How to Decorate Kitchen Counters: 6 Great Tips





The kitchen is the one room in the house that can be a little trickier to decorate than all the others. This is because it’s a room designed for function and where we spend most of our time cooking, cleaning and getting things done. But no rule says your kitchen can’t be both beautiful and functional. Since the counter is the largest piece of real estate in the kitchen, we’ve got six great tips on how to decorate kitchen counters.

Cut the Clutter

The reason it’s so hard to figure out how to decorate kitchen counters is often because of kitchen clutter. The kitchen tends to be the catchall of the home. It’s the place where we drop bags after school and where we pile things to “take care of later.” But no amount of decorating can make a cluttered kitchen look better.

Start by clearing the counters of everything. This includes small appliances, knife blocks and dishracks. If you can find a home for those items that get left out on the counter, you’ll be able to focus on decorating the counters rather than trying to make the kitchen clutter look good.

Turn to Designer Appliances

If you long for the convenience of keeping your go-to appliances out but also want to decorate your kitchen counters, there is a solution. You can now get standard appliances such as toasters and kettles in stylish designer models. So whether you love the vintage look of brightly-hued retro appliances or the sleek, modern-colored metallic options, designer appliances bridge the gap between convenience and style.

Go Natural

If your style is minimal and you favor clear surfaces over a lot of decor, let nature be your guide. Plants, flowers and produce all make ideal kitchen counter decorations. For a simple look that packs a lot of punch, display a large vase of fresh flowers right in the middle of the counter. Choose a vase that complements your kitchen color scheme and switch out the flowers regularly. If flowers aren’t your thing, a large bowl of fresh fruit gives your kitchen a pop of color and encourages your family to eat a little healthier.

Upgrade Your Kitchen Counter Essentials

While your everyday cooking accessories may not be designer items, they are the perfect pieces to upgrade so they can double as decor. Pretty cutting boards, serving trays, cake stands and bowls will level up your kitchen counter decorating game.

Look for good-quality items that complement the style of your kitchen. For example, live edge cutting boards will add a rustic touch, while beautiful marble boards give a more modern look. Try to choose pieces with interesting shapes in various materials and sizes to add variety and interest. To decorate the kitchen counter, lean the largest board against the wall and arrange smaller pieces in front of it.

Get Energized with a Coffee Station

If you want the chicest and most convenient way to get your java on in the morning, you need a coffee station stat! Choose a section of your counter that’s out of the way and isn’t frequently used for cooking or prep work. Then collect up all your coffee-making essentials. Add a few key display pieces such as a mug stand and pretty canisters, and then set it all up. You’ll have a stylish and super convenient spot to prepare your favorite warm beverages

Hit the Books

Books aren’t just for libraries and desks. They’re the perfect decorating accessory for almost every room in the house, especially when you’re looking for fresh ideas for how to decorate your kitchen counters. And the best part is, you probably already have cookbooks and other foodie books stashed in your kitchen. However, if you don’t have a collection of kitchen-appropriate books, stock up for less at yard sales and thrift stores.

Take advantage of an out-of-reach corner of the kitchen counter to display books. Line them up in the corner and use a canister as a bookend to keep them in place. You can also use larger books as a platform to display small plants or a decorative bowl. And if you have a favorite cookbook you use frequently, a pretty book stand will allow you to both display it and reference it.

When it comes to decorating your kitchen counters, there’s no one way to go. Choose the look you like best or try a combination of these tips for perfectly styled kitchen counters.


First-time Apartment Renter? How to Create an Airtight Budget


Moving into your first apartment can be an exciting time. However, one of the most important things to nail early on is your budget. In the end, knowing how much apartment you can realistically afford is essential. With that in mind, let’s see how every first-time apartment renter can create an airtight budget.

The Importance of Setting a Budget

Without setting a budget and understanding the costs associated with renting your first apartment, you’re essentially going in blind. As those unexpected costs mount up, your finances will start to strain, putting you in a tricky spot. By calculating an accurate budget in advance, you can narrow your apartment search to those that fit in your comfortable price range.

Knowing Your Numbers and Setting Limits

In general, out of your total income, you should not spend more than 30-35% on living expenses each month. However, it’s important to understand that there are several costs and fees to consider besides your monthly rent payments. Let’s take a closer look.

