Don’t Get Fooled by These 7 Common Winter Driving Myths

winter driving myths, car driving towards snow plow

GS-VIE [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

There are numerous winter driving myths out there.

Too many vehicle owners believe them, even drivers who have been navigating the slippery winter roads for decades.

Actually, that fact likely plays a big role in why these misconceptions and mistaken beliefs about winter driving are so common.

Drivers get set in their ways and an outdated way of thinking, stubbornness, and simple misinformation combine to make these winter driving myths become reality in some drivers’ minds.

7 common winter driving myths debunked

The truth is, being mislead by one or more of these myths about winter driving can end up costing you money and make you and the roads less safe.

If you’ve been under the impression that any of the following winter driving myths were true, we’re here to tell you otherwise (in most cases…a couple of them fall into more of a “gray” area, as opposed to having a definitive “wrong/right” answer).

Keep reading to get the straight facts about these seven common winter driving myths and misconceptions.

1. Engines need a few minutes to warm up in the cold

This has to be the most prevalent winter driving myth. A shocking number of drivers still think their vehicle’s engine requires a few minutes of warm-up time when it’s cold outside.

In fact, most modern vehicles are fine to drive approximately 15-30 seconds after the engine has started. Diesel engines may require a little extra time.

Over the past couple of decades, automakers have moved to more efficient fuel injection systems in vehicles. That means a vehicle’s oil and some other automotive fluids circulate much faster upon startup compared to the carburetor engines of the past.

If you’re using a synthetic engine oil, there’s even less need for a lengthy engine warm-up. In comparison to traditional motor oils, synthetic oils are less prone to thickening up in frigid temperatures.

It is a fact that a vehicle’s fuel efficiency is slightly lower in extreme cold temperatures, partially because engines take longer to reach their optimal operating temperature. Just about all auto and science experts, however, agree that letting vehicles idle is totally unnecessary and only wastes fuel. Many parts of the U.S. and Canada have anti-idling laws to curtail excessive emissions.

A more fuel-efficient and eco-conscious mindset by car consumers has, of course, made electric vehicles increasingly popular. And automakers have implemented newer start-stop engine technology (even in non-electric and non-hybrid cars) that shuts off engines when a vehicle has stopped.

Naturally, drivers do let their vehicles warm up for longer periods in the winter for comfort-related reasons or to defrost windows. Sitting inside a frigid car or truck is admittedly never enjoyable, but here are a few ways to help your vehicle warm up a little quicker:

  • park in your garage to keep your vehicle’s engine and cabin a bit warmer (and definitely avoid excessive idling in the garage)
  • use an engine block heater instead of a remote starter
  • make use of seat and steering wheel warmers (note that using these features will slightly lower fuel efficiency)

2. Adding weight to a car trunk guarantees you better traction

Another of the longstanding winter driving myths is that adding excess weight to the trunk of a car will automatically improve your road traction.

In theory, it seems to make sense. Just weigh down the back of a car or truck to improve a vehicle’s rear traction and limit any possible fishtailing or loss of control in deeper snow, on ice, or on wet roads.

Heavy sand bags (commonly around 40-75 pounds) seem to be the weight of choice for anyone doing this. I’ve also known people who weighed down their car trunks in the winter with cement bags and cinder blocks.

The fact is, this one is actually only a half-myth because there are benefits to adding weight to a vehicle’s rear, but only in very specific cases.

For front-wheel drive vehicles, significant added trunk weight only makes a car lose traction because you’re messing with its weight distribution. A lot of experts also don’t believe most all-wheel drive vehicles should have rear weight added as a way to improve traction.

So when is adding rear weight mostly okay? Only if your vehicle is rear-wheel drive. Having that extra weight close to the drive wheels is the key to making this whole idea work, so that should improve your traction.

There are other variables involved with this, including knowing how much weight to add to a rear-wheel-drive vehicle to even get the most benefit from it.

Of course, another important factor to consider is that all of that extra weight your vehicle is carrying will obviously affect its fuel consumption (not to mention the cargo space it takes up).

We say leave the sand bags in your garage or shed and stick with winter tires if you’re looking for better snow traction.

3. Winter tires are overrated and a waste of money

Since the 1930s when they first arrived, winter tires and their worthiness have been a divisive issue.

