nearly upon us. This weekend is Studio Tour time in the area. Many of the local artists and artisans will be opening the doors of their studios and homes. Ironwork, multi-media painting, fashion, stained glass, leather goods , weaving and more will be on display at various designated points, dotted throughout the region.

In the spring of 1912, a young lad named Tom Thompson (who was employed with Grip Ltd, in Toronto as a commercial painter) went on a trip into Algonquin Park with some friends from work. They spoke about it, at the Arts & Letters Club (a private club for people involved in the arts) and their enthusiasm soon spread and soon, a number of the other artists from the club soon began visiting the Algonquin Park region to relax and paint the extraordinary landscape. This would be the early beginning of the Group of Seven.

It is fun to visit the areas immortalized by Franklin Carmichael, A.J. Casson, L.L. Fitzgerald, Lawren Harris, Edwin Holgate, A.Y. Jackson, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald and Frederick Varley. Much of the group’s work is on display at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario.

Horoscopes

September 17th, 2006

I have a friend who sends me regular “horoscope” readings. I have to admit that I read them… and I do look at the horoscopes, sometimes, in the newspaper. I have always had a little interest in the spiritual, metaphysical, paranormal… etc.

I have friends who have visited Sedona. I have friends who do astrological charting and others who do trance channeling. I have friends who do “readings” of all sorts. My brother is really into ghosts and unidentified flying objects (among other things). I admit to having a bit of intuition, myself. I guess I come by it honestly- a glimpse at my family tree would explain a lot. (I’ll save that for another rant).

I’ve always hated to admit that I’m an Aries… I wasn’t supposed to be an Aries… My mother’s “due date” was late January and she even had X-rays on Ground Hog Day and they told her to go home and rest- the baby’s head was engaged and birth was imminent. HA!

Somehow, I waited until the 16th of April! Dad was back and forth between hospitals visiting my mother (and me) and also visiting his grandfather, Richard (Dick) Hynes, who was gravely ill and passed away the same morning (more on that, in the family tree, later).

And so it was, I was born under the constellation “Aries”. The ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians and Greeks all called this group of stars "The Ram." The early Egyptians associated Aries with Amon-Re, the ram-headed supreme Sun God who symbolized power and fertility. Also, this faint and tiny cluster of stars is believed by some to have been the stellar pattern that the Magi and other astrologers looked to in their search for the Star of Bethlehem, which was foretold in biblical prophesies and promised to be a sign of the imminent birth of a king. Some people think Jesus was a Capricorn, but I’ve also heard he was actually born in July.

In spite of my denials, I’ve been told that I am the epitome of an Aries woman. I used to take offence until I did some research:

Aries is the First Sign of the Zodiac, the point where it begins its cycle on the Vernal Equinox. Thus, it is the herald of the Astrological New Year. Symbolized by an animal of great courage, Aries is related to dawn, the Season of Spring, and the beginning of life. Much like the Spirit of Spring, those born under Aries are forever looking forward, never backward. In essence, Aries governs leadership and initiative, as well as using energy to make things happen. Aries subjects are vital, instinctual and forever young. They are the perpetual Children of the Zodiac, are constantly in search of identity. These are joyful, dynamic, assertive, outspoken and brave individuals who celebrate life.

Aries natives will most likely be drawn to pursuits of an intellectual nature. They possess excellent business ability and are prolific moneymakers, particularly successful in all commercial areas. Being extremely generous, Aries is continually seeking to do well to others but tends to be careless in discriminating between worthy and unworthy objects of charity.

Aries can be intolerant, impatient, impulsive and overly emotional. Despite their apparent mean-looking features, most Aries subjects are rather attractive, especially in the face (which is, indeed, their strong point).

Also known as the Sign of the Pioneer or Warrior, Aries is Positive in polarity.
The general characteristics of Positive Signs broadly match those for the extrovert personality and such individuals are naturally impulsive, buoyant, communicative and sociable.

Since there is an inherent desire to rule and command, Aries natives are noble, charming and despite apparent mean-looking features, most Aries subjects are rather attractive, especially in the face (which is, indeed, their strong point).

Ruled as she is by the planet Mars, the female Aries loves nothing more than a good battle (verbal or physical) and is always ready to meet any challenge. The trouble is that, while she can forget about the whole thing within ten seconds, the offended party is liable to take a little longer to get over the confrontation. The spiritual Fire burning within these individuals consumes emotion and allows the ability to move on...to forgive and forget.

