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Individuality Drives Canadian Home Design

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 20 February 2001 00:00

Trend-setting Canadian retailers like Roots Canada are cashing in on brand recognition to enter the lucrative home furnishing market.

As all things home related continue to show steadily increasing sales, trends are overlapping and more traditionally non-housing businesses are entering the home marketplace.

"As society changes, things are evolving," said Michael Budman, Roots co-founder, explaining that they have Home Stores in New York City, Montreal and Toronto. "I am an aging baby boomer so I am really interested in the sanctuary of my home. Technology has sped up our way of life and we all find more comfort in our home."

Roots, a leading up-scale clothier, began designing "clothes" for the home when they moved from leather jackets to leather furniture. Now, their distinctive functional designs, which emphasize wearing comfort, bring that same well-styled look to everything from towels to jersey sheets - one of their hottest items.

Where once it was not "in" to stay home, being a homebody has become "cool," probably because Canada's 9.8 million Baby Boomers are leaving the bar scene and creating their own perfect atmospheres. The current financial woes of Canada's Cineplex Odeon are, in part, evidence of this increasing interest in home theatres and home entertainment alternatives.

But if you've lived in one home or a similar type of housing all your life how can you "think outside the box" and get new ideas? Every year home show organizers like dmg Worldwide Media spend months researching emerging trends and anticipating the next housing fads. Dmg statistics indicate that 89 per cent of attendees to their British Columbia shows own homes and 20 per cent have a cottage.

More than half have combined incomes over $75,000 and more than 70 per cent of attendees intend to renovate or redecorate.

Hydroponic gardens, flat panel heaters that look like paintings, environmentally-friendly products and Internet-driven home-delivery services are just a few of their successful trend picks. Highly-publicized home invasions have boosted the interest in wrought-iron security gates and home security. Technology has surfaced in the kitchen and transformed appliances from passive work horses to "thinking," talking help mates. Some come with as many features as new cars - and with prices to match.

Martha Stewart's popularizing of home elegance has consumers ready to pay for professional input to their interior design projects. Home decorating has become a mega-industry fed by do-it-yourself television series, books and Internet sites. Home shows usually feature a few of these creative consultants so bring some photographs and get a free suggestion or two.

Home owners and buyers face more choices and increasingly complex decisions for their homes. This trend shows all signs of heating up in the future.

But Canadian home owners and home buyers will not sacrifice comfort or practicality to design. Canucks, often characterized as passive consumers, have become very demanding, discerning customers.

Peter Simpson, Chief Operating Officer of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association , said, "It is very typical that today, home buyers are not typical at all. People want more compact homes but they are not willing to give up features or amenities. More single people are buying than ever before. A lot of women are not waiting for Mr. Right and they are buying for themselves. There are more restarts -- divorced couples buying separately. Gen Xers -- those 25 to 30 -- want all the traditional values in a single home (like the one they grew up in) but they want high tech, energy efficiency and environmental features."

Some upcoming Home & Garden Shows:

  • Vancouver, BC - February 21-25, 2001
  • Calgary, Alberta - February 28 - March 4, 2001
  • Montreal, Quebec - March 2 - 11, 2001

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PJ Wade

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