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5 Things to Know Before Renovating Your Cottage
Lisa Canning

With the the end of school fast approaching and the languid days of summer coming soon, thoughts of... more

5 Things to Know Before Renovating Your Cottage
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With the the end of school fast approaching and the languid days of summer coming soon, thoughts of potential projects at the family cottage might come to mind. If this is the summer you might tackle a renovation, here are a couple key essentials to keep in mind:

Take a Peek Behind the Walls
Older cottages can sometimes present a bit of a mystery in terms of how they were built. DIY additions and not-so-strict building codes of yesteryear might leave your new renovation susceptible to potential damage. In a recent kitchen renovation I completed, we opened the walls up to find an insufficient amount of insulation (especially since this wall was formerly an exterior wall!), so we fixed the issue by installing Certainteed insulation to ensure the cold stays out and the heat stays in. Made of eco-conscious materials it is a great family-friendly material. So before you start to renovate, check for things like proper structural support, correct electrical work, water and mold damage, and proper insulation.

5 Things to Know Before Renovating Your Cottage

Spend Your Budget Wisely
For many families the cottage is an investment in addition to their primary residence, and therefore renovation funds need to be used with great strategy. In this kitchen, one way we stretched our budget strategically was to keep the original cabinets which were still in great condition. But we wanted to give them a modern upgrade, so we changed out the interior cabinet hinges and drawer slides to quiet close hardware by Grass Canada. At this property, my kids used to slam the doors and make games out of the sounds the slamming made. Now the noise is a thing of the past as these doors function with the luxurious quiet close. In addition, we replaced the dated and warped counters with a beautiful grey Belanger laminate counter that was a wallet-friendly investment. The key to using laminate is to use a modern edge profile and keep the colour neutral for the most modern look. Lastly, with the help of some on-trend, well-priced overhead light fixtures and pendants from Bouclair, we were able to infuse some current design elements without breaking the bank.

Play with Colour
While many of my interior design clients prefer to stay neutral in their city homes, they are often more adventurous to use a bit of colour at the cottage. In this project, we infused a playful hit of blue in a few key areas. Instead of replacing the drawer and cabinet pulls and knobs, we sprayed them out Oxford Blue by Krylon and then colour matched an interior paint and gave the interior of the glass front cabinets a hit of blue. We picked up the blue again in a simple paisley window covering and large area rug. Decorative accessories on the floating shelves and breakfast bar from HomeSense continued our colour story in fun patterned mugs and striped table linens. To keep your colour story cohesive, use your desired colour at least three times in a space whether it be in paint, decorative accessories or textiles.

5 Things to Know Before Renovating Your Cottage

Invest in Reliable Appliances and Fixtures
Regardless of how large or small a budget is, appliances and plumbing fixtures are two areas I love to invest in. In addition to the homeowners enjoying this space, this cottage kitchen is also used as a rental unit for many families to enjoy. So for the range I was looking for dependability and ease of use and selected an electric front range by Maytag. With a fast pre-heat option and flat cooktop, cooking and clean up time is super efficient.

In a similar way, I went with the beautiful Delta Trinsic faucet with an integrated pull down spout that provides great function along with a touch sensor allowing you to just tap the faucet anywhere to turn it on. Where possible, appliances and fixtures are where I like to invest my renovation dollars in kitchens as they are the elements that get so heavily used and enjoyed for functional purposes.

5 Things to Know Before Renovating Your Cottage

Use a Lot of White
In my books white is so essential to a cottage space. White reflects natural light so well, it acts as a neutral for other elements and really is a timeless and classic design principle in a kitchen. Even if your renovation budget only includes paint this year, consider a coat of fresh white paint on the walls, trim, and ceiling to freshen up the space and allow the natural beauty of the outdoors to bring in all the colour.

Lisa Canning is an interior stylist who specializes in 2-hour, in-home interior design consultations in the GTA where she helps clients find strategies to make their space suit their goals, family's needs and budget. A mom of 4 (soon to be 5!) she shares her tips on making a space beautiful and functional on her blog Lisa Canning: Blueprints for a Beautiful Life.
Comments | Tagged under home, renovations, cottage
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How to Help Kids Get a Grip on Math Anxiety
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Does your child freak out at the sight of numbers? Dissolve into a pile of tears at the thought of a math test? Throw a minor tantrum when they can’t figure out their math homework? It’s called math anxiety and yes, it’s a real thing. 

As the founder and owner of The Math Guru, a boutique math & science tutoring studio in Toronto, I can tell you that mastering curriculum content is usually only half of the problem—if that! The other half is the performance barrier caused by math anxiety, the type of anxiety that truly prevents a student from understanding and performing to their maximum potential.

So What Is Math Anxiety Anyways?

Simply put, math anxiety is anxiety about one’s ability to do math, regardless of skill. It can manifest itself for a number of reasons, including comparing oneself with peers, poor instruction, a history of bad experiences with math (which I’m sure we’ve ALL had!), cultural stereotypes, and a number of math disabilities, such as dyscalculia.

Anxiety acts up most when we’re faced with something we’re insecure about or with something we’re already sort of scared of—for many students, math is THAT thing.

When math anxiety rears its ugly head, what can you do to help your panicked child? Here are some useful tips on how to deal with—and ultimately eradicate—the evil that is math anxiety.

1. Keep Calm and Math on

Studies have shown that your attitude towards math has a huge effect on the way your child feels about math—especially when you’re freaking out over their homework! That doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be a math genius, don’t worry! Just be encouraging, hopeful, and whatever you do—stay calm.

2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Fifth Graders

Please don’t freak out if you can’t do your ten-year-old’s homework. The truth is, today math is taught in a completely different way than it was even a few years ago, and beating yourself up over your inability to figure out how the heck they’re supposed to master long division is only going to stress you (and your child) out! There are a ton of ways to help your child get the help they need.  Check in with your child’s school to see if they have a peer tutoring program—these are often free! After hours help with teachers is often an underused resource—ask your child’s teacher when they are available. It’s never too early or too late to get a professional tutor—ask your friends for recommendations or do an online search to find someone in your area. And of course, there’s the internet. Try Khan Academy or Purplemath, great sites for explaining concepts in a straightforward manner.

3. Give Your Child an Ego Boost

Math anxiety absolutely thrives on insecurity. Insecurity’s antidote? Confidence! A great way to pump your child up and to demonstrate the correlation between work and success is to stage an ego boost—sneaky, but effective. Schedule a session for your child to work on a concept for 20-30 minutes, then give them a quick quiz which covers exactly what they’ve been practicing. Get super excited when they get the majority of the questions right, and rinse, and repeat!

4. Hard Work Pays Off

The topic of much of the debate surrounding our education system surrounds the emphasis on getting good grades. There is so much pressure on our kids that often the quest for achievement causes serious anxiety when it comes to the actual learning part! Studies have shown that children who are taught that intelligence is a product of hard work develop a growth mindset, which is the perspective that mathematical intelligence is not fixed, but rather can be learned. It is beyond important to remind your children that good grades don’t grow on trees, they are a product of hard work! Remember to praise your child’s work ethic regardless of the academic fruit it bears. Eventually, all that hard work will pay off!

Got a particular strategy that works for you? Please share!

Vanessa is the founder and director of The Math Guru, a boutique math & science tutoring studio in Toronto. She has her Masters of Math Education and specializes on teenage engagement in mathematics education.
Comments | Tagged under kids, school, homework, math, anxiety
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