They are also sympathetic, tender and warm-hearted, as well as being magnetic and progressive. Fond of music and dancing, those governed by Aries love harmony, order and beauty in all things. Their tastes are likely to be luxurious and they will be at their best in the midst of elegant surroundings and, if leaders, also in social functions. Aries people are often considered to be wealthier than they actually are...possibly because they dress well and tend to possess a commanding appearance. It is a mistake, however, to think that the Aries female wants to be spoiled. This is actually the last thing she desires. This woman adores nothing more than a challenge and boredom is something she is unable to tolerate.

A vast majority of them will be deeply interested in the occult and metaphysical studies.

Aries individuals have high ideals and a broad vision, coupled with passion and assertiveness. Theirs is an inspirational and contagious "can-do" attitude that lacks nothing in the way of courage and initiative. It has been said that Fire Signs rule the spirit and primal life force. They are prone to have strong egos, so being the center of attention comes naturally to those governed by Fire.

Aries women make excellent designers and good writers. They are highly capable of holding positions of authority, trust and responsibility. However, the Aries female will become impatient and irritable under restraint and it would be best if she were left alone to carry out any duties once she has a thorough understanding of what is required.

Positive Signs tend to crave excitement and thus, are inclined to direct their energies outward into the world around them. Aries is the most flagrantly extrovert of the Positive Signs. Aries is ruled by fire, governed by the Planet Mars. Fire individuals are impulsive, energetic, active and inspired.

Those ruled by Fire can appear brusque and hurried. They tend to rush through conversations in order to reach the heart of the matter. They are easily bored with the same people and ideas, and constantly search for more with which to feed their fiery souls. They often feel compelled by some higher force to take off on a personal quest or adventure.

Positive Traits: pioneering, adventurous, energetic, courageous, enterprising, confident, dynamic, quick-witted and freedom-loving
Negative Traits: selfish, quick-tempered, impulsive, impatient and foolhardy
Fire is prone to deliberately and openly do things that will irritate others to the point of anger. Fire is straightforward and has no reservations about hurting the feelings of others...prone to inflict both physical and mental pain.
Likes: action, challenge, spontaneity, championing causes and coming in first
The lucky number for Aries is nine (also known as the Novena). The Hebrews referred to the number nine as representing immutable truth. In Buddhist tradition, nine is the supreme spiritual power.
The lucky day for those who fall under the jurisdiction of Aries is Tuesday.
Colour: Crimson Red
Dislikes: waiting, tyranny, failure, lack of opposition and the advice of others
Apostle: Peter
Prophet: Malachi
Anatomy: Rules the head, face, brain and upper teeth
Corresponding Tarot Card: The Emperor
Animals: Ram, Sheep and Owl
Watchword: Action
Keynote: Hope
Physical Manifestation: Impetus
Mental Manifestation: Enterprise
Motto: Never Defeated
Quote: I Am

The most fascinating thing I have ever read about an Aries is: Since Fire subjects are generally warm, enthusiastic and outgoing, they require an abundance of "fuel" and are constantly seeking for something new upon which to "feed." Those who fall under the jurisdiction of Fire, however, are not truly to blame for they are usually quite oblivious to the effects of their massive energy.

A look at a list of notable Arians explains even more…. If I truly share any characteristics with most of these people, whatever it is- it really can’t be my fault! So maybe, just maybe, it isn’t so bad being an Aries!

