Sarah Kidder Talks Top Trends from the Ottawa Fall Home Show 2015

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Our colleague Sarah Kidder, the founder and principal of the award-winning Sarah Kidder Design took part in the 2015 Ottawa Fall Home Show (OFHS) held September 24-27 at the EY Centre, as a celebrity guest presenter ‒ alongside other notables like Sarah Richardson and Leigh-Anne Allaire Perrault ‒ to talk about how to effectively start an interior design project.

Speaking on the main stage for the fifth time this year, and having a booth at the show definitely gives Sarah a lot of exposure to new people and ideas, helps her to build relationships with new trades and suppliers, find new leads and discover hot trends. That is why we asked the OFHS veteran to share some of the top trends she spotted at the Show, where she is seeing them, as well as her take on how they can be implemented effectively.

Here is what she told us:

Trend #1: Upcycling
upcycled chair
There are some fantastic items out there that are tired and in need of love, so painting them, new upholstery, etc. can take a boring piece of furniture and turn it into a one-of-a-kind work of art. Kijiji, Craig’s List, FreeOttawa are all great places to find treasures. I like to start with a fun fabric for chair upholstery and pull a colour out of it for the frame. Go big with the colour – it has so much more impact and really elevates the overall look and feel of a worn or antique piece.  We’re seeing this a lot in high-low spaces, where we’re mixing trendy, unique and funky items with higher end furnishings or classics for a truly personalized look.

Trend #2: The Industrial/Organic Look
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Think mixed metals, vintage lighting, exposed brick, live edge tables and driftwood-coloured or high variance wood flooring.  The key here is not to over-do it.  The industrial design trend can be harsh if there are too many of the same elements throughout a space.  Be sure to mix in softer fabrics, pillows, full drapes and add touches of the industrial vibe throughout for interest.  The problem with trends is that they’re just that – trendy.  You have to be very careful not to create a room that screams ‘2015’ for the next 30 years.  We’ve all been in the ‘stuck in the ‘80s’ house. Always choose classic elements for the ‘permanent’ things like flooring, cabinetry, large and/or expensive furnishings and accents with the trendier items.

Trend #3: Renovating Instead of Selling
basement renovations
The real estate market is pretty soft right now, so I think people are just trying to reclaim space in their homes rather than buying a larger home.  Sometimes reorganizing your home’s interior is a more cost effective solution, rather than trying to solve your problem in another home that is full of other potential problems.  We were especially asked quite a bit about basement renos at the OFHS; adding additional living area, bathrooms and bedrooms.
Sarah Kidder Design is dedicated to providing you with practical, affordable and creative solutions to all your design and decorating problems.  They are a full service decorating and design firm with over 10 years of experience in residential, commercial, and corporate design in Ottawa and across Canada. Sarah Kidder has established herself as an Ottawa decorator that understands and listens to her customers. She has used her skills on many residential and small, commercial spaces in the Ottawa area, model homes for local builders, and corporate housing projects across Canada.

When Custom Home Interiors operated as a design resource centre a few years ago, Sarah Kidder was a regular in our warehouse. “I really appreciated what Custom Home Interiors could do for designers. Using them as a resource really helped grow my business,” says Kidder. Today, Sarah still partners with us on a variety of design projects. “I purchase as much product as I can through Custom Home Interiors for my own clients, as they have got a great price point, super-efficient service and excellent logistics teams.”

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Window Treatment Solutions Give Builders Competitive Advantage

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While buying a new home often comes down to size, location, and price, what matters most when choosing a builder is the experience and satisfaction of past buyers and the reputation that comes as a result. One way to enhance the buyer experience is to provide them with convenient and time-saving logistical solutions that will simplify the transition into their new home. Going above and beyond the traditional offerings can give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

window shuttersWindow treatments are more than a decorative tool to dress up a window or to coordinate the entire look of a room. They are also an essential functional tool providing privacy from neighbours; energy efficiency by keeping heat inside in the winter and outside in the summer; and in some cases, like condo corporations, ensuring adherence to contractual requirements.