The Main Monthly Costs for First Time Renters

Monthly Rent

Rent payments can vary wildly depending on the area and type of location you plan to move to. For example, the average rent prices for a 1-bedroom apartment vary from around $1,400-$3,500 across major cities. So do your research and see what the average rent is in the area of your choice – this way, you can be sure you’re not paying too much.


In some rentals, the cost of utilities is built into the monthly rent payment. However, they’re often billed separately. Utilities include electricity, heating, cooling, gas, water and even garbage disposal. The cost normally ranges from $120 to $350 per month in most major cities.


Whether you eat out regularly, order take-out or cook for yourself, food is an essential cost that must be factored into any reliable budget. Prices vary by location, so be sure to research how much things cost in your new area.

Internet and Phone

In this day and age, most of us are fairly reliant on the internet and our smartphones. As such, it’s important to take the cost of a monthly subscription into account when budgeting for your first apartment. On average, a typical internet bill will cost between $30 and $60 a month.

Miscellaneous Costs

Depending on your lifestyle, many additional monthly costs are worth considering. For example, laundry fees should be calculated if you don’t have your own facilities, and be sure to consider any subscriptions you might have, such as NetFlix. Maintenance tasks such as snow removal might also be charged, and if you have a vehicle, it’s essential to add in any parking costs you have.

Renters Insurance

You’re generally not obliged to take out renters insurance, but it can be a useful policy to have. It will cost around $12-$16 a month on average and can keep you protected against many disasters.

Building a Lump Sum for Your First Apartment

No budget would be complete without considering the upfront costs you’ll need to pay as a first-time apartment renter. It’s good to have this sum ready to go, as you’ll often be required to pay after signing your lease agreement.

Security Deposit

The security deposit is typically the equivalent of one months’ rent. This will be refunded after your lease has expired, as long as the place is free from damage.

First and Last Months’ Rent

In some cases, the landlord will charge the first and last months’ rent before you move in. This differs slightly from the security deposit, although the rent for the last month of your lease can also be used as a security deposit. This system can be good in the long run for both the tenant and the landlord, but it does increase the initial price of renting an apartment.

Application fees

Application fees go to the landlord and are usually used to cover costs such as running a credit check. The exact amount collected varies – around $30 is a typical figure, although, in some areas, it can exceed $200.


Some apartments are rented unfurnished. If this is the case, you’ll need to bring your own bed, tables, chairs, etc. So, as a first-time apartment renter, you’ll likely have to buy new items. This can add up to a substantial sum, so be sure to factor it in.

Moving costs

For out-of-state moves, prices can easily exceed $1,000 if you use a professional moving company. Even locally, you can expect to pay around $350 for a one-bedroom apartment on average. Of course, you can `make the move yourself to reduce costs, but factor in the price of van hire if necessary, as well as gas.


Five Insurance Tips for Wildfire Season


Sadly, it seems that in addition to spring, summer, fall and winter, BC now has a fifth season: wildfire season. What’s worse is that this year the wildfire season has gotten off to an early start, making it more important than ever for REALTORS® to help clients manage wildfire risks. While there are some things homeowners can do to make their properties more wildfire-resilient (check out the province’s FireSmartTM website), it largely comes down to homeowner insurance. Here are five insurance tips for buying and selling during wildfire season.

1. Know the 50km radius rule.

During wildfire season, most insurance providers won’t bind insurance policies on properties within a certain radius – typically 50km – of an active and uncontained wildfire. However, there are a few that will consider insuring a home with a wildfire more than 25km away but less than 50k on a case-by-case basis. For example, if there is a fire that is considered to be under control within a 50km radius (shown as green on the BC Wildfire Dashboard), an insurer may be willing to bind a policy.

2. Consider wildfire risks when drafting a contract.

Buyers can help mitigate some of the risks of buying a home in wildfire season by including a “subject to insurance” clause in their offer. If the buyer can’t secure insurance by the completion date, the mortgage company may not fund the mortgage, which could lead to the buyer not being able to complete, based on the terms of the contract. Click here for a sample clause from the Real Estate Council of BC. As always, advise clients to seek legal advice regarding the addition of clauses to the Contract of Purchase and Sale.

Another way to help mitigate wildfire risks from the get-go is by asking for a long completion. For example, a buyer could ask for a fall completion or at another time when wildfire activity has decreased.

