Two southeast communities conceptualized in the late ’80s and early ’90s are still turning heads 20 years later. McKenzie Lake and McKenzie Towne share a lineage and a location: they are both named after one of the first homesteaders in the area, James McKenzie, and they sit side by side on the east and west boundaries of Deerfoot Trail. But that is where the similarities end.

The eldest sibling – McKenzie Lake – features a 43-acre, manmade lake at its core, offering residents a sandy beach, a beautiful clubhouse and tennis courts, as well as a myriad of water sports in the summer, and skating and tobogganing in the winter. The lake is surrounded by an 18-acre park filled with 40-year-old trees and lovely landscaping. Multi-million-dollar homes ring the ridge overlooking the lake, and on a clear day, one can experience expansive views of the Rocky Mountains to the west.

Brimming with upscale, single-family homes, the neighbourhood draws families looking for an active lifestyle close to a variety of amenities.

Joanna Dupuis, who recently moved into the area with her husband and two preschool-age children, can’t say enough good things about the area.

“It is just so old-school, it reminds me of the neighbourhood I grew up in,” she said. “It’s really safe and it’s so pretty. Plus, we are really excited to use the lake in the summer,” she said.

McKenzie Towne, on the other hand, began as an experiment in new-urbanist design. Since its conception in the mid-1990s, it has won several design and urban planning awards, including the Urban Land Institute’s coveted title as one of the top master-planned communities in the world. It’s no wonder the City projects the population in the area to grow by 60 per cent over the next 25 years.

“Because of the design, you are always out talking to your neighbours,” said Shelley Wark-Martyn, president of the McKenzie Towne Community Association. “You get to know everyone. It is very friendly here.”

Wark-Martyn has been living in the area for 18 years and has watched it develop into a mature, established community that only reached final build-out four years ago. “My kids grew up here and now my daughter and her family have purchased a home in the area,” she said, noting that there is continuity within the community. “People stay here. They start with a starter home and move up.”

She says the amenities and the location are what attracted her to the area.

“We came to Calgary from Victoria and we really didn’t know the city,” she said. “We sat in coffee shops and pubs in several areas across the city, just chatting with the people to find out what they loved about their community. That’s how we chose McKenzie Towne. Plus, I needed to be close to the airport because I work all across North America and it’s just a quick 20-minute drive down the Deerfoot from here.”

McKenzie Towne’s new-urbanist design features a walkable, urban high street at its core, brimming with boutiques, pubs, restaurants and coffee shops, and anchored by a grocery store and gas station.

“It’s really handy,” said Wark-Martyn. “We have everything and I can walk everywhere. I never have to get in my car and go anywhere, except to the airport.”

Housing extends in a circular fashion from the urban high street. Homes are designed with front verandas and rear, alley-accessed garages, a concept that brings people to the front of the home, nudging them to interact with neighbours and the community.

“Many people call it Pleasantville,” said Wark-Martyn. “We certainly have no plans to leave.”


  • Quadrant: S.E.
  • Established: 1982 (McKenzie Lake), 1995 (McKenzie Towne)
  • Population: 31,722
  • Dwellings: 11,807
  • Median age: 37 (McKenzie Lake), 32 (McKenzie Towne)
  • Median pre-tax household income:
  • $114,519 (McKenzie Lake), $94,876 (McKenzie Towne)
  • Number of residential sales (YTD): 36
  • Residential average price (YTD): $389,314
    SOURCE: 2017 Calgary Civic Census, 2011 National Household Survey & CREB®
A young boy in a bath tub surrounded with bubbles & ducks

Absolutely stunning! No. 4 is a water-resisting showstopper.

We don’t ask much from bathroom surfaces.  

Just that they be beautiful and withstand every cleaning chemical invented, steamy showers, piles of damp towels, and, did we mention, tantrum-induced line-drives with bath toys?

Oh, and they should be easy to clean. That’s all.

So what materials can live up to the ask? We asked the experts. Here are 10 they recommend:

#1 Engineered Stone Countertop

Dying for a white marble countertop? Join the club. But get ready to seal, reseal, and reseal. Then repeat. Year after year.