It is no wonder that window coverings are at the top of the priority list for most home buyers and home sellers; and yet we have all witnessed, or even experienced the somewhat uncomfortable delay between new home possession and the installation of blinds or drapes. That is partly because choosing window coverings can be a daunting task for many. There are so many styles and suppliers to choose from that even figuring out where to start can be stressful.

Anticipating a client’s needs by providing a helpful and trusted referral to take care of all of their window covering needs under one roof is a simple, easy, and innovative solution that benefits the buyer and your business. Not only could it be the deciding factor in choosing a builder, but improving the customer experience leads to positive buzz that often drives business.

Custom Home Interiors provides builders and real estate agents with interior and exterior design solutions ‒ from leading edge furniture, appliances, home automation and fittings for commercial and residential projects ‒ for quicker sales and higher profits.

Builders and realtors who work with Custom Home Interiors reap the benefits of helping their home owners, home buyers and home sellers take care of all their outfitting needs with our team of professionals.

Contact us to find out how you can take advantage of these benefits and become an affiliate with Custom Home Interiors.

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Why Furnished Model Homes Sell Faster Than Empty Model Homes

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Model homes and model suites for new developments provide an important opportunity for builders to generate the most market interest from qualified buyers. In the span of time a potential buyer will spend viewing a model home, the goal is to show them a vision of what their life will be like in that space and convince them to buy into that vision.

An empty model home is bland and uninteresting. The best way to make an impact on a potential buyer with a model home is to clearly define each space with furniture, décor and appliances that give it function and personality. Every room should feel bright, comfortable and inviting so that they can picture moving in mentally.


A furnished room can tell the potential buyer how their own furniture might look in each room by providing perspective and scale. In an empty room, the walls close in, making an empty room appear deceivingly small. This can leave the buyer wondering if their belongings will actually fit.

A the potential buyer processes all of the visual information in the furnished model home, they will spend a much longer time looking at each room compared to an empty room. This will make them more likely to remember and be able to recall the home when comparing it to others. In a competitive market, four walls and a floor just don’t stand out from the crowd.

There is also a large segment of the population that completely lack the ability to look at an empty room and imagine fully decorated space, which is why furnished model homes sell much faster than empty ones. Nobody wants to live and dull empty space, but if they can’t get past that impression than you have lost a potential sale.

Having said all of that, a poorly staged home is far worse than an empty model home. The skill and insight of a professional model home stager is the always the best option for selling your vacant property faster.

Let Custom Home Interiors turn your model home into a vision your customers can buy into. We specialize in providing innovative model home staging solutions at a fraction of the typical retail costs. You won’t have to worry about interior design, product set-up and install, or the cost of keeping your interior up-to-date with the latest trends. We do it all.

Contact us for a consultation and a custom solution today.

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Company-wide Effort Boosts Andrew Emmans to Forefront of Ottawa Business Community

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Young entrepreneurs named to Ottawa’s 2015 Forty Under 40

On June 18, Custom Home Interiors (CHI) President Andrew Emmans was part of a distinguished group recognized by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce as an accomplished business leader under the age of 40 who also gives back to the Ottawa community. The group was celebrated at a gala at the Hilton Lac-Leamy that also raised funds for the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health through a charitable draw.

award acceptedThe executive for one Canada’s leading providers of innovative furniture, appliances, home automation and fittings solution for commercial and residential projects ‒ pictured here (left) with Ottawa Forty Under 40 sponsor Darren Fleming from Cresa Corporation (left) ‒ also heads up Corporate Housing Interiors Limited (CHIL), the country’s most trusted and recognized name in outfitting and design for the corporate housing and hospitality industry. It is his role with CHIL specifically that garnered the award.

“It is a tremendous honour for me to be recognized among this incredibly talented and successful group of Ottawa business leaders and community builders,” says president of Custom Home Interiors and Corporate Housing Interiors Limited Andrew Emmans, who started both companies with colleagues Tyler Dren and Dylan MacNamara. “This distinction represents a total team effort and what we have been able to achieve as an organization over the past decade.”

