Tailored Living (Burnaby, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, BC)

Your Home, Tailored to the Way You Live

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Are Toxic VOC’s Lurking in Your House? (Part 1 of a 2-part series)


Perhaps one of your 2017 New Year’s resolutions is to be more environmentally-aware, going beyond recycling household trash to make a difference. Well, here’s another one to add to your ever-growing list of bad chemicals and substances to watch out for: Volatile Organic Compounds (“VOC’s”). As the name suggests, these are organic (carbon-containing) chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at room temperature. In layman’s terms, VOC’s evaporate from the solid substance in which they are contained in the form of gases. They can be found in all sorts of things, including items found in most every household: cosmetic products (i.e. nail polish), cleaning solutions, paint, degreasers, automotive fluids and many others.


A VOC is not, in and of itself, an “ingredient.” That is, you won’t be able to look at the ingredient list of a particular product and assume that because “VOC” isn’t listed that the product doesn’t contain any. Actually, there are many different ingredients that are considered to be VOC’s. One example that is familiar to most people is formaldehyde. However, there are a number of other common ones as well. Unless you happen to have comprehensive knowledge of every kind of VOC, you might have a hard time telling which products have them and which don’t.

Here is one simple way, though, that even young children can detect the presence of a VOC in a product: by using your nose. VOCs almost always have very strong, unpleasant, chemical-like scents. If it makes your eyes water, your throat constrict or your head hurt when you catch a whiff of it, it likely contains one or more VOC’s.

What are the Risks?

cleaning-932936_960_720.jpgVOC’s are not considered to be “acutely toxic.” That is, smelling them or coming into contact with them will probably not cause immediate illness (although some may cause burns when in contact with skin). However, the effects of exposure to VOC’s can be cumulative. This means that they can build up in the human body and, if not expelled, can cause illness down the road, including certain types of cancers.

People who are most at risk of suffering the cumulative effects of VOC’s are those whose work involves daily exposure to them, such as painters (house painters and artists alike), nail techs and hair stylists and even, surprisingly, bakers (VOC’s are by-products of yeast fermentation). Occasional exposure (such as painting your nails at home) poses minimal to negligible risk, as long as proper handling procedures are followed.dough-943245_960_720.jpg

Unfortunately, VOCs are also harmful to the environment. In the atmosphere, VOC’s wreak havoc by forming poisonous particulate matter (i.e. smog) or combining with nitrogen oxide (a greenhouse gas) and forming ozone close to the ground. For this reason, many countries are researching ways to reduce the use of VOCs and restricting industries’ production of them.

Great, now what?

In our next blog, we’ll tell you how to spot VOC’s in common household products and how to get around potentially-harmful exposure. You’ll also find out how Tailored Living is helping reduce their use.


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The Five Most Common Objections to Getting a Free In-Home Consultation (And Why You Shouldn’t Listen to That Nagging Voice In Your Head)

tailored-living-design-processMaybe you’ve been thinking about getting your closet, garage, home office or laundry room made-over. Perhaps you are one who has been sitting on the fence for awhile, trying to decide whether to move forward on such a project. Or maybe you only just recently stumbled on Tailored Living at a local Home Show or on the Internet, or encountered an acquaintance who raved to you about her ultra-organized, super-efficient new closet and thought maybe you’d benefit from one too.

If you relate to any of these scenarios, you are the type of homeowner that Tailored Living had in mind when it designed its Free In-Home Consultation.

1) I don’t have time to sit down and listen to a long presentation. Don’t you hate it when you’re contacted by a salesman who talks you into a “short” in-home presentation, only to show up at the appointed time with a display board, an iPad with a 100-question survey, a product catalog and a giant box filled with samples (and “you simply MUST see them all,” he insists)? And suddenly you realize that by “short” he meant at least an hour, probably more, and you’re desperately grasping for excuses to get him to leave.

Tailored Living’s expert representatives know that your time is valuable, and they are committed to respecting that. After all, it’s a privilege to be invited into someone’s home as a guest, and our reps make gracious guests. We don’t come with a three-dimensional display board, a questionnaire or dozens of samples. It’s really just a congenial visit. No props, just ideas and suggestions. It only takes 15 minutes or less of your time (unless you get so excited about the possibilities that you invite us in for coffee). Not only that, but your representative is also your contractor, so he or she really knows what they are talking about when it comes to potential products, design and installation questions. There is no second-guessing, no empty promises, and no communication gap between rep and contractor.