Lots of drivers think they’re not worth the money and swear by their all-season tires as a year-round tire solution. In truth, much of the blame has to go to tire manufacturers for using the “all-season” name, which is somewhat misleading.

Yes, you can technically use all-season tires on a vehicle year-round, but they’re certainly not your best tire option if you live anywhere that gets snow and sub-zero temperatures.

High-performance summer tires would also be better for your vehicle during the spring and summer, but again, those all-season tires do get the job done. A cynic might say that to a certain degree, all-season tires are a rather “jack of all trades, master of none” tire option.

The whole debate gets even more convoluted when all-weather tires are brought into the discussion. Not to be confused with all-season tires, higher quality all-weather tires deliver superior true year-round performance compared to all-season tires. Just be prepared to pay more for them and know that they have a shorter tread life.

Make no mistake about it, however – no other tire keeps your vehicle safer on slippery winter roads than a good set of winter tires. That holds true even if you have a vehicle with traction control or own an all-wheel/4-wheel drive vehicle.

The rubber compound and treads winter tires have is engineered to provide improved grip that helps you stop, steer, and accelerate better not just in snow, but in cold weather even when the roads are dry.

Testing has shown that compared to vehicles without winter tires, good winter tires can improve a vehicle’s ability to stop faster in winter conditions by up to 30-40%.

Do note that the extra grip winter tires provide means you will see a slight decline in your vehicle’s fuel economy. You also need to make sure you don’t leave them on your vehicle too long when the weather warms up in the spring, which can cause the treads to wear down faster.

winter driving myths, snow tire

4. Snow and ice only needs to be cleared off a vehicle’s windows

We’ve all seen those infuriating winter drivers who barely even bother to clear much of the piled-up snow from their car or truck before hitting the road.

It goes without saying that when a vehicle is covered in snow, only turning on your front windshield wipers in order to see where you’re driving (while ignoring your side windows and mirrors and rear windshield) is the height of irresponsibility.

A frustrating number of drivers also neglect to not just clear snow and ice from their windows, but the roof, hood, sides, and trunks of their vehicles.

Every year where you live, there’s assuredly at least one news story of a bad accident (or fatality) that was caused by flying ice or snow from another vehicle. You’ve no doubt experienced one or more scary moments with flying ice or snow while on the roads during the winter.

Take the time to brush and scrape off as much snow and ice from your vehicle’s exterior as possible for your own safety and out of consideration for your fellow drivers.

Depending on the laws in your area, you can be fined for driving with excess snow on your vehicle or be held liable for a collision caused by falling snow or ice from your vehicle. A Winnipeg man was fined over $200 for driving with an unsecured load because he had so much snow on his van’s roof.

If clearing the snow off your vehicles is getting tiresome, that’s a great reason to make space for parking inside your garage!

5. Deflating tires in winter improves vehicle traction

File this one under the category of common winter driving myths where common sense is clearly in short supply.

The rationale behind deflating your tires to get better traction in the winter is that lowering the psi in the tires will allow them to cover more of the road.

It’s fairly common knowledge that tire pressures need to be kept at a specific level, so we’re unsure why anybody would think that messing around with that would be a good idea. And especially when icy roads are involved.

This is something a lot of drivers believe, apparently. If you go to type in “will deflating tires help in snow” in Google, all you have to type in is “will defl” before the query is autocompleted.

Here’s why driving with underinflated tires is a bad idea:

  • your vehicle’s handling will be compromised
  • the tires will wear faster
  • it increases the chance of a tire blowout

Cold weather actually makes your tires lose air quicker than in warmer weather. Keep close tabs on them throughout the winter to ensure they’re inflated to the recommended psi.

6. Regularly washing a car during the winter isn’t worth it

winter driving myths dirty carThe supposed logic behind this forehead-slapping myth is that it’s pointless to regularly wash a dirty vehicle during the winter because it’ll only get filthy again right away. It’s believed by a surprising number of drivers who apparently still aren’t aware that salt and metal don’t get along with each other.

Road salt is one of the worst things for a vehicle’s body. The Washington Post reports that liquid salt brine, which is sprayed on winter roads in some areas, is even more damaging (they also advise you to “never drive behind a plow truck spreading salt and brine”). Caked-on sand that’s been used on roads can also do damage over time, as does all of that extra winter moisture sitting on your vehicle.