3. Get a “binder” from an insurance provider, not just a quote.

There’s a big difference between getting a quote from an insurance provider and an insurer “binding” a policy. A quote just summarizes the coverages being offered and the annual premium (price). When an insurance provider binds an insurance policy, it means they’ve issued the policy and coverage will come into effect on the agreed-upon date. Buyers should request that the insurer binds the policy to align with the closing date so that coverage is active when the sale has been completed. However, if the closing date changes, a bound offer won’t become valid until the buyer becomes the owner and the buyer should notify the insurer to change the effective date.

Once a policy has been bound, the insurer is generally bound to honour the policy (assuming there is no misrepresentation on the buyer’s part), even if a fire were to ignite that is a potential threat to the home or a pre-existing wildfire were to spread.

4. Buyers: secure insurance as early as possible!

Since buyers are likely to find it more difficult to secure insurance during wildfire season, it’s important that they begin shopping around as early as possible. Delays in securing insurance can hold up the sale process and even cause a deal to collapse if a buyer’s financing depends on securing insurance. And, as per tip 3, don’t forget the importance of getting a binding offer and not just a quote for a policy!

5. Get legal advice.

In situations where buyers and sellers are in a legally binding contract and are facing the potential of a sale not completing or requiring extensions, they should be advised to seek legal advice as soon as possible. Remember, changing dates on a contract effectively reopens the contract. Obtaining legal advice will help ensure buyers and sellers are aware of their rights and obligations.

For more information on helping clients manage wildfire risks, go to:

To subscribe to receive BCREA publications such as this one, or to update your email address or current subscriptions, click here.

Penticton’s Bad Tattoo Brewing opens new Kelowna location

If you’re looking for a new spot to try this weekend, Bad Tattoo Brewing’s Kelowna location is now open at Clement Avenue just east of Richter Street.

Bad Tattoo Brewing has been an Okanagan staple, starting Penticton and now expanding into Kelowna’s new north-end brewery district, with a 1,000-square-foot patio.

The Brewer has been open for a few days as they work the kinks out and get their new staff and systems sorted.

Bad Tattoo is well known for its thin-crust forno pizza and unique brands of beer, they’ve been on a so-called “soft opening’ for the past few days but are now officially ready to welcome you.

“We look at Kelowna as one of our largest beer markets at the moment. It just seemed like the natural place to expand, with how fast Kelowna is growing we were really lucky to find an ideal location,” said Bad Tattoo owner Lee Agur.

Bad Tattoo Brewing opened its Penticton location at 169 Estabrook Ave in 2014 and quickly became one of the most popular restaurants in the city.

Agur says the Kelowna location will follow the themes of their Penticton flagship, with the simple but unbeatable combination of craft beer and rock-oven pizza on the menu.

Single Story For Sale in Okanagan Falls

Photo Link
In St. Andrews by the lake located just 15 minutes outside of Penticton!

•  1437 sqft , 2 bath , 3 bdrm single story – FOR SALE  CAD685,000 . open floor plan rancher
MLS® 190628

Rare opportunity to own a 3-bedroom, open floor plan rancher, in St. Andrews by the lake located just 15 minutes outside of Penticton! This beautiful partially updated 1,437 sq. ft. home is on a large .23 flat lot with lovely views & wide-open spaces. This home has had some upgrades; Energy efficient heat pump, newer laminate/tile flooring, hot water tank, oversized sliding doors to back deck plus newer bathrooms. Parking will not be an issue, this home offers a 21’ x 19” double car garage, RV parking plus Sani dump and still plenty of room for your other toys like boats or quads. Lifestyle is what living in St Andrews by the lake is all about! Amenities which are included in the strata fees; Golf, Heated Swimming Pool, Tennis/Pickleball Courts, Fitness Room, Clubhouse, RV Compound & Dog Park. This is an amazing community no matter what your age or activity level.

Click here: Property information

First-ever Event Strategy in the works for Kelowna


Have your say on events

The city wants your input on when and where big events should be taking place in Kelowna.

Residents are being encouraged to contribute to the first-ever Event Strategy.

“Our goal is to foster an eventful city, not just a city full of events,” said Chris Babcock, Event Development Supervisor. “We’re engaging with our event industry partners and residents to ensure that future events hosted in our city help to bolster our community pride as we strive for a vibrant and inclusive event culture here in Kelowna.”