2) There’s no such thing as “free.” There MUST be strings attached, or fine print or a hidden clause or something….. Tricking potential customers is NEVER good for business, no matter what that business is. There’s no fine print anywhere on our website, catalog or other marketing materials. “Free” really means free. No strings. You don’t have to do anything or buy anything if you don’t want to. We authentically appreciate the opportunity to see and talk about your home with you and we want to earn your trust.

3) I don’t want to be hassled by a high-pressure salesperson. Tailored Living’ reps are not salesmen (see point #1). They are owners and contractors whose genuine interest is to help you make living easier by getting better organized with custom solutions and systems for every individual or family. You will probably receive a follow-up phone call after your in-home consultation, especially if you’ve indicated an interest in a renovation. However, we won’t call if you ask us not to, and we won’t spam your email inbox. Remember, we want to build trust, so we’ll respect any contact requests that you make.

4) I can’t afford a renovation right now. We know that doing any kind of a home reno, even small ones, can be costly. However, many homeowners don’t realize that they can achieve a desired set of results at a lower cost simply by choosing more economical (but equally-functional) materials or accessories, or slightly altering a particular design feature. The only way to find out this information is through an in-home consultation. Additionally, Tailored Living doesn’t outsource the actual renovation work to a third-party, which also helps to keep costs lower than other companies in the market.befunky-collage-2

5) My closet/garage/house is so small there is nothing anyone can do to improve its storage capacity. There is no space too small that Tailored Living cannot transform into a fully-functional and highly efficient storage space. In fact, Tailored Living was founded on the philosophy of improving small spaces because they are usually the ones that need the most organizational help. (If you had ample space you probably wouldn’t have thought of us in the first place.) Because everything is custom-cut, shaped and designed to fit your space, size doesn’t matter at all.

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How to Extend the Life of the Foods in Your Pantry


extendable-counter-surfaceIn part one of this two-part series, we looked at some tips for keeping pantry foods fresher for longer. This week we have a few more tips to offer you, as well as some professional pantry design advice.

arrow-bulletControl and maintain the temperature in your pantry at its optimal level. If you’re able to keep your pantry at a different temperature from the rest of your house, set it between 60 and 69 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15 and 20 degrees Celsius (a little below average room temperature). Once you’ve set the temp, leave it at that level year-round and keep the door closed to help maintain it.

If you don’t have temperature control over specific areas of your home, room temperature is adequate for storing foods in the pantry. Just keep all of the previous tips in mind regarding proper packaging, and make sure you keep the door closed and lights off, and try to keep sunlight from getting into it.

arrow-bulletDesignate a spot for specific items. Every type of food should have its proper place. Create whatever kind of system works for you and your needs, and then make sure those who live with you know where everything belongs. You can even label shelves if that helps. This will help you keep your pantry tidy and find things quickly. (This is not to say that things have to be organized that way forever. You can always rearrange things as your needs change.)

arrow-bulletConsider installing specialized storage systems. Shelves are not always “one size fits all” in terms of the types of things people typically store in their pantries. Drawers, pull-out baskets and pull-out racks  are ideal for storing certain types of foods, such as spice jars (which tend to get jumbled up and disorganized or even broken when sitting on a shelf). A customized system of organization makes your pantry easier to work with, and in, as well as more aesthetically pleasing.

Tailored Living pantries are not just known for their good looks and impeccable style. Not only does Tailored Living have a diverse variety of products available to meet a range of storage needs, but the products have been designed with best storage practices in mind. Just look at a few of the things that can be incorporated into your custom pantry:

Pull-out baskets are great for foods like potatoes that don’t need to be stored in the refrigerator. They’re also useful for holding canned goods. Just pull out the basket and you can see at a quick glance what’s inside, even the things that are in the back row.potatoes-in-pantry






These acrylic inserts are ideal for keeping wine fresh in your pantry.

Lucite wine pyramids are perfect for storing a selection of holiday wines

Lucite wine pyramids are perfect for storing a variety of wines

Or, if you prefer….

Sliding wine racks in chrome by Tailored Living.

This slide-out rack also makes wine storage a breeze.

This smaller slide-out rack was just made for spice jars and other smaller food items that you need to be able to see at a glance.

Spice up your holidays and your pantry with slide-out racks

Tailored Living is North America’s premier pantry remodeling expert. Our professional contractors and storage experts can take any space, any size, and turn it into a workable and efficient customized pantry that is made just to fit your lifestyle.



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How to Extend the Life of the Foods in Your Pantry


When people think “pantry,” they often think of it as the place for storing overflow from kitchen cupboards. That is, of course, true, but it’s more than that, too. If you have a pantry, you have the the ability to take advantage of sales when you run across them. That smoking hot deal on a case of tuna? You’ve got room for it! Those giant, restaurant-size containers of pickles from Costco? Might as well grab two or three. Your pantry is as much a money-saver as a place for kitchen overflow.