A
Hans Christian Andersen, Desi Arnaz, Herb Alpert, Alan Arkin, Louie Anderson, Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle, John Astin, Albert Gore, Patricia Arquette, Don Adams, Maya Angelou, Alexander the Great, Louis Armstrong, Jann Arden, Dante Alighieri, John James Audubon, Madeline Albright
B
Anita Bryant, Marlon Brando, Bismarck, Chaeli Layne Boken, Jerry Brown, Pearl Bailey, Wernher von Braun, Warren Beatty, Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Barkin, Victoria (Posh Spice) Beckham, Johann Sebastian Bach, George Benson, Roger Bannister, Joseph Barbera, Clyde Barrow, Dirk Bogarde, August Anheuser Busch Jr., Elmer Bernstein, Guatama Buddha, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Samuel Beckett, Jonathon Brandis, Richie Blackmore, Lucrezia Borgia, Lauren Bacall, Joan Baez, Joan Blondell, Lloyd Bridges, Alexander Graham Bell, Carol Burnett, Antonio Banderas, James Brown, Jack Black, Robert Browning, Charlotte Bronte, Irving Berlin, Tony Blair, Robert the Bruce, May Britt
C
Julie Christie, Charles Chaplin, Terry-Anne Moore-Davis-Hughes-Cramer, Casanova, Theodore Chapman, Joan Crawford, Stuart Cramer III, Karen Chinatti, James Caan, Mariah Carey, Eric Clapton, Richard Chamberlain, Francis Ford Coppola, David Cassidy, Roy Clark, Russell Crowe, Glen Campbell, Billy Carter, Lon Chaney, Dana Carvey, Charlemagne, Walter Percy Chrysler, Butch Cassidy, Jackie Chan, Russell Crowe, Chuck Connors, Oleg Cassini, Maria Callas, Tom Clancy, Jack Cassidy, Claudia Cardinale, Tim Curry, Jamie Lee Curtis, Howard Cosell, James Coburn, Joe Cocker, Bill Cosby, Deepak Chopra, George Clooney, John Coltrane, Johnny Cash, Frank Capra, David Carradine, Tracy Chapman, Bing Crosby, Marcia Cross,
D
Bette Davis, Denmark, Doris Chase Doane, Thomas E. Dewey, Doris Day, Clarence Darrow, Timothy Dalton, Robert Downey Jr, Claire Danes, Celine Dion, Francisco Jose de Goya, Rene Descartes, Catherine De Medici, Tony Dow, Leonardo Da Vinci, Ellen Degeneres, Robert de Niro, Bo Derek, Isadora Duncan, Laura Dern, Phil Donahue, Christen Dunst,
E
Wally Eckert, Buddy Ebsen, Carmen Electra, Queen Elizabeth II
F
Gene Fortunato, Robert Frost, David Frost, Aretha Franklin, Sir John Franklin, Norman Fell, Betty Ford, W.C. Fields, Mia Farrow, Geraldine Ferraro, Errol Flynn, Sigmund Freud.
G
Alec Guinness, Danny Griffith, Vincent van Gogh, Germany, Susanna Goldman, Jennie Rebecca Goldman, Gus Grissom, James Garner, Sarah Michelle Geller, Jennifer Grey, Leeza Gibbons, King George 1st of England, Maxim Gorky, Marvin Gaye, Jane Goodall, Frank Gorshin, Shecky Greene, Joel Grey, Andy Garcia, Vince Gill, Al Green, John Gielgud, BobCat Goldthwait, Billy Graham, Dick Gregory, Che Guevera, Jennifer Garner, Ulysses S Grant, Bill Gates, Martha Graham
H
Merle Haggard, Harry Houdini, Mary Ann Henson, William Holden, Billie Holiday, William Hurt, Holly Hunter, A.E. Housman, Hammer. Arthur Hailey, Hugh Hefner, Kate Hudson, Ken Howard, Franz Joseph Haydn, William Harvey, Emmylou Harris, Marilu Henner, Walter Huston, Sonja Henie, Lionel Hampton, Herbie Hancock, Olivia Hussey, Melissa Joan Hart, Adolph Hitler, Clint Howard, Margaux Hemingway, Barbara Hershey, Lena Horne, Ron Howard, Dorothy Hamill, Whitney Huston, Tommy Hilfiger, Gordie Howe, David Hume, William Randolph Hearst,
I
Eric Idle, Washington Irving, Janice Ian, Henrik Ibsen,
J
Henry James, William Lester Jacobs, Linda Janklow, George Jessel, Thomas Jefferson, Elton John, Shirley Jones, David Janssen, Ashley Judd, Erica Jong, Grace Jones, Jesse Jackson, Michael Jordan
K