It’s generally recommended that vehicles get washed every couple of weeks when the weather is nice. If anything, you should definitely be increasing the frequency of your car washes during the winter.

A wash every week or week-and-a-half might be ideal when the roads are particularly messy. In addition to helping prevent rust, a regular winter wash just makes your vehicle look nicer. It also minimizes the likelihood of getting those ugly white salt stains on your clothing when you brush up against a dirty vehicle.

Along with regular washes, you can protect your vehicle’s exterior by giving it a wax twice a year. An occasional rust prevention and undercoating treatment for your vehicles could also be worth the expense if you live somewhere that gets a lot of snow.

7. You can mix winter tires with all-season tires

What’s with all the tire-related winter driving myths? Well, here’s another one we can dispel.

Mixing winter tires and all-season tires isn’t recommended (especially if a vehicle is all-wheel drive).

It’s not advisable to even mix tires that are the same type (where all four are all-season tires or all four are winter tires), much less mix tires that are constructed quite differently from each other, as all-season and winter tires are.

Having four tires of the same size, tread depth and design, load rating, construction material, and inflation pressure is critical to ensure a vehicle maintains its highest level of stability and control.

When you start mixing a pair of all-season tires with a pair of winter tires, things can get unpredictable when it comes to how a vehicle might handle.

Read any online auto forum on this topic and you’ll find some drivers who say that they’ve never had any issues from mixing tires on their vehicles. Thanks, but we’ll defer to the majority of tire experts and professionals who advise against this practice.

Stay safe on the roads this winter

Doing basically the opposite of what most of these common winter driving myths tell you to do will help to make the roads safer for you and other drivers this winter. And you can potentially cut down on your vehicle emissions and fuel costs as well.

Here’s one last myth related to winter and vehicles we can debunk: that getting a garage makeover during the winter isn’t possible.

The truth is that Garage Living can do garage makeovers year-round. In fact, there are even some advantages to getting a late fall or winter garage makeover.

There’s no better time to have an organized garage for parking vehicles in than when the weather is at its worst.

Schedule a free in-home design consultation with us to begin making your garage a beautiful, highly functional space you’ll appreciate coming home to after a stressful drive on the winter roads.

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The 2 Simple Garage Storage Solutions You’re Completely Overlooking

garage storage solutions slatwall

What’s the one thing that makes a garage look disorganized more than anything else? Floor clutter.

A messy garage interior is why a quarter of homeowners are embarrassed to leave their garage doors open, according to an Impulse Research survey.

And you can guarantee that as a garage becomes overrun by clutter, a sharp decline in its functionality will follow.

One day you’ll find that your vehicles are no longer being parked inside your garage because there’s no room for them. Finding anything in your garage becomes a regular headache.

If too much clutter is negatively affecting how your garage is being used, it’s a good bet one (or more) of these reasons is at fault:

  • your garage lacks proper storage systems altogether
  • you’ve had a “just store it in the garage for now” mentality for household items for too long
  • your existing garage storage systems are ineffective or outdated
  • the storage space in your garage isn’t being utilized to the best of its ability

Those first two points are a fairly obvious cause of garage clutter, but you might be surprised at how much of a difference that last factor can have on the tidiness of a garage.

Making better use of what your existing garage space has to offer is something most homeowners overlook when it comes to finding more storage space, possibly because it’s almost too obvious.

Which garage storage solutions work best?

The key to unlocking your garage’s full storage potential isn’t to make the space bigger with a pricey garage expansion.

You can actually solve your garage storage problems simply by using two spaces hiding in plain sight more effectively – your garage’s wall and ceiling space.

Getting creative and properly utilizing these two commonly underused storage areas can transform any untidy garage into an efficient, organized space.

Here’s why these two garage storage solutions make so much sense.

Solution #1: Slatwall storage

Most garages use some form of wall storage, even if it’s just a few wall hooks for hanging tools. Some homeowners also use freestanding tool storage racks that are kept in a garage corner. While they may keep some of your rakes, shovels, and other yard tools organized, they’re still occupying valuable floor space.

But a garage’s walls have a wealth of storage space just waiting to be properly used, instead of underused.

Nothing beats a slatwall storage system when it comes to maximizing your garage’s wall storage space. This storage system involves fastening cellular foam PVC panels to your garage walls so tools and many other items found in a garage can be hung up.