Baskets like the ones pictured here by Tailored Living store smaller pantry items.

That being said, you want to make sure that the deals you take advantage of don’t become money wasted due to spoilage or loss of flavor from long-term pantry storage. Even if you plan to use up those five boxes of cheap cereal you bought within a few months, you’ll still want to store them in such a way as to maintain peak flavor and freshness. Because one of Tailored Living’s specialties is pantry organization and customization, we decided to do a two-part blog series on making the most of your money by keeping pantry foods as fresh as possible, beginning with these practical ideas:

Tip 1 arrow-bulletStore like items together in order of expiration. To provide an example of this idea, let’s use canned goods, one of the top three most common items found in home pantries. Canned foods are a staple of the pantry because they have a long shelf life and require very little special treatment during storage. Canned foods should be stored together in the same section of your pantry. Those with the earliest expiration dates should be placed at the front of the shelf, latest in the back. If you have more than one can of the same kind of food (even if they are different brands), keep like food cans beside each other and in order of expiration.

Other foods should also be organized according to their expiration dates. However, this is sometimes tricky with certain foods, like pasta, foods purchased in the bulk section of the grocery store, or foods which you remove from their original container to store in a different one. For these types of foods, see tip #2.

Tip 2 arrow-bullet Manually date foods without expiration dates. Almost everything you purchase from the grocery store comes with an expiration or “best before” date stamp on it. For those that don’t (or have their dates encoded in a way that makes it difficult to read or may fade with time), use a permanent marker and write the date of purchase on the label or package somewhere. This way, you won’t have to guess about any of the food in your pantry.

(Note: “Best before” and “expiration” do not mean the same thing. A food that is stamped “best before” may still be safe to eat for a short time after the “best before” date has passed, especially when it comes to canned foods. Foods that “expire” should not be consumed after the expiration date.”)

Tip 3 arrow-bullet Be smart about repackaging foods. Despite what you may have been lead to believe, taking foods out of their original packaging and putting them into plastic food containers is not necessarily going to preserve them for longer.

There are two major contributors to loss of freshness in food: exposure to air/oxygen, and exposure to UV light. Certain foods, such as dry pasta, need not be removed from its original package and placed in a plastic container. In fact, doing so exposes it to excess oxygen, which may actually age it faster. The exception to this rule would be pasta that you purchase straight out of a bulk bin. In this case, it’s better off in a plastic food container than in the bags they supply you at the grocery store. Another exception is if you open a package to use the contents, but you don’t use all of what’s inside at one time. What’s left should most definitely go into a sealable plastic food storage bag or airtight plastic storage container.

Most every type of dry, non-canned food (including pasta, cereal, flour, sugar, rolled oats, etc.), if left in its original packaging, will maintain optimal freshness for up to twelve months, and will still be safe to eat long after that (it must might taste like it’s been sitting on the shelf for awhile).

Storing dry foods for longer than 12 months starts to fall into the “prepping” category (as in, preparing for a catastrophic event that makes obtaining food difficult or impossible. Think zombie apocalypse, worldwide virus attack or wide-scale earth-destroying weather phenomenon). Storing food long-term requires some special attention and is probably best left for a different kind of blog!

cartoon-bug cartoon-bugWhat happens if your pantry is prone to infiltration by unwanted pests? This is one of the biggest arguments for taking foods out of their original packaging and placing them in plastic storage containers. Knowing what you now know about how this affects freshness and flavor, you’ll have to decide which is the bigger priority for you: fresh-tasting food or pest-free food. If have problems with rodents or insects, or have had trouble in the past, then plastic food containers are probably the better choice for you. However, if you’ve never had this problem before, it doesn’t really make much sense to remove foods from their original packaging. Just keep your pantry clean and you probably won’t ever have to worry.

Make sure you check back in a couple of weeks to read part two of How to Extend the Life of Foods in Your Pantry.




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Five Home Organizing Mistakes NOT to Make in 2017

sign-1732791_960_720We’ve blogged about home organization and eliminating clutter before, but January is always a good time to revisit the topic. Did you know that every year, “get organized” falls somewhere on the top ten New Year’s resolutions list? We’re not just making this up, either. According to Nielsen, one of North America’s most well-known and reliable consumer statistics and information gatherers, “get organized” was #6 on the top ten list for 2015 (the most recent year for which such stats are available).

This tells us two things. One: there are a LOT of disorganized people out there, and TWO: most of them wish that they could be more organized, and some of them want it so badly they are willing to go to great lengths to make a real change.