Or, go for engineered stone, which can mimic marble (and other stone materials) for about the same cost, but minus the hassle. It’s non-porous so it resists bacteria, mold, stains, and water damage better than the real thing. Better! And it never needs sealing!

#2 Glazed Porcelain Tile Floor

Porcelain flooring in a bathroom that looks like woodImage: Olympia Tile

Moisture is Enemy No. 1 for bathroom floors, and glazed porcelain tile is its most-worthy adversary.

A white bathroom with tub and porcelain tilesImage: Happy Floors

It won’t hold onto water like laminate and porous materials, and porcelain tiles glazed with glass are nearly stain-proof — as are today’s high-quality epoxy and urethane grouts, which don’t require sealing.

#3 Vinyl Floor

Time to rethink vinyl. Hear us out. Luxury vinyl tiles, which mimic stone and wood, are awesome at resisting moisture.

Other affordable options like laminate just can’t keep up. Plus, vinyl sheets are so large, you can cover a small bath without a single seam or grout line, making it easy on the eye and easier to keep clean.

#4 Plywood Cabinets

Yup. We said plywood. But today’s “grade A” offering isn’t your mother’s plywood. (Or your Swedish cousin’s, which is actually particleboard.)

Composed of pressed layers of alder, birch, or cedar, “grade A” plywood (also known as furniture-grade) remains more stable in the face of moisture than solid wood, which will shrink and swell in response to bathroom humidity (causing cracks in painted surfaces and even warped panels).

As for the finish, you don’t need to spring for anything fancy: The factory finish applied to cabinetry nowadays will hold up to the moisture. Isn’t living in the future great?

#5 Tempered Glass Shower Doors

Tempered glass shower doorImage: Aha!nteriors

While you need your glass to be tempered for safety, you don’t need a special spot-resistant treatment or upgraded texture to have crystal-clear shower doors.

“Glass is easy to clean,” says Ebony Stephenson, a certified kitchen and bath designer. “I tell my clients, ‘I’ll give you a squeegee and you can save $2,000. It’s a lot of money when you can just wipe off your glass.’” So definitely get tempered glass, but skip the add-on treatments that promise no spots.

#6 Glossy or Semi-Glossy Paint

The No. 1 thing to stop mold in a bathroom is an exhaust fan. It may not be sexy, but that mildew-y smell in your bath isn’t exactly “come-hither” either.Mold and mildew are real concerns, even on the walls, thanks to bathroom humidity. So paint sheen matters.

A full-on glossy paint has a shiny, sealed surface that blocks out moisture and wipes clear of residue, say from hairspray, without leaving a mark like a matte finish will. But the sheen can be a bit overbearing on anything more than trim, and calls attention to wall flaws.

A semi-glossy finish will hold up nearly as well to cleaning and moisture, without calling quite as much attention to bumps, dents, and other imperfections.

#7 Cast Iron Tub

A white clawfoot tub in a restored tiled bathroomImage: Anderson Estates Building

A tub forged from molded liquid iron is likely going to be the toughest thing in your house — maybe even your neighborhood, depending on where you live.

You may need extra support for your floor (and your pocketbook) to bring it home, but cast iron won’t chip, scratch, or dent like fiberglass, acrylic, and even porcelain can.

This tub is your forever tub. And probably your children’s forever tub. And their kids’.

#8 Porcelain-on-Steel Tub

Don’t let its acronym, POS, misguide you: Heat-fused enamel on steel will resist corrosion, abrasion, and chipping better than synthetic materials, and it is much more affordable than cast iron.

#9 Acrylic Panel Shower Walls

White textured acrylic shower wall panelImage: Kohler Co.

Despite their lightweight, acrylic wall panels, often called shower surrounds, are not lightweights. They resist chipping, cracking, and peeling, and are much easier to maintain than stone tiles or slabs. Unlike tile, they nail directly to wall studs or glue to the wallboards, so they don’t require grout. Acrylic is tougher than fiberglass and colored all the way through — so it’s less likely to scratch, and even a deep cut won’t be as obvious. They’re also more affordable than tile and available in textured patterns, if you want to look like you splurged on a fancy design.