A variety of specialized accessories are hung in the grooves of the slatwall panels, giving you the freedom to make the most of your hanging space. Along with tools, items like sports equipment, outdoor apparel, and car cleaning supplies can be kept neatly stored and easy to find.

Compared to a pegboard storage system, a custom slatwall system is sturdier and gives you more storage versatility. This comes in very handy whenever your storage needs change and you need to rearrange your wall storage configurations (such as during seasonal changes or if you buy new tools).

In addition to slatwall, another practical way to to use your wall space better is to add other garage storage solutions like a wall-mounted hose reel, sturdy shelving, or heavy-duty tire racks for your spares.

garage storage solutions, sports equipment stored on wall

Solution #2: Overhead storage

An even more underutilized garage storage space than its walls might be its ceiling space. Once again, when used properly, you’d be amazed at how much floor space can be freed up when one or more overhead storage racks are added to a garage.

Overhead racks are designed for storing things of all sizes and are particularly useful because they can handle heavier weight capacities and bulkier items like storage bins and seasonal items.

Another benefit of using your garage’s ceiling space for storage is that it allows you to store items that are less frequently used. That keeps your easier-to-access lower garage storage space available for things you use more regularly.

In addition to heavy-duty overhead storage racks, that unused garage ceiling space can also be utilized to provide you with more parking space.

Add a car lift that takes advantage of your available vertical space so you can keep one or more extra vehicles parked indoors.

Limit what’s stored on your garage floor

Other than your parked vehicles, one of the very few things that deserves storage space on your garage floor is power equipment that’s too heavy for hanging. This would include things like a snow blower, power tiller, riding mower, and most push lawn mowers.

We say “most push lawn mowers” because some electric mowers may be light enough for hanging up. Items weighing up to 50 lbs. can be accommodated by some of Garage Living’s slatwall accessories. If you are able to take advantage of being able to hang up your mower and reclaim a few more square feet of floor space, by all means do so.

While a small number of gas-powered mowers are designed to be stored vertically, most shouldn’t be. The majority of gas-powered mowers, even if they’re lighter, are meant to be stored horizontally (otherwise leaking and engine damage can occur).

With the right garage storage solutions in place, even bikes and larger tools like a ladder or wheelbarrow can be stored on a wall to free up floor space.

garage storage solutions, bin in overhead rack

Expand your garage storage options

You can further expand your garage storage options by replacing that old, repurposed kitchen cabinetry or a flimsy, prefabricated standup cabinet with a garage storage cabinet system made from high quality steel.

Yes, garage cabinetry technically takes up floor space, but its efficient usage of vertical storage space still makes it an appealing storage option. With the ability to add locks to protect your pricier tools or keep hazardous chemicals out of harm’s way, as well as create the perfect garage workshop area, storage cabinets are well worth a look.

Another reason to consider any of these garage storage solutions is to update your garage’s appearance. A mishmash of different storage systems you’ve added to your garage over the years usually results in a disjointed look that detracts from a garage’s aesthetic, even if they’re keeping your space organized.

You can see by these photos how the garage storage solutions and the colors and design elements used in the makeovers nicely complement each other, resulting in clean-looking garage spaces with a cohesive, modern, and stylish look.

Update your garage storage systems

Our clients are consistently amazed at what our garage design professionals can do to maximize the storage space in their garages, in addition to radically improving the appearance of their spaces.

Schedule a free in-home design consultation and one of our design consultants can show you the exciting possibilities for your garage and provide a free garage makeover quote.

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How to Use a Garage More Effectively for Holiday Decoration Storage

holiday decoration storage woman moving storage bin

With the holiday season winding down, it’s time to start thinking about your post-holiday season pack-up.

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be draining, which makes it easier to take a few shortcuts by packing things away quickly and storing them anywhere.

Sure, that gets the job done quicker now, but it only makes the task of finding and unpacking all of your disorganized holiday decorations more time-consuming later.

Have a smart holiday decoration storage plan

By putting a little extra thought into how and where your holiday decorations will be stored, you can save yourself from some future headaches.

Garages are ideal for a lot of your holiday decoration storage needs, whether you’re storing decorations for Christmas, Halloween, birthday parties, or holidays like the Fourth of July or Canada Day.

The garage has to be used the right way when storing your holiday decorations, however, in order the maintain the functionality of the space.