So that’s why we decided to explore this topic again, because there is a good chance that YOU are one of those people! By the way, we get it. The struggle is real. Even the most organized people wish they could be more organized. In fact, many professional home organizers admit that they are not very organized in their own homes. So don’t sweat it, just check out this list of home organizing mistakes that we hope you’ll avoid in 2017, compiled from a variety of sources and home organization professionals:

1) Biting off more than you can chew. In other words, don’t set organization goals that are too big. In other words, instead of saying “this year I’m going to clean up the garage,” start with something more manageable, like “this year I’m going to get rid of all of the old paint cans in the garage and organize my tool box.” Not only is this more manageable, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment afterward that will make you actually want to move on to set a new goal.


Break big jobs down into smaller parts.

2) Setting goals that are too broad. “Get more organized” is too broad a goal. Instead, think about what “get more organized” means to you. Would you like to spend less time hunting for lost papers on your desk? Maybe you wish your children’s closets didn’t have clothing in them from every size they’ve worn over the last five years. Maybe you just want to get into the habit of making your bed every morning. Setting several specific goals (keeping the previous tip in mind) instead of one broad one will help ensure success.

3) Buying more storage bins. The solution to clutter is not acquiring more things inside which to store that clutter. It might create the illusion of organization, but it’s really only compounding the problem, at best. At worst, it’s a sign of your denial that you may simply have too much stuff. (Hint: if you’re paying rent on a storage unit to house your extra stuff, you have too much.)

The first and most important step toward getting (and staying) organized is eliminating stuff that you really shouldn’t be keeping. Examples of such things include: books you’ll never read again, DVDs you’ll never watch again (it’s probably available for streaming or digital download anyway), clothes you and your family members haven’t worn in more than one year, toys your children no longer play with, old Christmas cards, items that you spent a lot of money on but have only used once or not at all (doesn’t matter what it is or how much it cost to purchase), things that you keep because someone you love gave it to you but you really don’t like it and/or never use it….. we could go on and on about this. But you get the picture. (If you have trouble parting with stuff, consider hiring a professional organizer for moral support.) Whatever you do, though, for the love of all things sane, DON’T BUY MORE STORAGE!

4) Going it alone. Maybe you are zealous about making a real change in 2017 when it comes to getting organized, but if your family/spouse isn’t on board, your plans are destined for failure. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to help you spend a whole Saturday going through boxes in the basement (although it would be extra nice if they did). What it does mean is that everyone who lives within the same walls as you needs to buy into the vision. If they don’t, they won’t follow your system because they just don’t care about it the way you do. Laying down the law might get you quick results in the short run, but your efforts will be lost after the passage of a few weeks.

Getting that family “buy-in” might mean sitting down together and you sharing your vision with them. Talk with them about some of the many benefits of getting organized (having things to give away to a charitable cause, having more space to play, being able to buy new things without worrying about where to put them, etc.). Ask them for their own thoughts on the subject as well as their organization ideas. Implementing some of their suggestions will also increase the chances that they will get on board with your vision.

5) Confusing “rearranging” with “reorganizing.” Sometimes, in an effort to get organized, home owners start moving things around. They rearrange the furniture, move a filing cabinet to another room, move the dishes from one cupboard to another, stack up all of the boxes in the garage, but at the end of the day, the house isn’t really any more organized. It’s just different.

PantryStorage-1Getting organized takes a lot of thought and pre-planning. Resist the urge to start shuffling furniture and boxes from one location to another. Instead, think about what your goal is, what means you have at your disposal to achieve that goal, and what kind of space you have to work with in order to be successful. Then act accordingly.


If you do have spaces in your home that just aren’t working for your lifestyle, consider getting some help from Tailored Living. This is a great time of year to think about getting a closet makeover. It will help you meet your organization goals, AND you’ll get a beautiful new closet. We can transform any size or style of closet into a pillar of organization and storage for your home.

Pull-down clothes rod.

January is a great time of year for a new custom closet.

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Five Garage Design and Remodeling Trends to Watch for in 2017

tl_garageflooring12-2_tIf you’re trying to finish your Christmas shopping and baking, don’t worry… there’s still time. However, we’re already looking forward to 2017 and what it will bring in terms of design trends. We’re especially excited about how far the humble garage has come in the New Millennium, which, now 17 years in, isn’t all that “new” anymore. We expect to see several trends in garage design and garage remodeling in the coming year, particularly these five:

1) More tech: Technology is everywhere, and you would be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t using it in some way. Garage tech is gaining momentum and is poised to become commonplace in the next 20 years. For now, there are lots of ways homeowners can retrofit an existing garage with tech gadgets of all kinds. How about laser guided parking? For as little as $40, you can purchase a device that will guide a car’s driver into his parking spot in the garage and keep him from hitting the back wall. It’s just one of many tech gadgets currently available specifically for use in the garage.