As part of the strategy, Get Eventive Days will take over the waterfront promenade for two weekends this summer; July 24 & 25 and August 21 & 22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It will feature local art, sports demonstrations, music, food trucks and more.

“In addition to our event strategy, we’re also seeking ideas as to what Kelowna’s signature event could be,” said Babcock. “We invite our residents to be creative, tell us their ideas, and help us develop an event that reflects who we are and who we want to be.”

You can visit the Event Strategy project site until September 7 to make suggestions, vote on other residents’ ideas and fill out a city survey.

Housing Market Update – July 2021


Watch BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson discuss the June 2021 statistics.


Click here to visit our YouTube channel. Read the news release here.

For more information, please contact:
Brendon Ogmundson
Chief Economist
Direct: 604.742.2796
Mobile: 604.505.6793

What Is an REO Property, and How to Buy One?

Distressed properties can be a very attractive option for both homebuyers and investors. Yet when faced with the hustle and bustle of a foreclosure auction, some buyers can find themselves overwhelmed. Often, dealing with the bank directly can allow you to pace your home buying decision and even provide a better deal. This is where REOs come into play.

What Is an REO Property?

Real estate-owned (REO) properties, also known as bank-owned, are properties that have not sold at a foreclosure auction, and as a result, they are owned by the foreclosing bank.

Before a property becomes an REO, it goes through several stages:

  1. Payment default: the owner of the property fails to make a payment on their mortgage loan. If 90 days go by and the owner has yet to resolve the overdue payment, the bank will send out a Notice of Default and a lien will be activated on the property.
  2. Foreclosure: the bank will begin the legal proceedings against the owner and the property will go into foreclosure.
  3. Auction: once the foreclosure is concluded and the owner’s delinquency is proven in court, the bank will try to recuperate the owed amount by listing the property at a public auction.
  4. REO: if the property is not sold at the auction, it will be added to the bank’s inventory and will be classed as a bank-owned or REO property. From there, the bank will collaborate with REO specialists and real estate agents to sell the property.

Buying an REO Property

Broadly speaking, buying an REO property is similar to buying a home from a private owner. You will still need to check MLS listings, research the local market, consider your financing options, obtain an appraisal and inspection, make an offer, negotiate and close the deal. However, there are some differences.

With REO, you’re dealing with an institution

This means that making decisions and waiting for a reply will take longer than when buying from a private owner and even cause delays that come with hidden costs.

For example, banks often require you to sign an addendum to the contract, in which they stipulate clear terms for the purchase, such as the fact that the property will be sold as-is. Yet, the addendum can also specify that the sale must be closed by a set date. If the sale is not closed by then, you can find yourself paying a fee. The best way to avoid this scenario is to get pre-approved with the lender selling that property.

Negotiating the price will be trickier

Banks often sell REOs at discounted prices and are less inclined to lower the price. Even if your offer is taken into consideration, it can go through a lengthy approval process.

Most banks will clear any liens on the REO property

In addition, they’ll also provide you with a general warranty deed pledging that you will own the home free of any legal issues or claims, such as outstanding liens. However, in some cases, banks will only provide a special warranty deed, which means they can’t guarantee against any liens prior to the bank owning the property. Ideally, you should hire a company to run a full title search before closing to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Are REOs Worth It?

The main appeal of real estate-owned properties is that they can be a better deal than buying from a private owner. When a property fails to sell at an auction, the bank is at a disadvantage, and in order to recover its costs, it will aim to encourage buyers by offering discounted prices.

Buying an REO is also less risky than buying a home at a foreclosure auction. For example, you can visit the property and get a better idea of the condition it’s in. You can also request a home inspection, which is rarely an option for auctioned properties, or when it is, it comes with strict limitations.

On the flip side, the main drawback to an REO property is the fact that it’s sold as-is, which often means it will need extensive repairs. Admittedly, it’s in the bank’s interest to sell the property, and some banks will make repairs to ensure that the property is livable. But this isn’t always the case. Also, the bank will not pay for any repairs on REO properties that you wish to do yourself, so remember to factor in this extra cost.

If you’re considering buying a bank-owned property, it’s always best to work with a real estate agent who has experience with REOs. Not only will they help you find the best properties and best prices, but they will also advise on how to structure an offer, help calculate the cost of repairs and streamline the process of buying an REO as much as possible.