Use overhead racks for your holiday decoration storage

For the most effective use of your garage as a holiday decoration storage space, add some overhead storage racks.

Ceiling-mounted overhead racks take advantage of the vertical storage space in your garage’s upper reaches that is typically underutilized.

In addition to maximizing your garage’s storage space, overhead racks are also ideal for storing bulky items and things that are infrequently used…which describes unneeded holiday decorations pretty much perfectly!

Everything from storage bins filled with tree ornaments to artificial Christmas trees, wreaths, and garlands to holiday lights to holiday lawn inflatables can be stashed up high.

Your daily routine can even run a little smoother simply by using this out-of-the-way storage space for your holiday decorations. There won’t be bulky storage bins taking up valuable garage floor space, which makes parking more difficult.

And less floor clutter means extra space for keeping tools, sports equipment, and other items you use regularly more efficiently stored and easier to access.

holiday decoration storage empty overhead racks

Overhead racks that use the underutilized storage space in your garage’s ceiling area keep your floor clutter-free.

Use plastic storage bins

Whether you’re storing your holiday decorations in the garage or elsewhere in your home, always use plastic storage bins and containers instead of cardboard boxes.

Plastic storage bins are sturdier, stack easier and more safely, are easier to move around, and provide superior moisture protection compared to cardboard boxes. They’re also not a fire hazard.

Some people prefer using clear plastic storage bins because it helps them to identify stored items quickly. That may sound practical, but it’s probably a better idea to use non-clear, solid color containers with labels.

Holiday ornaments and lights, especially ones you’re keeping for many years, can lose their color faster if they’re exposed to too much light when stored.

Fabric bags specifically made for storing holiday decorations should be stored indoors if possible, due to the higher moisture levels garages commonly have.

Avoid storing these holiday decorations in the garage

While the garage is a perfect spot for many of your holiday decoration storage requirements, it’s not the best storage area for certain items unless it’s climate-controlled.

The extreme temperature fluctuations and excess moisture found in many garage environments makes them less than ideal for storing these holiday decorations:

  • fabric-based festive decorations and adornments (examples: tablecloths, Christmas stockings and hats, tree skirts)
  • candles (store them somewhere cool)
  • very delicate glass, crystal, and antique ornaments
  • food-based decorations

If you absolutely have to keep some fabric-based decorative items stored in the garage for any reason, make sure they’re sealed tight in a plastic container. Wrapping items in acid-free paper or using silica packets to absorb moisture can help preserve the storage bin’s contents.

Another reason to avoid storing fabric-based and food-based decorations in the garage is that they can attract pests.

Label your holiday decoration storage items

Try to keep all your stored holiday decorations together in order to make everything easier to find.

Many organization experts recommend using color-coded storage containers or container lids to simplify things (such as green for Christmas decorations or orange for Halloween decorations).

And even if you’re being diligent and using color-coded containers, always be sure that everything is labelled.

Labelled containers eliminate the time-consuming guesswork that inevitably occurs when it’s time to unpack your decorations and find what you need when decorating your home next holiday season.

Storing an artificial Christmas tree in the garage

Because of its bulkiness, an artificial Christmas tree’s go-to storage spot in most homes will probably be the garage.

Don’t leave an artificial Christmas tree uncovered in the garage because it’ll naturally gather a lot of dust over the course of a year. Why add an artificial tree cleaning to your busy holiday to-do list 11 months (or so) from now?

When storing an artificial Christmas tree in the garage, definitely ditch the cardboard box it came in and invest in a proper plastic tree storage bin. Look for a container with wheels so it’s easier to transport.

Tree storage bags are also popular, although they’re less suited for a garage environment. Also note that white artificial trees or trees with those snow dusting treatments are prone to yellowing and shorter lifespans if temperature and humidity storage conditions aren’t optimal.

holiday decoration storage open garage

While this garage is clean and organized, that poor artificial Christmas tree could really use a proper storage container.

Additional holiday decoration storage tips

When preparing your holiday decorations for storage, here are a few final tips you might find useful:

  • use bubble wrap or decoration storage containers (avoid wrapping decorations in newspaper, as the ink rubs off)
  • prevent string light tangles by using string light reels or even wrapping them around discarded wrapping paper tubes
  • declutter holiday decorations you haven’t used for a few years (donate any items that are still in good condition)
  • make a list of what broken holiday decorations need to be replaced for next year

Get organized to start the new year

If you have a New Year’s resolution that includes tidying up your home, start by storing your holiday decorations in an organized manner and somewhere that’s out of your way.

