Polanco’s 2021 Guide for New Homeowners

Of the many changes brought on by the pandemic, one of the most noticeable and drastic has been Ontario’s long-simmering real estate market turning red hot, with low interest rates and new perspectives around one’s own living space bringing property ownership to the front of the mind for many across the province.

A study from Remax shows that in Ottawa alone, the average sales price of residential properties increased by nearly 20 percent over 2020, with the data projecting these prices to rise at least another estimated 7 percent by the end of this year.

One of the most significant factors impacting the current state of the market is a demographic of new, often young homeowners stepping into the role of property ownership for the first time. While the process of finding and purchasing the perfect place to call home can be overwhelming enough, decorating and filling it with your own style is a whole other ordeal – one that Polanco Home Decor is happy and equipped to help you with.

Polanco Home Decor’s cofounder Mandy Renfrew has been helping first-time property owners learn how to get in touch with their own sense of home for decades, and has noticed a change with the current wave of new homebuyers.

“They’re starting out into bigger homes than maybe I would’ve seen ten years ago,” says Mandy, “and as a result, they’re anxious and they really want things to be set up properly. They don’t want to waste their money on things just to fill a space, they would rather wait and get good quality, and know that it’s going to last.”

It is in this search for stylish and high-quality furnishings where Mandy’s experience and expertise, along with Polanco Home Decor’s array of premium décor offerings, enter the situation: “No matter the space, Polanco Home Decor can help them plan and design their spaces to be functional and beautiful at the same time,” she says.

New homeowners looking to refine the style of their new places can find assistance through a number of services offered by Polanco Home Decor, including developing floor plans to scale with the layout, colour coordinating pieces and accessories, to even providing furniture customized to the space, a luxury made possible by Mandy’s close relationships with Canada’s top furniture designers.

No matter the service, at the heart of Mandy’s approach is a focus on the needs and personal styles of the clients and their space. “One thing I pride myself on when I’m working with clients is that I listen to them,” says Mandy. “I don’t try to push my ideas onto them: I want their home to be their home, and I want it to be as beautiful as possible.”

A testament to Polanco Home Decor’s commitment to their clients is the transformation that Mandy has brought into the Riverside South home of young newlyweds, Ricky and Ann, since the couple moved into their newly-built house earlier this year.

“The thing about Polanco Home Decor is that you can really tell the time that Mandy takes with all of her customers,” says Ricky. “It wasn’t just us, it’s clear that she spends the time with all of her clients to help get things exactly how they want it.”

For the couple, this meant finding a way to transition from the small-scale space of separate condo living into sharing a large and modern home, newly-built and featuring an open concept design.

“We just felt like a condo wasn’t a lot of space for both of us to be there, and wanted the flexibility and room for our family and friends to be able to comfortably visit,” says Ann. “That sparked us to start looking for a place.”

While they did manage to find a home to reflect their needs, successfully bringing their sense of style and design to this new, unfamiliar type of space called for Mandy’s magic touch.

“With a condo, you’re always trying to make your space feel bigger, so you don’t want too much furniture to clutter it and make it feel small,” describes Ricky. “The one thing we realized with a house, though, was how much furniture you really do need, because yes, your living room may look big, but it also might look empty. There’s more to think about in terms of the actual size of things, and Mandy was excellent with that, given the space we have to work with.”

Another challenge that Mandy helped them overcome was designing the layout and selecting furniture for a house that hadn’t even been fully built yet at the time of its purchasing. “Mandy was really involved in the early process, just to make sure that our overall selections made sense, both structurally and in terms of design,” says Ann.

She highlighted Mandy’s assistance in helping make decisions not just about the furnishings, but the layout of the actual house, from appliances to cupboards to colours, as an example of her devotion to the design process.

“When we picked our appliances, we were trying to figure out how to arrange them in the kitchen, and Mandy raised some good points about what you do and don’t want to be the focal point of that room – for example, she taught us that if someone is sitting on the couch, you don’t want them to be staring at an oven,” Ann shared.

Beyond her insight and experience, Mandy also possesses the resources and technology to pinpoint exactly how to achieve your design goals, no matter the space. “Mandy asked to get our floor plan, and she actually put together a mock-up of different types of furniture in it,” Ann shared. “I found that really helpful, because with the new home, you don’t know what it looks like until you get your keys.”

Thanks to Mandy, “we were preordering, designing, and getting furniture before we even saw our finished home, and through special software Mandy was able to take pictures of our layout and then add our furniture to make it look like a living room,” Ann shared. “It helped us see ahead of time how it would turn out, and it ended up pretty damn close, I’d say.”

Beyond Polanco Home Decor’s reputation for durable and high quality furniture is the reputation that Mandy has developed with some of Canada’s finest furniture suppliers, with Mandy’s relationships having afforded Ricky and Ann the opportunity to customize their furniture to perfectly fit their space.

“It’s amazing, because you don’t usually see that with other furniture stores, this level of customization,” Ann says. “That’s one of the great things about working with Polanco Home Decor that some people may not realize: when you go with a higher end furniture store, they’re literally able to change everything to make it as perfect as you want it.”

Much like their new home, Ricky and Ann see the assistance and pieces from Polanco Home Decor as a long-term lifestyle investment. “I truly think that with Mandy’s furniture, you’re investing in pieces that are going to last forever,” says Ann. Now on the other side of the decorating process, it’s an approach she recommends to all first-time homeowners: “If you can wait and save up, do that and buy exactly what you want and buy quality, because you won’t regret it down the line.”