#10 Stainless Steel Sink

A red tiled bathroom wall with stainless sinkImage: Asa Gilmore

Stainless: not just for kitchens anymore. Corrosion- and stain-resistant, it won’t melt under a hot curling iron like acrylic can, and won’t dent or chip like porcelain if nail clippers plummet down from the medicine cabinet.

And it’s the perfect match for the industrial-chic look that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Statistical highlights from CREB®s 2018 Economic Outlook and Regional Housing Market Forecast

A new front door has the highest ROI, not to mention the boost in curb appeal. 

You’re going to save money with DIY home improvement projects. Sure, everybody knows that.

But did you know how much? Cut professionals out of the equation and you can save half the cost of a project — or more. 

What’s more, you get a great return on your investment. Meaning, the financial value you get out of a DIY project is much more than what you put in.

Here’s a rundown of some top money-saving projects, using cost and recovered costs data from the “Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

#1 New Steel Front Door

Few replacement projects have as much upside as a new steel entry door. Not only will you recover about 75% of the cost of having an entry door professionally installed, but you’ll spruce up your curb appeal big time. Want proof? Ninety-six percent of homeowners responding to the “Remodeling Impact Report” say they are happy or satisfied with their new front door.  

Of course, you’ll save even more if you tackle this project yourself. Know your door parts (jambs, threshold, stops) before digging in. You’ll be putting in a pre-hung door that includes jambs, so the old stuff has to come out. If you can, preserve the old casing (trim) that goes around the door. Otherwise, plan to buy new casing.

If You Hire                          If You DIY

Cost $2,000                            Cost $250

Recoup at Sale $1,500.         Recoup at Sale $1,500

Recoup Cost 75%                   Recoup Cost 600%

This is a good one to have a friend or spouse lend a hand. It’ll take six to eight hours if it’s your first time. Remember the three-legged mantra of door installation: Plumb, level, square.

#2 New Garage Door

Tired of looking at that big blank billboard every time you pull into your driveway? Change out your old garage door for a spiffy new steel model and the whole neighborhood will thank you. Save some cash by keeping the same motorized opener.

If You Hire                        If You DIY

Cost $2,300                           Cost $850

Recoup at Sale $2,000        Recoup at Sale $2,000

Recoup Costs 87%                Recoup Costs     235%

A steel garage door comes in four panels that are relatively lightweight but awkward — get a friend to lend a hand and you’ll have this project done in a day. Then stand back and admire along with 95% of homeowners in the “Remodeling Impact Report” who said they were happy or satisfied with their new garage door. 

#3 New Vinyl Windows

If you want to replace four or more windows, or a second-story window, then hire the work out. Being up on a ladder with an object as bulky as a window is no place for a non-professional. Pros bring scaffolding, which takes time to set up but ultimately makes the work faster and safer.Replacing one, two, or maybe three first-story windows is a good DIY job. Anything more and the pros will get the job done with better efficiency in terms of time and hassle.

If you Hire                           If You DIY

Cost per Window $556         Cost per Window $250

Recoup at Sale $444             Recoup at Sale $444

Recoup Costs 80%                 Recoup Costs 178%

If you’ve measured your rough opening correctly and bought the right window, then one window should take you three to four hours. You’ll get faster with subsequent windows.

#4 New Wood Flooring

Few projects are as satisfying, while recovering such a high percentage of your investment, as new wood flooring. According to the “Remodeling Impact Report,” 96% of homeowners were happy or satisfied with their professionally installed hardwood floors. Combine that with a 91% return on your investment, and you’ll likely be a very happy homeowner.For the DIYer, installing hardwood flooring is a bit labor intensive, but the techniques are fairly easy to master. Once you get the hang of it, installing prefinished hardwood flooring should go smoothly.