We can help you create more storage space for your holiday decorations and anything else you need to store in the garage, in addition to making the space look much nicer.

Schedule a free in-home design consultation with Garage Living today.

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7 of the Most Essential Home Features Buyers Look For

essential home features house exterior

Many homeowners like to keep up to date on the latest housing trends, even if they’re not planning to buy or sell a home anytime soon.

Aside from just general curiosity, staying informed about what’s hot and what’s not when it comes to our homes and the features they include can be beneficial.

Perhaps you’ll get some ideas and inspiration for updating a room or two in your home. Sometimes getting a wider perspective on what’s currently popular with other homeowners and homebuyers can give you a fresh perspective on whether areas of your own home are up to snuff.

And if you’re planning to make some home improvements, educating yourself about which renovation projects will provide the best return on investment is also smart.

Which essential home features do buyers prioritize?

We decided to take a look at some recent notable studies that found out which home features homebuyers prioritized most.

A couple of studies were done by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). They’re one of the United States’ largest trade associations, representing over 800 local and state organizations affiliated with the housing industry.

We also used the illuminating 2018 Homebuyer Preference Study from the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA). It surveyed over 3,000 buyers of newly constructed homes about the features that mattered most to them when making their buying decisions. 

Let’s break down (in no particular order) seven of the most essential home features for anyone looking to buy a house nowadays.

Laundry room

It might surprise you to learn that laundry rooms topped a few essential home features lists for buyers. And the appeal of laundry rooms spreads across generations.

The NAHB’s 2016 Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation study found that Millennials, Generation X, and seniors named a dedicated laundry room as their most-wanted home feature. Baby boomers rated it their second-most important feature, behind home energy efficiency.

The following year, another NAHB study that looked at homebuyer trends also found that laundry rooms were a top priority among those surveyed.

Laundry rooms on a home’s main or upper floor were also coveted, as were laundry rooms that also incorporated a mudroom.

Garage storage

It wasn’t a surprise to learn that “ample storage space” ranked highly on any list of essential home features.

Homeowners and homebuyers can never get enough of it and the latter specifically wanted more of it in their garages, according to multiple NAHB studies.

Hundreds of realtors were polled for a Braun Research survey and they said the garage ranked higher as a desirable storage space for homebuyers than the basement or attic.

Homebuyers apparently recognize the value in maximizing a garage’s storage space in order to minimize clutter in the rest of their living space.

Simply having enough space in the garage for storage, parking vehicles, and extracurricular activities was also important to homebuyers. Two-car garages were named as another of the essential home features for buyers.

essential home features, man reaching into garage cabinets

Hardwood floors

Houses with wood flooring were viewed more favorably by those looking to buy a home. This is a trend that seemingly never goes out of fashion.

Most homebuyers are willing to pay more for wood floors because of its contemporary look, durability, and how easy it is to keep wood floors clean.

Authentic hardwood flooring was especially preferred over engineered wood flooring. Having hardwood on a home’s main floor was also specifically mentioned as an attractive feature to homebuyers.

Interestingly, younger buyers seem to favor wood flooring more than seniors, who prefer the coziness of carpeted floors.

Excellent energy efficiency

essential home features energy star logoA home with excellent energy efficiency is valued more than ever by homebuyers. Any home on the market with these energy efficient features stands out:

  • energy efficient smart appliances and fixtures
  • low flow toilets
  • energy efficient windows and doors
  • high efficiency HVAC systems

Solar-powered energy isn’t yet seen as an essential home feature for most buyers.

And while preservation of the planet was a consideration for those attracted to more eco-friendly homes, cutting down on their utility costs was a bigger motivating factor for buyers looking for energy efficient homes.

Open concept kitchen

Modern, open concept kitchen designs are seen as a selling strength for anyone who has their home on the market.

Buyers with growing families are particularly enamored by open concept kitchens because of their ability to function as a versatile space and a home’s social hub.

Kitchen islands that can provide extra storage space, an additional food preparation area, and an inclusive eating area are singled out as an open concept kitchen’s most desirable feature.