While the challenge of running two companies keeps the team on their toes, they are grounded in the belief that giving back to the community is the greater measure of achievement. CHIL sets up houses and donates furniture and services to youth transitioning out of care as part of a Children’s Aid Foundation initiative called For the Love of Youth (FLY). CHI donates re-stores of gently used products to Habitat for Humanity. Both companies are also involved in various charitable fundraising initiatives and local sponsorships.

group of winners Ottawa’s 2015 Forty Under 40 Award Recipients

As Ottawa strives to be the centre of talent attraction and innovation, the Forty Under 40 awards are a way of recognizing economic trailblazers helping the city to meet this objective. Other honourees include Steve Beauchesne of Beau’s All Natural Brewing, Brian W. Boucher of Lee Valley Tools, Ian Capstick of MediaStyle, Ian M. Charlebois of RE/MAX Citywide Realty, Brittany Forsyth of Shopify, and Steve Schmalz of PCL Constructors Canada.

The Forty Under 40 awards are co-hosted by Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. The 2015 awards recipients were chosen by a panel of judges from more than 240 applications and 80 finalists.


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Jenna’s Internship at CHI Ottawa

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My name is Jenna Jones and I am an Interior Decorating student at Algonquin College who has been doing an internship at Ottawa’s Custom Home Interiors. With graduation coming up in a few short weeks, I wanted to share my experiences here at CHI with you! Coming into this internship, I wanted to gain as much experience in the Design and Decorating industry as I could, while still having an awesome time – during my time with CHI, I got all of that and more! Not only did I have the opportunity to work hand in hand with some amazing people, but I also got to work on a lot of amazing projects. I worked with Michaela on a model home, and I spent most of my time working with Tyler designing custom suites for corporate housing developments. I was introduced to a lot of great companies, such as Palette, Zuo Modern, Van Gogh, and Worldwide Furnishings, and I got to do what I do best – I got to be creative. At CHI, being creative is easy – they have an amazing showroom full of equally amazing products. Looking to re-do a kitchen or bathroom? CHI has everything you need from cabinetry to countertop materials to hardware and appliances, all in one convenient, easy place. Looking to increase the functionality in your home? CHI has a wide range of custom home automation products and systems that will suit all of your home comfort needs. With everything from fabric to furniture and appliances, Custom Home Interiors has everything you need for your Design and Decorating projects. My three favourite products in the CHI showroom are wolf subzero, Control4 home automation, and a beautiful white bathroom vanity.

Wolf Subzero not only offers a great product in terms of functionality, but they stand out among other appliances – the sleek design and stainless steel finish demands attention. Wolf Subzero offers everything from your standard gas range to outdoor grills, wine chillers, and convection steam ovens. Want that professional chef feel in your own home? Come into CHI today and find everything you need from wolf subzero to bring your top chef home with you! Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Ever dreamed of being able to control your entire home, all of its features, from the touch of a button? Ever dreamed of using your iPhone to turn your fireplace on from work, so that its nice and cozy when you get home? Now you can do all of this and more with CHI and Control4. Control4 offers complete home audio and automation control – with their in-wall and portable touch screen control pads, you can turn the lights off in the kitchen, turn the tv on in the living room, turn the heat up and turn your kids music off all with the touch of a button, located conveniently in one place. I love the Control4 system because it allows me to keep everything organized, and I love the convenience of having everything located in one easy-to use place. Image and video hosting by TinyPic I love this simple white bathroom vanity because of its versatility. The sleek, smooth white finish and shaker style drawer fronts will add a warm contemporary feel to your bathroom, while the splayed legs will complement any existing pieces in your home. The elegant marble countertop beautifully complements the white cabinetry and creates a modern elegant vanity that will work in any home. Beautiful!

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Overall, I had an extremely rewarding experience at CHI, and I learned a lot. Leaving the Interior Decorating program at Algonquin, I feel as though CHI has given me the skills and confidence I need to become a successful interior decorator. Lets get decorating!