If You Hire                            If You DIY

Cost $5,500                               Cost $1,770

Recoup at Sale $5,000            Recoup at Sale $5,000

Recoup of Cost 91%.                Recoup of Cost 282%


#5 Insulation Upgrade

OK, maybe it’s not the sexiest project. After all, it’s tucked out of sight in your attic. But you can feel it with increased comfort, and see the savings on your energy bill. Those are big pluses. Upgrading an under-insulated attic space can save you up to 50% per year in energy costs. With a pro cost of $2,100, it’ll take at least a couple of years to pay off your investment with savings. Do it yourself, however, and you’ll only spend about $700 for enough 10-inch-thick fiberglass batt insulation to cover a 20-foot-by-40-foot attic space. You’ll pocket the savings much sooner. It’s also an awkward project, it can be messy, and you’ll need to bundle up behind protective clothing. However, insulating your attic is a low-skill project that most DIYers can pull off. Just be sure not to stick your foot through the drywall under the attic floor joists! 

If You Hire                          If you DIY 

Cost $2,100                             Cost $700

Recoup at Sale $1,600          Recoup at Sale $1,600

Recoup of Cost 76%               Recoup of Cost 229%


Article by John Riha

 January 26, 2018 by Kathleen Renee


Tips and tricks for DIY room painting

Before running a paint roller over any wall in your home, Ryan Tantzen, manager at Anilin Decorating Centre, says you should first “figure out your needs for the project.”

“Whether you’re looking to sell your home, or stay in it, will dictate those needs,” he said.

The general rule of thumb? If you’re looking to sell a house, it’s advisable to use a light colour.

“Lighter colours open up your space and make it feel clean,” said Tantzen. “If you’re planning on staying in your home, you don’t have to worry about trends – you just have to worry about what you like.”

Once your needs are established, Tantzen says the next step is to select the correct paint for the project, a decision largely influenced by the humidity level of the room in question.

The most humid rooms in a house are the bathrooms. Tantzen says paint technology has come a long way from the oil-based paints of yesteryear, which are lauded for their ability to resist moisture. Contemporary brands offer humidity-friendly options that prevent condensation from collecting on walls.

When it comes to paint finish, Tantzen says many customers prefer a matte finish, as mattes are less likely to show surface imperfections when compared with gloss finishes. The most popular finish, in Tantzen’s experience is Regal Eggshell.


“It’s a balance between a flat and a pearl,” he said. “With most products on the market, you require some sheen to have a durable, washable finish. Eggshell offers a nice middle ground. It looks soft and elegant on walls.”

Tantzen emphasizes that one main advantage of paints with higher-gloss finishes is that they are washable.

Before applying a fresh coat of paint, Tantzen says it’s crucial to make sure the walls have been prepared for painting, a procedure that can involve scraping off lifting paint, sanding the walls, and patching any divots and imperfections with a product like Drydex. In the case of a bathroom, Tantzen says it’s then necessary to apply an oil-based primer to the walls to “seal in the trouble spots” before applying fresh paint.

Tantzen says you should always work from top to bottom when painting, keeping a “wet edge” – the still-wet section where paint has just been applied – and working out from that. Always saturate the roller. Also, to avoid issues like texturing, uneven sheen and lap marks, don’t overwork the paint.

“Once the paint starts to set, if you touch it, it will texture it. You don’t want to go back and start working it,” said Tantzen, noting that two hours between coats should suffice.

Tantzen also suggests that, after cleaning paint brushes to the point that no cloudy water can still be squeezed from them, you rub a bit of hair conditioner into the bristles before storing them.

When taping baseboard edges, Tantzen says there a couple of tips to remember. First, he suggests pushing hard on the leading edge of the painter’s tape to seal it. Second, Tantzen says, you shouldn’t leave the tape on for too long, as it will either start to lift or to bond to the surface.

When it comes to planning feature walls, Tantzen recommends either selecting the first wall you see within a room, or painting a wall across from a window, as it will be highlighted, literally.

Ultimately, Tantzen says, if you don’t like your colour choice, or how the new paint looks, you can always buy another can of paint and start over.

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