Stainless steel appliances, double kitchen sinks, a walk-in pantry, and granite, marble, or quartz countertops were also listed as features that homebuyers would love their kitchen to include.

Walk-in closet

A walk-in closet (also known as a “dressing room”) ranked #5 for first-time homebuyers and #3 for second-time (or more) buyers on the NAHB’s most recent essential home features report.

Canadians apparently love spacious closets even more, because walk-in closets topped the CHBA’s list of essential features for homebuyers.

That Braun Research survey finds that just about all (97%) of the 500 realtors that were polled believe homebuyers view the closet as the most desirable storage space in a house.

Based on this data, once can assume that a home without a larger wardrobe storage space featuring stylish décor is a home that many buyers will simply take a pass on.

essential home features walk-in closet

Master bathroom

Anything bathroom-related usually makes any essential home features list and we found master bathrooms to be highly prized by homebuyers.

A master bathroom may also be referred to as an “ensuite master bathroom” or simply “ensuite”. Whichever name you choose, it’s essentially defined as a bathroom that includes a bathtub, shower, and sink that’s accessible from the home’s largest bedroom.

Master bathrooms that feature a separate shower enclosure and freestanding tubs and vanities (preferably with two sinks) appear to be in vogue nowadays.

Make better use of your garage for home storage

This list of essential home features gives you a good idea of what today’s buyers value most when looking for a house.

Are you getting the most out of your garage as a home storage space? Could it use a few modern touches and better storage systems that can make it look nicer and be a lot more functional?

Garage Living specializes in helping homeowners maximize their garage’s storage capabilities and design potential.

Schedule a free in-home design consultation with us to learn more about transforming your garage into a beautiful space any homebuyer would be impressed by.

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7 Awesome Automotive Gift Ideas for the Holidays

The holiday season is here and you’re searching for the perfect gift idea for that special someone.

Here’s a suggestion – why not consider some automotive gift ideas?

Considering the vast majority of American and Canadian adults drive, looking at ways to improve someone’s driving experience or their home parking environment makes a lot of sense.

And we’re not talking about one of those novelty auto gifts, like a handheld espresso maker for the car or an automatic car umbrella to protect a vehicle from snow, rain, and the sun.

Yes, both of these products exist and are downright silly and impractical. You can do much better for the driver in your life.

automotive gift ideas, garage cabinets with blue bow

Automotive gift ideas you can’t go wrong with

Giving a car-related gift that gives a driver some peace of mind about their vehicle’s reliability is highly practical. Another practical idea is to give a gift that enables a vehicle owner to maintain their wheels or help it look nicer.

If you’re looking for a gift with a little more “sizzle”, you could give someone a once-in-a-lifetime driving experience in a ridiculously fast exotic car.

Or perhaps your gift recipient would appreciate upgrading the space where their vehicles are parked.

There are plenty of great automotive gift ideas to choose from and here are seven suggestions for gift-giving budgets both big and small.

Garage makeover

From the hardcore auto buff to anyone who simply uses their garage everyday, having a nicer garage space is something any homeowner will find valuable.

Whether someone enjoys tinkering away in the garage on a prized vehicle or uses the space as the primary entry and exit point for their home, creating a more stylish, functional, and comfortable garage for them will be greatly appreciated.

A garage makeover gift can involve a top-to-bottom remodel that involves adding these features:

  • effective garage storage systems (like slatwall, overhead racks, and garage cabinets)
  • a high quality garage floor coating
  • new garage doors

Perhaps a complete garage makeover exceeds your gift-giving budget. If so, even focussing on one specific area of the garage to upgrade will make a unique and memorable gift.

If you’re looking to make a big difference to how someone’s garage looks and feels, we recommend starting with their flooring. Most garage floors are gray, cracked, and well-worn. They don’t add to a garage’s visual appeal, they detract from it.

To completely transform a garage floor, have a polyaspartic Floortex™ floor coating applied. It injects any garage interior with a stylish, decorative aesthetic, makes the space look cleaner, and provides superior flooring protection.

automotive gift ideas garage makeover

Deluxe auto spa treatment

Most owners of luxury vehicles like to maintain the pristine looks of their expensive cars and SUVs.

When it comes to preserving that “new car look” and giving a high-end vehicle the best care for both its interior and exterior, a deluxe auto spa treatment can’t be beat.