-Jenna Jones-

Algonquin College Interior Decorating Program

Courtesy of Custom Home Interiors

Happy Holiday Fun from The TEAM at Custom Home Interiors

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Hi Everyone,

Well it seems that the Jib Jab Holiday videos are becoming an annual thing here at Custom Home Interiors. This year we have put together 2 videos to give our Blog followers, customers and frankly everyone who sees this, a really good laugh! Just click the link below the pictures.

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The Team Video

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The Directors Video

Hope you enjoy and have a happy and safe Holiday Season.

From the Team at Custom Home Interiors

Movember is back again at CHI

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Okay…so I know this does not relate to design or interiors or really anything of the sort but at the same time, I do know that the design community loves a good Moustache…its also for a really great cause.

This Movember formally know as November, I, Andrew Emmans CMO and owner of Custom Home Interiors will once again donate my face to the greater good and grow the meanest most awesome Moustache in hopes of raising money for Prostate cancer research.

Prostate cancer impacts everyone in some way whether it be a family member, friend, colleague or significant other. All it takes is a simple donation to my Mo Space Andrew’s Mo Space to help make a difference and learn more about the Movember movement.

If you want to get involved and participate in Movember by either being a Mo Bro and growing a beauty Moustache or being a Mo Sista and supporting the cause visit The Official  Movember site for more information.

My vow to all my supporters is to grow the best stash imaginable. I will update my progress on my Mo Space so be sure to check it out.

Here is a before and after shot of last year:

Before and After

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Please have a look and support the cause for Movember. Together we can make a difference.

Thank you all and wish me luck…by donating :-)

Very Sincerely,

Andrew Emmans


Custom Home Interiors

CDECA Professional Development Day was a HIT

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I would like to start by saying thank you to CDECA for a great Friday! This past Friday, October 21, 2011, I had the pleasure of spending my day with the best of the best that Ottawa has to offer for Designers and Decorators.

I attended the annual CDECA Professional Development Day held this year at the Southway Hotel on Bank Street. CDECA is a Canada-Wide association that represents accredited professionals – decorators, designers, students and affiliates – in the decorating industry. The professional development days which are held for members and affiliates gives those in the industry a chance to learn how to better their business practices and succeed in the market.

This year the topics were quite interesting. The first speaker was Fawn Chang, an Interior Designer, Colour and Feng Shui Expert. Her knowledge and tips on designs using ancient Feng Shui principles was fascinating. As decorators and designers, we all knew that balance and harmony are important when designing spaces, but to incorporate energy flow using elements of wood, water, fire, earth and metal was a learning experience for all involved!

The second speaker, Jeff Picard from Panoramik Home Improvements Inc. had some interesting advice on how renovators and designers/decorators can work together to achieve the outcome the client will love! He was able to answer all questions that were thrown at him from a room full of women.. pretty impressive Jeff!

After a fantastic lunch (provided by the Southway Hotel), the afternoon began with some updates from the CDECA National Office. There are some great things happening within the organization – and great participation from the NCR (National Capital Region)! Way to go Ottawa Decorators! The biggest thing to look forward to is going to be the new website. It is a great place for consumers to go to find accredited decorator and designer members in their region. Members – check out the member’s only section. It has been updated and is quite a bit easier to navigate now too!

The day closed with an inspirational talk from Andrew Houston – a business coach from Action Coach. Action Coach is the world’s number one business coaching firm. They specialize in small business coaching and mentoring. His discussion went through ideas such as the 6 Steps to Massive Results, 5 Ways of Growing a Business and how applying those 5 ways and increasing them each by 10% will increase your profits by much, much more than 10%. Andrew brought energy and ideas to the room and encouraged everyone to not just listen, but participate and IMPLEMENT the ideas from the day.

A big Thank You goes to Pittsburgh Paints for sponsoring the event, CDECA for organizing the event, Southway Hotel for hosting, and all the speakers for making it a very interesting day! I certainly look forward to next year’s Professional Development Day.

