Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

Zest-up your nest
SHARON ASCHAIEK, Special to Canoe

If there's one thing the cultural craze for home renovation has done, it's given the workman's boot to the somewhat sad phrase, "empty nester". Today, more and more parents are hauling out the woodworking table, donning their paint gear and scanning the Internet for ideas to turn their child's old bedroom into the room of their dreams.

Below are a few key tips on how to convert your new empty space into three different types of dream rooms: a greenroom, home theatre or home gym. With some creativity, resourcefulness and planning, you can easily inject some zest back into the nest.

The Greenroom

Sunlight is the biggest factor to consider when setting up your greenroom - how much filters into the room, at what times of the day, and how strong it is.

"You need to simulate an environment of sunshine as much as possible," says Christina Ritchie, supervisor of herbs and tropical plants at Humber Nurseries Ltd. Rooms with windows facing north or northeast receive little sunlight, which means you'll need to invest in full-spectrum fluorescent lighting. Ritchie suggests checking out the Grow-Lux or Vita-Lite brands at your local nurseries. In this type of room, Ritchie says, you'll want to choose slow-growing, low-light tolerating plants, tropical plants, or ones that grow under forest canopies, such as snake, ZZ, eternity and peace lilies.

Windows facing south, west or east will provide you with more sunlight, allowing for a greater variety in what you grow. You may choose from such light-loving plants as citrus, palm trees, brutus, ficus, umbrella trees, ivies, hibiscus or orchids.

"You can also grow low-light needing plants in this room," continues Ritchie, "by placing them in the shade of taller, light-loving plants, or by strategically blocking light at different times of the day with your blinds."

Proper ventilation is also crucial to ensuring your plants thrive.

"Without good ventilation, you will have a big problem with fungus," Ritchie says. Cross ventilation through windows is ideal, otherwise go with oscillating fans that blow a gentle wind. Avoid using AC to cool a room, Ritchie says as extremes in temperatures and wind are fatal to plants.

To protect your walls against moisture damage, apply a quality sealant, such as the water-based brand of Stone Mason waterproofing paint, available at Home Depot.

The only limit with respect to shelving is your imagination. Use plastic, wood or concrete blocks with wood shelves to create a rustic or contemporary look, or whatever else you have in mind.

Finally, to maintain a neat and tidy greenroom, consider choosing a room with a built-in closet to store all your supplies - pots, potting soil, fertilizer, hand tools, water cans, etc.

Zest-up your nest
The Home Theatre
The Home Gym
Renovation archive

What do you think is a reasonable price for a kitchen renovation?
$10, 000
$25, 000
$50, 000
$100, 000