It’s recommended that a vehicle be detailed every four to six months, so a year’s worth of auto spa treatments makes a great gift.

Reputable professional auto detailers will use the highest quality products when working on your vehicle. Combined with their expertise, this will ensure your car detailing is done right in order to extend the life of the vehicle and get it spotless, both inside and out.

Many auto detailers will come to you and detail your vehicle right in your own driveway or even where you work. Be sure to look for this convenient feature when looking for an auto detailer in your area.

Dyson car vacuum

automotive gift ideas dyson vacuumKeeping the interiors of your vehicles clean (especially if you have kids) requires a bit of work, with an occasional vacuuming being a must-do task.

Make that task as easy as possible for your gift recipient by surprising them with a Dyson V7 Car + Boat vacuum cleaner.

This powerful handheld machine from the world’s top vacuum brand is specifically engineered for cleaning a vehicle. It can be also used for quick cleanups throughout the home.

It boasts “the strongest suction of any other cordless handheld vacuum cleaner” and up to 30 minutes of fade-free suction. A convenient car charger is included, which can be plugged into a vehicle’s standard 12V accessory slot.

The vacuum comes with all the attachments and accessories you would expect for getting into those crevices and hard-to-reach cleaning areas of any vehicle.

Supercar driving experience

If you’re looking for automotive gift ideas that cater to anyone who appreciates driving fast in a really nice car, treat them to a supercar driving experience.

This experience puts you behind the wheel of exotic cars like a Ferrari 488 GTB, Lamborghini Gallardo, Porsche 911 GT3, and Audi R8 V10 Plus.

Drivers will get to drop the pedal on a controlled track environment (with proper training and supervision, of course).

Most locations that offer these experiences offer a wide range of options when putting your package together. They also cater to drivers of all experience levels. Try to find a location that will film the experience for you, which makes for a great memento.

Drivers can choose multiple vehicles to take out for a few laps (just in case a spin around the track in that $320,000 Lamborgini Performante isn’t scratching your adrenaline rush itch).

Supercar driving experiences have grown in popularity in recent years, so you may be able to find a location close to where your gift recipient lives.

If you’re feeling particularly generous with your gift-giving this holiday season, make the gift that much more special and turn the experience into a vacation for whoever’s lucky enough to know you!

automotive gift ideas supercar driving experience

Complete auto care kit

While it’s admittedly not as extravagant as gifting someone with a supercar driving experience or a garage remodel, a complete auto care kit still makes an ideal gift for any car owner.

Some car owners who prefer to be hands-on with their vehicle care may even prefer this type of gift, instead of receiving vouchers for a professional detailing service.

Spring for a higher-end car care kit that’s fully loaded with higher quality auto care products and accessories like professional-grade microfiber towels and wash mitts.

If your gift recipient lives in a northern climate, home washing their vehicles during the winter isn’t typically practical. Include a bunch of car wash vouchers to keep their cars clean during the time of year that’s hardest on a vehicle’s exterior.

Car lift

Most of these automotive gift ideas have highly practical applications and what’s more practical than creating more parking space in a garage?

For anyone who has space limitations in the garage that prevents them from parking indoors, get them a car lift.

Car lifts use your garage’s vertical space so that you can park a vehicle on a platform that raises and park another vehicle safely underneath it.

For sports car owners who don’t drive their vehicles year-round, a car lift allows them to keep their vehicles indoors, without sacrificing a valuable garage parking space when the vehicle isn’t being used.

automotive gift ideas car lift

Portable car jump starter

Anyone who drives has probably experienced the feeling of dread when they discover they have a dead car battery.

There isn’t always another vehicle nearby to lend a boost. Calling AAA or CAA to get your vehicle started can have widely varying wait times for someone to arrive.

In either situation, you’ll be delayed from where you need to be to some degree.

Remove this worry for any driver by giving them one of the most handy automotive gift ideas around – a portable car jump starter.

This compact, yet powerful device can be stored in the trunk and bring any dead car battery back to life in just a couple of minutes.

How to give the gift of a garage makeover

Visit your local Garage Living showroom to learn more about how we can help you give the gift of a nicer garage space to someone special.

You can also schedule a free in-home design consultation with us to discuss garage makeover plans for a loved one or your own home.

Happy holiday shopping!

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