Mandalyn Goodall

Sales & Design Representative – Member Division

Custom Home Interiors & Obvious Advantage Inc.

2202 Thurston Drive, Ottawa, ON, K1G 6E1

T:613-248-1244; C:613-898-1245; F:613-248-8905 Follow us on Twitter @CHIOttawa Find us on Facebook @CustomHomeInteriors

Read our blog @

*Winner of the 2010 Ottawa Citizen Peoples Choice Award*

*Winner of the 2011 Best Showroom of the Year Award*

Fall 2011 Home & Design Show

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The Fall 2011 Home & Design Show kicked off Friday afternoon with a bang.  The crowds filled Landsdowne and the exhibitors were ready!  The CHI booth was well equipped with brochures, magazines and of course, free décor advice!  From painters and designers, furniture suppliers and landscaping experts, the show offered something for everyone!

It was a busy weekend and we were all happy to rest our tired feet Sunday night.  The hustle and bustle was well worth it, knowing the fall season will bring new clients and exciting projects our way!

If you missed the show, here are a few highlights:

• Luc Crawford’s high vs. low rooms were a hit!  Can you tell which one is more budget friendly?

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• Seminars, seminars, and more seminars!  From “The Property Brothers”, Jonathon and Drew Scott, to designer and co-host of “Take This House and Sell It!” Margie Doyle and our personal fav, skilled stager Susan Phillips, the audience received helpful tips and trade secrets!

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• The Algonquin Interior Decorating students showed off their creative sides, showcasing their creations built from a reconstructed Ikea chair.  No surprise Andrew Emman’s fav was the skateboard bookcase! Funky and functional!

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• We added something a little special to the CHI booth for the show; a vignette to showcase our design skills!  No, that is not real wine!  Yes, we wished it was!

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Thanks to all who came out to the show!  A big thanks to Caneast for all of their hard work and the designers who worked the booth with us (Sarah Kidder and Margaret Stuthers).  If you have a fall project on the horizon, you know who to call!

Happy fall everyone!

-Kiersten Lowden (

Filtering Real Estate Photos

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Filtering Real Estate Photos

Whether you’re just starting out or MLS obsessed, there is no denying the draw of virtual property shopping.

Surfing the Internet for a sneak peek into a home for sale is a little bit like socially sanctioned snooping – without leaving your seat.  Serious house hunters spend a significant amount time sifting through potential new homes online, so the importance of real estate photography should not be understated.

While there is a wealth of information available to savvy shoppers – from aerial maps and 360°street views to demographic and neighborhood profiles – many home buyers make snap judgments based solely how pretty a house looks in a picture.  Ask any home stager and they’ll agree – a home that looks good in photos sells better.

But are home buyers filtering properties out too fast by relying so heavily on what shows up on their screens?

Maybe there is more than one way to look at it!

There is no doubt professionally staged and photographed homes are beautiful to peruse.  They offer well-lit, wide-angled, clutter-free interior views, often enhanced by fresh neutral paint and colour- coordinated decor.  These spaces are easy on the eye, and entice buyers to visit the property in person. The care and attention that has been taken to showcase the home signals that a seller and their Realtor are serious about marketing.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are homes listed with just a few amateur photos to accompany the property details, where it seems the seller may not have agreed to much in the way of decorating or de-cluttering.  Sometimes, these photos expose awkward layouts, outdated finishes and overgrown gardens – all reasonable deterrents for an average house hunter on a budget – but sometimes, they just don’t do a home justice.   Despite less than dazzling marketing, amateur photos of an un-staged home can really reveal a lot about how a home actually functions.

So what is a smart home buyer supposed to do?

They key is to look for livability.  Spotting pitfalls or discovering potential has very little to do with the photography – whether it has been digitally re-touched or captured with a point-and-shoot.   Instead, it’s best to assess property based on its features – and flow – by seeing past the decor and focusing more directly on design.

By Katharine Cornfield,  Housters & Co.

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Housters & Co. is a boutique consultancy dedicated to helping everyday people locate and create livable, life-enhancing homes.