Cheryl Keast, James Keener, Nikita Khrushchev, William E. Kemery III, Ethel Kennedy, Gabe Kaplan, Chaka Khan, Will Keith Kellog, Gary Kasparaov, Howard Keel, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Madeline Khan, Helmut Khol, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Karen Kain, Soren Kierkegaard
L
Henry Luce, Clare Boothe Luce, James Lovell, David Letterman, Loretta Lynn, John Lennon, Vicki Lawrence, Lucy Lawless, Frankie Laine, Christine Lahti, Heath Ledger, Julian Lennon, Vladmir Ilich Lenin, Louise Lasser, Jessica Lange, Harold Loyd, Spike Lee, Jennifer Lopez, Heather Locklear, Bela Lugosi, Liberace, William Lilly, Joe Lewis
M
Edmund Muskie, Marsha Mason, Steve McQueen, Ali McGraw, Jim Minow, Myke Minow, Wayne Mackin, Gail Mannina, Terry-Anne Moore , Marcel Marceau, Elizabeth Montgomery, Henry Mansini, Dudley Moore, Ewan McGregor, Eddie Murphy, Eddie Money, Karl Malden, Leonard (Chico) Marx, Matthew Modine, Reba McIntyre, Elle MacPherson, John Major, Oscar Mayer, Peter Marshall, Henry Morgan, Nancy McKeon, Arthur Murray, Mandy Moore, Ann Miller, Hayley Mills, Jayne Mansfield, Gordon MacRea, Joe McCarthy, Bette Midler, Henry Miller, Dean Martin, Demi Moore, Mary Tyler-Moore, Karl Marx,
N
Alfred E. Neuman, Wayne Newton, Leonard Nimoy, Craig T Nelson, Eliot Ness, Napoleon III, Martina Navratilova, Stevie Nicks, Jack Nicholson,
O
Fr. Anselm Ober O.S.B., Scarlett O'Hara, Tony Orlando, Rosie O’Donnell, Conan O’Brien, Gary Oldman, Sandra Day O’Connor, Ryan O’Neal, Jackie Kennedy Onassis,
P
Andre Previn, Gen. George S. Patton, Anthony Perkins, Norman Porter, Gregory Peck , Princess Eugenie, Rea Perlman, Sarah Jessica Parker, David Hyde Pierce, Robin Wright Penn, Teddy Pendergrass, Colin Powell, Michelle Phillips, Mary Pickford, Pauline Porizkova, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Commodore Matthew Perry, Joseph Pulitzer, Paloma Picasso, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vincent Price, Richard Pryor, Eva Peron, Valerie Perrine, Luciano Pavrotti, General Patton, Camile Paglia,
Q
Dennis Quaid, Karen Ann Quinlan,
R
Wilhelm Reich, Dane Rudhyar, Harry Reasoner, Debbie Reynolds, Paul Robeson, Carol Roberts, Diana Ross, Giovanni Ribisi, Paul Reiser, Sergei Rachmaninov, John Ratzenberger, Wayne Rogers, Pete Rose, Anne Rice, Hirundo Rivera, Robert Redford, Chris Rock, Joan Rivers
S
Gloria Swanson, William Shakespeare, Gari Lou Cook Schwab, Robert Slatzer, Rod Steiger, Leoplod Stokowski, Daniel Schorr Allison Saul, Omar Sharif, Bessie Smith, Simone Signoret, Gloria Steinham , Omar Sharif, Steven Seagal, William Shatner, Elvis Stojko, Simone Signoret, Martin Short, Julia Stiles, John Cameron Swayze, Ravi Shankar, Avery Schreiber, Rick Schroder, Serpico, Christian Slater, Dick Seargant, Stephen Sondheim, Ringo Starr, Barbra Striesand, Joss Stone, Kevin Spacey, Jerry Springer, David Suzuki,
T
Spencer Tracy, Lowell Thomas, Evelyn Tucker, Arturo Toscanini, Emma Thompson, Steven Tyler, Quentin Tarantino, Meshach Taylor, Tiny Tim, Uma Thurman, Mike Tyson, Harry Truman,
U
Peter Ustinov
V
Bobby Vinton, Wilbur Wright, F.W. Woolworth, World War I, Thelma Williams, Debbie Williams, Kim Weis, Walter Winchell, Tennessee Williams, Christian Williams, Vincent Van Gough, Vince Vaughn, Sarah Vaughan, Otto von Bismarck, Max von Sydow, Jon Voight, Rudlolph Valentino
W
William Wordsworth, Christopher Walken, James Woods, Reese Witherspoon, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tennesse Williams, Bob Woodward, Jack Webb, Muddy Waters, Booker T Washington, Billy Dee Williams, Walter Winchell, William Wordsworth, Lyle Waggoner, Frank W. Woolworth, Thornton Wilder, Irving Wallace, Mike Wallace, Walt Whitman, Richard Widmark, Andy Warhol, Wilbur Wright, Robbie Williams, John Wayne
Y
Julie Yarbrough, Michael York, Cy Young
Z
Fred Zopfi, Florence Zigfield,