2) More “smart:” Not only is the 2017 garage going to get techy-er, it’s also going to get light-bulb-1511911smarter. Many homeowners have already adopted smart technology into their homes, and they’re discovering that what works there also works in the garage. The newest garage doors are just one example, starting with getting rid of that pesky garage door opener. Smart garage doors can be controlled through your smartphone, and some can even be controlled remotely (like when your neighbor phones you on vacation in Mexico to tell you that you forgot to close your garage door). Smart light bulbs are also finding their way into garages. These LED bulbs turn on via motion detector and self-adjust depending on how much sunlight is available to augment their illumination during the day time. They cost approximately 4 to 10 times more than ordinary bulbs, but the energy savings will eventually offset the cost of the initial purchase.

3) More re-purposing: Upcycled is the new “new,” and re-purposing items and materials for the garage is becoming more and more popular. Re-purposing can be done in all kinds of ways in the garage: using cast-off wood from demolition projects to remodel, re-designing and finishing old and salvaged doors and other garage accessories, and even little things like using empty coffee cans for rope dispensers.

tailored_living_garage_746_edit_t4) More efficient storage/less buying: Homeowners are becoming much more aware of the problems associated with consumerism and, at the same time, growing increasingly intolerant of clutter in the garage. This, coupled with the fact that it costs money and/or time to dispose of anything here in Greater Vancouver, homeowners are simply buying less stuff that they’ll have to store or dispose of later. They’re also becoming more efficient when it comes to garage storage by taking advantage of all available wall, floor and ceiling space for creative storage of everything from tools to winter tires to seasonal decorations.

5) More multi-use: There has been a continuing trend over the last two decades to make tailored_living_garage_717_edit_tspaces as functional as possible by creating more multi-use spaces in the home. That philosophy has trickled over into the garage. The Man Cave – garage is one of the most popular garage upgrades and we anticipate more of these in 2017. Larger, rural properties with free-standing garages are adding guest quarters to their garages, either attic or loft-style, which still leaves room for vehicle parking, another trend that we predict will rise in 2017.

Ready to join the wave yourself and create a multi-use garage? Tailored Living has all the products and accessories you need, plus great advice and free in-home consultation to get you started.

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That’s a Wrap: Your Customized Gift Wrap Storage Makes Gift-Giving Easier

giftTired of crushed and torn wrapping paper rolls? Have you forgotten where you stored all those rolls of gift wrap that you bought after Christmas last year for 75 percent off? Do you put off gift wrapping until Christmas Eve because gathering all your supplies together is so incredibly annoying and time-consuming? Want to win Christmas this year? A customized gift wrap center is the answer to all of those questions, solving all kinds of problems from keeping paper from getting crushed and wrinkled to having everything you need to wrap like a boss all in one place.


Gift-wrap center with slatwall backing for easy addition of accessories.

That place can be anywhere you want in your home. This particular gift wrap center was installed in a garage and was part of an overall garage upgrade. However, Tailored Living can design one to fit in any room or any space: bedroom, guest room, home office, basement, even inside a closet if you prefer.

The great thing about this particular design is that it’s not fixed as far as the hooks, rollers and other accessories go. Applying slatwall over the existing drywall provides a base for a myriad of storage and hanging accessories. They’re engineered to clip right onto a slat in seconds and the configuration possibilities are endless. Plus, if you need to, you can move them around or add more hooks and other accessories later as your needs change or grow. Afix everything you need right onto the slats: gift wrap rolls, scissors, tape, gift tags, pens and pencils, ribbon and more.

If you want to get even more use out of your customized gift wrap center, it can double as a crafting area. Tailored Living has all kinds of different accessories to accommodate your favorite crafting materials, from tiny beads and sequins to fabric and other larger items.

As we mentioned, you aren’t limited to the garage. Slatwall can be applied to just about


Gridwall with hanging accessories: great for any room in the home.

any surface, so if you’d rather wrap and craft indoors, we can accommodate. Gridwall is another alternative to slatwall. It works just as well and provides the same kind of flexibility and configuration possibilities for storing your tools and materials, including attachable hooks and other accessories. The only thing one of these customized gift wrap/crafting centers can’t do for you is wrap your gifts, but we think you’ll actually enjoy wrapping gifts again once you have the perfect spot to do it.