Trends

September 14th, 2006

As a Realtor, it’s important to keep up with decorating and style trends. I’ve often got my nose stuck in a magazine or newspaper and I do read polls and google constantly. It seems that currently “Old World” styles are the rage. Be it French, English, Tuscan or Spanish, homes with stone or stucco walls, tile roofs, iron fixtures, heavy beams and rustic floors are in demand. A sense of historic connection resonates with buyers today. I must admit, I am a fan.

The Craftsman style, built in the early 1900's, is back, too. Features of this style include cobblestones, deep eaves, tapered columns and wide trim. This style favours the handmade look over mass production.
Farmhouses and country homes are perfect reno candidates and even new home construction now mirrors their style. Updates include a lot of the more natural materials like bamboo floors, wood windows, simple floor plans, and warm colors connect with nature and earlier times.

The retro look is in. Ranch styles and split levels built in the 1950's are being updated with sleek details and fit with fashionable furniture styles. Urban modern is everywhere, making use of open plans, splashy colour, tile, glass, plastic and metal.

Current Buyers prefer a ceiling height of 9’-11'. Two-story ceilings are out in small rooms where they feel like turrets. Lots of floor level changes are not desirable anymore, with the predominant Buyers being retirement age or thinking ahead to retirement. Even in small families, most buyers today want four bedrooms, and at least two living areas. Formal dining rooms are still in high demand.

Formal living rooms are often converted to studies, libraries, or guest rooms and media rooms are a sought after feature. Buyers enjoy a visual and spatial connection between kitchen and family room. The television is still a major component of family life and Buyers will look for built-in cabinet space to hide large televisions and wall space appropriate for the newer flat screens.

Three car garages are in, especially in homes without basements. A utility basement is old news, but a walkout basement set up for entertaining is still a selling point. Buyers today want structured wiring. It’s important to have for internet, phone, cable and sound. Desk space for computers is must have.

Lots of storage is needed for today's lifestyle. People have lots of stuff. Huge master closets, pantries, laundry rooms, and extra storage closets are expected. On the other hand, there are more and more “minimalists” who enjoy very spare living, as simplified spaces seem to be antidote to today's complex lifestyle.

They say that kitchens and bathrooms will make or break a deal and most buyers are savvy about kitchen design. Buyers appreciate good workspaces with easy access to stovetop, refrigerators and sink. Lots of counter space, deep drawers, two sinks, a nearby extra refrigerator and a butler's pantry are all desirable features.

These days, the kitchen is absolutely the place to use more colour. It is a place where people gather and naturally an area that is more apt to have mixing and matching. Stainless appliances are going strong. In urban modern styles, white or colored appliances are back. With the use of white appliances, there is an inherent need for something colourful whether it is in the bowls or the toaster. House wares have now embraced colour trends.

New home designers love to conceal some appliances as cabinetry. Eat-in kitchens continue to be a basic requirement for most buyers. Instant hot water is a perk that buyers like, as are drinking water filters.

Jewel tones are predominantly popular for kitchen accessorizing. Add some zip to counter tops with coloured accessories or small appliances. Complement them with new tea towels and potholders. The same (or similar) wall color through adjoining spaces creates a more spacious feeling

Although blue continues to be the favourite, yellow is coming on strong, especially in the kitchen because of its bright association with the sun and grandma’s old kitchen. Other predictions for 2009 are a relaxed palette of colour with fabrics in rich, earthy tones and textures. Colours will be bolder and reflect multi-cultural hues.

Colours are in, but soft is the word. Soft greens, yellows, earth tones and creams create a serene background that fits many styles. Complex colors, with more colors in the mix, are sought after. Deeply saturated colors, such as plums and reds, are used in moderation.

A new look is a feature wall painted in a completely different colour from the rest of the room. This is a good way to create some vibrancy and a focal point in the room. You can use a feature wall to define a particular space, particularly in an open concept area. It is easy to change the colour of a feature wall, if the mood strikes.

To choose a feature wall, stand in the middle of the room and select a dominant wall may have a fireplace, interesting angles or may be a very plain expanse of space that is crying out for some attention. Try not to select a space with window or door openings, as these will detract attention away from the impact of a single colour.

Flat paint on walls hides flaws and creates a designer look. Use a fluffy roller if you are using a flat paint. Shiny is out. Soft whites are safe for trim. Faux finishes are out. Wallpaper is problematic and harder to change than paint and too often it does not fit the buyer's taste. Heavily textured walls and popcorn ceilings are totally out.

Orange is the new red. Warm, yellow-based reds will be popular and we will begin to see the brighter and bluer Asian reds become popular, as well. Yellow greens will continue to bring sophisticated, botanical coolness to rooms while deep olive and celery greens will gain popularity.

Blue tones include sea-blue, watery, spa-like colours and rich botanical and intense shades as splashes. Teal and turquoise blues are featured in retro-style decorating.

Purple is being featured in a new brighter, purer hue. This is supposed to be the hot colour for 2007. Browns continue to get earthier, muddier and are now considered as much as neutral as black. Brown can be paired with any colour from dazzling blue to tone-on-tones with mocha and almond.

Antique tables or cabinets are being refurbished and used as bath cabinets. Kitchen cabinets that look like furniture are a great look. Granite, marble or stone counters are popular. However, granite tops added to 1980's cabinets do not go over well. You must consider the architectural style of a room before adding features.

Rustic finishes on hardware, such as brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze, weathered brass, and other non-shiny finishes are also popular choices. Rustic wood beams or wood covered ceilings can create that same, primitive look that buyers like.

Concrete countertops are perfect for ultra modern, but it is a new look and Buyers are still unfamiliar with them and a little nervous. Large rustic tiles, stone, concrete or wood is in for flooring, while subway tile (3" x 6") is popular in bathrooms and on kitchen backsplashes.
Patterned cultured marble and laminate are out. Pure white is considered too clinical and shiny, slippery flooring has lost its appeal.

Distressed wood floors that look old are valued. Simple wood boards are sometimes laid down with cracks exposed. Re-claimed wood is very desirable. Bamboo floors are popular; especially in modern style homes where light colored floors are desired.

Concrete floors - often stained and scored are popular. These go well with the modern look, and are used in Craftsman and rustic European styles too. Colourful laminate floors are a good fit with mid-century modern. Laminate floors that look like wood are out. Parquet floors are out, unless hand crafted.

Wide, baseboards (6"+) and door and window trim (4"+) are key features in “Old” style while Craftsman style doors - simple square frames with flat panels - work well with both old and modern looks. Industrial metal fixtures are in. The un-decorated, industrial look of metal or stainless steel is in.

Bath fixtures finished in rustic bronze, nickel, or chrome are all wow. Old style two-handled faucets and farmhouse sinks are in style. Bath sinks may be glass bowls, granite, and stone, stainless or traditional china. Cultured marble is out. Freestanding tubs are in. Pedestal and wall hung lavatories are in, too.

Framed or hung mirrors are preferred, although plate glass works in ultra modern styles. Mirrors used on walls or ceilings are a turn off and they don’t fool anyone into thinking there is more light.
People today are more discriminating about the quality of light. Windows on two sides of the room balance the lighting and reduce glare. Some people insist on full-spectrum lighting, considered a healthy choice. No matter the style, one light in the middle of the room will not do.

Light fixtures are a decorative element in all styles. Clean, modern fixtures, such as pendant lights, recessed cans, and wire string lights compliment the urban look. Retro fixtures are interesting decorative features in 1930's craftsman and 1950's ranch styles.

Under cabinet task lighting is appreciated. Security lighting is important. Wall sconces offer soft ambient lighting. Recessed cans provide area light. Dimmers help to create different moods but above all Buyers want more windows, natural light, and a greater connection with the outdoors. Light is in demand. Don't close blinds. Do remove solar screens when they are not needed, such as under patio roofs, porches or shade trees.

Wrought iron gates, stair rails and light fixtures compliment the rustic style while ultra modern homes may have components made of wire, pipe or painted metal.

Heavy drapes are out. They are too pretentious, and, well, heavy. Light cotton, linen or silk drapes are in. Or, wood blinds. Or nothing. And- no one wants foil on windows or stick-on window film. Woven wood blinds have made a comeback. Mini blinds are very yesterday.

Historic paint colors such as sage greens, beiges, muted yellows, and grays work well on the exterior. Bold or harsh colors can be a turn-off to most buyers. Iron or heavy wood entry doors make strong statements that buyers love. Good access to the outdoors is something buyers look for. French doors are “it”; they provide a perfect combination of access and light.

Front porches and covered patios are always a strong selling point. Outdoor fireplaces and barbeques are coming back into style. Screened porches are back. They create a multi purpose space that is both indoors and outdoors, and keep mosquitoes away. Sliding glass doors have lost favour.

Energy efficiency is definitely in. Buyers want high efficiency furnaces, appliances, central air-conditioning, good insulation, low-e glass, programmable thermostats, double pane windows, and ceiling fans. Heat pumps and effective passive solar orientation are considered more environmentally friendly and now.